I can't believe the last time I posted anything was January. Oh well!
I've been busy on the Parks and Recreation Citizens Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission. At Parks, we have been working on the master plan, security issues at Salish Ponds Park, and a nature play area at Lakeshore Park. There are a lot of things we'd like to do, and our comprehensive plan has several years worth of goals on it.
Not the least of these goals is to build an off-leash dog park. Our citizens want this almost as much as they want bathrooms at some of our bigger parks. We don't have the land for it picked out, yet, so once the city buys an appropriate parcel, we'll get right on the dog park.
We have big graffiti and homeless camping problems in some of our more natural parks. It was only a matter of time. These camps keep being moved out of areas in Portland. And it's easy to camp in the wild areas of the parks where most users don't venture. The committee hopes to step up citizen involvement in taking care of the parks.
Lakeshore Park is under construction. It has been for quite some time even before I was appointed to this committee. But it's almost to a point where it can be enjoyed by all! The nature play area got a lot of our attention this spring. I advocated for actual natural equipment, but in the end we voted for the fake stuff because people think it has more longevity. Either way, it will be a great place for kids. Next month we hope to have a grand opening.
On the Planning Commission we have become very busy with applications because the city's development incentives are ending. I've been on the commission for a year and a half, and for the first year we didn't even have regular meetings. Now we're having meetings twice a month most months.The fall looks to be about as busy if not busier than the summer has been.
Also, Fairview is considering Urban Renewal. Everyone on the Planning Commission was invited to the introductory training on Urban Renewal in the early spring. City Council has decided to explore the idea further, and asked for one member of the Planning Commission to sit on the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. I may not be remembering the name of it correctly, but we've had one meeting so far, and several more are scheduled for the fall. We have to get it together before 2019 in order to get the most benefits. So I will continue to be busy with meetings.
So I haven't been to many networking events lately. I enjoyed going to one at Arcadia Floors earlier in the spring, but failed to follow up with everyone I wanted to follow up with. Clearly this isn't my priority at the moment.
I have been taking a class aimed at improving myself and being the leader of my life, rather than simply meandering through existence. It has been eye-opening. I would recommend my coach, if you're looking for someone who can help you improve yourself and your outlook. Attending the online meetings has been a challenge for me, though. So if you have a weird schedule for some reason, you may want to consider straight up coaching rather than a group class. If, however, you have freedom in your daily routing, you should look into Life Leaders by Selena. I can send you a link if you would like.
AirBnb has been VERY busy for me this spring and summer, also. June and July have been almost completely booked up, and I've achieved Super Host status for the 4th quarter in a row.
Not much design work has been happening here. Just mulching and watering the plants, painting, fixing up stuff around the house, and assembling furniture. We've slowly been replacing the old door hardware from the 70's with shiny new hardware from Rejuvenation. Now guests have privacy locks! And we just got a new dining set after planning and saving for a few months. The old set is living in the sun porch, and we envision using it for our next BBQ. We haven't had a BBQ party in forever. But! We think we might have enough corn next month to have people over for the first time in forever. Woohoo!
On Tuesday last week I bit the bullet and drove all the way across the city to the monthly Mommy Owned Business networking event at Arcadia Floors. It's a long drive for me, and I wold have liked to carpool. But I wanted to see the showroom, and have been kinda aching to do some "networking." Even though I haven't yet emailed any of the fabulous women I met, I figured I'd still write up a little blurb about my experience there.
As an architect who once worked in an office shared by an interior design firm, I've always been fascinated by samples of flooring and such. Arcadia has LOTS of samples to look at, and I found myself shopping for a good portion of my visit there. I took several pictures of hardwood plank floor samples for my family room. And I found the quartz kitchen counter top samples to be overwhelming. Then I took a photo of some hardware that I would like for my bathrooms. I am in the market for all these things, so of course I couldn't help myself. It would be better to schedule one of their in-home visits, though.
I've only been to one other MOB event, and that was back in September with a friend, and when I was recognizable to a couple other of the MOBsters. So this event was a departure because I only saw one friend there who recognized me. (The other acquaintance I had there did not recognize me, and she was too busy to interrupt in my opinion, though I did sit next to her and try.) Luckily the food from Etc. Eatery (I'm guessing at the name) was really great! So I kinda just stuffed my face for a few minutes until someone came and talked to me in the corner. lol!
The coolest thing about the MOB events is the breakout groups where we each get to speak a little to a small subset of the attendees randomly chosen at the door via font color on our name tags. In my group I found two amazingly appropriate networking partners to go talk to. I gave those two ladies my embarrassing business card - embarrassing because it's so old I had to hand write updates on the front of it. (I really should just get new ones.) And I got to learn a little bit about them. This makes me want to return to this event next month, which is awesome. Maybe next time I can carpool!
There were cider tastings from Ace Craft Cider I think. I tried the pear and pineapple ciders, and they were really super good. I grabbed one of their coasters to bring home as a reminder to tell my husband.
There was also a bar featuring One Hope Wines, a company that donates some of its profits to charity I believe. They didn't have the sparkling pomegranate, but the zinfandel was really good!
They, lastly, did awesome door prizes - and I won one! I'm very much looking forward to my photo shoot with Images From Amy. I think there were 15 or 20 door prizes in all. It was so nice to see the joy on everyone's faces. Just awesome.
I'm looking forward to visiting Arcadia again, and more MOB events in the future.
Last night I went to my first Kirtan, and it was amazing. I found it on Facebook, and shared with friends that I was going, and a couple of people requested a description after the event. It's been a while since I've reviewed an event, but I used to really enjoy doing them, so here goes.
First, the location was a surprise. Temple Apalala is in a residential neighborhood not too far from Sandy Boulevard, which is a major road if you're not familiar. The owner, Tressa, created the space with an eco-minded builder, and it seems new and well-kept. It's a comfortable place. We all sat on pillows or folded blankets placed around the room. I was admiring the light fixtures, and she told me where they found them and a little about the flooring. There's a kitchenette. The bathroom is quite nice. I couldn't help but notice the nine large windows around the main space, which is a good number in feng shui. I'm glad I had the adventurous spirit to go find this place.
They began by passing out cacao, or drinking chocolate, for everyone to enjoy prayerfully after setting their intentions. This was not your basic hot chocolate from a store. It was rich and had actual bits of cacao in it. I found it quite enjoyable. I'm not sure my intentions were adequately set before I enjoyed it.
The Ecstatic Meditative Kirtan led by Luz Helena Florez was a wonderful singing experience. I've never done this before, but it was kinda like the bible study group I went to as a teenager in my youth leader's house. Only instead of a guitar, Ms. Florez played a beautiful instrument that sat on the floor and looked like it worked similarly to an accordion. Her singing was wonderful. Our singing was also pretty darn good. It wasn't English, but the mantras were short and pretty easy to pick up, and I got the hang of it fairly quickly. There was also a band that included a violinist who also sang backup, a drummer, a lady who played some traditional bells, another backup singer, and the "sound guy." There was also a poet who performed a wonderfully deep piece she'd written that is very timely. I wish I remembered it better.
Occasionally some of us wept because they were so moved. One lady to my right, who had been especially nice in the cramped quarters (there were 50 of us there!), began to weep audibly after one of the songs in the middle of the kirtan, kinda like the way my mother wept after listening to the Queen of England's Christmas Address in 2013. Unlike 2013 when my mom was weeping when I was across the room underneath a sleeping baby, this woman was within arm's reach. So I placed my hand gently but firmly on her shoulder in the spirit of the moment, and she turned and looked so happy. Later she introduced herself as Elaine, and confirmed that she appreciated my show of love for that instant.
When the kirtan had ended, many people approached Ms. Florez to express their appreciation and love for her work. I was unable to join in this, but wish I had been able. As it was, I was in the long line for the bathroom. The intermission was supposed to be when the Sacred Summit treats were handed out, but they had announced a change of plans at the beginning of the evening, and we simply stretched and spent as much time standing as possible before the Sound Bath began.
When Joshua Stoddard rang the bell to begin the 432HZ Sound Bath, we all laid down on the floor with our heads on the pillows we had been sitting on previously. Again, I've never had the privilege to experience this kind of event, and I can't think of anything similar which I have experienced. Mr. Stoddard commented how nice it would be if everyone always just laid right down when he rang the bell for his events. It was quite interesting.
His performance of sounds centered on three notes upon which many popular heart-centered songs are also based, for example Stairway To Heaven. The notes correspond to the root, heart, and throat chakras, or red, green, and blue wavelengths. He started out with the lowest note on the bowl (or bell sorta thing), and it was quite loud, filling the whole room and our collective consciousnesses. The performance moved on to include the other bowls, guitars, his voice producing vowel sounds instead of actual words, and I think also a synthesizer. It was quite interesting. But towards the end I found it difficult to keep my thoughts quiet, especially the ones regarding how uncomfortable my back was on the hard wood floor. lol! Also, keeping my feet from touching the roughly five other sets of feet that were within inches of each other started becoming an issue for me. However, soon Mr. Stoddard finished his performance with actual words and phrases such as "I love you all." Again, people could be heard weeping audibly around the room because it was so moving. I really would recommend going to a sound bath at least once in your life if you ever get a chance.
After everyone slowly made their way up to a sitting position Dario Barone and the Sacred Summit team passed out their handcrafted Jun Kombucha, which was excellent, and a slow roasted combination of nuts and seeds with a spice mixture that was just right in my opinion. They also had some special doughnuts for anyone with an allergy or intolerance, which I wish I could have tried because they also looked yummy. I have to say that I've gotten some Sacred Summit kombucha before at the farmers' market or the People's Food Co-op, and I really love it every time. They do great work, and I highly recommend you try it if you can.
And by then it was 10pm, and after meeting a mom who had brought her ten year old kid there, speaking with the hostess, Tessa, and saying farewell to Elaine, I ran home to my sleeping family.
So there's my review of this event for the few friends who requested it. I hope to go to more of these events because it was so thoroughly enjoyable. And I hope to bring friends and make more friends because that place, though not my original idea of a temple, is definitely filled with lovely people and loving energy, and I think everyone could use more of that in their lives.
For some reason, the logo I spent so much time on earlier this year just started to bug me to no end. So this week I finally redid it.
I hope this one works better for me for a looooooooooooooooong time.
OMG! It's been two months since I've posted on the blog! Well, first I want to talk about a networking event I got to attend last night. And then maybe I'll talk a bit about what's been going on with me.
MOB Meet up - PDX
My friend got to talk to the whole group at the meetup I went to last night. I wouldn't have had any idea it even existed if it wasn't for her. So that's my backstory.
The story about the Mommy Owned Businesses you can get from their website or facebook page. But apparently they have regular meetups around the metro area that any local mom who owns a business can attend. I don't know all the rules; I just followed along.
Anyway, it's been years since I was seriously at a networking event. In Philly my last one was with my group 422 ARCH in King of Prussia at Pacific Prime in like late January or early February 2013. I think I went to one in Morgan Hill California shortly after arriving, and I met one nice woman who I sorta hung out with a few times, but then I discovered that I was pregnant and all thoughts of networking fell by the wayside. SO, I'm seriously rusty when it comes to talking about myself in any coherent fashion. And my very supportive best friend here said I was fine with my little commercial in the small group, but that might've just been the wine talking. haha! There were a lot of other moms there in the same or similar situation!
I liked the location despite the awkward parking situation - hey, I showed up late so it was also my fault. The wine was good. I should have attacked that cheese plate like an animal, but for some reason I forgot to eat (?!?!) Yeah, WTH was I thinking! It was spacious. Not special architecturally speaking, but the door was wide open, and the bathroom and bar were easy to find. I would like to go to their future events, and maybe take my out of town friends when they eventually come and visit. (you know who you are.) So that's my take I guess.
I will have to brush up on my self-promotion before going out again. Even if they don't care what you're wearing (A HUGE PLUS!), I would at least like to be clearer in my intentions. And it seemed like a couple months ago I had it all figured out. HA!
So if any of the MOBs sees this, thank you for visiting! And I hope to see more of you all. You're all wonderful. Thanks for having me.
Why so rusty? I dunno!
I've been sorta busy making friends and thinking about how to help a couple non-profit projects start up. One project has been meeting every week since the beginning of August. And the other project I've only heard bits about, but will be taking off fast real soon.
I've been working whenever possible on a back yard project for a friend. It has been more hours than I expected. I don't know why this is surprising. It's always more hours than expected. sigh! Anyway, hopefully it gets under construction soon!
Also, I got serious about trying to reproduce again. I've been going to a chiropractor, a naturopath, and an acupuncturist, hitting the gym three days a week, working at my best bud's cafe two days a week, drinking what I would consider insane amounts of water, trying to switch to a savory breakfast... It's so much more work this time!
Maybe I'll redo my logo again soon. or just buy some freaking business cards. The old ones have been stamped and re-written on so many times that it's sad. And that's just great for networking. lol!
And this is from a person who considers herself NOT BUSY at all. hahahahaha! Take care!
I'm one of those people who likes everything to be just so...
You can probably guess that doesn't help much when trying to design something that will be front and center on all your web pages and business cards.
I've been working on this logo for weeks. I still feel like it could use some work, but it's now looking rather presentable.
This is trying to communicate in a static image what I see as a video in my head. First and foremost, the person you see there... they're based off of Leonardo da Vinci's L'Uomo Vitruviano, or Vitruvian Man. But not a Man... Because I'm not a man. Emanating from the person is a tree, or I suppose you could say the person is becoming a tree, or the tree is becoming a person. This is because we're all One. People are their environment, in other words. I believe that we are connected to our surroundings in such a deep way on so many levels. Beyond the person and the tree, you might be able to see the yin yang with the sun on one side and the house on the other side representing the yin and the yang. I haven't decided which is which. They're both essential to us humans. I had also wanted to overlay a drawing of the Earth, but that becomes very messy, and when I did it I hated it, so off it went.
I played with the colors a lot. I didn't want to make the person too White because these days I feel like skin color is a big issue for some people, and I didn't want to get into that. But... I'm caucasian. Let's just let that be. It works better in my opinion as a design with a light colored person. This is not racial commentary! The color of the tree, and EVERYTHING else was a BIG deal to me. I'm not super in love with the colors of the sun, but at least they work okay for the house. They had to be the same colors. They just had to be. The sky color I like a lot. I am just okay with the green of the Earth color on the other side.
So, there you have it. I might make a few minor adjustments before ordering business cards. But I haven't posted in a long time, and that's why. I've been spending a lot of time working on this logo. Thanks.
This post originally appeared on my old blog at Green Rascal Design on 12/27/11.
Today my better half, Chris, decided he wanted to share some insights about how good of an investment fruits and vegetables are. I've already shared some of these ideas, but hubby's take on things is a bit more monetary and might appeal to you if you're one of those 'show me the money' peeps.
A note on Chris; he's an IT nerd with a love for investing. With his brother he started and ran a small hedge fund for several years, investing money for their family and several friends and doing quite well until the market tanked in '08. Since then his more conservative investing has nearly made back all of what the hedge fund lost. So his understanding of ROIs is pretty good, I think. Without further adieu:
A good return on your investment is usually between 10%-15%. Nature laughs at these returns. In the following paragraphs I will examine the kinds of returns on investment that investors in nature can expect these days.
Think of a good return on your money. Say you invested $1000 to keep the numbers easy. A reasonable rate of return on that would be 10% or $100 a year. An excellent return would more likely be 50% or $500 a year. What would an amazing return be? I would think double your money back would be very impressive. Lets look at a few examples of returns from low growing fruit plants, medium size fruit bushes and medium large to large fruit tree’s.
First the low growing fruit plant. Lets use a strawberry patch for this. Strawberries usually come in a pack of 25 for $12.00 I bought 2 packs of 25 for $25. With 50 plants planted in April, about $10 worth of cow fertilizer and a dollar or two of water I was able to get a small bowl of strawberries every day for about 3 weeks once they started fruiting. That’s about $10 per week of berries give or take. The second year they really hit their stride even though we had excessively rainy weather. We canned about $100 worth of jam and used 2lbs to make a strawberry wine. This was in addition to the bunches we ate and didn’t count. So lets say all together I was given back $150 worth of strawberries and the 3rd year they die. That’s still a 81% a year return on investment if taken over 3 years.
Now let's look at a fruiting bush. A blueberry bush can yield large amounts of fruit, look good as a hedge and also live for a very long time. Blueberry bushes are known to be productive for 80 years or longer. Basically you will be planting this once and that's it. The yield once they get established is 5-15lbs per plant. Lets say you replace a hedge with 5 blueberry plants for $50. Organic blueberries sell for roughly $10 per pound in the stores. Lets estimate that the first 2yrs you get nothing and then you get half of the expect yield which would be 7.5lbs per plant or 37.5lbs per year. So on the 3rd year you get $375 worth of blueberries. Lets say inflation is zero and you stay at your house for 25yrs. That’s a 22% a year return on your investment, turning $50 into $8,250.00. A 16,400.00% total return on your money. There’s only a handful of elite investors in the entire world that get those kinds of returns. I am saying that the average person can have that just by taking care of their hedge!
Lastly lets look at a fruiting tree. The asian pear tree is mostly spray and pest free and is a beautiful looking specimen in itself. Two pear trees are required for pollination and they cost $25 a piece. Its life expectancy is 50 years or more. Average yields are 40-60 pounds per year of fruit. At the local Whole Foods Market organic asian pears are going for $2 a piece. Lets say they are large and ½ a pound each so asian pears go for $4 per pound. So again lets use the math from the blueberry bush. The first 2 years were nothing and then after that it starts fruiting. The 3rd year you get 40lbs and the years after that until year 25 you get 80lbs. This amounts to a 21% per year return on your investment or a 13,660.00% total return on your money. Your $50 turns into $6,880.00 without inflation.
These are conservative estimates and with a little care I think most people could exceed them. The fruiting plants today are so highly bred for high yields that they can give the average person immense power to reduce their expenses and grow their wealth.
Personally, I'm not sure we're going to get any asian pears in 2013 (which would be the third year since we planted the saplings), but they are growing pretty fast. You get the picture. Feel free to ask questions and I'll have Chris come answer them.
It's the unofficial start to summer! Here in Portland Oregon it's finally starting to get hot out. We had a pretty cold and rainy spring - more cold and rainy than our previous two springs here. (well, 1.5 springs)
In the Garden:
We planted about 20 tomatoes too early, and it wasn't warm enough overnight so a lot of them died. Luckily we had more seeds, and the second batch we planted looks good now. We also sprinkled wildflower, clover, and onion seeds all around the tomatoes we planted. They are all looking really good now.
Flowers are attracting hummingbirds! I was out watering baby plants the other day, and a tiny hummer got within a foot of my hand to drink from the hose. It was amazing!
We traded in BOTH of our old cars and bought a new electric car.
My old Altima was with me for 13 (THIRTEEN!) years. I bought it brand new in 2004, and it still seemed like a new car most of the time - just not when it had something break. It was getting to the point where every other month something big would happen to it. Brakes. Calipers. Tires. Ignition coils. It got fairly good gas mileage for a 13 year old full-sized sedan with power seats and everything. But it was starting to weigh on me that I was driving a fossil fuel powered vehicle.
Chris's electric hybrid Insight was much newer, but he never drove it. Well, he very rarely drove it. The most use it has had since he started working from home was when we had a roommate who he trusted enough to lend the car to frequently. She took good care of it. But she's moved on, and the Insight was just sitting there costing money. Why pay a loan for something you NEVER use?
Our dream was always, for several years at least, to become a one car family. And we really wanted it to be electric. The fewer dinosaur-burning engines and appliances we have, the better! We even tried to make-do with a small electric lawn mower here, but with over an acre to mow that was not realistic. So we bit the bullet and got a nice lawn tractor that can also tow a small trailer filled with compost or logs or whatever. And then we bit the bullet and got our electric car. This is a big change!
Hopefully soon we can get rid of the natural gas heater and water heater! In our first house we had installed an electric mini-split heat pump air conditioner in the kitchen, and a heat pump water heater in the basement. We plan to make the same changes again as soon as we can afford it. That won't be for a while, though. Alas.
and The Family:
We are trying to potty train our kid. She's not happy with it. But no matter how green your diapers are, they are still filling up the landfill. Yeah, they're supposed to be "compostable," but still!
She used to wear cloth diapers, but they are not big enough for her anymore. And they're bulky as heck. Maybe if we went back to cloth diapers she'd get embarrassed enough to finally start using the toilet. UGH!
A Brief History:
I wanted to be an architect. I went to college and graduate school. I worked as an architect.
Then the recession hit architects. I returned to internships.
I began practicing Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan. I learned how to use a sword.
And I wanted to be a garden designer. I raised chickens and planted food.
I tried to "find myself." I worked odd design jobs. I sold invisible sound systems.
We moved. Then I became a mom. We moved again.
I earned my Permaculture Design Certificate. I think I found myself.
Everything that was Old is New Again.
When we moved to Oregon to be closer to some family and farther from droughts and hurricanes, I signed us up for a CSA share with the closest farm I could find: Old Soul Farm. I loved the name. I brought my kid along on a trip to meet the farmers, and we all fell into a close friendship with them.
My kid and I spent a lot of time out looking for friends. We landed in the Roseway Play Cafe. There we met another mom and kid combination who seemed to mirror us in so many ways. The mom later introduced us to her partner, an architect, and finally I felt somehow connected to my original goal of being an architect again - even though I couldn't see myself practicing as an architect. I could talk to someone who knows about what it takes to design this built environment which most of us inhabit.
My mind always busy, I have played with the idea of creating a new business. Having lost my passion for just garden design, and my old faithful Green Rascal Design, I have filled sketchbook pages with possible names for new business ideas. I kept returning to the divergent ideas of something involving my name and something like Old Soul Farm. Names derived from old Doctor Who planets were interesting and catchy, but they did not seem right at all. Finally, last night, it hit me. What about a play on words? The name Holcombe begins with Whole. Thinking about my architect friend, Mr Heart shall we say, and how architects so often just use their names, I admit to pondering a collaboration between Holcombe and Heart. Well, not wanting to suggest anything too forward, I just decided to let that be. But the idea of designing with my heart would not go away. Something clicked and I realized my heart and soul are dedicated to permaculture. And thus heart became Soul. Holcombe Soul. Whole Soul. This is the first day of Whole Soul Design.
Whole Soul Design involves every part of me. I cannot deny my architectural background. I will find a way to include it. But Permaculture is very important to me. It takes into account all the same factors that initial design of architectural projects include - like how much rain falls at the site, what's the land form like, what are the prevailing winds, is there crime in the area, what do you want to build anyway, how big does it need to be, how many people does it need to provide for... But the guiding principles behind permaculture are very clearly in favor of the earth and regular people. They don't say anything about working for rich people who don't want to spend any money on design services. There aren't enough of them, anyway. Clearly the Earth needs all of us regular people to do everything we can to reduce our impacts.
And let's not forget to take care of ourselves and the energy we put out into the world. Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of placemaking, is one of my interests. It's all about the energy flowing through our buildings and gardens. Qi Gong and Tai Chi deal with the energy flows through ourselves. Permaculture talks a lot about the cycle of energy through the landscape. Buildings use a lot of energy as well. They're not all the same, but they are similar enough. We are all connected through these various forms of energy. In this way, all of my previous practices - even the ones I never thought would connect to my professional life - have informed my new outlook on my work. It's amazing. I love it.
I hereby declare to follow my whole soul wherever it wants to take me, I will design anything as long as it feels right to me. And my practice will always pay attention to the whole soul of my clients. That is what Whole Soul Design is about.