Thursday, November 10, 2016

Playlist Post

Trump is our president-elect. Time to Rage Against the Machine

Friday, November 4, 2016

26th Avenue Hill

Running down
26th Avenue hill
fog softens my footfall
the horizon is sleepy.

At the base of the hill
a woman with
a puffy purple vest
a close cropped cap
of white hair
peers at her screen
her finger scrolls
up and down.

We pass without a glance she
continues up the hill
slowly, not seeing.

Pokémon Go, I think
and return my gaze
to the terns, the green lagoon.
A vacuum cleaner is submerged
In the cloudy water under the bridge.
An egret launches from the shallows
I look up, startled
feeling her silent wings on my skin
scroll up
scroll down.

8.27 Night

Last night I
awoke to get water for the dog
fumbling in the darkness I
confused a colander for her bowl. I
tried to fill it but
the water just poured through.

Heirloom Fruit

On my backyard quince tree
downy apple-pears
ripen to the shade of morning suns.
A sweet smell like sugar cookies
fills the garden
as ready fruit falls, uneaten.

It is an heirloom orchard
planted over 50 years ago.
I googled how to use
the tough fruit.

Hard to eat, bitter even when ripe
the woody flesh calls for
a sharp knife and skillful hand
to slice and prepare,
to coax out the sweetness
in pies or preserves.

I never tried to cook one,
too scared the paring knife would slip
in my modern hands.
I lack the sturdy intuition
of earlier women.

The Forest of Nisene Marks

Living beneath the marine layer,
I forget the relentless desert
where the sun’s insanity
heats your bones
in a torrid x-ray
your insides strained
shivering with fever.

In the solid green redwood forest
light is milky-white and heavy,
filtered through flat needles.
Ferns trail lazy fronds
the smell of wet earth waits
under fallen leaves.

A slim stand of cottonwoods
is reflected in the creek.
A black lab bounds into the water
shredding the papery bark.

A crow caws, indignant, alarmed
this dog is different–
she cannot be trusted.

I had never seen a banana slug,
couldn’t imagine a creature
so vulnerable and bright
not living in the desert
under a scorched shell.


You swim through my dreams
Underwater tendrils curl around my horns
cold kelp traps my cloven feet.

Neptune is your companion
I don’t speak that language
can’t breathe underwater
I’ve pledged my allegiance to fiery Mars.

Like a bighorn
I see the mountain
I want to ascend.
The rocky ledges crumble
as I climb.

You don’t need to see it to know
this atmosphere’s too thin for fish.
You slip through silky shadows
blue and deep.
I gaze at the azure sky

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Blog

Hello readers!
I haven't posted much recently as I've been focusing more on my creative photography and writing.

Check out my tumblr blog "California Thrasher" where I post poems and photos:

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my work!

ETA: It's now early November and I'm much more confident with my poetry, 
so I've returned to posting here. 
You can follow me on instagram @sgstasi for my daily photos.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Project 333: Year 3 / Phase 2

I decided to do another update with my current Project 333 wardrobe and personal modifications to the project "rules".

If you happened to read my last post, you know I have modified the way I practice Project 333 to accommodate the fact that I now wear a uniform to work. Having a true uniform has taken some getting used to but I do enjoy the fact that it makes getting dressed each day so much easier as I have limited variables as to what to wear. 

For this phase of the project, April-June 2016, I have made various adjustments, some new and some continuing from past phases:
  • I was keeping all of my clothes (winter and summer) out at all times, but beginning in April I did pack away some heavier winter items.
  • I counted my work uniform (all of my logo tops and khaki bottoms) as one of my 33 items. I did the same with scarves, shoes, and jewelry.
  • I'm not counting my sunglasses, purse, sleepwear, workout gear, or rain gear.
Given all that, I end up with 24 items. Less than 33, but four of the items are actually "groups" so I have more than 33 items of clothing in rotation overall. After three years of living with a capsule wardrobe, I no longer think in terms of number of items. Instead, I just keep the clothes that I wear that look good and are comfortable and functional.

Here are my items for this phase:

Left to right from top:
  1. aqua long tank dress
  2. blue and white tank dress
  3. denim tank dress
  4. cap-sleeve black dress
  5. sleeveless black dress
  6. coral ss tee
  7. aqua ss tee
  8. bicycle print ss tee
  9. black ss tee
  10. white ss tee
  11. denim jacket
  12. black shrug
  13. tan ss cardigan
  14. brown long cardigan
  15. geey open knit sweater
  16. blue thermal
  17. striped ls tee
  18. off-white thermal
  19. shoes (not pictured: Chacos, flip-flops)
  20. scarves (4)
  21. striped tank
  22. black tank
  23. jewelry (about 30 pieces)
  24. uniform (13 items)*
*Uniform items are the same as last phase:

  • Two polo shirts
  • One fleece zip-up vest
  • One cardigan
  • One (shared) fleece zip-up
  • Three skirts
  • Two pairs of capris
  • Three pairs of pants

Thank you for following my Project 333 journey!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Project 333 Update: Year 3 Phase 1

Note: I drafted this earlier this year (probably mid-January) but neglected to post it. Please enjoy, and I'll post a Project 333 update in June for Year 3 Phase 3.

It's amazing to see that the Project 333 community is not only going strong, but growing!

This project was, and continues to be a touchstone for simplicity in my life. In the past 18 months, my life has changed dramatically as I have completely changed careers, and as a result my approach to project 333 has changed but the principals stay the same.
  • I no longer count or track my clothes or swap them out in 4 phases a year. I have all my clothes in my closets and drawers all the time.
  • I don't include jewelry or scarves anymore. Since I wear a uniform I use these accessories to express my individuality and style. 
  • I wear a uniform to work! This is the biggest change and is one that I felt uniquely suited for as a project 333 practitioner. My uniform is khaki bottoms with a navy top that has our logo on it. I have the following uniform items:
  1. Two polo shirts
  2. One fleece zip-up vest
  3. One cardigan
  4. One (shared) fleece zip-up
  5. Three skirts
  6. Two pairs of capris
  7. Three pairs of pants
  • I also have a variety of short and long sleeve tees and leggings to compliment my uniform.
  • I still have a limited number of shoes.
If I were to add all of my items together—clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags—I would undoubtedly have more than 33 things. But the spirit of the challenge, and the lessons I've learned about clothing and fashion, are now ingrained parts of how I view getting dressed each day.

I embrace wearing a uniform! It simplifies clothing choices and makes getting dressed each week much easier. Had I not been "living with less" by doing Project 333, I don't think I would have as readily embraced wearing a uniform to work every day. Some people might get bored or feel constricted with having to wear the same thing, but I find it a structured base from which to add elements - I can wear whatever undershirt, earrings, tights, or hair accessories I choose (as long as they are professional, of course!) I tend to go with ocean or sea-themed accessories, or seasonal choices for Christmas or Valentine's Day.

Here are a few photos of me in my uniform. Note the seasonal accessories!
Thank you for your interest in my Project 333 practice, and please check back soon for a June Project 333 / Phase 3 update!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Wilder Ranch Hike: Cowboy Trail

Yesterday I felt like taking my "real" camera (Canon S3 IS - old but reliable) out for a photowalk. I wanted some photos of birds and blooms. I considered the Arboretum where both are sure to be plentiful at this time of year, but they charge $5 for admission and we have a State Park parking pass, so I decided to head to Wilder instead. I was thinking of a little-used trail that I had only been on one time, in fall, when I was only able to hike the very first few feet as the creek crossing was too high.

The Cowboy Loop is short - a bit less than 2 miles. It is not much used by hikers for this reason, but it is popular with horse riders and I imagine running it would be quite challenging. Since I had only been on part of the trail, I had no idea what to expect but figured it would be a short, quick loop with lots of woodland for bird watching. I was quite surprised.

The Cowboy Trail begins on the right of the main trail, just past the corral and bridge. The first stretch is a large open field on the left and riparian woodland on the right. This is a good spot to see sparrows, wren, quail, and blackbirds. I saw a pair of deer bounding through the high grass and wildflowers.

The trail crosses Wilder creek and I could not find a way to avoid getting my feet wet as I crossed. Last time I tried this trail, I could not cross due to much higher water.

Past the creek the elevation quickly climbs about 150 feet, up a slope with amazing trees and rock formations, made fantastical by the effects of erosion on the steep slope.

The trail continues to climb as the terrain opens up into gorgeous coastal prairie. From here on, amazing views of the ocean abound. At the top of the hill, you have a nearly 360 degree view of the bay and open ocean. I made the mistake of ascending at high noon (!) so it was quite warm. Next time I might consider hiking the trail in reverse to take advantage of the views.

My work - the Seymour Center!

 At the top of the hill, the trails turns left at a fence line and makes a quick, VERY steep descent. I was actually worried I might lose my footing. I'm sure erosion from recent rainstorms is partially to blame. I can't believe horses make this descent! There are maybe two long switchbacks and then the trail re-crosses the creek. Here there are a few rocks and stones to make your way across. I'm not very practiced at water crossing so I still got my feet wet. The trail then returns to the same field and rejoins the main trail.

I headed back into the main ranch area and got a few more shots of birds and blooms, which was my main goal. I got more than I bargained for with this hike, but I would do it again and I think it would be a good, challenging run. The backside descent is really rough, though, and I wonder how it would be to climb that side and descend facing the amazing ocean views. Nonetheless, Wilder never disappoints.

One unexpected development of the day was that I lost my sunglasses! My iconic Ray Bans! That I had for at least two years... Since our budget is no where near what it once was, I decided to get a pair more in line with my ethical beliefs and got a sustainably-sourced bamboo pair that also gives back to people with visual impairment. So, new sunglasses!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Saturday Sunset

What's better than a sunset dinner bonfire? Nothing, I say. Jason and I have the same work schedule, Tuesday-Saturday, so Saturday night is our Friday... woo hoo! Last night was so warm and beautiful we decided to have dinner at the beach and took our fire pit along to keep warm after the sun went down. It was a gorgeous evening and yet another reminder of why we are so fortunate to live in Santa Cruz.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Everyday Adventures: Lake Cunningham

We had plans to go camping this weekend but we were rained out, Instead, we headed over the hill to San Jose. We needed to pick up a part for our dryer at the Eastridge Mall, and we decided to extend the trip and go to a place we'd never been: Lake Cunningham Regional Park. We picked up some food at the Whole Foods in Los Gatos, grabbed the part at the mall. and headed to the park for a picnic. It was still drizzling a bit so we found a bench with a shelter over it. I was surprised at the size of the park and lake and at how many birds there were. In addition to the geese pictured here we saw mallards, American coot, egrets, blue heron, cormorants, white pelicans, bluebirds, tern, killdeer, and sparrows and swallows. There is a walking track around the lake, and it is home to California's largest skate park. It is also adjacent to Raging Waters San Jose. There were very few people there today probably because of the rain, but I imagine the place gets packed in the summer and I'm sure temperatures top 100 degrees. You would hardly think it to look at the pictures I took today. We'll definitely come back again as the picnic areas were nice and the bird action was amazing.

On the way home, Jason spotted a Bass Pro Shop and we had to stop, since he has been searching for a certain kind of bait. The place was insane. As if the huge tank of bass or the dozens of stuffed animal trophies lining the walls weren't enough, there was a bowling alley attached! It would be fun to try it out sometime. There was a intricate shipwreck theme going on!

The shipwreck over the bar