That’s Humboldt…
America's most scenic rural county (says the USDA)

Celebrating 25 Years of the Mad River Festival!

2015 marks the 25th year of the amazing Mad River Festival (MRF), and yes, there is a lot more to the MRF than Mary Jane (although this season, MJ has been in exceptionally good form, and if you haven’t seen her yet this year, you have three more performances to choose from). After that, she’ll be gone in a puff of smoke – until the movie comes out next year!

Tickets for all the Mad River Festival shows are available from Dell’Arte’s box office at 707-668-5663 or at I’ll be volunteering at most of the shows, so I hope to see you there!

Mad Lab

Welcome to Muffin Mondays :-)

Early in 2011, I was in the final round of interviewing for my now-job as Technical Writer in the Information Technology Services department at Humboldt State. In a moment of insanity, I promised that “if you hire me, I will make muffins.” And thus was a new tradition born.


Every Monday (or Tuesday when the Monday’s a holiday), I bake a dozen muffins and bring them into the office. And every week, there’s a guessing game as to what the flavor of the week is. I have been known to come up with some interesting (some may say esoteric) combinations over the years, drawing inspiration as I frequently do from what looks good in the garden. The last few weeks have produced a couple of first-time favorites – strawberry-tree berries and fuchsia berries – that are both producing plentifully in the garden right now, as well as the ever-popular raspberries that are just starting to be ready.


Strawberry-tree berries are packed with vitamin C, but they don’t have a lot of flavor of their own, so I like to bump them up a notch with some nutmeg or cardamom. Raspberries play nicely with lemon or ginger. Fuchsia berries are deliciously sweet and pair nicely with roasted hazelnuts (as, incidentally, do elderberries). They’re growing right outside my back door, so I’m forever popping a handful in my mouth. Incidentally, they also produce a really blue juice – unlike the purple you might expect from a berry that looks like this:

fuchsia berries

I’ve reproduced my go-to muffin mix recipe below – this amount will make several batches of muffins (depending on the size of your muffins and the volume of additional ingredients you add) and keeps well in the fridge. I’ve also included a sample recipe for 12 standard-size muffins. To create your own muffins, just add fruit, nuts, spices, honey – whatever you fancy! Experimenting with different flavor combinations is a lot of fun, so why not create your own Muffin Monday tradition?

BTW, I‘ll never know whether the muffin offer was the tie-breaker that got me the job, but now even President Lisa Rossbacher has been inducted into the Muffin Monday fan clubJ

Muffin Mix

  • 5 cups whole-wheat flour (I use Beck’s local flour – available at the farmers’ market or the Co-op)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 2T baking powder
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1.5t salt

Mix everything together in a big bowl and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Fuchsia Berry & Hazelnut Muffins

Makes 12 standard-size muffins

  • 2 large eggs (I use duck eggs)
  • ¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • ½ cup safflower or other high-quality, high-temperature oil plus 1t for oiling the muffin tin
  • 1 vanilla pod (you can substitute 1t vanilla essence but I think the seeds add an extra punch)
  • 3 cups muffin mix (see above)
  • 1 cup fresh-picked fuchsia berries
  • 1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts, chopped
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly brush the muffin tin(s) with oil
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and mix in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla
  3. Fold in the muffin mix, berries, and hazelnuts with a fork until all the flour is incorporated
  4. Spoon the finished mix into the muffin tin(s) – about two tablespoons per cup
  5. Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the tin(s) and bake for another 7

Let the finished muffins rest for 10 minutes or so after they come out of the oven, then gently run a knife around each to ensure it will come out clean. Place the individual muffins on a rack to cool.

They’ll stay pretty fresh in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.



I’d love to hear other flavor combinations people have made and enjoy – if you come up with something you really like, share it in the Comments below.

A Supersized Dose of Dell’Arte

In an attempt to make up for my absence last week (too much client writing on my plate didn’t leave enough space for personal writing), here’s a bumper crop of Dell’Arte-ing. Had I written last week as well, it would have been even longer, as the Thesis Projects would have been included too, but sadly they are now over (but they were very good, and you certainly missed some great performances from the graduating students if you didn’t get to see them).

thesis projects

Time for Finals!

Dell’Arte’s Professional Training Program (PTP) has drawn over 1000 performers from 41 countries to Humboldt County over its 40-year history. This weekend, you get to witness the passage of these actor-poets into the next phase of their lives as they present the culmination of their year of intensive study.

The Finals, on stage at the Carlo Theater in Blue Lake at 8pm May 28-30, is an evening of 10-minute plays testifying to the students’ passionate engagement with the work of ensemble theatre-making. This year’s crop of players, from Zimbabwe, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Ireland, India, and the United States, have made it through physical and vocal training, research in mask and traditional popular theatre styles, and extensive improvisational exploration. And now we, the audience, get to grade the students’ performances on individual report cards – that’s the real fun part! Tickets are pay-what-you-can, available online at


But the finals are not quite the end of the school year for these students. Next week, they’ll travel to Bridgeville and Orleans for Dell’Arte’s annual Rural Residency Program when they’ll  engage these communities in workshops and community building, fully realizing Dell’Arte’s founding principle of "theatre of place". The performance in Bridgeville will take place on Tuesday, June 9 at 6pm at Bridgeville Elementary School in conjunction with a fundraiser barbecue for the Bridgeville Volunteer Firefighter Department. The Orleans performance will take place on Wednesday, June 10 at 6pm at Orleans Elementary School. Both events are free and open to the public.

She's Baaaaack!

Mary JaneKicking off the 2015 Mad River Festival on June 18th is the Empress Sativa herself, Mary Jane (aka Joan Schirle), returning to the Rooney Amphitheatre in Mary Jane: The Musical III. The Queen of the Emerald Ball and first generation grower Mary Jane is back blazing up the stage along with a cast of 14 singers, actors and musicians.

Originally developed and directed by festival producer Michael Fields in 2011, MJM immediately became Dell’Arte’s hottest selling and highest-grossing show on record. The Diva returned in 2012 for another successful run, and is back for her third and final show this year, which seems appropriate, given the probable imminent legalization of the herb. MJM is a unique musical event: part concert, part show, and 100% a reflection of the conflicting and contrasting attitudes, beliefs, fears, hopes and dreams surrounding this humble weed.  


And That’s Just the Beginning of the 25th Mad River Festival!

More on these in future posts, but start planning now – before the summer gets completely booked up! More detailed descriptions on the Dell’Arte website.

Mary Jane: The Musical III 

Thursday – Sunday, June 18 - July 5

8:00pm (no show on Saturday, July 4)

Dell’Arte’s Rooney Amphitheatre

Tickets: $18 adults / $15 students & seniors / $10 kids 12 and under


Big Top Family Series 

Sundays June 21, 28 & July 5 at 2:00pm 

Pierson Big Hammer Tent

Tickets: $10 adults/ $5 kids 12 and under


Mad Lab: An evening of works-in-progress

By Dell’Arte faculty, staff and alumni

Wednesday, July 1 at 8:00pm 

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre

Tickets: Pay-What -You-Can


Red Light in Blue Lake: Adult Cabaret

Friday & Saturday, June 26 & 27 at 10:30pm 

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre

Tickets: $20.00 in advance / $25.00 at the door


Around the World Week: International Performances

July 6 – 11

Performances open to the public with a limited amount of tickets available include: 

Bilingual Kyogen Musical: Monkey! Presented by Osugi Musical Theatre from Japan. 

Monday & Tuesday, July 6 & 7 at 7:30

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre 

Tickets: $18 adults / $15 students & seniors / $10 kids 12 and under

Alumni Cabaret

Wednesday, July 8 at 2:00pm 

Pierson Big Hammer Tent

Tickets: $10 adults/ $5 students and ages 12 + (not suitable for young children)

Pansy by Evan Johnson (Fairy Dust Theatre in collaboration with New Conservatory Theatre)

Wednesday, July 8 at 7:30 

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre 

Tickets: $18 adults / $15 students and seniors

Submarine Show by the Sub Crew 

Thursday, July 9 at 7:30pm 

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre 

Tickets: $18 adults / $15 students and seniors / $10 kids 12 and under

Terra Incognita by Uplift Physical Theatre 

Thursday, July 9 at 9:30pm 

Dell'Arte's River Campus at 101 Taylor Way. 

Tickets: $18 adults / $15 students and seniors / $10 kids 12 and under

Tapped Out: Ingenious Chambermaid adapted from Carlo Goldoni by the Dell'Arte Company 

Friday, July 10 at 7:30 pm

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre 

Tickets:  Pay-What -You-Can

All Night Cabaret 

Friday, July 10 10:00pm 

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre 

Tickets:  Pay-What -You-Can 


Saturday, July 11 at 8:00pm and Sunday, July 12 at 4:00pm

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre 

Tickets: $18 adults / $15 students and seniors (not suitable for children)


Humboldt Folklife Festival

Monday – Saturday, July 13 – 18

Saturday July 18 ALL DAY FREE EVENT in downtown Blue Lake 


Eureka Symphony presents Peter and the Wolf with Instrument “Petting Zoo”

Sunday, July 19 at 11:30 a.m. & 1pm

Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre

Tickets: FREE


See you there!

Partnering for a Better Future in Humboldt - and Beyond

Lonny Grafman is an extraordinary human being. I first met him several years ago when I started working with Locally Delicious; Lonny is on their board. Then I discovered he worked across the street from me, in the Environmental Resources Engineering department at HSU. When I saw how he melds the worlds of sustainable food systems and creative engineering, I was seriously impressed.

Lonny and students

First Year Friday: Piping away!

Welcome to our 8th blog entry!

Last week we made great progress in piping the distillery.  The still’s copper cooling piping is complete and the boiler is vented and black iron steam piping has begun. 


That's Humboldt...

Home of the bay that provides two-thirds of California's oysters