Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve


Never again will I be caught on Halloween without candy for those who knock at the door...

(click on pic for music)

Disgraceful (especially when my excuse is I was busy painting the wrong color in the bathroom annex)!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Solace


Today, curled up in bed, I read books one and two of the Hunger Games trilogy cover to cover.


I started when I needed lamplight in order to see the page and ended as I heard Tina wheeling her trash can to the curb, light slanting in low through the bedroom window.

At noon, I heard soft footfalls on the porch and made some vain attempts to make my hair presentable.

Delivered to me in bed by my friend and neighbor was the most exquisite creation-- a small, square plate adorned with three raspberries and a chocolate muffin of sorts (topped with whipped cream) that dazzled with its richness as it (quite literally) melted in my mouth.



All plans to exercise and work on the house went out the window today. It was the most decadent thing, giving myself permission to take solace in things that comfort me and to accept offerings of solace from others.


A reminder that it's important to let others nurture us, to nurture ourselves, and to embrace the sometimes mysterious nature of what we find nurturing.

Life is, after all, so fragile.

Learning how to care for what we have is as important as learning how to gracefully let go...

With helicopters in the air searching for a downed plane in the Winds that carried a father and his three sons, GG's death on Thursday night, and a friend's loss of his mother earlier this month, the grieving part of that graceful goodbye is on my mind.

W. H. Auden's words, captured and complimented by an unforgettable accent in Three Weddings and a Funeral (love that movie), remain for me the most eloquent summation of loss.


And yet good always comes from pain, ultimately-- just as birth comes from death and light from darkness. After all, aren't we part of the biggest recycling program around? The law of conservation of mass would have us believe so and I find solace in that. Nothing is ever truly gone; some elements remain while others transform.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My New Job


...means that I have an office to decorate.





These folks capture my aesthetic on the job.




Organized stimulus...

Vintage texture...


Educational color.








I am a materialist at heart so I am loath to take on a new venture without the proper supplies.

Hence the importance of Field Notes.

I'll never walk into the Winds again without a Wyoming County Fair edition in my backpack.



Then there's ambiance to consider. That takes sound. I'm a traditionalist in this department and opt for NPR. What can I say? Listening to Terry Gross makes me feel smarter.

Also on my list of office indispensables are the mysteriously named "sherpa" which I found deep in the NOLS Big House supply catalog, right next to the Windex.



I am obsessed to the point of financial insolvency. I'm going to have to throw a bake sale or five to pay for my cubicle's sherpa collection. But they are so satisfying to flip from side to side. You have no idea.

Or maybe you do. Maybe you're this way too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NOLS Japan


When we shut the door for the year on the cold-water flat that is NOLS Belarus (founded over cafeteria bread pudding on Thanksgiving Day by a duo of like-minded criminals), it's time once more to dust off the postcards of Mt. Fuji and get down to business at NOLS Japan (born in the dead of winter under the influence of sake by Fabel, Roth & Co).

Last night marked the start of our 2011 season. New to our ranks is Mandy-san, who has been welcomed aboard as Rations Manager.

The Wandering Poet and Aneka's Japanese Boy fueled a productive brainstorming session that concluded with the ratification of our spring plan: We will produce and invite our friends to star in a Valentine's Day Shotgun Wedding at the Elks Club in Lander, WY.

The math is easy.

Fake Wedding + Real Alcohol = Good Times

Our vision:

1. Guest arrive on February 12th in appropriate attire, wedding presents and alcohol in tow.

2. At the door, guests pull a role for the occasion out of a gender-specific hat...

Bride
Groom
Crazy Aunt
Jilted Ex-Girlfriend of the Groom
Hearing Impaired Grandpa
Self-Employed Plumber
Wedding Planner
Priest
Maid of Honor
Horndog
Wedding Crasher
Photographer
Flowergirl
Ring Bearer
Best Man
Father of the Bride
Waitstaff

The list goes on (clearly!).

3. Each guest is armed with appropriate props...

Camera
Ringpops
Wedding Gown
Walkie-Talkie
Bridesmaid Dress
Bible
Flask
Cologne
Kleenex
Fake Flowers
Serving Platters

You get the idea (vaguely?).

4. Ceremony and reception to follow.

Bottom line is someone's gonna get a whole mess of wedding presents...


Monday, October 25, 2010

And Still I Rise


(click on pic for poem)

I have so much to learn about courage.

Amen.


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson




Let freedom ring.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Leaves



I'll admit it.

I treasure the metaphors and corresponding epiphanies to be found in nature and its seasons.

Scratching the surface of fall, we find messages about transformation, bringing boundaries into focus, sending roots deeper in preparation for the stresses ahead, the journey of letting go and settling down, the role of wind in that journey,
becoming more colorful and fully realized with age, and celebrating the critical role of death and dying in the cycling of nutrients.

That's just so cool.

I am grateful to this lady and this lady in particular for the insights they've shared that contribute to my understanding of fall.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rathke's Tiny House



It's a compelling thought.. .


Step One: Rathke buys a house on wheels (this one).

Step Two: Jared builds it.


Step Three: We move it into the backyard.


Step Four: We plant fruit trees around it.

Step Five: Everybody lives happily ever after.


I find Tumbleweed's emphasis on quality over quantity refreshing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Satellite Junkyard



In Siberia, spaceships fall from the sky.

Jonas Bendiksen's camera
captured these debris collectors amidst a cloud of white butterflies.

This post was lifted directly from an unnamed blog by Victoria Hannan. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wow



Thanks are due to Dr. William Roth, MD for adding the modesty patch. That was clutch.

So what's the story?

I'll tell you.

In the process of packing for this climbing course he's on right now, Evan was sorting through the contents of his costume box. He mentioned that he'd always wanted a superman suit.


Well, that got me thinking...

With the help of Riley Hopeman, Esq. (a spandex guru of sorts and Evan's co-instructor), I began browsing the internet.

Riley showed me his go-to site, Running Funky, but they didn't have any superhero stuff so we turned to Google. A search for "superman unitard" brought us to Spandexman, where we found a wealth of crime-fighting outfits. I ordered Evan a medium.

Done and done.

Later that day, Yost asked me to show her the suit online and I typed in Spandexman and went to the front page of the site.

Whoa!!!

The customer gallery made my eyes bulge out (and I shouldn't use the word bulge here). I will never look at spandex the same way again.

Simply put, I did not know Spandexman was a gay fetish site.

Curtis rolled his eyes at me when I told him this and wondered out loud why the Ambiguously Gay Duo hadn't tipped me off.

All of which would have been mildly traumatizing --but nothing worthy of note-- had I not just ordered Evan a suit which I now feared would be unwearable in public due to what it revealed.


So the question remains:

Is Superman any match for the corrupting powers of Spandexman?


I have hope. I mean Superman's wholesome, isn't he?

He saves damsels in distress from burning buildings ALL THE TIME in a skin-tight unitard without coming across as skeezy.

I have to assume that Evan can do the same for 5.12 sport routes.

And now for a movie trailer...


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WANTED: This Man



I am happy that Evan is in the field, doing what he loves, sharing his passion and expertise with others. I am proud of how excellent he is at his job. I really am.

It's too bad, though, that he can't catch a glimpse of my life here when he's gone. I think he'd get a kick out of it.

For one, I can't stop cooking.

It's like an illness. I am making quantities to feed an army (so I have been feeding the office instead). My love is coming out sideways: sesame salad, pumpkin pie, guacamole, sliced fruit, a root vegetable medley, jasmine rice with stirfry...

It's outta control.

For two, I am letting myself go.

I haven't taken a shower in days, waiting for the mudding to dry on the bathroom walls. I sleep in the clothes I wore during the day, drag myself out of bed minutes before I need to be at work (ok, so that's not new), and consistently misplace my drive to exercise.

Yesterday, I remembered that I still need to feel feminine without Evan around and bought an orchid to put in my hair. Loose capri pants, a hoodie, no earrings, flip flops, hair all akimbo... but I got an orchid, see?


Liz Hall took pity on my state of disrepair and gifted me some perfume to mask the fact that I've forgotten to apply deodorant three days running (Isn't that what the Venetians used to do?). So I am walking around with my wrist to my nose daydreaming about putting my nose to Evan's neck.

And I am listening to this song that I dearly want to share with him. And I am reaching for the directions to the rice cooker, directions that he never needs to read. And I am wishing he were here to say without saying, "Simmer down." And I am leaving my things on the floor with an abandon that pays tribute to habits he left behind for me. And I am regretting washing his scent out of the sheets and not finding it in the closet among his clothes when I realized my mistake. And I am savoring that he is laying his head on a pillow we share. And I am thinking it's cold here without him, no matter how much I love the hot water bottle I place under the comforter each night in his absence.

And it's cold in part because a recently detected carbon monoxide leak has left the house without heat until we get a new furnace. That's something I think Evan would want to know about-- that we were in danger, but now we are safe. That I appreciate waking up in the morning to my life and our life together.

It's all so temporal. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I treasure the now we have.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Young And Ridiculously Gifted



Daniel Kanter, the writer of the blog Manhattan Nest, just celebrated his twenty first birthday.

Fine, you say? Not so fine.

His combo of youth and talent kinda makes me sick, but then I can't begrudge him his age BECAUSE HE IS JUST SO TALENTED!

You see my dilemma.


Also, please note: That blue he used in his bathroom?

It's called "raccoon fur" for one (which earns him all sorts of points) and it's pretty much the same shade I have in a can on my dining room floor awaiting application in my bathroom.

Swear to God.

That basically makes us mind twins doesn't it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

How Do You Pronounce Juan Tabo?

The answer, according to some tourists in New Mexico: Jew-wan Tay-bow.

A few weeks back, Evan and I boarded a plane to visit his family in Albuquerque because his grandmother was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.

I picked nervously at my zits while we waited for his mom to pick us up from the airport. Thankfully, though I was applying direct pressure to my face to stop the bleeding, I received a warm hug hello. I further relaxed in the backseat of the car as I saw firsthand how much Jacque loves her son and was reminded that, although we had just met, we shared that common ground.


From there, the loveliest weekend unfolded...


I got to meet four generations of women in Evan's family and one fabulous brother-in-law. That the experience felt like a blessing was as miraculous to me as the scope and strength of Evan's genetic pool.

Ironically, the grandma I thought I was going to meet on her deathbed turned out to be rosy cheeked and spirited-- wantonly demanding ice cream and declaring me a keeper.

Endearment is in the details...

GG (Grandma Gail) has a license plate holder that reads, "Happiness is being Norwegian," and is renown for her concord grape pies. Here's the recipe:

CONCORD GRAPE PIE

4 cups concord grapes

1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup agave nectar

3 tablespoon tapioca

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


Squeeze the grapes out of their skins and save the skins. Cook the pulp for 15 minutes on med/high heat stirring frequently or put the pulp in the microwave for about four minutes. Press the pulp through a food mill to remove seeds. Add the pulp to the skins. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil for about one minute. Remove from heat and let cool til the mixture starts to thicken. Pour into almond/date crust (2 cups almonds mixed with 8-10 large pitted dates). Cool and eat. If you put the filling in a pie crust, bake it for 35-40 minutes at
425 degrees. If you use pie crust, you don't cook the filling after you add the skins to the pulp because it will cook while it bakes.

All that AND she has a stellar turkey call:



-----------------

Anna's Pie Debacle in Three Parts...

Part One: In which an exquisite concord grape pie is made by Evan's mom from grapes found in the freezer (grapes of a rare 1994 backyard vintage).

Part Two: In which, despite the best of intentions and an acute pie obsession, I forget the pie on the trunk of the car as we back out of the garage.


Part Three: In which I inadvertently step in said pie as it rests in the shade of the glovebox, leaving a clear boot print behind and crushing my soul in the process.


Epilogue: In which the incident is met with good humor and does not result in my immediate banishment.
In addition, the margins of the pie survive and prove to be delicious.

-----------------

As for Evan's other grandmother, she insists on being called Grandmommy. Grandmommy is sensational. And depression era nouveau riche. In a house that expanded in improbable ways with the advent of each additional child, she squirreled away box upon box of furs, ribbons, and appliances in secret passageways. Rumor has it that bags of gold bullion and silver coins were hidden in a shaft below the TV set during Evan's childhood.

At ninety, she reminded me of a passage from Virginia Woolf, "She bore about her, she could not help knowing
it, the torch of her beauty; she carried it erect into any room that she entered; and after all, veil it as she might, and shrink from the monotony of bearing that it imposed on her, her beauty was apparent. She had been admired. She had been loved."

Grandmommy met her husband when she was fourteen and spent a lifetime being adored by him. There is a world map in her house that is dark with pins marking the places they traveled together. You can make it out in the background of this video Evan took of Grandmommy speed racing:




The edible creature on Grandmommy's lap is Pearle, Evan's one and a half year old niece. This kid is a slice of heaven. She's got wonderful parents so this shouldn't come as a surprise... but still. A slice of heaven.


What more is there to say?

I feel incredibly honored that Evan's family welcomed me into their lives during a trying time. The dailiness of our time together and the comfort I derived from spending time with a family not my own were a healing balm for me-- an unanticipated gift.

One for which I give thanks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ballet For Boys



One of the most memorable performances I have seen was an all male version of Swan Lake in New York City, sometime in the nineties. The physicality of the dancers transformed that familiar story and score for me, rerooting both in nature.

In an otherwise serious show, I love the playfulness with which Matthew Bourne, the choreographer, captures the persnickety awkwardness of swans in this segment:



So anyways, IT'S BACK! The pretentiously titled "Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake" is back. Catch it if you can.


Another performance that sticks out for me from that time in my life was watching this couple do a vertical tango in a small theater in San Francisco. Their athleticism is also impressive:


Silly multiple camera angles. Silly Swiss audience. But DANG those two can move through space!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Old Dawgs



Bouquets of brassica for these senior citizens...

(having received flowers recently from the Goose, dewclaws and dahlias are now somehow linked in my head)





P
ortraits by New York photographer Garry Gross...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cooking...



eight cups chicken broth

+


one cup quinoa

+



one cup corn

+


one cup chopped peppers

+


half a red onion, diced

+


one cup rough cut tomatoes

+


a generous handful of chopped cilantro

+


a dash of hot pepper flakes

+

one lime, squeezed

+


salt and pepper to taste

+



cracked pepper white cheddar cheese, chopped

+


slices of avocado

+



ernest ranglin

+


a glass of white wine

=

perfectation

(minus Evan gone to Utah)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aha!

Helping me make sense of this crazy world is the genius mind behind the blog Hyperbole and A Half, where I go to contemplate the mysterious:


and better understand the relationship between responsibility and sanity:

Thank you, Hyperbole and A Half. I owe you one.