Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Resolutions - Welcome 2009!

This year's theme for us:

"Less and More"

- Less waste, more planning ahead
- Less sameness, more adventure
- Less naivete, more informed decisions
- Less sitting around thinking about it, more doing
- Less random television, more deliberate, edifying TV

Happy new year everyone!

Article #10: Why Food Matters

This month, we published an article about why food matters--the crux of why we moved back to New Mexico to own land in a rural area.

The article is a brief amalgamation of all the reading and research we've done over the past year, also a summary of the many conversations we've had with the intriguing people we've met here and elsewhere, who are thinking along the same lines. Read on for why food matters not only to me and Jon--but to all of us.

Science vs. Faith--The Great Debate

Upon returning from a wonderful week of family and friends in the Bay Area, Jon and I decided to spend our first Saturday back home at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. While I grew up here in Albuquerque, I think I've only visited this museum twice--and one of those times was in a little black dress for senior prom--so for me it was like visiting for the very first time.

We strolled through an exhibit that showed how the weather works (where wind comes from, the effects of different kinds of cloud formations, etc.), then went on to a coral reef photo exhibit, onward to stalagmites and stalactites in a simulated cave, an astronomy exhibit, and finally into the history of the universe--from the Big Bang to the dinosaurs to their extinction. This is where we started our Great Debate.

Not only was the museum like a new experience to me, but this was the first I had heard of the K-T Boundary and the Chicxulub asteroid impact, a theory for why dinosaurs suddenly disappeared from the earth. The theory is relatively new, surfaced and debated in just the past 30 years with additional theories surfacing since 2000, so I guess I had been so wrapped up in earning my English degree, getting a job, moving around, and living daily life, that I missed this one. Or, blame it on the public school system (truly, I don't remember learning about any of this in any of my science classes, and I paid good attention in school).

I had of course learned about the Big Bang, but the Chicxulub impact theory is different--it's not about the origin of the universe, rather it's an explanation for why dinosaurs suddenly disappeared. I didn't know that this one theory was so institutionalized as to take up a good portion of the science museum. Of course, this sent my mind reeling in the possibilities and what this all means to my belief system (yes, you could call me a subscriber to Intelligent Design, or Creationism: I'm open to learning about new scientific evidence and theories--I just believe a higher being could have been responsible for all of this. It's not impossible!).

So the Great Debate for me and Jon goes like this: science is almost like religion in that it takes some faith to believe in scientific theories. Like religion, science evokes so many questions for which we may never have the answers. Jon's opinion: science is fact. My opinion: science can take just as much faith as religion does, and isn't always fact. Scientific theories are disproven or change all the time (for example, the K-T boundary is now called the K-Pg boundary due to recent findings). There are certain laws of science that have been proven: Newton's three laws of motion, the Third Law of Thermodynamics, Avogadro's Law, etc., but when it comes down to it, science and religion are both ways for humans to make sense of how we got here, where time began, where it's going, whether or how it will end, etc.

These are the kinds of things Jon and I talk about as we stroll through places like the Natural History Museum. Call us boring, but it's really quite fun talking about subjects like these, with two different opinions. We agree to disagree so it doesn't get nasty; but we never end up feeling satisfied with each other's answers, so it keeps us going, keeps us learning.

With Jon returning to school in the spring to work toward his Earth Sciences degree (focus on hydrology), we'll likely have a lot more conversations like these. So prepare to be bored with more blog entries like this in 2009 :-)

On a closing note, while reading a National Geographic article on the Chicxulub impact, I found this quote from a scientist who controversially introduced one of several other theories than the K-T (or K-Pg?) event for sudden dinosaur extinction:

"This is more religion than anything else," [Princeton University paleontologist Gerta Keller] says. "A lot of people are so wedded to [the Chicxulub] theory that it seems that no evidence can ever convince them of anything else."

I guess I'm not the only one who thinks that science can be a religion of its own.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Traffic Cops

We have been wondering if anyone reads our blog. We must admit, we haven't invested the time we used to in updating it because, well, we've been busy! And frankly with the farm dormant for the winter, we haven't been busy doing anything very interesting the past couple months, so we decided to start tracking traffic to our blog with Google Analytics. The results are veeeerrrrrry interesting....

So far this month, we've had 14 unique visitors with 16 site visits (Repeat offenders! Stalkers...), from three countries: the U.S., France, and Thailand. And yes, we know who you are....but not by name or IP address or anything. Just guessing by where we know our friends and family are.

It's seems so invasive to track our blog traffic, but it is truly interesting, and we're quite surprised even to have 14 unique visitors. So, the blog must go on...regardless of whether we have anything interesting to say, it seems.

Thanks for continuing to check in with us!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Article #9: Organics vs. Biodynamics - Good to Great

In this article, Jon shares his latest research on biodynamic farming. Read on for Jon's thoughts on how we might plan to apply some biodynamic principles to the farm:

Article #8: To Organic or Not to Organic

In this article, Jon explains what we would have to do for organic certification. No easy task....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

American Clay

In an attempt to make our home cozier and add some color and texture (and to prepare for family coming for Thanksgiving!), we embarked on an American Clay adventure.

American Clay is a durable, all-natural clay wall covering that comes in several different clay-based pigments. We chose it because it looks so rich and claims that it further insulates your house and improves the value of your home. We started with the living room in Osage (a light, earthy, grey-green sage) and discovered how much time and effort it truly takes two rookies to finish a room (three coats including a layer of sand primer, then compressing every square inch with a wet sponge...). We chose to do it ourselves because the contractor quotes were outrageous, and it's fun to have a project like this to do together (or in Jon's case, maybe a little trying...teehee). So much for finishing all of our main rooms before Thanksgiving! But at least we'll have a nice living room.

Below are some pics of the work in progress. When wet, the clay is 10x darker than the color intended, and it dries mottled. Once completely dry (1 day), it takes on its intended color. We'll post more pics once the room is finished (hopefully next week!).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Check out our pumpkin art:

As you can see, Jon opted for a blood-thirsty "roadkill" pumpkin that has a taste for cute teddy bears...I chose Charlie Brown in honor of Jon's favorite cartoonist, Charles Schulz. Here's Chuck's inspiration for my pumpkin (a little tough to see, but you get the idea):

We had a ball carving these up at our friend Lorrie's house for her annual October pumpkin carving. When Lorrie and I were roommates in Albuquerque many moons ago (about 12 years, to be exact) I was among the first inductees into this, her annual festival. Some of the same people who were there on that inaugural night joined us again at this 12th annual fest.
Here's the gorgeous invitation Lorrie created for this year's party (she's quite an artist):

Since we'll be spending Halloween sanding and priming walls in preparation of applying American Clay in our living room this weekend, we really appreciated the opportunity to spend time with friends for this annual Fall ritual. Thanks Lorrie!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Introducing Watson

This weekend we introduced a new addition to our home, Watson the cat. Watson persistently stalked my parents' house in Albuquerque for a couple days by clinging to their screen doors and wailing, etc., until they couldn't resist taking him in (and they are NOT cat people). Being a Maine Coon kitten (the most dog-like breed in the cat world), he was simply irresistable, and my dad even let him sleep next to his head (unheard of in the past--Dad was actually anti-cat until we moved back to New Mexico and he got to know Maximus and Alma, our original two cats).

While we had no intention of adopting another cat, my mom and dad simply couldn't take care of him in their older years (along with their dog, Beau), so we attempted to take him to a pet shelter but he charmed us into keeping him. We had him neutered and checked out at the vet Friday, and he's still full of piss and vinegar, as the saying goes.... He's definitely keeping our other cats busy and us continually amused (and bemused).

We named him Watson after Jon suggested the name for his love of Sherlock Holmes literature, and a neighbor who came to visit for coffee the next morning suggested the same name (random!). Seems the name was meant to be. It's nice having a kitten in the house to liven things up a bit--our two older cats had trained us into a quiet, slow routine, but Watson keeps us on our toes at all times.

Welcome kitty!

Friday, October 17, 2008

On the Road Again...

Today is the first day of my new position at work. I'll now be a senior manager in field marketing. What does that mean? I'm still not completely sure, but I know that last week was a mountain of work in preparation for the new, and closing out the old. I can tell I'm stressed by the knots in my shoulders...Calgon?

Apparently I will be traveling LESS in this new position; however, next week will be a long trip as I fly to San Francisco Wednesday morning to meet my new manager and team, then turn around and fly straight to NYC Saturday morning to meet clients before filming them in a "town hall" style webcast on Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the construction industry. Huh?!? If you want to learn more, watch a similar webcast I helped with a couple weeks ago in a Scottsdale, AZ, studio.

I'm looking forward to this new role: it will be a new challenge in a different area of marketing than I'm used to. For most of my 12-year marketing careeer, I've been involved in writing and creating messaging or "spin"; in this role, I'll be responsible for launching campaigns and measuring their performance by how much response they receive, or more specifically, how many deals we close with each campaign. I hope I'm up for the challenge!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Article #7: A Sustainable Farm Prepares for Winter

Read Jon's article on our winter plans for the farm:

Article #6: The Experimental Garden Tent

Jon's foray into building a tent to protect our first crop from the brutal New Mexico sunshine and fierce winds (and our initial squabble over the tent--which is black and very close to our house--not the most aesthetically pleasing structure!) is the feature of this Matter Network article.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Bunch of Hot Air

Our very good friends Natasha and Dario came to visit us last weekend from the Bay Area for the first days of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Although there was a tragic accident this year, the balloon fiesta is usually an exciting event featuring 700 balloons and hundreds of thousands of people, and has been an annual tradition since 1972 (starting with only 13 balloons).

While I (Val) have attended the balloon fiesta many years as a near-native, there's something about hosting newcomers and experiencing their awe as they watch the first balloons go aloft in the crisp, bright October morning air. And, the balloon fiesta has changed so much over the years--it's now in a relatively new location and there are more balloons than I ever remember from years past.

The special-shape balloons are always a treat. Among our favorites: the Lucasfilms, Ltd., Darth Vader balloon (complete with Storm Troopers and light sabers), the "castle in the sky" (a tribute to the Henry David Thoreau quote, we assume), the ladybug on a flower, and who can resist Nemo?

We had such a fun time with Natasha and Dario (or Natario, as we call them) and we thank them for coming to visit us and share a great weekend full of reconnecting, stories, great wine, a relaxing spa day, and amazing steak! We love you guys!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

And Now, a Word from our Sponsors...

Until we can get our act together to update the blog this week (an update on a visit from our friends Dario and Natasha and photos from the International Balloon Fiesta), please indulge in some old creepy ads while you wait to hear about our latest zany antics.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Onward to Cambodia

Our newfound neighbors and friends Jerry and Karen are leaving next weekend to return to work in Cambodia. We will miss them dearly, as we have spent the summer sharing wonderful meals, stories, and most of all great company. While we're on our way to their place again this evening to enjoy a simple meal to end the weekend, we enjoyed a deliciously experimental meal at their home last weekend as well.

They invited us over for this experimental meal for Karen's yet-unpublished test kitchen article. We can't divulge any details here, but suffice it to say that it's related to a fascinating topic she's mentioned before, the food was miraculous (as usual), and it made us feel like we were on top of the world (I really don't know how else to describe it, particularly the effects of the fiery red Thai chiles the morning after...).

While these are poor-quality photos taken with my Blackberry phone, you can get the idea of the spirit of our dinners, particularly the exercise of documenting the many out-of-context quotes we've blurted during the many meals we've shared this summer.

We'll miss you guys K & J! Don't worry about the weeds, and keep the blog posts coming!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We've been busy...

Sorry for the delay folks, but between Val's work travels, Jon's articles, our first vegetable/herb harvest, a local road trip, and travel to the Bay Area for a family reunion, we've been a little busy. Frankly, the last thing either of us wants to do is be on a computer! But blogging is fun, particularly when friends and family leave comments (hint hint...). So scroll below and enjoy the updates!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Article #5 in Our MatterNetwork Series - The Role of Community

Tune in for the fifth and latest article in our series on moving from an urban lifestyle to rural, sustainable farming!

Article #4 in Our MatterNetwork Series - Farming Ain't Cheap!

This installment goes into detail about the costs of setting up our rain catchment and rainwater irrigation system--which we haven't done yet due to lack of funds (donations accepted, of course! Wouldn't you love to help out your local farmer?!?) We also need the experience and a few good tips from experts before committing to laying down drip lines and installing gutters...

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Family Reunion HoDown!

Last weekend we returned to the Bay Area to attend a family reunion--Jon's extended family on his mom's side. It was great to see everyone, to be surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers, but unfortunately Jon's mom, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces couldn't make it due to illness. We're really sorry we missed them, particularly since his mom is the main connection!

Jon's brother Joe, his wife Michele, and our niece Christina graciously hosted us in their gorgeous new home in San Ramon, where we arrived Friday night to feel the 4.0 earthquake whose epicenter was just 4 miles north of us! (It seems that everytime I'm back in the SF Bay Area these days, the earth moves under my feet.) Or maybe it was the wine we enjoyed at the local watering hole (The Brass Door--apparently an institution, like stepping back five decades into a 1950s supper club).

Saturday we spent the day on the coast in Half Moon Bay with Jon's dad, catching up and listening to his great stories (and marveling about how much he knows about jazz. Incredible!). Since we were on the peninsula, we stayed Saturday night at our friends Dario and Natasha's home in San Bruno. We finally had a chance to spend some time with their 1-year-old boy, Gabriel, and had a blast with him.

Sunday was back to the East Bay for the reunion picnic in Moraga. Jon's extended Italian family is so big, we had to wear nametags to identify many of the people there that I'd never met and that Jon hasn't seen since he was a kid. I love huge families--we had egg races, water balloon tosses, and the usual dose of family melodrama. Life wouldn't be complete without it!

As usual, we had a great time although we missed seeing Jon's mom, sister, Roger, and the girls, and friends like Daphne, the Tarzons, and the Nees (who were out of town anyway). We'll be back before you know it, guys. Watch out! xoxo