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lead image for this date1 May 2011 : Caspar is a foreign country

Strange, how travel plans suffuse a familiar place with foreignness as soon as they begin. As we begin thinking how to explore Italy in three months this autumn, I notice vividness and detail, beauty and unexpected strangeness right here in this village where I have lived for more than four decades...


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lead image for this date2 May 2011 : Four Season Walk to the Beaches : Spring

On this page I am commemorating the First of May, and the annual Springtime walk we take on our headlands and down to the beach. This page is a work in progress, but I promise it will be ready by the time we head out for Italy...


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lead image for this date15 May 2011 : Caspar Community

One of the best parts of life in Caspar over the past two decades has been the reawakening of Community in Caspar. On the last page we walked on the headlands we all worked so hard to preserve ...


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lead image for this date26 May 2011 : Living Under Our Own Power

Three decades ago, after a short career as a teacher, I became fascinated with energy -- it became very clear to me that civilization is on a collision course with the finite nature of life on an island -- in this case, the planet earth and its enormous but nevertheless limited resources...


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1st per in:|, I notice vividness and detail, beauty and unexpected strangeness right here in this village where I have lived for more than four decades. Between our beloved village of Caspar and San Francisco. Between us and “civilization” there is a mountain range, traversed by a twisty road that switchbacks across steep slopes and winds through vineyards and redwood groves, and finally along the Navarro River to its mouth at the Pacific. We think of ourselves as islanders, because we are so far from the city lights, and in winter, when the rivers rise, the powerlines fall, and the mountain slips over the road, we are on an island. If you will park your mouse over the picture at right, you will see a close-up aerial photo – thank you, Google – of Caspar today. We are behind the word “Us.” (More about us below.) We are between two beautiful beaches, both State Parks. When Caspar was founded nearly 150 years ago, there was no real road from here to the outside world. For almost a hundred years, the woods behind Caspar were "mined for red gold" -- after the 1906 Earthquake that flattened San Francisco, much of the redwood lumber used  to rebuild The City came by coastal schooner from Caspar's mill. For more about Caspar's history, here is a short summary.|
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1st per in:|, but I promise it will be ready by the time we head out for Italy. Living right next to the world's largest body of water, we see a lot of moisture right through the year. Nevertheless, ours is a monsoon climate: six months of wet followed by six months without rain. An average rainfall of a meter (40 inches on average) a year all falls between November and June. Bounty from the Garden    Spring is "Jungle Season" -- the grass grows six inches overnight -- well, it seems to! -- and it's so wet for days that we can't mow. It seldom freezes here, because of the looming presence of the great thermal mass of the Pacific, and so a wide variety of plants thrives here -- a nightmare for invasive exotics, but good news in the garden.  We are working toward something like 50% food self-sufficiency, but in the winter our weather doesn't help much with that: not enough sun, and cool soil temperatures. When we get back from Italy, we're planning to build a greenhouse.  A goodly part of our reason for traveling to Italy is to appreciate a place whose food and culture are so "close to the ground" and based on the land itself.|
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1st per in:|e all worked so hard to preserve ... but for community life, the crown jewel is the Community Center right across the street. In 1988, a number of neighbors started meeting informally to talk about the fact that large parts of our town, once belonging to the successor to the Caspar Lumber Company -- a total of 1,100 acres -- went on sale. This included the headlands, Caspar Creek's riparian corridor, parts of Caspar beach, the old schoolhouse, the duck pond. We agreed that we better start generating some community in case we needed it in the future. Being a part of this project has been one of the most exciting and productive parts of the last 23 years of my life.|
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1st per in:|ith the finite nature of life on an island -- in this case, the planet earth and its enormous but nevertheless limited resources. For more than a decade, I was a principal at Real Goods, a popularizer and purveyor of, among other things, renewable energy equipment (and solar schlock like solar mosquito guards and garden statue Saint Francises made out of cow dung.)  We like technology. The truth is, we admire old technology, and adore new technology. As we built and rebuilt, we were always looking for the most efficient and robust solutions for the various challenges of making a home ...and we think we have succeeded very well.|
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