we live on the land, wowza!?

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What a Spring and beginning of Summer!

My sister and mom visited which was so important for me. This was their first time seeing the land and what we have been up to. We moved out to the land after weeks of commuting 3-5 times a week. We helped Seth’s parents pack and move their home to Molalla on an adjoining property.  We have been busy setting up our camp and working on the yurt that will be our short-term home for a few years. All of this in just a couple months.

After 8 months in Portland, we live on the land now. Wild.             I wouldn’t call it a farm quite yet. It’s more like a pre-farm. We are definitely becoming more intimate with it and with the natural cycles of the place. It is taking Seth and I alot of time to find our rhythm here. There has been so much change, it’s like our souls are still catching up.

Here are photos from this exciting, exhausting, and amazing time.

so great to come back together, have some important talks and share this place with her.

so great to come back together, have some important talks and share this place with her. when she arrived it seemed we were already matching!hehe

so grateful for the time we had together

so grateful for the time we had together

at some point seth hauls laura around in this cart

at some point seth hauls laura around in this cart

Mom and me and seth at the Columbia River Gorge

Mom and me and seth at the Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

On this day, due to seth's severe poison oak, we all just hung out on the land instead of doing projects.

On this day, due to seth’s severe poison oak, we all just hung out on the land instead of doing projects.

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making fences for joe and lavonne's garden. the blowers power!

making fences for joe and lavonne’s garden. the blowers power!

on some of the days we commuted, Bear would come with us

on some of the days we commuted, Bear would come with us

our outdoor shower at our camp

our outdoor shower at our camp

olives!

olives!

Bear helped with the packing

Bear helped with the packing

even though we were busy moving house, we couldn't help fermenting these lovely turnips from the garden. they were really spicy from the heat of this Spring

even though we were busy moving house, we couldn’t help fermenting these lovely turnips from the garden. they were really spicy from the heat of this Spring

wild harvesting cherries on the side of the road

wild harvesting cherries on the side of the road

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more Blowers power! moving was no joke.

more Blowers power! moving was no joke.

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the Blower’s were planning on spending the rest of their years in Portland in their lovely home tucked into the woods. then along came seth and emma and this land to blow all plans out of the woods and onto a sunny Molalla hilltop. It is still a bit astounding to think of.

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the portland house

the portland house

triumph

triumph

Bear says good-bye to the woods in the back

Bear says good-bye to the woods behind the house

resting and relaxing amidst transition

resting and relaxing amidst transition at a close friends house

moving into the Molalla house! friends and family came together to help unload the truck and enjoy the new house

moving into the Molalla house! friends and family came together to help unload the truck and enjoy the new house

Lisa unloading truck

Lisa unloading in the depths of the truck

mike and seth

mike and seth

LaVonne directing furniture placement

LaVonne directing furniture placement

Seth's aunt and cousin, so sweet!

Seth’s aunt and cousin, so sweet!

exhaustion followed

exhaustion followed

plus hilarity

plus hilarity with caleb, lisa, olivia and lavonne

lavonne, carry and lindsey unpacking and reclining

lavonne, carry and lindsey unpacking and reclining

not sure what is happening here but it is clear that it is serious

not sure what is happening here but it is clear that it is serious

a paw paw seedling! our little nursery continues!

a paw paw seedling! our little nursery continues!

Two grape cuttings brought from Costa Rica that were planted by my great-grandfather Anselmo Negrini (Nono). I am so overjoyed that they have survived and are doing well. They did not take too well to the climate in Costa Rica and never bore fruit. We are hoping that here in this Mediterranean climate they will thrive and i can carry on these plants of my family. I feel so connected to him through these small cuttings. Insh-Allah they make it!

Two grape cuttings brought from Costa Rica that were planted by my great-grandfather Anselmo Negrini (Nono). I am so overjoyed that they have survived and are doing well. They did not take too well to the climate in Costa Rica and never bore fruit. We are hoping that here in this Mediterranean climate they will thrive and i can carry on these plants of my family. I feel so connected to him through these small cuttings. Insh-Allah they make it!

Now for the yurt…..

After so much back and forth in our process we agreed on this option. It is covered in blessings and offerings written, spoken, buried and sung. It is no small thing to make a home somewhere, no matter how short term it may be.

building the platform

building the platform

We chose a 20ft (diameter) yurt. that = 314 square feet

insulating the floor

insulating the floor

so bright!

so bright!

seth did sit on the center marking rebar and luckily still has all his parts intact!

seth did sit on the center marking rebar and luckily still has all his parts intact!

under the platform was a tight squeeze as we did not want to disturb the tree roots underground- the platform was adjusted to be level off the concrete piers

under the platform was a tight squeeze as we did not want to disturb the tree roots underground- the platform was adjusted to be level off the concrete piers

the family hard at work! the generator broke so we went to hand-sawing the beams

the family hard at work! the generator broke so we went to hand-sawing the beams

the floor is done

the floor is done.  super thick tongue and groove plywood was the best option for us. looks like the moon or a drum

the lattice wall and door put in

the lattice wall and door put in

seth was grinning this whole day!

seth was grinning this whole day!

the rafters and center ring

the rafters and center ring. on this part we did have one crazy moment when a rafter fell and hit the floor-luckily, none of us were hurt. after that it was pretty smooth

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reinforcements

reinforcements

these two were just so amazing in helping us with this whole project. at times the manual would call for

these two were just so amazing in helping us with this whole project. at times the manual would call for “several strong people” — and Seth, LaVonne and Joe matched that description

insulation was put on the roof and walls

insulation was put on the roof and walls

getting the roof cover and insualtion all lined up was quite challenging

getting the roof cover and insualtion all lined up was quite challenging

exhaustion

exhausted but done

We are mostly done with the yurt. We still need to sand and seal the floor and a few other things. Then we will sleep in it and build our kitchen/counters scene. We got our yurt from Pacific Yurts and so far are very impressed with the quality of the materials. The yurt is made of lots of synthetic materials. We are letting it off-gas as it does smell strong. We are grateful for this dwelling as it will enable us to live on the land quite soon and meets our currents needs for privacy, close to the earth, connection to the land and the ability to move it if necessary.

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We hope to take classes and get experience in natural building in the years to come to prepare for building our permanent home. We look forward to spending some years in this space. And who knows- in the future it could be a dwelling for a beloved- a dorm or community kitchen for WWOOFers or a ceremonial/dance space.

white sage, wild harvest walnuts (from S. oregon) and our beloved corn grown in New Mexico. im the little deep purple one, seth is the longer fiery one. this is for the new home to protect us, keep us healthy, connected to our highest callings and to nurture our spirits- we are this corn, this corn is many things

white sage, wild harvest walnuts (from S. oregon) and our beloved corn grown in New Mexico. im the little deep purple one, seth is the longer fiery one. this is for the new home to protect us, keep us healthy, connected to our highest callings and to nurture our spirits- we are this corn, this corn is many things

We are constantly engaged with connecting our hearts with all we are doing, all we are choosing for ourselves and the land. This does not mean we are doing everything exactly how we would want. Sometimes we realize what we want after we try something. Sometimes we need to slow down in order to really listen to what is wanting to come through. Some days we run around like crazy and forget to do our practice or to be gentle with ourselves or each-other.

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The recurring question for us is how do we stay true to our vision (even if it is not perfectly articulated in words), to our heart’s calling amidst an external surrounding culture-that has patterns deeply rooted in us internally- that calls for the opposite of our vision, of our deeper knowing that is consumed with ways that we are trying to heal in ourselves and re-create, re-vision what we know in our hearts is possible. Sometimes we feel super alone in it out here. Sometimes we are in touch with our connection to this wave of work so many of us are doing all over the planet. Some days we play out all the old patterns without realizing it. Some days we catch ourselves. Some days we are hopeful. Some days there is no doubt. Some days we are taken over by all the what ifs, and “how will it all work out,” “what is our 5 year business plan,” “How are we going to keep connected to our vision” “What were we thinking”……and on and on…

We also look around in awe.

And pray.

And work our butts off.

And Remember.

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costa rica trip 2015 continued

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Accounts and photos of our two months in Costa Rica! My heart is FULL of this rich moist air.

After moving and all the upheaval, i just wanted to make sure i got this last costa rica post out since the trip. It has taken a long time, but here it is!

The first month of our trip was mostly us landing, hanging out with family and going on day trips around the central valley of Costa Rica. It was December so this included some big family gatherings for christmas.

christmas with both sides of the family!

christmas with both sides of the extended family! LOVED this

we did all the different picadillos, a favorite food of mine, i was thrilled

we did all the different picadillos, a favorite food of mine, i was thrilled

me and Grace at Christmas

me and Grace at Christmas

me and Alvaro at Christmas

me and Alvaro at Christmas

 

Most of January we traveled. Following are pics and brief descriptions of some of our travels around.

sunset Playa Guiones, Guanacaste

sunset Playa Guiones, Guanacaste

We mostly took buses around the country, sometimes family drove, or seth drove (my aunt and uncle let us borrow their little toyota) and once we flew….there was also a few hours with a horse-drawn cart with a horse named Pinto…

Here are some of our day trips….

Ruins of the Church of Ujarras, Orosi Valley

Ruins of the Church of Ujarras, Orosi Valley (built 1693)

Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, which was built in 1743 and is the oldest church in the country still in use today

Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, which was built in 1743 and is the oldest church in the country still in use today

drive to Cartago, stopped by this cable suspension bridge (anyone know this river's name? let me know!)

drive to Cartago, stopped by this cable suspension bridge       there was also a small dog on the bridge who looked a bit uncertain of the situation

My aunt, Silvia took us to a lovely farm in Coronado of some relatives of Alvaro’s.

On this trip we kept ending up at farms, talking to farmers by “coincidence” and collecting seeds. It stopped feeling like a coincidence pretty early on.

The place we went to was practicing silvopasture techniques. Silvopasture is an agroforestry practice that integrates livestock, forage production, and forestry on the same land-management scene. Pretty cool! (And very similar to something we would like to do on our land with other styles and how they apply to us and our unique situation). We were high in the mountains and it was gorgeous to walk around.

silvo pasture

silvo pasture

 

We connected with the main person implementing these systems and taking on the farm. We talked about caring for the environment through agricultural practices and shared ideas and visions. For lunch the family had cooked a huge pot of olla de carne a la leña (beef soup with local vegetables cooked for hours over the fire).

coronado silvopastura dairy farm

Our first long trip was to the Caribbean side of the country. A place dear to me.

on the bus in el caribe

on the bus in el caribe

As you go down into this lowland area you can feel the air get thick in your lungs.

el caribe, puerto viejo

el caribe, puerto viejo

Culturally it is very different from the central valley.  Folks who identify as Ticos with Jamaican, indigenous (there are 8 recognized indigenous groups in my country) and even Chinese and Indian (as in India) backgrounds. There is a large Nicaraguan immigrant population as well in other parts of the country.  Add to this lots of ex-patriots and tourists from all over and you’ve got a funky place. Sometimes awkward….I love it because of this wild mix. I have always appreciated the Jamaican influence here and felt comfortable or more relaxed because of it. The Jamaican-Ticos speak a language called Mekatelyu or Limonese Creole, a Jamaican-English Creole dialect. There is alot more Spanglish which i appreciate too. Plus, I am crazy about the Tico-Carribean food. Fresh sea-food, chile panameño, coconut milk, ginger, pinto beans, patis….oh..yes..

banana plantations  monoculture beast!

banana plantations
monoculture beast!

Riding in the bus through this area is a fast way to observe all kinds of aspects of a place. These banana plantations are monstrous. skip this if you’re not in the mood!

Ahem, i will now step onto my soap-box:

“The banana industry, the country’s second largest and an important source of foreign exchange, is currently undergoing a dramatic expansion. The government has proposed bringing nearly 21,000 hectares under banana cultivation with a target production goal of 90 million boxes of fruit for export annually. Spurred by tax breaks and incentives, banana companies are buying up new lands or re-occupying old plantations to the tune of 2,000 hectares per year, according to industry representatives. By some estimates, Costa Rica will overtake Ecuador this year as the number one exporter of bananas worldwide. The costs of surging banana production are high, however. Expansion is huffing a withering natural resource base and local populations are defenseless against exposure to large doses of toxic agrochemicals. Costa Rican indices of pesticide contamination and deforestation are now among the highest in the world. According to conservation groups and the Catholic Church, the continued unbridled expansion of the banana industry threatens to unravel the country’s hard-won social and environmental achievements of the last four decades, poisoning the workers. Though consumers in the First World have become increasingly concerned with pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, workers and their families in producer countries suffer the detrimental impact of exposure to agrochemicals more directly [acute pesticide intoxication, dermatitis, eye problems, chronic respiratory disorders and sterilization due to a testicular toxin in one of the nematicides]. The banana industry in Costa Rica is responsible for the largest proportion of total pesticide use in the country, accounting for 25 to 30 percent of all pesticide imports. On the plantations, pesticides account for 50 to 55 percent of the total cost of material inputs. One of the main reasons that Costa Rica has been capable of producing such a large volume of bananas for export is the heavy application of fungicides, herbicides, nematicides and other agrochemicals. Workers, their families and local populations near banana plantations, however, are literally absorbing the real costs of this heavy pesticide use…”-By Christopher vanArsdale, executive director of the Costa Rican Audubon Society.

Why the use of chemicals? Some of you may know this, but the bananas we eat around the world are all clones, similar to potatoes (hence the blight and all the people going hungry in Ireland). Their entire environment is controlled. There are lots of other great varieties of bananas around the world. They just don’t export successfully. They do not meet the global-food industries demand.There is no genetic diversity. This makes them extremely susceptible to disease. They are not naturally resilient. This is one of the reasons why monoculture and conventional agriculture is so destructive to soil, organisms, our food (us) and the people who process/harvest the produce. The spirit of the fruit and it’s relationship to land and people is totally abused and dishonored. Diversity and relationship are necessary for survival.  So does this mean never to eat bananas and be full of self hate and guilt if you do eat/buy them? No way, that’s not what i’m saying (those emotions could be just as toxic as the pesticides…). The secret to a global economy like this means we do not have to directly see the impact of our decisions. I’m just suggesting to be aware of what’s going on and make the best decisions you can for yourself in each situation. It’s overwhelming for me. So far long lasting change does not happen with aggressive self-denial and guilt/shaming. I’m going with gentleness along with awareness of impact in these times. Conscious decisions. Ok! Onward!

Closer to Manzanillo, we stayed at a lovely hotel called Almendras y Corales. It was a gift from my aunt and uncle- Irma and Chema- as a honeymoon-loving offering from them. So sweet! Everything was on stilts as it was right in the jungle. We were just a minute walk to the beach.

Almendras y Corales paths

Almendras y Corales paths

inside our

inside our “tent”

It was a very fancy place. Note jacuzzi and swanky bed…all the walls were screens so at night the orchestral exuberance of the jungle was our lullaby. There were bats hanging on the outside of our little “cabin” who talked to each-other and exclaimed whenever the howler monkeys called out. For New Years the hotel hired this musician that was completely shameless. He called himself Tico Hendrix! He wouldn’t tell us his real name. He kept saying “Yo hablo mucho poquito espanol” in the worst accent, like he was making fun of everyone and entertaining them all at the same time. Brilliant and absurd. We loved him….

 beach along Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

beach along Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

We stayed at a Hostel in Puerto Viejo. It was nice but i can’t even remember the name because this is where i had my second fall since my ACL surgery! Ugh….it was pretty scary. After being so careful on hikes and beaches, i fell on the super slick fancy hard-wood stairs! They had us take our shoes off to go up stairs and in my socks on the way down i wiped out. Classic. It was terrifying. Luckily i did not tear anything but all my muscles got stretched and strained and i was put back a good bit in my recovery. I was healing from this fall for weeks.

An important aspect of the Caribbean trip was that we spent two days with my father, Edwin. This was a different thing for me. Usually I do not seem him so often. I have been making an effort to connect more and be self-accountable in our relationship. It went well.

He has a house with his brother near to us in Cahuita. So we had a day having lunch (Pargo a la caribeña!) and then close to the Bribri indigenous reservation to visit a friend of his who has a farm.  It is called Finca Integral Didactica Agroecologica Loroco. They are doing integrative, organic, aquaculture,  educational agriculture. The main farmer/owner gave us a full tour of land and his seed sanctuary.   Young people come from the Bribri reservation to learn and help as well as tourists, woofer-types, students and people like us. https://www.facebook.com/finca.loroco

casa Yemaya

casa Yemaya

We also spent time at Edwin’s house, Yemaya.

outside of Yemaya, view from deck, Cahuita

outside of Yemaya, view from deck, Cahuita

cacao, holy!

cacao tree at Yemaya, holy fruit!

I appreciated the time getting to know this part of Edwin’s life as well as just hanging out doing stuff together. We saw deeper parts of Puerto Viejo that we would not have because of him. Our relationship has had some painful chapters and lots of challenges along the way. On this visit, we got to connect on different levels which was healthy for us. But the journey continues and it is definitely not easy. It was important for me that Seth meet this very formative person in my life.

We had a good time together.

edwin and seth in cahuita

edwin and seth at Yemaya

Then, across the country-to the southern coastal region:to Osa Peninsula. The main reservation is difficult to get to and so i took a horse drawn carriage with our bags and everyone else hiking to get to Leona Lodge, a fabulous eco-lodge (actually living up to this “eco” title).

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me on the cart feeling very….self-conscious about riding in a horse-drawn cart and everyone else walking….i soon overcame my awkwardness and decided to enjoy the ride!

on Pinto, the horse. Corcovado. silvia and alvaro in the distance

on Pinto, the horse. Corcovado. silvia and alvaro in the distance

 

This hands-down the wildest place i have ever been and will probably ever set foot in.

corcovado, osa peninsula

corcovado, osa peninsula

There are countless stunning beaches, unique mangroves and powerful rainforests in my country. They are also wild. But there was something about this place. I could feel that here people were not really “in charge,” that i was just passing through in a place that was so heavy with life, independent and beautifully feral. There was a kind of intact-ness that was undeniable. I was nothing in the best sense of the term. Humans are all over the place in Costa Rica, tourism and “development” is huge of-course. But this place was something else. Like if i spent enough time there, it would conquer me, and i think i would be ok with that.

Even though i could not do the big hikes into the park, walking along the beach as well as hiking nearer to our lodge was great for me. Seth and i had some very powerful experiences with two troupes of monkeys – Geofrroy’s spider monkey, endangered – above us in the canopy. The guards of the park said it was common for the big cats to walk along that same beach we walked! Due to people disappearing/dying in the park you now can not enter alone without a park guide. I hope it stays that way. I could not get over the gift of being in this place.

a funny moment with alvaro and silvia, he is ready to go nice and early!

a funny moment with alvaro and silvia, he is ready to go nice and early!

My aunt and uncle took us and we had such a great time with them. It was great to be together!

early morning, drinking a young coconut that seth cracked open

early morning, drinking a young coconut that seth cracked open

GRATITUDE

GRATITUDE

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The treasure after all that work….

Below are more photos of Osa peninsula.

view from the Leona Lodge

view from the Leona Lodge, all the “cabins” were giant tents, no electricity and beautiful outdoor bathroom/shower areas

tiny plane we took to Osa

tiny plane we took to Osa

seth, my uncle, aunt and i were the only ones on the plane....

seth, my uncle, aunt and i were the only ones on the plane….

I can’t believe we don’t have a group photo!? just this…haha

views from the plane

views from the plane

We spent a bit of time in the Golfo Dulce of the peninsula and Puerto Jimenez.

mangroves in the golfo dulce

mangroves in the golfo dulce

There we had a most powerful experience with dolphins. They came to me in dreams before i even knew we were going to go on a boat in the Golfo. And then….there they were….speechless and for a long time photo-less until the guy driving the boat asked if we were going to take any pictures…..the main photo for this blog is of course, the most stunning of the dolphin shots.To break the rules, here it is again!

magic

magic

The others are wobbly as we were giddy with awe and gratitude. I played my flute for them. They stayed around us and went under the boat, they played. Their energy was a powerful mix of joy and equanimous love-this is felt profoundly in my dream as well as with them. It was PURE.

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not a perfect shot, but the presence was perfect and so here it is….

my fabulous aunt, silvia!

my fabulous aunt, silvia!

who are these people?

who are these people?

me and my uncle, alvaro

me and my uncle, alvaro

From what i can recall, the Golfo Dulce is one of the deepest fjords in the world which supports habitat for marine mammals and tons of ecological diversity. I feel so blessed for this opportunity. I would like to go back to Osa when i can take the intense hikes!

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views from the plane

Next is our trip to Punta Leona.

 

On our way, we had to stop by the Rio Tarcoles and the famous and very weird tourist scene with the crocodiles….they were massive…we think because people throw chickens over the bridge to them…..errr..

Rio Tarcoles

Rio Tarcoles

This is a beach along the pacific that is one i have gone to with family since forever. I was a baby on this beach and the family trips all together are a source of deep joy and nostalgia.I loved being with Jose, Silvia, Natalia, Seth and a young cousin.

seth in punta leona, i'm pretty sure everyone who comes to this beach gets on this palm, its a ritual

seth in punta leona, i’m pretty sure everyone who comes to this beach gets on this palm, its a ritual

our spot

our spot

the powerful 400 year old tree and me

the powerful 400 year old tree and me

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fossils from another time

fossils from another time

the beach i love

the beach i love

So grateful for time with family and their sharing this place with Seth!

sunset Playa Guiones, Guanacaste

sunset Playa Guiones, Guanacaste

From Punta Leona we took a ferry across to the northern Nicoya peninsula, in the province of Guanacaste. A special area known for it’s dry forests and unique ecology. We took a solo trip for this leg to meet a close friend, Asha, who was leading a retreat in Nosara. What a great excuse to go out to this part of the country!

on the ferry to guanacaste

on the ferry to Guanacaste

The gifts of that short time together are heart-brimming, plus we were blessed to connect to Tilak whom she led the retreat with.

Stillness together, rest, refuge, sweetness.

the light and shadow of Being-ness with friends

the light and shadow of Being-ness with friends

seth humbled and exuberant after surfing

seth humbled and exuberant after surfing

We loved the beach.

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Guanacaste surprised me with it’s billboard commercializing agro-chemicals and big monoculture operations. And also a feeling:  Like things moving too fast there and important aspects being left behind. I perceived that people were struggling with all the changes. There was not an obvious integration of the locals with the happenings there. It’s hard to explain.I left with a vague sadness

Guanacaste was the last big trip. We did not make it to Monteverde Cloud forest or Arenal Volcano area. For next time!

There are some other places and things we did that were important though. Day trips, family connecting etc!

 

Trip to family land in San Pablo. A place deeply seeded in my memories. It was bitter-sweet to come back after a few years. Much had changed.

It was great to see some of the projects the care-takers are doing, though hard because there are some tricky power and legal dynamics that we will need to work with in the years to come.

house and land in San Pablo that my grandfather passed down to us, his five grandchildren.

house and land in San Pablo that my grandfather passed down to us, his five grandchildren.

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Silvia, Jose, Seth, myself and the caretakers of the property

Silvia, Jose, Seth, myself and the caretakers of the property

checking out what the care-takers are growing, Jose being silly

checking out what the care-takers are growing, Jose being silly

seth just tasted something

seth talking about plants

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feeling sad about all the changes and missing my grandparents: Jorge and Elia

feeling sad about all the changes and missing my grandparents: Jorge and Elia

honoring the land here, my great-grandfather's grape vine and the years i spent visiting with my family

honoring the land here, my great-grandfather’s grape vine and the years i spent visiting with my family

Mauricio, here for a week, treated us to go to the circus, amazing! Here I am with my cousins Mauricio and Natalia.

me and my primos at Cirque de sole

me and my primos at Cirque de sole

Though Costa Rica is getting more malls and grocery stores, Fresh markets remain a common part of life all over the country. Every weekend we had saturdays free we went to the Mercado Verde. It is an alternative market focussed on conscious agriculture and natural local products.

mercado  verde joys

mercado verde joys

It is one of a kind there. Some organic and mostly local. People doing awesome things in my country from organic dairy and produce to home-made body products and medicines. Sadly, no organic/grass fed/free range meat being sold. It was heartening to be amongst other alternative folks. Plus one of the days we were there we spotted Sandor Katz (the fermentation super star! who also did a workshop at Lama) who wrote Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation. He was leading a workshop at the mercado and we totally stalked him for a while.

the mercado verde had tasty eatery areas= this one was our favorite, with coconut carribean

the mercado verde had tasty eatery areas= this one was our favorite, with coconut carribean “rice and beans”!

 

We had a powerful time with Mauricio in Guayabo, a national monument where our ancestors built aquieducts, roads, buildings, ceremonial centers, petroglyphs and their homes right up against the volcan. This site dates back more than 3,000 years. I could say a lot about this time. Not sure even how to describe. For now i’ll just say that it was a power-spot and i am humbled to have felt the depth of that energy there. This place just keeps doing what it needs to do. Grateful for the messages it gave me.

road into and out of the center that many took from afar

road into and out of the center that many took from afar

Guayabo central

Guayabo central

So grateful for Mauricio for taking us!

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Here are some more photos of our last few weeks!

hanging out with Carmenza, an old friend of my mom’s. she’s known me all of my life, so glad we’ve stayed connected!

We also got to spend time with Marita, my a close friend of my aunt’s from way back-dinner at an old Argentinian restaurant – a favorite of mine.

A day in Barva with Jose and Grace, Silvia and Seth. After a slightly stressful drive up the mountain, and a good hike, we made it to the park entrance to start the real hike to the volcan brave. a stunning spot! Jose, Seth and i did the hike.

A day in Barva with Jose and Grace, Silvia and Seth. After a slightly stressful drive up the mountain, and a good hike, we made it to the park entrance to start the real hike to the volcan brave. a stunning spot! Jose, Seth and i did the hike- what a work-out for the knee!

on the hike up the mountain road, a great oak

on the hike up the mountain road, a great oak

 

a roble, oak- it was definitely the mother of all oaks! amazing!

a roble, oak- it was definitely the mother of all oaks! amazing!

time with my Tio! we made it to the caldera, an ice cold lake surrounded by forest

time with my Tio! we made it to the caldera, an ice cold lake surrounded by forest

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What a special trip for us.

 

view of the valley hiking up to the park entrance

view of the valley hiking up to the park entrance

Sometimes i got some help!

volcan Barva hike

volcan Barva hike, thanks seth!

 

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Days at the house in Santa Ana were pretty lovely….and full of fruits….

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the leaf-cutter ants rule the land here...this is their pathway in the front yard

the leaf-cutter ants rule the land here…this is their pathway in the front yard

 

seth trimming mango tree, front yard, Santa Ana

seth trimming mango tree, front yard, Santa Ana, eso!

 

the house in santa ana

the house in santa ana

grapefruits, oh yes!

grapefruits, oh yes!

We had such a sweet time with Olga, my aunt, and her husband Lazero – we got to have an amazing lunch and re-connect.

It is so interesting and enriching to keep the relationships with family and close-ones that have known me since i was tiny to now find the relationship as it grows in my adulthood, reconnecting in new ways.

A day trip to the Cataratas de la Paz with Silvia and Alvaro

the power of the water and the great vibration throbbing in me as i grieve celebrate grieve celebrate

the power of the water and the great vibration throbbing in me as i grieve celebrate grieve celebrate

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moths and butterflies

moths and butterflies

hear-moment with this powerful water

hear-moment with this powerful water

I think personal blogs can be generally self-indulgent, at least…mine is sometimes…so just to carry that theme on, here are some self-indulgent photos of plants we loved along the way!

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ancient

ancient

chile panameno-our favorite!

chile panameno-our favorite!

agave

agave

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poor-man's umbrella!

poor-man’s umbrella!

 

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a sloth. not a plant.

a sloth. not a plant.

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heart seeds

heart seeds

 

 

The last few days were spent with family and a new friend, saying goodbye and enjoying time together.

 

Manuel, the gentle one i did language classes with, many blessings brother!

Manuel, the gentle one i did language classes with, many blessings brother!

me and my cousin, Nati, happy to be together, sad to say good-bye!

me and my cousin, Nati, happy to be together, sad to say good-bye!

me and dora, my great aunt, so glad to make this connection on this trip, a kindred spirit!

me and dora, my great aunt, so glad to make this connection on this trip, a kindred spirit!

a goodbye-lunch at the family retreat house. so grateful for the time together eating, talking, sharing, listening....

a goodbye-lunch at the family retreat house. so grateful for the time together eating, talking, sharing, listening….

My uncle Chema and Seth had such a sweet connection

My uncle Chema and Seth had such a sweet connection

family pic!

family pic! chema, my uncle is taking the shot-

Saying good bye was not easy, it NEVER is.

at the airport with Silvia

at the airport with Silvia

sunset at my father, edwin's home.

sunset at my father, edwin’s home.

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I left feeling full of my love for this place, the people and the gifts of who i am and where i came from.

full of gifts

full of gifts, or citrus…your pick

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Up next:  My mom and sister’s visits in the Spring and our most recent move to the land in Molalla, camping out, and building our yurt platform and the joys of hauling water

 

the Land “in the depths of this chest…”

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“eu fond du peito bate coracao”
“in the depths of the chest beats a heart”

in Portuguese it sounds delicious.

i have forgotten who wrote this. but thanks, whoever you are!

the words themselves lap gently at my insides.

In the depths of this chest, this heart is beating…..
i am slowly  finding it….
In the depths of this land there is a heart, i am slowing down enough to feel it….
Seth and I spent two days one weekend on the land.
Camped out.
we made a fire at night and sat around it talking.
Looking around.
i kept having this feeling of me watching us, watching us there in our tiny life. a tiny life shimmering with blessing and full of challenges and at the same epic and spectacular and part of the Great Story that we are all a part of. like i was watching it….in on some secret…
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evening fire

there was a coyote in a corner of the land howling a raw song. she had company this time but usually she sings alone.
making friends with the oregon grape and all the pollinators who worship her

making friends with the oregon grape and all the pollinators who worship her

little kestrels (sharp beautiful creatures), red-tailed hawks (gliding high above us most days-two adults and one juvenile), an owl and a running creek that is slowing down but oh so lovely. lots of lichen on the white oak. oregon grape flowering with honey bees and wild pollinators dancing all around it. Indian Plum. One Madrone. I am going to love this one madrone.

All of it.

north facing slope on south end of property + clouds

north facing slope on south end of property

with the overwhelm and the hugeness of it all, i am choosing to play. to walk around stunned and not thinking. then sometimes considering practical things, then….playing some more.
first bucket toilet on the land, thanks to seth

first bucket toilet on the land, thanks to seth

hmmm....

hmmm….

double flute-companion
drum
zhikr
singing
tiny bamboo flute, little land songs bouncing around the slopes and into the oak groves full of boulders and snowberry
altar and my little bamboo flute  next to where the water lasts the longest under a flowering wild plum tree

altar under wild plum blossoming with my friend, the bamboo flute

the silence of a land that is alive is never actually totally silent. it’s just full of things completely at peace with their place in the world. singing their own songs in the Great Song. it’s a natural harmony.
i am choosing to love tiny areas of the land.
it’s the only way i know how to ground into this reality.
wild plum blossoming

wild plum blossoming

63 acres is a lot to take in all at once.
start small as a friend suggested.
coming out of a new trail through one of the oak groves

coming out of a new trail through one of the oak groves

making stone dams in the creek. This slows down the water so that it stays around in the land. lessens erosion.
seasonal creek life has its own symphony! tiny guys making homes out of pebbles and bark, everything lives under rocks, countless weird worms.  seeing them carrying their homes on their backs never gets old for me.
seasonal creek under the wild plum tree, my boot, one of the future pastures in background

seasonal creek under the wild plum tree, my boot, one of the future pasture/orchard areas in background

i took time to dig into one of the places where the clay surfaces and make sculptures to put around the land.
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clay altar with one of the many red/yellow jasper-like stones found on the land

tiny altars, little water pots pouring out abundance everywhere,
my hands in the clay of that Land,
a natural altar upstream with a tiny rodent skull, little offerings and a pitched of abundace

a natural altar upstream with a tiny rodent skull, little offerings and a pitched of abundance

a yellow earthy-grey
knowing they will melt later on…..i am going slowly.
making little honorings and rituals
abundance pouring out into the pool where my lover bathes

abundance pouring out into the pool where my lover bathes

Recently i have felt an acute pain in my heart. The pain is a messenger for me: i need to pay attention to something. Which i noticed leads to a longing for my Lama Foundation community. Lama’s particular way of articulating a shared culture of rituals and intentionality is so core to who i am. I have been doing my own practices and honoring on the land and at times with seth. But I long to share it with others. This is a deep need and am recognizing that a certain amount of “stepping up” is being called of me and seth in response to our own needs and beliefs. This intentionality is just as much a part of our vision as everything else. In fact, it informs our hopes and inspirations for how we aspire to live in this world.

me in the morning on the beach after drinking fresh coconut that seth opened. i placed this one here even though it is not on the land. it is every much a part of the process. this photo captures a glimpse of this powerful light that moves in me, a moment of clarity and peace that is inside, similar to the voice of inspiration and fruits of my life, including all that the Lama Foundation helped me cultivate and realize was always there!

me in the morning on the beach in costa rica. this photo  glimpses a strong place, a powerful, peaceful light that moves in me, connected to the longing i speak of and the love underneath. this photo is a reminder.

It informs our daily interactions. It challenges us to pay attention to all our relationships. I left my nest (Lama) and am seeing who i am and learning how to integrate the very unique blossoms and fruits that Lama mirrored to me and eventually empowered me in expressing in my years as a steward and then a resident. I also no longer have a fully flowing community structure supporting this and “doing it for me” in a way. I need to do it for myself, no one is going to do it for me.
pitcher of abundance over my lover's bathing spot

pitcher of abundance in oak branches where my lover bathes

We need to create the life we want and need. I will say that this Lama-ness is EVERYWHERE inside me and comes out ALL the time, sometimes at unforeseen moments! So i’m listening at how to manifest it genuinely. Sometimes it feels like i have no choice to do what is natural and if i do not listen it is painful in my heart. And much of the time, what is natural to me is not part of the “mainstream” culture.
I am open to the Universe’ guidance in how this will emerge here in this particular part of the Farm’s life.
There are also lots of projects happening.
joe and lavonne working out the invasive scotch-broom to get the pasture ready. these folks are NO joke, amazing!

joe and lavonne working out the invasive scotch-broom to get the pasture ready. these folks are NO joke! yeah!

this is beautiful and dedicated. i am so grateful. this is a powerful way of loving this land as well as all the other ways they love it.
carrie (seth's sister) and her partner, lindsey taking a break from an amazing day of land-loving-working

carrie (seth’s sister) and her partner, lindsey taking a break from an amazing day of land-loving-working

burning scotchbroom piles, preparing pasture and orchard areas

burning scotchbroom piles, preparing pasture and orchard areas

but before i can do anything, i have to be where i am. and i am still in awe asking myself:
“where am i ?”
“This is the LAND?!”
seth in a tree in the north part of the land, facing south- big view of land, rows of christmas trees are part of the area being leased out, soon to be done with lease

seth in a tree in the north part of the land, facing south- big view of some of the land, rows of christmas trees are part of the area being leased out, ( it came with the property-soon to be done with lease), there are three fields here, the first covered in invasive blackberry/old christmas trees and then the next two are all part of the land, note oak groves.

 as the sun set, there was a huge shooting star. just for me, as all lovers feel,
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that their embrace is only for them, their love like no other. and of course it is unique, but….it is also like every other love…
trail going into fir forest on property

trail going into fir forest on the land

i’d like to think it means something. i’d like to think it means this is the “right” place. i don’t know. of course i want an outward sign about something so huge and so terrifying.
first camp-fire on the land

first camp-fire on the land

something about love. and maybe that love’s always there…..the star reflecting something inside me i’m still finding and losing and finding
lichen communities

lichen communities

the longing is always there, thank Goddess that indeed in my chest there is a heart beating.

fun in the field

seth dancing in the field

Messenger (Mary Oliver)

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

mary oliver’s poetry is a close companion to me

** we are brain-storming how in the world we can live on the land. for the truest form of relationship to this place we need to live there to see, listen, smell, touch, observe, wake up and go to sleep on it. We have a few different options, they are tricky and we are still figuring out how it can work out. a yurt is also a possibility. lots of pros and cons. stay tuned, so far the best idea is building a very small hut (off the radar) until we can build our house (3-5 years). There is so much to consider.

meeting neighbors with some positive and less obviously positive prospects. trying to stay open to the ones who have shown unfriendly tendencies. we will most likely have a neighbors’ herd of sheep graze on some of our pasture this summer. this would be a relationship-building thing as well as supporting our pasture.

seth’s parents are stoked and loving the land (appreciating how much they are “with” us in all of it through support and service), they are hoping to find a place close by, possibly even right next to this land to relocate, all of this it totally up in the air. but if this happens it would be exciting, a big deal!

carrie and her partner, lindsey have been helping out on the land and loving it also, so grateful for all the varied offerings they give!

we do want this to be a family farm (and possibly open to other forms of community some way down the line). we also are increasingly aware at how much we need to connect to the land independently. We need to create ritual and ceremonies as part of this particular patch of earth and explore our relationship as a new couple together with the land. listening to our needs and creating boundaries as well as openings along the way is a practice in itself!

A gift from a friend, we have read and re-read, “The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” by charles eisenstein. Among many books and teachings we resonate with (check out my links page), this one strikes a deep chord within us and inspires much of the inner and outer work we are doing these days. It reflects and validates already stewing, growing places in us.

my mom and sister are visiting in march/april to walk the land for the first time and support me in all these changes. i’m so excited to share this with them! i am feeling the need for this big time and so can’t wait to see what they think and how they will eventually integrate into this place.

image of land, rectangular black line outlines the land, includes pan handle and 2 ft walk way to unlivable house. note the contour lines and seasonal creek. the aerial probably already looks different from the work we've done.

image of land, rectangular black line outlines the land, includes pan handle and 2 ft walk way to unlivable house. note the contour lines and seasonal creek. the aerial probably already looks different from the work we’ve done. the right side of the rectangle: north, the left side:south, the bottom:east and the top:west

seth is so in his element, he is shining and never wants to leave the land, it is so beautiful to witness.

seth and i are starting the process of creating a mission statement etc. if you have any wisdom tips (practically as well as intuitive-supporting) on how to do this, let me know in the comments section, thanks!

oak and oregon grape and sunsetting

oak and oregon grape and sunsetting

have any questions? leave them in the comments section and i promise this time i’ll answer!

so grateful for ALL those loving us and holding us from afar as we continue our journey!

normally people post attractive photos of themselves, but lets face it, being happy is not always hot....

normally people only post attractive photos of themselves, but lets face it, being happy is not always cool….

a funeral a wedding costa rica 1

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“Do they make tamales in your country?” the lady at the carnicería asked me in español.

seth and me on our first days of arrival, views of san jose!

seth and me on our first days of arrival, views of san jose!

eating tamales, comfort & soul food

eating tamales, comfort soul food

This is usually followed by the question of how early i left and that “se nota.” Which basically means “you can tell.” Minus the steak and hair-net this is the constant script of many of my interactions when i go back. Someone is usually wearing lipstick. This someone is never me.

On the way home from the carniceria, we walked by an entire funeral procession on their way to the church. All heads bowed and not a smile anywhere on the block, except maybe on the deceased family member, but i couldn’t see her, she was in a box. Once we got to the church where the funeral was being held, we heard a pulsing salsa tune and right across from the street there was a school hosting a wedding. The bride in a huge white princess gown was twirling and laughing while someone’s uncle was trying to dance with her, a crowd moving around them. Right across the street from the wedding: A small church, painted creamsicle-orange, with yellow stained glass windows, full of people and the kind of stillness that is almost heavy and almost expected at this kind of thing. The mourner’s silence meeting somewhere in the middle of the street with the wedding celebration song.

This is exactly where we are walking.

This is exactly how i felt during my visit to my country. Sometimes more a funeral. Sometimes a wedding. Mostly it was both at once.

Cultural identity and ethnicity has been a big theme through my life. Especially during my teen years. Anxiety. Confusion. Awkwardness.

I do not fit entirely into either culture. Either I am seen as an other or I feel like a primary part of me is not free to be itself or acknowledged. Being seen as a stranger in my own country is extremely painful. My accent and language abilities are a big part of this. Certain verbs and especially speaking of deeper emotional topics were challenging. My clothes, how i hold my body, how i walk, how i relate to people…so many things. There were many moments that called for the ability to laugh at myself. Luckily, i’m good at this. Another observation of my experience is that i am treated very differently when i am with a tall, muy guapo, green-eyed man of German/English ancestry: My husband. I got the stink eye from way more women than usual as well as immediately assumed to be from the United States. This adds a fun new element!

The real and perceived privileges associated with being “American” were also happening. Along with this I am always painfully aware of how “Americans” are viewed by Ticos because I both have the same judgments as other Ticos as well as just being aware of cultural differences in social dynamics.  I am no doubt acting out some of those characteristics no matter how aware I try to be.

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taking the ferry to Guanacaste, in full tourist mode!

These past two months in Costa Rica I’ve been more comfortable answering questions and sharing my story to those curious or just completely confused by me. I’ve also let myself grieve and mourn my unique experience in a way i have not before. Part of the grief is also wrapped up in ‘what ifs.’ What if I had not moved to the United States? What if I’d stayed there just long enough to get my language fully developed?

baby me in Santa Ana

baby me in Santa Ana just BEING

Who would I be? What would my life be like there? What parts of me would be exactly the same? What if we had decided to live here in my country instead of move to Oregon?

Though I will not go too much in depth, there was also a funeral/wedding experience to the honey moon. Some important patterns in myself and seth came up for us to look at that were not easy at all. Sometimes it felt like the anti-honeymoon! Out of those hard things came more honesty, more vulnerability, more intimacy and connection.

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Simultaneously I was experiencing a funeral in my heart around my childhood compared to my present adult experience. From a mix of illusions and reality my memories are of our family doing everything together.

my grandmother, myself, my primo and my sister on a day trip

my grandmother, myself, my primo and my sister on a day trip

Big family dinners, weekends and trips together.

me, my sister and my primo on a family trip to the volcan

me, my sister and my primo on a family trip to the volcan

The cousins all together. The tios and tias around taking care of us, playing with us, hanging out.

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My grandparents were the foundation of all of this until they  died. Even when they were sick there was constant communication about how they were doing and what our plans were. I was very close to them. We brought out a wackiness and a tenderness in one another.

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Their home was our home.

my grandparent's home in Patarra

my grandparent’s home in Patarra

Even though we had such different experiences there was a care and affection between us that I cherish. After they died, their house was still a foundation for us two years ago when we came to spread my grandfather’s ashes. This year we stayed in the family weekend house in Santa Ana in the mountains.

seth trimming mango tree, front yard, Santa Ana

seth trimming mango tree, front yard, Santa Ana

The funeral shroud, then, in this case is the longing for ‘how it was’ when I was younger. How it all had changed. The first month this was a poignant loss for me and I attended my own funeral, crying with my face stuffed into Seth’s chest until I fell asleep.

I realized that soon my 30th birthday was coming. This is an important step for me somehow. I do believe in life rhythms. And I feel in my bones i’m leaving one and coming into another rhythm in my life. In that first month, I felt an internal tide to let myself grieve the things that didn’t happen or have changed. Let them go as in let who I am live in me without as much wailing and holding on so much that it keeps me from seeing what is right in front of me. I am a big fan of wailing and holding on tightly! The wailing needs to have it’s time. There is no transformation without the honoring of what is present. Of looking at it straight-up and letting those stuck emotions be. But without expecting or pushing for it or being hard on myself for it not happening the way I think it should.

Being an adult isn’t a pressure I feel from the outside anymore. I don’t even feel it from the inside. It is more my journey of getting to know myself, being open and confident to my changes and truths as they take form or shatter. Letting the hurt parts exist without holding onto them so that if they feel like it, on their own time, they can go ahead and transform into whatever thing with wings or delicate feelers that they want. Being gentle with myself, the hurt parts and the patterns that resulted. If possible even loving them and thanking them for the ways they protected me. My story is important, but it does not have to rule me. Plus, as Pema Chodron says, I am the only one who knows when I am closing and opening. It is a personal journey and does not seem linear. It seems more cyclical and spiral-like. I have no doubt that new levels of grief would come up if I have children raised mostly in the united states, or when another close family member dies, or next time I go back and face a different kind of change etc.

But I do feel I am stepping into an embrace of what is in regards to family changes and my identity. The jewels of my unique story are many. The wedding is as fabulous as the funeral is somber. Some jewels are obvious and I can describe them. Others, like how the Spirit of that land I came out on will somehow inform what I do in the world….are harder to put words to.

My deep love for Costa Rica and the United States including all their pros and cons live inside me in a unique and feisty mix of ideals, perspectives and wisdom. Of-course my mom’s raising me + other unknown/known variables impacted all of these things. Just to name a few jewels: I believe my ability to dance is tied to my culture of birth (no doubt also to my soul-path). My sense of independence, strength and possibilities for myself are tied to my years in the U.S. My appreciation and open-mindedness toward other cultures all over the world is in part a product of traveling back and forth at such a young age between cultures. My active life as a girl playing soccer, basketball as well as being a poet, swimmer, and in love with science and the natural world was strongly supported in the U.S school systems and culture. Resources surrounding alternative life-styles, healing modalities, body care and spirituality were much more accessible here. I believe in part that my respect for elders (so much as giving them your seat on the bus) from helping them, listening to them and including them was enforced in Costa Rica. My deep connection to powerful natural forces: ocean, mountain, volcanoes, rain forests, waterfalls, rivers was molded by my time in Costa Rica. My ability and longing for both culture’s food palettes as well as learning to cook from both varied worlds.

My bilingualism: My very emotional and personal relationship to Spanish is hard to explain but is so deep for me. Certain words only sound appropriate in Spanish. I have a feeling for the sounds, not necessarily the grammatical explanation for why they are and what they are, but an emotional connection to them. I also notice that certain words not only sound better, but it takes a lot of work to remember them in English when i know them perfectly in Spanish. Which can be awkward when speaking to an English only speaker.  This is why i LOVE Spanglish. There’s lots of criticism of it and encouragement to “choose one” but Spanglish is just undeniably a perfect fit for me. Because it is how i think and is more true to how i feel. I can get around just fine in Spanish and even was more able to describe deeper more profound thoughts and feelings. I have a natural and easeful relationship to English, I am fully aware that this is a privilege that I enjoy. After two months my spoken Spanish increased so quickly. My accent became more natural to other Spanish speakers. It was like a sleepy beast in a dark hole coming out of a long nap and finding the light, realizing it could fly around and do flips in the air and stuff. Amazing! Longer trips are much better for this! I made friends with one of the guards of the gate community our house is in. He is wonderful, gentle and open-minded. We did a couple language classes together where we practiced english and spanish, talked about our lives and just connected really well.

the gentle one i did language classes with, many blessings brother!

the gentle one i did language classes with, many blessings brother!

I have a unique perspective of Machismo because I have cultural understanding and context for it, even a love and pride wrapped up in it. But I also live and grew up in another culture with different norms and deep cultural tendencies (I am in no way saying that the USA is without a macho dominated culture, it just manifests a bit differently, it’s cloak is a different color and texture but it’s still there) that I also grew up surrounded in and am a product of.

At a restaurant one night the waiter asked my cousin and I where we were from. We explained that Nati is costa rican and lives in costa rica, has always lived there. I am costa rican but do not live there and haven’t for a long time. So she is “de aqui de aqui” — from here from here and I am “de aqui de alla”—from here from there. He still looked confused but it works for me, including both cultural backgrounds.

my aunt, my sister and me (when mom got her PHD)

my aunt, my sister and me (when mom got her PHD)

This time, my closest and most present aunt was our main foundation-supporter-person we spent time with. She has always been a close supportive person in our lives. This and a few other relationships deepened in a way would not have been possible without the changes in family dynamics.

my father and i  sunset

my father and i
sunset

My cousin, Natalia, and i got lots of awesome one on one time which i am so grateful for! Love her!

me and my cousin

me and my cousin

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me and my primo, mauri

Mauri and i got some totally sweet cousin time during his brief visit to Costa Rica (he goes to school in Atlanta) as well as with Seth too!

After I got to have a good mourning time, I found in me a loving acceptance of where that family dynamic is. An acceptance of each person with their own lives and connections regardless of myself. I put effort into the moments I had with each person and met them where they were, without expecting them to be somewhere else.

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a deep and sweet last gathering full of conversation, listening and lots of good-bye hugs (at house in Santa Ana)

I savored watching jeopardy with my uncle, early mornings at the beach with him, hanging out in the kitchen or running errands with my aunt, even just a passing greeting with other beloved Tios when I got the chance was special to me. I cherished the times with my cousins. I even connected quite deeply to my mother’s aunt who is now 87 years old. We had an immediate connection and just fell in love with one another.

me and dora

me and dora

I spent an evening with her and Silvia looking through old photos of family, especially the Italian side and writing down family histories and hearing stories.

family in italia, i believe one of my great-grandfather's brothers and his wife

family in italia, i believe one of my great-grandfather’s brothers and his wife

family in italia, the little girl with light hair is my grandmother

family in italia, the little girl with light hair is my grandmother

Seth and I had quite powerful times of introspection, connection and deepened understanding of our vision for the land (more on that later). We had hard conversations that opened whole understandings of one another as well as deeper self awareness. We traveled by bus, foot, plane, boat and even tuktuk together.

volcan Barva hike

volcan Barva hike

We also had times where I jumped on his back when the trail was too much for my knee!

Mostly the wedding lives in me as a deep gratitude and amazement at my life, the cultures i belong to, my family and the beautiful relationships with Spirit, myself and many others that i am cultivating.

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volcan poas, power everywhere

They have always been a part of me. Living inside me.

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volcan poas, power inside she came to me in my dreams after being there with her

So in more ways than I have described here, the Funeral and the Wedding danced in those 2 months together. Honoring both as part of a greater rhythm in my life and feeling so grateful!

Stay tuned for more on the trip (like where we actually went….) as well as updates on the Land!

Choosing My Life

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we found it!

We have been in Portland for almost 2 months now. We began visiting different land “for sale” almost a week after we arrived.

The four of us – Seth, myself and his parents- looked at places in different parts of the Willamette Valley. Doing extensive research on the internet/reading books (i recommend “Finding and Buying your Place in the Country by Les & Carol Scher) we have learned so much about zoning, real estate, online soil survey, building codes and all there is to consider when looking for land. Our families are amazingly supportive on many levels of this venture. We look forward to sharing this journey with them.

For me it comes to a dance of practical rationalizing and listening deeply to intuition. It can be quite hard to do this. I always thought that the moment i set foot on a place I’d know, you know, “love at first sight” and all. It doesn’t always look like that. Some of my most important relationships were hidden under fear and judgement for a long time before seeing the bright soul-connection waiting to come out.

At the beginning i met the whole thing with resistance. My inside, stubborn voice:  “I’m still grieving leaving Lama Foundation and the Mountain, still adjusting and integrating from all my transitions. I’m still in rehabilitation from ACL reconstructive surgery. This is going too fast!”

And sure, this process has moved much faster than I anticipated.

I like to take things slowly. I thought we’d settle in from Applegate for a few months, go to Costa Rica for part of the winter, then start looking in the Spring (did i tell you we were going to Costa Rica from early December-early February? More to come on this!). I thought it’d take a minimum of 6 months. I imagined that once I “fell in love,” everything would just click into place.

I just couldn’t figure out if the fear was 1.a message from my intuition saying “this is not the place, this does not feel right” or 2. a fear of greater commitment into this life that is getting richer and more terrifying by the moment because of this richness.

Knowing me, I’m pretty sure it’s #2. Things like taking risks, commitments and big life decisions bring me into a paralyzed place of indecision and fear. Of course I didn’t know for sure if it was my fear of commitment for a long time. But the difference is that now I have some perspective and can laugh at myself a bit or I name it and just let myself freak out for a while.

The reason for all this fear takes us back to a time in my childhood. It is part of the “story of my life.”

When I was five years old, sitting in a Missouri bus station, staring down at the reflection of the iridescent lights on the stained orange plastic of a chair, I subconsciously made a decision. Not necessarily true, but noteworthy, something that I still unconsciously pull out of the tool box. I sat there as we said good-bye to my father who was leaving to go back to Costa Rica. My parents were getting a divorce. As an adult I absolutely understand the need for this, it would have been unhealthy to stay as a family. No questions there. But as a child it broke my heart. And as an adult I finally let it break my heart years later. As a five-year old, instead of unfolding in grief naturally, I stayed busy and hyper. I was running around like wild and passing out at night too tired to think or feel. After years of therapy, letting myself open to the rhythms in grief of this great loss and a struggle to be more  self-aware, I realized I had come up with a simple equation for my life. I noticed I used it with situations and some people once I was at a certain vulnerability point with them.

love+increased vulnerability+commitment= risk=LOSS

In my life, I have tried very hard not to get to that point where risk/LOSS would happen. I have excellently sharpened tools to deal with these points in my life. But sometimes I grab that tool when it is not needed and when it harms me instead of helps me. Choosing to go through years of therapy with a tender/no bull-shit therapist + living at the Lama Foundation were huge external supports for this internal work I have been doing to create awareness around these patterns.

Getting married and looking for land to settle on are perfect moments where this tool marches in with bright flags and unfortunately loud tubas to save me from LOSS……

Tightly connected to this equation is a tendency to NOT choose. Not choose anything really. Let others choose, drag it out, wait ’till i have no choice, try to choose ALL OF IT.

In high-school when we were out late driving around and possibly under the influence of hormones, Velvet Underground, Janis Joplin or other substances; the desire for fast food came over us and I would always order one EACH of the dipping sauces for the chicken nuggets. This pattern extends ridiculously and painfully through my life. I want ALL the sauces. I don’t want to choose. It’s too risky.

The catch is that I am utterly humanly longing for the Divine in all I experience. Love moves inside and outside me. I can not stay away from this Love. I can not stay away because it IS me. The unfortunate tubas, the longing, the eternal dipping sauces, the Love and the heart-break of separation are all happening within me all the time.

A voice in my body keeps saying “Choose your life, choose to love your life.” I walk the woods behind our house here chanting this along with my personal practice.

At this point, It takes a certain amount of vigilance for me to do this and I’m working on it. Then there are the sweetest moments when no vigilance is needed, I’m just being and flying and this sometimes terrifying choice is totally natural and clear.

And so this long path I’ve taken you on leads us to the news we have to share.

After weeks of indecision, paralysis and moments of bright clarity, we are closing on a deal for land this week. Before doing this, we even met with some of the sellers and learned about the history of the land. The most important thing for me was to actually connect face to face. They grew up on this land, love it, and want to make sure “the right people” live there. We did our best in sharing with them our visions and our hopes. We actually made a connection. The main real estate broker said it was the most relaxed, positive meeting between prospective buyers and sellers he’d seen in his 20 years in the business.

Included in this “deal” are 63 acres 1 hour from Portland, a mix of north/south-facing slopes which have been in “legal” existence since 1852, bowl-like pasture areas with islands of old oak trees, a seasonal creek running through, almost impenetrable waves of scotch-broom and blackberry, owls, a hand-dug 50 ft well of unpromising possibilities, a small logging town that seems to be not so progressive, various diverse ecosystems, an unlivable house built in the 1920’s, a streak of clay strong enough to make pottery out of, red-tailed hawks,old Christmas tree farm plots from earlier ventures, tree frogs, various levels of soil-health, native and invasive plants, a dark moldy trailer, one wild apple tree and fields of possibility…..

looking south

looking south from the creek

None of this we will ever own. We will steward, love, wrestle, rejuvenate, surrender, restore and learn from this land. The hope is that it will own us and we will learn to listen to the land and ourselves as we grow together.

northeast facing pasture with seasonal creek and oak grove

northeast facing pasture with seasonal creek and oak grove

We are overwhelmed and astounded. A bit exhausted too.

In my first blog, Arriving in Applegate Valley i said, “Toward the end of our living on Lama Mountain this momentum felt to me like a great wave of energy that I was surfing or being pulled by to follow.”

Lama Prayer Flag "Wave" (Find Lama Foundation's link on my page)

Lama Prayer Flag “Wave”
(Find Lama Foundation’s link on my page)

This feeling continues. The wave continues. I believe we are all riding it/resisting it/surrendering to it in our own ways in this important time on our planet.

All of it, all of everything feels huge and bigger than us. It’s like I’m barely holding on as the wind whips me in the face and I try to keep my eyes open.

offerings of my journey

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setting off with an entire mountain in our hearts

setting off with an entire mountain in our hearts

Beloveds,

I finally decided to have a place to store my seed-words along the journey. My preferred communication is music or a simple note-book and pen so this will be a new adventure for me.

From living for 4 years(+some) at a spiritual community called the Lama Foundation in Northern New Mexico my husband and I came to Portland,Oregon. And very much like many in my generation: have come back to the parent’s home-his parents- during this transition.

We are here in this much wetter and milder climate to search for a place to root down and start a farm.
We are planning to manifest our vision and this particular climate’s version of Restoration Agriculture, “Using nature as a model, Restoration Agriculture is the intentional restoration of healthy, functional ecosystems as the context for economically-viable farm operations. Perennial polyculture with tree crops, livestock-silvopasturing, fungus, and pollinators are integrated to produce abundant food, fiber, and fuel and simultaneously restore critical ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water purification and infiltration (keyline design for water management), nutrient cycling, and biodiversity.” (from Mark Shepard’s book on the subject)

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This process is generally terrifying for me. A kind of paralysis between my heart’s desires and the gravity of risk and commitment it takes to step into this dream is what takes hold of me. This is intermixed with moments of a lightness and surrender that i can only thank grace for. That grace feels totally amazing when it is with me-like the Olla de Carne my grandmother, Elia, would make for me where nothing else existed but a calming hot soup steaming in my heart.

Writing anything down anywhere can have the possibility of the great Judge voice coming in to invalidate everything i have to share. So respectfully stepping aside from this part of myself, I begin.

I am honored to share all these parts of myself, and hope we can connect  over the heart-wires of this global community.

lama canyon aspens

lama canyon aspens

the Time it takes a Wasp

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with the mother madrone

with the mother madrone

It is starting to feel like Fall here. For me it’s that sweet smell of introspection, longing, dry leaves, rain and the promise of change.

Before leaving Lama Mountain, I had a session with my Sufi Guide Krishna Das. We were sitting outside his hut under the juniper and pinon doing our practice. One of the movements that is so dear and a part of this practice is to bend the head in a rolling motion to the left and fully coming up in a circular motion toward the right and then dip down into the center, the heart. Some could describe it as cicumnambulating the temple and then entering the temple. We go around this inner church with “there is nothing” and enter this sacred place with “but God” over and over and over, until finally we might remember that it is true and always has been.

As I entered this sacred space inside myself feeling the heart with each vibration, I wondered how much time, like in minutes, this practice takes. I noticed a common thread-waisted wasp flitting about in its hornet like motion similar to electronics and machines, akin to so many of the insect world but most pronounced in the wasp. She had a long abdomen and a bright red stripe on her wings. She looked around and flitted about our feet as we rocked around and around, tapping our toes as if walking and drumming to the zhikr. Then she seemed to find a spot right next to my feet and proceeded to dig a perfect hole there with extreme precision and speed. Once she was done she flew off. I wondered why anyone would spend time digging such a beautiful hole and then leave it there. Soon I found out. She came back and at first I thought it was a different kind of wasp, one with a thicker abdomen with beefy, furry sides but she was carrying a caterpillar under her! I was shocked and amazed and admit I was thrown out of the practice space for a moment. Then I just watched and came back into it. My watching her, her rhythm and my practice became less separate, more just different parts of the same rhythm, the same song.

She stuffed this stunned yet still alive caterpillar into the hole then came out and began to bury him right in there. Once she was done she smoothed out the area. She had created a nest, planted her babies in the caterpillar and left him there for her babies’ first welcome meal into this strange world.

This caterpillar is a tent caterpillar that creates a web-nest on trees in the area and when they come out they eat most things in sight and multiply quickly, stripping trees bare and moving on. Of-course they are not the enemy to be gotten rid of. But they do seem to wreck havoc on plants and farmers. These common thread-waisted wasps seem to slowly balance out that population bloom by using one for each nest for her young in the ground. And maybe this is a kind of circling and entering the temple. Both organisms living their lives and finding their balance in nature. Both creatures eating and taking life. This wasp and caterpillar rhythm going on simultaneously as the zhikr, becoming part of the zhikr. She created her temple and entered it. Becoming my only reference for time passing.

And so now I know, that the length of that particular zhikr takes the amount of time for a mamma wasp to dig a hole, take a life, fulfill her life’s purpose in furthering her genes and carry on, able to die.

As time has passed I have wondered how long it will take me to “land” here in Southern Oregon. Maybe there was a moment when it happened, plunk, and I was here. But what I think really happened was that I landed into the not knowing and made that my temple. I began to enjoy the land here, get into my exercises and relax into our “mission” of searching out possibilities for land. I also have spent a lot of time reading about all kinds of topics related to our vision. But the not knowing became the temple, I just wasn’t as speedy as the wasp in making it, took me some time to get comfortable with the truth of this particular temple at this point in my life.

Once I was more comfortable with this reality, I had a bad fall. Right before this fall the Physical therapist told me I wasn’t where I was supposed to be in regards to bending and that I would possibly not be able to squat fully in the end. I was devastated as how that related to my farming life/dancing. Then the fall: I wiped out on the gravel/dirt road without wearing my knee brace. I was getting confident and didn’t think I needed it unless I was hiking or doing strenuous activity. The pain was immense. After I recovered slightly I looked back at my leg to make sure it wasn’t sticking out in some weird angle. It looked normal but felt terrible. It then proceeded to get very swollen. I couldn’t walk at that point. I was able to see a physical therapist that I had seen just days before for a one time check-in (since I am still waiting for my insurance to kick-in in Oregon). Luckily I did not tear anything or un-due all the work my surgery had done months before. I just needed to rest for a week and ice often. I also need to wear my brace on any uneven ground-which is everywhere here unless I am in town. This fall snapped me back to attention to my need to take care of myself and I am lucky it was not worse. For a while I really struggled with being unable to contribute to our work-trade agreement here as well as could literally not “Do” to prove my “worth.” Once again folks…..i’m convinced this stuff comes up to my edges until I work the pattern out. At least it does with me, I got my butt kicked yet again. My time here has been what I “prayed’ for but in no way what i thought it would be. If I was overly useful at lama foundation to my own detriment, then, here I just was not the right person for the jobs needed to be done-and so wrestled with how this shows up in my life. I’m listening….again. I think the fall I took could be equated as the fat juicy caterpillar in that metaphor. The food that I needed to fill my temple with and do some much needed work. The mirror and the lesson all in one.

And the gift of it, though bought with much pain-is that i’m pretty sure I can bend much better than I did. Like that fall all at once did some of the bending work I hadn’t done in the two months of transition! Just days after I found out I was not where I should be. Amazing!

The last retreat here has been canceled due to water shortage. With this opening, we are leaving early October instead of later in the month. This feels right as we need to have more access to land we are interested in as well as farmers/resources that interest us. So we leave Trillium October 7th. We are moving to Portland to stay with Seth’s parents for the winter. I am looking forward to being close to some family and being less isolated. Sadly, we will not be in such a stunning wild environment. We will also not be living alone. We will be in a city. We have lived in off-grid wild places for the past 5 years so this will be a big change for us. But I am looking forward to deepening relationship with Seth’s family and learning to work together in our quest for land. I am hoping to be able to plug into the Sufi community in the area, maybe find a women’s frame drumming group, as well as check out the Unitarian churches as I grew up in one for much of my adolescence/teens. Who knows what else! Hopefully my insurance will come through so that I can keep seeing a Physical Therapist there. I never thought i’d say this, but I am really looking forward to flat walking areas and concrete as it is easier for me not to completely wipe out on them!

This time has been a big transition time and continues to be. I have been doing a lot of reading that keeps pointing to gratitude and appreciation as extremely important to our health, in dealing with coming changes in the world as well as for living with day to day challenges. I was talking to a friend and decided that this works for me: the gratitude and appreciation- but sometimes if I go there, it’s through what I call the dark back door. The places of grief, of longing and honoring what has passed and what is sore in the heart always brings me into a place of gratitude and appreciation in the end. The hallway through may take a while- but that dark back door seems to be one of mysterious transformation that connects me to a deep opening and eventually a lightness and a love. I do not grieve to get the light, I grieve to honor and end up in the light. And gratitude and joy blossom out of this.

My temple full of grotesque juicy caterpillars definitely has a dark back door. The time it takes to build this temple, this honoring of the ground-lessness may take the time a wasp takes to build her temple too or the time it takes to do that zhikr, or even the three months of being here at Trillium. Seth planted a flour corn up here- Carol Deppe’s “Magic Manna” corn. It is supposed to be ready in 90 days. Just in the last few days he has started harvesting the corn as it is at that perfect point. He is more released in leaving now that the corn is coming with us so thatwe can continue to share this seed in our lives.

harvest

harvest

We are such a part of it, and it is a part of us. So the amount of time, our particular song for this part of the journey is also the time it takes for this blessed corn to fruit.

Just different parts of the same rhythm, the same song.

Wasp, zhikr, life journeys, corn.