downsize

I’m looking at master’s students’ course plans. I have two master’s students right now.

They are lovely course plans and I’m looking forward to working with these particular students.

Both students asked about changes of direction in some part of their initial plans. It was nice to let them know that the school and their individual departments are open to those kinds of changes.

So I began to think about my own recent course corrections.

I’m actively downsizing.

I don’t seem to be able to do it quickly enough. I’m impatient about it and being too hard on myself. I suppose I need someone to tell me that these kinds of changes are okay and all happen when the time is right. Or something.

Mostly I hope my course corrections will work themselves into a decently functional life plan.

Does it look like I'm downsizing?

Does it look like I’m downsizing?

Does it really?

Does it really?

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one more long shot

I applied for a job that’s a long shot.

Another one.

It’s a good fit but a long shot.

Best case scenario: full time work.

Worst case scenario: about the same.

Some told me, basically, I’m damaged goods as an archaeologist because of my heart issues.

Someone else has told me that due to my progress I can still work in the field. Don’t worry. Be happy. Be safe.

shovel test pit and stuff

shovel test pit and stuff

My cardiologist thinks we’re all nuts. So. That. But he does think my beautiful, beleaguered, and hard-working heart is recovering nicely. He’s not counting me out for anything.

As the kids say haters will hate. It’s more like mean people will be mean.

The long shot seems as safe and secure as anything.

If the long shot fails, then I hope for more part time work.

Who knows. Maybe that’s the actual best case scenario.

As I submitted this application, I told myself it’s the last one.

The. Last. One.

I told myself I’m done looking for full time work.

I told myself that I’ll cobble together part time jobs somehow. If I have to move to do it, I will.

I doubt I’ll listen to myself.

I don’t doubt that circumstances will move me in some direction. Of course they will. They always do.

I can’t go anywhere until B is done with his soccer years. Everyone here is in agreement about that. Then we’ll see.

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and…

And the mountains.

The Sierra.

Monumental. Legendary.

Land crumpling upon itself.

Folding back, then reaching the sky.

Carrying the ocean up to the sky, its very body transformed.

I’m amazed at the unimaginable pressures that have formed the body of this land. Transformed it from ocean floor to masses of rock in the sky.

This is what I’m seeking, really, every August. This transformed land, resting in shrouds of water vapor. Ocean born.

It’s from the ocean, in every way.

Even those mystery forests beneath their cool and silken mists.

From my land of warm and dry air, scented with sage and pine and creosote, I can sometimes feel the chill breath of a hidden forest pool.

Tiny ferns overhang. Tiny leaves damply transport earth’s cycling waters from the open sky back to the rough substance of the planet. And back to the ocean. Endlessly.

That’s all I want.

hermosa dark

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this heat…

Sometimes I think of the land as it stretches around me, as it spreads across this desert , up across the Tehachapis, down the incline into Bakersfield and beyond.

I can feel it extend itself toward northern California.

It ripples across the gentle hills and those agricultural plains at the center of this land.

I sometimes feel like a bird floating northward, looking down at rough, rocky edges of those hills, at knotted oaks and shrubbery and traces of water, unseasonable. Usually it’s dry stream beds.

It’s the water I like to imagine.

I can feel it, even hear it.

Waters moving soundlessly across the valley floors, dark, through central California. Waters seeping under the ground.

Water.

spring and algae

spring and algae

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of wild grapes

Trying a new grape in the back. It’s called Roger’s Red. It’s a hybrid between California wild grape (Vitis californica) and our everyday grape of commerce (Vitis vinifera).

I have already planted the wonderful Mojave wild grape (Vitis girdiana). It has lovely woolly gray-green leaves and the fruit is a small black grape. Any plant with wooly leaves like this is well-adapted to conserving moisture.

desert wild grape

desert wild grape

Foliage of the Roger’s Red is supposed to turn red in the fall. Also may not be the best eating grape since the skin is supposedly bitter.

Still, I imagine the ground squirrels and birds should love it…

And I will find something to do with the fruit.

Roger's red grape.

Roger’s red grape.

I have begun to see RSF as an experiential station as much as an educational center. The workshops are for drylands growing and for all kinds of re-skilling presentations. It’s all practical work.

The experimental stuff is my passion. Talking and writing about it brings me some joy.

I have experimented in the garden since I was nine years old in Ohio.

It’s in my blood.

High desert gardening has become more challenging over the years.

Is it because I’m getting older? Maybe, but I don’t think that’s all of it.

I’ve blogged a lot about climate change. I think that’s what’s happening. Remember the wind? I talk about the wind a lot. It’s a big factor out here.

One thing the wind does is dry out the plants.  And in the high desert, drier plants are not happier plants.

I used to count the plants and fruiting trees that died from our unpredictable hard freezes. I still have to do that. And now I have to count the wind-desiccated plants as well.

I’ve lost two young manzanitas this last year from either/or wind and cold. I’ve had to replace a fig due to the cold. A few other fruit trees in the orchard have been replaced.

I tried propagating trees from branches. You cut a smallish branch and peel back the bark. Then you coat it in rooting hormone and stick it into a pot with soil and vermiculite or peat moss. After several weeks little rootlets should begin to grow. Eventually you can plant these very young saplings in your orchard. I planned to give mine a good start and keep them in that structure I lovingly call a greenhouse (it’s not but that doesn’t stop me from calling it that).

This. Is. My. Greenhouse.

This. Is. My. Greenhouse.

Sadly the wind tore my plastic cover to ribbons over the winter and early spring. That can be fixed.

Sadder yet, ground squirrels ate every single one of my tree starts. See them poking up there in the background before they were devoured?  Apples and apricots and peaches.

One of my friends is a local rancher. She said her success rate with tree starts was about 50%. I felt happy to have a 60% rate of sprouting. Freakin’ ground squirrels took me down a notch. I’ll do it again in a month or so. Meanwhile I’m trying it with manzanita right now.

I’d like to try using our local desert wild almond, Prunus fasciculata as a rootstock for cultivated Prunus species, saving water in this dry climate.

Local desert wild almond.

Local desert wild almond.

RSF apricots.

RSF apricots.

Can you see these grafted?

I’ve heard there’s a wild plum in the Sierras that might work as a rootstock also. Maybe someday, that.

Meanwhile these desert and California grapes. If they flourish, I will incorporate them into a living windbreak for the patio.  Even if they appear to be doing marginally, I will plant some in to my patio windbreak. It’s a different microclimate and the soil is somewhat different. It will be worth a try.

Here’s the plan.

On the south and southeast sides, I want a cover/arbor with grapes and wisteria. I have plenty of commercial grapes and now the local grapes. I have multiple wisteria vines and they transplant very well.

One idea:  4X4s sunk into cement with lattice.

The other idea: use what’s on hand: t-posts woven with creosote branches to support grape and wisteria vines. This I could begin immediately and it would cost less.

Designing and building it will be very therapeutic…Not sure what I want do with the top but I’ll think of something.

This whole production could be turned into an art installation with plants.

Right here. This is the start of the green windbreak.

Right here. This is the start of the green windbreak.

What’s been growing in your world?

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skateboard learning

Check this out.

Everything you need to know, you can learn from skateboarding.

I have worked on my farm with skateboarders. My son-in-law and some of his friends are skateboarders.  Skateboarders are amazing, creative, and bright people.

I once interviewed two teenage skateboarders about environmental issues. I interviewed them as part of my dissertation research. They had worked alongside me at Rainshadow Farm when we began establishing the learning center here. They were two intelligent, lively, and very creative and motivated young people. I learned so much from them.

I found their views of skateboarding phenomenological and deeply environmental.

They both talked about the profound connection they feel to the natural world as they skateboard.

They mentioned things like the texture of the pavement and ground changing under their feet, “the qualities of sand, pebble, rock, cement,” and the ground’s curvature as the feel of it traveled up from their feet through their bodies.

They spoke of how “there is only the board and wheels between your body and the earth.”

Isn't he amazing?

Isn’t he amazing?

Both of them spent a lot of time outdoors and were both very aware of weather patterns on an hourly basis and qualities of light and dark.

They talked about moment by moment feeling the air on your skin.

One of these young people  mentioned that “it is too hard to be indoors too long,” and that he “needs to feel his body in the sun, the wind, and the rain to feel good.”

One of these young people said that as he skated through the high desert, he would feel  distinct pain when he saw trash dumping in the high desert – to him, to love the land was “like taking care of your own body.”

Both young skateboarders had a finely honed sense of place, a love of the landscape, and a definite land ethic which they had developed as skateboarders.

Someone I know told me that he knew surfers with the same approach to their environment.

Whenever I used to do field archaeology, I felt the same way. I had a place to be and a sense of caring about that place. Since most of my work has been in the high desert, and I’ve travelled all around the bounds of this high desert, I’ve developed a sense of place here that rivals the sense of place I learned growing up in northwestern Ohio, which was substantial. I was a child outdoors back then, in all season, in all weather, in all variations of environment. Walking and biking and playing and sitting.

Outdoor sports and outdoor sciences are a way to learn how to develop and foster a variety of intelligences about the natural world and human impact upon it.

Their words essentially described a phenomenology of skateboarding. One of these young people mentioned that she always felt  “deeply connected to the land – whatever land I find myself in.”

I got to know the teens I’ve mentioned when they were in one of my college classes and they expressed an interest in learning about organic gardening.

Perhaps this is one reason that they are both attracted to gardening: gardening holds the same phenomenological attractions.

Two hearty farm day women, one who grew up here and one who skateboards.

Two hearty farm day women, one who grew up here and one who skateboards.

They are both older now. I’ve stayed in touch. They are married to each other and preparing, both, to graduate with university degrees in mathematics. They want to teach high school math eventually, both of them. This is wonderful because the more teachers out there with a deeply phenomenological sense of place, the better for environmental learning.

They build a new garden at their place.

They build a new garden at their place.

These two young people still love nature and they are masterful gardeners.

And they still skate.

Posted in community, education, Nature, socioecological intelligence, sustainability education, sustainable agriculture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

current plan #1190

I’ve spent my days off between 2014 Spring semester and the upcoming (Monday) accelerated summer session letting my mind go untaxed. Untaxed to the best of my ability. That’s saying something since I’ve been in a state of free-floating and fluctuating anxiety recently.

Best part of my time off was a day at the beach with the younger kids. Next best part was rearranging some orchard trees and developing a planting plan for my crazy summer schedule.

20140609_184623

 

Worst part was something that I’m not getting settled with my college’s payroll department.  Waiting, waiting.

It’s another one of those “adjuncts will do it for free” stories. Maybe I’ll talk about it later.

Another worst part is imperious treatment at the hand of someone who ought to know better and does but doesn’t give a shit. I can play resistant back. I can accelerate to passive aggressive if needed. But ugh. Just ugh. (and no it’s not the ex)

I think I may look for ways to spend the rest of my life gardening/farming, continuing to teach (currently where I am, open to future possibilities), writing, and becoming far more activist.

You might say, isn’t that what she’s doing?

Well, yeah, but I have more peace about this now.

I’ve let go of the desperation to acquire a full time job, let alone tenure track. I’ve discovered that too many fellow adjuncts who have taken on year-long temporary, full time jobs (yes, that’s still contingent labor, it’s the pinnacle of contingent labor) have been let go recently and grad students have been hired to take their classes.

This is horrible on so many levels and exploitive beyond what my fevered brain could even conjure up. I’ll have to enlarge on this later. It’s important.

And I’ve seen too many colleagues not achieve tenure for dubious reasons.

And too many inside hires that too many of us put ourselves out for and are disappointed time and again.

I’m too old for this shit.

I am going to find a different way.

So. Back to the current dream.

I have to expand on the activism. And I have to get serious about the writing.

I’m not saying where I’m going to do all of this because I don’t know. I do know I’m here now. And I’m doing it.

The farm, well, the farm and the land will lead me where I need to go. That I’m certain of. There are already some tentative plans in the works if the high desert doesn’t relinquish its hold on me.

If those plans come to fruition I’ll be writing about them.

That’s all.

P.S. Someone has told me I’m basically damaged goods as an archaeologist because of my heart. Someone else has told me that I can still work, don’t worry, be happy, be safe. My cardiologist thinks they’re (we’re) all nuts. So. That. I’m not sure where that will work in to my downscaled, but hopefully functional, life plan.

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