Friday, December 22, 2006


So I seriously suck on blog updating. Um, yup, that's about it. My ability to spin fun words about my life is cramping. Maybe I need some word yoga to get back in the saddle again.

On the plus side, I've really been getting a lot of mileage out of my birthday sketchbook.


So I seriously suck on blog updating. Um, yup, that's about it. My ability to spin fun words about my life is cramping. Maybe I need some word yoga to get back in the saddle again.

On the plus side, I've really been getting a lot of mileage out of my birthday sketchbook.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

double-plus ungood day

Today was not a good day. Today was a bad day. Today was my worst idea EVER.

Do not take Trimet to the most distant, most enormous fabric store in town and then expect to get any shopping done. Expect to waste 4.5 hours of time, spend $4 in bus fare, $6 on lunch, get totally pissed off at everyone who lives east of 52nd Ave, nearly get hit by an SUV (causing you to scream expletives so loudly your nearly lose your voice), make your kid cry AND NOT BUY A SINGLE PIECE OF FABRIC OR ANY KIND OF CRAFT SUPPLY.

Then you will have to eat two pieces of fudge to recover from the entire experience.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blind as a bat

In the weakest move of the weakest of administration that has ever set foot in Washington, DC, the Bush administration today did its darndest to keep money out of the hands of blind people. They are appealing the court mandated redesign of US dollars so paper bills would be usable by the visually impaired--and they actually argued that the blind didn't need to use paper currency, because they could just use credit cards!!!

Wow. That's just . . . amazing.

On a separate note, I watched two great movies on Saturday! Now, I don't usually watch 2 movies in one day, but I was sick, so I made an exception. And both of these films are worth making exceptions for! 1) Because of Winn-Dixie--this is just cute and precious enough without being so cute and precious you want to throw up. Plus Dave Matthews works in the coolest pet store in the whole world. 2) Bad(der) Santa--okay, this movie is brilliant. It was so awful and cringe-inducing that it turned out wonderful. And the kid who plays Therman Merman is AMAZING.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pop ups

So I'm trying to get used this new computer, and I'm telling you, sometimes it's nuts. I mean, pop-up blocker is built-in to this edition of Explorer, which sounds great, but really it turns out that 9 times out of 10, I want pop-ups! I mean, I wouldn't click the Barney's button if I didn't really want it to pop up!

Hot dog, I love

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Brain fluff

I feel like such a feather head. I honestly have not read a novel in close to 3 weeks. First October W came. Then September and October Vogue came. Then November W came. Then November Vogue came. Somewhere in there November Martha arrived.

I am a bubble brain.

Okay, I guess I did read Vibrational Healing by Joy Gardner. That has to count for something.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

And now I'm back ...

... from outer space, or at least the OHSU Richmond Clinic. I can breathe sort of clearly now, the snot is mostly gone. Gonna be a bright, bright, breathing day!

And now I'm back ...

... from outer space, or at least the OHSU Richmond Clinic. I can breathe sort of clearly now, the snot is mostly gone. Gonna be a bright, bright, breathing day!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

End is near

So in the rush to finish ten zillion things, of course we all have colds. So now my costume will be Princess Leah/Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Grrr.

The biscotti I made for the party taste super tasty when dipped in coffee.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On animals and why I don't partake

So my friends have been chatting a bit about the ills of non-organic eggs and dairy, and then I had to butt in my head about how badly the animals live, and I realized I had to clarify something. It is easy to overstate the suffering of farm animals, and it is easy to overstate the health benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet. It is easy to twist and rationalize both of these claims and make them trivial. So I want to point out that the reasons I decided to stop eating animal foods have to do only with myself.

Since I had Fiona, I have been trying to accept myself fully and live the fullest life I can create for myself. For years I have struggled with parts of my personality that weren't acceptable: I have always been told that I am too sensitive and too emotional. I have always felt that I was too weak and too silly to really get along in the world. But I decided that attitude wasn't helping me, and was only crippling my abilities. I found that being a little extra sensitive was actually useful when I became a mother, and that gave me the extra confidence to start exploring my weenier side.

One thing that has always been difficult was my tenderness toward any kind of pain and suffering. Just thinking about an injured child makes me want to cry (and horror stories about child abuse have been known to keep me from sleeping for days). When it came to thinking about killing and injuring animals, I have always been upset, but I felt like if it was for food production, I was expressing illogical thoughts, weak, stupid thoughts. My father (and Fiona's father, too, now that I think about it) made it a particular point of harassment. He taught me to feel stupid and inferior for questioning the massive consumption of meat, and we ate it every night.

Finally, after years of being interested in a vegetarian diet without any serious action, and during a period of serious spiritual activity (meditating, reading, stuff like that), this May I decided that I couldn't keep pushing those feelings under the rug when it was so much easier to just stop eating meat. John was very supportive. I couldn't have broken out of that horrible mold without him.

Also during this extra spiritual period, I realized that I wanted my lifestyle to better match my values and my goals. I want to live a life based upon kindness, and I want to be a kind person. Is killing an animal just for human usage kind? Is it kind to reduce a life, human or animal, to only its economic value? No matter how I look at it, it doesn't look kind to me. It is particularly unkind to do so when there are so many easy vegetable protein sources for me to choose from.

Since I made this decision, I have not experienced the crippling bouts of emotional pain I used to deal with weekly (or more often). I haven't felt the deadening of depression that used to grip me so firmly. I don't feel worthless. I feel like me. I feel ... okay.

I also feel ten pounds skinnier. That's okay, too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Really good book!

So I just started "The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community," and boy howdy is it a nice book. I feel very hopeful.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Got nothing

Okay, so today's post doesn't really have any kind of topic. Yesterday I was full of brilliant blog posts, but today, nothing. It's like an echoing cavern up there in my head.

I am feeling tremendously vain, however. I am wearing my cool $1 vintage dress and have gotten lots of compliments from folks here at work. I've probably checked myself out ten times today.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tiny slacking moment

So I'm taking a moment to slack and post on this blog. I should be scrubbing screens to get them ready for some serious screenprinting--after all, I have 75-120 horses to print before Halloween. But dude, the Internet is so much more fun!

Anyway, this Friday, I had a wonderful pie moment. Pie is my favorite food. Scratch that. Pie is the single greatest food stuff ever created by man. It is a magical gateway to a world of gustatory oneness. When it touches my tongue, I can hear the OMM of the universe gently humming in my ears, translated from the gentle pulses of my happy cheeks and gums and tastebuds into sound by some miracle. Yes, a miracle. Pie is truly, blissfully miraculous.

Good pie, that is. Bad pie is like cardboard left out in the rain, topped with malingering fruit or an evil lunchlady's idea of pudding.

But this Friday, I had wonderful pie. Crisp, crumbling crust, gently salted, with the mellow flavor of fresh fat--perhaps part butter, but mainly shortening. The crust of my childhood. Not fancy, but right. The custard, soft and lusciously brown with dark corn syrup, cradled the perfectly salted and crunchy pecan topping. I closed my eyes and ate slowly.

Screw yoga. This is my gateway to the spirit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I love Blogger; Blogger is not evil; I retract all cruel statements regarding Blogger and its eating habits.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Things and Stuff

First off--an apology for last week's absolute blather. It was unusually lame. But here's a good quote on a similar subject, from a book I am reading:
"The current trajectory of globalization contains at least one very grave threat to the future of local community stability--namely, reduced legal capacity of localities to shape their own economic destinies." (27, _Making A Place For Community_, Williamson, Imbroscio & Alperovitz--emphasis mine.)

I don't know why, but I just love that expression: shaping their own economic destinies. It's succinct, it's beautiful, and it captures that sense of empowerment so many communities are starting to lose. Look at my hometown, Reedsport, Oregon. The entire town is fading away into despair, because the economic glue of the community--a lumber mill and a paper mill--bit it in the 90s. The town lost many of its most active townspeople (and towns need those busybodies and do-gooders!) and it still hasn't found another major employer. It's heartbreaking.

The junk dress is coming along. I hoped I'd have all the back issues worked out today, but I don't. I think I have a good idea to shape it so it's more flattering (i.e., less like a hospital gown) without using yawn-ish old darts, but I will need John's help. Speaking of John, he had a brilliant notion about our merry-go-round lamp, and I am super excited. It's going to rock.

Speaking of rocking, chicken-fried seitan rocks. It is sensational. I will recommend it to every single person I know--unless they have a gluten sensitivity. Other than that--yummm.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Anti-Federalist

Okay, so I was reading the paper today and heard about a bill up in the senate (S 3128) which would "prohibit states or local governments from enacting any food-safety law that differs in any way from federal law, including setting more stringent limits on toxic substances.... the FDA would be the sole arbiter of permissible levels of toxics in foods, overriding hundreds of existing state and local food-safety laws," (Wolke, LA Times-Washington Post Service).

It's tempting to like the idea because then all the food safety issues in this motley nation of ours will be codified and made uniform. But I hate it. I hate the idea that my health and safety is even more dominated by the power of the FDA, an organization so heavily controlled by the chemical industry and the corporate food giants that we already can't trust them. I hate the idea that my state government, which shows a stronger connection to its constituents, will no longer be able to protect me from the FDA's blind and greedy grasp.

This law represents everything I hate about the United States and its current state of government. Lately, I've been thinking that we should de-federate our nation a little. Put more power in the hands of the states--localize it. Pull the teeth of big corporations by establishing tougher trade barriers between states and regions (not to mention nations).

Only by refocusing money and power to a regional level will we see greater citizen involvement and government that reflects HUMAN values, not corporate. Only by making the federal government accountable to local governments will we see the kind of development that we, individuals, desire.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Reviewing the fridge

So it's fall now. We had our first big September rainstorm, and yep, it's fall. So what do I want--desperately, earnestly, painfully want? Pork, of course. Nothing says fall like bacon, pork chops, pork loin, pork ribs, pork fat in all its glorious, sticky-greasy-irridescent chip wonder. It hit me today, and I wasn't prepared for it. I mean, I nearly my footing in the kitchen.

I should have seen it coming. The last few days have been rough. I was reading a great book by Ruth Reichl (former NYTimes restaurant critic) called "Garlic and Sapphires: the secret life of a critic in disguise," and it was like 400 pages of the most beautiful food writing you could expose yourself too. At least ten meals included foie gras. And reading it was great, but also really horrible, because I had to remind myself that I have given all that up. I am no longer a gourmet eater. I am a conscientious eater, a healthy eater. I am an eater who weighs *70* pounds less I did when I was a serious gourmet eater-- and 15 less than when I was an amateur gourmet eater.

I have to bring an image of a long-lashed sweet-faced piglet into my mind to shake off the painful need for bacon.

Sometimes being a near-vegan is really hard. There is a certain lack of variety in my food world, because I'm still developing my recipe repertoire. And there is a difference in tastes. I made krautranzas the other day, and they were not the same delicious as the sausage-kraut wonders I created in my previous food life. Tempeh can do wonderful things, but when you are reaching out for the flavors of your childhood, there is so only so far you can go. I try to appreciate these foods as new foods, not replacements, but sometimes, it's hard. Lately, I've cheated a lot. Fiona and I had a milkshake yesterday. It tasted wonderful, with that salty, creamy, sweetness that only cow milk can provide. The most gifted blend of soymilk lacks that quality. Usually, I don't want the high sodium funk of cowmilk. Usually, I prefer rice or soy. But right now, I miss dairy. I miss the splendor of egg whites (although I don't miss the weird dry skin they give me). I miss the easy flexibility of baked goods with eggs. I miss the salty intensity that urea and hormones and enzymes give animal foods. Vegetables are just too damn nice tasting. I want to eat raunchy, damn it!

Is being a vegetarian with vegan intentions worth it? Of course. I feel so much better these days. I don't feel a secret well of guilt boarded up within me any longer. I have more energy. I am more in touch with my spirituality. I can taste and smell things with a newfound clarity. I can pet a cat, and not be completely creeped out by the similarity between a cat's thigh muscles and a chicken's.

I love animals and I love myself. If being a real foodie means giving up those things, then I'm glad I've put that behind me. Best of all, I know I'll never have to look a plate of foie gras and try to forget how it was made.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And now I'm back

... from September closure, if not outer space. It feels weird to be normal work after all the fun of cleaning and painting. But all the staff is more friendly and fun now. I am actually feeling like I love my job and my coworkers. Sniff. Sniff

John, however, does not feel the same about his workplace:

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Computer talk

WoW! It's been forever since I posted an update on this baby. See, I dowloaded an update for McAfee, and since then, our computer crashes when we start up the internet. Oops. Also, I got a new boss at work, so I've been slacking much, much less.

Not that I slack at work. I am an excellent employee and constantly search for new projects and ways to maximize our visitors' museum experience.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August already?

Whoah. It's August. Where did June go?

So I finally met Elias, my sister's 2-month old baby. (See what I mean about 'where'd June go'?) He's cute. But just as importantly--drumroll, please--John met my dad!

See, my dad was spending the night at Kristina's, and she had us over for dinner. It was much fun. John and Kristina entertained my dad while Bert & I cooked and drank pina coladas. Yum, yum, yummmm. Then, after dinner, we all joined in a rousing game of chickenfoot! What a hoot.

Anyway, John said Dad was cool; Fiona and Amelia played dress-up; and Isaac pestered "Uncle John" non-stop. Good times.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crazy cake

So yesterday I made my very first fat-free, sugar-free cake (and recipe-free, may I add). Okay, so it was more like a pumpkin bread. Anyway, it turned out pretty good, although I regret not adding any honey or apple-juice concentrate, because prune juice just doesn't make things sweet enough for my liking. Of course, that means it might be sweet enough for any normal person--you're talking about a woman who has been known to add 2 and 1/2 sugar packets to a diner-sized cup of coffee. But the cake is fluffy and tender and yummy, just as a good cake or quick bread ought to be, and boy is it yummy with the (sooo not sugar-free) frosting I plopped on top. It's the best of both worlds this way.

And of course, since it's sugar-free and fat-free, I didn't feel guilty about eating a big chunk for breakfast.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bye-bye, SCSC ...

So, I'm re-reading one of my all-time favorite books (The God Particle, Lederman), and realized I hadn't heard anything about the super-colliding superconductor in a long time. So I looked it up.

Did you know they're just letting it rot away in the desert? ? ? ?

I mean, they never finished it. They never got the money, they threw their hands up in the air and they just left everything to turn into dust down there.

I am so worked up about this that I used a comma splice in that last sentence.

I know that some day, people will get their heads out of their asses about big science--big important science, like astrophysics and particle physics, not craptastic money-making environmental-trashing schemes like fricking genetic engineering. I know that someday, someone will say: let's get a bunch of money and smash atoms until we finally have some experimental proof that support GUTS. Or at least find the Higgs boson.

See, this is the kind of science that is important. It's not important because it leads to technological breakthroughs (which it does), but because it is the research that feeds the human soul. It represents humanity's great journey through the eons, a journey with but one end: to understand the universe, its beginnings and our place within it. Particle accelerators are not a tribute to the hubris of humankind, but a testiment to our desperate need to touch the miracles of God. The miracles get smaller and smaller the more we keep looking. Bosons and photons and gluons and quarks are truly miraculous.

Big science is like big operas, big orchestras and haute couture. People see all them as a waste of money, economic idiocies, and the toys of the privileged class. But anyone who witnesses them in action is awed.

We need awe. We need it desperately. And I wish with all my heart that we could move out of this period of puritanical, money-grubbing, soul-sucking thought--and get back to more human (and more godly) endeavors.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New Alchemy & Frustration

I started addressing this on my myspace blog, but that's my dumbied down blog. This is my more insightful page. Not that many of my insights have really been that great, for the most part, but what the heck, a girl's got to have standards.

ANYWAY, I've been reading a lot of great stuff about sustainable development, and the changes we need to make in our economy and the way we design communities and the way we think about resources. And our needs. It's great. Since Jarusha gave me this cookbook (The More-With-Less Cookbook--check it out), I've really been thinking about the expenses behind the littlest things we do.

It started with food, obviously. Basic expenditure was just the first step; then I read more, and I started thinking about the moral expenses behind my meals. That was when I decided I was definitely going veg, and I was going to seriously work to get rid of my use of dairy and egg products. I feel really great about that move. All the energies of my body are happier, and I feel less clogged up and depressed. Also, I know that what I'm eating is using a much smaller footprint than my old one.

Lately, still on the level of food, I've started thinking about the energy and waste behind the processed foods in my life. Not just convenience foods like frozen pizza, but other, more subtly processed things: soy milk; bread; sugar; maple syrup. Just about everything we eat, unless it's a fresh vegetable or fruit, is pretty highly processed. And there's a lot of waste involved. You definitely notice how much energy food takes when you start making more of your own stuff from scratch.

Hmmn, hold that thought. The kid is waking.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


See? I'm so busy slacking, I can't even be bothered to capitalize the title of this blog entry.

I haven't updating this blog very often lately because I have been so busy getting crazy with myspace. It can be a little ... time consuming ... but it has proved worthwhile, because I am reconnecting with my brother Jak. He is not having a good time in Lemoore, CA, and I really feel for him. Still, it's only for a few months, and then they will probably send him to sea.

I am working on the *3rd* reconceptualization of my little novel. I've been sitting on the second draft, not quite willing to commit to finish the fix (I needed to re-enter all the changes from the last half of the book after my ancient computer ATE them), and I was finally able to put my finger on the vague feeling of wrong which has troubled me for a very long time. So I'm completely revisiting the story and I'm really excited about it. Hooray!

Also cool and noteworthy: I am cutting out the pieces for a skirt I patterned myself and I finished a painting (which actually looks like a person). Oh yes: I've also been making my own breads, seitan from scratch, and my own rice milk. Whew! Good times this summer!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Word drought

I've got nothing lately, but this put a smile on my face!

Oh--we went to Blue Lake Park and had a great time today. They don't let midgets swim in the lake, but they had this awesome sandbox/water sprinkler play area that we spent about two hours in. It was so fun! We dug rivers, built castles and totally immitated the Army Corps of Engineers. Erosion really does suck.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I have a cold. Arggh. Sniffle.

Fiona has a cold. Arggh.

On the plus side, I got to watch Ghostbusters 2 twice in two days. Colds do have their perks!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hero of the WEEK

Marisa, my totally cool co-worker was on the jump-rope team in elementary school, and here was her trick:

Jumping into the Double Dutch ropes, on a pogo stick, juggling scarves.

Oh yeah, people. This woman is my hero of the week.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I can't really be mad at Fiona just because she told me she loves John more than me. But I still want to go lay in bed and cry for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It feels good to give the old blog a facelift. I'm still not totally satisfied with it--I mean, where did that weird dot just above the photograph come from?--but I am leaving it as-is for a bit.

The weekend was ... rotten ... or at least contaminated. . . . A lot of family issues, none of them great, and a disagreement with the old sweetie pie. Nothing feels worse than a disagreement with the sweetie pie. Sigh.

I am currently haunted by a potential writing project. On one hand, it keeps sneaking into my head, taking up vital space. Irresistable. On the other hand, if there's one story I don't want to live with for months and months (and this story would take months), it's this story. It's the kind of story that makes you feel ucky inside. I just keep dragging my feet about it and not getting anywhere. Maybe this afternoon is the afternoon to start it. Or kill it, if that's possible. Somehow I don't think this one is going away. And I also have a feeling it's the story I've been practicing for.

Well, S.P. called in sick to clean house and find some curtain fabric. I should get off the comp and play with my boy!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jak update

My life is boring (I mean, the biggest excitement was making my own seitan from scratch), but my brother's is going well. He called me today, in recovery from a 36 hour "Battlestation" drill. He'd been awake for 36 hours, maintained by one muffin, a bagel, and shouting some song for 34 of those hours. I missed the song title, because his voice was, unsurprisingly, mangled.

Anyway, he's graduating in a week-ish, top of his class. I am so, so proud of him!

Friday, May 19, 2006

PS on books

Here's what I am reading: Dominion

"Dominion is a horrible, wonderful, important book. It is horrible in its subject, a half-reportorial, half-philosophical examination of some of the most repugnant things that human beings do to animals.... The book is wonderful in its eloquent, mordant clarity, and its hilarious fillets of sanctimonious cant and hypocrisy.... Dominion is important in large measure because the author, an avowed conservative Republican and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, is an unexpected defender of the animals against the depredations of profit driven corporations, swaggering, gun-loving hunters, proponents of renewed 'harvesting' of whales and elephants and others who insist that all of nature is humanity's romper room, to play with, rearrange, and plunder at will.... This is a beautiful book, and a balm to the scared, lonely animal in us all. -- Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review

And it is SO SO GOOD!

A prescription for books

Earlier today, I was reading with Fiona and it suddenly struck me just how excited I am to read her some of my favorite books. I've thought that time and again since before she was born, but today, I couldn't stop thinking about great it will be to share Meg and Charles Wallace with Fiona. I just don't think she can be a fully moral human being until she has read those books. And I got to thinking about all the other wonderful stories that have taken up residence in my heart and mind and created me, and I just can't wait to read them with her--if only so that she can look back as an adult and say: "Ah. Watership Down at age 5. That explains everything." So here is a short list of some of the books I'd like to share with my child over the next ten years of her life. Please post any books that you think are great books for kids, and maybe a suggested age for exposure.

A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, & A Swiftly Tilting Planet, L'Engle. Maybe when she's 7 or 8. What a wonderful portrait of doing right and facing down evil, no matter how much we might want to turn away.

Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery. 6-ish. Anne is just plain funny; I re-read her about once every three years. And she lives in such a wonderful, wonderful world that I wish I could move in!

Watership Down, Adams. 5-7. Because even rabbits can be heroes.

Charlotte's Web, White. 4-5. Eloquence is important. So is kindness.

Bunnicula, Howe. By the end of the year. If it had a few more pictures, I would have checked it out the other day. Under all the humor, wonderful messages of tolerance.

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings: it's hard to know when she'll be ready, but it's the most important adventure in print!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: 6? Some of the language is heavy, but the story kicks @!! The messages about friendship and love are important, too.

Alanna, Pierce. 8. My first introduction to chicks-can-kick-butt fantasy action, and I can't wait for Fi to check it out.

I can't wait to see what you guys will add to the list, but it'll be good. And just so you have a little bit of a grasp on Fiona's reading level/interests (no, she can't read yet, but she holds still very well), is that we struggled through James & The Giant Peach a couple of weeks ago. It took us about 6 days, and she kept trying to turn the pages to see the next picture, but it worked great in the car. She really liked it and followed the story well.

I am really looking for some suggestions of books on that level or a bit easier so we can start diving into meaty reading!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Why is it so hard to find videos of whales and dolphins swimming around and being cute? Here I am, trying to brainwash my child and boyfriend into being animal-loving freaks, and I can't find any movies about animals being cute and adorable and heroic. Sheesh. I guess I'll just rent Free Willy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Full brain

My head has been so full of thoughts lately. Some of the thoughts are simple: must finish reading Nevada Barr mystery, NOW. Must eat chocolate ... Some of the thoughts are ugly: I'm going to strangle that kid if she doesn't leave me alone/be quiet/stop [insert irritating behavior]. (I think that one a lot lately.) Some are useless: Why can't I get Fiona to bed by 9:30? (Usually linked with previous thought.) Some are painful: They do WHAT to pigs who are too skinny? But all the thoughts are crowding together and hurting my head. I feel like my skull is just too small for all of them. I am tired, tired, tired of thinking. I just want to curl up with a (soy) cocoa and read a novel and be lost for a little while.

On the other hand, here's a thought WORTH thinking about, and I really hope I can go down and visit this place: This is a farm in Salem that rescues animals from abusive situations and gives them a new life. And boy are the critters KEEY-UTE!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Get your bonsai on!

John bought me a bonsai yesterday! It is soooo cute--it's a dwarf Japanese Holly tree, and it has these tiny little shiny green leaves, and I love it. It is still in its baby pot, so now I can start browsing for a cooler pot. I've probably got a year before it'll need replanted. Also, it looks like it's already developing little exposed, fat roots at the top of the soil, so I am very happy.

We really looked like Japan nuts yesterday. I was wearing my Japanese clogs and buying shiso seeds, and John was buying bamboo stakes and two baby bonsais. Wow. We're seriously geeks.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Today, while puttering around in the potted plants, I decided to take the shears to the bee balm. I mean, 2 foot tall bee balm is just ... unnatural. Creepy. And smothering the dill, too. Anyway, I think that plant is possessed. I put the cut parts in water and within half an hour they were just as perky as they were on the plant. It's a little disconcerting. I've never even fertilized the dang thing!

Speaking of fertilizer, I've decided that's just what my baby apple tree needs. The poor thing has spider mites and looks kind of terrible. I'm going to make it some seaweed plant food and see if I can perk it up any.

That's right, I said 'make it some seaweed plant food.' I went online and looked up vegan organic fertilizers, and that's the quickest, least stinky one I found. See? I'm serious about this no animal business. And while I've had some unsuccessful cooking experiences this week, I am still feeling pretty good. The first day, I just focused on the fact that beer is vegan, nobody has ever made genetically engineered barley, and that hops prevent osteoporosis. Then I cheered up when I discovered that tofutti cream cheese is signicantly tastier than nonfat cow cream cheese. Then I tried my first 'cheese' sauce made from soy milk and nutritional yeast. Um, yuck. (Although I'm blaming the soymilk. 8th Continent = weird tasting) But today's pancakes totally rocked, and the vegan corn chowder I made for lunch was great, too.

While I'm really excited about this new cooking experience, I do want to make it clear that my family is not going straight-up vegan. John gets to eat eggs, and I'm not going to fuss about them too much, especially if they come from less-cruel sources. And we're still eating cheese, just not as often. And when we're out, nobody is going to flip out about non-obvious animal products (such as those in baked goods and dressings and the like). So the goal is about 95% vegan, which still isn't great, but is obviously way better than our mostly lacto-ovo-vegetarian-but-once-a-week-or-so-meat-eating past.

One side note about veganism: I have always found vegan cooking fascinating and attractive. To a food-nut like me, it's like the haiku of the culinary arts. You purposefully limit the possibilities to spur creativity. Now that's beautiful.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On my mind

Animals have been on my mind lately. I haven't been up to blogging about it--I still don't feel ready to write it through--but I have come to one certain conviction: it is wrong to eat animals. There are times and places where necessity can override right and wrong, but we lucky 21st century humans have the luxury and wherewithal to choose our foods. Maybe Ice Age people lacked vegetable foods, but we don't. And for us to torture, rape, maim, confine, cut up, brutalize and deform creatures who share 90+% of their genetic matter with us--for us to do such terrible things to life forms that are all but our family members--for us to do such terrible things for the sake of flavor and fun and convenience is completely sick, fucking sick.

I've spent the last couple of days having spontaneous sobbing fits about it. Oh, and spending a lot of time on

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Eek, eek, whew ... yum?

I have spent my life feeling iffy about fish. There were fish dishes I tried and enjoyed, but there were also bad memories of aging smelt and dolly vardens that I usually just try to push out the back door of the mind. Suffice to say that as a child, I learned the hard way that there are some flavors nothing can aid or cover up, not ketchup, not tartar sauce, not even Tabasco. Now that's knowledge I'd spare my kid.

That said, Fiona likes fish--she gorges on tuna salad and fish sticks, the fish things I can be persuaded to cook. So I walked down to New Seasons last night and let Fiona pick out some fish for dinner. She picked a trout. With its head still on.

The fish guy obligingly cut off the head and threw it away, and we finished our shopping. Fiona wanted to carry the fish packet for a while, until we picked up a cucumber, which she adopted as a new baby doll. The I brought the groceries home, whipped up a salad and prepared the silvery swimmer of lakes.

I rinsed it and patted it dry and seasoned it with kosher salt and pepper and placed some onion in the cavity and wrapped it in bacon and placed it under the broiler. I only gagged twice (and my friend Elizabeth, a vegetarian, was kind enough not to laugh at me as she listened on the telephone). Discarding the wrapping from the fish packet was pretty ugly, but I kept my gorge controlled.

It actually tasted pretty good. Bland, but good. John loved it. Fiona ate a couple of bites. I even had seconds. So I guess I'll try making fish again some time, although next time, I'm putting parchment paper down in the broiler pan.

No way am I scrubbing fins off of that thing a second time.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


This morning's coffee, and I am sipping from my special hummingbird mug. It has a lot of history. My friend Katie, who has a special talent for gifts, gave it to me when I left I home for college. She had filled it with quarters--enough for a term's worth of laundry. It was a brilliant gift.

I kept my laundry money in it for years, but the mug was updated at one apartment to holding toothbrushes. The delicate shape and beautifully worked design brought a touch of class to the bathroom. It stayed in the bathroom through several moves, but when I moved in with my mother, the hummingbird mug was packed carefully and I didn't see it for a while.

On my most recent trip home, I found the mug and brought it to my new place. It was crusted with years of mineral build-up, and I imagined it would remain only decorative. But with enough soaking, and John's tireless scrubbing, it came clean, and now, for the first time in its history, it is coffee mug. It is light, and it is beautiful. It brings a touch of class to my mouth every sip.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

You say it's your birthday

Okay, so it's not my birthday. It's not even Fiona's, not really, but since her birthday is on a Sunday (my work day), we're letting her think it is.

The family came and ate sandwiches and strawberries and strawberry cake, and drank strawberry-pineapple-apicot fizz, and doled out presents. Fiona's favorite present was the doll crib from Aunt Kristina and kids, although Amelia was heart-broken to leave it. She nearly pulled her mother's shoe off in an attempt to keep them here longer. Pretty clever kid!

Now Fiona is painting with her new watercolor set. This is her second painting of the day. The first one took two sessions to complete. During the earliest, John went down, asked her how the picture was coming along and she told him "it's not where I'd like it be yet." Wow.

Then after she got up from her nap she asked to watch John's Craftwerk video and got started on another painting. Is she cool 3-year old or what?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Yesterday Fiona and I made Anadama Bread (from a Martha Stewart recipe), and it turned out phenomenally. It's the best bread I've made in a very long time, although I imagine part of it is that I really kneaded the bejeezus out of it.

I thought I would write a fantastic post about the joys and wonders of bread making, but I can't bring myself to put two words together this morning. I think I am still routed to music. John gave me a lesson about his sound-editing program, so I was mixing up some tunes. Okay, one tune.

It is amazing how long it takes to edit music. I am taking two tracks from a videogame soundtrack and editing them together to make a soft, electronic song. It's my lullabized version of Ico (that's the game). It's not as easy as you'd think! Lots and lots of cutting and pasting; lots and lots of listening. My ear muscles are so flabby--it almost hurts to tone them up. Also, I'm sure there are a lot more features on the program that I just don't know how to use yet that would make the process more fun. Still, it's addicting!

Kinda like making bread.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Has anybody else thought that when it comes to money, the flimsy one dollar bills have men on them. The long-lasting coins are women!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

*$%! Technology

So the computer is having a little trouble with the Internet at home. I have thought of a couple of super posts, but they'll just have to wait until I'm not illicitly posting at work.

Ahh. The slow beauty of a spring day. So many people want to go to the zoo--the museum is quieter than the library. My boss is taking a one hour lunch. I am slacking. And boy does it feel great!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A fine, fine day

My boss bought us Easter candy! We are chowing down on Robins' Eggs. Aren't those the single best reason to celebrate Easter?

I used a clever line today: I don't celebrate Easter, but I do celebrate chocolate. Actually, I love Easter. My family never, ever made a fuss about the Jesus side of things (since neither of my folks are Jesus followers), and always made a point to focus on the important side of the holiday: eating. Always lots of chocolate, lots of eggs (deviled, of course) and either ham, or lamb. Usually potato salad, peas and some kind of green veg--in good years, asparagus.

The beauty of spring vegetables can not be over-praised. Delicious, tender, brilliantly hued and green! Freshly green, and not the whites of starchy roots or the yellow of the squash family. For the first time in months, green is dancing on our plates.

Happy spring! Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Today, a book review/rant. I finally read the book Wicked, by Gary Maguire. [I might have his name wrong, because I am typing this in a hurry, and don’t have the book handy.] What a disappointment! Maguire took a thrilling, menacing figure of children’s lit and turned her into a flat, neurotic mess, the product of a broken family and personal disfigurement. Elphaba–his name for the Witch–is powerless, defanged (literally losing her dangerous baby teeth and growing only standard-issue chompers), and merely reactionary.

All the critics said this was such a fantastic portrait of evil and wickedness. I felt completely let down. Elphaba was no more evil than my shoe, stinking after a long walk. If Maguire had written a story about a truly cruel and dangerous woman, and not the passive, flopping green thing he created, he could have made a really great book.

Oh! I almost forgot! Maguire also ruins Oz. All its creepy, wonderful enchantment is smoothed over into an unhappy America/Kafka realm. I liked it, actually. It was a dark and dangerous place to visit–and it was the right realm for Elphaba. It’s the sort of place that encourages re-acting and not acting, paranoia, not proactivity.

So I guess my problem isn’t that "Wicked" sucked or was crappy. It’s that it’s a fine tale on its own, a fine tale that didn’t need to stand on the shoulders of any other book. There was no need to lift Glinda, Oz or the lamely applied "Wicked Witch" labels–his characters would have been fine on their own. Better off, really. It all comes off as a lame marketing attempt that waters down the real story, which is neither wicked nor witchy, but simply sad.


Today, a book review/rant. I finally read the book Wicked, by Gary Maguire. [I might have his name wrong, because I am typing this in a hurry, and don’t have the book handy.] What a disappointment! Maguire took a thrilling, menacing figure of children’s lit and turned her into a flat, neurotic mess, the product of a broken family and personal disfigurement. Elphaba–his name for the Witch–is powerless, defanged (literally losing her dangerous baby teeth and growing only standard-issue chompers), and merely reactionary.

All the critics said this was such a fantastic portrait of evil and wickedness. I felt completely let down. Elphaba was no more evil than my shoe, stinking after a long walk. If Maguire had written a story about a truly cruel and dangerous woman, and not the passive, flopping green thing he created, he could have made a really great book.

Oh! I almost forgot! Maguire also ruins Oz. All its creepy, wonderful enchantment is smoothed over into an unhappy America/Kafka realm. I liked it, actually. It was a dark and dangerous place to visit–and it was the right realm for Elphaba. It’s the sort of place that encourages re-acting and not acting, paranoia, not proactivity.

So I guess my problem isn’t that "Wicked" sucked or was crappy. It’s that it’s a fine tale on its own, a fine tale that didn’t need to stand on the shoulders of any other book. There was no need to lift Glinda, Oz or the lamely applied "Wicked Witch" labels–his characters would have been fine on their own. Better off, really. It all comes off as a lame marketing attempt that waters down the real story, which is neither wicked nor witchy, but simply sad.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Lonely Doll

About a year ago, Fiona and I checked out a book from the library. It was called Edith and Mr. Bear, and I was immediately enchanted by the story. Edith could have been me as a child: a natural liar, fearful, pouting, charming. She was an utterly believable child. And the photographs looked so real that I had to marvel at them. We sought out other Edith books, and bought the first in the series, The Lonely Doll, for Christmas.

On that shopping expedition, I found a book I couldn’t afford at the time. Called The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, it was a biography of the enigmatic photographer who captured the story of Edith and her bear companions. I finally read it this weekend. I was blown away by Dare Wright and her life’s story. It was not a happy life, but it shared something with the lives of other women I have admired, and I found it inspiring.

Dare, like my heroes Tasha Tudor, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo (of course Frida, and always Frida!), crafted a world that supplemented her own specially grown identity. She spent her lifetime carefully pruning her self to make a creature as desirable and as adorable as a doll, and she tweaked her surroundings to support that fantasy creation. And while that eventually led to her own miserable ending, I can’t help but admire the achievement. What strength of will to change the world to suit yourself!

Side note: I began painting yesterday and could do no wrong. Today, I practically butchered the damn thing. Why, why are hands so hard?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Loose thoughts

Not a good day to generate a real post. Fiona has a cold and I have brain scramble. I start a project, forget it, remind myself about it, forget it again. I did manage to get my beebalm planted and mix up some homemade cereal. It smells good, but so far tastes bland.

I'm trying to get back into my old writing project, but the going is rough. The old computer ate about 8 chapters (the best ones, of course), and since I haven't done any writing in about a year, I am rusty as all fong. It hurts to be this lame again.

Well, that's it. Sort of a jive first post, but what the heck. At least it leaves the door open for improvement!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

Wow. After a whole year, I'm back in the Internet business, and ready to get going on some serious Blogger butt. Sniff. I've missed it.