Shannonese Cooking Show

Posted by Shan on 01/15/12  ~  Posted in: Videos, Videos


Ready to Move on

Posted by admin on 01/13/12  ~  Posted in: Westport

Well it?s been something like three weeks since my last post so lots to catch up on.  Life continues to be a whirlwind of activities keeping us busy constantly; writing, regretfully, has been on the back burner.  We had a great Christmas, making the traditional D?Onofrio feast of Ravioli, this year gluten and dairy free.  We also gorged on way-too-much animal product for breakfast which included, fried potatoes, eggs, bacon, turkey sausage, fried tomatoes and toast.  Delicious and certainly not sustainable ? bellies very full indeed.  My parents came to visit just after Christmas for several days.  We all had a wonderful time checking out the sights in Mendocino County, strolling the beaches, just hanging out.  They?re departure hit both Shan and I hard; it was the first time we?ve seen friends or family alike since our departure.  After spending nearly a week with them, it was back to just the two of us.

For me, it was also a plunge into a short bout of despair ? my parents had left, we had a van on the verge of undriveable breakdown in need of some $450 in repair work, and we had no money.  Things weren?t looking up.  I spent the next day or two with a dark cloud over my head; what the hell were we going to do?  It was then that Shannon really helped lift me out of the pits and remind me that we were ok, that our needs would be met, one way or another.  And sure as shit, they were.  In fact, the 180 degree turn I experienced has left my head spinning, and my heart open and light.  Let me explain.

Just as Shan?s words of encouragement were starting to settle in, as I let go of the fear, we went to the post office to get our mail.  Low and behold, Shan?s mom had sent us a check for a significant amount of money for Christmas ? WAY more than we could have imagined.  We immediately called her in astonished disbelief; there must be some mistake.  But no, there was no mistake.  Talona had simply found it in her heart to just add an extra zero at the end of the check, it was God?s will, she said.  Shan and I just sat and looked at each other for a while, trying to let the relief permeate our (mostly my) hardened crust of fear and anxiety.  As it did, I felt the weight of the world lift.  Not because of the check itself, but because Shan was right, things would, and always will be ok.  The universe provides.  A fear that has been with me all my life began to dissipate, the fear of scarcity, going without.  I began to realize that I would always have enough, always.

That afternoon, as we walked down the beach, my heart open and happy, we bumped into a couple fishermen and chatted for a few.  They seemed like good chaps, in their autumn years and wise beyond their age.  We met them back at the parking lot and shared a drink.  As it turns out, one of them was a noteworthy environmentalist, having served the UN, travelled the world extensively, worked with the likes of David Suzuki and Mother Teresa, and earned three Emmys for his numerous nature shows spanning a decade or so.  We talked for a couple hours and learned about each other?s existence on this planet, from the profound to the mundane, although more the former than the latter.  Finally, after some great conversation, they headed back home to Huntington Beach, some eight hours south.  We agreed to keep in touch and knew we be talking again.

One thing that really sunk in during our conversation was this gentleman?s insistence that in life, we must ask for what we want.  I?ll get into this more at a later date, but I bring this up because we had to find a mechanic to work on our van, without charging us American currency and I intended to ask for just that.

Long story short, we found the best mechanic in town, Trevor of Mendocino Coast European, specializing in, among other makes, VWs.  He had in fact, travelled the country with his wife in a VW van years ago.  Trevor, like any truly great mechanic, not only knows his stuff forwards and backwards, he?s also a downright great guy.  We told him what we wanted; him, to fix our van, in exchange for work of some sort.  He agreed that if I could get the engine ripped apart (using some of his tools, catchment tanks, etc.) he would drill out the broken bolt in the engine block and rethread it, in exchange for some work around his shop.  Shan and I came back several days later with bolts and gaskets, motor oil and work clothes in hand, and spent the day outside his shop dismantling, drilling, and reassembling the van.  It was finally back together, oil changed, and coolant bled just before 10 PM, in time to eat the delicious Indian food Shannon had prepared, and go to sleep.  We were exhausted.

We woke early and began cleaning Trevor?s shop around 8:00.  We spent a few hours scrubbing grease off barrels, tanks, walls and floors.  Shannon had also cleaned the bathroom the day before, which now glistened as I?m sure it hasn?t, and won?t again, for some time.  When a decent chunk of work had been done, oil drums glistening with a slick sheen of crude in the sunlight, we all agreed our debt had been repaid.  We spent some time chatting with Trevor and his wife Angela, and meeting their two-year-old daughter Mya.  A great family for sure, we could have spent hours conversing.  Alas we all had places to be so we parted ways with a handshake and a smile.  Thanks Trevor, we won?t forget you and we really appreciate all the hard work ? it?s easy to understand why you?re slammed, I wouldn?t take my car anywhere else either.

So now, our time has come to leave this place.  We?re waiting on one last item Shannon ordered online to arrive at the post office, then we?ll be heading south, to meet up with the gentleman we met on the beach, a dinner penciled in for ?whenever we get there?.  What fate holds for us is, as always, completely unknown.  But one thing is certain, I?m learning what it means to have faith.  We?re calling forth our future, and we?re shedding our fears.  Money is becoming less and less important, our fulfillment more and more frequent.  We?re learning rapidly.  We?re breaking out.  We?re preparing for liftoff.  We?re getting what we want.  Oh, and we?ve got a sizeable project in the works with huge progress already made.  Stay tuned.


In The Flow

Posted by admin on 01/13/12  ~  Posted in: Ethan's Thoughts

I don?t have the words for this so that should be stated up front.  They won?t convey the feeling.  I don?t have the art for this so I won?t even bother.  But I?ll do my best with words.  That?s as close as I can get to proper conveyance?although the feeling, the essence really can?t be conveyed, only experienced.  Nonetheless, I?ll do my best.

There is a flow.  It is the flow of the universe.  It is the way of things.  It is now.  It is the past, and the future also.  It is everything.  The flow is what some may call God.  Not me.  That word is too restrictive.  Too many connotations.  Imagine a map of everything.  Every person, every rock, every plant, every star, every atom.  Now imagine that map projected over time, backwards and forwards.  What you have now is a map of everything, for all time.  In that map we all exist.  As congregations of energy.  Einstein said it himself; E=MC2.  Energy equals mass times time squared.  Don?t ask me about the physics of it.  I have no idea.  But we are all energy travelling through time.  On the map.  Part of the flow.  Connected.  The separation of you and I is myth.  There is no you, no I.  We?re all one.  The waves.  The birds.  The wind, the bugs, the sunlight, the dirt.  Everything.

These aren?t thoughts I was having at my nine to five.  Occasionally, VERY occasionally, I might feel something.  A twinge of connection.  I spark of light.  That momentary feeling that words can?t convey.  A feeling of displacement.  Of connection and disconnection all at the same time.  A disconnection from our preconceived ideas, our here and now, our job, our house, our bank account.  A connection to the flow.  But those moments came and went in flashes.  Gone before being recognized.  Like a brilliant idea that you just can?t remember.  A secret forgotten.  What was that feeling?  Oh well, what was I doing?

Now things have changed.  Now the feeling is coming into focus.  Becoming clear.  Recognizable.  Understandable even.  Now I can feel the flow for what it is.  I awake and feel no I.  No you.  No worry or fear.  No shoulds.  No job, no mortgage, no bank account.  I feel pure, untainted openness.  The vastness of possibility.  I can do anything.  Anything.  I am everywhere, at all times.  One moment I?m in my $1,000-a-night hotel room at a Vegas convention, the next lying under the stars in the desert.  I?m the fisherman in my boat in Indonesia at dawn.  I?m the Native American hunting the caribou when the herds consisted of millions.  I?m a bird flying over the ocean cliffs.  I?m the storm moving in on the village in Nepal one hundred years ago, and I am the monk who sits and waits for it?and he is I.  I exist out of time.  I?m the explorer, the adventurer, the worker, the laborer, the evangelist, the poor, the ridiculously wealthy.  I am everything.  I dissolve into the flow, explode into it.  Allow it to run through me, and me through it.  Become one.  Nothing else matters.  Not even life itself.  The concept of a start and finish has no meaning.  I just am.  I exist.  Within the flow.

Going back to the constructs of our worldly reality doesn?t happen by choice.  Slips and concessions.  My reflection in the laptop screen ? there is I.  I?m here, now.  Time to get moving.  Time to eat.  To do.  But it?s not the same anymore.  The flow is still there.  It hasn?t left.  I haven?t forgotten it.  God help me if I do.  I can?t let go.  Won?t.  It?s where I want to be, need to be.  To exist without it is futile.  To exist without it is to punch the time clock.  To allow the constructs to shape our life.  That finite part of existence that is now.  I will never go back.  Never.  The flow is the only thing that matters.  I have no house, I have no job.  I even have no money.  But I have no fear.  Not in this moment.  Not in the flow.  While I can?t see the map, I can feel it.  I know it?s there.  My path is laid out, there for me to walk, to run, to crawl?to fly.

For now, I am the wind, the sun, the earth.  I am my family.  I am my friends.  I am the other because there is no other.  I am the universe, here and now, and a trillion light years away, all at once.  I am everything.  I am in the flow.  I am in the flow, and I?m never going back, only deeper.  I am the flow.  There is no distinction, no I.  Only the flow.

?and yes, it is good.


Tortuga in the Wild - 2011 - Part 1 - Gallery

Posted by admin on 01/10/12  ~  Posted in: Galleries, Galleries, Galleries


Broken stuff and grandma?s brownies

Posted by admin on 12/23/11  ~  Posted in: Ethan's Thoughts, Westport

Well, a lot?s happened since my last post ? life in the van continues to be eventful and full of craziness, some good, some not so good.

We?ve found a great spot along the Mendocino County coast that has treated us wonderfully.  We?ve been going to sleep to the waves and waking up to the sunrise over the Pacific for a few weeks now.  We?ve found numerous places to stay at night within minutes of state parks, amenities, etc.  We?ve been spending our days walking the beach, working, and living life as Westfalians.  The beauty here is unrelenting, yielding new and changing scenery with every weather change, every tide.  We?ve driven up and down the coast, checking out beaches, collecting shells, enjoying the constant sun.  All said, life is good.

Unfortunately, not everything is rainbows and gluten-free donuts though.  We?ve had numerous curve balls thrown our way in the last few weeks that have tested our patience with the van, each other, and ourselves.  Let?s go down the list.  First; every time we filled our gas tank we were getting leaking from several fuel lines that are part of apparently unneeded expansion tanks (or something like that), causing a fair bit of gas to drip from the bottom of the van at the full tank ? not good.  We took care of this which required a few feet of fuel line, some hose clamps, a bunch of tools, and the jacking up and removal of both front tires in the middle of a field.  Yeah, real fun.  Nonetheless, the problem appears to be solved.  Second; our speedometer just crapped out on us.  ?I guess I?m going about 55, I?m at the top end of 3rd??  Not good.  That?s on the list.  Third, our sink faucet, which had been giving us some trouble finally died.  Replaced it.  Turned out not only was it bad but so was the pump.  Ordered a new pump.  Waited several days while using a Dr. Pepper bottle with holes drilled in the lid for our ?faucet?.  Major pain in the ass.  Dishes ? not so fun.  Finally, new pump arrived.  Installed.  Defective.  Crap.  It?s Friday night before the Christmas weekend ? I guess we?re back to the Dr. Pepper bottle for another five days ? this will be fun, especially with my parents joining us next week.  Hmmm.  Ok, what?s next??  Oh yeah, the HDMI cable that allows us to play video from my phone, as well as slideshows and video from Shan?s camera got yanked accidentally and busted the end of the cable?AND the brand new LCD monitor.  Called Asus ? closed for the holiday.  So much for movies next week.  Could be worse.  Shipping?s going to be a blast.  We live in a van?forgot to pack the flat panel box and tape gun.  The belt has been slipping on the engine and getting super noisy, kind of like stepping on a flying fox with golf cleats every time we step on the gas.  Gotta tighten the alternator.  Put it on the list.  Tomorrow?hopefully.

Then, to top it all off, yesterday I go to back out of my parking spot and CRUNCH, I back right into a truck that had parked behind me in the aisle.  Bad place to park.  Shouldn?t have backed up without double checking.  Lots of stupid all around.  I get out to look and realize he?s parked in the aisle because he?s just run into someone else and is exchanging insurance info.  Nice.  His truck appears to be fine (at least from the 2nd accident) and he?s eager to send us on our way - I?m guessing two insurance claims in one day would probably not be good for his rates.  Our bike rack is totally hosed.  All bent up like crazy, bolts twisted and such.  We string it together the best we can with some bungees and beat it down to the hardware store.  Ace Hardware sucks but at least they?re everywhere.  Hardware Sales, I miss you so bad it hurts.  We proceed to buy some nuts and bolts then drill, file, bend and twist our bike rack back into shape.  Good as new?sort of.

Well, I think that?s about where we?re at.  Sam got sprayed by a skunk.  Shan and I got in a huge fight.  We?re running precariously low on funds but hey, we?re here, parked next to the beach, listening to the waves.  We?ve just gorged ourselves on Grandma the Great?s gluten free chocolate fudge brownies, which followed Shannon?s meal of crazy delicious bacon, garlic, basil, Portobello, olive oil, handmade pasta, which followed an amazing sunset, which followed a day that started with us waking to the waves crashing into shore.  We bought all sorts of unhealthy food to feast on for Christmas (WWJD indeed) - and tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Like I said, lots of stuff, some good, some not so good.  Lots of stuff to deal with.  Lots of broken stuff.  But any day that ends with us eating grandma?s brownies on the beach is alright with me.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, we finally got my fishing-without-a-license ticket in the mail today.  $406.  Seriously.

Time for another brownie.  Thanks G?ma!

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