Welcome to Green Gal's blog, where you'll find stories, recipes, gardening updates, and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems. This blog is written by a young woman entrepreneur who is also a beginning farmer-gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Orientation and Camping/Backpacking Trip!

Yesterday, I attened Orientation at UC Santa Cruz! I met some cool people, learned a lot about classes and the school, and signed up for as many environmental group emails as I could find! I also signed up for classes and got a tour of my college, Stevenson. I originally signed up for Chicano Teatro and History 2A: The World to 1500, but today I decided to drop Chicano Teatro and add Theater 61-B: Tragedy. The Tragedy class is part of the theater minor requirement, so I decided to take it in case I decide to minor in theater arts! :) Unfortunately, the Anthropology 1 class I was hoping to take it supposedly very challenging and not worth taking first quarter freshman year. That's fine with me to not take a super hard class, and after reading on RateMyProfessor.com about the history professor I'll have, I can't wait to begin classes!

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for the mountains to go camping and then on Friday I'm heading into the wilderness for some backpacking with my dad! I've never been backpacking before, and I'm really excited for my first experience! Adios amigos!

Green Gal

Friday, July 16, 2010


Last Friday while on vacation in the mountains, my family took a day trip to the town of Murphys. We make the drive from Tuolumne to Calaveras county almost every year when we're up there. Though historic like its neighboring towns, Murphys is a little more upscale. It's a big wine-tasting place: in the Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., I saw a shirt that said "Save the Earth. It's the only planet with grapes."

After lunch at Firewood, my family sat in the shade by Murphys creek, which runs through a park behind the main street. My sister and I waded in its waters, and we read our various books at a picnic table. The library is right across the creek from the park, so my dad and I ventured in, since we'd never been in before. They had the same Miwok book that my friend Alexys's grandmother let me borrow. It was printed at Columbia Junior College and can't be found online.

We spent some time in Sustenance Books, on the main road in Murphys. It's a delightful little new and used bookstore with aisles of books and encouraging environmental bumper stickers. When I told the owner that I didn't need a bag, she said "there should be more people like you." She had an adorable yellow lab puppy named Foster, who kept trying to unravel the rug with his teeth. My sister PawPrint had eyes only for the dog; she didn't even approach the bookshelves.

I bought two books at the store: It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Acorn Preparation by Beverly R. Ortiz, as told by Julia F. Parker, and Yosemite Valley, California (Images of America series) by Leroy Radanovich. I haven't begun reading the acorn preparation book, but I have looked through all the photographs of the Native Americans in the Yosemite Valley book. I've seen many of the pictures in my research of the Sierra Nevada tribes, but it's nice to have them all in one place.

Murphys has a wall called "Wall of Comparative Ovations." The entire wall is lined with plaques, pictures and descriptions, of various "clampers." I took pictures of people I recognized or interesting/funny plaques. The wall is maintained by members of the E Clampus Vitus of Murphys. (Click the photographs to enlarge them.)

Our real reason for coming to Murphys was to attend Murphys Creek Theater's production of A Midsummer Nights Dream that evening. After picking up some picnic food at Sierra Hills Market, we drove down the winding road into the little valley that contains Albeno Munari Vineyard and Winery (formerly Stevenot). On the grounds of the winery is a grassy area with a tiered ground. A stage sits level with the lowest tier, and the knoll is surrounded by trees. Most years we attend a performance here, arriving early to enjoy a picnic.

This production of Midsummer was creatively set in 19th century Murphys. The Athenians were Murphys townspeople. The fairies were Native Americans. Of the many performances and settings I've seen of this play, I have to say, this setting was by far my favorite--and not just because I'm interested in Native American culture. It completely worked with the play, especially having fairies as Native Americans since they live in the woods. Oberon, King of the Fairies, wore a replica feather headband, a traditional piece of Miwok dance regalia. The girl fairies wore the somewhat stereotypical Native American "deerskin" dresses, but it worked for the sake of simplicity. The one thing that bothered me was that one of the fairy girls had a bow and arrow. Women weren't allowed to touch or use weapons like that in traditional Native American culture, at least not in the native Miwok culture. Other than that, I found it worked quite well. The acting, directing and set were awesome! The familiar script came alive with allusions that took on new meaning with unique direction, and the director silently added new movement to the show, like a gun-twirling stand-off between Lysander and Demetrius. And as always with Murphys Creek Theater productions, the stars were twinkling at intermission and the cool night air was delightful throughout the performance!

Oberon and Puck

Titania with Bottom and the fairies

The Athenians Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena asleep on the forest floor. The fairies helping Titania and Bottom get to sleep. Notice the conical bark homes, considered traditional of the Miwok and Ahwahneechee. (However, they may not have been traditional before easy access to cedar when the white man came to the area. Traditionally, brush homes were built. Though less durable, they were easier to make and the materials were more readily available.)

If by random chance you're in the Murphys area today or tomorrow, I highly recommend seeing the show. You can buy tickets here.

Thanks for reading!
Green Gal

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm Back!

On Saturday, I returned home from a little more than a week of vacation in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I had an interesting and enjoyable time venturing around Twain Harte, Sonora, Columbia, Murphys and Pinecrest. Here's a brief recap of the first few days of vacation:

Thursday, July 1 I drove up with my grandparents and their dog Simba.

We stopped at their favorite pie stand along Highway 120, at Jack Tone Road. My grandma bought two frozen cherry pies and a cantaloupe.

My mom and sister surprised everyone by showing up past dark at my aunt's cabin that evening! That night, my cousins and I slept on the deck on cots, under the stars. I woke up to birds chirping and their dog Chester barking. Delightful!

Friday, July 2 My cousins Ben and Nick, my cousin Ryan, his friends and I hiked around Pinecrest Lake, a moderate hike of 4 miles. Ben set a quick pace and we soon lost Ryan and his friends.

It was a great hike that definitely pushed me, which is good since I'm going BACKPACKING July 22 and then again in late August for Wilderness Orientation with UC Santa Cruz! (On another note, I just got my room assignment for Stevenson college! No word on my roommate yet...) We spent the rest of the day at the cabin. I read throughout the day.

Saturday, July 3 My mom, sister PawPrint, and I drove to Pinecrest to get Serene Bean coffee drinks. The Serene Bean is a little coffee stand that sells delicious java and various snacks, like the rice krispy treat I had for breakfast. It's the perfect place for campers, hikers and beachgoers who need their daily coffee treat. We walked to the lake and sat at the beach beyond the marina, where dogs are allowed. My aunt and uncle were on their way with their golden retriever Sierra. I collected some rocks, read Light in August, and then walked down the trail to take some pictures.

On our way out of Pinecrest, we stopped at the Summit Ranger Station (of Stanislaus National Forest). My mom spoke with two gentlemen who were just taking down a banner having to do with wilderness volunteers. I went into the ranger station and found three awesome books about the Miwok and California Native Americans. My sister came in to say that my mom wanted me to meet the two men outside. One of them, Brent, said I should contact Phyllis Ashmead of Interpretation. He said she has two college interns who work there in the summer, putting on programs. He gave me her phone number, and also suggested we think about taking his Leave No Trace class, which was the following weekend (unfortunately we didn't have a chance). We thanked him and went into the store to buy the books I'd found: California Indians and Their Environment (an ethnobotany guide to the California Native Americans), Indian Life of the Yosemite Region by Barrett and Gifford, and a plant use book by Brown Tadd, a local Miwok.

We drove down to Twain Harte to meet my dad and step-mom. My sister and I drove with them to the cabin we were renting, within walking distance to downtown. We unloaded our things, made a trip to the market, and had dinner at The Rock, a restaurant named for the large rock now partially covered by Twain Harte Lake that was once sacred land to the Miwok. A village there was called "Bald Rock," or Hung'ah. The Miwok were the first inhabitants of what is now a quaint vacation town that my family visits every July. After dinner, we walked to Twain Harte Miniature Golf (simply called Pee Wee Golf by my family).

It's so nice to have a tradition like we have with Twain Harte. Pee Wee Golf is so familiar since I've been going there since I was old enough to hold a small golf club. The lake is the same as it's always been, with a few additions to the snack shack every now and then. The town is the same; every year there's a new coffee shop, and every year the previous coffee shop is out of business. (Although hopefully the new Caffe Blossom at the Nest and Nursery will remain open...it's so delightful!) This trip, I definitely learned more about the area in terms of the Native inhabitants. I found many books in different stores that told the story of the Miwok, an often forgotten story that is quite invisible to vacationers in the area. Most people don't realize it is still being written by the current Miwok people who live in the area. There are people throughout Tuolumne and Calaveras counties who silently hold the knowledge of their ancestors' traditions. Some aren't silent, as I will share when I talk about the pine needle basketry class my sister and I took. Every trip to Twain Harte is unique, but it always feels like home when we settle in to whichever cabin we're renting that year.

This post is getting far too long, so I'll stop here. I will share more information about my trip in upcoming posts. Thank you for reading!

Happy Monday!
Green Gal


"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves."

Chief Seattle

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gone to the Mountains

I'll be enjoying the pine-scented mountain air for a week. I'll be back July 10.

Green Gal

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