The Clueless Eater

A Sunny Start

April 20, 2015

Tags: Spring, Port Townsend, Chimacum, Chimacum Farm Stand, starts, broccoli, lettuce, beets, Helpline House.

Visiting Port Townsend on a sunny day. Next to a sculpture by Gerard Tsutakawa.
After the gift of a beautiful sunny day yesterday, we received a second today. Too nice to waste indoors! So we drove to Port Townsend, one of my favorite places, to visit the waterfront, eat lunch, and visit the Chimacum Farmstand.

Lunch was at The Fountain, a restaurant one flight up and two streets away from Water Street, the main drag. I have been admonished by my son for taking photos of my food in public, so let me just say that the mushrooms stuffed with (more…)

Volcanic Eruption?

March 23, 2015

Tags: owls, blue herons, blue potatoes, carrots, bainbridge, garden, rock farm, Helpline House

Adding lime to the soil at the Rock Farm
No, la jefa of the Rock Farm Community Garden, Anita Rockefeller, spread lime over all of our plots, creating this eerie landscape. I happened to be there Thursday before the evening rain soaked the fine powder into the earth. The darker front rows are my plot, where I turned it in and planted a row of blue potatoes and a row of carrots. Next, we will spread a layer of compost. Supposedly, we should avoid turning the soil too much. This should encourage a build up of compost and keep carbon sequestered in the soil, where it belongs.

Spring is here after an unusually dry (more…)

Starvation Foods

March 9, 2015

Tags: Starvation, history, winter foods, white beans, kale, black tree lichen, Bainbridge, sustainable

I ate the evidence, but here are the ingredients!
Late winter and early spring are an iffy time in the northwest. We had record-breaking high temperatures for February, while much of the east coast shivered beneath a blanket of snow.

Historically, early spring has been an unpredictable time. Rather than in the dead of winter, this is when indigenous people were most likely (more…)

Mid-Winter Experiment

February 19, 2015

Tags: Bainbridge Island, cooking, farming, sustainable eating, chayote, Chihuahua, Mexican food.

I liked chayote as a child, but I had no idea how to prepare it.
While the East Coast has had a winter of discontent, we have experienced mild temperatures and even sunshine in the Northwest. Our growing season ended last fall with a whimper when freezing temperatures took out my late planting of squash in early November. I didn't think to check the garden space I rent until (more…)

Winter Again

January 8, 2015

Tags: Winter, sustainable, farming, Suquamish, Comprehensive Plan

Another winter, and those of us in the Northwest have turned inward, that pause when we clean our homes after a hectic season, and plan for the coming year.

It is very dark here in January, and I struggle to get out of bed even when the clock says it is time. Our vegetable gardens are sleeping, deep in dreams under a cover crop of clover or alfalfa, or like mine, under a layer of fresh soil I optimistically added in early November, hoping for a late fall crop. Instead, it froze early, taking out the last of my kale and some promising squash.

This year, social justice is (more…)

An Early Storm

November 15, 2014

Tags: Early storm, towhees, mortality, gardens, North Puget Sound, children

An adult and an immature towhee caught in a storm
This is the time of year when our gardens produce their last fruits and vegetables. I could tell you how clever I was today for combining a pear with the last of the rhubarb to make a tart and sweet compote.

It is a time that reminds us all of our mortality, as theleaves begin to turn and fall. The berry bushes that looked as though they would take over the neighborhood have begun to retreat, close to the ground for another season. We preserve, we line our nests and contemplate the seasons when we spend more time indoors.

But this has been a time of terrible loss. A freshman in high school shot four (more…)

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

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…)

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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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