Posts Tagged ‘Mendocino’



Where do I look to find more time? One of the reasons we moved to the Mendocino Coast was to pursue a more manageable lifestyle. Today, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to keep up with the schedules I maintained when I was urban. That was then, this is now. Then, I had a one hour minimum commute to work; now I work in a home office most of the time. Yet, I don’t seem to have been able to recoup that hour. Then, I worked 8-10 hours a day, not counting travel time. After work, I worked out or met my running group for a couple of hours on the trail. Sometimes I even squeezed in an appointment with my chiropractor. Dinner was something I grabbed on the run, on the way to an evening meeting. Weekends were consumed with picking up dry cleaning, grocery shopping, haircuts, or maybe a facial or massage; and let us not forget the weekly Saturday morning ritual of housecleaning. Today, I work 10-12 hours a day, mostly at the computer and on the telephone, at least during the week. Weekends are for catering events during the season, which runs May through October. Workouts, grocery shopping and other errands are sandwiched in on weekdays, usually mid-morning to noon.

When I lived in the city, I managed to still cook 2-3 dinners per week from scratch, bake bread on the weekends, and even make home-made biscuits for the dog. Now that I live a “relaxed” country lifestyle, I can’t seem to find the time. Perhaps it is some cosmic law that we are destined to fill every single minute of every single day given to us.

Not that I am complaining, really. Today I work for myself, in a business that I love. Since I spend a lot of time talking about, writing about and preparing food for others, I am often too tired to cook for the fun of it. When you own the company, you are the salesman, the manager, the receptionist, the janitor, the purchasing agent, the inventory specialist, the bookkeeper, and the publicist. In my case, I am also the chef, the handyman, the delivery driver and the dishwasher! No wonder I can’t find any extra time. This time of year, there are a lot of menus and proposals to work on for catering customers, blog posts to write, ongoing work for consulting clients and the periodic conference call or meeting. Add to that ordering, shopping and prepping for the week’s events and an entire day can get away from you in no time at all. I hear the little dog start barking, look at the clock on the computer, and am amazed to see that it is after five and my husband is home from his job and wondering about dinner.

I still yearn for the “country” life that I fantasized about before moving here. I dream of leisurely hours spent puttering in my garden, a sunny afternoon spent picking wild blackberries, fabulous Italian-style late lunches on the deck with everyone pushing their chairs back to sip Prosecco and nibble on freshly baked bread dipped in olive oil. Instead I am eating yoghurt from the carton in front of the computer. I suspect that no matter what I am doing or not doing for a living, I would find it difficult to sit around and do nothing. I am slowly learning to take large blocks of time off for myself. Perhaps, at some point, I will find all those hours that appear to have slipped away like so many unmatched socks in the dryer. Then, I might find myself reminiscing about the joys of working every day.

I live in a place where others come to spend their vacations. Ironically, when they are vacationing, I am most often the busiest. Yet, I adore my work. Every new event or job I book, I am as enthused and energized as I was the first time. Sharing all that is special about this place with my clients and their guests is undeniably rewarding. We manage to bring the food, the wine, the setting, and the people who are the living spirit of the community together to give our clients a memorable experience. Yet, at times, I yearn for the predictability of a “day” job; the ethereal “nine-to-five” that seems to exist only in the imagination and on daytime soap operas. But, if I were really given the choice, I know that I would not be tempted to go back. If I did, I would be forced to return to the reality of trying to fit my work style and personal clock into someone else’s template, harder, I think, than squeezing my size ten body into size six clothes. It is less about how it looks on the outside and more about how it feels. And, if I did, I certainly would not be sitting here contemplating time!

Post by Julia Conway on August 12th, 2010

First Local Farmers’ Market

 Excitement has been building all week about the opening day for Fort Bragg’s seasonal farmers’ market.  With cash in hand and high hopes, I braved the gale force wind and the limited parking at their new (old) site, looking for some delicious early spring vegetables.  We have been spoiled again this year with the winter CSA boxes from Noyo Hill Farm and Noyo Food Forest’s farm stand at Fort Bragg High School.  I was anticipating spring onions, early fava beans and perhaps some strawberries.  Instead, I was surprised to see almost no produce at all! 

 We had both goat cheese vendors, our grass-fed beef rancher, local honey, albeit last fall’s, the Garden Bakery, our egg vendor, and a whole row of the usually packed vegetable sellers who’s tables were laden with rows of garden vegetable and flower starts.  Of course, my garden is no more ready for seedlings at this early date than I am ready to prepare it.  There are redwood roots to be dug and separated, fava beans to be harvested and the green matter dug in, and irrigation to be tested, unclogged and set.  Of course, there is that pesky issue of sunlight on the beds.  This early in the year, shadows cast by the tallest redwoods begin around 2:00P, especially in the lower beds.  Tomatoes?  Peppers?  I don’t think so, as the purple sprouting broccoli is just starting to sprout!  The compost bin sports its spring growth of weed seedlings, and the clay-laden soil is just waiting to compact into its cement-like summer form if worked too soon.

 Where are the perennial greens such as kale and chard?  Where is the tender spring lettuce, showing colorful heads in the hoop houses?  Where are the bright red yet tender strawberries that are the sweet harbingers of spring?  Where are the over-wintered onions that are sending up new spring shoots, both delicate and rich, especially when roasted whole?  This is not to say that I do not love the fresh new goat cheese, the rich and savory grass-fed beef short ribs, the fabulous pies and cookies baked fresh for the day’s market.  All of these offerings augment the locally grown veggies that bring me to the stalls every week.  A vibrant and successful market is a diverse market, pleasing the customers’ every whim.

 I must table my enthusiasm for a few more days.  The Friday Mendocino market has a collection of farmers that we do not usually see in Fort Bragg.  I will make a stop tomorrow outside Ukiah to pick up freshly picked, hand-sorted strawberries at Saecho Farm.  It is unfortunate that today, my local farmers’ market disappoints.  However, I continue to be blessed to live in an area where I can procure locally produced seasonal specialties at roadside stands and market farms. 

 It is yet early, and the cold northwest wind whistles between the trees, and the fog lingers on the western horizon.  It is that in-between season that promises so much and yet delivers so little.  The sun will come, the ground will dry and warm, and the beautiful rainbow of produce will again populate the tables at the market, inspiring meals to come.

Post by Julia Conway on May 6th, 2010