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commonwealth
United States
I make, fix, read, grow, ask. And now I blog about it!
Recent Activity
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“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” -Frederick Douglas If this weekend was any indication, then by Frederick Douglas' estimation, we must be some freedom-loving people. Wow. That was something. Regardless of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at commonwealth
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Americans love to talk about our rights. We have a right to free speech. We have a right to free religious practice. We have a right to a free press. We have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney. We have the right to bear arms and a right to equal treatment under the law. We may not always agree on where to draw the line when your rights bump up against mine, but we can damn well agree that we have the rights to begin with. But what about responsibilities? Do citizens of a free... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2017 at commonwealth
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As part of my "I'M going to do something" resolution, I started following Fox News on Facebook (Fox News national, not a local affiliate station) in an effort to broaden the sources of the news I read and watch. I watch very little television, so most of my news comes from print, websites, radio, and social media posts from news sources. And in that respect, I have a lot of company. Nationwide, an estimated 43% of Americans receive ALL or SOME of their news from social media sites. So what news outlets choose to send out to their followers is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2017 at commonwealth
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I’ve tried. Really, I have. I have exercised hard and stretched gently. I’ve read more books and taken more walks. I’ve taken time for quiet reflection and I’ve talked it out. I’ve danced and I’ve meditated. I’ve consumed gallons of tea and bottles of wine. I’ve been up at dawn and napped in the middle of the day. I’ve stayed off my phone and I’ve joined hundreds of online conversations. I’ve followed every bit of advice. And I’m still mad as hell. And I’ve decided maybe anger is an underrated emotion. We aren’t supposed to be angry. Especially women. Angry... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2017 at commonwealth
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Estimates of physical assaults against women in the U.S. run as high as one occurrence every 9 seconds. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. “Physical assaults” does, of course, cover a wide spectrum of behavior - from simple battery to sexual assault to murder - so I suppose it’s to be expected that there would be a correspondingly high rate of occurrence. But every nine seconds? I was thinking about this yesterday as I read news articles about Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, being charged with battery of a female reporter at a Trump campaign... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2016 at commonwealth
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I’ve been avoiding this space. It started the end of January when a planned post about sewing pajama pants for Patrick kept getting pushed back as I made one mistake after another sewing something I’ve made at least a dozen times before. And by the time I finally finished the pajamas, all interest in writing, photographing, or even thinking about them had evaporated. Closely followed by my motivation to write about anything at all. This happens from time to time. A lot of writers use writing to process the world around them. It’s a sort of therapy to lay out... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2016 at commonwealth
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Inspired from the Shaker hymn Simple Gifts, written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848: ‘Tis the gift to be simple ‘tis the gift to be free, ‘tis the gift to come down where you ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, It will be in the valley of love and delight. Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2016 at commonwealth
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One of my Christmas presents from Mr. Commonwealth was tickets to see an interview with Alice Waters, chef-owner of the award-winning Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, cookbook author, and founder of the food-education program, The Edible Schoolyard, for which she was recently awarded the National Medal of Humanities. For over 40 years, Waters has been advocating a food philosophy based on sustainability, intention, and seasonality, forcefully arguing that a diet centered around fresh, local foods is both better for the environment and better for the body. Her restaurant has been described as an incubator for a whole generation of chefs... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at commonwealth
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Around here, I am... thinking about :: how much more rain we will get (over 24 inches in the last 3 weeks!) thankful for :: the power staying on (knocks wood) wearing :: black sweater dress, charcoal cable-knit tights, black suede boots, silver cuff bracelet and dangly earrings anticipating :: an evening out with Mr. Commonwealth eating :: homemade cinnamon-raisin toast drinking :: Good Earth's sweet & spicy herbal tea with honey going :: to pick the kids up from school, pick up my CSA box, and meet Mr. Commonwealth after work reading :: Touchstone by Laurie R. King hearing... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at commonwealth
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It's the same story every year. I know I need a paper planner. I know how I want to use the planner and how it has to be organized. I know what size is most convenient and how much I want to spend (very little.) And every year around the end of October, the hunt commences for the perfect planner. I made my own planner a few years ago, and while the organization was what I wanted, it ultimately was a little unwieldy and, admittedly, time-consuming to make. But after once again failing to find a pre-made planner that had... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2016 at commonwealth
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(Full disclosure - this is going to be a long one. Grab a beverage and settle in for a visit!) You hear a lot lately about "she-sheds". It seems every major shelter magazine has had at least one story of a woman's desire to carve out her own niche to offset the over-masculine influence of the "man cave" in her garage. You know the drill: blaring headlines of how a she-shed can save your marriage or your sanity accompanying glossy photos of lace-draped windows or fluffy animal print chaise lounges. And if you have such a shed, and it's done... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2016 at commonwealth
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Since the beginning of December, I've had a new reason to look forward to Tuesday afternoons. For most of the year, Tuesday afternoons are spent at the farmers' market. Nine months out of the year, we have a local source for fresh fruits and vegetables, most of which are organic or grown in compliance with organic practices (the organic certification can be very time consuming and costly for small farms), and priced equal to or less than conventional supermarket produce. And there isn't a week that goes by that I'm not thankful for the community that supports our local farmers... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2016 at commonwealth
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No, as a matter of fact, I'm not ready to put Christmas behind me. Not the twinkly lights, not the relaxed mornings, not the copious amounts of food and drink. I don't want to (stomps feet). But school started back up again for the kids, so sayanara relaxed mornings. And my jeans are threatening a full-scale revolt, so buh-bye feasting and drinking. But the twinkly lights stay, darn it! I've negotiated a truce with the beginning of the new year, so while I packed up most of the holiday decorations over the weekend, the tree remains. And those twinkly lights... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2016 at commonwealth
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I've been thinking it might be time to institute a military draft. Of course, under no circumstances would this actually involve combat, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details. But I do think a good dose of shared sacrifice and living in close quarters with strangers might turn down the volume of social and political discourse in this country. One of the things I find most interesting about the military and military veterans is, when you talk to veterans about their service, regardless of age or combat experience or branch of service, they will almost always express a nostalgia... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at commonwealth
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Well, it got much quieter around here than I anticipated. It's not my fault. Really. It isn't. You see, at some point this summer, without my knowledge, I became an Uber driver. This phenomenon is apparently quite common among parents of teens and pre-teens, and is marked by repeated short-distance driving trips and obsessive texting with offspring. Secondary symptoms include an unpredictable schedule and nearly no time at home to get.shit.done. I'm not really complaining, mind you. I'm happy that they've made friends and enjoy busy social lives. And the trips to the beach weren't too hard to take either.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2015 at commonwealth
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Remember back when I said I was ready to start putting plants in the ground for our new garden beds? Well, I did it! And then I didn't blog about it. I know. I'm such a tease. So let's re-cap a little: ground as hard as a rock, prepped the garden bed with compost and mulch, tested soil, good to go. Now for the fun part. Buying plants! Some girls buy shoes or jewelry, I buy plants. Lots of them. And since it's a new bed, and I wasn't sure what would grow well here, and what the deer wouldn't... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2015 at commonwealth
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Woohoo!! Holiday weekend here in the States! And what better way to celebrate an American holiday than by serving up some classic American fusion food? I have to confess, I'm not always a fan of jumbling together food cultures. It seems...disrespectful in some way. As if one or the other original dishes aren't good enough on their own. This is especially true if the jumbling feels forced or outright weird. But sometimes, mixing a lesser-known, unfamiliar cuisine with one that people are more comfortable with is a great way to ease into a comfort and curiosity about trying new foods.... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2015 at commonwealth
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It's been just over a year since we sold our house in Illinois and reunited our family in California. The fact that I realized this on a beautiful, sunny afternoon at the beach seemed particularly fitting. In trying to summarize my feelings on that whole experience, the best that I can offer is the metaphor of driving through a tunnel. The only way out is through. And while I could start with a recap of just how sucky it can be to pack up and move 2,000 miles, I figure you're already well-familiar with tales of plummeting real estate values... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2015 at commonwealth
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Well, that should about bring you up to speed. We've had a birthday, planted and planted and planted, and eaten a lot of good food. There have been a few home improvement projects, and a lot of time planning and strategizing for a few more (vegetables and fruit trees! hot tub! treehouse! more hammocks! pygmy goats! yurt!). I do love the strategizing. After all, everything is possible on paper. We went to the beach, and while most of us found the water to be breathtakingly cold, Patrick insisted it wasn't really too bad. So he proceeded to get himself soaked.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2015 at commonwealth
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I had a really lousy workout this morning. An epically slow, "negotiating with myself the whole way" kind of run. Not exactly the best way to start the week, and the kicker is, I have no one to blame but myself. Over the last 20+ years of exercising, I've learned a few things about how to make my workouts , if not easier, at least more pleasurable. And over the last few days, I ignored most of them. So what better time to talk about the things I know I can do to make my exercising life a little easier,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2015 at commonwealth
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In deference to my midwest and east coast readers, I'm not going to say a whole lot about our recent weather. Suffice it to say, it's time to get serious about getting some plants in the ground. As with anywhere else in the world, there's a weather "window" in the Santa Cruz Mountains that combines the perfect plant-loving factors of gentle sunshine, warming soil temperatures and the occasional dose of precipitation. The challenge, of course, is to recognize when that window is opening and hustle to get all your planting done before the sun gets higher and hotter and that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2015 at commonwealth
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Previously, I shared how I got started exercising regularly to help me better handle stress. In that post I mentioned that with any enduring habit, it's unlikely that you start and then continue without stopping. More often than not, to maintain any habit for long, you're really starting and stopping and starting over and over again. I think exercising, in particular, is not a habit that ever becomes unconscious or ingrained. It's not like committing to flossing your teeth or drinking more water, where one day you just do it without thinking about it. For me, I walk or run... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2015 at commonwealth
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:: Finally tackling the piles of paperwork from buying and selling, because the tax man waits for no one. :: Lots of green stuff to be found at the farmers' market these days. Word on the street is, not too much longer and we'll have strawberries. Strawberries!! :: Clear, cool nights and warm sunny days. :: My annual January houseplant-buying spree. :: Close on the heels of my houseplant spree, baby herb plants at Trader Joe's. Hopefully the soil will be warm enough in a few weeks that they can go right in the ground. :: Mr. Commonwealth has been... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2015 at commonwealth
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I am not a naturally athletic person. I was not a high school or college athlete, I've fallen off every bicycle I've ever owned (even those purchased well into adulthood), and I have been known to injure myself walking up stairs. My default setting is "sedentary." So really, the only authority that I have to write about exercising in any way is the fact that I have exercised regularly, usually 3-4 times a week, for over 25 years. I know. Think of all the books that I could have been reading ;) I don't tell you this to brag or... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at commonwealth
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I think I needed that vacation more than I realized. I needed to sleep late, eat too much and plan very little. I hope you found what you were needing over the holidays as well, and that this finds you well-rested and enthusiastic about your upcoming year. I'm not generally one for making New Year's resolutions, as they always feel like paying penance for the sins of the previous year. All that "no more sugar" and "no more Netflix binges" business can be a real downer. Not to mention that those two resolutions would have absolutely zero chance of being... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at commonwealth