Monthly Archives: March 2007

No Impact Woman

I have to weigh in on this No Impact Man article and the resultant blogger–both positive (see how blogs get us book deals?) and negative (this guy wipes his bum with a chamois!)–feeding frenzy. The deal is, this man, NIM, probably read the New Yorker article, Green Manhattan by David Owen 10.18.04, and was seized with a Book Idea. For one year he would live as lightly on planet earth as possible. This involves Sacrifice–trudging to the farmers market, riding a bike, making his own vinegar, composting…hey wait a minute, that sounds like my life! Except my urban farm isn’t some gonzo experiment to be completed in one year, after which I can start on my next project (The People’s History of Lint). Your Twelve Labors of Herucles, NIM, is the life I chose many years ago.
And let me tell you: this actually is a lot of fun.
Making connections–real connections–with the food you eat is intellectually stimulating and spiritually soothing. Figuring ways around the stupid consumer lifestyle is empowering, not drudgery. Looking for ways to divert waste out of the main channels (graywater, humanure) is actually a fun, community-building endeavor, not some spectacle to be chewed on and then spit out. And it doesn’t end after the documentary filmmaker’s cameras stop rolling or the last remaindered book travels to the pulp yard. To be sustainable doesn’t–and can’t by definition–last for only one year.
So, NIM, welcome–glad you arrived.
PS: Ride the subway, the NYC subway is the transportation model for the rest of the country. Believe me, here in California, we would die to have that kind of mass transit.


Billy’s watching the farm while I’m in France. He reported that the snails are trying to escape. Snails? Yes, well I meant to eat them before I left but was very busy packing and planning an event with Michael Pollan, here’s the link for that event—all about the farm bill, and how it matters to everyone who eats…but back to the mollusks: I found them in my garden, on an artichoke plant. They had munched the bottom leaves so that they resembled filigree and then took up residence on the long stalks. I collected a mason jar full of them, then put them in a larger jar with cornmeal and an artichoke leaf. Glad I waited to eat the little guys because my sister’s French hubby and his mom have lots of advice about how to best prepare them, and Riana gave me some escargot plates. Yesterday at the flea market in Narbonne, we found these snail holders and forks. Yay France for its snail eating ways!

Baby Animals

Well, I’ll be gone for the next ten days–to the South of France! Hoping to talk to some farmers and get a little work with a French beekeeper…but mostly I’m going to see my new niece! As you can see, she’s adorable. I can’t wait to ask my sister if having a child feels like raising an animal. Is it the ultimate adventure in animal husbandry? Seems like babies remind us that we humans are animals, but we’ve forgotten. Who knows? So don’t miss me, I’ll be back (with a digital camera from Riana!) in April, around the same time as the baby bunnies are due!


I took Billy and our friend Ingrid up to Napa today and dropped them off on the side of the road…they’re going on a bike trip! They’re headed 130 miles north to Mendocino, where Ingrid will stay to work on Live Power, a wonderful biodynamic farm about which I’m writing a magazine piece. But for the next two days, I’ll be all alone. You know what that means…I’ll finally have time to hand-pollinate all my fruit trees. What with the lack of bees (see the article I wrote in about losing my bees), I worry about fruit set. So the other night I bought a paint-brush and plan to play bee all weekend. First I’m going to get the peaches…then the apples…then the plums…and then…

Fava bean dreaming

Can’t wait for the favas to start producing. They are in full flower and I expect to see some of the little fruit soon. Though I am worried, too, because last year there were so many more bees around. Not just my honeybees, the noble and bumbling Bombus hasn’t been spotted either. And he loves the fava flowers. I do, too, I throw them in salads. With a little wild rocket, shredded beets, shredded carrots–there’s nothing finer.

Chicken Noises

Oh god, the chickens are really annoying! But also cute, and egg-producing, so I put up with them. Now that the weather’s warm, they wake up and start yakking around 6:30 in the morning. I usually get up, feed them, feed the bunnies, then go back upstairs. The chickens are living near the rabbits, now, and I wonder if the bunnies wake them up earlier than usual. Anyway, it’s a racket of clucks and calls that stops as soon as the food hits the ground.
Back upstairs, there’s usually a moment when I think, hmmm, I could just make some coffee and get a bunch of writing done, read the paper on-line, squeeze some grapefruits for juice…but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m not quite a real farmer. I jump back into bed with Billy who is the deepest sleeper I’ve ever met. We sleep in until 9, like a bunch of lazy city-living slackers.