Monday, July 16, 2012


After a very long stint producing leaves, I pulled this chard. I still have two strong plants growing. Still incredibly yummy. The young greens are delicious with fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil and a bit of sea salt and cracked pepper.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Road Trip One of Two: Part II Alcatraz

Davenport Jail
The boys and I left Davenport, CA, bright and early to visit a current family obsession: Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz main cellhouse
Alcatraz operated as a federal penitentiary for only 29 years (1934-1963) but remains notorious for housing the most dangerous criminals of the time on the island in the middle of the frigid Bay. The natural conditions of the isolated penitentiary made escape highly unlikely. Fourteen prisoners attempted escape, three remain unfound. The story of Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers is part of the reason why my family is so curious about Alcatraz.

Alcatraz library
The most popular books in the library were philosophy books: Schopenhauer, Kant and the classics.

interior cellblock
The cellblock made quite an impression on the boys. They wouldn't enter inside any of the open cells.

The short cruise back to the City is a delight with the skyline so vivid, the Bay speckled with sailboats racing in the strong wind.

After we docked, we discovered in the few hours we were on the island, steps away Pier 29 had burned terribly. I wondered if the spark was slowly burning when we drove past it early in the morning or if the fire source, a frayed wire, acetone soaked rags near a heater or whatever, was in place as we passed it when this old building was still solid. Strange how quickly dramatic change occurs, how something small can erupt into something so large.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Road Trip One of Two: Part I

Cuyucos pier
Back in March or so, I was hit with the notion of a summer road trip with the boys. My idea was to leave immediately after school got out and head to northern California to see friends, take in some sights and enjoy the adventure of a road trip. I planned to head out alone with the boys for the bulk of the trip, Eric would join us for a few days in Berkeley.

I love California. It is such a beautiful state and I'm grateful to call it home. The send off from LA caught us in traffic, so we snailed out way through the southeastern part of the Valley, broke out on the other side and didn't look back until we were facing the other way to come home.

We spent a night in Davenport on our way to San Francisco. I've always loved this small town on a quiet part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

The boys and I enjoyed a walk around the town, taking in the community garden, the sound of the Pacific crashing against the bluffs and the two cell jail, now shuttered, and used only once when it was active.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kid Jam Business

While I was tucking my youngest into bed one evening, he informed me he was going into the strawberry jam business with details about how he would make it and what he would do with his earnings which includes taking over the duties of buying groceries. He informed me I need only make a list, he'd take care of the rest. The next morning, he showed me the recipe he would use that he found in his High Five Highlights magazine.

We dove into the project. I assisted with the grown up things (reading, lifting heavy pots, etc.), but this guy lead the entire project from the hulling and mashing of the strawberries...

to the stirring of the jam...

to the filling of the jars and preparing them for the final water bath. He's already made two sales. His first to his oldest brother. We made a second batch, strawberries hand picked at Underwood Farms, before we headed out on a road trip of northern California.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Safety Razor Shaving Update

It's been a while since I've posted anything here but its been an especially long time since I've posted an update about shaving with a safety razor. That's partly due to the fact that nothing has really changed since I last posted, until now. My last useable blade from the purchase I described in May 2009 is in my razor now and is almost too dull to use. I say useable because I was only able to endure 2 or 3 shaves with the Dorco blades and will likely throw the rest away.

So that's 40 blades over 3 years? It sounds hard to believe but I haven't shaved with anything else except on business trips or vacation when I use the remaining cartridges from my old razor. I do that because they are easier to fly with (no bag checks) and because I still have some left over from before I got my Merkur razor kit. When those cartridges are gone I'm not sure what I'll do.

At this rate it looks like I'm going through about 12 blades a year. I only shave between one to three times a week and I have a pretty light beard so that helps.  I am about to buy 100 Feather blades from West Coast Shaving for $40.00.  When I started shaving the Feathers were too sharp for me but now I have the touch and have found them to give the best shave and to last the longest. It looks like I won't be buying more blades for about 8 years or so.

Related Posts:
Father's Day Gift Idea: Traditional Double Edge Razor
Shaving in Style with the Merkur Safty Razor
Razor Blade Sharpener
Wet Shaving Update
More Blades Arrive
Shaving Update