Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thieving Misfits

Last night our farm was broken into. Fortunately not much was taken. As a nonprofit farm, we have few things of value to offer opportunistic thieves unless they are the type of thieves looking for an opportunity to start a villainous organic farm or enjoy the wicked pleasures of gardening. Most of the harm came in the form of cut locks and damaged fencing. They stole some canisters of gasoline from our fuel locker, ate some Twizzlers from our tool shed, nicked Rose’s iPod from the greenhouse, and took some random tools presumably to be used for future breaking and entering. I felt bad for Rose but she had a very Zen attitude about the whole ordeal. All-in-all we were pretty fortunate that nothing the thieves took greatly impedes our ability to do what we do: grow wholesome food and serve our community.

But as relatively harmless this particular outcome was, being the target of a criminal act like this left a sharp bitter taste in my mouth. My visceral reaction upon discovering the pilferage was anger and fury. It made me want to track-down, tackle to the ground, and repeatedly punch in the face the assholes who did this until my knuckles were split open and coated with an unhealthy layer of blood, mucus and saliva.

(set to the tune of One Last Caress by The Misfits. Context: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Giebe-uzPFg)

I got something to say 
I stole your iPod today 
And it doesn't matter much to me 
As long as I’m ahead 

Well I got something to say 
I ate your licorice today 
And it doesn't matter much to me 
As long as I’m fed 

Sweet lovely theft 
I am waiting for your breath 
Come sweet theft, one last caress 

Sweet lovely theft 
I am waiting for your breath 
Come sweet theft, one last caress 

Well, I got something to say 
I took your fuel cans today 
And it doesn't matter much to me 
As long as I fled 

Sweet lovely theft 
I am waiting for your breath 
Come sweet theft

One last caress

One last caress, sweet theft 
One last caress, sweet theft

Demonizing the thieves made me feel better. But that’s the easy way out isn’t it? Although it brings me much satisfaction reveling in the idea of exacting penultimate vengeance, I doubt these petty pilferers are the baby-killing, mother-raping monsters I project them to be. In reality I have no idea who these people are, what their motives could be, or why they did what they did. They could be simple opportunistic thieves who overestimated the potential of stealing from a non-profit farm, young hoodlums looking for fun and excitement, or pitiful, desperate vagrants looking for anything that could help them get by. I think what I am trying to get at is that my preliminary assumption of these individuals and consequent feelings of anger and repudiation stands completely counter to what I try to strive for as an AmeriCorps member, a Full Circle employee, and a decent human being: compassion and a selfless willingness to serve my community.

When there are weeds to mow, beds to hoe, seeds to sow, and plants to grow, there’s no time to feel mad, angry, or low. Important work is to be done - rise and let it go.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting Lost

Sorry, no poems this time. Today I went on a bicycle adventure. Here is my tale.

   Oh, here is DeAnza College. I think I’ll ride around campus. Everyone is walking. Am I allowed to bike here? I hope no one tells me I can’t bike here. I bet they are all thinking, “What is that douchebag doing on his bicycle? Is he trying to be a hipster with that awful beard?” No one here looks happy. Everyone dresses similarly – zero percent irony. Absolutely no hipsters. I feel old. And awkward. How do I get out of here?

   I have never gone farther west than DeAnza.  What’s westward? Hills. Jesus these hills are big. A Park? Stevens Creek County Park. I want to see it. A couple are making out in their car in the parking lot. I would too; it looks like a good spot for that sort of thing. I'm probably the only other person here. I feel creepy. I should stop looking. This park looks big. I wish I brought my Vibrams for walking around. Well, I’ll just take this map and think about coming back some other time.

  Where to next? North. Foothill Expressway. This is a nice expressway. I feel fast. Cruisin’. Woop, no hands. Daniel style. Hey, I recognize this area. I have been on this road with Charlie when we went to Greg’s neighborhood to pick persimmons. Yep, I’m in Los Altos now. Los Altos is nice.  I wonder if I’ll see Greg. Downtown Los Altos. Ooh, a library! This library is ok. I’ll just check-out a few things. The librarian seems genuinely interested in the items I am checking out. I would think it’s peaceful being a librarian, but also boring as shit.

  Where to next? Hell, keep going north. Good ‘ol Foothill Expressway. Wait, Foothill Expressway is ending. Where am I? I should go east before I get very lost. I’m seeing lots of things for Stanford. Am I close to Stanford? I think I am. Oh hey, El Camino! I guess I’ll head towards home now. Wait. Fuck it. I’m going to keep exploring.

   Palo Alto – boy some of these neighborhoods are nice. The landscaping of these yards is beautiful. Every. Yard. Is beautiful. This is really nice. The neighborhoods are getting less nice. Am I gunna end up in East Palo Alto? Oh my gosh, I have been here before. I am in East Palo Alto. I was here on an AmeriCorps site visit back in November. Cool. Well, here’s University Ave. I don’t want to go farther west so I’ll go the other direction. Hey, there is the giant Ikea! I went by here with Gina and Daniel when we went to Stanford. There’s Runnymede Street. That is the road Daniel let me drive his car down on MLK Day. I never got above 2nd gear. I stalled once I think. Ok, I think I am getting into the Baylands. Should I be biking here? Well, I’m still on a bike path. I should go eastward.  I’m heading towards a huge bridge. Can I cross it? I am on a bike trail now so it looks legit. Oh my, this is the bridge Rose and I crossed when we went to Gina’s. To Fremont. Holly shit. Where the hell am I? I don’t think I want to go to Fremont. Well, if I do end up in Fremont maybe Gina can give me a ride back. This bike trail is cut-off by construction anyways. Shit. I’m going back.

   Ok, making my way back through East Palo Alto. No more black people, must be in gentrified Palo Alto now. Hmm. Maybe if I just go east I can find a quicker way. Embarcadero Road. This road looks legit. And it’s going east. I’m on it. Feeling good about going east. 101 is here. It doesn’t look like there is bike access here. Gotta find a way around. Oh, here is the pedestrian access. I’ll go back and take that. Wait. Is that MoBowl? It is Mobowl! William from MoBowl is driving. He’s waving back! He recognizes me! That is so crazy! I wonder if MoBowl is setting up in that lot. Should I go check? Hmm. I am lost and want to be un-lost. I think I’ll just keep trying to cross 101.

   Man that was crazy seeing MoBowl. I’m kinda regretting not stopping in that lot and seeing what’s up. Maybe they would give me free food again. Maybe they would think I'm stalking them. Oh well, better to get back home before it gets dark. And at this pace, it may take a while. Wait, I’m running into the bay again. I thought I was well south of the bay. Baylands Park. Maybe I can get through the other side. Bayland Park smells. It’s not that bad, just different. A dock. I think I reached the end. Ok, I’m pretty sure I can’t get through here. Shit. I’m gunna have to back-track again.

   How the fuck do I get out of these baylands!? Where did I end up? This is not where I was before. Oregon Expressway. It looks to be going south-ish. I need to go south-ish if I don’t want to run into the bay again. I’m taking Oregon Expressway. This feels ok, but I think I’m going southwest. I don’t want to go much farther west. Hmm, Middlefield Road. It is going southeast. I think that should be ok. I’m feeling good about Middelfield. I feel like I should be in Mountain View by now though. Uh-oh. Middlefield is splitting into Middlefield and Old Middlefield. Middlefield looks to be turning south. Old Middlefield is staying more eastward. I think I want to go east, right? I’m going to try Old Middlefield.

   Old Middlefield was a mistake. It is turning into fucking 101 again. Why did I choose Old Middlefield? If it was the better of the two Middlefields it wouldn't be qualified with 'old' would it? I need to go around that shitty 101 highway. Thank God for these vaguely helpful and extremely indirect pedestrian route signs. If it wasn’t for them I’d be hopelessly lost instead of just regular lost. This sign is telling me to go north. If I get stuck in the bay again I’m going to cry. Or call Rose to come find me and pick me up. Probably both.

   Well I made it across 101. Thank you signs. I need to go east now? Wait. I feel a faint sense of familiarity. Why. Why do I feel this? Google. Oh God, please tell me Google campus is around here. Oh fuck yes! I love you Google campus! I’m finally in Mountain View! I can do this! I won’t need to cry or call Rose.

  God the Google campus is big. And windy. What? How did I end up going Northwest again? Fuck’sake. Google your campus is ridiculously big and meandering. What? I’m in Palo Alto again? No, that’s opposite of where I want to go. Fuck. How did that happen? I thought I wasn’t lost anymore. Ok. Just go Southeast from here. Have faith that southeast will bring you home. This bike route is turning into a bike trail. This bike trail is going through a golf course. This golf course trail has turned into a maintenance road. What. The. Hell. Well, If I get stuck I’ll just backtrack again. It’s actually beautiful here. Another park. Shoreline Park. I hit the bay again. But I think this is the south end. I think I’m ok. No need to get frustrated. Just live in the moment. Ahh. Oh yes, a road going South.

   Shoreline Boulevard. I’m feeling good about this. There’s more Google buildings. There is a man riding a Google painted bike. Google, you are fucking huge. How many buildings do you have? Can I have a painted bike? Have mercy on my poor soul; Highway 101, why do you always impede me! I hope Shoreline goes over it. Thank you highway 101 for not being a total roadblock this time. Still going South. I’m feeling good about this. Crossing Middlefield Road. Yep, definitely should have taken Middlefield over Old Middlefield. What'evs. Too late for could haves. Well, I’m definitely in Mountain View at least.

   Downtown Mountain View. This is real nice. I wonder if Karen lives close to downtown. If I see her I will impersonate Wes and pretend to kick her and say, “Byah!”. Is that the Caltrain? Oooooh! I know where I am! Awww Yeeeah! Hey, that tea place is supposed to be here. This place is very Chinese. I don’t know what I want. The store clerk keeps saying things to me and I don't understand. Oh wait, he's telling me to come back tomorrow. He's closing. Maybe I’ll come back sometime.

   I’m really tired. I haven’t eaten today and it’s getting dark. Time to go home, cowboy. Good ‘ol downtown Sunnyvale. Goodwill is still open. Too tired to shop. I just want to be home and not biking.

   I needed to get groceries today. My backpack is pretty full of library CDs and the largest book on beer I have ever carried though. I’ll just have to get crafty. My bike basket is so precarious right now. I do not need a spill tonight. Just smooth sailing from here on out would be great, Captain. Swinging by the farm. If I lived here I would be home by now. Looks like some of the cover crop got cut. I wonder how that happened with absolutely no one coming in today. I’m almost home. I've had enough riding to last me a while. What a trip.

9 hours in total. I don't want to try to calculate my mileage on Google Maps right now. I wish I had done something like this a few months ago, but I guess it took me until now to feel comfortable enough to do it.  Although this was a solo venture, I don’t think I could have done something like this unless I knew several people who would be willing to bail my ass out if something went wrong along the way (like staying lost somewhere or having serious bike failure in East Palo Alto after sundown). Sometimes it takes a lot of support from others to feel privileged enough to do grand things on your own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ground Squirrels

Burrows mounded to a roil
Squirrels grounded stir up soil

Down ev’ry bed-row you can see
Remnants of the feeding frenzy

They prey upon the youngest plants
New leaves don’t stand the slightest chance

They’ve eaten all the tender shoots
We’ll have to cover them with hoops

If hoops don’t work we’ll have to pray
The mustard leaves keep them at bay

If mustard fails we’ll set up traps
Unless the triggers won’t collapse

If that’s the case we’ll have to quit

Let go and let God handle it

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Frenemy Slaw

Are they friends?
Or are they enemies?
I’d say they’re both
Let’s call them frenemies!

Oil and water. Church and state. Farming and Ugg boots. Whether they're polar opposites fated to eternal antagonism, or like elusive radio waves on a slippery manual dial, some things just don't get along.

And then there are the square pegs that somehow manage to fit into round holes. You’d never know just by looking – it’s counterintuitive. You’d think, “That would never work. They are sooo different. How could they get along?” But sometimes...they do. And when that happens they can create intricate combinations of complexity and wonderment beyond what was previously thought imaginable. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes when you have an individual you take it for face value. It is what it is. When it stands alone it can be hard to see all it’s characteristics – good and bad – without having the acuteness that is imparted by contrast. Without ying, what is yang?  Without peace, what is war? It is easier to see and appreciate these individuals and their characteristics when they are joined by their complimentary or contrasting other, be it their familiar, doppelganger, alter-ego, or in this case: frenemy.

Fennel Fronds Forever is not operating within the vastness of the blogosphere alone. FFF (and the fennel plant) is not an end in itself, but a component of something greater. Like day and night; fire and ice; life and death, Fennel Fronds has a counterpoise: Red Cabbage Revolution (http://redcabbagerevolution.blogspot.com/)

Call it friendly competition, tough love, whatever – without Red Cabbage Revolution, Fennel Fronds Forever is just another tog on the blog rack. But as frenemies, red cabbage makes fennel the freshest, most frizzly, feathery-folioled-frond veggie on the farm. So here it is:

Frenemy Slaw!

Not my "Frenemy Salad", but close.
Picture from Simply Scratch blog.

Fennel, red cabbage, and green onions covered in a slauce of mayo, red wine vinegar, orange Champaign vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper, garnished with bacon bits and of course chopped fennel fronds.

The red wine vinegar and red cabbage turn the slauce a beautiful sweet-pea-petal-pink. And the acidity from the vinegar and lemon tranquilize the piquantness of the fennel and lull it to a nice round, even, tang of mellow licorice. And the bacon...well, bacon makes everything better and the laws of gastronomy did not change for this recipe either.

Culinary-wise this slaw is a thing of beauty. And symbolically it is too.

Fee fi fo fum
I smell the slaw of a farmingman
Be it fennel or cabbage red
I’ll eat it up till my gut’s fed