Monday, December 31, 2007
Weekend full of nieces, 1 nephew, & 1 napping baby: all good stuff. + some old friends & plenty of conversations about everything over diner food & Dino's, which was more than worth the price of admission.
I'm meeting little H.M. for the first time this trip since she only just introduced herself to the world two months ago. She's such a mellow baby -- so little fussing, so much cuddling. Probably helps some that my voice shares some of the same vocal patterns as her daddy's: familiar music to coo to.
Whatever it was, it worked: We took to each other straightaway.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I love what I do now, but I've never loved working so much as when I worked at the Trident when I was a student, supporting my two double-latte habit a day with subsidized coffee drinks, and doling out one of the few legal substances that made its way into Boulder's sewage run off.
Started up by three Buddhists from Berkeley before good coffee was easy to come by in Boulder, the Trident used to be almost the *only* place where you could get real coffee in town. And although good coffee is now much easier to come by under the Flatirons I'd still recommend that you go out of your way for a cup of the Trident's coffee at the far West end of the Pearl Street Mall the next time you're there -- a recommendation based in part on sentiment but mostly on knowing how much coffee matters in that place.
To become a barista at the Trident it was expected that you would first bus tables -- for a year. This was your apprenticeship.
Some kind of conference took place behind closed doors before the invitation was issued to train at the piston-driven Rancilio (no pre-programmed push button nonsense at the Trident -- this was a real machine that required timing, temperament, and a musical sense of tempo to operate) and then M.S. (who's still with the Trident and whom it was good to see again yesterday when I stopped by to pay my respects) whose true business title I don't think I ever knew (and don't know now) but who I think of as "the Elder" (not that he's old. just that he knows. so much.) -- M.S. would pull you aside and let you know that it was time.
And then your training would begin.
There were conversations about the correct color and texture of the coffee's crema as it poured like honey through the grip; about the right grind and how the burrs would sometimes have to be adjusted when the weather changed because humidity in the air impacted the pour. There were conversations about tamping, frothing and ratios of espresso to milk.
In the summertime there were careful machinations to create an iced coffee that was strong enough to hold up as the ice melted down, and intensely labor-intensive iced espresso drinks in which we lovingly layered a strata of chilled espresso over a base of cold milk.
I loved the art required to work there, and the speed needed to serve the line that snaked out the door. And I loved that the management we worked for respected that art and asked us to own it.
I also remember with respect and reverence the best bitch slap I ever received on the job. I was late by about ten minutes for my shift -- I had been late before and had as good an excuse now as I had then, but M.S. had had enough of it.
He pointed out that I was late, I started in with my excuses, and he interrupted me, saying: "No. Don't be late again."
When I was going through my divorce and unsure of my place in the world, I came *this close* to calling him up to see if I might spend a few weeks at the Trident, working the machine, making coffee for the folks, flowing from one order, one act of creation, one delivered request to the next.
I sensed then that maybe it could right my world, make sense out of things again -- the way making gifts by hand does, the way giving can fill you up whole.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A Red Robin children's menu, requesting the child's name, email address and other personally identifiable information, on which my 8 year old niece M explains COPA -- the Child Online Protection Act -- for the folks. In crayon.
It reads: "I can't tell you."
Posting by cameraphone from Denver, CO where I'm catching up with the family -- including my brand new baby niece, H.M.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
a found poem
we are wet
the woods thicken
it's getting darker
little muddy paths
lead off to the left
into the woods
until you can't see
this is never going to end.
and then suddenly
like a bolt of lightening
but then truly
goes on doing
it's always done
Found in Tim Krabbe's The Rider
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
a found poem
after the women descend[ed]
on this swarming city
they would find him
at his stall
near the post office
letter writer for the unlettered
Hungry, battered, lonely
needing someone to convert
their spoken words into
to mail back home
ferry[ing] false reassurances
[of] steady jobs as shopkeepers
and Bollywood stagehands
nothing of the brothels, beatings, rapes
rupees agonizingly acquired
Many called Mr. Sawant “brother”
and tied a string on his wrist each year
in the Hindu tradition
Sometimes, suspicious parents
boarded a train to Mumbai
and turned up at [the] stall
which a daughter had listed
as her address
Mr. Sawant greeted them
but disclosed nothing
Found in The Ink Fades on a Profession as India Modernizes in this morning's New York Times.
Video: Central do Brasil trailer. A 1998 movie about another letter writer.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
plaintext = from the back of the Bisquick box
italics = from my Bompa
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 1/3 cups milk (best that it's whole milk)
1 egg separated; beat the white into frothy peaks
STIR ingredients until well blended but do it like this: 1) sift the Bisquick into the bowl and 2) make a careful well in the center where you will 3) drop in the egg yolk, break it with your whisk, and initiate the stir before 4) introducing the milk and then, when you've whisked your mixture to be lump free set the whisk aside and 5) carefully, CAREFULLY, fold in the egg white.
POUR onto the center of hot greased waffle iron you'll know it's hot when the light winks out. Do not attempt to make the waffle before the light winks out, even if your granddaughters, still in their PJs, their long skinny legs hanging over the stools that lift them up high over the counter where you're making the waffles, appear to be terribly, terribly hungry. Famished even. And excited, because they've had your waffles before. (Please Note: Grease the waffle iron with butter. By all means: it must be butter.); close lid.
To EAT Allow the grandchildren to top their own, but after they've gorged on several smeared thick with soft butter and maple syrup, recommend that they just may want to try one like you like yours: saturated with melted butter, topped with a thick even crust of cinnamon sugar.
And you will find that they do.
Optional: Serve with bacon. Maybe some eggs.
jesus pope and babies
Originally uploaded by tijo.
a found poem
This is not how Mary and Joseph came into Bethlehem,
but this is how you enter now.
at the wall, three stories high, thorned
with razor wire. Standing beside it, you feel
as if you're at the base of a dam. Israeli soldiers armed
with assault rifles examine your papers. They search
No Israeli civilian, by military order, is allowed
in. And few Bethlehem residents are permitted out.
If you're cleared to enter, a sliding steel door grinds
open. The soldiers step aside, and you drive
through the temporary gap in the wall. Then the door slides
back, squealing on its track, booming shut.
You're in Bethlehem.
The city, at the scrabbly hem of the Judaean desert, is built
over several broad, flat-topped hills, stingy
with vegetation. The older homes are made
of pale yellow stone, wedged
along steep, narrow streets. A couple of battered taxis ply
the roads, drivers heavy
on the horns. At an outdoor stall, lamb meat rotates
on a spit, dripping fat. Men sit on plastic chairs and sip
from small glasses of thick Arabic coffee. There's an odor
of uncollected garbage. As you work your way up the hill, you can see
the scope of the wall and chart its ongoing expansion
A gray snake, segmented by cylindrical guard towers, methodically
constricting the city.
From Michael Finkel’s Bethelehem 2007 in the December issue of National Geographic
Sunday, December 23, 2007
In this, the season of gifts, I have just received a wonderful gift, and now I will share it with you: Enlightenment through Bacon »
Many thanks to Martin, for the link, and to Boing Boing, for the original post.
p.s. Re beggin' strips. My sister never misses the opportunity to remind me of the time I was babysitting a neighbor kid and rifled the kitchen for treats, coming up only with some dry jerky stashed on top of the fridge. I downed a few pieces. Thought little more of it.
Until the parents arrived home and, just before the dad gave me a lift, treated their yappy little dog to a dog treat -- the very same jerky that I had availed myself of earlier that evening.
More on bacon »
US flight patterns, as recorded by the FAA and visualized by the Celestial Mechanics Project -- the (quicktime) Movie »
Here's the main index page, with several other visualizations »
via beebo_wallace & the Celestial Mechanics project.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
We've spoken of the meatloaf before.
I have since acquired a new baking dish, and tackled the meatloaf once again.
This evening, as a matter of fact. And though I'm not, as a rule, much of a meat eater, I've found that it's quite as good as I remember it.
Even without the shards of glass.
1 lb of
lean, twice-ground round steakthe great "meatloaf mix" that they serve up at the City Meat Market down the street -- which I think is a trifectorate of beef, ethically-vile veal, and some pork
1/2 cup of soft breadcrumbs from
homemade whole wheat breadI had a little challah that I cubed and froze around Thanksgiving -- so I used that for my crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-5 leaves fresh lovage, finely chopped(not much of a celery lover, so I left these out)
4-5 fresh celery leaves, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup home-canned tomato sauce, or high-quality commercial sauce (yeah: guess which one I opted for ;)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat with all the dry ingredients so that they are distributed evenly. Next, lightly beat the egg in a small bowl and mix it into the meat mixture. Finally, add the milk and blend into the meat mixture. Shape the mix into a loaf and place it in a greased baking pan. Pour the tomato sauce on the top of the meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour. Slice the loaf and serve on warmed plates.
Serves 6. Or 2 & one begging cat, over two nights. Provided one of the two does not carelessly & excessively heat the loaf pan and then transfer to a cold(er) surface.
Provided that, you should do just fine.
Adopted freely once again from, you guessed it, A Painter's Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O'Keefe (girl knew how to eat)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
& good company.
Because sometimes that's all you need.
And other times that's everything.
Listening to Rico jam at the Ballydoyle.
Downers Grove, IL
Posting by cameraphone.
The bristlebot. Because none of us has nearly enough time to build something like this -- which is why it's nice to live through others.
And when you're entirely short on time for your Christmas greetings, try the holiday-o-matic »
both via Neatorama
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I needed a pic of course, and then Patrick T. Power posted this, which he shot last night as we wrapped up the meal that we shared before I packed it up and headed home from Ann Arbor. He was kind enough to participate in a usability study that we were doing, schelpping all the way down from Lansing, and kind enough to share stories and a little Teriyaki after.
Another important receptacle: Stories. How we tell them. Why we tell them. That we tell them.
How they shape our world.
p.s. do you see that glimmer of silver light on my hand in the left hand side of the frame? that's my Nini's birthstone -- a ruby -- in a pave setting. it was a gift from my family for coordinating her funeral. so unnecessary. such a tremendous treasure. with an inscription that reads: "you are loved."
Monday, December 17, 2007
I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.
so much more where that came from. so good.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Glad that we were able to give her a tremendous send off, almost all parties present, each stepping forward in the fullness of their gifts to send her on her way; the wind at her back, the sun on her face.
The kind of funeral that led one guest to remark, almost apologetically, that it "was the best funeral" she'd ever been to.
Grateful that I'm rich in family. Such a beautiful, generous, deep-feeling family.
Reminded how much ritual matters, how much music can soothe, how important it is to gather together, to remember, to cry, to tell stories. And to laugh.
Reminded how much each small kindness, of which Nini sowed so many, blooms full into fruit and scatters its seed on the wind to the far distance. Reminded how one small gift of kindness can change a life.
Reminded how much kindness, how much love, has shaped mine.
Posting by cameraphone from SFO.
Return leg to Chicago delayed, of course.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
With salami on the side.
Because Nini would want us to eat.
Posting by cameraphone from Sonoma, CA.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
David isn't listening. Many folks have stopped by with the same "all they want is my money" complaint, and a few have commented in just the last few days.
The Open Letter to David Plouffe, Campaign Manager, Obama for America that I posted back in March continues to be one of the most frequently hit posts on detritus, and for awhile there I was hopeful that it was your campaign that was looking it up.
But given the mail that I received from you just today ("When Hillary Attacks", containing no fewer than FOUR "donate today" links) I'm guessing is was disgruntled folk. Not your people. Your people don't seem to spend a whole lot of time online, or answering email; and they certainly don't seem to have their ear to the ground.
I'm sorry to hear it, Mr. Obama. More than anything I'm sorry to be the one to admit that I've lost that lovin' feeling.
'Cause baby, I had a real thing for you.
I was thinking I might lighten things up a bit by posting a few of the shots I took while tooling around with the b1-boys in the Bay Area the weekend before everything went to hell.
And then I remembered they were mostly of graveyards. Which pretty much makes it a busman’s holiday for our purposes.
It was one graveyard, actually: The one behind the Mission Dolores in San Francisco where a scene from Vertigo was shot.
The goal of the day was to go on a filmgrammage and shoot at most of the locations for that film. But it didn’t happen, because a lot of other stuff did.
But anyway: here’s what some of it looked like »
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Goudy Old Style is a graceful, balanced design with a few eccentricities, including the upward-curved ear on the g and the diamond shape of the dots of the i, j, and the points found in the period, colon and exclamation point, and the sharply canted hyphen. The uppercase italic Q has a strong calligraphic quality. Generally classified as a Garalde (sometimes called Aldine) face, certain of its attributes—most notably the gently curved, rounded serifs of certain glyphs—suggest a Venetian influence.
Two years back I chose to set Nini's book in Goudy Old Style for reasons that I kept to myself at the time (mostly because I believe it's best that we typefreaks stay quiet about the strange synaesthesia that we experience around letterforms).
But now I'll spill: I felt it had the firm uprightness of a Catholic girl from Kansas, the solid serifs of a businesswoman who tackled work as though it were a sacrament, the elegance and grace of a hostess who knew how to put on the swank, and the warmth and eagerness of a woman who loved to learn and thoroughly enjoyed her life.
Today I set the program for her Funeral Mass in the same typeface.
For all the same reasons.
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal,
and hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
— Mary Oliver
I'm so glad I save old letters. Just found this written on the back of an envelope given to me by a friend a long time ago. It was tucked into a pile of letters tied with ribbon alongside a birthday card from my Nini, a sweet confection received only a few years back that struck me at the time as unexpectedly and delightfully effusive. It's peppered with words like "forever" and "always" and "still" and it concludes: "It isn't any wonder that a thousand years from now, somewhere, somehow I'll still be loving you."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Yes. I honor the dish.
What the Executive Chef of the Bayleaf said after he described the brilliant Paella that he learned from a fellow who inherited it from his Great-Great-Grandmother from Granada, when I asked him if he makes it with the chorizo that he told me the recipe calls for.
Something amazing: Even though it’s Christmas, even though people are packed to the gills with parties and bookings and things to do, Nini’s funeral service and the reception to follow are coming together beautifully. As though all the stars are aligned.
We’re planning a luncheon after the interment in Napa. Just imagine trying to seat fifty people on a Saturday during the Holidays in Napa. And yet: doors opened wide.
Last night I spoke with the executive chef who’s planning the menu. He was so generous and solicitous and kind about our situation. And as he described the courses, the care that he takes with the Cornish Hens, the Paella recipe that he received from his mentor, and his warm words washed over me, I was reminded of a moment long ago when we read the Odyssey in a University course, and my professor remarked on the banquet that was laid for Odysseus, who had lost everything.
Commented on how this is what we must do when death visits us: We must eat. Eventually.
Because this is how we know we are alive. And this is how we pledge to keep on living.
Update: Indeed. The paella was amazing.
Monday, December 10, 2007
It's International Human Rights Day.
I had a big ol' post planned, but frankly friends, given everything that happened this weekend, I don't have it in me.
We'll let the Universal Declaration of Human Rights speak for itself »
Spent the weekend tucking Nini in, making arrangements for her funeral and helping to organize the dispatch of her apartment in Phoenix -- surrounded, most importantly, by family.
Which included (on this round): Two cousins, my uncle (the lone brother among six sisters) and all of my aunts. Every single one of my five brilliant beautiful maddening voluminous aunts with their hearts as big as the hills.
Each one of them their heart breaking, each one of them doing what they needed to do next each in their own way: one making sure that every one of us has the dollars we need to make it to the funeral; another drafting the eulogy; the other suggesting a desert hike; most of them in their turn making sure that everyone was eating, and then everyone: sifting and sorting, packing and planning.
Several family meetings were called, of course; important matters discussed. There was much chatter and cross-talk and sometimes hurt feelings and occasionally the volume reached such heights that I wished I had brought my noise canceling headphones along, but mostly it all worked out and mostly there were hugs and good tears and the early stages of settling into this place called grief.
And I spent the weekend amazed to be among them, sometimes startled to observe habits and gestures that are so innately and immediately their mother's, sometimes shaken to tears by thinking I was seeing my Nini pass in the hallway, when in fact it was just one of her daughters.
One of her brilliant beautiful maddening voluminous daughters, so different each from the other, each possessing a unique facet of the woman who brought them here, each sparkling full of life like she did, each uncannily strong with a sweet creamy center.
Each one of them gorgeous. Each one of this woman born.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
That means you too.
Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
December 10th is International Human Rights Day.
They have no right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Neither do you. Neither does anyone.
Article 30, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
December 10th is International Human Rights Day.
She has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of her personality is possible.
So do you.
Article 29, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
December 10th is International Human Rights Day.
Nini gets this one. Of course she does. She's much in my thoughts just now, having just passed. I worked with my cousin on her obituary which reports not only a life well lived but on all the civic activities that she made a contribution to during her life. She gave so much as a small business owner in Mill Valley and a mother in Sonoma. Among them: She was instrumental in the founding of The Church Mouse, a thrift shop that supports education.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
"3-way" because it has 1) spaghetti 2) gold star chili & 3) cheese. I guess. (They tell me onions would make it a 4-way.)
Surprisingly good. In a stick to your ribs comfort me with carbs and greasy goodness kind of way.
Because you know what frugal spontaneous devil-may-care characters those terrorists are.
To their credit the TSA guys were awfully compassionate when I explained to them why my luggage was overpacked with things like framed pictures and a lovely hand embroidered shawl that still smells, even now smells (oh that it always smells) like my Nini.
Headed home. Sonoma on Friday for the funeral.
Posting by cameraphone from the Phoenix Sky-something (Harbor?) Airport.
In an instant the unexpected happens, then passes, and everything is changed.
Shot earlier today on Lost Dog Trail, Scottsdale, AZ
Posting by cameraphone
Saturday, December 08, 2007
traveled in together through North and Central America.
The dozens and dozens of others are of family and friends and memories of a life well lived.
Posting by cameraphone from Phoenix, AZ where I'm saying goodbye.
Friday, December 07, 2007
After great pain, a formal feeling comes --
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs --
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round --
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought --
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone --
This is the Hour of Lead --
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow --
First -- Chill -- then Stupor -- then the letting go --
— Emily Dickinson
Nini passed this morning. Just as my flight touched down she let go.
I'll write more later: Right now there's much to do.
Thank you friends, for your kind words, wishes, prayers and hugs.
So I travel, oh, I dunno, let's say a LOT, through airports, most of it wearing that shit kicking business armor that I put on when I'm on the clock.
And, after the initial strip down, I usually move through security without incident, gather my goods and continue to the gate.
But this morning, after rising at 3 AM and driving through the dark and the cold to board a plane that will take me to the many tears of Phoenix where my grandmother lays dying instead of the weekend of laughter long ago planned with friends; planned long before Nini -- who was expected to live to 100, hale and strong and sharp -- felt the slow ache in her back, the shooting pain across her chest, the knocking on the door of normalcy called cancer.
So this morning, of all mornings, they decide to mark me and pull me into the "special" line, call me solicitously by my last name and swab my boots and paw through my bag.
This morning I'm the enemy, and, with my exoskeleton split wide open to expose my soft underbelly, they pull me into the pen and pat me down with unfeeling hands sheathed in plastic gloves.
This morning, when all I ache for is to be held close, to remember where I end and the rest of the world begins, this morning they brush their hands unfeelingly across all my extremeties as though I'm packing malice aforethought, and then, just as they tip me past the point of tolerance (how can anyone so acutely *not see* another human being?), turn abruptly and send me on my way.
Outbound to Phoenix.
To grandmother's house we go.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
So are you.
Article 28, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
December 10th is International Human Rights Day.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
He has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
So do you.
Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
December 10th is International Human Rights Day.
or how gourds got their reputation
Exhausted. Starved. Glad I baked up that metric ton of butternut squash that I scored from one of our last CSA hauls and froze the meat. Glad now that I can pull it from the freezer and cook up a pot of sweet soup in no time, freely adapted from my girl Georgia's Pumpkin Soup.
pumpkinbutternut squash. Mash it up good and blend 1 cup (or 2) of squash with 3 cups chickenveggie broth and 1 cup of cream or half & half. Blend until smooth; heat but do not simmer. Season with herbsea salt and freshly grated nutmeg.
Eat it up, yum.
 Realizing too that, even given all of the recipes I dip into over time, most of the ones that I share here at detritus come from one of three books, so let's have this post do double duty and serve up a recommendation for some killer cookbooks for your favorite cooker come Christmas: