Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mid summer garden

It is a relief to have four days off. We’ll head off to the mountains (in the VV truck) but first I had to turn over the watering to our neighbor (for all the baby coleus springing up in every bare patch in the yard.) The garden is like the sorcerer’s apprentice but I decided it is the source’s apprentice. There was a program on last night about angiogenesis—the way cancers create their own blood supply. Really, gardens are somewhat like that with the weeds and bugs they shelter, creating their own little lush gardens. They are differentiated and useful but really do go out of control. Have you ever turned your back on a bean bush or a zucchini for a day? I have overwhelmed my co-workers at two different jobs and now will deliver produce to the radio ( tomorrow—another source of masses to feed zucchini to. It’s not like I have that many plants.
The corn is “as high as an elephant’s eye” and the sunflowers are as high as a giraffe’s eye. To go away I’ve harvested heavily but I have no hope that the weeds and the vegetables won’t have taken over Manhattan by the time we return.
I've included a photo of our Four O'Clocks. They need no water. Live seemingly forever and die back to nothing above ground every winter. Amazing!
Here are some lovely Vitamin A rich women from Addus Health Care who I am lucky enough to work with.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Phoenix Births

We are about to have a matinee in the living room while I slip the extra flake off money plant leaves. I just wanted to say that I love the generosity of Chico people. This morning I dropped by some contributions to the Women’s Club for the fire victims. It was overflowing with really great things. There was stuff all over the front, back and side lawns and many volunteers. Now the fire survivors just need places to live and all the other little things, like money, to get their lives back on track. A local number you call to find out about giving is 530-228-6896.
The GRUB folks are enjoying their fields out here. I notice redbud, willow and honey locust are all suckering back after the fire on the land behind their field. It’s Dear Addie’s 14th birthday and instead of a limo her dad has a bus to take her friends to their party. It’s also my Dear nephew Danny’s 26th birthday. I sent him a dinosaur card for old time’s sake. All new Life and Phoenix rebirths we Love You.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday morning

We were headed up to celebrate my dear Queen Colette’s 50th but Michael threw around one too many cement bags yesterday and is stranded on the couch now watching his handy-man shows on PBS. The juicer is still.
I missed my yoga class and the peace vigil but did make it to the Farmer’s Market. My friend Laurel was playing for tips. She said quietly and quickly to me, “I lost everything but my guitar” and gave me her beautiful smile. Her home burned to the ground in the Concow fire.
Actually it’s good I am grounded this weekend. I’ll go through my stuff and see what I can give to the people who lost their homes. There’s a big give away tomorrow at the Chico Women’s Club. If it wasn’t for Michael’s back I’d have only snatched up a few things. Now I can do it thoughtfully. I can also write checks and give away some money now that we’re caught up on bills.
There was also some good transportation for sale at the market. If you enlarge these (click on them) you can get the phone numbers. The guy said the electric car can get a 100 mile range now as the batteries are new. I don’t know how many miles you can get with two kids on the back of a bike…maybe three. Depends on the kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Orien is visiting. A little window of relaxation and freedom before she starts law school and my only real chance to have time with her before she begins this next period of focus and tenacity.
In the morning we walked Pula and Harry, Sheldon’s dogs, to the back to check out where the concert had been yesterday. Folks had camped and were just mobilizing their final clean up and clear out. This picture is of a collapsed Pula (of Pyrenees and Andalusian blood.) The attention was just too much.
After waffles and fresh picked peaches we went out on the Sac up at Jelly’s Ferry. There was a brisk head wind with lots of boils and whirlpools. Orien and I haven’t paddled together so we were all over the place in the fast moving water but it went fine. She has a good sense about the currents and instinct about how to paddle. Michael used the new (to us) sea kayak he’d been given. I was totally covered and wearing a life jacket. Orien has been so long in the SF fog she just wanted the sun on her skin, no matter if she burned.
We ended the day at an Indian restaurant with Sheldon, toasting our dear daughter to success in this challenging next step.

Wheeled Migration

Yesterday there was a gathering on the land for Wheeled Migration ( Its a statewide bike convergence and ride headed to San Luis Obispo for a sustainability conference on 7/31. People from Chico are leaving from the Downtown Plaza Park at 9am tomorrow (Monday.) This was sort of a fundraiser and spirit builder and was a lot of fun.
Here’s a car that becomes the support vehicle being painted and Sarah, one of the organizers, playing “the savage,” a great percussion instrument played with a stick in harmony with her and Kerisha, their sweet sounds melting the heat and the couple of hundred people listening out by the swimming hole.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Yesterday I ran into Norm Dillinger, the owner and painter of this car. He is a prolific artist and told me he is giving 100% of his art sales now to Play Pumps ( ) a simple pump and holding tower strategy for getting water out of the ground for clean, affordable water for many communities in Africa. Check it out if you have time.
We took our time to get out of the valley. Michael has fixed the veggievoyager Ford truck and processed veggie oil so we had enough to make it about 60 miles up to the edge of Mt. Lassen National Park. We went up Hwy 32 though, along Deer Creek, where fire is still smoldering and ash lays down in fingers and carpets all the way to the creek and roadway on both sides. Some of the fire just got the under story and in other places there will be a big risk of mudslides if we have a heavy rain winter. I’m worried about profiteers coming in to salvage-log healthy trees and making the forest more torn up than it already is.
We appreciated being really cold and alone last night up at Wilson Lake, a wonderful lake that goes to meadow almost every summer. It rears many invisible but noise making birds in it’s grasses. The whole area below Lassen was really smoky still with a red sun setting then a red moon rising.
On the way home we stopped along Panther Meadows and walked along Deer Creek enjoying the flowers. There is a view here of Butt Mountain, which we have enjoyed from top and all sides in summer and winter in the past. It looks pretty choked up. Still.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Otras Salvadores

Emily left for a delegation with Habitat for Humanity for El Salvador tonight after a land meeting. She made peach crisp and we celebrated Sheldon’s Bday and talked about our partnership agreement and the possibilities of a grant from Natural Resources Conservation Services ( They will pay half for us to get rid of the invasive plants like foxtail, Johnson grass, poke, and ailanthus that riddle our little 12 acre paradise and help us with costs for putting down a native covercrop and replanting border plants (for all that was destroyed by the fire,) as well as hedgerows to attract beneficial insects and possibly other things, like wild bee habitat, to create the healthiest and most diverse riparian oak woodland organic farm balance we can be. There are still questions about it but we welcome this infusion of assistance and support for refueling our dreams for this beautiful place.
Ironically, Sheldon has a Lexus. Long story short, it belonged to his brother who was a Hollywood writer. I thought Emily would reel in El Salvador when she thinks about her ride to the airport in that plush car, when she sees how our brothers and sisters live. Here is a picture of Emily’s peacefilled garden. I know this delegation will strengthen an already powerful Leo to greater energy and determination and am anticipating her dynamic return in three weeks. The country of the savior will be back on “the map” again, perhaps not quite as prominently as it was in the 80s but it will resurrect, I’m sure of it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

One year

Michael fixed the old veggie voyager truck and is off searching for veggie oil.
I can’t believe it has been one year since we picked our soggy dispirited selves up out of raging hot Chico and headed off for our voyage. I’m going to do a memory lane thing here for awhile. Why not? It was such a “long strange trip” I want to have pause to remember it.
The evening sky is actually blue and sun and shadow a pretty decent rendition of their former selves through the walnut trees. I think we have turned the corner on the fires which are over 50% contained.
Yesterday I got some shots of flowers here on Riparia and thought you might enjoy them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


It’s been a full week. I worked, the fires burned and I got one more celebration of my birthday with friends. Friends lost homes. I spent the morning today working in the shelter for medically fragile evacuees.
It was good to get home and work in the garden and I didn’t even wear my N-95 mask. The sun has been an orange ball and the air has been “very unhealthy.” We don’t have air conditioning so we’ve just toughed it out like many other folks in Northern California who also have sore throats and sore eyes. The pallor of the sky and dread of the fires’ danger have weighed on just about everyone. The firefighters are exhausted and the evacuees and shelter volunteers are weary. In the stillness of this hot, muggy evening I sense a certain peace because it’s Saturday evening and I feel relaxed and free, even with all the stress on people that just goes on and on. Odd when you get those disconnects but it feels good not to feel bad.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ide Adobe

Good end to the weekend. It’s smoky and got up to 105 degrees. Michael was able to fix the back end of the truck so we veggie oiled up to Jelly’s Ferry, north of Red Bluff, to the Sacramento River. We canoed down to the Ide Adobe House in Red Bluff on icy cold waters coming from deep under Shasta Lake. There was high water and boiling eddies in one canyon area that was pretty exciting. Most of the time it was just mellow and beautiful.
This is my first 40 hour work week coming up so I’m really grateful for the centering river time even if I did get a bit broiled.

Friday, July 4, 2008


The Sun is almost horizontal at 7:30 and the mosquitoes have come out so I’ve harvested the nightly dinner and come in to enjoy the fan before I start creating something that is somewhat different than last night’s zucchini version.
Today was satisfying because I got to do radio. I filled in on the Peace and Justice program on community radio station KZFR ( for streaming.) I interviewed my old friend Darien who just came back from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom meeting in Des Moines. Darien is also grounded in peace activism and it was really satisfying to engage with her in the public space and talk about things, like the Iraq war in detail you just wouldn’t hear anywhere else. After Darien, I got to talk to two of the folks who have organized the effort to get our City Council to petition Congress for impeachment. ( I am energized by their effort and hope there will be a groundswell of people who want to protect the future by applying the rule of law to the president’s actions. (We owe it to all who have suffered because of his actions.)
We can see the fireworks at the Fairgrounds from the corner of the garden and will go no further tonight. The peaches in the photo are an heirloom variety that grows here on the land…they’re the soul of summer. I’ve also got Dan Robles’s back in the KZFR booth and a pedi-cab guy in his fashion statement.
To all: Freedom and Democracy and Justice.