farm life

Reflections on Staying Put

This week I hit a milestone, which for most of the world isn’t much of a milestone at all. I slept in my own bed every night for 3 months straight for the first time since 2009. Unlike the rest of the world in some of my circles of friends, this is an achievement.

I write about this achievement on the day it is announced that the Nobel Prize in Medicine goes to three scientists for their work studying circadian rhythms. Switching time zones frequently has so many potential ill effects, I don’t think we’ll even come up with them all ever. After losing my father to melanoma in 2015 I also began to wonder about the possible effects of so much air travel as well. Flight attendants and pilots are twice as likely to get melanoma, what about frequent fliers? There hasn’t been a specific study that I have found on that, but it isn’t hard to imagine there might be at least some increased risk.

Positives from Staying Put

There have been so many positives from being in one place. One simple one is I’m home when people happen to be in the area! In the past, people would frequently visit nearby and reach out, I almost never was home to see them though. Now? Even though I moved to rural Washington State I’ve had more visitors than the entire three years I lived in Portland. Whereas I do miss seeing many of my jet-setting friends I run into in a different city every time, I’ve gotten to catch-up with many others.

Another big thing? I’ve been able to learn and take up hobbies that require you to be in the same place. I planted a real garden for the first time ever and had the time to harvest it! I’ve gotten a Livestock Guardian Dog (Ada) and I’ve had the time to train her (though she and I have a long way to go). I’ve been raising and training livestock (goats, chickens, ducks, pigs and a milk cow). These are all things that would be impossible to do if I wasn’t regularly home, they don’t let you bring your jersey calf on the plane.


For the most part, there haven’t been too many negatives from staying home. The main one has been occasional FOMO (fear of missing out) and also not seeing some friends. This is far outweighed by the positives.

Many of the Other Positives

There have been so many other positives it would be hard to list them all, though I wanted to have some more in here.

  • Rescuing and taming three stray kittens
  • Cooking and eating meals where the food mileage is less than 1. I grew the veggies and the beef was from the next door neighbor’s cow
  • Having a regular sleep schedule
  • Being able to go to the doctor multiple times for a nagging issue (I guess a positive though the issue itself a negative)
  • Knowing my neighbors and other people in town
  • Volunteering locally
  • Still keynoting 2 conferences remotely
  • Sometimes just sitting out and watching the clouds
  • Being able to say “look that rainbow is back AGAIN!”
  • Hosting 6 guests on AirBnb
  • Being the person the various animals run over to when they need something
  • Attending a weekly class (puppy school)

It is easy to be tempted to get swept up into the travel again. The past three months where not intended to be at home, various circumstances caused it. I hope though I can weight the positives and negatives better now and not get caught up in the jetsetting. That said, I do have a trip coming up this month. I am headed to State of the Map US in Boulder, Colorado. Maybe I’ll see you there? Sadly I’ll be cowless. Remember though, you can always come visit me at home in a cow’d state.






MBI · single meal

How’d I do on Lunch?

Sometimes eating at the Most Basic Ingredient level is simply a matter of planning ahead and preserving. Today around lunch time I was starving and thinking that we didn’t have anything quick and easy in the house. Previously  I would have just grabbed a microwave burrito, okay let’s be clear previously last week during lunch.

I had forgotten though I had defrosted some soup I made a month ago. I also already had everything bagel seasoned bread from a few days ago as well. A little toasting and reheating later, lunch! Fortunately for my future lifestyle, unfortunately for my immediate quest we are moving shortly so I can’t do a bunch more of this sort of precooking until after we move.

How do you think it looks? I can tell you it was delicious!



Most Basic Ingredient versus Most Local Ingredient

Basic ingredients don’t have to be in opposition of local ingredients, but lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the value of each. Let’s look at an example, this morning for breakfast I did very well on basic ingredients, but not so well on local ingredients. I had smashed avocado on toast.  I made the bread and all the other ingredients are pretty basic. When you start look at where they came from is where the problem lies.

The bread I made contained flour, yeast, salt, water and seeds. The flour was from Bob’s Red Mill which is a company based in Portland, but I’m not quite sure where the flour is sourced. The salt certainly not local, nor the seeds. Bread making has been a recent hobby for me, next I’d like to look into locally sourcing the ingredients. The other ingredients were certainly source from nowhere near Portland. If I had to guess the pepper was probably the farthest away. I recently read Eight Flavors the Untold Story of American Cuisine. Sarah Lohman gets into the history of pepper in the US in one of the chapters, I highly recommend the entire book though I was thinking about the pepper chapter today. This is partially because Indonesia where it is native to is dear to my heart.


Could I give up the ingredients from far away? Certainly, though it does tempt me to begin a quest to grow my own avocado tree in the PNW.


Quest for the Most Basic Ingredients

Over the past years I’ve been influenced how we as individuals and cultures interact with food by writers such as Michael Pollan and Mark Schatzker. I also have had an obsession with watching cooking shows beginning with Yan Can Cook when I was in elementary school. I could and probably should als0 write an entire other post on diets and the body positive movement (since I like to procrastinate you should at least read Lindy West’s memoir and Kelsey Miller’s Anti-Diet Project).

These influences have led me to my current project to buy the Most Basic Ingredients(MBI) possible. Often I document for myself these types of goals, but why not share this experiment with the world? Why do I call it MBI? Well I work in tech and there is an obsession with building Minimum Viable Products(MVP) in some circles. A MVP is the most basic thing you can build as a product and put out into the market place, my MBI is intended as a counterpoint to that. The most basic piece you can purchase to make food. In a world of heavily processed food as an individual I’m simply trying to get back to the basics. What is at the root of what I am eating? Not the fastest way, not even the easiest way, the most basic way.

It bears mentioning that I come from a place of a lot of privilege. I have a good job, I work remotely and I don’t have any dependents. I can afford to do some experimentation, I have the time to do it and by working from home I can do multi-step processes that require you to check-in over the course of the day.

So to start here is what I bought tonight at the local grocery.



  • Dozen eggs
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 bottle of kombucha
  • Cane sugar
  • Half & Half
  • Gallon glass jar
  • Box of black tea (not pictured, since I forgot and had to run back)

Cost: $41.23 (the jar was $15.00 so that was a big of a splurge)

I think I’ve done pretty well on the raw ingredients. In this case I consider the sugar raw (despite some refining) and classify the half & half about the same. My least raw item under my unscientific classification is the kombucha. Though the goal with some of these ingredients is to start making my own. I hope to continue sharing what I do with these sorts of purchases as I document my path to MBI. At the very least I hope to be drinking some MBI kombucha in the next month or so.