Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Growing Your Own Food

Gangster gardener Ron Finley said, "Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city, plus, you get strawberries."

This hit me a little harder this morning when I started to think about going back to the grocery store for another shift as a produce clerk. When we think about where and how our food is grown, who is growing, picking, packing, driving, setting out the food... The full cost of that food is not really passed on to the consumer. Then think about the impact on the earth especially if it goes to a landfill.

The people at the grocery store are a part of that food journey, the food chain.

If we grew more of the food that we eat, we are impacting the food cycle in a positive way. Also, the food that we grow ourselves is going to be safer and better for the environment.

I was once an Inn Keeper


I have had a lot of jobs. It didn’t seem weird when I lived in California. It seems weird now that I am in Western Pennsylvania. People stay where they were raised. Sometimes buying their parents or grandparents home and then raising their kids in that house. And a lot of people have the same job that they got a degree in. I guess there is stability and comfort in that, but it seems a little boring (from where I am standing in my shoes). 

Recently I took on a second job as a produce clerk at a local grocery store. 

Grocery stores are dirty AF! Like really fucking dirty. 

Wash your bananas!

I took the part-time, low paying work to pay for my kids’ sports. Kids are expensive. Add club sports and they are like walking coal pressuring you to turn them into a diamond and it’s a lot of work. 

So, I figured that I would bus to my day job then bus to a part-time, not too cerebral night job, plus, discounts on food. Teenagers eat a lot. I told my kids; each time I make a crew payment I want a college essay in return. I figured being a produce clerk let me be around my passion, food. I wanted to be a sustainable food system something or rather but there aren’t any jobs in my area that would let me do that.

My first night on the floor a woman was studying the bananas I had just put out. I asked her if she needed help. She said that she was very picky about her bananas. I said I was too. I like green, small bananas because they provide more fiber than the ripe ones which have more sugar. She said she did too! I found her the perfect set of bananas. I was thinking, I am going to love this job. But then I was regularly pressured to go get more product for the floor. I kept thinking, shouldn’t we clean this before putting produce on it? And the bell peppers were a mess! Who fucked up the bell pepper display? Then there was the throwing the food that had a tiny brown spot in the trash that really bothered me. I just wanted to clean, tidy up produce, and talk about nutrients and recipes. It would be the perfect job for me if I could just be the produce concierge. Also, where’s my apron and box cutter?

On my way out of the store, I bought a rotisserie chicken. You have no idea how hungry you are until you spend four hours passing the rotisserie chicken display. My chicken did a flip in the bag and the container opened spilling juice all over the self-checkout roller. UGH! I was so annoyed I just kept thinking how mad I was at my husband for not making money on his startup company and I wanted to kick him in the balls but then I ate a chicken leg like a zombie eats a fresh human and everything was ok again.

On a serious note, it is really is surprising how dirty grocery stores are. Also, how low the pay is. Many of the people that work there probably couldn’t find a job somewhere else. I feel like many of the people that I was working with were taken advantage of in a way. They were getting free healthcare, but they didn’t have a livable wage and the work is very hard on the body. The break room is so dirty. The free drinks are unhealthy. The soda machine leaks and needs to be refilled. I was worried about what bacteria might be in the ice. Maybe the store ownership/managers hope that the people they hire are so desperate they don’t care or they aren’t educated enough to care. Or both. 

The people I worked with are incredibly kind, friendly, helpful, and dedicated to their work. I just wonder if life had given them a different set of circumstances where they would be. I have this job to pay for an expensive sport for my kids because at the moment things are a little tough. A different reason than some of my fellow grocery store peeps. 

I am losing my hair


My cat sleeps on my head half of the night. He either sleeps on top of my head and purrs or across my chest, around my neck. Last night he must have spent some time running through weeds first because I ended up pulling burrs out of my hair this morning. I was very careful because I seem to be going bald on top of my head and I didn’t want to lose any unnecessary strands.

I grew up mostly with my grandparents


I grew up mostly with my grandparents. A lot of people have been raised by their grandparents. It means different things to different people. In some cultures, one of the children is given to the grandparents to raise to continue traditions. (I think in Hawaii). I base a lot of my idiosyncrasies, or maybe I blame them, on my grandparents and my mom for not being stable enough to raise us and my dad for being an annoyingly shitty father with a goody-two-shoes fa├žade. Anyway, I drink my coffee with local honey to combat allergies. I do this because my grandfather did it. I rinse my tin foil to reuse because my grandmother did that. She grew up very poor in the depression and she did not waste anything! I, however, do not use coffee grounds twice as she did. After one or two uses out of the coffee grounds she added them to her soil. She thought paper towels were the most ridiculous invention. How wasteful! She would separate toilet paper to a pile of two sheets and that's how much you were supposed to use. Any more than two sheets at a time was excessive.  We used newspaper and diluted vinegar to wash our windows. Grandma paid me 25-cents to clean a toilet and 75-cents a window. She died a millionaire. My grandfather married a gold digger and just a few years after grandma died, he is barely surviving on social security and his retirement in a small home in Stockton, CA with his wife with her fresh face and boob lift. It’s funny how life turns out. Did any of us think that would happen? Actually, Grandma did. She said grandpa would marry a floozie and spend all her hard-earned money. I wish grandma had spent more of it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

JMT Food

I bought so much trail food and gave most of it away!

Here is what I did eat:

Freeze dried berries and apples from Target

Trader Joe's Buffalo Jerky

Gu - Peanut Butter was my favorite. I never got tired of it.

Patagonia Inca berry bars - liked the tart flavor


I am a coffee drinker yet I didn't want anything to do w/ coffee on the trail :(

It didn't take long to get tired of oatmeal.

My Patagonia Tsampa soup just took too damn long to cook. I started soaking it in my Ziploc bowl so that it was soft by evening. I was so tired at night I didn't want to deal with cooking and cleaning my dishes so I sent everything home. I do love my Jet Boil though. For little weekend trips with my kids into the Laurel Highlands we really enjoy making oatmeal and Tsampa soup.

JMT Training

I run 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. Once I had run my final half for the year I started to train to backpack w a 30 lbs pack. I would load my pack up the night before and then set out at 4:30a for an hour or two around my neighborhood. We have a lot of hills. My goal was to go up and down the biggest ones. I wore my new Ahnu hiking boots to test them out as well as all of the clothes I planned to wear on the trip. You never know what's going to bug you when you have your pack on, i.e. A sports bra that rubs or shorts that ride up. 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday I took group power and group active classes at the gym. They are great! Tuesday and Thursday's I took an abs class. Carrying 30 lbs on your back requires a strong core. 

On weekends I would go for a 20 mile hike w a day pack to test out food and endurance. I knew that I lost my appetite due to exertion on previous backpacking trips so I wanted to see what my body would crave. I don't drink soda but my body craved it! I knew it was the sodium that my body wanted. Soda is full of it. That's what makes it so sweet. I started looking for electrolyte drinks. I bought a lot of them but didn't like any of the flavors so my first mistake... I didn't take a sports drink. 

I tried trail shoes instead of boots since that's what everyone online was talking about. I am so happy in the end that I took my boots. I am on my third pair of Ahnu Montara hiking boots. I love them. They were perfect for me. I didn't get blisters. My feet were happy. 


Three weeks before my trip I went out every morning at 5a with my pack on. 15 days straight. For an hour or two. I wanted to see what my body would tell me. I still went to Group Power classes at the gym and evening walks w a friend. I really wanted to be fit for this hike.

Read the John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail

Also used John Muir Trail Map-Pack: Shaded Relief Topo Maps (Tom Harrison Maps)

The only book you need on the trail is the John Muir Trail Pocket Atlas


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Muir Ranch

I was so lucky to get a tent cabin at MTR. I had a nice big bed w a colorful wool blanket. There was also a single bed on the side. I used the blanket from the single bed for added warmth on my bed and then set out all of my gear on the single. It was warm and bright so I put my sleeping bag and tent on my little deck to air out.

After an hour in a hot spring and a lot of lemonade I took a nap. My trail clothes were stinky and the washer in use so I took a hot shower and washed my trail clothes too. I had clean clothes in my resupply bucket but again I really liked my patagonia shorts so I washed them in the shower. They were dry by morning. 

MTR was amazing. I ate so well. Met a lot of cool people. Was able to send some emails. Charged my phone, Fitbit, phone charger, and battery charger. 

I sent a box of gear home: jet boil, toothpaste, clothes I didn't need, extra tent stakes I wasn't using, and snow peak cup and spork. I also sent a lot of postcards to friends. 

JMT Notes 2

I was able to wash my clothes at Red's Meadow. I had clean clothes and a towel in my resupply bucket. My husband brought me a bag of toiletries. We had a hikers cabin for the night. I took a long, hot shower, washed my hair a few times as well as shaved my legs, pits, and clipped my nails. It's amazing how good I felt after a few days of not showering. 
At our hiker cabin there was a clothing line where I aired out my sleeping bag and tent. Even though I had a clean set of clothes for the next leg of my hike, I liked the clothes I had been wearing so I washed them for the next leg. 

I think I drank 4 bottles of Coke the first hour I was at Red's. I craved the sweet sodium filled beverage. 


JMT Notes

I cannot even explain how much I hated Cliff bars by the time I got to Muir Ranch.

When I opened my resupply bucket I immediately put all of my Cliff bars in the give away bucket. Because I had lost my appetite I also sent home my Jet Boil, Snowpeak cup and spork. I gave away my Ziploc bowl and lid as well as my oatmeal and any other meals that required cooking. I kept the buffalo jerky, Patagonia bars (I liked the tart flavor), and the freeze dried fruit. My taste buds seemed to crave that tart/tangy flavor.

I wish I had sent Gu in this resupply but I did not know yet that I liked it. I learned I liked Gu and that it worked for me on the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. Thankfully I had purchased several peanut butter Gu at the Sacramento REI before leaving for Yosemite.

Muir Ranch has unlimited lemonade for guests. I wish I had filled my platypus with this sweet treat before leaving there. The next day I craved it like crazy.

I am now drinking Hammer Nutrition Heed in lemon lime before workouts and Hammer Recoverite in orange vanilla for post workout. My next long hike will include Hammer Perpetuem.

I met a sweet couple who turned me onto these products. After a few days on the trail I stopped stuffing my tent in the bag it came in. In fact, I gave it to my husband at Red's along with a few other things I wasn't using.

Here is how my day would go:

Wake at 4:30 a.m.
Put on Oofos and pee
Get bear canister
Pull out body wipes. Use one to wash face, hands, underarms, private parts. Place in Ziploc trash bag Put on sunscreen and bug spray Pull out snacks for the day.
Put a few Gu and Patagonia bars in front belt pockets of backpack
Put on Trail shorts, sports bra, tank, long sleeve, run cap, socks and boots
Pack up camp: Stuff sleeping bag, Stuff Sack for clothes: roll my bedtime clothes up and put in stuff sack
Because it's so early much of my gear would be a bit damp
I would have a gu and water as I start hiking
When the sun was up and I have hiked over a pass I would stop somewhere to let my tent and sleeping bag dry out in the sun, refill my water, and eat a snack
Sometimes I would also let my boots and socks dry out while my feet soak in a cold stream
Take pictures.
Write a bit in my journal

I would hike 18-24 miles a day
Find a good camp spot
Take off boots and put on Oofos (ahhhh!)
Set up Tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow
Change into fleece pants, comfortable T, synthetic down jacket, and beanie (Once I took my pack off I would get cold. Putting on comfortable, soft, clothing always felt so good)
Set trail clothes on top of tent to dry/air out.
When it was time to go to sleep I brought my trail clothes inside. After a few days I started putting them in my sleeping bag so that they were warm in the morning.
Fill backpack platypus with filtered water for the next day.
Place back in backpack so that I don't have to think about it in the morning when it's still dark
Write in journal about the day
Charge phone and Fitbit

After a rainy night my tent was so wet yet I still had to pack it. I separated my wet tent from the rest of my gear with my rain jacket.

I did get some hale over one pass. When the sun did come out I took my tent out and had it tied to the back of my pack to dry. When I came to a big boulder baking in the sun I set all my wet gear out to dry. Everything dried very quickly.

I used Outdoor Research stuff sacks.
I had one for electronics: iPhone charger, fitbit charger, cords Loksak for map, journal, permit. I always kept this in front pocket of my pack Small loksak for ID, cash, and credit card. This little "wallet" was also in my big loksak that had the map and permit. Medium locksak for iPhone (kept in pocket) Large locksak for toiletries

JMT Supply List

I thru hiked the John Muir Trail in 13 days. I started on July 22 and ended on August 3rd. I only experienced a few days of rain. I did send stuff home which is noted below.

1. One man Tent
REI Quarter Dome and Footprint
I loved my tent. Small, light, plenty of room, easy to set up, and (I felt) affordable
I set up my tent several times before leaving on my trip. I figured out how to do it when it was raining as well. All of my gear fit perfectly inside. I could basically set this baby up with my eyes closed before I even hit the trail. I also figured out how many tent stakes I needed.
When it rained, I figured out quickly to not stake my tent but to really pull the rain fly wide and then make a little dam with rocks and sticks around the tent... Also, use a stick to dig a little moat around your tent. A guy I met at Little Yosemite showed me this trick :)

2. Sleep System
REI Joule Down Bag I am in love with this sleeping bag!
Sea to Summit Pillow Totally worth it!! Do not inflate all the way if you like a softer feel
Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad Love this pad! Folds easily, small, light
Sea to Summit e-vent compression dry sack  makes your sleeping bag really small for easy packing
I wish I had brought my sleeping bag liner for added warmth and to keep my bag clean

4. Backpack
Gregory Jade 60 Liter
I love my backpack. It's so comfortable. I purchased my bag 5 years ago at REI on clearance. I have the light green one (the one in the link is navy).
REI Ducks Cover
It comes with a little bag but also can fold into itself. I didn't use the bag it comes with. I got annoyed with people counting ounces ... if you are one of those ounce counters here is a good place where you can ditch a few ;)

5. Trekking poles
Black diamond trail pro
Used my poles the entire time! At one point the left one kept coming unlocked so I put tenacious tape on it. A ranger said if a bear comes into camp whack it on the butt with my poles... not sure I would have the cajones to do that or not... did sleep with my poles next to the door just in case.

6. Footwear
Ahnu Montara hiking boot I am on my third pair. I love these boots
Silk Liner
Women's Thorlo hiking sock I love these socks!
There is a trend to wear trail running shoes on the trail. I like boots and I really needed them. I didn't see many trail shoes on the trail either. I saw a lot of Merrell and Keen boots. Wear what you want. I didn't have any blisters. I love my boots and socks. I had extra socks with me but didn't wear them so I sent my dirty socks home at Muir Ranch.

Oofos recovery sandals for camp shoes - super light weight and really helped after a day on my feet. Seriously! These sandals saved me!

7. Trail Clothes
Patagonia Nine Trail Shorts
Sports bra
Columbia Omni freeze tank
Colombia omni shield long sleeve w thumb holes (great for protecting hands from the sun)
Running cap
I wore my favorite running hat. I purchased a Bug Away Outdoor Research Sun Hat but it rubbed against the back of my pack which was super annoying. Glad I tried it out before taking it.
wool beanie for night and cold mornings
Fleece pants and comfy T-shirt for evening
I found a used synthetic down Patagonia jacket w/ hood on ebay for $20. This is my new favorite jacket/coat. I have a Golite down jacket I love so much. Since Golite went out of business I didn't want to take it on the trail and ruin it. Silly, I know. But I really love my Golite down. The synthetic nano puff Patagonia was so awesome on the trail
Rain jacket (wore once)
Sunglasses
Fitbit - I loved seeing my steps add up!

8. Poop Kit
The Deuce of Spades
Hand sanitizer
Camp TP
Ziploc bag w/ a little bit of baking soda for used toilet paper

9. Drinking Water System
Platypus 3.0 Liter I read a lot of blogs that said there's plenty of water on the trail that you don't need to carry so much water. Well, if you want to stop every time you see a stream to fill your water bottle, go ahead. I don't like stopping to slowly filter water. I passed a lot of people who had to do this. Once I am in my hiking groove I don't like to stop.
Sawyer mini water filter (takes forever. Next time I take my other water filter)
Platypus collapsible water bottle filled this from water source (stream or lake) then attached Sawyer mini to filter water into Jet Boil and platypus. I kept it folded in a side pocket with sawyer mini and flush thing. I really hate the Sawyer mini. I don't care how light it is. It takes forever to use even after you flush it.

10. Bear canister
(next time I solo hike I'll get the smaller one). I did stuff this sucker with anything and everything I could. It takes up a lot of space

11. Camp Kitchen
Jet Boil & small gas can
Small Ziploc bowl with lid
snowpeak spork (I sent my dishes and stove home when I was at Muir Ranch. I had lost my appetite. I was happy with jerky, Gu, inca bars, and freeze dried fruit). I really needed an electrolyte drink. Now that I am home I am drinking Hammer Nutrition Heed and Recoverite for marathon training. For longer days I will use Perpetuem

12. Extras
Tenacious tape
Swiss Army Pocket Knife w scissors (I didn't think I would need this. The first night a squirrel ate a hole in my tent!)
Pen and notepad - I recorded my day's hike every night. I wish I had a book.
Stamps for postcards (didn't need these... they have stamps at Red's and Muir Ranch)
Loksaks for maps, toiletries, and iPhone
Outdoor Research stuff sacks for organizing gear
Goal Zero recharchable batteries I used this to recharge my Fitbit. I recharged it at Red's and Muir Ranch.
iPhone 6 - kept my phone in airplane mode. There really isn't any service on the trail. Just a few spots (right before and after Red's, one little spot on Mt. Whitney, and Whitney Portal). Great camera. Kept it in a loksak. My trail shorts had perfect pockets for my iPhone.
iPhone 6 mophie phone charger - recharged the Mophie at Red's and Muir Ranch. Worked great! It's heavy so I only pulled it out at night to recharge my iPhone. Otherwise it stayed in the OR stuff sack
Headlamp I hiked during a full moon so I didn't need my headlamp. In fact, I ended up losing it somewhere along the way. Bummer because I really liked my lamp and they no longer make it. Oh well.
John Muir Trail Pocket Atlas

13. Toiletries
Sunscreen
 Lip Balm
 Ben's bug spray
 toothbrush
 body wipes (start with your face and go from there), travel size unscented deodorant (all the blogs say don't take it. I used deodorant the night before we left and at my Red's resupply where my husband had an overnight bag for me. I did not have deodorant at Muir Ranch and wish I did. Next time I keep this with me.)
Small camp towel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Morning Shake

Tart Cherry juice, fresh power greens, Greek yogurt, fresh ginger, frozen pineapple and blueberries, and half a scoop of vanilla protein powder


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 14

Sorry I have been lazy. I also have cheated a bit. I had a major hormonal break out on my chin. I used a tinted zit cream when I went to work but no other time. I also used a organic, natural mascara in brown on my upper eye lashes for work. Otherwise I have been naked.
The photo here is of me post 10K race. I ran the Martha's 10K in mt Lebanon in 50:34. I was 40 seconds slower than last year. This year I decided to have fun. No music. Just smile. And i have to say that it was my best race

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 6

Sorry I missed a day. I have a bad cough. I have been coughing all night. I took a rest day yesterday. I went for a long walk then to work where I met interesting people doing interesting things.

Today was parent teacher conferences. My kids are fucking awesome. Aidan can't stop reading. He is doing so much better in school. I am really prod. Audrey is confident and independent. She is writing a report on elk and wants to be a male historic figure (details to come) for her wax museum project.

I am posting a pic of my naked face and hair that the teachers and other parents got to see :)

Today I wasn't able to run. Coughing all night left me exhausted. I'm going to do a long run tomorrow so today is another rest day. It's finally sunny and kind of warm (55 degrees). I'll take it! :)