2013 Wrapped Up

Last year I decided to find a few things that represented my life over the past 12 months. Needless to say, 2012 was wonderful and mildly insane. 2013 found me on new adventures, much more insular but still brilliant. At last I am settling back into myself again. For now.

Here are my words, photos and songs that remind me of my year, ala Clint Eastwood.

12 Words

Unprepared, excited, anxious, frustrated, hopeful, dreamy, adventure, broke, tired, full, blessed, furry.

!2 Songs

LCD Soundsystem

Angus and Julia Stone

Live Oak Review

Dr Dog

John Prine

Todd Snider

Lou Reed RIP

Bach

Arcade Fire and Bowie

Yo La Tengo

Flaming Lips

Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer

Photos
So many more moments could be added but i had to edit somewhere! It was a very blessed year.

IMG_4632

New Year in Norway with my beautiful family

IMG_5214

Butchering Pigs in Ireland

IMG_5532

Late winter hike in Cork

IMG_5076

Visiting Milleen

Photo on 2013-01-26 at 22.14 #3

Beautiful Cheese Muscles!

IMG_4848

Working the Farmer’s Market in Skibereen

IMG_5629

Having a nip with the locals at a pub with Phe and Douglas

IMG_5851

Graduation!

IMG_0129

New Orleans in May..Alligator bra?

IMG_0104

New Orleans at its finest

IMG_0397

Elderflower Syrup. SPRING!

IMG_2110

My new housemates arrive. I’m in love

IMG_0634

I become an auntie and a godmother to my beautiful Josephine

IMG_0817

The wonder and awe of the Flaming Lips with a dear friend.

IMG_1295

Turning 40 in Spokane, Washington with great friends!

IMG_1513

Beautiful dinner at Nedd Ludd with healthy pours of Bourbon.

IMG_1571

Lucas Elliott Jeray arrives in all his perfection!

IMG_0977

Getting to know my snow peas, Bianca and Rowey

IMG_0998

Returning to my roots never felt better. Tokeland, Washington.

IMG_0857

keeping me sane

IMG_2082

two new additions to my family. Fingal and Clemens

IMG_1775

Moving to Cheney, Washington for a spell!

IMG_1924

Being family in B.C.

IMG_2034

HO! HO! HO!

IMG_2107

Snow day equals LOTR’s day!

Christmas Means Carnage!

IMG_4599Christmas Day for me has become a pattern of recreating traditions I love so dearly and creating new ones. As the memories of my childhood will never be quite the same again, I have decided that I must take them with me no matter where I am in the world. Since my parents deaths I have spent Christmas in Jordan, Costa Rica and in the Green Bean with my tree and wonderful friends and family.  Spending Christmas with another family, experiencing their traditions, always makes me a bit melancholy for my own loss but I always find wonderful moments.

This year I am in Ireland with a most exceptional family. Six generations have farmed the land that I am now living on and a new generation has begun.

IMG_4515I awoke, as I always do on Christmas morning with a little sparkle in my eye. I love this season. I took a hot bath (no shower in my little flat) and prepared for my introduction to Black Velvets, Champagne and Guinness. I had also had a bit to drink the night before and volunteered to jump into the Atlantic for fun….ugh! IMG_4508I made my way down to the sea with Fingal and his family who only had one bit of wisdom, “You’ve done it now girl. Better get in, get out and find a nice bit of whiskey.” Noted.  The jump was invigorating! the sun was shining and as i unwrapped myself on the pier, the adrenaline around me, kept me going. Santa threw out insults from the warmth of his fat red suit and we all took a running jump. HOLY SHIT! when i started breathing again, i realized how fantastic this all was! I was bobbing around in the ocean at the bottom point of Ireland on Christmas day. Wonderful.

I located my shot of whiskey from a kind old man, jumped out of my suit and into my warm woolies and back to the house to learn about the Christmas goose. IMG_4519I knew the goose has been killed a couple days ago and was hanging somewhere. When we returned from my dip, I found Tom sitting in an old wooden chair in the barn, Christmas tunes belting out of the speakers overhead. The goose was sitting in his lap and feathers were everywhere. Being raised on a farm is such a way to raise your children! Life, death, sex, it is respected and understood and not overly dramatic. Oliver and Olan jumped straight into plucking and poking. Olan was most interested in eyes while Oliver was actually more interested in chicken coops and tractors.

IMG_4512IMG_4527As for me, this was my first goose, first plucking and gutting. Tom was a marvelous instructor. He pulled out bits and pieces, showing us, letting us touch and process. After the gutting came the burning to get the fluffs off before I was delegated to stuff him with mountains of sausage and stuffing.

IMG_4535IMG_4532

After this, it was time for a short nap, Christmas movies and a catch up on emails and loved ones back home.IMG_4541 IMG_4539

That evening we dined on goose and ham, duck fat potatoes, bread sauce (my new favorite thing) every vegetable imaginable, flaming puddings wtih brandy butter, lemoncello, wine, whiskey…on and on and on.IMG_4543

IMG_4555IMG_4561There were no prayers or speeches, just family, immeasurable love and me, their warmly welcomed and forever appreciative guest.

Week in Review

IMG_4487I seem to have more downtime this Christmas season than I expected so I am going to sit by my fire with my cup of tea and try to keep myself and you updated on my goings on in the world of West Cork

I am in Ireland…I keep saying this to myself hoping it sinks in; the picture in my mind actually unfolding into my reality. How often do you get that lucky??

IMG_4456I arrived three days ago, picked up by my new employers Giana and Tom Ferguson of Gubbeen Farm. For the next 10 weeks, I will be interning here with Giana and learning about all things cheese.

IMG_4449IMG_4503I have been living in Italy now for nine months. The food, chaos and juxtaposed simplicity of life is now ending. For nine months my life revolved around my 24 brilliant classmates. We studied theories and tradition, drank copious amounts of alcohol, ate everything from seafood pulled from the sea in front of us to donkey meat in the mountains.  I am ready for something different. I am ready for manual labor, working my muscles and simultaneously my mind, thoughtfully processing what I just experienced and what I want to do now.  I have no doubt both will be difficult tasks.

~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~

IMG_4468Last night I had a moment of absolute euphoria, a feeling both profound and comforting. After a day of running around the farm collecting cured meats from the smoke house, filling crates for market day, learning how to turn the newly pressed cheeses, and meeting dozens of the most lovely locals and staff, I was asked to make dinner for the family. I stood in the old farmhouse, dried herbs and bobbles hanging from the low-beamed ceiling. A pile of wild mushrooms sizzling in the pan while a chubby puppy gnawed on my shoe begging to be picked up. Tom walked in, handing me a whiskey and soda while his farm calloused hand patted the back of my head, welcoming me into the fold. We listened to music and talked about the days ahead. Giana hung garlands of dried oranges, peppers, hops and anise pods from the window-sills and lit candles to celebrate the winter solstice; the rain pounding the old slate roof.  I took pause at what powers came together to place me here at this moment. This feels of home and quiet strength and a place to grow.IMG_4426

I have felt for some time that I was not ready to go back to Portland.  I am not done here. I knew that place would not be Italy. For all of its wonder and beauty, it was not home for me. Is it Ireland? Is this where I will move toward my next self? Perhaps. Time will tell but for the moment, I can think of no place I would rather be.

IMG_4463

~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~

Today Giana set me loose in the curing room; one rack to turn, two more to wash with wine and salt water and two more to inoculate. The process is repetitive. Giana told me that in repetition one can be truly immersed in process, creating a form of meditative perfection. This was the way to really understand what I was doing here. I never thought of it this way. I always get impatient with myself when I have to do the same thing over and over…today I tested myself. Without music or conversation I turned cheeses, 462 of them; washed, massaged and turned. I will see them become the beautiful washed-rind cheeses I’ve grown to love.IMG_4482

~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~0~

Christmas Eve Eve…today is the final market day. I finished turning cheeses and walked a mile into Schull to help with the market. For some time I stood around feeling in the way and useless…until someone asked for a hunk of Cashel Blue..I can do that. Cut, weighed, wrapped. First sale. Done. Hundreds of people came through the small market area ordering hams and bacon and wheels of Gubbeen for the holidays. Santa was nearby playing the accordion. The sun popped up behind a cloud and flooded the waterfront with winter light. Christmas has arrived. I cant wait for market days to reopen in January!IMG_4500 IMG_4494 IMG_4490 IMG_4488