Howdy, friends and fans!
I have been lax in my posting because, well, I have little to report. Adventures have been more of the boring domestic variety (I did some laundry), and news is the same old, same old. Ian is still solving world health issues, and I am still looking for a job.
So, instead of boring you with my non-news, I am going to excite you with somebody else's worthwhile project.
Here's the deal - my dear buddy from college, Mike Yengling, is riding in the Ride for the Feast. Movable Feast is an amazing organization that feeds folks in poverty who are living with HIV/AIDS or Breast Cancer. Their organization runs with very little overhead, and does a whole lot with very little. Mike does the ride every year with his team, Team Atomic, and I like to sponsor him.
My little day-dream is that YOU, yes YOU, would like to cough up a few bucks to sponsor Mike in his ride and donate to Movable Feast, too.
Yes, the economy sucks. Yes, there is uncertainty. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY WE SHOULD HELP OUT! Somebody has it worse than you, and sponsoring Mike on this bike ride is a way to make a real change for somebody.
SPONSOR MIKE YENGLING IN RIDE FOR THE FEAST, PLEASE.
The organizers of the ride ask that folks who want to send words of encouragement to the riders on day 2 of the ride send an email to RFTFsupport@gmail.com. Go ahead and send an email if you like. Mike is a friendly and hilarious guy. He would love to hear from you.
This is a copy of my email to Mike (fyi - "pump it big in front and small in back" is bike jargon for "go really fast". It refers to using the biggest chainring in the front, and the smallest in back.)
Boneshaker Mikey Y in da house!!
watcha gonna do? FEED SOME PEOPLE, that's what.
Tired? Good! That's what we paid you do. I didn't sponsor you so you could feel like you spent a day at the spa, dude. I paid you to get on your velocipede and create social change.
Your ride today may have been grueling and soul crushing, you may have been gnawing on your handlebars climbing the hills, and you might smell like a goat, but today's ride fed somebody. And, truth be known, you always kinda smell like a goat.
Armpits and donkey butt aside, an inspiring alchemy is happening. You and your bicycling posse, through burning a gajillion calories, are providing a million gajillion calories for somebody. Those calories are fueling the bodies of the folks who will now get a good nutritious meal, but the really amazing alchemy is that those calories end up feeding all of our souls, too. The process of caring, and of helping, and of inspiring, and of connecting, ends up giving all of us something we need. All this is to say good job, and thank you. Thank you for feeding my soul.
Now, little buddy, hop on that saddle tomorrow with the blessings and the energy of the well fed pushing you along for the entire rest of the ride. Pump it big in front, small in back, and kick it on in. Ride like a banshee at midnight on the full moon, a retired greyhound after the squirrel, a two-year-old liberated from diapers. Ride like all things inspired and driven forward in the sheer joy of willing, motivated, brilliant and exuberant motion.
Rock on, Brother Mike. Don't crash.
J Monkeypants A Go Go
(now of the wierd SoCal locale)
Our settling in and exploration of our new digs continues. . .
The latest food adventure and cultural outing took us to "African Spice Restaurant", a mecca of deliciousness tucked into a busy market in a slightly run-down shopping center.
The largest business in this shopping center is the County Health and Human Services office, but all the action is happening at the Safari Market. Safari Market used to be a big grocery store, and now a busy East African cultural hub, full of separate stalls selling hijabs, sports team T-shirts, incense, spices and soaps, travel agencies specializing in travel to Somalia and Ethiopia, visa services, and our new favourite restaurant.
There was no printed menu. We asked what they recommend, they said the fish, because they were all out of goat. Damn. We ordered the fish.
What we got was a pile of perfectly crisp and plump sambussas (like a samosas) full of the tangy spicy goodness. I don't know what all was contained in their flaky goldenness, but they were totally amazing. The green onion and the fish were easy to distinguish, but the rest of the ingredients were a mystery to me. A yummy, yummy mystery.
After our frolic in sambussa heaven, we were brought a plate of gorgeous saffron rice topped with roasted red pepper, green bean, pea and sweet potato matchsticks. This was garnished with a coconut and jalapeno chutney that balanced the earthy low notes of the rice dish amazingly well. It was gorgeous, and stunning. The rice served as accompaniment for an absolutely lovely pan-fried white fish in a delicate saffron and mystery spice sauce. It was expertly cooked - not too tough, not overdone, not too spicy, just exactly perfect. On the side was a green jalapeno salsa and a tomato salsa that added a nice kick and acidic punch to the dish. My oh my it was good.
To top it all off, a banana. I don't usually think to pair a banana with my fish and rice dinner, but it was, like everything else with this meal, perfect. Yum!
After stuffing ourselves into dystentia, we strolled around the former grocery store now East African market and bazaar. In the very back of the building, there still hung the cartoon pork-shop shaped sign for the meat department. The counter and refrigerators and equipment for the former meat department are long gone, but the faucets and low tile basins remain. Lined up in front of these basins were men who were taking polite turns at the faucets. They removed their shoes, washed their feet well, and gave their faces and hands a good scrub. They then would give up their spot at the basin, set their shoes neatly by a door, and disappear into the room on the other side of the door. It turns out that the former grocery is not only where one could get goat meat and travel reservations, but there is mosque back behind where the bakery used to be. One-stop shopping at its best!
If you are interested in checking out this amazing deliciousness, or in getting some incense or going to temple, check out Safari Market:
4348 54th St
(between El Cajon Blvd & Trojan Ave)
San Diego, CA 92115
Right next to the Salk Institute, where Ian spends his days finding cures for the diseases that send us to congested and phlegmy deaths, there is a wide open field bordered on one side by a dirt parking lot, and bordered on the other side by a cliff. The cliff drops down roughly 350 feet to a narrow, stony beach, upon which the cold and merciless waves of the Pacific pummel whomever goes too long in their run for the Hail Mary pass, and tumbles down to that cold and hard stopping point at the bottom. Into these cliffs blow ceaseless westerly winds, which hit the cliff and are pushed up, creating a unique opportunity for the adventurous.
That unique opportunity is known as paragliding. A paraglider is basically a parafoil, a cross between a big kite and a parachute. The flyer-person hangs seated in a cradle and steers by pulling the ropes attached to different vents. (I imagine that the pilots in our FF/DH posse will be interested in how this all works. Rather than bastardize and oversimplify a perfectly good explanation, I will instead direct the interested parties to the Wikipedia page explaining paragliding . )
On breezy days, which means most days, folks gather at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, buckle in to their rigs, and just walk right off the cliff. It is amazing! They then glide back and forth in the updraft along the cliff, straying a bit out to sea and a bit inland, and then they come back in to land on the same breezy bluff from which they stepped off in the first place. Brilliant!! How cool is that?
It turns out that the current adventurers are not the only ones who found the unique topography and consistent breezes of the Torrey Pines Cliffs worthwhile. On my birthday (Feb 24th- write it down) in 1930, Charles Lindbergh flew in the Torrey Pines uplift from Mount Soledad (right there by the cliff) up to Del Mar; this 9 mile flight was a regional distance record at the time.
Starting in the '30's, and continuing until today, little motorless planes, called glider planes, get towed off the cliff to ride the steady wind by the cliff. The cliff has also been the testing ground for many aeronautics greats including John Robinson and his variometer, a precursor to a flight altimeter; Harland Ross and his first spoiler air brakes; and Bob Fronius with his parachute safety innovations.
Currently, an outfit called Torrey Pines Gliderport runs the show there on the cliff. They offer classes, tandem flights, certifications, and quite a show for those of us just watching.
For those gentle readers who know the author of this post, I know what you are wondering. The answer is, "No. Not yet." I plan to sell Ian on the idea that we should go paragliding for our anniversary in June. What better analogy for marriage than jumping off a cliff into what seems like a treacherous and dangerous pit, but instead proves to be gorgeous wide-open sun-shiny space, where the serendipitous combination of several obdurate elements produces exactly what we need to be not just supported, but uplifted, and consistently delivered safe and sound, inspired and transformed, back to steady ground?
Check out the little movies we made of paragliding, and also check the video posted on the Torrey Pines Gliderport site. One of our videos shows a little single-man glider plane (and some guy's butt who walked into the frame). Another clip shows a take-off, and one shows a landing for a tandem ride. The tandem rider was a kid who was probably about 8 or 10. Quite a ride, no? Enjoy!