Tuesday, February 26

self reflection = I am crazy after all

It has never been hard for me to adjust to new surroundings, to meet new people or to try something I've never tried before. I think my comfort zone is quite large in that respect. I'm comfortable just about anywhere. In most cases I would rationalize that this is a good trait to have. It has allowed me to adventure to new cities, new states and new countries, it has urged me to try new jobs and eat new foods, in fact. But just recently I've realized that sometimes being comfortable with your surrounding may be risky in some situations.

Evidence: I keep forgetting to lock the door of public restrooms . This happens almost every time I go to the bathroom in a "one person" public bathroom (coffee shops, the library, convenience stores). I walk in like it's my personal bathroom, drop trou and then as I'm settled on the toilet, that's when it hits me that the door is unlocked and open to anyone interested in going. So of course frantic moments of life pass as I'm hurrying to do my most natural business.

How can I be that comfortable? Weird.

More thoughts:
  • My hair is too shaggy but I hate paying for haircuts. Time to learn a new skill.
  • I'm giving up my electric blanket to be a warmer for my germinating seeds (am I crazy?)
  • I hang my trash from the garage rafters because I don't want to pay for trash service (I am definitely crazy)

Sunday, February 24

the surprise. the shock. the compromise.

Suzie surprised me when I came home from work on Tuesday, with the news that she had procured for me, from our chef-neighbor, a five-gallon bucket of food scraps per day for our worm farm! The worm farm that ironically, we hadn't started yet.

I was appalled and repelled by her enthusiastic assurance that the worms (again, the worms we didn't have yet) would and could take care of five, five-gallon buckets of food per week. My mind instantly shouted out against the foolhardy idea. I think my exact verbiage was, "WHAT? Suzie, no!". I'm pretty sure I slightly offended her by my adamant negative responses to her insistence that I wouldn't have to do a thing, the worms would do all the work.

All my mind could picture was the number of rats and other critters I'd have to fight off because of the smell of rotten food which would be wafting from the garage. I could see myself tying a rag around my nose and braving the stench to "turn" the worm compost that would be falling out of the worm bin with every turn. None of my visions were pleasant, all were nightmares.

Thankfully, after frantically digging up information on worm consumption (1 lb of scraps per week for a one square foot area) we were able to come to a compromise that in my opinion is much more realistic!


This week has been full. Full of work, full of sunshine (seriously), full of laughs (7 yards of organic cow manure sitting on the driveway, mmhm). Spent three days working at Lavender Wind Farm and then spent Thursday and Friday working with Suzie (owner of the house), on preparing our garden for the spring. Saturday I went hiking at Deception Pass State Park with Rachel, my friend from Montana whose parents live 1/4 mile down the road from me. Monday and Wednesday Suzie and I attended organic gardening classes, as well. All in all, a full week!

I'm hoping 'weeding the garden' will take on a whole new meaning with that view.

Lots of manure - supposedly it is "aged" manure. But I can attest, it still smells nasty!

Did anyone watch the lunar eclipse on Wednesday night? It was an outstanding show here. A rare natural phenomenon that reminds us of how unique our galaxy really is!

Rachel stands on Rosario Point. We were hoping to see some seals, but alas only diving birds and lots of kelp. The kelp bed right below the cliff is shown below. Beautiful day to hike!

Sunday, February 17

to give you an idea...

of where I am. Here is the front of the house. It looks out on the sound, maybe seventy or more ships go by each day headed south toward Seattle, or back north to the ocean. The shipping lane is in the middle of the sound and very deep. The current there is quick and choppy. I can hear the big freighters go by even at night.
My favorite spot in the house. Not hard to guess why.
At the bottom of my road I can access the beach, and get the panoramic view of the olympics. Not bad, eh?

Deception Pass

While Amber and Dan were here a few weeks ago we traveled to the north end of the island where it is connected to the Washington mainland by a bridge. The area is known as Deception Pass. When looking down into the water it could be mistaken as a river since it is so narrow, the tides play havoc with the water creating deep and deadly whirlpools and currents, as they go in and out. Deception Pass State Park lies on both sides of the bridge and offers many hiking trails and camp sites. While hiking there we were fortunate to see a few seals swimming near the shore. I've never thought much of seals, mainly because most of my life I've lived in landlocked states, but to see them in their natural habitat, playfully diving and surfacing, that was something I'll never forget. Welcome to Washington.

Friday, February 15

itty bitty pictures

Unbelieveable! It's been ten years since I got my first passport. Time to renew! I'm looking pretty sharp in my new photo. Should be receiving my new passport in a few weeks. Vancouver, here I come!

working for a wage once again

No longer homeless. No longer jobless.

Life is very strange, isn't it? 2008 is quickly shaping up to be a stellar year for me. I've a wonderful place to stay; a small house on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains beyond. And now a job!

I've been hired as a farm laborer at Lavender Wind Farms. The farm is a small, "certified organic farm" (this title means everything out here) that grows different varieties of lavender, as well as a hodge podge of other plants for sale. The lavender grown is used for many products in the gift shop - soaps, oils, bath salts, honey, mustard, lotions, and even ice cream! Customers can buy dried lavender in bunches too.

I started work on Monday and will be working 3 days a week this winter and eventually 5 days a week come spring/summer.

Interesting facts:
  • Stacy, another employee of the farm, is my age and lives down the road from me, allowing us to carpool to work
  • Sarah, the farm manager, has composting toilets in her home, no flushing needed
  • two types of lavender that I've learned: grosso and folgate

Sunday, February 10

instead of t.v.

  • start a 735 page book
  • dig out noxious weed, thistle, from lawn
  • watch the freighters and tugboats go by
  • write a letter
  • read a cookbook, obsess about food
  • trim hydrangea bushes
  • turn compost pile
  • drink lots of coffee

and soon to come:

  • build chicken coop and run
  • start worm farm

Friday, February 8

washington state hodge podge

My introduction to Whidbey Island and the surrounding area was quite thorough. Amber and Dan spent a week here when I first arrived and were perfect tour guides the entire time. We visited State parks, ate at some local digs, hiked some trails, and hit the public market in Seattle. If I was left to figure all of that out on my own it would have taken me at least half a year. Washington Park - outside of Anacortes, WA
Outside of Seatle's Public Market
Fort Casey Lighthouse - Steve, Amber and I

Wednesday, February 6

The New Adventure

Is it possible that I'm due for another oil change already? Sometimes my life can be mapped out by how many oil changes my car has had in the past year or so. This year has been a bumper yield. Oil change after oil change. I'm either really going places, or running from something. I haven't decided yet.

The good news is, that after being somewhat nomadic for the past two years or so, I've found a little spot to stall for a while. The spot is practically the farthest north and west I can get and still be in the continental United States. So I suppose when the itch to drive hits me again, I better head south or east unless I'm intent on a nautical adventure.

This year is guaranteed to be full of new experiences waiting for me to uncover. As the live-in gardener/worm farmer on Whidbey Island, I have much to do and much more to learn. I'm looking forward to watching plants grow, as well as watching them break down. Observing the migration of orcas and grey whales. Harvesting clams, mussels, and crabs. And witnessing God's hand in directing my path here on this piece of land surrounded by water.

It is with a smile on my face that I can say that I do have a mailing address for now. So feel free to send me mail. And thank you to those who have already done so. I've received more mail in the past week than I did for most of last year! Exciting! If you need my address, just shoot me an email (lesliegottschalk@gmail.com), I'd be happy to send it your way.

Here's to a new day everyday!

Monday, February 4

Snowboarding Mt Baker

Dan and I pose behind my snowboard

Amber and I look as tough as we can

The crew

Amber and Dan were nice enough to invite me to snowboard/ski with a group of their friends from Minneapolis. I met them at Mt Baker midway through the first day of the weekend. 11 inches of fresh snowfall for day 2! Made for some soft falls.

irony of a foolhardy statement

I often like to joke about the last two years of my life. Mainly because the majority of people in America view how I have chosen to spend my time as uncharacteristic, risky, and nearing foolhardiness (at least in the long-term security end of things). Not once or twice, but often people have asked me how I survive, what my future plans are and when am I going to get a real job. The joking comes into play here. My usual retorte to the last question concerning "the real job" goes something like this, "I guess I'll get a real job when my car starts to break down". In fact, I remember telling my parents this over the holidays.

Sometimes irony has a way of creeping up behind you and smacking you on the back of your head. At least it does to me. The car retorte was bound to eventually play out in America's favor. And it didn't take long to surface. As I was making my way back to Colorado in the beginning of January, Calli (who so kindly had been watching Jimmy for me) in few words let me know that Jimmy was in the shop to the tune of $750. Ouch. If that was the end of the repairs I might not have felt the heavy hand of irony, but alas a series of major and minor repairs were in store.

Without going into the mechanical details of Jimmy's issues, I have been rushed into thinking of real jobs. But the question in my mind is, "What is a real job"? Questions have always intrigued me. Like...when do you become an adult? Is it when you graduate from college? Or when you get your first real job (whatever that means)? Or is it when you own your first home? Or maybe it is when you get married. If the latter is true, then I may get to be a kid for a long time. Not a bad deal.

Back to the question of the day. What is a real job? Care to share?