Moving forward

Katikati Cuisine Trail

Basecamp Country Shop and Smokery I love food - and especially organic, locally produced stuff. So today we decided to do some of the Katikati Cuisine Trail and although we only managed to get to two of the nine on the route, it was well worth it. Katikati is about 45 minutes from here, along a two-lane winding road that wends its way through beautiful farming land. Miles and miles of hills with cattle grazing, vast kiwi fruit and avocado plantations.

Zoze and Evelyn coming out through the antler arch doorway of Basecamp

We missed out first turn off to Basecamp Country Shop and Smokery and when we found the right turn off, the long single lane road kept going and going and going... until we were almost at the end and saw the sign for KaiMai Yoga and the Shop. You couldn't see the shop but it did say open, so we turned down the drive and arrived! Not really knowing what to expect, we walked into the store through an arch of antlers! Masses of them! The venison they had provided was long gone!

What they did have in there were a lot of pictures of them hunting wild pig in Australia (all their meat is hunted in Aus and brought into NZ for processing.) And then out came the salamis and sausages and venizon bacon - a new one on me! It all smelled wonderfully garlicky so we couldn't resist and bought a 2kg garlic venison smoked salami and a pack of smoked sausages. And some biersticks for snacking on our way to BreadNZ.

Once again, we overshot the driveway, this time to the bakery - we should have spotted the small, wood-fired pizza oven letterbox. Up the long driveway we went, verges full of white daisies and various other creepers and plants. Very jungly and beautiful.

It takes careful tending

Henri Saurat, the baker heard us coming and was there to meet us in a flour-dusted t-shirt and jeans as Megan, his partner came down the stairs from the house. Their first words were, "We have no electricity." Immediately I thought, "Now what? We've come out here to see how they make the breads and now there is no power!"

But undaunted, Megan said, "I just finished grinding the coffee," noting she was doing this in a mortar and pestle and then said, "We don't worry, because the stoves are wood-fired!" We were in business!

Warm pita, Portuguese olives and fresh pesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a wonderful visit we had! Both of them had spent a lot of time in South Africa, in Durban, my old stomping ground, and they had built a boat there and sailed off to cruise for years! We found we had a lot in common, so besides learning all about the sourdough starters and the fine breads and pizza they make, we talked about South Africa and cruising and kids and a whole variety of subjects. It felt so comfortable, sitting in their living room, drinking coffee and eating croissants and hot pita bread right from oven. Megan broke out a bottle of South African wine and we feasted on olive-oil dipped bread and a delicious pesto she had made.

Henri

I spent some time with Henri while he was tending the breads to see how they were made and find out what makes them so special. The long fermentation times break down the gluten in the organic flour he buys from either Australia or from a few small wheat farmers on the South Island. He doesn't use "regular" flour as it has been bred (pun intended) for use in ordinary white bread. Their breads only use three ingredients - this flour, pure unprocessed sea salt, also from the South Island and their pure water from their 11 hectares.

Henri has several sourdough types, all which produce a different textured bread. The pita bread we had right out of the oven was raised with the Italian starter. He is very particular about his business, as it is just the two of them. So although he builds and sells the ovens, just anyone can't get one. The buyer is usually a friend, or a friend of a friend, or someone who knows the value of this way of baking.

Absolutely delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are also preparing a class to teach children about traditional breadmaking - something they feel is supremely important; a basic food knowledge they hope will expand to include other fresh, organic, natural foods.

It felt like we were leaving a friend's house as we headed out - only to find that we had an "almost" flat tire! Zoze had put air in it yesterday when she saw it was a bit low, but now...almost a pancake. So we hurried out of there (I forgot to get a pix of the mailbox) and made it into Katikati (8.7km) to a Bridgestone Tyre shop.

"Help, help," I called to the young, very good-looking young man, "We have an almost flat." he looked at the tire and said, "Yes, a very flat tire!" He took the keys from Zoze, backed the car into the bay and went to work while we went across the street to the Indian spice store. Yes, I am making chai! What a fun shop - everything Indian! And Evelyn, a friend of Zoze who joined us on our outing, found the curry she wanted and a variety of other goodies.

Back at the tire shop, the car was done, and Zoze had her purse out and he just smiled and said, "Happy Christmas!" What a doll! So Evelyn chimed in, "Now we all have to give you a kiss!" Poor guy ran for his life. Do you blame him? THREE gray-haired ladies threatening to plant smooches!

Next Step

An oak tree with instagram treatment - early morning at the Reserve What a great week we had. It was just what I needed - peace, warmth, good company and an outstanding location.

I had time to think, dream, imagine - and do nothing, too! The time allowed me to step back a bit and put things in perspective which has been so hard to do, up there in the cold and gray and isolation.

Betsy contemplating the world during one of our walks.

 

Of course, Betsy and I had a lot of fun, too! We always do! Most days we went for great walks in the reserve. The last day was very hot and we made the mistake of going later than usual but even then, it felt good. A bit sweaty, but good! There is an enormous variety of bird life out there and I was sad not to have my binoculars and bird book. Even so, it was such a pleasure to watch them around the water holes and the hummingbirds were everywhere.

In the courtyard area, the milkweed had gone to seed, so no Monarch butterflies, but apparently they do come through there. I might have to plan another trip during their season!

In the evenings, we lounged around in the living room with our gin or wine. Our one fellow visitor, a young Spanish post graduate professor left on Thursday so most of the time we had the place to ourselves. We ate well! The kitchen is functional and has everything we needed and we had brought just the right amount of food so hardly had to pack any when we left.

Breakfast of champions - we ate very well.

Friday, our next to last day there, we went wine tasting in Los Olivos, a very cute little town that has numerous tasting rooms along the main street. As Betsy knows the area well, and is a complete wine fundi, she led the way. I was totally impressed! The first winery, Consilience & Tre Anelli, I think had my favorite wines, Italian blends that are just phenomenal. I normally don't buy wines like that but I splurged and bought two bottles, the 2010 Verdelho and the 2010 Centellinare. I generally prefer white wines, so was surprised that I liked the red Centellinare so much.

We went to a couple more - well, actually it was more than a couple. But we did share tastings so kept the buzz under control. I bought two more bottles at Carhartt, the Grenache Blanc and the Sauvignon Blanc, both decidedly delicious. This winery is owned by the same family that makes the heavy duty Carhhartt clothes! Rather an odd pairing.

Carrhart Winery

Along the tasting way, a gentleman named Donny joined us and we ended up having dinner with him! All in all, it was a fun evening and a fitting end to our delightful stay out at Sedgwick.

It was interesting packing up. Part of the deal is you clean up after yourself before you leave. Not a big deal at all but... this is an ecological reserve and the house is on a septic system. I was blown away by the fact that all the cleaning products they have in the house are nasty, chlorine chemically stuff! I don't use things like that normally and after I had cleaned my bathroom with it, ten minutes later I was light headed and nauseous! I thought I was going to pass out and throw up! The only thing I can contribute that little "spell" to, is the chemicals! Nasty!

Consilience 7 Tre Anelli Winery

Betsy and I said our goodbyes - she heading back to Sunstone Winery (where she used to work and our first stop when we arrived in Santa Ynez) to pick up a case of wine and me heading over San Marcos Pass south back to Ryan's via Jane.

I was barely half a mile up the road when Betsy texted me that she had my drivers license! How could that be? Apparently, on our visit to Sunstone, it must have fallen out of my bag and the manager there found it! He knew Betsy was coming back soon and hung onto the license for her. When she got there, he rushed over to her, with the card, asking "Is this your friend?"

Wow, how lucky was that? Imagine - I had been blissfully unaware, driving around and would have most likely made it all the way to New Zealand before realizing I had lost it!

So Betsy kindly made a drive-by Jane's in Carpinteria, handed the card to me, hugs all round and off she went again!

My next step is onto a plane on Friday, heading south, way south via Tahiti! Unfortunately it is just a couple of hours, but at least I can get off the plane and smell the plumeria-scented air. Then eight more hours to Auckland and Zoze and family.

A New Adventure

P1070059Sitting here at the Sedgwick Reserve, night has just fallen on our first full day here and I am starting to feel like a real person again. The lead up to leaving was so stressful that I was exhausted for two days after the drive down from Washington to SoCal. I hadn't realized how tense I had been, with everything that I had to get done especially after I decided to leave a week early! This is definitely the start of a new phase in my life...and it feels good! A bit scary at times, but so much better than being stuck and isolated in the house in the gray, damp cold of Washington.

Sedgwick Reserve

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Sedgwick is just as advertised. The ranch house is old and shabby or, in real estate terms, rustic, but absolutely charming. There are plans to renovate it which is a shame but I guess it has to be done. Besides Oscar, a young research scientist from Spain, we are the only ones here so we each have room, each room has numerous beds - mine three and Betsy has four - so the first thing we did was rearrange things so we have our desks/work spaces in front of the windows and have gorgeous views. It is sooo quiet and the nights are pitch black, with barely a light to be seen anywhere. We did hear the coyotes early this morning, at dawn but that was just about the only sound.

Lovely old trees

The buildings are surrounded by big, old, knarly pepper trees and California oaks and the bird life is tremendous. Mick and Debbie would be in heaven! The woodpecker was very busy this morning, attempting to drill a hole in the side of the house and was very noisy about it. I wish I had a bird book to check out what some of the other varieties are. There is quite a selection of books in the living room so I might find one there.

It was frosty this morning, but as soon as the sun came up, it melted away to a gorgeous day. How I love the sun!

Knowing we would be sitting a lot of the day working, we went for a wonderful walk. Of course, we had be warned not to walk alone and stay on the (dirt) roads as this is a reserve with mountain lions, etc. But we saw something that most of the people here have never seen!

We were ambling along the road, gazing around and noticed a beaten-down thick patch of crispy grass. Wondering what might have caused it, Betsy said she had seen something like when there were bears around. I said, "Are there bears here," and she said, "There probably are!" Within two minutes, she said "Look!" pointing at a large moving object emerging from behind the brush a long way off. Too big for a mountain lion and wrong shape for a deer - damned if it wasn't a bear!

He must have heard us and slowly wandered away up the hill and into the arroyo nearby. Snapping pictures (Betsy's are better than mine) we couldn't believe what we had seen and from then on, we kept looking over our shoulders, hoping nobody was appearing behind and too close to us!

When we talked to the people who work here, they were stunned saying that even though they had been on the reserve for years, they had never seen a bear! They had seen them on camera traps and seen the scat, but never in person so we are considering ourselves very lucky!

P1070043I've been trying out the new Chromebook. I thought I would make it my main work computer while here and see if it will do everything I need it to do. Mostly it is great - light weight, quick, etc. But it is a pain trying to manage images. And with two different operating systems, it won't talk to my Mac products - my big laptop seems to do a lot better talking to my iPhone and iPad but the Chromebook doesn't so I have decided to return it and save up to get a Mac Air so all the devices talk to each other. I just don't want to waste my time transferring pix from one program to another and another until I can get them where they are easily accessible.

So...it was a nice idea...

Tomorrow Betsy has to go to Santa Barbara to work and I am hoping to hear back from old friends who live not far from here, friends I haven't seen for years and maybe swing by to see them. If not I will go into Santa Ynes, a quaint little town and see what's there.

It will be another mini-adventure.

 

 

Progess

The move is coming along - it is a rather odd situation with having to pack just about everything up, yet keep enough out to live with until I leave and/or Gretchen, my new tenant/roomie unpacks.2013-10-20 06.34.01

Most of my stuff fits in cupboards in the garage and in storage bins under the benches. But it's the last minute stuff I don't know what to do with. I have small piles of things and I look at them and think, "Do I want that, what do I do with it? Should I toss it or pack it?" And I have become so used to living the three R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - that tossing stuff is hard, and yet there are things that no one is going to want on the reuse or recycle side of things. So then I feel guilty when I toss! And I am not going to store stuff that I may or may not reuse at a later date! What a dilemma! But I am making good progress. I have been pretty strict with myself but sometimes it gets difficult to get rid of things that I have some emotional attachment to. So there are a few boxes of just "stuff" and I can live with that. My wardrobe (if you can call it that) is being whittled away to a few items so another Goodwill run to drop those. Then it is the dump, the recycle place (which is now single stream so we don't have to sort things!) and final pack up with all the dvds and shipping supplies along with my other stuff in the car, which will include Betsy's smoked salmon.

Gretchen and friends brought her stuff over on Saturday afternoon - and her kitties, too.  Quiver is an old lady, black and white and diabetic! Skipper is a young, orange kitty who could be Hinckley's son! Both are in Gretchen's room at the moment but I have let them out a couple of times this morning while my boys are outside. Quiver stuck her nose out the door and went back to bed, but Skipper is getting a little braver and has explored my room and made it halfway down the stairs, before he turned tail and went back under the bed.

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I  hope that the gradual introduction will work and as my two are the older boys, I hope there won't be any territorial battles.

As soon as they are settled, I will leave. It's time. It's important that the kitties are ok and everyone is comfortable, but it is also important that Gretchen gets to really move in and make the house her own.

If I can get out of here sooner than I planned, I'm not sure yet where I will go before going to Sedgwick but the way things have been going lately, I have no doubt that it will all work out. I thought I might go through Montana and see Cody et al, but it is almost 2,000 miles and winter so not sure if it is something I can do. So will play it by ear for now.

 

In the Grand Scheme of Things

IMG_2612 It's a busy few weeks as I get thing sorted out to leave here at the end of the month.

I always hate the packing, sorting, cleaning part of moving but I've been able to take my time with this move, doing a bit each day and have made excellent progress. Now it's down to "What do I do with all these pens (which work) that have been sitting in the jar next to my computer for what seems like years?" And getting rid of spices and things like that in the kitchen.

I've made numerous dump and Goodwill runs and taken Chris' leftover paints to hazardous waste removal. There could be a lot of plays on words there but I won't go there!

I'm fortunate in that the garage has lots of cupboards - which is now taken up with all my boxes of stuff! But really, in the grand scheme of things, I have very little STUFF!

Because my water machine is so big and takes up a lot of room in a suitcase, (I'm only allowed one on Air Tahiti Nui) I am getting rid of most of my clothes and will get new ones once I get to New Zealand. Fun shopping in my future! That will be just about my last trip to Port Townsend - returning Goodwill clothes to Goodwill!

And I have made good use of craigslist and freecycle - getting rid of a lot of stuff, being ruthless and saying sayonara - you be gone!

The Plan - At the Moment

My plan is to leave here on Nov. 2. Gretchen moves in the last week of October and we will make sure all the cats get along! She has one old lady who need insulin shots twice a day and who lives in her room and another young yellow kitty who will be introduced to my boys. We will be here to mediate!

On 6th I meet up with Betsy in Santa Ynes at Sedgwick Ranch where we will stay for six days - ostensibly to collaborate - and of course we will - but it's also extremely inexpensive! Jane is coming up to join us (we hope) for a day or two and then it is down to Studio City to Ryan for a few days before I hop on Air Tahiti Nui and head to Auckland! For an unknown time, although I do have a return ticket.

And then? Who knows? Mexico? Costa Rica? South Africa? Choices are endless...........

I did take a short trip to Hamilton, Montana, to see Cody, Mel and the two little boys. It's quite handy from here, just a day's drive. But it would be like moving from here - to here! Weather-wise. Of course, it would be great to be near Cody and the family but - I have to get out of this weather. It is not healthy for me.

The kitties know something is up but I think my plan is the best thing for them. Once I know where I will be settling, I will come back for them - and deal with car trips and flights then. For now, they will remain in a place they know, with someone who cares for them with as little disruption as possible.

They are what I will miss most. I will of course miss the view, the eagles, the ducks and otters, hummingbirds and kingfishers. And the changing seasons and colors of the trees.

But I will not miss the gray, the never ending gray and the cold and the damp. It's time for the SUN!