Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

Clean berries and dirty carrots

July 14, 2014

Tags: garden, sustainability, island, Bainbridge, carrots, berries, Minedoka

Clean berries and dirty carrots
It is that time of the season when, if you are in the right place at the right time, someone will hand you a bag of beet greens. Or a handful of berries. Or leave a dozen fat oysters at your back door!

It took four to five months to reach this point, but every cloudy day, every seed that refused to sprout, every insect, is forgiven when we bite into a salad of our own growing. (more…)

June

June 17, 2014

Tags: June, vegetables, garden, Bainbridge Island, sustainable, gardening, organic, ravens

As the season progresses, the community garden is bursting with life. A neighbor kept my plants watered while we traveled for two weeks, and I returned to kale, mixed greens, and more kale! We have enjoyed it many ways – stir fried, as salads, as a soup with white beans, and in a frittata. We are almost caught up now.

The carrots are well-established, and my yellow tomato plant survived its baptism of copper sulfate and sideways planting – la jefa of the garden, Anita Rockefeller, had me lay the gangly plant on its side and bury it, only allowing about eighteen inches at the top to curve out into the air. It seems to be working.

It rained intensely over the weekend, so there is no need to water. As I harvest and weed, two ravens greet each other overhead, (more…)

Gardening with Frog and Toad

April 20, 2014

Tags: Bainbridge Island, sustainable, seed library, garden, community garden, Rock Farm

Using the Seed Library at Kitsap Regional Library
This year, I will apply my mad skills in gardening to a 10x10’ plot at The Rock Farm, a community garden on the west side of the island. This lacks the convenience of walking next door to garden in Hilary and Neil’s yard, but affords a larger space with more sun and a Master Gardener to crack the whip if I get too lazy.

In addition, I will be able to (more…)

Hope for Trees

March 10, 2014

Tags: trees, Bainbridge Island, sustainability, development, tree ordinance, future

A tree was saved today.
A miracle might have occurred today. People who have worked in opposition for years were smiling and agreeing on something. Solutions were suggested and accepted. A tree was saved.

After years of e-mails, public meetings, and tense confrontations on the street, and a final sit-down meeting at City Hall, the city agreed to spare the lone tree on Cave Avenue that straddles the edge of the city right-of-way for a sidewalk. The sidewalk will bump out four inches into the street to maintain the four-foot width required in order to meet ADA standards.

What’s more, as the work began, the developer asked for his arch-nemesis, renowned arborist Olaf Ribeiro, to come out and consult on how to handle boles found at the base of the tree. They can be safely flattened, he said, using a diamond saw for a smooth cut. The one-hundred year old tree probably formed the boles in reaction to the street first being paved sometime in the 1970s.

Four inches of gravel now wind along a path between (more…)

Happy Vegetarian New Year!

January 24, 2014

Tags: vegetarian, pescetarian, Molly Katzen, The Heart of the Plate, Japanese American, Woody Allen, Kokon Taiko, rice, cholesterol, sustainability, Bainbridge, Mochi Tsuki, Lunar New Year

I’ve been meaning to write a New Year’s entry! I guess I haven’t missed the lunar New Year, which is Friday, January 31. Each year Mochi Tsuki, held at Islandwood, an environmental education center, attracts more visitors. This year it was held on January 5.

Sweet rice was steamed over a hot fire (more…)

Roxbury Russets

November 25, 2013

Tags: apples, empanadas, Bainbridge Island, local farms, sustainable living, fruit trees, heritage, Secret Spring Farm, Sweetlife Farm.

Empanadas made with Roxbury Russet apple filling.
The Farmers Market decamped for the season, taking down their white pavilions and moving from colorful vegetables and squash to more sensible potatoes and other root vegetables. A few farmers continue to sell in the Eagle Harbor Congregational Church community room, and even fewer brave open tents in the parking lot.

Now is the time to buy homemade preserves and dolls, wood products, and other goods that are made by hand. Now is the time to be thankful for our harvest and lower our sunlight expectations, the hardest thing for me. (more…)

The Rock Farm

August 29, 2013

Tags: Bainbridge Island, local food, sustainability, farming, Rockefeller, community, garden

Anita and friend at The Rock Farm, a community garden
In July, Phil and Anita Rockefeller invited me (okay, I begged) to see The Rock Farm, a portion of their property that has been turned into community gardens.

When I arrived Sunday at 10:30 am, Phil and Anita were hanging what looked like prayer flags along the eight-foot high deer fence. Up close, I could (more…)

A Walk in the Park

July 10, 2013

Tags: Bloedel Reserve, trees, nature, Bloedel, gardens, timber barons, Bainbridge

The Bloedels saw nature as something too strong and rough to be experienced without the filter of a human sensibility
In the cool of a day predicted to get very hot, we walked through a gentle forest. Birds called and squirrels chittered at the small groups of visitors strolling carefully groomed paths.

The Bloedel Reserve was started in 1950 by Prentice Bloedel, son of timber baron Julius Harold Bloedel. Julius made a fortune harvesting (more…)

Some Trees

June 5, 2013

Tags: Turkey, trees, Bainbridge, protest, standing there, woman in red, E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

A Douglas Fir in my neighborhood.
It all started with a few trees, a very few trees, but some of the last in the heart of the city. Protesters tried to block demolition of the little park, only to be met with violence.

These are not tree-huggers in California, or other occupants of the “landof the free,” who might seem to have too much time on their hands. These are people who live in Turkey, (more…)

The Next Big Thing

May 22, 2013

Tags: Bainbridge Island, local food, sustainability, sailing, why I write, Wendy Hinman

Apple harvest
I first met Wendy Hinman at the Seattle7 Novel Live! Event, where a number of us wrote a group novel, The Hotel Angeline, as a fundraiser for literacy. We each got up and flailed away at an unfamiliar computer on a stage with a camera pointed at us. The result is still pulling in (more…)

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Selected Works

Anthologies
From the early literature of the Americas to the late 20th Century
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
Fiction
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
Booklist
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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