About five years ago I started a blog, called it Curvirostra, and posted to it sporadically—at first I used it to collect interesting things I found around the web, and occasionally wrote an essay for it. But something never really clicked between me and that blog, we always seemed to be passing by each other on the way to somewhere else.

About a year ago I discovered that my friend Milla has an amazing blog, and reading it has given me a sense of where I might go with a more personal online space. I spend a lot of time online (too much), reading and commenting on other people's words and ideas. Commenting on Facebook and other blogs has become a way for me to feel like I'm expressing myself without having to fret too much over the final product, as I do when I am trying to articulate my own thoughts. Perfectionism is the enemy of self-expression... at least it is for me.

One of my goals with this blog is to post some of the ideas I've contributed in other places, fleshed out and personalized. My interests in handcrafts, appropriate technology, local governance, simple living, and natural history will no doubt make appearances here.

So here's my offering. I'm resolved to post regularly, and maybe a little slapdash-idly, because otherwise I'll get caught up in needing to make it all pretty and special. Perhaps I'll be able to offer something that someone else will find interesting or thought-provoking.

I welcome polite discourse and discussion. Please feel free to leave comments on my posts: tell me who you are, link to your blog, let me know what cool stuff you're up to. Thanks for stopping by :-D

A little history

I moved to Lopez Island in 1986. I arrived with my then-boyfriend on our way back from Alaska, on a lark, to see an old friend of his from La Jolla. We arrived on a gorgeous late September day, borrowed a kayak, and paddled around the South End from Watmough to Castle Rock. I was smitten, and knew I was finally Home.

Originally from the Bay Area, I grew up in a quiet wooded suburban neighborhood, where kids still played kick-the-can in the summer streets till darkness forced us back indoors. My sister and I rode our bikes to school, to the 7-11,  to Frost Amphitheater, anywhere we wanted to. I roamed the neighborhood and picked pomegranates off the neighbors' trees. I watched Star Trek and devoured sci-fi paperbacks from Kepler's. The Bay Area of the 60's and 70's was something of a paradise, at least if you were white, straight, and conformed to the rigid social norms of the times. The Santa Clara Valley had yet to become Silicon Valley; Palo Alto was a cool college town full of artists, bookshops, and quiet treelined streets, solidly middle-class.

By the mid-70s that all started to change. My high school was "integrated," by which meaning they closed the predominantly Black high school in East Palo Alto and bused the kids to the white schools nearby. My high school had a full-on race riot my freshman year as a reaction to that community-destroying policy. Apple and Google had yet to be born, but the military & technical roots of what was to come were firmly in place: Moffett Field was a Navy base where Lockheed's military planes were tested, and the Skunk Works became a model for today's startup culture. The Graphical User Interface (soon to be adopted by Steve Jobs for his Lisa computer) was developed at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto. My Dad worked as a physicist at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) developing technologies for electronic media.

At the same time, the counterculture was budding: the Homebrew Computer Club and Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Truck Store both came out of Menlo Park. It was this counterculture that intrigued and delighted me, not the button-down path to a lifelong stable "career." I was fascinated with the back-to-the-landers portrayed in the Whole Earth Catalog: I wanted so badly to escape the 'burbs and build my little cabin in the woods.  So it's no surprise that I have bonded with Lopez Island so completely: this is a community that seems to get it, that is daily working out the problems of survival with grace and compassion.

Soon after moving to Lopez I was hired by Gregg Blomberg to make carving tools for Kestrel Tool. I worked for Kestrel and also continued to run my own custom knifemaking business under the name Madrona Knives. I stopped making knives in 1998.

Even after all these years on Lopez, my nerd background has never quite left me. When our library got its first public computer, I soon realized I was hooked: even the primitive Internet available then was candy for this info-junkie. In 2000 I joined the staff at the Lopez Library and in 2004 created its (and my) first website. I left the library in 2006 and started my web design business, Cloud Islands.

Lopez Island, a.k.a "The Rock"

When I or my friends post pictures of Lopez on Facecrack or Instagram, the reaction from non-residents is often along the lines of "you live in Paradise!!!!!" Well, it sure is a purty place. It's also a pretty difficult place to live if you're not rich. San Juan County has the highest cost of living and the lowest wages of any county in Washington State. Stable, affordable housing is nearly nonexistent. Every blessed thing here has to come over on a ferry, and locals spend inordinate amounts of time waiting in ferry lines. It costs nearly $50 for each ferry trip to the mainland (a.k.a America). It's a fine place for little kids, but teens are bored to tears and there are very few opportunities for them after they've graduated. We have the oldest median age of any county in Washington, but it's a tough place if you need complex medical care. It's also a really, really small town, with all that implies.

Many young folks come here thinking it's a cool place to hang for the summer... but once the weather turns, the jobs disappear and living in a tent gets really old really quickly. Land prices are insane: you can't work a normal job here and buy land, let alone a house. Affordable rentals can be funky-in-not-a-good-way and are often not available year-round.

But despite the difficulties, there's a new crop of young folks that are making a go of it here. Many (maybe most) won't be able to stick, but some of them will, and our community is vastly richer for their efforts. They're crafting, growing, teaching, and building the community for the next generation. This is a Renaissance of the back-to-the-landers who came here in the late 60's and early 70s, and it makes me immeasurably happy and grateful to still be here.

— Adrienne Rice Adams

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