Thursday, December 17, 2009

The creative grass is always greener

( via the New York Times)

I'm one of the few people who was never under the impression that working for yourself is less stressful than working for The Man. My day job, ironically, confirms my world view. The insanely talented writers I work with on a day-to-day basis are (for the most part) struggling to make ends meet. And, I know, I know, money isn't the only consideration, but it's big. It's what keeps me excited to go to work for The Man (who is very reasonable, by the way). So I write before work. I write on the weekends. I dream about having weeks on end with nothing to do but write (in Sweden on a sheep farm, if you're wondering). But I leave it at that - a daydream - as I click away at my Excel spreadsheet.

This NYTimes story on crafters who've taken their hobby big time, then, was verrry interesting. The lady who appears to be being smuggled by her own creation in the photo had this to say, "Etsy saved my life." And..."this is the hardest job I've ever had."

Good work, if you can get it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Muse-it to me.

Fester, fester, fester. Rot, rot, rot.*

I've been an MIA blogger for the past two months. Fortunately, this does not mean I've been an MIA human for the last two month. Life goes on, and busily (I have a button that says 'here before blogs' - I concur.) However, I'm looking forward to returning to a regular life-and-blogging schedule (The clouds and perma-grey season that's rolling into Portland will support me in this endeavor).

But, my excitement over publishing this first post in a couple months has left me frantic and without a single idea. Suddenly, my fingers are all thumbs. "This better be good," I tell myself. Then I fester.

So, this ramble is an attempt to break down the writer's block (or whatever you'd like to call it). Here, in no particular order of importance, are some experiences I've had over the last two months.

Storm Large (randomly) reminded me how important it is to have confidence and take chances. She managed to do so while showing quite a bit of cleavage. / My grandpa died just short of his 65th wedding anniversary. The only thing I've been able to conclude from this is that sadness and loss has a quiet beauty. / I turned 30, which I'm celebrating wholeheartedly, as my 20's did not go according to plan; I'm hoping I can scrap the false-hopes and disappointments, and use the "lessons" as fuel for something bigger and brighter, and unimagined. / Speaking of brighter, I saw Bright Star last week, directed by Jane Campion. A stunning, lovely film. / This has taken up most of my time the last few months, and was pretty damn successful. And I started to see myself as a leader (maybe this, too, is something that I needed to be 30 to realize is possible?)

So, there it is. A completely self-absorbed, fairly pointless post. But we're clearing the stage for that damned muse, remember? Reveal yourself, now, please.

* There it is, the only time I will every quote Meg Ryan, or the movie French Kiss. Promise.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Originally uploaded by simple moth (taking a break)

My mind's been completely on work for the last month, and will be for the next. So, they say a picture's worth a thousand words; there it is. I am that cat. Back in October.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not an idiot.

Lost in the language. Or is it a ghost?
(Photo by Philipp Klinger)

When it comes to learning other languages, I'm hopeless. Mostly it's the talking. I never sound right. Terrified, I hear that in Vietnamese (a tonal language) "ma" can mean horse or rice-seeding or mother or ghost. Add a " 't " to "ma" and you're cool or lost...and I feel hopelessly bound to my mother tongue forever. This example, of tonal meanings in the English language, made me feel a bit better. I mean, this is complicated stuff. And I've got it down. In English. Stop laughing!

(from Melancholia)
This sentence has seven different meanings, depending on the stressed word:
  1. I didn’t say she stole my money — someone else said it.
  2. I didn’t say she stole my money — I didn’t say it.
  3. I didn’t say she stole my money — I only implied it.
  4. I didn’t say she stole my money — I said someone did, not necessarily her.
  5. I didn’t say she stole my money — I considered it borrowed, even though she didn’t ask.
  6. I didn’t say she stole my money — only that she stole money.
  7. I didn’t say she stole my money — she stole stuff which cost me money to replace.
See? I'm brilliant.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grandma Graffiti, 2 of 8

{photo by seetwist}

2 of 8

Five days later she was out of the hospital, back in her shoebox 1-bedroom, l-level home. The home had been a present from her accountant-son and her daughter-in-law – a bargain foreclosure purchased when she moved to Portland from Montana. Though it had a small and pleasant-enough garden she occasionally tended to, it had the unfortunate of being in a twilight neighborhood – safe enough during the day, but the longer the shadow on the sidewalk, the more likely a homicide or drive-by-shooting became. She only ventured beyond the deadbolt door accompanied by her daughter-in-law, or if she ran short on groceries, like she did the day of the accident.

Having left her mother-in-law with a full bottle of horse-pills and a cupboard of groceries, the daughter-in-law waved goodbye from her bumper sticker encrusted Subaru. The rainforests, it seemed, were in a cheerful fight for their lives.

The grandma allowed the curtain to fall across the window, and double-checked the deadbolts. She turned inward towards her living room and felt light headed. Resting her hand on a pile of bright afghans, a wave of nausea hit her. This Portland home of hers – for eight months now, since she had been pried out of Helena – was her life in redux. Pieces of her half-century in Montana, where she had been a wife, mother and the Helena community’s only librarian were represented, like in an under-funded museum. The lamp her husband had made her from elk antlers, her award for 50 years of service to the library, her great grandma’s mahogany tea hutch. The effect made the grandmother feel trapped, as if the days in the antiseptic, practically designed hospital had affected her vision.

The hot, rotting orb in her back began to intensify, so she took a pain pill. She couldn’t stay, not here. She carefully pulled her raincoat across her shoulders, and packed a chunk of wrapped cheddar in her purse. When she opened the front door, springtime sunlight flooded her face. She closed the door behind her, leaving the lock and deadbolts untouched.

The industrial hum and tall ceilings of Office Depot immediately made her feel at ease. The pain pill had really taken effect now, and had softened the edges of the box store interior into a nest of grey down. She floated down the aisles, certain of her mission. She stared lustily at the Sharpee choices before her. There was the 12-pack, a rainbow of colors. Pastel pack. Neons. Poster tip, regular, fine, ultra-fine. Her eyes fell on a 2-pack – metallic limited edition – gold and silver traditional tip. She shivered as she reached up and took the item in her hand.

And it happened quite organically, really. On her way home she came across a beautiful yard with a swing set and two children's bikes strewn across the lawn. Hanging from the tree next to the sidewalk was a glass cylinder bird feeder. She tested the silver pen on her fingertip to get the pen’s juices flowing. She waved the birds away and steadied its surface with the palm of her hand. The moist fiber of the pen running across the smooth glass was sweeter than she ever could have imagined. The birds impatient tweets were amplified to operatic levels. An off-duty police officer drove by, barely registering the old lady on the sidewalk. And then: G.G. she tattooed, in silver cursive. She didn’t hurry away from the crime, but lingered and enjoyed the view. As the sun began to set, she headed home. On the way she unwrapped her cheese. Her appetite, it seems, was back.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

92 Days 'til Wordstock

I was just updating the Wordstock author list (!) and this video started playing. Lovely, done by Stephen Giem at W+K 12

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grandma Graffiti, 1 of 8

Dear gentle readers: this July I am participating in Declaration Editing's Super Short Summer Serial Contest (S4C). While everyone I know goes on breezy cool vacations, I will be here in Portland, so I thought I'd make good use (or, use, at least) of the month. This will not be my finest work, and will mostly be produced between the hours of 6 and 8 AM (because I have a job) and written the day of each serial's deadline, Monday's and Wednesday's (because I am lazy). And, I had to look up "serial story" because I only understood it to be something Chekhov did to milk a story for all its I think I get it now. You'll know if I don't. And, finally, I dedicate this story, in its sure-to-be fluxuating instances of success and failure, to Kristy, because she emails and yells if I don't post, and doesn't take "I'm lazy" for an answer.


She was two blocks away from Safeway before she realized she’d been stabbed. It was an event that would later be replayed on the evening news, and even three years later on America’s Most Amazing Crime Stories: grainy, silent footage of a grocery story robbery. The cashier and shoppers cowered and raised their hands above their head. In the moments leading up to the robbery she hands her check to a nameless cashier, who accepts it and turns toward the register. A flat looking teenager – whose only description anyone can recall later will be his loose tank top looped around his narrow shoulder and arm pits like stretched taffy – debuts in the upper left corner of the surveillance tape, pushing past four protesting customers. She was returning her wallet to her purse when he appeared behind her, wrapping her in a rough bear hug and demanding that everyone give him what he asked for, or the old lady gets it.

Afterward, with the police, she could only articulate the loud buzzing in her ear. Realizing she was useless, and with plenty of opinionated Safeway customers lined up to tell their versions of the story, they gave her the nod - she was free to go. She slowly gathered up her groceries that had spilled during the attack. Retrieving an apple that had rolled across the floor and under the lotto machine, she grimaced.

She shuffled down 82nd with her bag. Cars and buses flashed past, unrelenting. The late-afternoon heat danced above the sidewalk, and she struggled to take off her sweater. Two young boys snorted and sighed, impatient for her to move. She leaned over and folded her sweater, putting it atop her bag of groceries. One of the boy’s eyes widened and he hit his friend’s arm.

“Lady, lady…what the fuck’s in your back? Oh my gawd.”

Her heart started to beat faster, unsure of the boy’s motives. She leaned over intent on picking up her groceries and moving on but felt a blinding pain – and the buzzing intensified. The fall forward and two stinging scrapped knees was the last thing she recalled.

Later at the hospital she learned that during the robbery she had indeed been stabbed between her shoulders with a small butterfly blade. Despite the pain, she refused to make a fuss when her lower back started to swell and pulse as if angered. The cut had measured 2 and 1/2 inches deep, and only became visible when she had removed her loose sweater and turned her back to the delinquents on the street.

Her noisy and partially deaf hospital mate ran the local news channel day and night, and she found herself being pulled into a multi-day breaking news story about a graffiti epidemic that had swept Portland that summer. Gangs of faceless teenagers -- motherless or with a deficit of role models in their lives -- were to blame, the ageless blond newscaster reported from the field (the alley-side of a Plaid Pantry on SE Morrison and 12th), her voice carrying the confidence of the news channel's careful, in-depth research. The grandma slowly chewed on one of the peppermint taffy treats her daughter-in-law had brought her from the family's recent trip to the coast. She chewed, and considered this.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Nothing's hipper than a Portland hipster

Fashion + Food Carts. Welcome to Portland.

I think our little laid-back democracy here, come-as-you-are (creatively!) vibe Portland gives off is personified best out on the streets. I'm so excited that this lady has started a Portland street fashion blog, celebrating our collective fashionable street sense (how many ways can umbrellas and goulashes turn trendy? Watch and learn).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

School's out (for the summer)

Congrats to my little sister, who finished her first year of teaching America-style today (the long, thankless hours, the photocopies, the dizzying bureaucracy, the looming budget cuts). The insanely impressive part is this: she taught 23 wiggly little 5 and 6 year-olds to speak fluently (as fluent as a five-year-old can be) in Spanish.

The best part of this story, I think, was her honest surprise (and panic) when she realized she'll be doing it all again, with a new crop of kids, next year.

Buena suerte, mi hermana.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Review: The Song Is You

The Song Is You: A Novel The Song Is You: A Novel by Arthur Phillips

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nietzsche once said, "Without music, life would be a mistake." The Song Is You is a beautiful tribute to this. A man lost in a failed marriage and the death of his young son tries to make sense of his life through his guarded relationship with an up-and-coming singer. The prose throughout the book is electric, exactly how life feels sometimes but can so rarely be properly expressed in words (that's where the music helps). The author is talented enough to emote the joy of both words and music, and I found the book inspiring, (not at all one-note - ha).

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Moment for Mouse House

Sunday Mornings on Mouse House Porch

Can I tear up a little? Tonight is the last night I'll spend in the little house on Belmont that I've lived in for the last four years, which has come to be known as Mouse House (the temporary mouse problem was solved, but the name stuck). When I first saw Mouse House in March 4 years ago, I had moved from Washington, D.C. and was living with my parents temporarily. My sister had graduated from college, and the next day we took a road trip from Spokane, WA to Portland, OR. Knowing nothing of Portland, or Oregon, I found the address, the cross streets, and the house without too much difficulty. Kristy was sitting on a stool on the porch without her shoes on (no porch-couch at this point) reading a thick book, and I thought, this will do for a few months.

Four years later, I'm leaving. I've endured some great roommates, some miserable roommates, and some roommates who I thought I didn't know at all, but when they left their absence was felt like a missing favorite picture on the wall. I grew a garden, which grows thick in the backyard under the tallest pine in the neighborhood. I know which stair is randomly short, so I fall down it less. I know how to be quiet like a ghost in the morning, and how to slam the door so the house feels like it's about to fold in on itself.

I'll miss Movie Madness across the street, Belmont Station with its 1,000 beer choices, being within walking distance of Powell's on Hawthorne, Zupan's for its overpriced but magnificent produce, walking up to Mt. Tabor and its reservoirs (the only metro volcano in the country), Laurelhurst Park, despite the creepy woman whose death in the pond last summer was never explained...Red Square cafe where I got my coffee each morning before catching the bus. The #15 bus line. The way the kitchen is warm and sunny in the morning, even when it's rain and clouds. I'll miss you all.

I'm happily moving on. It's time. But if college equals my formative educational years, 4 years of Mouse House equals my formative, practical grown-up years. Here, I learned to cook with passion. I wrote with passion. I learned to not make excuses for doing what I loved. I learned to ditch the D.C. mentality of anxious, narrow-minded ambition. I came a few painful inches closer to my authentic self. In a falling apart old house sharing my life with a rotating group of semi-strangers. I honed me. And for that, Mouse House, a tear.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time to Fly the earth he carries his atmosphere with him...
Letter from Robert Lowell to Elizabeth Bishop, 1956

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Review: Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews.

Eat This Not That.

So, my ode to National Poetry Month has been a dismal failure. Last year I was so into it, but this year I can't even bring myself to read the poem-a-day emails sent by Knopf, which gives you a poem, poet's bio, biblio and poem analysis in 250 words or less. Nope.

Rather, I've I've been out walking, hiking or at least reading on the porch-couch until it's too dark to see. We even started a garden! Anyway, being outside has definitely made me feel more alive, so to hell with being behind on the blog posts. I'm sure Mary Oliver would approve, too.

When I saw these exotic looking fiddleferns for sale at the farmer's market, I thought "eee!"

My practical side said beware. The little coiled beasts reminded me quite a lot of my potted fern house plant, the one Belvedere chews on for fiber. A popular phrase "eat this not that" came to mind, so I went for it. I ate this (ferns from the market) not that (ferns from the bookshelf).

I improvised a crunchy stir fry of fiddleheads, shitakke mushrooms and a minced scallion, which reminded me a bit of eating the floor of an old-growth forest, but classier looking (and still surprisingly bawdy.) Summer fare? Bring it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review: God Clobbers Us All

God Clobbers Us All God Clobbers Us All by Poe Ballantine

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Poe Ballantine is scum. Poe Ballantine is my hero. He's so amazingly honest and down to earth, his characters are intensely human. And because I know *this much* about him (I took a workshop from him called "How to Write the Lost Years") I appreciate how brave he is to write. It's inspirational. And damn funny and devastating to read. Which, if I understand anything about life, is that it's funny and devastating. So, four stars! Because only Alice Munro gets five.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Quick as Lightning

Photo by Vangelis

Yes yes. National Poetry Month is flying by, and I'm too distracted with spring to celebrate. Ironic, hmm? Something more in depth soon but for now, here's a sweet little poem from the great Sherman Alexie, who hails from my homeland of eastern Washington. I snagged this via the Seattle Times.

"How to Create an Agnostic"

Singing with my son, I clapped my hands

Just as lightning struck.

It was dumb luck,

But my son, in awe, thought

That I'd created the electricity.

He asked, "Dad, how'd you do that?"

Before I could answer, thunder shook the house

And set off neighborhood car alarms.

I thought that my son, always in love with me,

Might fall to his knees with adoration.

"Dad," he said. "Can you burn

down that tree outside my window?

The one that looks like a giant owl?"

O, my little disciple, my one-boy choir,

I can't do that because your father,

Your half-assed messiah, is afraid of fire.

— Sherman Alexie

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This, That and the Other

Sylvia, front and center on my bookshelf.

April is National Poetry Month (!) and I will be posting about our poetry-related world at least once a week for the rest of the month. And poems, but not my own. Never my own.

And, I think I might've just found a vocation that suits. Did you know that the New York Pubic Library has a full-time Culinary Librarian? I think I've found my dream occupation. You can read the lucky lady's blog here.

I am an April Fool

Ooh, new feature: Gmail Autopilot.

Congrats, gmail. You got me.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Delicious Democracy.

The amazingly talented Maira Kalman has a lovely op-ed in today's New York Times, which covers Democracy's progression from France's guillotine days to the New World to P.S. 47 in the Bronx.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nightmare Nalgene

At the end of the month, I'm losing both my roommates. I'll miss them, but it also opens up the opportunity for me to question what actually happened above. Several weeks before Thanksgiving, my purple Nalgene bottle disappeared from the dish rack in the kitchen. My Nalgene adorned with both femme and feminist stickers, and glittery stars. Did I mention it's purple? And that both my roommates are straight males? So, it goes. Like many roommate matters, one doesn't want to bring something up (or cause a scene) unless it's worth the drama. Because I have a back-up Nalgene, I wait. Weeks go by, so many that it seems ridiculous to mention the Nalgene that disappeared before Thanksgiving. So, I give up the purple Nalgene ghost.

I mourn the loss, I move on.

Fastforward to a few days ago when I wander into the kitchen and balanced precariously atop a pile of dirty dishes, it sits! Purple Nalgene. My heart beats faster, of course, but I know enough about guys and hygiene to assume that something that has been out of my sight for several months is probably out for the count. Nightmare Nalgene, I think. Against my better judgement, I grasp it tightly, twist the lid and smell. It smells pleasantly of mildly chlorinated city water. No funk here. And then my finger catches on something. Immediately below my KEEP ABORTION LEGAL orb is a weathered, 3 inch tall sticker of a grizzly bear, growling at me with his sharp, bloodied teeth. Where the hell did that come from?

Where has this Nalgene been?
What stories it must have to tell!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The new economy, in short.

"Duria Antiquior (An Earlier Dorset)," by Robert Farren, circa 1850

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Go, go rainbow.

Portland's rain bring plenty of lovely rainbows
Photo by WooJay

My response to this is this; and to this is this.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Read it. Eat it.

Collage by sethurner

I just sat down with a fresh cup of tea, a stolen cutie, and fifteen minutes of free time. I checked out one of my favorite foodie blogs (Stickyrice - it's my dream to live in beautiful Hanoi and just eat my way through the city like these folks do). Stickyrice mentioned their blog's presence on a list of the "50 best food blogs in the world" curated by The Times in London (included in the top ten were two of my favorites: Orangette and 101 Cookbooks.) While I doubt it's a perfect top 50 (aren't the best foodie blogs still undiscovered or underappreciated?), I'm excited to chew on their choices. After work, of course.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Microsoft Windows to World: I'm a child on a PC, you're an idiot.

This is a slap in the face to anyone born before 1970.
Jan's-of-the-World, don't watch!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Digging deep.

Photo by Raginglily

Maybe it's a throw back to when I was small, and worms were such a big part of the day-to-day experience of being a kid. Dares to eat the worms, murderously cutting them in half to see if they would continue to wiggle across the sidewalk with each half going its separate ways. The battle cry of misunderstood children everywhere - NOBODY LIKES ME, EVERYBODY HATES ME, GUESS I'LL GO EAT SOME WORMS. I noticed today's New York Times' article on composting not for its useful information (which it had), but for the hilarious readers' comments.

Somewhere, in the process of stepping up and doing their part for mother earth, people were deeply traumatized by this immediate throwback to childhood and the most organic circus of all - urban composting. And, immature at heart, I could only giggle and shriek at the thought of it all.

Here, then, are the best of the readers' comments:

"I took my then 5 year old son along and when we opened the bin I was horrified to see this disgusting rotting swamp. My gag reflex immediately engaged. I was glad to have my son along to fish out the worms which seemed like a perfect boy pursuit. Soon after he reached in however, his hand covered in a plastic bag, I heard him very silently murmuring, "It's only a dream, it's only a dream, it's only a dream." When worm bins go bad, they do so in a big way."

"My roommate and I attempted to compost with a worm bin in our kitchen starting last summer, and have made attempts with three batches of worms, all with the same results: worm death...we always came home to find worms spread out, dried and dead, all over the kitchen floor. Too hot, too wet, too dry, too much citrus, not enough ventilation, too much frozen food, too much fresh food, or a combination of these factors led us to give up after the third tragic attempt."

(Some good news) "Worms eat the bacteria involved in decomposition, they cannot "chew".

"My roommates and I put a worm bin in our kitchen (off to the side) and successfully composted for a few months with no bad smells or problems. We didn't have to take the trash out as much and it was wildly entertaining. Unfortunately, disaster struck one fateful day in August when the temperature of our kitchen killed ALL of our little worm friends. R.I.P fellows. It also killed any desire for indoor composting."

"My fatal error was spritzing the top of the bin with water each time I fed it...Two days later, the floor around the bin was littered with dried corpses. Desperate to save the few remaining worms, I tore up several cardboard boxes and newspapers and mixed the shreds into the stinking wet waste. Unfortunately, this activated the compost pile. The whole bin grew hot to the touch. It steamed for several days, and the few brave worms that had survived the flood cooked."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy President's Day

Love him!

Today, when we celebrate President's Day, we can celebrate President Obama and the possibility of real change. We can celebrate authentic, civic-minded leadership in all its forms. When I was attending a Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership writer's retreat in upstate New York, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of amazing women, including the Woodhull Institute's inspirational executive director, Wende Jager-Hyman. She recently penned a letter* to us Woodhull alums, which should remind us all about the power of thoughtful (not mindless) patriotism. The namesake of the Woodhull Institute, Victoria Woodhull, was the first woman to ever run for President of the United States, before women even had the right to vote. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, President Obama - and countless other examples of ethical leaders who will never be president, like Victoria Woodhull - they are what truly makes the United States powerful.

* I attached this letter as a comment to this post...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Writing on fire

photo by Mukumbura

"We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning."
- Sandra Cisneros, on her passion to write at 26
(from her forward to the 25th anniversary edition of the House on Mango Street)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Would Philip Roth Do?

They descended on the stage, teeny and shoeless (the teeny part probably had a bit to do with my upper tier, upper balcony (up up up) seats) and folded themselves into two giant arm chairs. Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett, together for only the second time in their lives, compliments of Literary Arts' Arts & Lecture series. They sat across from one another and chatted, like the girlfriends they were (on stage in front of several thousand people, mind you). Elizabeth Gilbert claimed that if she stopped writing, she'd just find something else to do, it wouldn't cause her to go into crisis. A pushy boutique salesperson would be good, she thought. Ann Patchett would make complex, minute dioramas, which seemed fitting to the detailed care she gives to characters in her novels. Neither said anything too revolutionary, but both were smart, funny, and self-deprecating. They talked about the demands of being female and a writer. Ann Patchett's agent, she shared, had made her an apron that said, "What would Philip Roth Do?" So today, I suggest we all mutter that to ourselves, as we go about our day. Thanks, A & E.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Let there be lemons


Popular words in this Sunday's New York Times: Despair, foreclosure and downsizing. So I threw down the paper and headed to the kitchen, where three gorgeous and glowing Meyer's lemons had sat patiently all night, waiting for their chance to shine.


The world seems to go to great lengths lately to remind me it's only mid-February, the grayest stretch of winter in Portland. Not just the news. The mood has managed to saturate my kitchen, too. My plans to make some spicy green garlic gnocchi were thwarted when a Pastaworks employee admonished me that the greens wouldn't be ready locally for at least a month, maybe two. Feeling cranky and rebellious against it all - people, the economy and limited produce - I purchased three spendy and decidedly not local Meyers lemons.

And this morning, I turned the lemons into a tangy curd. My mood, and my kitchen, moved a little closer to sunshine, too.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


According to, I hit the milestone of 5,000 unique viewers today, 393 days after I first posted.

Thanks to everyone who reads Eden from Sweden!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Agree to proceed

Lovely photo courtesy of Jennifer Spires

I had a modest spiritual experience reading this article in February's Esquire over a spicy Mexican mocha at Common Grounds, as the barista turned up the stereo playing, perfectly, Modest Mouse's Float On.

I demand you read the entire article, but if you absolutely can't, here's the first 250 words:

There is this thing we do. It's a small thing. It's a formality, at worst an annoyance. We do it every time we buy a computer or a device requiring software. We do it when we download software online, and then when the software is updated. We do it in order to buy things. We do it in order to sell or share things. We do it in order to find dates and to expand the universe of friendship. We do it in order to express ourselves in writing or film or song, and then we do it in order to read and to watch and to listen. It is the act of everyone, and it involves everything. And what it is — what we do — is this: We agree. We agree to the terms and conditions of service. We agree to use a product that is not our own — that is licensed, not sold. We agree to entrust and, if our trust is broken, to forgive. In what might be called the opposite of the moment of truth, we are given a choice, to accept or to decline, and we accept. We are in the habit of assent, and so the world we live in is the world we have helped bring into being. It is the power of our powerlessness. Our virtual signatures are everywhere, and yet we lost track of them long ago and have no idea what liabilities they might entail — what we've given up and to whom we've given it... (continued here)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Guiding (Left) Hand


Here's to Obama, finally secured as the President of the United States. And apparently, he's my kind of people:

Lefties in Power | 1:04 p.m. Mr. Obama is now signing the guest book in the Capitol. He uses his left hand and was a bit scrunched up, saying his hand was cold from being outside. Senator Feinstein, standing next to him, notes that she was a “lefty,” too. Nice little window into the idle chitchat that preoccupies national figures at a moment like this.

[From the NYTimes minute-by-minute blogging of the inauguration]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Party of One.

The turn of the new year has also been a catalyst in my modest little life, I think. I was watching a cute little romance-comedy (no, really), and heard one of the characters say that their life needed a paradigm shift. Having never ventured into the philosophy department beyond Logic 101, I didn't know what she meant, exactly. But even not sounded right.

A paradigm shift, if you're not in-the-know, is a fundamental change in theory basically demanded by outside forces. Outside forces demand that you understand the world differently. Those forces have been at work - probably in more subtle ways - for years. But the economy, my age, my surroundings, are all making me sit up and respond now.

So I was presented with an amazing opportunity. I was fed very strong martinis and then sent on my way. I got home and with my mind too busy to sleep but not sober enough to read I watched an old episode of Party of Five. I hadn't seen this show in at least 10 years, and was alarmed by how young all the characters seem now. Charlie Salinger (played by Matthew Fox), the wise and sexy but impossibly older brother, when last I saw him, was now my age - MY AGE. Bailey Salinger (played by Scott Wolf) raged about his relationship troubles, which seemed odd for a fetus. Seriously, I wouldn't have trusted the kid to babysit, and as the episode progressed, I watched him deal with the wreckage of his last relationship, a new relationship, and his newly found friends at Alcoholics Anonymous. All while in high school. A fetus!

Ok, so this post is starting to read like I'm drinking down the martinis as I write, but I'm not. I'm sober and taking stock of the events of this new year and the opportunities for change. It's a paradigm shift for sure. I'm ready, and not too young to miss my chance or too old to use age as an excuse. Charlie Salinger, brother, you know what I mean.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Simply 2009.

Happy New Year, Lovelies.
Here's to a year of paring down

and focusing on what really matters.