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feathers on the line

When it rains, the paths in the woods turn into little streams:


I was walking that path in the early morning--the early morning light is very golden. In the picture below, you can't tell the season. Is it fall? Is it spring? It's a golden time.


Meanwhile, at home, I created something fiery--homemade sriracha sauce, following directions desperance gave in comments to this entry.

It is delicious! (Desperance, I only made half a recipe, which is why my results are so small. I have the paste, as well--yum.)


This morning, when I was still drowsing, they were interviewing a reedy-voiced guy about immunization campaigns and difficulties eradicating polio. He sounded young and idealistic, but committed.

Turned out was Bill Gates, talking about how his foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is disbursing its funds. (Story here.)

He's one of the world's richest people. Imagine having all that money to put at the disposal of a cause you care about. If you could establish a foundation, what would it focus on?

But. These two parts. First, another from Muley.

hard to read without your heart feeling ready to burstCollapse )

And the evil used-car dealer who preys on those who've been driven from their homes and need transport west. Reading his chapter, I heard Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" in my head.

this ain't gonna lastCollapse )

Photo by Dorothea Lange

Words like music


I was saying to rachelmanija that the way conversation flows in The Grapes of Wrath is like music. Muley, a guy who's been kicked off his land, says this:

"Well, sir, it's a funny thing. Somepin went an happened to me when they tol' me I had to get off the place. Fust I was gonna go in an kill a whole flock a people. Then all my folks all went away out west. And I got wanderin' aroun'. Jus' walkin' aroun'. Never went far. Slep' wherever I was. I was gonna sleep here tonight. That's why I come. I'd tell myself, 'I'm lookin' after things so when all the folks come back it'll be all right.' But I knowed that wan't true. There ain't nothin' to look after. The folks ain't never comin' back. I'm jus' wanderin ' around like a damn ol' graveyard ghos'."

And then the preacher picks up the theme, but thinks about how it plays out in his own life--and isn't that how conversation is? Someone says something that resonates with you, and what resonates is that you've experienced something similar, and so you share:

"Fella gets use' to a place, it's hard to go," said Casy. "Fella gets use' to a way a thinkin', it's hard to leave. I ain't a preacher no more, but all the time I find I'm prayin', not even thinkin' what I'm doin'."

Then we get a vision of the cooking rabbit, its juice dripping into the fire, causing a spurt of flame to shoot up, and Tom Joad says, "Smell her. Jesus, look down an' jus' smell her!" And then back to Muley, who says,

"Like a damn ol' graveyard ghos'. I been goin' around' the places where stuff happened. Like there's a place over by our forty; in a gully they's a bush. Fust time I ever laid with a girl was there . . . An' there's the place down by the barn where Pa got gored to death by a bull. An' his blood is right in that groun', right now. Mus' be. Nobody never washed it out. An' I put my han' on that groun' where my own pa's blood is part of it." He paused uneasily. "You fellas think I'm touched?"

See that graveyard ghost coming in again? These three voices, three different tones, creating the most melancholy music. Tom Joad with his eyes on the meal, the preacher with prayer in him, even though he has no faith, Muley, reduced to a graveyard ghost.

I think this book is going to leap up to among my favorites of all time.

surely there's a lesson in it

My friend 88greenthumb gave me some loquat seeds, and I planted them in some compost-just-recently turned into soil.

All sorts of things sprouted. A tomato, for one thing. At last what I thought were the loquats started to come up, but also, some really intense and vigorous weeds, that I suspected were, oh, maybe raspberries. These kept *persisting* even though I pulled them out.

Eventually I checked to see what loquat seedlings looked like. The things I'd thought were loquat seedlings were not, and the things I'd been pulling out as weeds *were*. So I kept the weeds--now loquats--and pulled out the other things.

Here are the loquats now:


Let's pause a while to admire the loquats' tenacity, continuing to come up even as I pulled out their early shoots. Let's also contemplate that the tomato seedling got discarded in this context because in this context it was a weed. . . whereas in other cases it would have been what I wanted. The whims of humankind.

The lesser-known Epistles of Paul

Paul's Letter to the Amphibians
Paul's Letter to the Evasions
Paul's Letter to the Galoshes

What gemstone would you like the Word of God in? I would like the Word in Garnet.

(Okay, that's all the Christianity-themed mishearings and bad puns I have for you tonight)

The Grapes of Wrath

It's its 75th anniversary this year. I'm reading it aloud with the healing angel (it's assigned reading for him in school). It is knocking my socks right off with its relevance.

The Bank--or the Company--needs--wants--insists--must have--as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought or feeling. . . [The banks] breathe profits, they eat the interest on money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side meat . . . The bank--the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.

That, from Chapter Five, after Chapter Four, in which a preacher declares, "Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain't nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say.'"

Also, the book is intensely *visual*. I see everything so very, very clearly.

I am glad I didn't have to read it in high school. Right now is precisely the right time for me to be reading it.

"I acted on it"


Sherwood Smith had a fun review over on Goodreads of one of Patrick O'Brian's seafaring tales (The Surgeon's Mate, in case you're curious--full review here), and in it she featured this snippet of conversation, from when the characters talk about Hamlet's grave while their ship is being fired upon from Elsinore:

"So there he lies," said Jack, his telescope leveled. "Well, well: we must all come to it. But it was a capital piece, capital. I never laughed so much in my life."

"A capital piece indeed," said Stephen, "and I doubt I could have done much better myself. But, do you know, I have never in my own mind class did among the comedies. Pray did you read it recently?"

"I never read it at all," said Jack. "That is to say, not right through. No: I did something better than that — I acted in it. . .”

Aside from laughing, because I've always thought of Hamlet as an action/thriller, but if not that, then comedy is definitely a label with potential, I misread the last line as

I acted ON it

And I thought, YES! Yes, I've acted on stories as well! It's a slightly different thing, I'd say, from "This story has changed my life." That's more large scale. This is more small scale. Like, after reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling, I started signing letters "LOVE-LOVE-LOVE" because Ivy did, and I loved Ivy. And after reading her green-sky books, I made up a song of peace to recite each morning, because the people in Green-sky did that. Or, when I was even littler, I remember wanting to have a doily to set my lunch out on, like Frances in Bread and Jam for Frances.

How about you? What stories have you acted on?

Today it's raining in sometimes fine and sometimes coarse curtains of raindrops, and there's a lot of it--roadways are reconfiguring into waterscapes. But on Saturday it was sunny, and the high school girls' lacrosse team was having a car wash behind the town hall, to raise money.

Car washes are a fundraiser that really lends itself to the boisterous collegiality of a sports team. The girls were enjoying themselves. Orange and black are the school's colors, so it makes sense that the team is called the orioles. Orange and black were my own high school's colors, too, and our yearbook was called the Oriole.

car wash

Down the hill, you come to a convenience store called Checkers and a seasonal grill and ice-cream place called Chubby's, because, get it, Chubby Checker? And there were orange-clad team members there, too, though in that case it wasn't for a school team but for a recreational soccer team.

spring day

Nothing like the first outdoor ice cream of the 2014 season!

Meanwhile, the peepers are peeping. Sometimes slow and thoughtfully . . .

Sometimes excitedly:

Being alive--it's worth singing about, for sure!

give me a call
On Friday I enthused about the popular Youtube channel All Nigerian Recipes and its charismatic creator, Flo Madubike. Today I have my questions for Flo, along with her answers.


First, though, let me tell you a little about her. She's from Nigeria (surprise!) and is married with two young children, a son and daughter. She's also a world traveler, because of her day job. And what might that be? Well, after taking a degree in engineering from the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, she now works as an exploration engineer. She says,

When oil companies think there's an oil prospect somewhere at sea, they invite us to look for this oil using various techniques. From the data we give them, they can pinpoint where the oil is, then bring a rig to drill there and extract the oil. I have done this job on and off for 13 years . . . I love the job because I only work in offshore locations, so I can live anywhere in the world and fly to work from there.

And now, let's ask questions. There are so many interesting questions I **didn't** ask--feel free to ask in comments, and Flo will do her best to answer as time and Internet access allow.

Can you share the history of your relationship with cooking? Have you always enjoyed it, or did you grow to like it?

My relationship with cooking started from a very young age. I have good memory of my life back to the age of five, and by that time, I was already helping my Mum prepare ingredients for her cooking. I have always enjoyed cooking! I remember when my Mum would "warn" me to ONLY prepare the ingredients so that when she came back from wherever she went to, she would do the cooking. But I would prepare the ingredients and cook the food too!

Click here for the rest of the interviewCollapse )

Thank you so much for spending some time with me, Flo! I really, really have enjoyed it, and I know I'm going to continue to enjoy your channel--not to mention your cookbook!


Flo's cookbook at Amazon

Recipes, the Internet, and friendship

nighthawk flying
One of my earliest memories of Internet goodness is of searching for a recipe for wild mushrooms--this would have been sometime between 1998 and 2005--and finding one offered by a guy who identified his location as Turkish Kurdistan. We had a brief back and forth, and I thought, Now this place is personal to me. I know someone there. I know he used to pick wild thyme with his grandmother.

Fast forward to last summer. One of my best memories from Timor-Leste was of being served deep-fried plantain chips, homemade, and of sharing the leftovers with friends. I wanted to make those myself, to feel close (because eating food brings us close) to Timor-Leste. And the best recipe I found? Was a Nigerian one.

So easy to follow, so clear, so pleasant! (And the recipe was a success)

Not only did this bring me close to Timor-Leste, it made me feel close to Nigeria. I had one previous experience with Nigerian food: akara--wonderful, croquette-like deep-fried items, made with ground black-eyed peas, with onions and hot peppers to flavor it. I bought some at a local market, loved it, wanted to know how to make it, and had found recipes online, but was stymied by one key detail--getting the skins off the black-eyed peas.

Oh My God, the time that took. I'd soak the black-eyed peas, and as they expanded, the skins would begin to come loose. Then I'd rub them together in the soaking water to get more loose, and then I'd strain off the skins (which would float), while trying to keep the peas themselves from pouring out. It was such a slow process! I mean, kind of relaxing, too, if you have nothing else to do, but. . .

Well, Flo, the woman behind All Nigerian Recipes, has the answer for that, too:

two videos about getting the skins off beansCollapse )

So by this time I'm really loving this Youtube channel, loving the recipes, loving the fact that Flo responds to comments--and loving her personal videos, too. Like this one:

Pretty cool, right? Not only does Flo put up fabulous cooking videos, she also has an *intense* day job!

And because the Internet lets us make friends with people all over the world--just write hello, just hit send--I thought . . . maybe she would let me interview her.

Then I checked and saw that she has close to 30,000 subscribers. Her top video has more than half a million views, and her top ten videos all have over 100,000 views. I'm not the only one who loves her. So then I felt more hesitant about getting in touch. . . . But I overcame that and wrote to her, and she said yes!

So come back on Monday, everyone, when Flo will answer my questions about cooking, YouTube, and self-publishing a cookbook.

Meantime, enjoy her channel and maybe have a Nigerian meal tonight.

Video List Here!

my own Everglades

glowing grass

Two days ago, Writer's Almanac quoted Marjory Stoneman Douglas, eulogizer of the Everglades, who said of them,

Nothing anywhere else is like them: their vast glittering openness . . . the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the blue heights of space . . . the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose . . . it is a river of grass.

(vast glittering openness
sweet massive winds
blue heights of space
a river of grass)

One day I'll see them. For now, here is my own Everglades, waiting to be reborn.

my own everglades

Nearby a male turkey was displaying for an only moderately interested crowd.


One more picture, this from yesterday--the turbulent sky ocean

turbulent skies

an afternoon and a morning

feathers on the line
In a snatch of afternoon time yesterday I went food shopping, and on the way I radio channel surfed, and got caught by a song by Eminem, all raw the way his songs tend to be, forgiving his mother and also apologizing, and as a mom, it got to me. (Song is called "Headlights.")

Then I moved on, and got waylaid by a song on a country station, because in the song a guy is trying to sweet-talk a girl, and she totally interrupts him because her favorite song comes on the radio, and I could identify with that. (Song is called "Play It Again.")

And then I decided to go to my favorite radio station--favorite because it plays songs in all different languages and is really into the local community, and it was their Caribbean hour, and they were talking about how they're going to get cricket going in June in Springfield--"so no matter what island you're from, if you play cricket, come join us"--and then they went into this song by Queen Ifrica, "Tribute to Past World Leaders." ETA: Looks like it's actually called "Times Like These"

And this is joy--three such very different songs, all with some goodness in them.

And the light that afternoon--I wanted to catch it for you, in the pussywillows,but it decided to play shy behind the clouds, so:

radiance occluded

Then this morning, there was a cardinal, a bright ruby up at the top of a tree whose branches are still winter-bare, singing and singing

can you see him up there?Collapse )

And a squirrel was munching on an apple core, but ran away as I walked by, but you can still see the apple core, if you care to, on top of a trash bin.

In the sand were beautiful designs, made by truck tires:

tire track art

On the muddy path, there were frost cobwebs:

frost cobwebsCollapse )

And in the hoof prints of passing horses, complicated ice architecture--stellate bridges.

ice in horse hoof print

And now there are things to be attended to, stuff to do, but the sun is broadly shining and the birds are singing--I can't ask for more.

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April 2014



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