mayacama mama


Summer Ennui and A Few Favorite Things


Yesterday morning I suddenly remembered this feeling of lethargy that hit me last summer. Perhaps it’s the heat that drains me, but my desire to keep busy through the summer months wanes, and all I want to do is relax and kickback. Yesterday instead of doing the breakfast dishes, I went with Stephen and the kids on Big Red around the ranch to water the redwood, cedar, and silver linden trees we planted last fall. So far they all seem to be surviving.


The grass is growing so tall, we are eager for the sheep to come and graze, but we’ve been waiting since April for their arrival and so far no sheep. Thankfully we had no surprise rattle snakes waiting for us in the tall grass.



Zoey took this photo of Zane and me yesterday. The first shot she cut off our heads, but she managed to get us in the frame for the second. I’m all dried up and at a loss for words, so I might as well end this post with my favorite things for June. I found this new blog called Cooking With Toddlers. She has beautiful photographs and some recipes I’d like to try that look yummy. Check it out. And I’ve been listening to Brandi Carlile on Spotify, which has been giving me a little pep during these hot, summer days. May you all find ways to stay cool.

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My Favorite Things in January


Our game cam caught a glimpse of the wild pigs in the fog by the duck pond. We haven’t seen them in person yet, but Stephen said he saw evidence of their digging a few days ago so we know they are making their way around the ranch again.

January is coming to an end, and I am longing for the lightness of spring. I feel the heaviness of this winter in my bones. We ran out of propane in our tank yesterday. Stephen had been checking it regularly, but the gauge was incorrect. No cooking on our gas stove, no heating for our radiant heated floors, no hot water for bathing. We went into town last night for dinner and ran into our contractor at the hardware store. He was buying us a small propane tank to get us through the next few weeks until we can get our large tank refueled. He’s a really thoughtful, kind man. He was going to drive back up to our ranch last night to set it up, but we told him not to bother–the morning would be fine. We’re not sure when the fuel truck will be up here to refill our tank. Our dirt road is in really poor condition with all the rain. We’ve had gravel dumped on the muddiest spots, but without 4WD or AWD, there’s the risk of getting stuck in the mud or slipping off the road.

I attempted to begin the 2016 Reading Challenge with the book Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry which was published in 1960 (a book published before I was born). I got halfway through and gave up. There were humorous sections in the book, but I had to force myself to read it. These days I’ll take anything easy. So one day I’ll perhaps try another Wendell Berry novel, just not that one.

The book I just finished and loved was called Into the Forest by Jean Hegland. I googled the author after I finished reading the book and found out that it was made into a movie with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year and will be released in the US this year. I just started reading Windfalls by the same author.

Last weekend I hosted an herbal gathering for the twenty women in my herbal class that ended last November. Only three ladies from my class showed up, two of whom helped me plan for the event. There were some who let me know ahead of time they wouldn’t be able to make it, and others who said they would come but never showed up. I was disappointed for days. I had been so nervous prior to last Saturday wanting the day to be perfect and needlessly so.

Before this blog post turns into what is going wrong this month, I’ll just share a few more things that are making me happy this month. We lit a fire in our wood stove last night and this morning. It is usually so warm with the radiant heating that we don’t need the wood stove. It was a pleasant gift this morning to feel the warmth from the fire.

Am I weird to be craving collard greens and swiss chard? It is even weirder to write that eating collard greens and rainbow swiss chard is making me happy?

That’s enough for now.




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My Favorite Things in December


Yesterday was the last sunny day for awhile. We’re in for a week’s worth of rain. On one of the clear days we were able to build a fire outside. Nothing like sitting around a fire on a cold, autumn day to warm the heart and hands.

My woolies (also known as wool long johns) arrived this week. I bought some for Zoey to keep her warm on her nature days at school when she is outside all day rain or shine. She complains about wearing them sometimes, but I put mine on and I wanted to keep mine on all the time. I bought them from They are made from wool and silk and feel so soft.

I’ve been reading Sharifa Oppenheimer’s book Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children. It was recommended by Zoey’s Waldorf teacher. I have never read anything by Rudolf Steiner, nor am I very familiar with Waldorf philosophy, so I thought it would be helpful to read some books about it. There’s a chapter in the book about creating daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms. One of her suggestions is to light a candle at bedtime. I lit a candle tonight and Zoey and Zane were mesmerized by the light and shadows created on the walls of their dark bedroom. Zoey asked if we could light a candle every night.

As the month began I started to wonder why I always feel so hurried this time of year and after all this time I finally figured out why. As we move towards winter solstice, the days are getting shorter. There really is less daylight to get things done. And acknowledging that made me feel better because if I’m in rhythm with the season, then I can slow down and be present to the changes.


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My Favorite Things in October


We went to the park today after Zoey’s dentist appointment. It was a day of “firsts” for the kids. Zane walked across the rope bridge (not the one pictured above) by himself and Zoey swung across two monkey bars all by herself. I feel very proud when my kids are brave enough to try new things. I don’t remember being a brave child, so I’m glad that I’m not passing on my fears to them.


I meant to take photos of the trees Stephen planted today. We bought two Cedar of Lebanon trees and two Silver Linden trees from Horizon Herbs. I made some willow tea to pour over the soil where the trees are planted. Willow has natural rooting hormone chemicals.  Hopefully that will help get them established. Sometime soon I’ll take a photograph of the trees.


And lastly, seeing my little guy wear these button down shirts is one of my favorite things this month. I told him he’s wearing a shirt like daddy so of course he likes wearing them now. It’s funny how no matter where we are, my children can somehow identify the sound of a backhoe. We were stopped on the road this morning (there is a lot of roadwork being done), and Zane started making a grunting noise then said a word that sounded vaguely like “backhoe.” Sure enough, there was a backhoe just down the road. I guess it makes sense considering that they hear the backhoe on our ranch almost everyday. There’s a good chance Zane will learn how to use the backhoe before his father does. That could be a good thing. Put the kid to work, right?

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My Favorite Things in September

Every year it seems autumn arrives on the calendar, but summer weather lingers a bit longer than I like. I appreciate the cool mornings here that actually feel like autumn. I’ve started pulling up the dead plants in the garden to clear out the beds to plant alfalfa.  Back in May when I planted the seeds in our garden, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience. I felt the excitement of waiting for the first sprouts to appear, and then I was eager to see them grow up and mature. And now on the other end, I’m digging up roots and clearing the beds to plant a cover crop to help regenerate the soil. It’s satisfying work.  I am also eager for cooler weather in hopes that the sluggishness I feel in the heat of summer will leave me. Cooler weather always enlivens me and inspires me to keep active.

A photo of our old backyard back in Pasadena because I have no new photos to share.

A photo of our old backyard back in Pasadena because I have no new photos to share.

There’s a new podcast I started listening to called Off Camera. There were two episodes I listened to recently, one with Sarah Silverman and one with John Krasinski, in which they both shared how supportive their parents were of their dreams. Their respective parents believed in them. Zoey shared with us recently that when she grows up she wants to be either a singer on stage or a restaurant lady (her words). I hope that when the time comes, Stephen and I can believe in Zoey and Zane wholeheartedly, too so they can follow their passions wherever it leads them.

And one more photo of our Pasadena house from the archives that has nothing to do with anything.

And one more photo of our Pasadena house from the archives that has nothing to do with anything.

And as a final reminder, in two days I will begin my write 31 days in October challenge. Get ready to be impressed.


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Summer’s End and Favorite Things in August


The sunflowers are in decline. Our garden is winding down. We leave for vacation in a few days. I cut down some of the sunflowers to dry to harvest the seeds. I thought I’d share what is making me happy before we leave on our trip and August is gone.

There are some nights like tonight when Zoey goes to bed without crying. I went to her Waldorf parent meeting tonight and ate dinner late. After being kissed good night and put down to bed, she came out to the kitchen to ask for another hug. She misses me a lot these days when I’m gone for the day. I gave her another hug and wordlessly she returned to bed and to sleep. A blessing in my world.

I started acupuncture a few weeks ago to treat my digestive issues. For any of you who have never had acupuncture, I highly recommend it. I would go daily if that were possible. After putting in all the needles in my body (head, forehead, sometimes ears, arms, hands, feet, legs, and belly), my acupuncturist says to me, “Have a good rest.” And I do. For a whole hour. I sit in the recliner chair reclining with my eyes closed and I rest. And it’s heaven.

I have three more months of my herbal class. The class is held over a nine month period–the length of a pregnancy. It goes by so quickly. Although it is difficult to leave Stephen and kids for one weekend out of every month, I really look forward to my time away to learn more about herbs. But the class is so much more than just herbs. I sit in a circle of about 22 women. We share our hearts with one another, our strengths and weaknesses, and we’re present to each other even with all our different backgrounds. Some of us young and single, gypsies, wanderers, young mothers, wise older women. All the women are so generous in spirit. We end each weekend making a craft with our hands. We close the circle lying on our backs with our eyes closed as our teacher Donna reads us a poem. And then we sit up, hold hands, and pass a kiss of peace (not unlike the passing of peace in church) on each other’s hands as we look into each other’s eyes lovingly. I realized during my last class that I have finally found what I had been looking for–for so long. I’ve found the feminine face of God in the women I meet each month. For me, this is church. Here’s a song I learned at my herbal class that I taught Zoey:

Woman am I, spirit am I,
I am the infinite within my soul,
I have no beginning and I have no end,
all this I am.


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My Favorite Things in July


I’m amazed everyday that these beautiful sunflowers in our garden grew from tiny seeds. Anyone know how to make sunflower seed butter from sunflower seeds? It’s a popular food with Zoey and Zane.


Stephen sent me this New York Times article How Walking in Nature Changes the BrainIt’s a quick read if you haven’t already read it. I should swing daily on our tree swing as good medicine for my body. I wonder if swinging on a tree swing changes your brain.


For my Yerba Woman Herbal apprenticeship program, I had to choose an herb to study in depth to present to our class in November, the last month of the program. One of the first plants I noticed on our property up behind the guest house and near the shed was a soft, furry green plant growing in a rosette pattern in the ground. It was only later when I was reading Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health that I realized the tall flowering stalks with yellow flowers was mullein (Verbascum thapsus). At the end of our first herbal class when I had to choose an herb to study, it was fairly obvious I had to learn more about mullein because it was growing all over our land. In the photo above, you can see a group of mullein stalks to the left of the shed. There was a bunch of mullein on the dam by the lake that flowered in June, and I meant to harvest the flowers to make an infused oil, but I missed my chance. They do not flower for long. Then this past week while out walking on the east road, I was pleasantly surprised to see a circle of mullein growing around a pile of old, discarded vineyard stakes. Her circle of beauty in the midst of unwanted scraps made me smile and gave me hope and encouragement. Some people find winter a difficult month to get through, but for me the heat of summer wilts me and depletes me of energy. Mullein is teaching me to find the beauty in the middle of the mess.


My Favorite Things in May

A view from the High Line in Lower Manhattan.

A view from the High Line in Lower Manhattan.

A little over a week ago Stephen and I flew back east for my 15th college reunion. The kids had a week-long sleepover with my parents. After the reunion, we spent a few days in New York City. I didn’t realize how much I would miss my kids until we were away for soooooo long. We needed some alone time, and thanks to my parents we were able to have that time, but we both talked about how fun it will be to take the kids back when they are a little older and explore Manhattan more.

Another view of the High Line and the Standard Hotel in the background.

Another view of the High Line and the Standard Hotel in the background.

While we were walking the High Line, waiting for the Whitney Museum of American Art to open, we realized that the park looked exactly like the children’s book The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. It’s a lovely children’s story if you’ve never read it. And now on to my favorite things.

Eataly in New York City. Have you been there?


We ate lunch there, had gelato, and went back our last night for a decadent dessert. We could have eaten all our meals there, but there were so many other good restaurants to try. And no, I was not following any restricted diet, AIP or otherwise, on our vacation.

IMG_0908We returned home after a week away and were amazed to see how much our plants have grown. We harvested our first batch of French Breakfast radishes. Don’t forget you can eat your radish greens. I used ours in a pesto.

I have to say though that my favorite favorite thing this month was seeing Zoey and Zane after a long week away. I fell in love with them again, not that I was out of love with them, but in the same way that you fall in love with your spouse over and over again even though you never stop loving him or her. Lots of things to do around the ranch. In two weeks my herbal class meets again. I have tinctures and liniments to make. Zoey’s last day of school is on Friday. And then we have the whole summer ahead of us. Work on the main house is starting. I’ll be taking more photos in the weeks ahead to post.


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My Favorite Things in April


One of the homeplay assignments for my herbal class this month is to find a wild edible weed everyday and to eat it. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy this practice until I started walking around our ranch and noticing all the edible weeds. Here are a few of my favorite things this month:

Picking miner’s lettuce with Zoey early in the morning and watching her eat the wild weed with me.  She can already correctly identify it around the ranch.

Drinking a modified version of Rosemary Gladstar’s Liver Tonic Tea with wild edibles growing on our ranch. Here’s the recipe I’ve been making:
–3 parts nettle leaf (Mountain Rose Herbs)
–2 parts dandelion leaf (picked near our orchard, found in your backyard?)
–2 parts lemon balm (Mountain Rose Herbs)
–2 parts red clover flowers (picked near our lake)
–1 part water mint (picked from the spillway of our lake)

Pour quart of just boiled water over herbs and cover. Infuse for 20 minutes.

Watching Zane walk. In the past week, Zane has really taken off with his walking. He still crawls a bit, but mostly walks these days. He wobbles and bobbles and falls.

Yoga With Adriene. I’ve been doing her 30 days of yoga for the past 60+ days because I can never manage to do yoga daily, although in my dream world I rise with the sun and go outside on snake rock (aka “the loading dock”) and do yoga before the wee ones wake up.

We’ve started planting our vegetable and herb garden. I’ll wait until some sprouts come up before I post any photos. I found this quotation I wrote in an old journal from Sue Monk Kidd’s book When the Heart Waits and thought I’d share it with you as I think about waiting for our plants to grow:

She writes about going on a retreat and she sees a monk just sitting quietly. She wonders how he does it and he tells her–

“I hope you’ll hear what I’m about to tell you. I hope you’ll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.”


My Favorite Things in March

I thought it would be fun to share some things that are making me happy this month. Here’s the list.

Sparkle Stories: a podcast for children with short stories we can listen to on our way to or from school. I think I may enjoy them more than Zoey, but perhaps as she gets older she’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Annmarie Gianni beauty products: I’m still loving Annmarie’s products. I use her aloe herb facial cleanser, neroli toning mist, anti-aging facial oil, coconut honey mask, dead sea scrub, and sun love sunscreen. Can you tell I love her products? And they smell so good! Back in December I was asked to participate in her Beautiful Voices column. Check out my interview answers here.

Ben Hewitt’s The Nourishing Homestead: An inspiring book about a husband and wife living in Vermont with their two young sons who farm, raise animals, and live off their land as much as possible. It’s inspired me to get my hands dirty.

Modern Farm Girls podcast which can be found on iTunes. This is my favorite new podcast about farm life with a special focus on female farmers.

And the book I’m currently reading: Owen’s Daughter by Jo-Ann Mapson. I’ve read a couple of her other books, all of which I’ve enjoyed.

So there you go. Tomorrow is my first herbal class at Motherland Botanical Sanctuary. It’s one weekend a month for nine months. I’ll write more about it in another post.