Thursday, December 30, 2010

In the Ol' Icebox

This is yummier than you can guess, and quite easily doubled.

Easy Green Curry (Variation on a Theme of Collards):

1 tsp canola oil, or coconut oil
1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 c green pepper, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 c broccoli stems, trimmed as needed and cut into 1/4 rounds
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, cut into small thin lengths
a few cloves of garlic, sliced thinly crosswise
3 large collard leaves, with stems, cut into 1-inch squares
3 large or 5 small scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp green curry paste
1/2 tsp agave syrup or sugar, to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp fish sauce, or to taste (optional)
a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce

Heat oil in a skillet or saucepan and add chicken; cook until just done and slightly browned, turning loosely.  Throw in the green pepper, broccoli, ginger and garlic, collard greens, and the fleshy parts of the scallions, and saute over high-ish heat for a couple minutes, until the collards have begun to cook down.  Add the coconut milk, water, curry paste, sugar and fish sauce (if used), the Sriracha, and bring to a low boil.  Turn the heat down and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time, adding the green ends of the scallions after a few minutes, when the flavors begin to meld.  Eat from a bowl, with a spoon.  Over wild rice is darn good, too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sugar Rush

I opened the cupboard to reach for coffee, and WHAM--there was crash, and a thud, and suddenly I found myself covered in something sticky and sweet...

All up and down my arm, across my chest, stuck upon my hair and into my ear...

What the hell happened?

Some boobytrap, set by the bad gnomes maybe, or perhaps it was only Fate.

It took me a minute to ascertain what had transpired, and it was this: a quart of maple syrup, which had heretofore been situated quite (seemingly) calmly upon the top shelf, decided to take or was somehow compelled into taking a small leap forward, only to fall heavily down upon and into my unexpecting morning.  It landed upright--a small concession, on its part--but the force of the impact blew its plastic lid full open, spewing its sappy, sticky, burned-gold sweetness all over the friggin' place...on my shirt, my pants, the floor, the counter, the other side of the room...

What gives?  I mean seriously, what kind of nonsense makes a good couple pounds of sugar take a dive like that?  Come on's only Wednesday.

Frigging gnomes, I swear.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fa la la la laaaa, la laa laa laa

And so it goes, with the passing of another Christmas...  It's been a busy, lazy last few weeks here at my homestead in the city, and despite all the deliciously sticky sugarplums that have been dancing in my head, I've not had time to put down my thoughts on the rare Solstice, the beautiful snows, or the holly and the ivy, much less the divine mystery of trinity...  I hope to resume some more focused writing here, after the New Year, and in the meantime I'll be posting some pics over at the Old Time Picture Show, by way of a virtual cookie exchange... I hope you are safe and warm, reveling in the spirit of the season, enjoying life's multitudes of gifts and resting sweetly in Winter's soft embrace.  Much love to you all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Have To Try This

Here's a little recipe which my mother sent my way and which I found to be not only more than the sum of its parts but also tremendously satisfying (unless that's supposed to imply that you can stop eating it).  I made mine with a double load of collard greens and stems and it was downright delish.  You could serve this over rice, or soba noodles, but I loved it all on its own.  Super easy yum, hits many spots at once...

Hawaiian Ginger-Chicken Stew

From EatingWell:  March/April 2009 

This chicken stew has a bold ginger-flavored broth and provides a whole serving of dark leafy greens in each bowl. We tried it with frozen chopped mustard greens (available in large supermarkets) and it was even quicker to prepare and just as delicious. Serve with brown rice. 

4 servings, about 1 cup each | Active Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes [Timing's about right but I don't know how they figure four one-cup servings...bit more than that.]


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, or canola oil [toasted sesame, for sure.]
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks or minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry, (see Tip)
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth [I used veggie Better Than Bouillon, nothing lost]
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian red chile sauce, such as sriracha, or to taste
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, or chard, stemmed and chopped (6-7 cups), or 2 cups frozen chopped mustard greens [Use whatever greens you like best--mustard, collards, spinach, kale, chard, a mix--and then try something new the next time. Also, frozen might be fine but fresh is fantastic.]


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. [or with your Kitchamajig.]
  2. Add ginger and garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add sherry and cook until mostly evaporated, scraping up any browned bits, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, chile sauce and mustard greens (or chard) and cook until the greens are tender, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.


Per serving : 201 Calories; 4 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 69 mg Cholesterol; 7 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 346 mg Sodium; 369 mg Potassium
1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 1/2 lean meat

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: “Cooking sherry” can be high in sodium. Instead, look for dry sherry with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store. [As a general rule, I wouldn't use "cooking" anything for cooking anything.  If someone has to tell you to cook with it you probably shouldn't be eating it (Crisco???), UNLESS they're talking about green vegetables, which you'd have to work pretty hard at to get more than is good for you.]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Have Moved Mountains

Okay.  First, let me just say, YAY!  I'm almost done shoveling now, so it's a little difficult to recall, but I believe the phrase of the moment was "holy buttmunchers, this is a fuckload of snow!"

Second: silk, wool, sheepskin, down, Gore-Tex, polyester and last, but not least, goofily-blue stretchy waterproof bibbs!

Friday, December 10, 2010

this day in December

A Christmas tree was a magical thing, when I was growing up.  We cut our own, not at a lot or a farm but on the land where we lived, and the "ritual"--not some obligatory bullshit or overly done-up reverence or laborious nonsense--of bringing it into the house was one which--though always a little late, a bit complicated and perhaps just a tad contentious--was always one of significance, of joy and anticipation, the culmination and recognition of the passage of another year, from darkness to light...We spent hours, as a family, listening to music--Tchaikovsky, maybe, or Handel or various others...jazz musicians or just plain old folks on vinyl, not only of the season--and carefully unpacking each ornament, jointly considering its best placement and most beautiful attributes, so as best to fill each void, or catch the light, or be most pleasing to the eye and heart. 

The collection of ornaments was rare, artful, breakable. There were many in glass, figures and creatures and bubbles of all sizes, sculptures of metal and clay and wood.  This might seem less than notable, these days, but in the late 70's and until much later--perhaps not until well into the 90's, with the general acceptance of consumerism as a way of life--such things were not so commonplace, and even yet I have rarely glimpsed so many lovely, thoughtful graces on a single tree.  We had gnomes with pipes and mates and children, a blown-glass dragon (or was it really a chicken?), wild reindeer and wonderful birds...bulbs which had rounded out decades...trumpets and french horns and trombones and flutes, drums, disco balls...jesters and wizards and pickles and starbursts...angels (though not of the white-winged variety) and saints (though not of the biblical sort).  There were no Precious Moments but the Imaginary Ones.  Lights of all colors, reflected in every direction, casting rainbowed shadow branches onto the ceiling...things heavy, things hidden, things coming alive among the flashes of light, the falling needles, the fragrant sap...  Each year, everyone received a new decoration to add to the tree.  In this way, we composed our space inside a winter's night.

Outside, stars pierced the sky, making of it a sieve through which we might receive the finer parts of the light beyond.  The slivered, silvered moon danced a million smiling dances with each snowflake, while the coyotes caroled their way along the fence, out past the Oak Grove.  In the distance, the Big Hill rose in pregnant silence against the horizon, to carry on an unspoken dialogue with the wrinkled eaves of the old barn roof.  Close by, in the still crisp air under the pole light, the ginalla whispered gently to the weeping willow, remembering a distant Spring...Paw prints in the snow and puppies at the window reminded us to open the door, return to the fire...

A night went by, and morning came.  Presents were something; we had lots some years, and good ones...but the Presence--and let's be clear on this: I mean not of Christ but of Love, itself--was all that shaped the day.  Sweet music, nourishing food, a challenging puzzle perhaps, something new to build, an invigorating ski trek over fields and through woods to the beaver dam and back....these are my memories of this time of year, when gravity draws us toward our dark Solstice and with some ancient strength hurls us past it into the open arms of the next bright season. I'm thinking of this tonight, partly in giddy anticipation of the snows (okay already: blizzard!!!) tomorrow, and also with gratitude for the birth and life of my mother, and all that she has known, and learned to share, and taught us all.  It's her birthday tomorrow.  Send her some love.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Oh frabjous day, calloo, callay!  Tomorrow I shall ski!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

to sleep on

a layer of sparkling snow holds the rabbit tracks between my boot steps

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One way or another, they're gonna getcha...

I've been thinking lately.  With a certain feeling of impending paradigm shift I wonder: should I pull out of my 401K and pay down my mortgage instead, before the market really crashes and turns my supposed retirement savings into so much oatmeal?  Or should I just leave all that be and bide my time in anticipation of drastic inflation, when I'll be able to pay down the "real" value of my mortgage in surreal amounts (assuming I still have a job)?  Or should I cash out all accounts and relocate to an island nation, or add on to my house, or get a boob job, or install a few solar panels, or adopt a child, or play the Powerball with abandon, or take up hangliding, or start farming medicinal plants, or purchase a home entertainment system, or donate a few truckloads of canned soup to the hungry, or spend a decadent weekend in Monaco, or find a roommate, or get a Hummer, or build a greenhouse, or invest in bricks of gold, or buy a lifetime supply of toilet paper and chocolate and light bulbs, or just make due?  So many things for a working woman to consider.

In the meantime I need to get those damned mealybugs off of my African Violets and cook up some red lentil and coconut stew, among other things.  I've got a couple days off ahead, for which I am more than grateful, and I'm quite sure the economy will get along just fine without me...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Without a Doubt

Within the past week a small miracle has transpired: two pair of bright tiny green leaves sprang forth from my naked fig tree!  I suppose if you'd never seen its beautifully proportioned trunk and sueded branches covered by the deep curves of five-fingered sheltering leaves and tender wrinkled blushing fruits, and then watched it drop every last one to stand completely bare for months, you might not find this tremendously exciting, but to me it's a pretty big deal--and a sweet way to be welcomed home, after some time away.  Life changes so quickly... doesn't it?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


First real snowfall this morning...heavy, wet and sloppy, but who's complaining?  

I took it pretty well, but it came down pretty hard on my lilac... 

At least she cleared the sidewalk.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doin' that stuff that you do

So good to be up early and at home today.  This afternoon I took care of a number of small chores to get the place ready for winter, what with snows coming soon... I untied and unstaked the eggplant, tomatoes and peppers, and carried what remained to the compost heap.   A couple of the eggplants were so huge--like an inch in diameter and seriously 5 feet tall!--and so firmly rooted that I actually had to fork them out of the ground...crazy.  There's still a bit of broccoli to be had and a couple little side cabbages heading up, enough for a small stir-fry or so.  I raked a few leaves around, not really into it, but got them pushed over onto the gardens and empty spaces and what-not.  Secured a few loose cables that had come loose in one of the recent windstorms, coiled my inflexible but lead-free hose, cleaned out one of the clogged gutters (turns out that a five-foot person can actually do this with a six-foot step ladder, you just have to get up onto the step that says "Do Not Stand" or "Danger" or whatever), tidied up the walks, pulled a bunch of dead things (leaving a choice few for winter architecture) and migrated a number of sun-loving planter-bound annuals who have been hanging on, through this unseasonable warmth, into the house.  (If I can keep them alive until next Spring, I might feel a little better about having killed both of my two year olds--my lovely rosemary and bay laurel--but probably not).  I also decided, finally, to dig a hole in the northern fencerow for my witch alder, an enchanting little shrub of magnificent blossom, attractive geometry and remarkable hue, who I was lucky enough to get at half-price and spent a good time picking out from the crowd, but far too long a time deciding where to put in the ground... I must tell you, there's something truly poignant about placing a once-cared-for and now-dried-up tree into a cold damp hole on a warm winter day, as the sun is going down, while your radiohead out of nowhere starts playing "Love Me Tender".  It really did bring a tear to mine eye. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to get another one next year, but the fact remains that I starved that little beauty, a real vibrant life of a few years, and yes I know it's not like I put a bullet through its head but really, where's the respect?  Where is the love?  I don't know.  I can only hope that there's some life left in it, yet.  And apparently my inner voice isn't all that worried about it, seeing as only few minutes later I'd already moved on, to knockin' me out wich ya voodoo.  (Huh.  I wonder if I still have that.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Best Seats In The House

Well, this year's show was a little strange... The story was rather loosely strung together--a bit of a stretch, you might say--and having not read the synopsis beforehand, I found myself genuinely perplexed about who and what was going on, much of the time.  While there were some outstanding effects (including a life-size steam engine, complete with live sparks flying from the wheelset), thrilling spectacles (like synchronized corde lisse, two stories up and illumined in white), magnificent illusions (such as Earth-shaking giant feet up to knees the height of the ceiling), as well as some good old merriment (larger than life pies, cakes and ice cream, dancing wildly), fantastic puppetry (The Terminator, fighting...a swarm of bees? with fire) and beautiful imagery (white sharks and luminescent jellyfish swimming the ocean night), overall the symbolism lacked the gravitas and perhaps duende of prior years. The music, however, was phenomenally good. And so were our seats, possibly the best I've had there, not least because of sharing a bale with two good friends, wrapped in each others' blankets and arms, warm as can be... It's not entirely a miracle that we found each other--one could argue that it was inevitable, I suppose--but after spending a good twenty minutes or so trailing around and surveying the scene(s), it was no small delight that I chanced to turn and find them standing by, having freshly arrived, nowhere at all near to the spot where we had intended to meet (exactly.)... Lovely.

It was a busy and energizing weekend, after a long and draining week.  I rolled out of bed early on Saturday morning and drove a good couple hours on the road south and home again, in pursuit of a long sought-after item... It was beautiful weather for driving, with bright sun wringing the last drops of color from the grasses and oaks of the Mississippi river valley, flooding my heart with memories of the savanna, while eagles overhead called to me to come up for air... In the afternoon, a session of Shiatsu set me up straight for the first time in weeks, and I spent the remainder of the day channeling the flow of my Chi into a costume design (having serendipitously found exactly what I needed at Savers after work on Friday).  After losing myself in the mirror for a few hours, I emerged transformed: half dead, half living, split down the middle, the effect of which was somewhat fascinating as well as slightly creepy:

It turned out to be an impressive costume year, giving rise to any number of ooohs and aaaahs and cheers, the most raucous of these ensuing upon the entry of Lego man, accompanied by the King of the Wild Things and their daughter Flavor Flav, but my personal favorite was--by far--my sister's Piñata, painstakingly constructed of what could only have been thousands of inch-wide strips of bright crepe paper, each hand-rolled into a precious curl and then meticulously glued, one by one, in life-saver stripes, onto a bodysuit constructed from a pair of sweatpants and a hoody sewn together in perfect alignment, topped with a pair of uncannily proportioned yellow ears and a cute yellow snout, then finished off by her cute little roomie, in the classic sweat socks and the polka-dotted birthday hat, with the stripey beating stick to match.  Seriously, she must have put more hours into that outfit than I burned looking for a new sofa on craigslist--all time well spent, because her getup kicked ass in a way that few people are willing to even consider trying (much less capable of actually doing), and my new sofa (for which I went all the way there and back again the next day) is so totally fabulously exactly right, in every aspect, that it completely changed the character of my entire place within minutes of its arrival.  What a stroke of luck, and what an enormous comfort, literally. Yay!!

On another amazingly fortunate note, I found out over the weekend that my father had a very close call with a fallen tree while driving home during last week's windstorm--a near miss which went over the car but still crumpled the hood, shattered the windshield and dented the roof, after which he, in true Dad fashion, drove his beloved and still mechanically sound but now totaled Volvo wagon the last few miles home.  Holy.  I seem to recall saying out loud to myself, on my way home that night, that "I am really not at all interested in death by falling trees".  I'll stand by that statement, and I thank the lucky stars above for those split seconds (and Happy Birthday, btw.  We love you.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dead Among the Living

Maybe I'm just a bit twitchy lately, but things are getting a little creepy around here...  Last night I dreamed I was adrift on my own sturdy raft, in dim waters, when quite suddenly I found myself floating at the end of an untethered dock, at some distance through the cold night from my vessel, a seeming source of power.  To lose it, or to go after, and risk being drownd by the downward drag of my garments?  With no feeling of certainty I felt I must follow. I slipped in and began to swim, when I perceived the raft moving toward me, propelled by none other than my self in shadow, paddling with sure speed...yet as the craft drew closer I saw that it was not I who approached, but a black-robed witch, wearing tall and wide-rimmed hat and wielding a long stick which she deftly turned out of her last stroke to extend to my accepting hand, pulling me safely from the black waters in which I would otherwise have perished.  I climbed aboard, and it was then I learned that she was no witch, but my sister.  (And the dream continued.)

On waking this morning, I found myself thinking about Paul Wellstone, for no particular reason more than that I was singing to myself a sweet tune by John Lennon and wondering what the fuck is wrong with everybody...and then, while I was on the way to work a short time later, a voice on the radio spoke his name, and of his death--not that there's anything out of the ordinary about such an occurrence, mind you.  (No black cats crossing any paths, either, just the regular old grey variety.)

It's not around the house alone, where the whispering creaks and groans of the settling cold assume a new dimension, but out in the lot, the hall, the stairwell... Is it the just waning light that plays upon mine eyes?  But a chill wind in my ears? Or does the veil indeed grow thinner?  This I can not tell, only wonder.  I really can't say I see dead people but I am rather more interested in this aspect of America's favorite Celtic holiday than I am in sexy nurse costumes.  Shall we know death, or just fuck it?  If you know what I mean.  I think it's probably worth at least a couple days' consideration.

With all that and more in mind, come Sunday, I would like to honor the passing of The Year I Spent Inside, the bones I buried and the maggots that ate my flesh, giving rise to winged creatures of compound eyes; I want to acknowledge the end of life and the advent of death, not black or obscured but of full color, of chrysanthemums and bonfires, of ancient teeth as bright as the sun; I turn, for guidance, to those who have been bold enough to lead the way; I hope to welcome the rest of the Fall, of the passage through darkness toward the gentle light of Winter; I look forward to squash and fungus and homebrew and roasts, early nights spent stirring pots, playing chords, stoking fires, reading stories; I wish for blankets of deep rest and everlasting change, everlasting change...and I realize that I am going to kick the bucket, sell the farm and give up the ghost sooner or later. Wear your masks, lanterns lit, and recognize the dead among the living, living among the dead.  Happy Halloween, y'all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Company

Oh my invisible friends.  What has been requested of me, of late, is tantamount to being asked to find three needles in three haystacks, without knowing whether there is one in each (maybe they're all in the one I'm not looking in?) while at the same time sorting each and every piece of straw by length and width, and then (assuming the needles have been found) having to painstakingly stitch it all together into a magnificent straw house--before the snow flies, mind you--in order that it might be made available for blowing down by something big and bad... But hey, lucky me--everyone's shitting bricks!  Meanwhile there are no bales left for bedding, the eggs are all cracked or stolen, there are snakes in the grass, the cat's away, the cow's in the corn and the rest of the animals are on the loose.  Sound familiar to anyone?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Honey Do

I forgot to mention that I got my first look inside the hive last weekend.

Despite my hopes and promises to share "all things bee" here, I neither immersed nor versed myself in bee culture this season, which by most accounts flew by all too quickly.  However, I did spend a fair amount of time just hanging out with the bees, in close proximity, which I found to be a stimulating, fascinating, relaxing and peaceful pastime. Having no allergy or other aversion to "bee-ing" in close range, I felt comfortable and un-threatened within just a few feet of the hive even when standing in their line of flight, a pleasantly energizing experience.  On a couple visits a single guard gave me a buzz, just to check things out, but only once did I feel the need to flee, and that was more than likely unwarranted.  I'm really not afraid to get stung--I have on occasion even welcomed bee stings, odd as that might sound--but I'm very not interested in finding out what it feels like to raise the ire of an entire hive.

As I understand it, this particular breed of bee, the Minnesota Hygienic, has been specifically selected for it's docile and tidy nature as well as its resistance to disease and pathogens, including the Varroa mite which has wreaked havoc on colonies around the world for decades or longer.  I'm not sure whether or not this breed has also demonstrated strength against the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder which has presented a more recent, and more disturbing, threat to the global bee population.  It is not really clear to me whether or not CCD might be a form of strike by these long-depended-on (as in we humans smoking hives from the time we could climb trees) and sometime-abused (as in commercial beekeepers trucking colonies all year round like so many migrant workers) and unarguably invaluable pollinators who its estimated by the UDSA are at least partly responsible for one out of three mouthfuls eaten by us persons, as their sort of way of saying "Fuck you" to the Man, in solidarity with all the other insect species that humans have eradicated from this life-loving planet in our subconsciously genocidal way.  Likewise, while I do indeed feel that this vanishing is yet another proverbial canary (only hoping its song might be missed) I have no sense of the degree to which any or all bees might be aware of this, although I have to say that they seem to be pretty on top of their game.  (Also, I am still in the dark as to what relationship any of this might have to alien-human relations or Moulder and Scully's lovechild.)

Anyway, the little complex in my backyard has been under the dedicated care of a colleague of mine, who took up beekeeping last year with two hives, adding a dozen or so more this year.  I've learned any number of fascinating facts from her, most of which I cannot recall with any eptitude (and yes I know that's not a wurd) but all of which have contributed to my feeling that we humans could learn a lot from bees.  Take, for one, following a Queen, not of the Elizabeth or Mary sort but more like one big giant mama.  It's a pretty good idea that a lot of sensible people have endorsed.  Caring for the brood, placing the hive's health above individual ambitions, spending all day flying around and being gingerly attentive to the sexual organs of other living beings, making sweet and wildly delicious food in abundant amounts, constructing magnificent architecture to house every member of the community, sharing information through dancing, knowing the way home without fail... These are all things I can get behind.

So, seeing the hive with the lid off was pretty cool.  Basically a "traditional" hive consists of a stack of boxes which are open to each other, each containing a number of frames upon which the bees construct their comb, which is made of wax that's extruded by the female workers and then carefully manipulated into near-perfect geometry.  (Imagine doing that with your mouth!)  Incidentally, the male drones don't lift a leg to help; they're just there to produce the brood.  The comb is built and filled from the top down, with some of it being used to house babies and some to store food.  As the comb fills up, more boxes are added, maybe once or twice during the summer, to give the bees room to expand their operation.  My hive turned out to be a pretty productive one, and ended up consisting of two large boxes and three smaller ones.  A large box might hold 100 lbs of honey, a smaller one might hold 80 lbs, full.  My whole hive wasn't full of honey, but I think the estimated take was around 200 lbs.  I'm looking forward to getting a taste... oddly, I haven't really had any honey for the past year or so, having not bought a jar since I moved into this house.  (This wasn't exactly intentional and actually strikes me as a little strange; although I've been relying on agave syrup as my go-to tea amendment and occasional cooking companion for some time, I've always loved honey and have in the past relied rather heavily on it as a source of sweetness, as well as beauty.)

The keeper used a smoker to keep the bees calm, but it seemed to me (as an onlooker) that they were relatively unconcerned by her, or my, presence.  She wore a hat with face netting, as a matter of course, but I stood nearly as close and was not at all bothered by bees in the nose (could have had something to do with the sedative effect of the Fall weather).  She set the boxes on the ground, one by one and loosely stacked, freeing frames with a small prybar (honey is sticky stuff) so that they could be removed and examined.  After disassembling and evaluating the hive, she took away two of the boxes along with a good portion of the honeyed comb, leaving behind the original three-box stack, with enough food stores to see 30-40 thousand bees through the Winter.  Even so, the hive is likely to incur a few losses before Spring, when they'll be provided supplemental food to get them through the days between their stirring and there being an adequate supply of nectar in the neighborhood.  Until then, they'll still be active, just in a low-energy mode.

What else?  I've left out a lot.  Like how gorgeous they are: beautiful soft-haired and almond-eyed stripey wonders who move in patterns barely discernible to my naked eye (as evidenced by several photos I've captured of their seemingly synchronized movement) and with a grace that's both light as flight and heavy as honey, if I might put it that way.  Also, the way they smell--and by this I don't mean their incredible olfactory sensibilities but the stink of their stack, which is not entirely unlike a not entirely unclean and yet totally funktasticly soiled sock, dipped in fairy piss and kissed by a horny toad, or something like that.  (It's the kind of thing that makes some people sick, if that gives you a clue.)  Or the sound of them, cutting through the sky, with a mind on the sun, every moving moment.  And that they have helped root me to this place, as if it's not only possible but pretty much imperative to find a route home, from just about damn near anywhere, and once you get there, to spread the ancient and ever-present wurd by dancing yr ass off.

I schmokes mine pipe und I vatches dose bees,
Und I laughs till mine schtomack goes schplit,
Ven I see dem go schtrait for Hans Brinkerhoff’s flow’rs
Und nefer suck Yakob’s vone bit.

Eugene Secor, Songs of Beedom
(Cited by Ribbands, 1953, P. 184)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wild winds tonight, and fierce.  I don't usually feel too vulnerable driving around in a Volvo station wagon, heavy as all get-out, but tonight my windshield actually said "maybe" while I rode the waves home, watching signs bend to and fro, passing fallen branches, and I have to admit I was relieved to make it home and find everything safe and sound.  Despite the insistent gusts, even the garage, with its slightly cock-eyed support system, offered not a hint of weakness.  The bee hive remains tightly covered and my house lets be heard not even the whisper of a whistle through a window, much less a groan or shake.

Arriving late, I stepped out in the dark to secure the hive, at the bequest of its keeper.  I grabbed a large wedge of rock from the doorstep--still don't know from whence, or whom, that came--but on placement it seemed too light, so I traced the curving path through the garden, angling here and arching there, to fetch a heavier stone.  What a lovely feeling it was, in the damp and the lateness and the pressing wind, to feel my feet fall just where they should, as if treading a well-worn path through the woods.  This I love, such knowing.

I've been busy lately, unduly burdened not by work but by my job, which is not only keeping me up late at night but is also keeping me up late at night.  I'm not going to get into it here, so let it suffice to say that the way things are shaping up, I'll be lucky to get my bedroom painted before my next birthday...  I'd hoped to move in there by the one-year mark, but time is getting tighter and the weekends are filling fast.  My job is demanding travel and, in other news, my brother is losing his house and home of many years, so there will be much sorting and packing and moving and leaving to do, in the weeks ahead, before Thanksgiving.

Here at my humble abode, I've for the past few weeks been quietly taking stock of the past year.  While little has changed on the surface of the interior, much has been set in motion outside...Perennially, I've introduced a robust old rhubarb, a cluster of tenacious asparagus, a thriving peach, an ambitious plum, a modest currant and several assertive strawberries, as well as many species of herbs and natives and others, both humble and showy, among the residents.  Room has been set aside for bee forage, for fruit and nut shrubs, for an expanded vegetable garden and for mixed fencerows and corner pockets, next season.  More recently, my neighbor felled the young ash tree which shaded the southwest corner of my yard, clearing a sunny space for the cherry I envisioned there.

Now, as the daylight wanes, I turn my attentions inward again...with the shift of the light (set back coming soon.) I begin to change my habits of food and of rest, of rising and setting... Already my heart is filled with dreams of falling snow, mounds of pale soft quiet and the rush of my waxed weight on each downward slope, yet to climb again... There's still a way to go before that, though--two fat pumpkins sit in my entryway, awaiting the knife, and All Hallows Eve lies just ahead.  It looks as though the Bare Bones show is right on the mark this year, as usual, and boy am I long overdue for a reality check of the other-worldly kind...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Right Where We Belong

"No.  No, they can not watch the show from backstage.  Wait a minute...That's it!  That's what's been missing from the show...That's what we need!  More frogs and dogs and and bears and chickens and...and whatever!  You're not gonna watch the're gonna be in the show! C'mon, everybody!!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chopping Broccoli strikes me tonight that I must've been pretty checked out for a while there, seeing as I've got a couple really lovely little heads of broccoli going to flower in my modest garden, which I've been walking past daily for how long now? and these are the second heading (the first I picked at almost peak and then let turn brown, nargh.)... Granted, I do appreciate the way their flowers grace the garden, and I have snapped off at least a couple pieces to munch on the way to work, but seriously--where in the heck have I been??  I love broccoli!!  Nuts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crescent Moon: Winds of Change

Through the normal course of things, I chanced today upon this modest rhyme, after being greeted this morning by a colleague bearing a heavy heart, and the news of two deaths--one expected, one not, both quite tragic in their way--in one extended family, in one day.

A spider web pulled tight between two stones
With nothing left but autumn leaves to catch
Is maybe a winter sign, or the thin blue bones
Of a hare picked by ants.  A man can attach 

Meanings enough to the wind when his luck is out,
But, having stumbled into this season of grief,
I mean to reflect on the life that is here and about
In the fall of the leaves–not on the dying leaf. 

Something more tough, reliable and stark
Carries the blood of life toward a farther spring–
Something that lies concealed in the soundless dark
Of burr and pod, in the seeds that hook and sting.

I have learned from these that love which endures the night
May smolder in outward death while the colors blaze,
But trust my love–it is small, burr-coated, and tight.
It will stick to the bone. It will last through the autumn days. 

- Winter Sign, by Loren Eiseley

There is, also, Fall, who this time has chosen to caress with warmth our living skins, before we softly slip them into the long sleeves of our shortening days...The wind is generous tonight; he stirs the pot, that the Moon might sup, and that both might rest by morning.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Would You Eat This?

I'm guessing you probably wouldn't.  What kind of person would look at something all split and browning and puckered and think hey, let's give that a try?  Well, I would, and I'm glad I did, because that melon, which spontaneously cracked open after a week in my fridge and which I then left untouched for another four long weeks, daily observing its demise with a certain amount of dismay accompanied by the vague feeling that this melon--which faced me at eye level every morning and night as if to say "your Summer is over, and what have you done?"; which I knew to be the end of a chain of events circling the last few years (from my innocent dreams of cultivating such sumptuous roundness to the gathering of many seeds to the promise of stout magical seedlings to their delicate struggle against a season of cold to a little taste of magic frozen possibility to the coming of another Spring to my mother's continuing commitment to a Summer of perfect growing conditions to a bumper crop to the hands that picked it to the day it cracked to the weeks it gently pulled away) and yet was unable to truly appreciate, even with the awareness that it could not have been brought into existence without me, in some way--this melon was seemingly less a pleasure to be enjoyed than a manifestation of the unrealized potential of several months of my own growing season, as well as being the largest representative of a very small harvest now going to waste in my kitchen though I was not so long ago capable of handling I was a little skeptical about cutting it in half this afternoon but thought what the hell.  As it turned out, it's still completely perfect inside, cracks and scars and all, not merely edible but actually good, the way a melon should be, and moreover it is the only crisply deliciously sweetly juicy thing that could possibly make any kind of sense today.  So let that be a lesson to me: there are plenty worse things than having a cracked melon.  (Yes, I downed the whole thing.)


In other news, I made a very late decision to stay at home today so that I could devote a little attention to my lately neglected yard and gardens.  I'm glad I did; the simple routine of mowing the lawn got me looking around at all the digging I've done here and all the little plants I've put in (some, not so small...the Datura could seriously cover a queen-size mattress, at least) and I realized that--though I might have done more--I've made a reasonable amount of progress here during the past eleven months.  Among my other small efforts this afternoon, I filled in a few deep-ish holes in the lawn and moved the last of the shit pile onto the dirt pile--oh and by the way, a few weeks ago I redistributed what was left of the previous owner's "pumpkin patch" into a new bed formation and laid down new paths...all worked out pretty nicely.  Also, after nearly a year of our not having really crossed paths, I finally met my southern neighbor--a nice simple bachelor--who pulled up while I was out by the garage, moving manure.  We chatted for a while and I learned a few new things about my place, among them that there were at one time three apple trees in my backyard which were all struck by lightning (presumably not at the same time), and that this entire neighborhood was once a dump, which (so he says) is why such oddities as mug handles and marbles and the like keep turning up in the gardens around here.  (That may explain some things, but I suspect it was gnomes who left the tiny green treasure chest I found in the garden today, discreetly snuggled into the side of a mound.)  I also found out that his family has a cabin very close to where I grew up....Small world.  Huh.


It's Sunday morning now.  It's been a while since I spent a morning out in the felt good to sow seeds--rye & vetch on the new garden beds and around the hive, crimson and red clover on the mound in the center--and to rake them under the cover of loose soil...I just realized that those may have been the first actual seeds I've put in the ground here...oh, no--there was the pumpkin, sole gesture of hope, still blossoming freely... Well, anyway, I'm headed out now, to join family and friends for a barn dance, up north.  Enjoy the day.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Retraction: Our Only Hope

First of all, I've always been a lot more into the little things, like Ewoks.  Secondly, who leaves out Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt, or frozen Solo, among others?  Were there even any Storm Troopers?  And where in The Hell was Obi-Wan??

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

(We're All) Just Biding Time Until The Next Big Thing

Thinking of my brother, who's fallen on hard times, and sending this out to those among you who once had, still have, or ever really, really wanted a big box of Star Wars toys...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Cat I Called Haiku

Rainbow 'round the moon--
Vishnu climbs over the fence
to find me at home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Moon: Of the Balance

Gentle readers, I've been away; we have some serious catching up to do.  I'm afraid I have rather too much on my mind tonight to attempt putting any thought into words, but I didn't want to let the day pass without giving some small token of my attention to the Fall Equinox, which is occurring this year under the auspices of a full moon...I hope this day finds you well, wrapped lovingly in the arms and legs of change, and ready to go out and kick some Autumnal ass.  Peace.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Evening Out

Something rather miraculous has happened.

Actually, a few things.

Firstly.  Last night, despite my being stupidly feverish and dehydrated as well as generally sick and tired on top of partially retarded, I prepared, completed and subsequently stored away three entire and large batches of soup, all at the same time (though not exactly simultaneously, they came together within a very close frame of time).  I must tell you I could not possibly done this without my (previously only suspected but now proven to be) indispensable Pots & Pans, with which I could not possibly be more enamored or, at a very minimum, happy.  They kick ass.  Not too long ago I was thinking maybe they were too much, too many, just another Mark of the Beast, yet another yuppy tattoo on my Volvo-driving ass, but now that I've had the chance to put...oh, what was it? five or six of them to use at the same time (I don't even have that many burners.), I can only congratulate myself on being--if and only and even if a complete and utter failure at practically everything else in recent memory--keenly, prudently, awesomely good at getting really amazingly fine stuff, at a damn good deal.  That one stockpot, the one that was probably just an indulgence, the one I loved so much just because of how big it was and how great it looked next to the smaller one?  Totally could not have even attempted to begin to consider making stock for three soups without it.  As I said, indispensable.  Also it's sorta nice to know I've got at least a few things that will last me the rest of my life (assuming no hijacked planes crash into my kitchen and melt all that steel...). 

Secondly, over the course of the past few days, some of the Golden Treasures have been slowly and surely ripening, changing skins from firm green brushed by shy yellow to sunny orange-streaked gold.  I might be dreaming, but even a couple that were completely green seem now to have glowing, curly tips.

Thirdly, I think I may have, at long last--without any recipe to guide me--managed to achieve a Zucchini Soup which is not entirely unlike my Mom's indisputably delicious and classic version.  Just zucchini and onions, garlic, a few herbs, salt, pepper and stock, simmered and then pureed.  Add sauteed mushrooms, crumbled bacon, croutons and parmesan... pretty darn not bad at all.

Fourthly, after a few heaping family-style servings of love sauce with pain balls last week, coming home with a doggie bag full of low-grade fever, sniffling and chest cough, followed upon my return to work by a few treatments of good ol' mainstream corporate cynicism--and despite my weary hacking, The Job twisting my ears, the daily longing to come home to comfort food on the stove and some fluff on the tele--I've felt more sweetly at peace in the past few...hours? in a way that I have not for such a dear, long time, that it's actually got me worrying that maybe I'm just seeing the old slide show of my memories of home, for the last time, before they flee my poisoned mind forever...  Oh come's just Fall, you ripe nut.  The air is cooling, the light is fading and I've got this urge to wear sweaters and snow pants, get myself a nice slow-cooker and start listening to some new records.  The Equinox is so close, you can almost taste it, can't you?  Ah, September, drifting like a leaf on the river...

Lastly, it's not yet 10:30, and I am going to bed, for not the first time in the past week.  Sweet dreams, all, I hope to see each and every one of you soon, for real.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

I think Vishnu missed me, as evidenced by the decapitated squirrel in my backyard and the dainty pile of guts and puke left on the sidewalk.  He was on the back step when I opened my door last night, in the cold rain, plaintively calling for me to let him in, claws reaching toward the screen, and I--wondering at this rather uncharacteristic behavior only later--did not stoop to greet him or even utter an acknowledgment, but only turned and closed the door behind me.  I might have shown a little more respect, I suppose, to the essence of all beings...

Vishnu and Lakshmi on Shesha Naga

A few things have changed at home since I've been away.  The tomatoes, which were tenuously staked but nonetheless thriving, have mostly toppled over due to what I can only imagine must have been a rather heavy downpour.  They're still covered in ripening green fruit, though much has rotted on the vine and those spaztastic tree-devils can't seem to get their teeth into enough of it (as expected. but grrr.).  Cabbages are ready for picking (harvested two heads of broccoli, also, the day I left).  The eggplants are now neck-high on me, with leaves as big as my head, still covered in striking purple blooms and setting their dark little fruits, some of the Japanese sort and some round and lavender streaked beauties of a variety I can't remember...not sure they'll fully ripen, but they're a joy in any case. The datura is sprawling like crazy, so large and so covered in pods and blossoms that I can hardly believe it's only one plant.  Blackberry lilies are popping their bright little heads open and the delicate bells of Korean Beauty clematis are cascading over the fence.  The sweet basil I lopped for pesto a few weeks ago has completely bushed out again, while the lemon basil is sending up towering spires to tantalize the bees (who are nowhere to be seen on this dark and chilly day, though I notice the hive has once again increased in stature...full of honey, I would hope).  As it happened, my house-sitter made the kind mistake of picking all of my bumper crop of Golden Treasure peppers while they were still green--a rather laughable turn of events, though something of a disappointment...On the upside, they've been put to good use and I'm looking forward to some good home-cooking in return, a welcome offering and I daresay one I've not received before, the gift of food which I grew that was prepared by someone who's not a family member (could that be?  hmm.).  I swear the peach and plum have both grown another foot higher in the last week, thanks in no small part to someone actually watering them every day.  The Mission fig, a recent addition to my indoor garden, along with a Meyer lemon, isn't looking so hot, but both are still holding their sweet treats, for now.  (I've had three or four so far, of those figs.  Can't say they're the tastiest I've ever had, but I'll be working on that.  Still, yum, and wow.)

Awaiting me in the kitchen this evening are umpteen ears of corn, to be shaved and made into corn-potato chowder, green (tomatillo, jalapeno, cilantro) corn soup, and red pepper-corn soup, all recipes learned and loved from Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens.  Also, on the table, piled high upon the screen lifted from my over-sink window, is a harvest of Hopi red dye amaranth, chock full of gorgeous, tiny, jewel-like seeds, chock full of nutrition, wonder, and ancient wisdom.  Hopefully I can figure out some way to get them out of there and into jars (and thanks to my sister for thinking to shake them out of their velvety ripeness and into her palms) and from there into cereal, salad, pancakes, what have we.  Oh, yeah, and zucchini and fresh (giant, this year) onions, for Z soup; Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes; enchanting Ha-Ogen melon, and a Cream of Saskatchewan too; patty-pans, sun-burst and pale green; black eggplants; chervil and garlic chives and dill... these are just what I brought home with me, just a small portion of the gardens my parents tend, to do with what I can.  Best be getting busy...

Oh yeah, and I was on vacation last week, seven days on the shore of the Great Lake called Superior, otherwise known as Gichigami. I took a few spectacular photos, which I'll be posting just as soon as I can sort through them.  Also have a few from the gardens and home front this year which I might get around to sharing soon...guess there was that whole Paris thing, also... How time flies. Hope you're enjoying the fruits of the season.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cricket Moon: Close to Over

There are times at work when I feel like I'm being slowly yet expertly chased by Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, only instead of flashlights and gumption, they're equipped with blueteeth and blackberries, and they're actually cannibalistic zombie clones, on Abilify...  Listening to the corn syrupy-sweet voice of someone who is talking, to you, among others, about something you did, and then neatly pauses to insert "we" rather than stooping so far as to utter your name: this is the experience of my day.  "I don't think we need you for anything else", as if anyone had to tell me... I know I've set myself up for some of this--me and my shattered self-esteem plunging into a deep sea of despair from which I could not surface or even so much as rise to a professional level--but after ten long years of putting in (with all due respect) a hell of a lot more effort than most--yes, I did win my beloved snowboard on eBay at work, back when the dollar was still worth something, but no, I don't spend half my day gabbing with my family and friends or trying to figure out how to copy and paste--it's hard not to take the rather broad cold shoulder I've been getting at my job lately like a slap in the face.  A hard and clammy slap, telling me that every bit of energy I've expended here--oh, and I know, yes I know, it's all for profit, not for good--making anything work better for anyone, learning bottom up and inside out, putting others needs ahead of my own (yes, I have actually done so) and becoming intimately familiar with the unthinkable details of miles upon miles of heartless lines of data, all this was worse than for nought.  As much as I'd like to think that I've gained some valuable skills and accomplished some good deeds, all I've really done is given my time, my health and my hopes to a corporation, in return for a sum of money.  Perhaps at some point I may have thought this job might one day support a family, but in fact it has only sucked me dry.  To quote one of CM's old songs: now I know the price of signing contracts.  I am actually sick and truly tired of having conversations with disinterested parties who office-casually annihilate my new-born sense of well-being, and I guess I really don't have either the wherewithal or the smarts or the stomach to find a way of being okay with spending any more of my life-giving days on this magical planet in an increasingly non-cooperative, uncompassionate, uncreative, anti-poetic and counter-evolutionary environment.  You don't have to add value if you're doing something that matters.  There's no such thing as a win-win if you're not competing with anyone, and you can take the whole fucking project offline for all I care.  Sure I'm a team player, but my sport is not dodge-ball.  The bottom line is that I am not on board.  I'll be the stewardess in the parachute.  And I'll be the one who jumps at 40,000 feet, and dies from exposure and lack of oxygen... Fuck, it's Tuesday.  Hey kids: what happened to that girl in pigtails?

(Here I would entreat you to spare me the concession of adding a disclaimer to this post about how good I've really got it, you sanctimonious sons of bitches...)

On another, entirely different note, the moon is full tonight, the palest hazy green glow floating in an ocean of sky... It's the height of cricket season, the air is dry and cool, and it's moving real slow... it's that time of year when everyone is wearing summer like their favorite pair of underwear--comfortable as can be, but close to the end.  Driving home well after sunset with the windows down, top open, old motor mount back and shifting smoothly, a night like tonight can make even a little woman like me feel like getting out from behind the wheel and taking a long, easy ride on the back of a bike...and god I hate to say it but a smoke would be so good, right about now.  Fuck, is it Tuesday?

Well, yes, it is.  And it's a little after ten now, and I am nowhere near to winding down for the day.  I have a mind to take myself on a good long drive, find a grassy little spot by the river, drink a couple beers and fall asleep on the ground, with an eye on the moon... Is there something I'm supposed to be doing tomorrow?  Well, yes, there is.  But I'm asking myself tonight, does that really matter at all?  Well?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday's on the Phone to Monday

I fingered the keys as we talked about what was going wrong (last night it finally dawned on me that it's not a wiring problem, it's the ignition) and I handed them to him, being just a little bit careful not to touch hands...I crossed the street and caught a bus in seconds flat, enjoyed a relatively brief and pleasant ride in spite of large woman in Bud Light flip-flops hacking loogey on floor, took a small detour--I guess I should known something was coming when the bus driver showed me a whole page of reroutes--and was dropped at a corner not far from my destination, in high spirits for a Monday morning.  A few minutes later I arrived at my desk, ready for the day, and realized that something was missing: no computer.  I'd left it at home, despite giving it the eye over coffee and telling myself not to forget it.  I looked around for a replacement; no go.  I'd rather have my own, in any case... Caught the train and another bus, hopped off a couple blocks from home and then it hit me that something else was missing: no keys.  I'd handed them over that morning, even after considering slipping them off the ring, since I might need them or should at least have them.  Good thinking there, yeah.  Okaaay, what now?  It would take hours to go after them and there's still no spare outside, no extra in the garage... But wait!  I left one window open today, I know it... Fetched the stepladder from the garage and checked the bedroom first, just in case... not surprised to find it locked.  Kitchen, also locked; sunroom, locked around; all the rest, likewise, locked.  Of course.  So I turned the last the corner and made my way through the towering sunflowers and shrubby weeds to lean my ladder toward the little bathroom window...Slipped off my maryjanes and climbed up, pulled down the screen and tossed one shoe in, followed by the other (I must say there was something so oddly sweet in their muffled thuds as they hit the floor...), put one leg in and back out again...headfirst, I guess, the only way...with just enough room to turn around, just enough of a hand-hold to slip my legs out from under me, I stepped down a few easy moments later and found myself safely at home, just in time for lunch.  Oh Happy Monday!  Guess I'd best be off to work, now...

Put Me in Pigtails

"We need more girls who know how to braid."  A few words of encouragement to a younger one who was practicing close to us had started me thinking about it.  The S curve: snake in the grass, cutting turns in powder, riding waves, half of infinity... I examined myself in the mirror for quite some time before I finally decided to make the part and put myself in pigtails, for what I think must be the first time since I was a young girl.  It reminded me that I used to braid quite a bit, for a while, and rather well--yarns and strings, lines and locks, mine and others.  I'd forgotten the pleasure of it, the twist and pull of different directions drawn together into a single trajectory, snugly wound yet loosely hanging, separate yet inseparable, if only temporarily.  I remember also, fondly and clearly, a lovely braid in particular which I wove of a friend's long tresses while we waited for a wedding on the June grass, his red and white gingham shirt, the two lines meeting and becoming one...A sweet afternoon.  So was today's, in the way that can sometimes happen when one drops in, unexpected.  I was in the neighborhood, and wanting an opinion about the new look, and hoping for a swim, and thinking of borrowing a few things, not really knowing who if anyone might be home...Why not just stop by?  And with that one move--or perhaps two, with the pigtails--the whole course of the day took a decidedly happy turn: hours spent gabbing; an hour of half-skinny dipping in the warm and cooling waters of the Saint Croix as the sun sank over the ridge, passing yellow to orange; yummy bites on the patio, before heading back; more talk and a sofa each; then home to bed...and now I'm up too late again, I see, but it's good to be here, good to wear braids, good to have a little sister... Good night.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Long, relaxing day today.  Massage in the morning; café au lait, zucchini fritters and mango in the afternoon.  A walk to the river and upstream, in the evening, sharing the parkway with hundreds of bikers who approached casually, chatting in pleasant ways. Fungi abound on the boulevards, and yellow jewelweed is in bloom.  Across the Franklin Avenue bridge, hundreds of spiders are weaving their webs, with the moon close to full upon the river, and not too much wind.  Under the oaks on soft grass I ran for a while, in the fading light, despite my knocking knees, and thus I have arrived at home again, Two-Hearted, enjoying the harvest of seasons past as I withdraw from nicotine: yarrow, raspberry leaf, sage, mullein, red clover, kinnikinnick. A nice blend.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ante Up

I'll see you, Wednesday, and I'll raise you...

Friday, August 13, 2010


White Pine, planted by my grandparents, taken down by the wind:

And one a bit smaller, taken down by who knows what:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ah, Friday

A MAJOR adjustment today and then Otis Redding on the Sugar Shack, enough to make a person want to roll back the sun roof on a hot summer's day and drive the length of Lake Street all the way home, all right with the world.

Two weeks into my spinal reclamation effort, and what a profound difference.

The crickets are singing, the last of the tomatoes are now semi-firmly staked, little bro is on the way with microbrews from WI, and then we're headed up north to take things easy for a couple days.  I'm told there are melons on the vine, pickles in the making and squashes galore, and much more, I'm sure... I'll report back on my return.  Until then, good luck in your endeavors.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Plants are returning to my consciousness.  Tonight I begin work on a formula for my spine, which has given me a run for my money today, if you'll pardon the expression, and take inspiration from these companions in time:

Motherwort, Obedient Plant, Japanese Painted Fern (and Toad Lily petal)

and the spider returns tonight, to weave again...

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I guess waking up every morning feeling like I've been hit by a bus is just a normal and necessary part of the experience of reclaiming my spine, but I must say it's really not the best part of my day... Despite a rough start, though, I had a mostly pain-free, relaxing and good long workday on Saturday, in which  I: 
blackened my toast, twice
watered the plants
pulled some crabgrass
trimmed the tree
repaired my busted gate
trellised 3 clematis, with cuttings of maple (stolwijk gold still lives!)
discovered a new colony of fantastic fungi
planned 2 fence plantings
untangled and rewound my trailing morning glories
came up with 2 great ideas involving windows and art
kneeled in a swarm of little biting ants
took out the compost
dumped an entire bag of trash on the compost heap
saw a butterfly poop
got a squirt of lime juice in my third eye
concocted a cocktail of lilac mead, white brandy, lime, nasturtiums and lemon basil flowers (with a couple borage blossoms, for good measure)
joined sis and hub for a swim at the waterpark
rode the big slide
dined on amazingly delicious comfort food not grown or made by myself or anyone I know (mmmm...Brasa)
spent some quality time with my newly tuned piano
put myself on ice
slept with ease through the night...almost...  

Sunday, I:
slept in...sort of
dreamed strange dreams
ate guacamoleees for breakfast
contemplated moving to Hawaii
found nothing I was looking for on craigslist
mowed the lawn
fixed the lawn mower
saved big money at Menards
packed $88 of groceries into one little bag ?!
sipped sage brew on ice, with a twist of lemon, quite nice
missed the old folks at home
spent 3 1/2 hours staking those sprawling-ass tomatoes (and still only 3/4 of the way there...)
was kindly delivered a perfect bag of veggies from the sweet land up north. gracias...
received at least four dozen mosquito bites on my back (going to suck, with no back scratcher! although those damn ant bites are so much worse...)

Also, I :
realized (once again, continually) that I totally lucked out in having a great little place here 

Oh, and Friday I:
got my piano tuned
saw its guts, learned its workings
found out it's probably worth more than twice what I paid for it
spent the evening with one very dear friend
took a handful of nice portraits, more soon :) 

Not bad for a few days. Is it really August already???

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I've learned a few things in recent days.

First among these, I am coming to understand what it means to carry an injury to one's spine.  It turns out that I have some not insignificant issues with a few discs in my neck which are potentially problematic (most inevitably, without proper care), but manageable, nonetheless.  Neck like an oak tree (on fire), so I've been told.  I have, perhaps, been underestimating the effects of this on my general state of well-being, while routine tasks such as doing the dishes, lifting a few pounds, normal movement, sitting, sleeping, seeing, swallowing, breathing, etc. have become increasingly difficult.  Considering the relationship of vertebrae to the central nervous system, I am not particularly surprised--albeit relieved--to find that I am feeling much, much calmer and more lucid after only a few adjustments.  I'm on deck for three per week during the next month--an aggressive schedule, to be sure, but this new person I'm seeing is not messing around.  For the first time in many years I feel the beginning of a much needed and long overdue change in my body, and in the most essential element of my continuing existence as homo sapiens.  It would be a bit foolish to say that I had no idea, but I have to wonder--as the urge for smoke and drink floats away, as I open my chest and stand firmly on my two feet--how in the dark I have been, for quite some time.  The oak is mighty, but when it breaks, it breaks for good.  To be more of the willow, to bend and to grow again, is my design...

The power of transformation.  In a garden it is nearly impossible not to experience this, as I had the pleasure of being reminded this evening, after a day which went from good (I can drop my head back freely!) to worse (tight grip overtaking skull) and back again... On my arrival home I noticed that one of the pumpkins I planted with a friend last week, if only as a gesture of unyielding hope, was up and in the world.  Peppers and tomatoes grow riper daily, on plants which have exceeded my expectations by so far that I am truly humbled by their presence.  Here and there, flowers continue to open portals of color, coaxing my greyed matter into a more vibrant state.  This yard is actually rather amazing, in the number and variety of plants growing in it, and in the gentle way it has wooed me, despite my reluctance to give it my whole heart.  The neighbor(hood)'s cat, Vishnu--who I'd been calling Haiku--climbs over the fence to greet me as I wander the grounds, finding new growth at every turn.  By contrast to the 120 acres of land I grew up on, this smaller scale requires a somewhat tighter focus...With macro lens (oh how I wish!) there are so many small wonders to behold...

Tonight I witnessed something which I suspect few among you have seen.  I was just about to plant a few cast-off globe thistles when a trumpet of white caught my attention.  I grabbed my camera and took this shot:

...and I missed the next one, because before I was able to think about what I was seeing, the blossom gave a gentle twist and opened, to my surprise... 


and then, another...


and was fully open within moments:


Datura: goddess of the garden, unfurling herself in twilight to rival the moon, wielding dreams as swords to cut through the mists of time, unwinding... 


Also known as Jimsonweed, erroneously as Moonflower, and more commonly as Loveapple, Daturas are members of the Solanaceae family, so potato beetles love 'em:


In the few minutes I spent taking a few photos of this lovely plant, the blossom which had only just opened began to fold...


...and in the softening whiteness, this momentary vision...


These flowers close as quickly as they open, though at the moment my Datura--planted only two short months ago and already big as a forest cat--is covered with fat green pods, ready to burst.  It's possible I might catch another opening, but I've had enough experience with this sort of thing to know that it's no coincidence, when a flower spirals open before your very eyes... This is a plant of ancient wisdom and shamanic tradition, hallucinogenic dreams and love potions, not one to be taken lightly.  I've never grown one before, but have always admired them, and now that we've become acquainted it's time I carry myself off to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream...