Summer 2009.   ~mike gradziel.
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Finally finding time for projects this weekend I have finished making two of the four legs on our new bookshelf. The shelf assembles with no fasteners - it's all joinery, and the legs must be trimmed to fit exactly into square sockets, all by hand since I moved away from my wood shop. In Berkeley last weekend I checked out a couple more lumber stores but still I've found no place like Reel Lumber in southern California. We were in Berekely after doing a hike in the Huckleberry Preserve in the Oakland Hills. There are berry bushes there, lots of them with berries too. We had lunch at the Cheese Board, where they make one kind of pizza each day and sell the pies like fast food, ready within seconds of your order. We ate ours in the grassy street median beside a sign that said "keep off median". There were dozens of people eating there - traditions aren't easily changed by new city ordinances.

   July 2009
hiking in the huckleberry preserve strange spiky red berry view in the huckleberry preserve
huckleberries hiking through huckleberry bushes pizza from the Cheese Board, Berkeley
staples in a Berkeley telephone pole Telegraph st, Berkeley tomatoes at Berkeley Bowl

Blueberries ripen early in the hot dusty valley 90 minutes east of the Bay. Joy and I picked ten pounds of berries, stocking up the fridge for the next few weeks of snacking. Fresh berries have to stay fresh - no freezing permitted, I say, so every day I have a generous handful on my morning cereal. We picked apricots too, and green vegetables, from Joy's parents yard. Later in the evening we went out in San Francisco to a new bar called Rickhouse. It was like stepping through the door to old California, where coca-cola and other soft drinks did not exist and bartenders dressed for an era long gone made everything from fresh citrus and berries, bottled liqueurs, and fine spirits. I chose a good Kentucky bourbon, straight up. The decor was all rough wood paneling and there was a fireplace and a pile of old whiskey barrels in the back. Aside from the crush of people it was really nice. Saturday we hiked Montara Mtn on the peninsula where views extend from Half Moon Bay all the way around to the City and the whole bay. It was windy, and every bit of shrubbery was sculpted by the fog streaming over the hilltop. Someone should install wind turbines up there. Back in San Mateo, the weather was clear for 4th-of-July fireworks which we watched from the back of my truck, warm and cozy with blankets and pillows. Our perfect parking spot was busted by private security at a condo complex, but another space around the block worked well enough.

   July 2009
blueberry picking at Jessop Farms blueberry picking at Jessop Farms blueberry picking at Jessop Farms
Montara Beach climbing Montara Mtn, 1900 feet high back at Montara Beach

I went home for the weekend, just days before the solstice when the sun rises in its proper place behind a particular hill, when the wild strawberries are ripe and the land is alive, untamed, and pressing close against the house clamoring to reclaim the lawn. I imagine my weekend tucked among the pages of a Thomas Hardy novel. In the old barn we sifted through things that hadn't been moved in sixty years, set in place by a farmer who remembered the days before electricity. People I've known for three fourths of my life are still around just like always; we got together to catch up on conversation ten years after high school. It's nice that some things stay the same, even if I'm a world away across the continent.

   June 2009
wild strawberries immediately after taking this photo, I ate them all wild strawberries
swimming hole Bassett Brook, Adams MA Dad has quite a collection of firewood
sun silvered firewood marsh iris butterfly on a purple vetch
the back yard mom serving lunch the front yard
flowers in the hay field flowers in the hay field wild strawberries

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a tract of hilly land north of Santa Cruz, reached by miles of narrow winding roads from the east. Big trees there are one or two thousand years old and hundreds of feet tall, rising from fern-covered valleys. Redwood trees are the last survivors of once widespread forests that flourished tens of millions years ago, so while some trees themselves sprouted before half of recorded human history, walking among them is like going back even further in time to an era when the Grand Canyon didn't yet exist! We camped among the giants, ate great quantities of food around the campfire, and played a type of bowling called molkky - a game from Finland which dispenses with all the dull formalities of an English bowling green and lets you hurl a stick of wood across forest clearings in an escalating competition of numbers and accuracy.

   June 2009
walking in Big Basin Redwoods, California fuzzy caterpillar on a manzanita tree ancient redwood in Big Basin
walking in Big Basin Redwoods, California this tree is still alive! splintered redwood from a fallen giant
meal time at camp chili for dinner, with fresh fire-baked cornbread Big Basin Park overlook

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