I grew up with trails and gardens rather than sidewalks. When I walked to a friend's house, it meant avoiding the main road and crossing a field, going 'over the hill' and through a short wooded section until you reached the paved drive that featured my friend's address. I routinely saw deer along my route as well as numerous birds and the occasional coyote (once I swore I saw a mountain lion. It may have been a bobcat but I was young, the only one there and either way, suitably impressed and awed). In any case, it wasn't until I lived in the city that I saw kids decorating their front walks with chalk or drawing out hopscotch patterns. When I traveled to India, I witnessed a whole new level of chalk drawing: Rangoli. The decorative chalk drawing, kind of a folk art mandala, are seen everywhere in India, usually drawn by women on the sidewalk in front of gates and doors, a practice that represents "a philosophy of life that enthusiastically celebrates the impermanence of knowing and devotes itself to a constant wish to live in the present." In India, rangoli are drawn on holidays and other auspicious dates. They're beautiful and inspiring, driven by a purpose that "tomorrow will be renewed."
Here in California, I'm in the middle of finishing up a project that's been nearly a year in the making. Renewal is called for. I remembered the rangoli, dug up some white and colored chalk, and drew my own take on rangoli on my front step. It's been fun to see how people react here, usually a mix of curiosity and bemusement, even if they don't really know what it is (not sure it its some of the first Rangoli to make it to Alameda).Read: I recently spent an afternoon in a friend's art studio helping with a fairly tedious task required of a large project (most projects have the tedious part, yes?). As it the case when working on something that doesn't require too much brain power, out conversation took up the slack. My friend does a lot of public at and community based projects and we got to talking about making neighborhoods more livable or community active.Researching the subject post-conversation, I found "Superbia: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods." Offering everything from tips on making your home energy efficient to making community gardens, it's a good kickstart to putting ideas into action.
Eat: The farmer's market has been long on stone fruit: peaches and pluots, plums and apricots. I haven't had it in me to take the time for pie crust, but fruit crisps are quick, easy and just as good. Epicurious has a good basic Fruit Crisp recipe that let's the fruit do most of the talking (as it should). I used coconut oil instead of butter, GF flour in place of wheat and date sugar in place of white to make it vegan and tolerable to those with special diets.
Listen: I'm such a big fan of Rosanne Cash, who I first saw perform nearly 20 years ago in Boulder and immediately wanted to be like her when I grew up. She's literate, she's funny, she's real, her songs are great and she and her band just rock. Check out this concert footage from the Luminato Festival: