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Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Seasons of Central California: Blooms, Blosoms and Harvest!

Friday, February 25, 2005

This Land: Central Valley as the Last Homeownership Frontier

This Land Is Our Land

Fleeing the hustle and bustle of life in big cities,
losing the passion of what took them away from
their roots anchored in the central Valley orchards,
leading a life of illusions and broken promises and
having to say enough is enough, two young men
find new ways to marry agriculture with tourism
This combination will bring forth the continuity
of a long-standing tradition. Farming must adapt
to survive and evolve with consumers’ awareness

To all those who want to reconnect with the earth,
the ancestral land and life on a farm, agritourism is
the new sustaining alternative, a mutually satisfying act
farmers and urbanites are rediscovering each other again
Every weekend, carloads and busloads of tourists are
visiting farms, orchards, groves, rangelands
and water canals all over California. They are beating
the boredom of city life. They want to expose their kids
to the places where their fruits are grown with love
Parents want to say thanks to farm and ranch owners,
growers and food processors, seed breeders and workers
who keep our food supply safe and bountiful

O such fine beauties rediscovered on the agritours
Never before have the eyes of these children surveyed
the large expanse of land dedicated to crop production
Never have they known that the succulent peach and
nectarines were picked, plucked off a branch, not the shelf
Never have they played behind the steering wheel of a tractor
Never have they played in an old school bus redesigned
to become an ag playpen loaded with fruit and vegetable toys
Never have they observed a glorious sunset over the horizon
Never have they watched and participated in the milking of a cow

O such innocence and delicacy in bottle feeding a brand new calf!
Never have the tourists opened a bail of hay to feed the dairy cows
whose heads are resting on the slots and cement slabs
Never have they looked them in the eyes to see their patience
Never have tasted the tender meat of the free-range chickens
that add a new life and meaning to the farm experience
Stressed-out city dwellers will participate in the experience of
growers, farmers and farm children who see plants grow around them
May more season-specific events get organized for the agritourists!

Such Delights of The Granadas

Red, big, juicy pomegranates barely hang
On the overloaded twigs
The trees can’t support all their weight
They cover acres of the fertile landscape
In Parlier, Reedley, Fowler, and Kingsburg
I have not given up the melodic lines
Of the surrounding hills and the rich
Vegetation wildly scattered on the banks
Of the San Joaquin River
For the first time, my son is hiking with me
“Daddy, this is like a jungle here,” he exclaimed.
“Let’s not tell anybody about it. This is our jungle,”
He added as we were walking and meditating
Over the Fall transition and leafless fruit trees
The sun lays its warm nuzzle on our foreheads

Once we reach our picnic site,
We are pleasantly rewarded with birdsong,
Chocolate, coffee, and lots of pomegranates
My son enjoys squeezing, spitting out,
And munching the red kernels
High in antioxidants and packed with vitamin C,
Granadas are the Valley’s apples
They nullify the effects of glucose at the same time
Their bright red skin is leathery and bitter-tasting
The juice gets squirted in my son’s face
And stains his brand new t-shirt
Alice knows how to get to these pods
Without any accidents
Who can eat a pomegranate without
Having juice dripping all over one’s hand?
We, consumers, have come to expect
The pomegranates of the Valley’s growers
The way we expect the sun to come up
Not in spite of rain and clouds
But because of them
The bone-chilling cold and freezing Winter days
Make us home and welcome any signs of Spring
So during the metamorphosis, don’t abandon
The renewal of all things beautiful

Central Valley Blossoms, Fruits and Tamales:

Tamales for the Holidays

Nothing is discarded for good
The corn mush is the masa
80 pounds of the stuff with 30 chickens!
The corn husk becomes a product
That is packaged, marketed and sold
Fort he preparation of tamales
The same can be said of the banana,
Papaya and grape leaves which are
Used in the preparations of delicious meals
By some ethnic groups
Preparing tamales is a well-established tradition
In the Hispanic culture
It’s a labor of love, a gift straight from the heart
Of the women who get together to prepare them
Mother, daughters and grandchildren participate
In the ritual before the holidays
In the past, men used to hang out outside
Around the bonfire to enjoy a few favorite drinks
They joked, watched games, listened to music
Cooked, and sent the tamales
To the hungry female guests waiting inside the house
Never will I consume such a Tamales meal
Without remembering the intensive labor
Involving planning, shopping for ingredients,
Broth, Crisco, butter, mixing the masa,
Preparing chile and tasting to have the right accent
If your house is used as the site of preparation,
You’ll lose access to the kitchen and dining table
The aromas of the spices and boiling chickens
Permeate every corner of the living room
Refuge can only found in the bedrooms
Or bathrooms behind closed doors
If you are truly aroma-averse,
Schedule to be out of the house until such
Times you suspect the women may slow down
The production line. They won’t notice your absence.
Reminiscing about past Tamales productions
And family stories, the women talk, smile and laugh
Advice and instruction are metered out to the youngsters
Some workers prefer to stand up to work; others complain
About their inability to prepare dinner for their family
Celebrating Christmas is all about the work, togetherness,
Anticipation, gift wrapping, making lists of gift recipients, spirit,
And last-minute preparations that lead up to the day
Piles of chicken bones are everywhere. Constant cleanup is the order!
Large containers are full of meat mixtures and fillings that will be spread
On the corn husks which get rolled in a neat fashion
Then, the tamales are bagged and stored in the freezer
They’ll soon be given away to friends and family members
What and exotic way to say “Happy Holidays to you!”

The Enchanted Garden: Fresno County's Blossom Trail and Fruit Trail

Spirit Fog

The days and nights of rain have long gone
The weather precipitations surprised
Many tourists in the mountains where
Snow was falling abundantly
It lured the flatlands skiers and snowboarders
Who never thought about the perils of avalanche
Danger lurked at every turn
Of the treacherous mountain roads
The nights are getting colder and colder
Weather people are predicting freezing temperatures
Like ghosts taking long strides all over the land,
Always timely, fog is creeping back into our environment
As we drive to work, school, church and supermarkets,
We go in and out of it. It sometimes embraces us
For so long a time that we feel disoriented
Fog engulfs our car. We can barely see its hood
Unable to see the road and uncoming vehicles,
We drive by memory and faith.
Days become as impenetrable as the darkness
Of moonless nights
When dense tule fog hits the floor of the Valley
Gone are the regular landmarks, the fruit trees
We have come to love and depend on
Pruning crews work like ghosts. They sometimes have
To succumb to the rolling power of the fog
Criminals take advantage of the fog cover
And thumb their nose at police officers
“Catch me if you can see me.”
The sheets of opaque mist make
Farmworkers invisible twice
Until the fog is burned off by noontime, you will not be able
To observe the herds of cattle grazing along the fences
And barbed wires.
The free-range, organic herds are the prizes of any ranchers
It’s a miracle that most of us survive to see Spring

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Professional Staging Services: Get Help Sprucing Up Your House for Quick Sale!

Over all these years, you have maintained your house very well. You have repaired what needed to be repaired. You should be proud of your abode. The time has come to sell it and move into a bigger and better house. You may have very few ideas in terms of getting it ready for the market. Now enters a professional stager who can help you walk the tight and hectic ropes of cleaning, dressing up the house for sale.

These days, more and more housing developments and builders are using the services of a professional home stager. Having been around for quite some, I can attest to the difference that a professional stager can make to the overall appearance of a home. As a seller, you don't want any headache, and difficulty selling the house. Time is of the essence for man people. Between work, the kids' school and extra-curricular activities, not much time is left to dedicate to the cleaning and preparation of the house. Many homeowners who are selling their home end up using a cleaning service to get a leg up. But that's not the end of the preparation. You will need to add your own touch up to the house. All you need to do is be able to show and present your house in the best light possible. After all, a house that is hard to show is a house you'll have a hell of time selling. Who wants to go there?

Home sellers can get a staging action plan, a consulation report from a stager for his or her price. It usually runs in the $80 to $100 per hour depending on your market and location. It goes without saying that the booming housing market of the Bay Ara, Southern California, Miami and Colorado may have its own price. Also, the more reknown the stager, the more he/she will commend. Experience does count even in this field.

Hire a consultant or stager and Maximize your profit!

To stage a home, any stager will recommend the four C's: Clean, Clutter, Color and Confirm.
If you want to do it on your own, go from the outside to the interior of your house. Consider touching up the paint, replacing the dirty and soiled carpet, moving a few pieces of furniture around, decluttering and giving an open air of space and visibility.

Here's a cheat sheet that will help get a leg up or a head start:

1. Pack away out of season clothes to make closets appear bigger.
3. PAINT! PAINT! PAINT! Neutral colors.
4. Keep countertops, tabletops clean and clear.
5. Depersonalize home by removing photos, mementos and literature.
6. Make cosmetic repairs – replace worn fixtures (bathroom, kitchen, lighting, doorknobs), peeling wallpaper, broken tile, wet spots in basement or ceiling, etc)
7. Make functional repairs – fix drippy faucets, sticking doors, loose toilets etc.
8. Stage dining room table (plates, crystal, mats, napkins, flowers etc)
9. Stage living room – (flowers on table, conventional decorations etc)
10. Polish wood floors, clean carpet.
11. Elbow grease. Use lots of this product. Clean and declutter until you get tired. Then, start all over again.
12. Apply the advice of the professional stager to your home and see the difference.

Good luck selling your house!

In the end, once you feel comfortable with the looks of the house, you'll know it's time to put it on the market.

Courtesy of Realestatechronicles

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