Springtime with Nice Neighbors and Cute Kids

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Peach blossoms in front of our house

This month has been bitter sweet. We have been in our new home for over a month now.  Things are settling slowly, and the projects keep coming.  We celebrated both our third anniversary and my thirty-third birthday with moving trucks.  My beloved Uncle Dr. Peter S.Y. Lin passed away, and we drove down to LA for the memorial service.  He was well known to be the life of a party, always putting people at ease with his charm, and the instigator of many memorable family trips to Vegas and Lake Tahoe. I miss his big smile and joking spirit.  I find comfort that he’s now at peace.

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Uncle Peter giving an unforgettable toast on an unforgettable night.

On the drive back from Irvine, we stopped at Uncle Hsu’s farm. He is my father’s classmate from Taiwan. He retired from running a restaurant to purchase 10 acres of land and work as  farmer with his son Joseph, and his family.   They grow specialty crops for Asian markets, persimmons, sakura peaches, and bamboo shoots. They also grow a few rows of Pomelos, oranges,  kumquat, and veggies for personal consumption and gifts.  We were so lucky to spend a day here and leave with bags of delicious fresh fruit and kolrabi.

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delicious mandarin oranges

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Hubert gives Uncle Stu and I a tour of the farm.

Back at home in Nevada City, spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and frogs sing us a lullaby from the swale as we fall asleep.

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Tulips, daffodils, and more near the sidewalk

Stu and I each help another neighbor head chef make a common meal for 20+ people. Stu and Nancy makes spicy stew and roast chicken.  Julie and I have the fun of April Fool’s Day Dinner, which was Dessert for Dinner and Dinner for dessert.

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Julie Maria and Mags make April Fool’s Day Common meal, Pie a la mode (beet colored turkey pot pie with mashed potatoes and gravy) for dinner, and “meatloaf, veggies and mashed potatoes” for dessert

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Dessert! Primal style banana bread with candy peas, vanilla ice cream and a berry chocolate sauce.

We briefly catch some Easter decked children before the egg hunt.

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Easter egg hair

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Grapevine row. Ours is first on the left

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Oliver sometimes hangs out on our porch.

Nesting continues. Painting, unpacking, organizing and all that. Photos coming once things are unpacked and moved in.  I feel comfortable enough that I’ve started the process of incorporation and a hunt for office space.  We also had our first hula hoop jam yesterday and I’m excited to teach as a certified Hoopnotica instructor. Stu works from home and also works as an farm intern for Living Lands Agrarian Network. We do miss seeing close friends and family, but the joys of settling down in our own home are great.  I look forward to creating our next post, the top photos of our year+ of travel!

More photos here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nevada City! and Bunnies!

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Nevada City Co-Housing

After more than a year of traveling, and many hours of deliberation we are moving to Nevada City!  We are so excited to call this small California mountain town our new home. Driving, it is an hour northeast of Sacramento, 1.5 hours to Lake Tahoe, 2.5 hours for San Francisco and 6.5 hours to Los Angeles.  We’ll let you know on the biking distances later.

We are in escrow for a three bedroom town house in the Nevada City Co-Housing community, NC Co-Ho for short.  We will have a den as well as guest rooms in the Common House.  Plenty of room for family and visitors. We can’t wait to get some food, herbs, and other plants growing in the ground.  The community members all seem really nice, and from what we experienced at community dinners, cook very well!  If all goes well we move in March 4th.

Outdoor adventures abound in this area.  Nestled in the Sierra Foothills, the landscape ranges from pine forest mountains, to oak cloistered meadow valleys, and Mediterranean climate farms. Hiking and biking trails start from just across the street. The Yuba River, state parks for camping, and snowy mountain peaks for skiing and snowboarding all less than an hours drive away.  We explore a few of the local parks and trails.

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Yuba River as seen from the historic bridge.

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Be careful in the river!

 

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Gnarled tree trunk off a hiking trail in Lower Yuba River State Park

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Lush greenery surrounds the trail

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We lounge for a while on smooth river boulders and take in the scene

We are in town for the first brief snow of the season.

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St. Canice Catholic Historical Cemetery

Downtown Nevada City was once the center of gold rush activity.  The “Mother Lode” financed and populated this area.  At its peak Nevada City was one of the largest cities in California, only less populous than Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Now, about 3,000 reside in NC, and 12,000 in Grass Valley, the neighboring town to the south.  The Victorian architecture and small pedestrian friendly roads show off during annual festivals such as the Constitution Day Parade, Nevada City Cycling Classic, and the most famous, Victorian Christmas. We will be sure to discover other town events and report our adventures.

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The Marching Presidents and their friends. Image courtesy of E Territorial Dispatch

We heard that Nevada City and Grass Valley are hotbeds for live music gigs and festivals.  Master Fiddlers, folk and bluegrass, and contra dance are big.  We even spotted a flier for a drum and bass night at a local club/bar.  Perhaps Mags will live out her fantasy of playing in an all female rock band.

This town appealed to us the most because it’s a place where both Stu can live out his farming dreams, and Mags can have a successful physical therapy and fitness business.  It’s an ideal place to raise a family with good schools and plenty of babysitters in the co-housing community.  We also couldn’t resist the appeal of living in California, closer to many friends and family.

After initiating the home buying process we drive home, stopping in the hills of Santa Cruz to visit our dear friends Josh and Heidi, in their off-the-grid cabin in the woods.  The views from their home are amazing, ocean to one side, and forested mountains on the other.

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Sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the front yard

We enjoy a few mushroom hunting hikes, the Santa Cruz Fungus Festival, amazing healthy cooking by Heidi, and Quality Bunny Time.

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Pink Coral Mushroom in the wild

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Wall of moss and ferns

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Banana Slug

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Mags, Stu, Josh, and Heidi on a chilly valley hike

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A deep stream rushes by the far end of these rocks

Josh and Heidi have four cuddling loveable rabbits. Bruiser weighs about 4 times as much as Mochi.  It’s so sweet to watch these fuzzy bunnies snuggle, hop, run, dig, and eat from our hands!

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Punky Bruiser

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Mochi and Bruiser

Thanks for taking some time off StopSmartMeters.org to host us.  We had a great time as always.

We can’t wait to get nestled in our new home, get to business, and get to know this small town and the locals.  Somehow Stars Hollow of Gilmore Girls comes to mind.

In the meantime, we get ready for the move in Irvine with Mama and Aba Chuang.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to hang with family before we move.  🙂

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The home we are in Escrow for! Hopefully ours soon!

More pics from this part of our travels here and here.

Posted in Intentional Communities, Nevada City, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

West Coast Road Trip: Snowy Roads to Portland and South

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Snow, fog, sleet, and rain beautify the evergreen mountains, but make for mindful driving conditions.

Our plan was to drive from Nevada City to Portland with one overnight in Ashland, OR.  Plans were thwarted by snow and a closed Interstate-5 freeway near Mount shasta.  We stop in Anderson, CA near Redding, for the night as we figure our plans.  We take a detour West to 101 to avoid the high Sierra snow stopping in Eureka to see Niki, and another night in a random Best Western before we finally make it to PORTLAND!  Just in time for Christmas with the Grovers.

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memorable Christmas Eve with the lovely Grover family

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Charlie and Javier

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Amelia and Javier

Thanks so much to Chad and Anna, and Frani, Mike and Martha for hosting us.  Martha was our first roommate in our Glen Park Cooperative in San Francisco.  Frani takes us home hunting. We also meet up with Amber and Ethan for delicious tea.  We wish we could catch up with our Portland friends more often!

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Multnomah Falls near Portland, OR

We take a hike to the top of Multnomah Falls.  We visit Columbia Ecovillage as a potential place to live, and join for dinner.

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Community dinner at Columbia Ecovillage in Portland, OR

This co-housing community grew out of retrofitted apartment buildings and a farm sitting on 3.7 acres.

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Happy chickens at Columbia Ecovillage in Portland, OR

After happy reunions and meetings in Portland we drive south stopping in Ashland, a cute college town.  Breakfast at Morning Glory, hearty and delicious, fills us up for a long safe drive to San Francisco, without any road closures.

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  Hcalling friends with an old-school phone at Columbia Hotel in Ashland, OR

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Mount Shasta awes us with its snowy white peak floating above trolling hills of scrubland.

We make it in time for a New Year’s Eve Party hosted by Matthew and Sheila.

May it be a

Happy

Healthy &

Prosperous

2013!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

West Coast Road Trip: Irvine to Nevada City

After a brief respite in Irvine, Mags and I set out for the final portion of our travels: a West Coast road trip. On the map below, you can see our approximate route, with our stops in alphabetical order.


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Before we set out, we recuperated for a few days in Irvine, including a visit to the Getty Museum in LA with Renee and going out for Korean food and K Pop music videos with Alex.

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labyrinth garden at the Getty Museum

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View from the Getty with Renee. LA at it’s finest. Visibility was excellent this sunny day, we could even see Long Beach and the Catalina Islands.

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artwork in the Getty

Splitting our driving into about five-hour segments per day, our goal was to make our way up to Portland, Oregon, making stops in other towns along the way that appealed to us as potential places to settle down.

Our first stop was to visit Tierra Nueva Cohousing in Oceano, California, near San Luis Obispo. Tierra Nueva really reaffirmed our desire to live in cohousing when we saw the young children running around freely in this car-free neighborhood. The parking is on the outside only, leaving the areas around the houses and gardens to be more relaxed. We joined for a community meal, which is usually a feature you will find in cohousing. We have found that most cohousing communities are very welcoming and love to have visitors tour their community and join for a common meal, even with just a day’s notice.

We stayed with Mags’s friend Laura from PT school, and her husband Paul and son Eric. They enjoy living in Arroyo Grande, near San Luis Obisbo, because it is easy to get around and is close to the ocean. They were gracious hosts!

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breakfast with Laura, Paul, and Eric at Station Grill, adjacent to the Grover Beach train station

After our wedding almost three years ago, we took a mini honeymoon, a three-day stay in lovely Carmel. We decided to spend a night there again and relive some of our fond memories of that beautiful resort town. It also happened to be a good stopping point to break up our driving.

The highlight of our time in Carmel in 2010 and the highlight again this time was our meal at Dametra Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant with excellent food, song and dance, and the friendliest service you will ever experience. Everyone is treated like family at this spectacular restaurant.

Their trademark romantic song to perform is Bésame Mucho, which means “kiss me a lot.” You can hear it below.

 

This singer came out from the kitchen to share his lovely voice, accompanied by one of the owners on a guitar-like, round-body instrument.

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This talented baritone singer also serenaded us on our honeymoon 3 years ago.

And if that weren’t enough, there were more songs and dancing throughout the evening.  They brought out belly dance skirts and encouraged all to join in the dance party.

 

From Carmel, we bypassed the San Francisco Bay area, and all we love there, heading to Davis. We have heard a lot about this college town with an agricultural heritage and the community activism of locals. We joined for dinner at N Street Cohousing, a shining example of retrofit cohousing, organically grown within a suburban development by neighbors tearing down fences.  On the other end of the intentional community spectrum, we strolled the spectacularly verdant grounds of Village Homes, a planned subdivision. Here, 225 passive homes, including a student co-op, 20 apartments, community center, and small business district thrive on 70 acres of land designed with conservation of energy and natural resources in mind.  Most of the landscaping consists of edible or native plants to care for people as well as encourage wildlife.

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Bluejay

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Squirrel with acorn

We were awed at vineyards, farm plots, and many trees spilling over with ripe fruit and nuts. This would be a perfect place for Stu to work in community farming. We loved this community with street names inspired from Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but no homes were on the market. If we moved here, we could live on Oakenshield or Evenstar Way. While in Davis, we also met up with William for Thai dinner.

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Stu squashed at Village Homes Community in Davis.

Next, we drove to Nevada City, the oldest still-functioning gold rush town, nestled in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Nevada City actually wasn’t on our radar at all until cousin Kristy suggested it to us a few weeks ago, thinking it sounded like it had everything we were looking for.

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Stu with old hydraulic water pump for mining gold

When we started researching the town, we discovered Nevada City Cohousing, which was spearheaded by cohousing pioneers Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett, who live nearby.

Nevada City Cohousing is optimally placed, being just a half mile from downtown while also having six acres of forested land shared by the 34 townhome households. It is a newer development, built in 2007, with all the energy efficiency that comes with that. There is shared solar, a pool, hot tub, and a great common house with large kitchen and dining area for shared meals, and shared guest rooms. We were impressed with Nevada City Cohousing and we’re grateful to Nancy Newman for being our host, and to the rest of the community for being so welcoming.

See more pictures from this portion of our trip here. In our next post, we continue our road trip up to Portland, and then back down to San Francisco.

Posted in Nevada City, Portland | Leave a comment

The Beautiful Skies of Colorado

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Sunrise in Berthoud

After my bike accident, we considerably shortened our list of places to visit.  From the Mid-West we fly in to scenic Colorado on our way West to visit new additions to our friends and family.  We stay a few days with Cousins Alex and Lisa and their two boys, Zac, 4 and Evan, 1.5 in Berthoud, CO.  Almost three years ago, Zac honored us by being Ring Boy in our wedding ceremony.  Their home sits on 2 acres of land near active ranches and a reservoir for fishing and country strolling.  The sunrise views are spectacular from their home. Luckily our visit overlaps with my Dwayi (Aunt Amy). We catchup and I practice my Minan Taiwanese conversation skills with her. We goof around a sculpture park, play policeman with the boys, and meet up with Dhiren, a San Francisco friend.

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Riding on a pig with Zac and Evan

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Three on a bike

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Evan

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Evan, Dhiren, Zac, Mags, and Stu

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Lisa, Evan, Alex, Zac, Mags and Stu. Zac likes the smell of a wine cork.

 We head to Fort Collins in our rental car to visit the famous New Belgian Brewery.  They ply tour goers with five brew samplings as we walk through the solar powered factory.  This was the best factory tour either of us have been on for an immersion in flavor, business culture, history and fun.  The brewery is covered with bicycle and beer themed artwork, eco-concious construction, as well as employee happiness perks.  New Belgian really brings fun into the workplace, as evidenced by foos ball and ping pong tables, climbing walls, a free bike to every employee, and my personal favorite, the simple option of taking a slide instead of walking down stairs from the offices.

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Shift was named partly in honor of the shift beer employees get at the end of their work shift.

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Well stocked bar fridge. 12 take home bottles per week, per employee.

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bottling plant

 

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Beer aging in whiskey barrels gives it a scotch-like oak flavor.

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Aging barrels with rock wall in background.  No drinking allowed while on the rock wall.

We spend a few days with Aimee, Rowan, baby Ridge, and Grandnanny Linda in Highlands Ranch, which has been described by many as “the Irvine of Colorado.”   Ridge, who was about three months old when we were there, is built like a hamhock and eats constantly.  We hang out, eat food, and laugh a lot.

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Ridge, Aimee, and Rowan

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Dudes

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Decadent Vegan Ho Ho at Watercourse in downtown Denver.  All of our vegetarian meals were artistically presented and delicious.

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View out back from Rowan and Aimee’s

 

We go for a day hike at Garden of the Gods.

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Mags Rocks

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Colorado has the most beautiful skies

We then spend a few nights at Angela’s place in Longmont.  Angela and I have been online friends for over 10 years but this was our first time meeting in person. It was lovely to finally meet in the flesh.  She took us on a tour of the air traffic control tower where she works.  It was so cool to see what goes on behind the scenes of air travel every day.  Of course we were not allowed to take photos or use our phones in the tower, for security/safety purposes.

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Cute hand painted ceramics by Angela.  We love Tortoro!

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What allergies? Stu with Ayan

One of my dance company friends from Irvine moved to Colorado.  We caught up with Yamila and her new husband Gene over Tapas dinner at Mediteranean.

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Yamila, Mags, Angela, Stu, and Gene

Colorado wows with scenic vistas at every turn.  We had a great time catching up and getting to know the little ones.  We will come back to visit, most likely by train!

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Stu travels by train.

More photos here

Posted in Colorado, Family | 2 Comments