Tag Archives: ghosttown

Happy Holidaze

I love to say it: merry fucking christmas.

But this year, and I hope for the rest of my time on planet earth (until I become a final hour Christian, har har) I have already celebrated my holiday and I’m all done with this year. The solstice, for me, is the real deal, the real day of celebration, the ‘real’ last day of the year. It’s the shortest day and longest night, but there’s optimism: we reached the turning point when we start getting closer to the sun again. It’s a hopeful time, and Bill and I celebrated by building a fire and opening up our presents sent from loved ones.

The best gift of the year came from my mother–it’s a cheese press!

Above is Bill assembling it; below is it in action, pressing 50 pounds of pressure (I hung 15 pound bags of flour and rice at the end) to my goat cheddar. Ready in 2 months.

I love the end of a year because it becomes a time to think about plans for the New Year.

2010, for me, is going to be the year when I finally grow up and start dealing with my meager finances in a sane way. Lots of people think that because I published a book, I’m rolling in the dough. Alas, this is not true, book sales were good, but not great, and I’m still as broke as ever. While I love the freedom of being a poor writer, I’m getting a little worried about my future: what if I get sick, what if I want to have a baby, what if I want to finally be able to own a lot and plant trees for the future instead of squat farming?

I’ve always had conflicted feelings about owning property–can you really own land? Aren’t we all just passing through? And I hate the idea of owning a house with all kinds of problems and property values and all that crap. My dream for some time has been to buy a small parcel of land in Oakland. I would plant an orchard, run some chickens on it, and feed the people in the neighborhood, in addition to selling weird stuff like Persian mulberries or Green Gage plums to fancy restaurants to pay the rent. In order to buy a lot, though, I have to save up and raise a bunch of money (most banks will not finance a vacant lot).

In order to save money, I might do what my sister Riana, did, where she has pledged to not spend any money for a whole year. I might ask my friends who are good with money how they do it. I might have to do another 100-yard diet, because I’m guilty of spending most of my disposable money on food. To raise money, I’ll have to get mighty crafty. Stay tuned in January for that plan…

Finally, thanks to everyone who came to the Open House at the farm last weekend. Sorry if you didn’t get to do the goat tour–I had no idea so many people would show up! Despite the crowds, there are extra Goat Town T-shirts available. Mostly women’s sizes and shapes. Let me know if you’d like to buy one. They are $25 with postage.

Happy New Year!

Trouble town

I hate this weed.

Mostly it grows in pathways, but occasionally the burmuda grass and foxtails get into a garden bed, and that sucks. So I was outside pulling up these weedy grasses, which have invaded the parking strip even though I covered the parking strip with straw then wood chips up to six inches thick. Weeding can be satisfying work. Passers-by say hello, chew the fat, ask me for a quarter. Because remember, I’m not living some rural lifestyle with baby goats and rabbits. I’m living some urban lifestyle with baby goats and rabbits.

A reminder of my urban farm: gun fire. Two shots, very close. Somehow muffled. Now, it IS firework season, but I knew those were bullets. Eventually the cops came.

I went upstairs to take the photos, because I think the police don’t like cameras.

Then I went back downstairs and kept weeding. “What happened?” A guy in a reggae hat asked. I had been eavesdropping on the cops, so I knew a man had been shot, not killed, upstairs in the apartment across the street. I became the town crier. A family who frequents the goat area drove by and asked. I grew tired of telling the news.

Then a guy named Kilo who squats in the big brick building came out and asked what happened. He seemed shocked, in awe. Since I had absorbed the information for over an hour, I said, “No big deal, it happens all the time.” Kilo and I have a strange relationship–he wants to hate me, but he can’t quite. But my casual observation set him off. “You say that–that it’s no big deal because they’re black,” he said. He sneered and looked at me with disgust. “Oh please,” I said.

He walked away, and for the rest of the day, I was haunted by his accusation. At first I was in denial. Shootings DO happen all the time here. But that I had become so casual about it–that IS disturbing. And those who die, shoot, and kill are 99% black. But was that why I was being cavalier? In my heart of hearts, I don’t think so. I think I’ve just become desensitized to the violence. I mean, how could I say a man getting shot isn’t a big deal? I pledged to apologize to Kilo, and waited for him to come back.

I weeded all the burmuda grass in the two parking strips. I overheard one of the cops, a woman, say “Happy Mother’s Day,” and then she sped off. Then I put down more mulch. I heard more gunfire. Kilo never came back.

I stood and looked at the passion flower. Soon there will be fruit.