A Learning Experience

318: The First Ten Days

   by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

What is this that you are about to see? I explain the project here.

01

March 1.

Afternoon snack: homemade banana chips

02

March 2.

Napping house: pleasure reading

03

March 3.

Indiana landscape: 124 miles from home

04

March 4.

Dinner preparation: quinoa burgers

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March 5.

Onsite work: understanding audience at the art museum

06

March 6.

Pregnancy: more procedures, more blood draws

07

March 6.

Megatron: unexpected playtime with the kiddo

08

March 8.

Yard inspection: signs that Winter and Spring have met

March 9.

(I was in a movie theater. I contemplated taking a picture, but though better of it.)

 10

March 10.

Weekend chores: vacuuming

Lessons learned so far:

1. I do, actually, take some time for myself every once in a while. Why doesn’t it feel that way?

2. Although my calendar was a good hint, March is shaping up to be a busy month: appointments, meetings, trips, and visits with friends and family.

3. I don’t snack around this time of day nearly as much as thought I would.

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Goodbye February, Hello March

by Erin

It is the end of another month. I would still say that I am pretty pleased with what I have accomplished. In addition, I feel like I have already learned a lot in just these two months.

Explore a new place:

No progress yet, but I am thinking strongly about the possibilities. Does this mean something in my hometown? Does this mean some sort of trip? Or is this spiritual? And what does “explore” mean?  Does it mean simply encounter for the first time, or does it mean to really dig in?

Be inspired by two great people:

I am holding off on this one, too. As above, I’m thinking about what this could mean.

Read four classics:

Two down, two to go. What have I gained from this resolution so far?

1. From The Great Gatsby: Surrounding yourself with people does not mean you have friends. You have to truly connect to others. (Thank goodness for resolution #5!)

2.  From The Jungle: Though the book was written over 100 years ago there are still so many people hanging by a thread in our nation.  I believe that the book has renewed values in me that may have been quieted for a little while.

3. Also from The Jungle:  I am thankful for my vegetarianism. I do not advocate that everyone should be a vegetarian, but I do feel that we need to continue to look at our meat industry and decide what we are willing to accept as high quality practice and standards. Possibly to the detriment of our family grocery budget, I want to be even more vigilant when buying meat for the omnivores in our family.  There is so much more to learn. Do I sense another resolution?

4.  I have been inspired to read more classics beyond my goal. With this resolution I find that people keep giving me books. There is no reason I can’t knock off a few more from my “to read” list now.

Try six new recipes:

I found quickly this had to be tweaked. I guess I try out new recipes much more often than I anticipated.  So now it is recipe themes or “cooking adventures”. Where it stands so far:  I have made two of the three 15-minute meal recipes again and they will probably surface many times this year; I am on a citrus hiatus for a little while; I am still happy with my homemade cleaners. Where I am headed: I’m thinking about making my own cheeses. I also want to try a few recipes from the “Real Snacks” recipe book that I got for Christmas. This has led me to the purchase of those “strange” flours I keep seeing on the grocery shelves. The sixth theme/adventure idea has yet to surface and I will welcome suggestions.

flour

(Re)connect about once a month:

So far it has been a “first date” with another woman that I had only previously spent time with as members of our family units. We just made plans again, so this was worth the anxiety of trying the one-on-one for the first time. Then it was the family trip to meet friends for a weekend getaway. It was a nice reminder that creating a family does not  end your social life, though it does change it in profound ways. Currently, I have four envelopes addressed and sitting on my desk. My intention is to connect by means of those old fashioned letter things…now for the writing part of it. There are many more plans in progress so I feel good about my future prospects with this resolution.

Get selfishly “creative” about once a month:

I crave the process of creation. Beyond what I have shared here, I often take opportunities to make something new, something beautiful, something useful. The key word here is “selfish”. In this case, it is not doing it for others, but for myself, just because. With Big Box of Citrus and my upcoming 318 project, so far it has been about creating photos. As there are many more ways to create, there are many more ideas in progress. I’m just waiting for the right time. I am finding I am shy of a few ideas, though. Some of them also depend on timing as well as finances. I am sure that I will get close to fulfilling this resolution, but I may need more inspiration to come my way. Any ideas?

Has There Been Progress?

by Jennifer

I am quickly discovering that there is a flaw in my plan, a snafu, a fly in the ointment – there is a disconnect between posting regularly and my new method of task completion. It is proving difficult to accurately track progress when tasks are taken in such small sips that they can’t always be quantified. I have been pondering this for several weeks and still have no clear idea for corrective measures. Hmmmm, what to do? Well, since one of my goals this year is to simplify I shall let things fall into place as they will.

There, I feel calmer already!

Now to the progress so far this year:

Use Skills:
1. I have tried several new cupcake recipes and shared them with neighbors, friends and teachers. Because of the yumminess being passed around I have been commissioned to make mini cupcakes for a babyshower in March. Getting paid for something so yummy is a bonus!

2. I knit LaLa a scarf (Totally Fabulous Scarf – I think it is ugly but she loves it), completed a pair of handknit socks (Ichabod’s Bad Night Socks), finished knitting a shawl with my Christmas yarn (Pomegranate Shawl) and knit matching cowls for LaLa and I (Bandana Cowls).

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Try New Things:
1. The new cleaning products are working well but I need to add some essential oils or make some infused vinegar because both kids complain about how gross it smells. I’m on the look-out for an allergy/pet carpet cleaner too so it must be time to search pinterest again.

2. Bleu Cheese has been haunting me. Because of this I have discovered that it is tasty on burgers (from Granite City) and also on pizza. Oh, and it is also yummy on turkey sandwiches.

Try New Techniques:

1. I sampled a new knitting technique in December when I knit five new stockings for Christmas (yes, I am insane!) Fair Isle, or stranded knitting, has always befuddled me but this year I will master it, or at least become familiar and comfortable with it. I knit a hat (First Fair Isle Hat) and picked up a great tutorial that will walk me through six more projects.

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2. I spun bunny fur! One of our local farms raises English Angora Bunnies and I purchased a small amount of fiber last summer to try. It is amazingly soft but the fiber sure floats around in the air during spinning. Maybe that was why both cats were drawn into the room? I would like to try some more but I need to wait until the weather is nicer so I can spin outside.

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Research SPD, PDD-NOS and Anxiety:

After reading many blog posts, searching through my books and having discussions with Topher’s OT I have ordered a weighted blanket for him. He is a sensory seeker and comes home from school so wired that he crashes into everything in an effort to signal his brain where his body is. Hopefully the blanket will provide him a safer and less boisterous way to self-regulate. Maybe it will help him sleep better at night too…

Simplify:

1. Since we have been using safe cleaning supplies the kiddos have taken over bathroom cleaning. Three cleaning tasks eliminated from my list – yippee! Topher does a much better job than his big sister. LaLa is planning to have a maid and housekeeper as an adult and feels that learning the correct methods of cleaning are a waste of her valuable reading time.

2. The playroom has been rearranged, the new storage boxes have been purchased, the built-ins are undergoing a transformation, the toys and books are still being sorted and both children are doing a great job tidying up every night. Now I just need a few pieces of artwork and decorative touches and that room will be complete – for a while anyway!

3. I have reclaimed a small part of my fiber studio. In theory it is the dining room but since the kitchen was remodeled no one eats in there and it seemed like a waste of space to me. Now I am turning it into a lovely little sitting room filled with my spinning wheels, loom and office.

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Be Mindful:

This is ongoing as I try to experience mundane, ordinary or boring activities as something to cherish. This is going to be a tough sell as there is little about certain tasks to cherish. Unless I reward myself with chocolate…..

Big Box of Citrus: Week 3

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe (theme 2 of 6)
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 1 of 12)

orange

We’re wrapping up on our bushel of citrus. You can check out weeks 1 and 2 if you’re interested. Who knows? One day you may receive a bushel of oranges and grapefruit in the mail. Now you, too, will have ideas on how to beat the mold race and use them up. Here are some more ideas from this past week:

Refresh the garbage disposal. Most people recommend lemon peels, but I found that grinding up any citrus seems to make a difference. And speaking of “freshening” and “peels”…  You can make all-purpose cleaner, too. I have been following Crunchy Betty’s recipe and grapefruit skin  is my infusion of choice. With the abundance of citrus rind around here, I figured I may as well start another batch. I’ve dropped in some orange and mint essential oils for a boost to the senses.

Capture

Capture

Treat yourself to a face mask: 1/4 grapefruit and 1 Tbs. raw organic honey. The directions I had didn’t say how long to keep it on so I decided 30 minutes. After the first night my skin (and even eyebrows) felt soft. Night two made my skin feel smoother – no bumps.  I didn’t go past three nights because there was a weekend getaway that interrupted the progress, but I’m convinced this may be an effective treatment. With the antioxidant power of the grapefruit and the antibacterial properties of the honey, why not?face

Share a smoothie with your family. One morning my son wanted to make strawberry juice with the citrus juicer…apparently we’ve been juicing a lot around here. Since I could imagine that this plan wouldn’t work so well, I convinced him to make a smoothie instead. Mindful that this needed to be kid-friendly we made it sweeter than some of the other recipes I’ve tried: 1 pink grapefruit, 2 bananas, 1 c. strawberries, 1/2 c. yogurt, 1 Tbs. honey, 1Tbs. flax meal. It was definitely a hit.

Smoothie recipe #2 was my favorite so far, but it didn’t get very far with Kid: juice from two grapefruits, 2 bananas, 1 avocado, ginger (to taste). It was probably the ginger that turned him off. Not a big deal. More for me.

We included Dad to the smoothie party over the weekend with a revisit to #2 and new recipes 3 and 4.  #3: 1 orange, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup yogurt. #4: 1 grapefruit, 1 pear, 1 cup strawberries, ginger. We liked all three so instead of each choosing one each  we passed the jars around the table and enjoyed them all. Dad even taught Kid how to enjoy two at the same time.

CaptureCapturesmoothiesosmoothie

Enjoy breakfast (or dinner). We made orange French toast. You can find a recipe here. You can probably make it the way you normally do by just replacing milk with orange juice. I discovered low and slow was the way to cook it so it wouldn’t burn but still cook through. We also agreed that topping it with syrup brings out more of the orange flavor than topping it with orange marmalade and powdered sugar. However, both options were pretty tasty.

There was also some cornbread on the menu this week. So I citri-fied it by following Joy the Baker’s recipe for Brown Butter Rosemary Orange Cornbread. Typically I am not a huge fan of rosemary so I was skeptical, but wanted to stay true to the recipe for the first go-round. Turns out, I like this cornbread as I ate about 1/3 of the pan in one night.

Capturecornbread

Make dessert. I found making grapefruit sorbet to be incredibly easy. The hardest part was waiting overnight to eat it. This recipe is definitely one to keep in mind for the summer. It was SO stinking good.  The mix was 1 cup grapefruit juice (chilled), 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar. We don’t have an ice cream maker so I followed the technique at the bottom of this post.

Or, if cookies are more your speed how about some Melting Moments? I adapted Itty Bitty Kitchen’s recipe from lemon to orange. My problem was deciding how much orange juice and zest was equivalent to the juice and zest of one lemon. My frosting wasn’t nearly as thick as hers even after another cup of powdered sugar…I must have over estimated the juice a bit. These cookies were good in orange, but I am eager to try them in lemon.

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Number of fruits left: 4 and so ends the Big Box of Citrus Project. It will probably just be juice from here on out.  Thanks to my trusty tools without which I would not have survived this month.

kit

*BLAM*: Poetry

I tend to get ideas that hit like *BLAM* out of nowhere. I don’t get inklings and then stew on them and grow them up over time. And once I get an idea in my head it dominates my thoughts day and night until I do something about it. That’s kind of what happened with this blog. I was laying there all quietlike in bed at a decent hour then *BLAM*. I was up until one in the morning writing and planning and making lists.

So here’s another *BLAM* that I am doing something about immediately. I want more poetry in my life. I can feel poetry and I can react to it but I want to be more thoughtful about reading poetry. This is kind of what this blog is for. When inspiration hits to change something in your life, this is the forum to talk about your plans and progress. No matter what time of year.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, I have six other “resolutions” that I am plowing into. So this is my place holder. Either for 2014 or when I no longer have a resolution list. In the meantime…who are your favorite poets/poems? I have my list, but one always needs to expand. Also, for those of you literary folk out there…any suggestions on ways to approach poetry or essays/books that may give my an idea on how to approach poetry more cerebrally and less from the gut? Not that I want to lose the gut reaction, it is just that I want to add a little more oomph to my reading.

Big Box of Citrus: Week 2

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe (theme 2 of 6)
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 1 of 12)

Another week and more citrus…

It inspired some “art”this week:

“#1 Self Portait: Shadow and Citrus.”  – Grapefruit bears a striking resemblance to a 25 1/2 week pregnant belly.

“#2 Self Portrait: Consuming and Consumed” – I have fruit on the brain so often now I am even dreaming of  these little yellow and orange spheres.

bellydream

I took on another smoothie: 1 pink grapefruit, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana. This one was better than the last, although I am not sure grapefruit will be a staple to my smoothie recipes in the future. I threw in yogurt, 1/2 cup of spinach, and 1/4 cup tofu to round it out more nutritionally. At the last minute I put in a heaping gob of some mango sorbet that we had on hand. The crazy straw added some nice photo flair, but proved impossible to drink from.

chiffon

It was time to go grocery shopping but we didn’t get around to it. Why not orange ricotta pancakes? (It just so happened we did have ricotta, go figure.) I replaced the raspberries in the syrup with blueberries that’s what we had. I also added more orange juice to the batter to thin it out and give it more orange flavor. This was excellent. Although, with the ricotta and the berries this may not be an in-a-pinch recipe. In the future I would just adapt my typical pancake recipe. (RR Author) Graham recommended replacing milk with orange juice then adding ginger, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. With more fruit to go, that may show up in the rotation the next few weeks, too.

pancake

And yes. Sometimes I do actually eat the grapefruit as is. Not the normal way people eat it in neatly packed triangles. I like to dig in and get really juicy as I tear the pulp away from its white encasement.

“And what are the health benefits to such a snack?” you may ask. Apparently grapefruits have over 73% of your daily value of vitamin C, which helps the immune system. Twenty four percent of your vitamin A is in there, too, which does good things all around your body.  In addition, red and pink grapefruits have cancer-fighting lycopene. Do a quick search and you can find so many more benefits to eating grapefruit. Even when you eat it the messiest way possible.

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I adapted a lemon vinaigrette recipe to make an orange dressing for a salad. Dressing: juice from 1/2 orange, zest from 1/2 orange, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Salad: mixed citrus over mixed greens and some sunflower seeds.

peelssalad

After some scoping out the produce section, I am pretty sure we were delivered some tangelos and pink grapefruit. These went into another citrus salad and (as if I needed more citrus around) I also bought two blood oranges just to make the colors a bit more interesting. It was good, but I much prefer unadulterated fruit.salad

We had some frosting left over from that orange chiffon cake I made previously. Spread on graham crackers, it made a nice little sweet treat in the middle of the day. The frosting recipe is here. I added about 1/2 cup of orange juice to it because I had some left over and I wanted the frosting to taste orange-y.

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Number of fruits remaining: 27

Big Box of Citrus: Week 1

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

What have I done so far with my bushel of citrus?

1. Juiced it. I have recently become an advocate of “juice in moderation” especially since Kid was born. My theory was that you would rarely consume as many fruits in one sitting as the number that offer up that full glass of juice that you pour from the container. You also lose the fiber, et al. when you only take the juice.  After officially seeing how much juice two oranges yield, I feel validated. (Further internet “research” concurs.)  On a less soap-box note: this morning’s OJ was especially good! If boxes of fruit are going to be an annual thing, it might be time to look into a citrus juicer. Or I need work on building my squeezing muscles.

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2. Shared it. I’m so happy my son digs grapefruit. It helps that I chose a pink grapefruit. He was more willing to admit that he liked it because it was “red”, which is his absolute favorite color.

3. Blended it. There was a quick visit to Pinterest before this morning smoothie just to get some ideas of fruit combos and proportions. I ended up with 1 pink grapefruit, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, and 1 cup of spinach. For extra nutritional boost…as if all that vitamin C wasn’t enough…I added some tofu, flax seed, oatmeal, and yogurt. The taste was a little bitter, though on reflection it makes sense with the grapefruit. I added about a tablespoon of agave syrup to sweeten it up. I liked it, but it may not be a crowd-pleaser.

share with sonsmoothie

4. Baked it. Twice. Mornings start at 7 a.m. around here. That gives us plenty of time to do fun things before breakfast. I broke out an old grapefruit muffin recipe and Kid and I set to work. Kid insisted Dr. Dog help with the baking, too. We three made a double batch and refrigerated half for Grandma and Grandpa’s visit the next day so that they could try them fresh. The other half was baked and consumed for breakfast and throughout the day. Yum.

P.S. One softball-sized grapefruit yields about 4 tsp. of zest and 1/2 cup of juice (when you rely solely on your muscles for juicing).

little bakeDD bake

5. Juiced it, again. The oranges are particularly juicy and don’t make for good eating. I DID invest (a whole $4) in a citrus juicer. It is much more effective at getting juice out.

  juicer

6. Tossed it. Natural decay started to show. A quick visit to the internet reveals that citrus is best stored in a cool place. As there are still too many fruits to fit into the fridge, they moved to into the garage instead. Indiana winter should help keep them cold.

mold

7. Baked it (again) and decorated. I have been holding onto a recipe for an orange chiffon cake for a while. With a work party on the horizon, it seemed time to bust it out. Orange zest and juice went into the cake. Orange juice went into the frosting (that was my addition). And why not try a little orange peel flair? The public has yet to taste it, but if the frosting is any indication it should be pretty good.

chiffon

Number of fruits left: 40

A Resolution for January.

So, I’m a little late to the Resolution Revamp party due to my completely retarded computer savvy.  (And before you cringe at that statement, I mean to use the word “retarded” in its actual meaning, not as a derogatory slur.)  I, as many of you out there, have a very uncomfortable relationship with New Year Resolutions.  So, in an effort to be respectful of that relationship, I am choosing to not make a list of resolutions this year.  Instead, I am going to periodically choose some way of bettering my Self and/or my life, and document it for posterity.  My hope is that in doing so, I will A.) be able to reflect on how my choices and actions form my daily experience, and B.) offer up some inspiration on how you might find a little more growth, joy, ease in your life, as well.

Today’s ‘resolution’ centers on framing.  No, I don’t mean creating a pleasing surround for a portrait or painting.  What I refer to here is the way in which I choose to view a given experience or situation.  I believe that the best way to actualize resolutions, or goals, is to address them in very specific ways.  Instead of making the vague statement that I will begin to re-frame my perspectives of all my experiences, I am choosing to change the way I frame one particular experience in my life right now – my school experience.

Some of you may know that I am currently enrolled in an esthetics training program at the local community college.  The experience, thus far, has been disappointing for me.  Not wanting to come back to the same disappointment following winter break, I made the decision to try to re-frame the way I view this experience.  As I began to explore what might be the root of the problem causing the unpleasant symptoms of disappointment, defeatism and foul attitude, I realized that the school program is not the problem at all.  The real issue in play here is my reaction to my unmet  expectations of what I believed this experience would/should be.  My reaction is something over which I have control.  And there’s the A-HA!

Rather than gripe about what the program isn’t giving me, I’m trying to focus on how I can get as much from it as possible while also contributing to the collaborative experience in the best way I can.  So far it seems to be working.  My school experience is still not ideal, but it’s a million times more enjoyable than it was before the winter break.  I am learning more and smiling more and sharing more.  And that, to me, is what resolutions are all about:  making life a little more enjoyable.

Have any of you had any similar experiences with changing your framing of a given experience or situation?  Please share if you do.  I’d love to hear about it.

Happy January!

xoxo,

Melanie

Honeybee Tasking?

by Jennifer

I am the kind of person that has always started a task and completed it before moving on to another.

As a single person, and also as part of a married couple I was still able to make my single task method work. Then came my sweet O. Okay, things had to be rearranged a bit but since my primary focus was taking care of her I could still carry on as usual. Then my Topher joined the family and the single task idea was getting a bit more challenging but still do-able. Then came major Adrenal Fatigue. That just made me so tired that one task a day was about all I could manage! Now both kids are in school full-time and my fatigue is under control so one would think I could merrily continue with my one-task mentality.

BUT,

one would be WRONG!

I find myself struggling to complete anything without ending up angry, or frustrated, or just giving up and knitting instead. As much as I love to knit (the kids can attest to that) that is no way to successfully maintain a happy home. I needed to gracefully concede defeat and try something new.

I am going to call my new method of accomplishing my tasks as Honeybee Tasking. Honeybee Tasking? What the heck does that mean? Bees are busy all day gathering nectar from hundreds of flowers but they don’t spend too long at any one, and sometimes they go back to the same one several times before heading to a different clump of flowers and starting that special bee dance all over again. I know this because the patch of wildflowers in our back yard attracted plenty of bees and butterflies this summer and I spent many lovely afternoons watching them. So instead of focusing on each task I am going to start tasks, stop tasks and revisit them as my schedule and energy level allow. Maybe this will drive me completely insane or, just maybe, I will find that buzzing happily from one flower to another is my new way of “bee-ing” productive!

The BIG Picture

by Graham

My interest in contributing to this blog comes from a desire to develop my writing skills. I’ve always had a weird phenomenon in my life where I have to communicate things 3 times for them to be “heard” or taken seriously. As a result I am considered quiet besause I generally won’t say something unless I want to say it 3 times. Alot of everyday conversation isn’t worth repeating and it’s socially awkward to have to repeat yourself every time you add to a conversation. It just becomes tedious. This means most of the things I want to say are not small talk, they are legititmate intellectual conversation material in situations where that’s not what is happening. Many times they too go unsaid. It would stand to reason that written communication would make up for my short comings in the spoken realm but for reasons I can’t identify it hasn’t ever really happened. I actually hadn’t given it much thought before writing this paragraph.

The driving force behind this personal skill development is my activities as an independent musician. I’ve taken a rather non-traditional approach to a non-traditional career in a time of great change in the field, which I’ll explain later. It’s been an interesting experience to say the least.

In keeping with the theme of my New Years Resolution “Be more intense” one of the keys to accomplishing this goal is focus. Much like a laser, a focused energy and effort can have significant effects. For this year I have 2 things I am focusing on with my intensity. They are outlined below.


The Sunrise Review

The Sunrise Review is the title I have given a project that came about as a result of a number of events/experiences.

I started writing music in the ocean off the coast of Australia during 2005 and 2006. I would spend most mornings in the sea waiting for waves to surf. The rest of my days were spent honing my skills as a recording engineer at the school I was attending. During these outings I would spend my down time between sets gathering my thoughts, keeping myself on track with projects small and large. It became an almost daily ritual, my Sunrise Review.

I found myself building on an idea I had in the forests south of Nashville, Tennessee – using natural spaces for their acoustics. The key to this was solar power as a quiet, renewable power source. I had watched first hand as multi-million dollar studios in Nashville went bankrupt as a result of a business model that was rapidly growing outdated. It became clear to me that overhead (rent, utilities, etc. . .) was the culprit. By using nature as a studio I eliminated most of these expenses.

There in the water, surrounded by dolphins, whales, rays and the occasional shark, I discovered that the world around me was an inspiration which was changing my view and experience of music. It was a moment of providence for me. I set about learning how photovoltaics worked and in the process learned about energy conservation. That information has been invaluable in this project and my everyday life.

The project came together with a focus on 3 concepts: Sustainability, Inspiration and Conservation. I’ve since released a handful of tracks which are inspired by the Pacific Ocean (an ongoing project) and am working on a project which is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, American Heritage.


Fair Trade Music

Fair Trade Music is a grassroots community organizing initiative. In the same way that Coffee, Cocoa and other producers were organized and supported with ethical purchasing campaigns, the goal of Fair Trade Music is to create a system of support for local musicians, enabling them to earn a living from their craft. The idea is simple; if you want to see live music, go to an Fair Trade Music venue to support the local musicians.

The initiative began in Portland, OR about 5 years ago. I have been involved for 4 of that. It developed out of a concern in the music community there that the financial support fans and concert goers were providing wasn’t making it to the musicians. The venues were taking a cut of tickets to cover their expenses and giving the performers what ever was left. Generally, well below minimum wage for their time. Part education, part advocacy, Fair Trade Music is a loose coalition of local interested parties and centers around the Musicians’ Union, The American Federation of Musicians.

As an international organization, the AFM has chapters all over the US and Canada. The goals of the organization also fit very closely with the changes that needed to be made. In fact, without their involvement the conversations that identified the needs and possible solutions would probably have never happened. This institutional support has enabled the idea of active, focused participation in the development of the local music community to spread to other cities around the US. At the moment there are campaigns underway in Seattle, San Francisco, and developing groups in Washington D.C., New Orleans and New York as well as signatory venues along the eastern seaboard and southwest.