Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fresh Sounds

You might want to check this out.  Give a listen to the 10.21 show, it's pretty good.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Eat It: This F-ing Goodness is Good For You

Olive oil in a good-sized skillet.  Onion, salt, sweet yellow/red and green pepper, garlic, in the typical amounts (like, however much you think you want).  Squash, about six cups, baked (butternut, good; lakota, better; chioggia, primo).  One cup good feta cheese, one half cup fatty chicken stock (since it happened to be right there) plus a quarter cup or so of water (from the feta), depending on how moist your squash isor you want it to be.  Should be soft enough to stir without strain.  Salt, fresh ground pepper.  Combine all, sprinkle with cayenne or paprika, cover and bake at four hundred degrees until "puffed" or cooked through.  Remove lid, top with one cup sunflower seeds, salt as necessary, and bake at the top of the oven until seeds are slightly browned.  Let cool to eating temp and........Mm, tasty!!  

(Credit where due: this is not entirely my own, but a damn good variation on a recipe from Molly Katzen's Moosewood cookbook.   Also, this makes a pretty big batch.  Could cut it in half or less, and still have plenty.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

To Fall

A few thoughts, on this warm and sunny day:
It's been a gentle Fall here, and despite how dry it's been this year, the colors have been holding quite nicely for the past few weeks, steadily deepening in hue like overripe fruit, apricots and peaches and cherries (oh my! indeed), glazed with the sweet crispness of caramelized sugars, slowly burnt to perfection by the flames of the post-Equinox sun.  There, in the distant woods, oak bark the color of wolves, leaves tough as leather and red as blood tremble over the bare bones of birch that lie scattered on the forest floor, as hungry fungi gather to feed on the rotting remains.  Here, in the city, avenues are littered with the golden confetti of honey-locust leaves and the cracked shells of seed-pods dropped by catalpas and Kentucky coffee trees.  Rainbows of sumac have faded, once-fiery maples have dwindled to a warm pastel glow, roses are burnt to crimson, blackberries have gone brown, and it's time to ready my home for winter.

Good weather and prior procrastinations have to conspired to hand me many chores to do today: clear the gutters, rake the yard, put the plants to bed, tamp the broken fence, clean up the walk, wash the outside windows, clear all the corners and edges in anticipation of ice and snow...  There are vegetables in the garden and the fridge to take in and put up, the back steps need mending, my car's leaking oil pretty seriously now, and there's painting to do, fixtures to hang, paperwork to complete, the furnace and ducts need cleaning, the floors need scrubbing, someone needs to go to the store and make a few calls, among other things... I'd hoped to plant some bulbs on the boulevard, with a nod toward Spring, and lay down a warm cover of wood mulch for the Winter... all of these tasks being, more or less of little or no consequence, I suppose, but still a fair amount to do on one's own.  I'd be grateful for a hand today, but will endeavor instead to get through what I can, knowing that there is only to do the job that lies ahead of you, each one to the next, and to commit oneself to honest work, in the labor of love.  My little home has served me well, and surely deserves a bit of Tender Loving Care.

So, up the ladder I go... Here's hoping I don't fall and crack my head.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Getting down to it

Well, children.  It's about time.

Where have I been, for the better part of this year?  I wish I could tell you...

So today I pissed off my crazy neighbor, by putting up the last section of fence that's been patiently waiting around in my garage since last Fall.  I also trimmed a few inches off of her spruce tree, without asking, since it was hanging over the chain link...  She, in true Minnesotan form, didn't bother herself to come out and just talk to me about it, but instead displayed her displeasure through some passive-aggressive door slamming and yelling out a nice loud "goddamn it!" from inside the confines of her home.  Yeah, part of me was like, okay, I guess that was sorta shitty of me, not talking to her before just going ahead and doing it, but another part of me was like, fuck you, crazy cat lady.  We already talked about this fence thing and if you have a problem with it, then you know where to find me.  It was bad enough talking to you about it in the first place, not because it's such a touchy subject but because you're clearly not "normal".  Do you really want to share a yard with me, drunken smoking wack-ass hippy nuisance that I am?  I'm just trying to give us both a little privacy, and the fact that your cat likes to come over and roll around in my yard and lounge on my doorstep isn't any reason to get all bent out of shape.  And yeah, by the way, he loves me and you know it.  So get over it, and go take some more lithium.

I tried to do the right thing, though, maybe sorta kinda, by writing her what I felt at the time to be a sincere apology for being so inconsiderate, and offering to explore other possibilities if she's really that unhappy with the fence.  In all likelihood I just destroyed any potential of our entertaining an ongoing congenial relationship, but the truth is that I don't really care.  We're not going to be friends.  And I'll be damned if I'm going to take the fence down.  She should be glad I haven't put up a real one.


As I was saying, it's about time.  Time to vacuum up the cobwebs (and underwear.  so that explains where all the suction went.), clean out the closets, fill up the larder and batten down the hatches... Winter's on its way.  Fall is well past its peak now, and somehow I've all but missed the changing colors this year.  Suddenly I'm busting out the down vest, plunging my naked feet into (oh-so) shearling boots, and day-dreaming about snow... probably a little premature, at this point, and I really shouldn't go getting my hopes up.  Chances are, this drought will continue through the end of the year, at least, and I will have to seriously consider, once again, what exactly the fuck I am doing, continuing to live in this state.  But I can't help hoping for heaps and heaps of it.  Snow, that is.

Speaking of our problematic state.  I went out for a walk this evening in the brisk autumn air, so sweet to breathe when it wasn't polluted with the stench of noxious laundry fumes and exhaust, just cold enough on the back of the arms and tip of the chin to keep the pace up, and I encountered this rather prominent sign, along the way:

At first I thought, hey.  That's pretty effective.  And then I thought, well, yeah, but also more or less lost on everyone on this stretch of road, except in that it might make them feel that much better about themselves for voting "no" (fuck no.) on the two referenda on our ballot this year.  I'm not saying it's not important to nurture a sense of solidarity but in this particular case, after first considering the psychological impact and then the actual reality, all I could think was, that's a pretty negative message, on the whole.  A giant "NO" sign?  Really??  Come on, people, we should be able to do better than that.  But then again, there's something empowering about saying "no" to something that's just wrong... So yeah, ok.  No.  Fuck no.

And then there's that the "O" in that "NO" looks a lot like a hula hoop, and it just so happens that last night, in my rather small living room (wearing open-backed heels on a shag rug, no less.  ridonculous!), I discovered the pure pleasure of spinning two at the same time, each of different diameters, and I have to tell you, it was out of this world.  To feel something that, um... orbital? whirling around this little body and be able to keep it going... Totally my favorite new thing.  And I was alone, by the way.  Just enjoying myself.

So where have I been, for the better part of this year?  

If only you knew.

Peace and love to you, children--aren't we all?--and look for more in the days to come...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Reigns

Watersheds are our lifebloods.

The creek closest to you,
           spilling into a stream,
                         pouring into a river...

    We should know their names--every one!
                                        and by such knowing, 

               let them run, until running is no longer

                                                                  a possibility.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Clouds Sometimes Pass Quickly

The wind is moving tonight...whistling through bottles, rattling the fence, turning on lights,'s rolling anything loose down the alley, and shaking limbs...

Have you seen the moon lately?  By God.  It was beautiful, yesterday.  So round, and so full, blushing gently against the soft blue sky... Ah, if only we could meet each other so well!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just sing, little darlin'

Oh, I don't know... I just love this song right now... Isn't that enough?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Changing Stations

It was 2:53 when I stepped off the train, and it was the end of the line, for me and one other guy...Only one direction to go. I checked my purse, found nothing missing from its as-yet unfamiliar pockets, and began walking eastward down the platform. It was, perhaps, one or two hundred feet long, a gentle slope of brickwork covered with a light dusting of snow. I set a pace and passed the other fellow, who was moving slow and slightly fat under his black and red plaid coat, without regard. It's quiet, and empty, in that part of downtown at that time of night.

I'd had all of a couple minutes to consider, upon waking, how I had arrived at this station. Some hours earlier, I had bid my friends good night and made my way to a stop several blocks from where I now found myself. At the time, I was intoxicated enough that, as I leaned on the half-wall smoking what I hope was my last cigarette of the night, I could not hold back the hiccups that punctuated the minutes of the wait, which had already been long enough for at least one woman who approached me in a friendly way to complain about the train's whereabouts and suggest that a cab might be a better idea, just before crossing the street and rolling off with her friend. I, however, was not inclined to follow her lead, and continued waiting for an undetermined length of time, during which it might have occurred to me to check the schedule, or the time, but it did not. Some time went by; minutes, or an hour. I do not remember stepping onto the train. I do not recall sitting down, nor do I recall falling asleep. I am an experienced--and even gifted--drunk; also, I do not fall asleep in public. Ever. I do not sleep on the bus, on airplanes, in a car with my family, etc., etc. I do not even sleep in my own bed, for christ's sake. So I surmise that I must have been, as they say, wasted. Granted, I've been running on empty for the past two weeks, I'd slept hardly at all the night prior and had eaten only a meager grilled-cheese sandwich at the show, so I was pretty damn spent. I must have lost consciousness within moments, given that my stop was only a ten-minute ride away.

Here, now. I reached into a pocket and pulled out my as-yet unfamiliar phone, only to find that my battery was running low. Glancing up, I noticed the time, and wondered briefly about my options for getting home; if I could not call a cab, I could most likely hail one close by. I had taken maybe forty strides down the platform when I felt the soles of both my shoes--newly shined earlier that night by an older black man who also offered to, on his twenty-five dollar-a-night salary, take me home and "treat me right"--at once slip against the thin snow, as they so often do... I knew in less than a second I would fall, and fall I did--fully (though not ungracefully) flat onto my back, my skull meeting the brick with a dull thud. I lay there for a moment, seeing bright stars in the black sky beyond the sick glow of the streetlamps, all strangely beautiful.

Righting myself, I spotted a North Star taxi in the intersection below and, in what felt like a single motion, walked down and crossed the street, passing in front of the car with a minimal gesture, pulled open the back passenger door, sat down and said "Can you please take me to...?", a little surprised for some reason that the reply was simply yes, no questions. I don't know how long he had been sitting there, or if he'd seen my fall.

It might have been the lights of the dashboard, or of the empty streets, and not the scattered stars that I remember... All sped by quickly, on the short trip home. I rested in the darkness of the back seat and, anticipating the fare, assembled a small stack of leftover bills which seemed enough to include an appropriate tip...The cabbie asked about the way and I gave him a few reminders, glad that he understood and apparently knew the neighborhood. He pulled up a few houses down from mine, but I did not notice. The fare was more than I'd guessed. No longer certain that what I was already holding would be enough, I handed him a twenty; he looked back at me and requested, in a kind African accent, that I give him what was in my other hand instead, probably seventeen bucks. I graciously obliged and bid him goodnight.

I have arrived at my own door any number of times, under any variety of circumstances, in want of a pair of loving arms to welcome me home. I suppose this time stands out only in that, from a certain point of view, I was lucky to have made it home--safely--at all. There is something slightly chilling, as well as oddly liberating, in knowing that no one in this world has any idea where you are. I do have tremendously good luck, though, and always have. That, or a top-notch guardian angel. Inherent trust in goodness pays great dividends, sometimes.

I was late for work the following morning, naturally, but not a great deal more noticeably so than usual. The day was surprisingly pleasant and peaceful. Nothing lingered, and I was hardly tired--in fact, quite the contrary; I felt oddly lucid, grounded, and at ease. I even had the energy to enjoy an outing with family, deliver a few killer serves and chat my brother up for a couple hours after we got back to my place. Maybe, somehow, I needed those three dark hours, or it could be that new formula of mine taking effect. Or perhaps it was being poked in the third eye on Valentine's Day that did it, but for whatever reason I couldn't help feeling like it was the first day of Spring, or of my new life. In fact--and this was perhaps the only entirely strange aspect of the day--I found myself wondering more than once if it were possible that I had actually died that night. It seems to stand to reason that I am still very much alive.

I spent a little time trying to figure it out, when I got in, and by my best reckoning I must have traveled the entire length of the line, all the way down and back, at least once, quite possibly and more probably twice.  Out, like a light.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nonsense vs. whatnot

My pupils are too wide today, my chest too heavy.  The high vibration of a late-rising full moon, now on the wane, along with several days of not nearly enough sleep, have been running me down all week and finally caught me by the tail this afternoon--and just in time, too. Two long, full days of rest, recuperation and non-business-related activities shall, I hope, dispel this cold spell of restlessness.

On the way home this evening, due to causes unknown, I found myself musing on the relationship between Faith and Reason, while crossing the Skyway.  I wonder (if you'll forgive this trite analogy) if, to one who thirsts in the desert, the miles traveled in the quest for a mirage--that is to say, in ungrounded hope--are or are not "worth" the crushing disillusionment that almost inevitably follows such a pursuit... In this imagined desert, or any real one for that matter, to chase such a foolishly optimistic vision would risk one's very life. There is of course the possibility that, in the effort to reach an oasis which exists only in the mind's eye, one might chance upon a refuge in reality, or rather suddenly find oneself in different circumstances altogether; so, one could reason that it's not so foolish, after all, to dream an impossible dream.  Yet it's not reason that draws a man, step by grueling step, toward an imagined destination, so much as it is an arguably irrational act of blind faith.  Or is it?  Yin, yang, I guess.  I do find it interesting that many religions tend to be built rather heavily upon a foundation of "good" vs. "bad" (heaven vs. hell, up vs. down, man vs. woman, etc. and dichotomy in general, which is, in my mind, essentially an intellectual equivalent of "you pee-pee; me boobies", but I digress.) and these aptly described "faith-based" value systems must, by their very nature, preach the gospel that Faith is Good.  I don't quite mean to suggest that such value systems also regard Reason as Bad, because that simply does not follow, and I don't think it has been dictated or proven anywhere that Faith is incompatible with Reason or vice versa; however, I believe the (generally undisputed) definition of faith is belief without proof, which itself is a concept founded on reason, and if Faith would allow Reason to get a word in edgewise once in a while, he would probably have a thing or two to say about that.  You see what I just did?  I made you think of Faith as feminine, for no reason whatsoever...maybe. So, what am I getting at, exactly?  I'm not sure.  But I think it had something to do with watching a movie.

Before I do that, though, I'm going to change subjects again.

I had cause yesterday, or the impulse anyway, to take a few drops of Solomon's Seal tincture, which I recently acquired with the intent of concocting from it and a few other herbs a formula to heal and strengthen my impaired spine, wrists and various other joints.  I daresay that, even under the influence of mild-to-moderate sleep deprivation, I could detect a different level of activity today in some of my trouble spots.  It's possible that my perceptions were influenced by my desire or something resembling the placebo effect, but experience--for whatever it's worth--tells me otherwise, and if we cannot rely on our own experience as a measure of anything, what can we possibly do or learn in this life?  Thus, I begin my next round of experimentation... I believe, as many do, that, beyond the scientifically measurable chemical reactions or experiential evidence supporting the existence of such, plants heal through the pure expression of their essential nature.  Obviously this isn't something I can actually prove, not only because I lack the requisite skills to do so but because it is (nearly?) impossible to actually prove something as complex and perhaps changeable as the essential nature of anything, which is perfectly all right with me.  I seek to understand not why, but how--meaning, in what manner--a plant can express its healing power.  Reason and experience tell me that I need not exercise faith in order to do this, yet... When reason has failed, and experience deceived, it is not always easy, prudent or wise to place confidence in one's own judgement, and so at the outset of this initiative I find myself pondering this paradox: that I must now engage my Faith in Reason, and Reason in Faith.  And I still don't really know what I'm talking about, but I don't think either one of them can really argue with that.  It's not too late for popcorn, is it?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Special Delivery

A package on the doorstep today, not unexpected but having arrived, happily, sooner than anticipated, full of good herbs from which to craft a potion for to heal broken connections, of my own and of those I love... Solomon's Seal, Teasel, Horsetail, Blue Vervain, Goldenseal, St. John's Wort, waiting to join forces with Black Cohosh, my home-gathered and tinctured Mullein, perhaps others...Formulas to treat the misaligned spine, strained muscles and damaged joints, worn cartilage and injured nerves, to ease the tension and set things right.  I'll keep you all posted on my this, my next experiment in Good Medicine, as I am informed.  Be well--remedies abound!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A little bit of feelgood goes a long way...

Not knowing what I where I was headed when I started this, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it all came together (40 min?) and how very nicely it turned out.  Here we have a low-fat, high protein, good-for-you-in-practically-every-way kind of dish, a simple dinner and/or lunch that will make your life easier, and possibly better.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Um Yum Salad

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lime, Shoyu, Sugar, Sriracha sauce
Sesame oil, Peanut oil
Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Ginger
Red cabbage, Celery, Carrot, Onion
Water chestnuts
Sesame seeds

Pre-heat the oven to the standard 375 or so.  Into a measuring cup or small bowl, juice half a lime.  A nifty hinged citrus press which is a perfect match to your bright green tiny casserole cum garlic keeper (thank you very much… Love it!) will do the job quite nicely, or just squeeze it through your hand or whatever method you normally use.  Being fortunate enough to live within walking distance of all kinds of organic produce, and having acquired a taste for the real thing, and also rarely if ever having used an entire bottle before it went ‘sour’, I no longer opt for citrus juice concentrates, but do so if you must… Add 2 tbsp of shoyu, a tsp or two of agave syrup or sugar, and a good squirt of sriracha sauce.  Stir, taste, set aside.

Pour a bit of sesame oil in a mid-sized oven-safe skillet, along with a good douse of peanut (or canola) oil.  Heat the oil and then throw in two chicken breasts, and sear them over high heat, with a good turn of salt and white pepper (or black) on each side.  A note of caution here: I would strongly recommend NOT using your new “highly heat resistant” plastic spatula to flip them (with all due respect and gratitude to The Giver, this is one reason why I eschew plastic cookware… user error, perhaps, but still.  High heat does seem to imply cooking.).  Once the breasts have browned nicely, stir a generous tbsp each of minced ginger and garlic into the oil, and cook for a minute or two, just enough to bring out some flavor.  Add the sauce, cover, and put in the oven to finish cooking.  (Or you could reduce the heat to low and leave on the stovetop, just be careful not to burn.)

Rinse a cup of quinoa and put it in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water.  Bring this to a low boil.  Meanwhile, slice up the following into bite-size pieces of your desired dimensions and place in large mixing bowl: 2 cups red cabbage, 1 stalk celery, 1 cup carrot (been really loving those Nantes from the co-op this winter, so light and sweet), the better part of a can of water chestnuts (or just eat a few and put all the rest in there), a tbsp or two of finely sliced red onion (scallions would probably be a better choice if you have some but, you know, use whatever you have), and a tbsp of skillet-toasted sesame seeds (I used black, for color and texture, but the regular unhulled variety would be just fine.  Not sure I’ve ever toasted the hulled whitish kind, but I suppose you can…?).  Stir this up.

Check the quinoa; it should be about done by now.  So should the chicken.  Mine wasn’t completely thawed to begin with, but it was easily done in the time it took to chop veg, and quite juicy.  I didn’t have a plan for the liquid, so decided to dice the chicken in its pan and let the chunks soak in the sauce for a couple minutes while the quinoa finished cooking;  it was a good idea, so do that.  When the quinoa’s done, dump it onto the veg, add the chicken and sauce and stir it all together.  The heat will par-cook the vegetables ever-so-slightly—just right.  Let that sit while you cut a good handful of fresh cilantro, 2 or 3 tbsp—some stems are welcome and thinly sliced is nice, no need to chop it up too much (incidentally, a kick-ass Kyocera ceramic knife, also a lovely gift, will take care of that with ease).  Toss, taste, adjust seasonings (shoyu, lime?) as necessary (not).  Serve at room temp. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reboiled refined

Here’s a recipe my younger sister shared with me recently, one of my new faves.  It’s a perfect way to bulk up on greens and satisfy your winter carb cravings at the same time—with a little protein thrown in, for good measure: 

I made a smaller (1/3), ‘shorthand’ version of this the other night using canned beans because I didn’t have any dry ones on hand, or the hours to cook them.  It only took around an hour, and worked out splendidly: 

Start with the mirepoix, sauté for 2 mins, add a bit of salt and saute 2-3 mins more.  Add the garlic and cabbage, sauté for 5 mins, followed by the kale and chard (I used collards because like them better, and that’s what I had in the fridge) along with fresh minced sage (it's amazing how long sage will last, frozen in your winter herb garden).  Stir as needed until the greens start to cook down—no need to overcook them.  

(At this point I added a whole lot of freshly ground white pepper before I saw what I was doing and remembered that the black pepper is now in my new mill, so I followed that up with a bunch of black pepper and what seemed at the time like possibly way too much salt.) Season generously with pepper and salt.  

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes (for my 1/3 version, I used a pint each of homemade broth and frozen Hillbillys, both relatively un-salty—something to keep in mind if using canned), along with the potatoes and bay leaf.  Stir, cover and let the whole thing simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are just tender, then stir in the canned beans and simmer for 5-10 minutes longer, until the potatoes are just done.

Although it’s pretty good without them, the bread and cheese really do make this soup.  I just happened to have half a New French baguette in the freezer, so I warmed it in the oven, sliced and tore it into 1-inch or smaller hunks, stirred them into the soup and let it sit overnight.  It turned out perfectly; the chewy crumb and extra crust held the soggy bread together nicely and added a pleasant, almost satiny body to the soup, now more of a stew.  Be sure to use good shredded (not grated) parmesan, and let your bowl cool for a bit before you stir it in.  Red wine and dark chocolate are nice accompaniments.

(Incidentally, at no point did I actually re-boil the soup, but if you were going to serve it as a meal rather than a workweek of leftovers, you'd probably want to do that.  Otherwise, expect it to keep in the fridge and reheat well in the microwave for about 3-4 days.)

Simple and sumptuous…   Buon appetito!

Friday, January 20, 2012

oh JOY,

there's snow underfoot!!

and squeak!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Is there anything I care to say today, this wickedly cold winter's day?


So far it's been such a mildly fucked up winter here that I haven't had to worry all that much about how my flowers might be holding up out there...all those lovely life-filled bulbs I planted in the warmth of the Fall, with sweet anticipation of a long-awaited Spring... I'm a little worried now that I might not have buried them deep enough to withstand the cold with no protection, but I imagine they're doing just fine, and the winter's passing quickly, without the grace of snow.... It hardly feels right, but without a pair of skis on her feet, or a snowflake in her eye, what's a woman to do?  Get out the seed catalogs and paint the living room, that's what.  Warm dirty days will be here soon enough.  Best be getting ready.

Fire something up and keep those f-f-f-fingers warm, friends.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Pick Up

Salad of:
Romaine, leaves and hearts
Grapefruit, pink or red and sweet
Bleu cheese (MN or WI)
Beets, pickled, or simply cooked
Pistachios, shelled and split 

Dressed with:
Stoneground brown mustard
Sweet white miso
Virgin olive oil
Basalmic vinegar
Agave syrup (optional) 

Followed by:
Sage mead 

& then:
Savory meatloaf, cool and thick
Wild rice, simmered in vegetable bouillon and tossed with squash seeds roasted in olive oil, dried currants, chopped walnuts, mild celery, goji berries, yellow onion, white pepper, salt, dried nettles and thyme. 

Dessert being:
Werthers & Surly Bender

Endless variations...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To the New Year

We stopped...listening.
Seven sisters chasing the moon, the ox close behind;
Orion's following, arrows slung.

A thousand dragons envisioned tonight, 
and the moment I saw would be tattooed on my face: 
a tiny red star, above the left brow.

Taurus' horns never shone so bright. 

I'll follow your lead, he said, yet
it was he who led, and glanced over our shoulders as we crossed.
In one year he'll leave the army.

Congratulations to that, said I.
Of course there's no going back; we turn, and make our way,
in love, for the snows to come.

Namaste, miigwich, and peace.