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.