*Before I launch into my adventures I am sad to say that I had a technical “hiccup” and unintentionally deleted all of the photos off of the first 8 posts I have written. I hope you’ve all gotten a chance to see them as they’ve been published, if not, feel free to contact me and I’ll send you some photos*
It’s been a week since I arrived in Oceanside at my second Workaway and so far I’m loving it. I’m staying with a Karen, her son Ari and their two awesome cats up on a their mountain property that overlooks more mountains (I’ll take some pictures of that soon, sorry!!) Oceanside is home to a naval base so construction on the mountains isn’t allowed which means beautiful, scarless, mountains to look at whenever you need to be humbled. Oceanside is just as it sounds; a seaside city with a beautiful beach and pier. Karen, my host momma, told me that they’ve been really trying to give Oceanside a bit of a facelift, which I’ve definitely seen, but I’ve also seen the little “pockets” where it’s still quite rundown. Gentrification always pops into my head when I see this, but that’s another conversation.
Karen and Ari’s house is small, but I think it’s the perfect size for the amount of people.The outdoors are more inviting here anyway, and Karen keeps the door and windows open 24/7. Seriously, the door never closes so humans, cats, leaves and twigs can wander in and out as they please. It’s so wonderful to have the fresh air at night, I sleep on the floor in the living room, if I were to roll off my bed I’d basically be in the dining room! 🙂 It’s a very calming environment here, Karen is an herbalist so there are herbs drying in the kitchen and many plants around the property and in the gardens. In Maine I always felt so confident in my ability to identify plants and trees but here I’m starting out at the beginning again, though I’ve already learned quite a bit just from talking to Karen. The gardening schedule is way different as well. Karen is about to start seeds, while at home my mom (also named Karen!) is putting the gardens to bed for the winter.
Living with Karen and Ari reminds me a lot of home, it’s a very relaxed setting and we have similar interests and world views. I really feel like we all connected very well over a good laugh on the second day when I tripped over my mattress and almost went headfirst into the closet. A good ice breaker by yours truly never fails! At first we were definitely all getting to know each other and living in very close quarters makes it happen quite fast, but sharing some laughter always seals the deal. It’s a beautiful thing that people from all over the world can share, regardless of what language you speak. While the language barrier doesn’t apply here, I think laughter is like glue to connect people together.
During my stay in Oceanside I will be doing some cleaning to make sure the little house doesn’t fill up with too many leaves, and cooking meals. This will allow Karen to have more time to homeschool Ari, focus on building her health, and make sure Ari has healthy meals to eat. Other than that I am free to do what I want.
Honestly though, it’s almost been a dream come true, I love to cook and used to all the time at home, especially in high school. But the last few years I’ve been so busy or out of state that I just haven’t had a lot of time to experiment as I like to. Now, I get to cook two to three meals a day and try out all the dishes I’ve been either taking photos of, bookmarking or trying to remember in my head for the last few years. Cooking is a very calming thing for me, and I feel really good about cooking to make a mother and her son’s life a little easier. Cooking is kind of like a form of art to me, I get to mix and match different flavors, colors and even textures and practically create a food symphony!
It’s been so nice to finally do my full Viniyoga practice without worrying about hitting my head on the overhanging lamp in my tent back in Santa Cruz. I’ve been practicing every morning outside on the little patio overlooking the mountains in the early sunlight, such a great way to start the day. I always notice a significant difference to my day when I start with mindful movement, as opposed to when I don’t. I always feel clear, more energetic, but relaxed and it’s a nice way to bridge the gap from sleeping to cooking or cleaning.
The first few days after I arrived in Oceanside I stayed at the house to finally ground myself after all the travel from the previous week, I just wanted to settle in, get myself situated, and stare at the mountains for a bit. I got a little care package from home which included some delicious honey from our hives in the yard. It’s been so nice to have that around and share with Karen and Ari. Since I never went to college, it was my first care package ever, very exciting! Most of it was warm weather clothes because I didn’t think I was going to come this far South when I was packing back in October. That’s a fun adventure, if you haven’t read that post (it’s my first) I suggest you go ahead and check it out. After feeling settled I got in touch with Lauren, my friend and co-worker from Dooryard Farm back in Maine, she was planning on coming to California at some point. We realized that we were 10 minutes away from each other, crazy…
The other day we met in downtown Oceanside, it was the first time I’d been there since arriving on the train, so I was excited to explore the area and see the pier. I wasn’t too familiar with the bus system and I didn’t want to spent too much on an Uber, so I started walking. I put my headphones in and made my way down busy roads, sometimes with sidewalks, sometimes without. At one point I was walking under a big freeway bridge with Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire playing and old farm trucks flying by me, blowing dust everywhere. I felt like I should don a sombrero and start cha cha-ing down the road or something. I walked for over an hour and then Lauren let me know she was almost there, I still had an hour of walking to go so I gave in and got an Uber the rest of the way. It was a funny ride; I was with two other people my age. The guy was trying to buy a Rolex with only five grand (I told him to buy a car instead) and the girl was trying to decide if she should go to the movies with a real estate agent or not (she decided yes because she was hungry and thought maybe he’d also buy her food). I shared that I was from Maine and that was about it.
It was awesome to catch up with Lauren, we grabbed some smoothies, walked the pier, then decided we’d both done enough walking for the day and sat down on the beach to wait for her friend Eric, who is also from Maine!! After enjoying the waves for a bit, and an absolutely BEAUTIFUL sunset, we headed to the sunset market right in downtown; a huge outdoor farmer’s market with all sorts of ethnic foods, vendors, and live music. There was every kind of food imaginable, from beignets to bbq to Maine lobster rolls… it’s so funny, Maine lobster is everywhere around here.
Another day Lauren and Eric and I headed to La Jolla which is about 30 minutes away to go snorkeling and look for leopard sharks and seals. When we got there the weather had turned a bit cold for SoCal (I know, I know, everyone in Maine must be shaking their heads right now, but I swear it was cold!). A local quickly told us the leopard sharks had migrated to warmer waters. We silly Mainers (Maineiacs?) decided that if it was too cold for the sharks, it was too cold for us. So, instead, we got tacos! Okay, we did more than that, but the tacos man, wow, I had one with cactus in it. And yes, there was a Maine Lobster taco on the menu, for $3.50 extra of course. Before this food-coma inducing meal we walked around the village and La Jolla and got to see the caves in the cliffs and a bunch of seals hanging out on rocks taking a snooze. When woken up they can be feisty; Lauren almost walked into a seal that blended into the cliffs and it snapped at her ankle for disturbing its sleep.
One day I decided to walk an hour to Guahome Park, a local campsite and nature preserve with trails, a pond, some cute rabbits and birds, lots and lots of birds. I had quite an entertaining afternoon observing them. I could recognize most of them, especially the ducks but a few of them were totally unfamiliar to me. It was great to have some “bird” friends around, but they must have thought I was an odd shaped bird because every time I’d approach one they’d quickly turn in the opposite direction, promptly ruffle their feathers and walk away. If you’re confused that’s another reason to go back and read my first post; I present a few random facts about myself which includes my nickname, Bird, so there’s a lot of really terrible jokes to go along with that throughout the blog.
Yesterday I went with Karen and Ari to watch him play softball with a bunch of other homeschooled kids in the surrounding community. After the game we headed to the Yellow Deli which is a very cool place. It’s run by people who are part of The Twelve Tribes; an international group of religious communities that began in the 70’s. The Yellow Deli restaurants are something that was created by the group, they’re all over the US, the first
one is in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When you step into the deli you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The woodworking is beautiful and there’s an actual “food elevator” that they haul up and down instead of walking the food up and down the tricky spiral staircase. After lunch we went to get some groceries and found out that there was a sale on fresh, young coconuts; a dollar a piece, so we got nine.
I’m looking forward to the next month and week here at my home away from home with Karen and Ari. It will be my first time spending Thanksgiving and Christmas without my family. Christmas kind of fizzled out over the years for us, instead we call it Happy Family Day and the focus is on food and not presents or trees, just a time for family and relaxation. But Thanksgiving is a bigger deal with my family, we always have a big group of people at the house, with lots of board games. However I’m looking forward to spending turkey day here, Karen and Ari’s house is part of a property that three other houses share, so it’s like a little community and we will all get together and bring something to the table to share. I’m almost hoping it’s going to be a cooler day, eating mashed potatoes with gravy while wearing shorts sounds odd.