Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eight is GRRREAT!

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes on our belated 8 year anniversary! I knew there was a reason why I shot this pic of the 8 on someones house in town the other day. We are so lucky to have such a great group of friends and family spread all over the map who support us from afar. Cheers everyone!

I spent the day today getting ready to start a new photo project that I will be working on over the next few weeks. I made buddies with a guy at the Mendocino Lumber Yard and got the supplies I needed to get everything rolling. If all goes well I will introduce you to my new craft in a week or so from now. I know... the suspense is too much right? I am venturing in to totally new territory here so we shall see... all results disastrous or successful will eventually be reported.

Other than that little bit of news it was a mellow day. Billy painted and I sanded wood out on the patio. Rudy played with Ranger the neighbor dog. We are still battling the tick problem although not as badly as I anticipated. He had two this week and they were both goners (done in by the Frontline) by the time we found them on him. I have been slowly introducing garlic powder into his food because it supposedly helps keep the suckers off him. It is probably nothing but an old wives tale but I am willing to smear him with rotten eggs if it will keep the ticks out of our hair. Pun intended.

Keeping up with our foodie chronicles... Tonight we had homemade polenta with asparagus, fire roasted tomatoes and freshly made walnut basil pesto. I made an eggplant chutney that we ate on the side. It is not pictured here because it's not the prettiest food item I have ever seen. But it tastes great. If you want to rock some eggplant I recommend getting some pomegranate molasses from Zingerman's. Just be warned that Zingerman's is a dangerous realm to enter in to if you like fancy food stuff. You have been warned. Anyway... add a little molasses to your eggplant saute and it really makes the stuff sing. I cooked a whole eggplant down in apple juice adding ginger syrup, the pom molasses, about a tablespoon of butter and a bit of cracked black pepper and the result is good enough to spread on bread like jam.

Now I am off to bake a pan of brownies. Good GRAVY! We can't be stopped! Well, you can calm down. These are low fat brownies.... and they come right out of a damned box. They are actually not too bad (fingers crossed behind my back.) You make them with low fat yogurt. We have both had a wicked craving for sick, fudgy chocolate brownies for a few days now. These are so far from being sick and fudgy... but they are going to have to do the job for now.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Missed it!

I just had the startling realization that Billy and I missed our anniversary. It was a week ago today. Damn. That means our one excuse for a fancy night out has come and gone. I can't believe I spaced it out?! I guess it is a sign that we are old hat. We have 8 years sealed up tight and have now officially embarked upon year nine.

I rounded up a few old photos of us from over the years... The digital date stamping on this first one is totally wrong... I have no idea who took the picture but I am guessing it may have been Michelle. I guess that because Michelle would never actually program her camera to have the right date on it. She might do it nowadays... but not back then.

It was taken on Martha's Vineyard in about 2002 at Billy's Dad's house in Vineyard Haven and it is one of my fave pics of us.

This one is from the shore of Lake Michigan (not that you can tell that about it) when we were camping in Michigan. The look on Billy's face speaks a thousand words... (about what a fool I am, I was holding the camera with my bare feet.)

Ahhh... the Dolly camping days! Pre-Airstream! This shot is from up in The Pecos Wilderness of New Mexico. Sorry it is so fuzzy... it is an old pic and was taken with a crappy old camera. We drove that van up to about ten thousand feet elevation in the mountains and camped that night in an area where poachers were hunting the woods near us. It was totally freaky. We barely slept that night! We are eating canned bean soup here... not dead cow which is what the spinal remains in the foreground may imply.

Another New Mexico shot from out at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. We love hiking out there. Just watch out for The Bubonic Plague (it's endemic there, for real.)

This is one of my favorite all time shots from way back. We both look A. Clean and B. Young. It's another Martha's Vineyard shot. We were at a fancy party that night.

Finally a pic from Crab Tree Falls in Virginia. This is pre-Rudy. I think we got him a few weeks later. So every pic after this has him wedged up between us or standing on someones face or something.

We have had so much fun in our eight years together. I look back through our photos (of which we have about 50,000) and I feel so lucky to have seen all the things we have seen and with someone who is so dear to me. People seem to marvel at the fact that we spend 24 hours a day together pretty much every day. I know it is not typical for most couples but honestly I don't think either of us ever even thinks about it. Well, Billy might be thinking about it right now. He may be thinking... "How can I clear this crazy fool outta my scene for a few hours?" But if he is it is well disguised. I am not on to him just yet.

Anyway... I just wanted to commemorate our late/missed anniversary. I had to do something! I love you Billy! Here's to the future! Woooo!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big River Walk and of Course More EATING

It's not that days of the week mean much to us with our schedule but Sundays always feel like a day when something a little special should happen. Why? Who knows. Maybe it is ingrained in our heads by our culture... we are not church goers unless you consider the great outdoors Holy (which I do but in a really abstract non religious sort of way. Confused? Good.) So now that we have a bazillion acres of woods around us I guess you can say we attended "services" today. We went for about a 6 mile walk in the Big River Valley on an old logging road that runs along side the river.

On this walk you wind in and out of redwood forests (mostly new growth, the loggers cut all the old ones down over a 100 years ago on the river banks) and have great views of Big River through the trees and from cliffs above it. Big River has a really epic feel to it... as do the redwoods, so it is a pretty cool place to walk.

There are cool plants along the path and today was actually sunny so I got some great shots along the way.

Tree Bark Eyeball

Sunlit Clover Flower

Sunlit Horsetail

Billy grabbed this ridiculous shot of Rudy on our walk back when the sun was absolutely blinding.

It's Rudy and The Tree of Death. He's like a little ground buzzard.

We were starving by the time we got home at 6 and I decided to go ahead and cook a dinner that took almost two hours to make. That's how I roll. To keep our stomachs from grumbling too much we drank Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout while I was chopping and baking. It is another local brew and it is really friggin' good stuff. These folks in Mendocino County know how to treat their hops and barley.

Tonight we had Smothered Cajun Squash, Deep South Slaw and Cheddar Biscuits on our table. The recipes were all pulled from the February issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. I found the recipe for the squash on THIS (The Recipe Colossus) website if you are interested in making it yourself and don't have the magazine on hand.

If I made it again I would incorporate some honey, maple or ginger syrup into the baking process. I thought it needed a little sweetness to cut the Cajun spices. But that is just me, I would eat maple syrup on a raw onion.... or cardboard... or... a dead frog. Everything is better with maple syrup. WORD.

I will leave you with Billy's latest masterpiece. This is a view of a whirlpool we saw off the shore of Russian Gulch last week. It was wicked foggy and cold that day and absolutely beautiful out on the headlands. I think he nailed it in this painting.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Small kitchen BIG FOOD!

Sometimes I really have to hand it to us Airstreamers who are also foodies... whipping up gourmet meals in a kitchen the size of a broom closet is no easy task. You have to utilize space that is really not "utilizable" in a comfortable cooking sense. Our fridge is like an ass backwards game of Jenga. Go ahead and TRY to pull out that carrot without 42 other tubs, bottles and baggies falling out as the lone carrot grudgingly emerges from the puzzle. If your trailer is a 28' or larger you have the luxury of a small amount of counter space in your kitchen. Not true in the 25'ers. We have to use the table top in our booth for a lot of our food prep. It gets crazy in here on nights like tonight when we are both making stuff at the same time and have ingredients strewn out like a produce truck exploded.

Tonight's menu was Baja style tempeh tacos and fresh homemade salsa. I baked sliced tempeh in the oven for about 35 minutes in a marinade of Billy's garlic confit oil, honey, apple juice, a dash of tamari sauce and a pinch of cayenne. Billy made a slaw from chopped green cabbage, carrot, jalapeno, apple cider vinegar, salt and black pepper. He also made a Lime Crema sauce from plain yogurt, lime juice, fresh cilantro leaves, olive oil and salt (put the blender to puree.) We roasted a poblano and sliced it up along with a ripe avocado and I made a fresh salsa. I like to use cherry tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, raw garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Most of what we made tonight was a variation on a recipe for the Baja tacos in The Veganomicon cookbook which is one of our favorites. If you want innovative, healthy and really tasty recipe ideas it is a killer book to pull from.

Everything was so good. I was missing having a cold beer with dinner but we forgot to grab some at the grocery today. Ahh well, I will more than make up for those missed calories later tonight when I pig out on dessert. I mentioned yesterday that I was going to be making Baking and Books recipe of Cardamom Rose Rice Pudding last night and ohhhh yeah people, I made it.

This stuff is problematic. I can't stop thinking about it. I kept sneaking back into the kitchen last night (well after 11 pm) to eat another spoon full of it. It is so aromatic being made from jasmine rice and of course cardamom. We bought a flat of strawberries today so the plan for tonight is to attempt death by rice pudding and fresh berries. Not a bad way to go out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Recipe for a Low Key Day Seasoned with Alien Puke

Lily's out on the headlands behind the Ford House Museum

Sometimes it is nice to pull off a day of absolutely nothing, right? Today was that day for me. I drove in to town and sat around catching up with a good friend over the phone... (Yo Sybil!) Then I came home and TOOK A NAP because all that talking on the phone had been so exhausting. My nap was not really a luxurious one because I had one small dog (I won't mention names but I think you all know who I mean) under the covers with me smelling strongly of pine sap and chewing on various parts of his body, snorting and huffing the entire time I was trying to rest. These are the moments when I think to myself... "This is a small furry animal that belongs outside in the wild, not in my 600 thread count organic cotton sheets."

After my "nap" we drove back into town and went out on the headlands and scrambled down on to one of the many secluded little beaches. This particular beach has a multitude of tumbled shards of mother of pearl (abalone) shell. Billy and I were totally engrossed in the project of finding neat pearly looking pieces to wow each other with when we realized that Rudy had found a way to cover up the previously mentioned pine sap smell on his body. I looked down the beach to see him writhing on his back and instinctively I started screaming "NO! LEAVE IT RUDY!" knowing that he had found something dead. I made my way down toward him only to find a huge hunk of dead octopus strewn out looking like some sort of alien puke on the rocks. GREAT! We pretty much had to go after that because the attraction between Rudy and the chunk of purple rotting carcass was similar to that of Joan Rivers and botox. He could not keep away from the shit.

Keeping with our current theme of rich French food Billy made a fabulous green goddess type Dijon mustardy, fresh herby, vinaigrette which we ate on faux chicken nuggets for dinner. How funny is that? He also made a fancy red skinned potato and dill salad. Later tonight I am planning to make Cardamom Rose Rice Pudding which I found on a favorite foodie blog... Baking and Books. I'll try to remember to let y'all know if it is worth busting out and making yourselves.

The cove beach where you can find abalone shells as seen from the cliffs above...

Rudy and I walking Point Cabrillo Headlands

Have a fabulous weekend peeps!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Work Day

I thought I would throw a quick post up this morning before we head out the door for a day of work at the visitors center. It's a gray day (nothing new there) and we both slept like crap last night. Why? Because of our new Super Turbo Ass Whip 2000 Death Force Fan. That's why. See.... I can't sleep without a fan as white noise to drown out things like say ohhhhh, the sound of my own breathing. Our old fan had taken to making a flappy paper sound that was unacceptable. We took the damned thing apart, summoned a voodoo witch doctor to cure it, bribed it and even called it's Mother but alas, it was never going to stop making the flappity sound that was driving us nuts.

After confirming that a fan cannot be purchased at any retail outlet in the entirety of Mendocino County I turned to Amazon.com and ordered The Death Force Ass Whipper. It arrived yesterday and last night as we crawled in to bed we flipped it on with much anticipation of a great nights sleep lulled by the soothing hum of our spanky new black plastic fan. Dudes... we flipped that thing on and listen up YO. It was instantly like we were in a wind tunnel. We were like "Whaaa? Can this be? Holy CARP this thing is nuts!" We turned it down, we pointed it askew, we unplugged it and stifled it with pillows.... it roared.

I ended up moving it to the far front of the trailer and sealing it in a sound proof booth and after that (this was about 4 a.m. mind you after hours of struggling in the dark of night) we were finally able to get some shut eye.

So yeah, coffee beware! I consume you in quantity today! It's gonna be a long one. Hope you all have a better go of it than we probably will.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Salsa, Rubber Boots, Thick Crust and Dog Tongues

Happy Spring everyone! I say that in a sarcastic tone because I know that much of the country's weather is currently sucking eggs. But really.... April is only a few days away so it has to end soon right? Get out your rain boots and get ready for a soggy (but warmer) month and look for flowers!

I have been sporting my almost twenty year old Christopher Robin style yellow boots around here. This place may end up being the one that finally wears them out. You can barely see me in this pic at Big River... but both me and the boots are there. So is Rudy in the foreground.

We have been pretty boring over the past few days. We are still cleaning and settling in here. Billy is trying to get caught up on his painting. Here is a recent finished piece...

We have been cooking like fiends. Lately it has been fresh salsa that we can't seem to get enough of. Sorry I don't have any pics, the evidence has all been devoured. We usually just chop up a bunch of cherry tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, raw garlic, a ton of fresh lime juice, sea salt and add a dash of sugar in case the tomatoes are not super sweet (which the usually aren't.) Sometimes we will throw in fresh mango and a jalapeno or roasted poblano. It is addictive. And it requires a cold beer to wash it all down. We have been drinking Red Tail Ale which is a local brew. We actually met one of the owners (Michael Laybourn) of the brewery at a recent plein air exhibit in the village and he was a really cool guy. Billy had a good time talking paint with him as he is an artist as well. Good brew dude!

I spent most of the day Sunday making a lemon tart to bring to a dinner party last night. While the tart looked stellar it fell short (in my opinion) in the taste department. I screwed up the crust. It is Deb's Unshrinkable Tart Crust recipe which usually comes out great for me but I did something screwy this time and it not only SHRUNK but it was weirdly undercooked and overcooked all at once, and it was thick as hell. The filling was a lemon sabayon from the Bouchon cookbook and it was really nice. So it was just the thick, blah crust that was to blame. People ate it... but I was not proud of the thing. Let's look at it. Here....

Don't you wish it has been better? Yeah, me too. Ahh, well. Next time!

The dinner party last night was at a new friend's house in Mendocino. We just had pizza and drank a bunch of wine and talked. It was nice. All the other camp hosts were there and man let me tell you the camp hosts are drinkin' some vino! We could not keep up! I am going to have to get serious about the corkage while we are here so near to wine country. I was slurring after two glasses. I am such a cheesy light weight. I am sorry that Jim and Penny and Joan and John are leaving within the next month. They are great neighbors and have been so cool to us since our arrival.

Right next door to us in a 1974 Airstream lives Denise and her dog Ranger. Thank GAWD for little dog neighbors and owners who are cool dog people. Ranger and Rudy have made quick friends and even though Ranger is quite a lot older than Rudy he holds his own in the smack downs that occur daily out in the yard.

I have said it before and I will say it again... Dogs. Are. Funny.

I am really hoping that we can get our kayak out on Big River in the next few days. We have to work mid week so maybe on Friday? I can't wait...

Friday, March 20, 2009


Hey YO people! Wassup? How is everyone out in their little corner of the world? I am starting to feel pretty tucked away from reality here in Mendocino. Or at least my reality is not relative to most other realities for the time being. Reality here is comprised of banana slugs, wildflowers, giant crashing waves and really expensive groceries and gas.

I think my head may implode with the sheer weight of images I have swirling around in it from photos I have taken in the past week. I can't stop. I guess I shouldn't stop either. Why should I? If you can think of a good reason lay it on me. Anyway... here are a few of my favorites from the past few days....

Off the Headlands at Russian Gulch State Park on St. Patty's Day late afternoon....

Thirsty tree roots reaching down to the tidal river for a drink...

Gorgeous flowers along the pathway to the beach at Russian Gulch....

Since I have so many images I guess I will go ahead and make this a pictures post. Also... it is about all my mashy brains are capable of right at the moment. I am having a really low key day for mental activity. I am officially under the radar. Anyway... We have been wandering around exploring the beaches and trails within a few miles of our camp and the results have been more than we could have hoped for so close by.

Here's Billy and Rudy looking very much the part of explorers on the rocks at the beach near camp...

A cool abstract shot of waves crashing on the headlands...

These are called Common Horsetail, they are growing everywhere in the woods here...

Jenny who is our manager of sorts at The Ford House Museum has said that she would like to teach me what she knows about the local flora. I hope she can find time to do it because I would love to know what all this cool stuff is that we keep coming across on our walks!

I know this first yellow plant is called "Footsteps of Spring" and it supposedly really sucks if you step on one barefoot...

I have yet to find out what this showstopper is called...

We busted out our grill yesterday for the first time in months and had quite a feast. I made fresh salsa and Billy cooked up everything from smashed new potatoes to plantains on the grill. We had left over grilled veggies so I am going to improvise a pasta dish with them tonight. Billy has been flashing around with big talk of making mint crepes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. To that I say... Dear Universe.... Thank you for providing me with access to Billy McLane. Love, Bethany

For anyone needing a Rudy fix I will not disappoint you. He has really been making an effort this past week to outdo himself in the photo department. He is getting good... good at featuring the bottom canine, good at his Dirty Harry mean face, good at getting as filthy dirty as possible every single day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Settling In

We have been here for a few days now and are starting to get settled in and familiar with what town has to offer. The top thing on the list for me that town offers is endless walks looking out at the ocean from the headland cliffs and then all you have to do is turn your head back the other way to gaze at the quaintness of the village itself. The wildflowers are starting to show up here and there. The other day we walked the headlands early in the day and there were none to speak of and by late that afternoon I shot this photo...

I have no idea how many varieties will appear out there as the weeks progress but they really do spruce up an already beautiful scene.

Since we have no cell signal at our camp I have been hunting around for places I can drive to when I need to make a call. On Saturday I discovered that just south of town out on this point I can pull off the road and park and get signal strong enough to make calls. I called my Gram who has not been feeling too well for about a week and talked to her while I watched the waves roll in over the rocks below. I wished so badly that she could see the same view I was seeing instead of being holed up in Illinois with the flu. That is the thing about places like this. You wish you could share them with everyone you care about.... that you could instantly whoosh them away from wherever they are and set them down beside you if even for a few minutes to share the overwhelming feeling the natural world brings you.

While you are standing out there with the wind rushing past you in huge gusts you see and hear the birds crying, you may hear a sea lion who is lounging on the beach below barking, there is the sound of the waves exploding through the sea caves in the rocks, looking out to see you may spy a whale spout and of course right under your feet there are a multitude of treasures for your eyes.

It is just amazing. This place has such an intensity. It is all at once peaceful and fierce... depending on the weather and on the direction you are casting your gaze.

Heading in to town...

Another important factor wherever we live is the local coffee house. In this case Moody's is the first place we have discovered and have been getting our brew from while strolling downtown. It's a small joint but they do have an area out front where people hang out. They also have a room inside for getting on the net. You can bring your laptop or they have a few PC's set up for use as well. The coffee is pretty good although I think their medium roast is a bit on the strong side.

The bookstore on Main Street is going to be a problem for me. They have all the elements I love in a good book seller. The cookbook section is amazing and they have all the extra goodies I can never seem to avoid wanted to splurge on like funky cards, cool notebooks, lots of tables where books are set out by specific interest and whatnot. This past Saturday they had live music set up...

One of the things that is so striking here is that in town you really cannot escape an ocean view. Even in the shot above you see it straight out the window.

We stopped in to most of the art galleries on Saturday (a few of them had openings) and met some locals. There seems to be quite a large and cohesive community of artists here and they really have a passion for Mendocino. There is a plein air group that meets once a week to go out painting together. Billy may join up and give it a try if it looks like he will have the right days free to get out there with them.

Speaking of Billy, he has still been kicking ass in the kitchen. He comes up with stuff to make for dinner that is seriously fancy restaurant quality food. He is killin' me. The other night he made mushroom and asparagus crepes for crying out loud. The crepes were laden with fresh chopped herbs and the mushrooms and asparagus were cooked to perfection...

How 'bout that? Faaaannncy! It was so freakin' good too! Bring it on Billy! Too bad the groceries here cost an arm and a leg. We may end up on the Ramen diet before too long.

It has been raining for a few days now so we have been hanging out at home. Rudy continues to hate on the rain. You have to forcibly drag him out even to take a quick pee. I am hoping it clears up soon so we can get out and start exploring some of the hiking trail options and different beaches that are nearby. We start work at the Ford House tomorrow. We work two days in training along side a few of the people who have been working as docents here for years and then we have six days off before we have to work again! So we should be able to really get out and see some cool sites over the next week or so.

Today I am off to the stinking laundry mat. Ugh. It has to happen. We have reached the point of no return. Thanks to Rudy when you take your socks off at night and crawl into bed you can shuffle your feet around in something that really feels very much like an animals nest at the bottom of the bed. There are rocks, twigs, pine needles and I am sure many things we would rather not know are down there. Sound nice? I guess it is better to tackle it on a rainy day when there is not much else going on.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


We MADE IT! We arrived in Mendocino yesterday and it is so much more fantastic than we even hoped for. The landscape is truly breathtaking. We drove in on Hwy 128 which is a two lane winding road through wine country. It was a gorgeous drive except for the fact that I had to let Rudy stand on my lap with his head out the window the entire way so he would not get car sick. The pic above is of the Ford House Museum where we will be working while we are here.

We got here late afternoon and started setting up camp. Our site is very cool.... secluded in the woods and we have great neighbors (the people we will be working with.) Everyone we have met so far has been extraordinarily kind. With a little TLC this campsite will be very homey.

We even have another Airstreamer next door to us. I love that we have the wooden platform out front so that when it rains we are not dragging so much mud in.

Yesterday we walked around the headlands park which surrounds the village of Mendocino. You can get down to the beach in a few spots. There is so much cool driftwood on the beach here... it comes down out of the mouth of The Big River with big storms. I snapped this shot of a piece of wood I thought looked like a seal...

The view of town from out on the headlands is really about as quaint as it could be.

Today we settled in a bit more and got set up with a P.O. Box in town and stuff. We drove up to Fort Bragg and took a peek at that town. It is decent sized and will take a full day or two to explore. One the way home we stopped off at The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse which is my new favorite place to take a walk. It is just incredible out there. You can spot gray whales out off shore, deer are roaming the grasslands, the trees are windswept and the lighthouse is the coolest one I have seen yet in my life.

I nearly peed my pants when I grabbed that shot above... only camera dorks will truly understand.

Since I am on a really iffy internet connection right now I am going to keep this post short. I will add more details and pics tomorrow when I get on a more secure connection. I just wanted to get this up for anyone following the blog who wanted an update! All is well and we are having a great time here so far. I think this is going to be an amazing place to live.