Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Candy Girl

This is a love story. If you don't possess a strong stomach for girl-crush, or are some sort of cynical, skeptical person, please stop reading now.

You all know, I'm sure, how you sometimes meet someone, another girl and are instantly smitten with them. In kindergarten you wanted to emulate them; wear the same pigtails, the same corduroy dress, eat your Oreos the same way, and sometimes sadly, when rejected by them pretend to scorn them, even as you secretly admired them from beneath your bangs.

In high school you wanted to be in their posse, go to their parties and sleep-overs and take their dares from dyeing your hair green to hijacking the school radio.

Even now, every once in a while you're overcome by the heady feeling of meeting a girl you click with instantly, whether it's in a classroom where she just put the lecturer to the spot with her witty opinion, or seeing here across the room at a party, dressed in that perfect hippie dress dancing like a loon to the sweet sounds of the Smiths.
the teddy bear has no clothes...
When I first laid eyes on Missa of Thrift Candy, in the murky, quirky, pigeon-toed depths of Wardrobe Remix I experienced that moment of "oh-my-gosh-she's-so-cool-I-totally-want-be-her friend-I-wonder-if-she'll-like-me!". Needless to say fell for her hard and fast. Having always been the odd duck out dressing-wise wherever I went, it was a kind of a revelation to find such a kindred spirit.

From that day on Missa's photostream became my very own street-style website, a place where inspiration comes easy.

my pink present...
Lucky for me, the feeling appeared to be mutual, and after an embarrassingly giddy exchange of comments, we proceeded to email, packages, letters and finally meeting in person. Now, three and a half years later, I count her among my dearest friends.

Thanks Milla!!!

A match made in Indian Summer
Though physically (tall-blond-skinny and short-plump-dark) and personality wise (Missa's quiet, a little shy and thoughtful and I'm...well kind of a obnoxious loudmouth.) we're actually quite opposite, the instant kinship I felt to her turned out to be totally real.
April Showers...

Here's looking at you...
As I've mentioned before, if there's one thing this blog adventure has proven to me, it's that the clothes we wear can be a window into our personality; beneath those mutually admired frocks there might be a girl who loves the same 90s bands, recommends you the best books and to whom you can tell your troubles like the big sister you never had.
red boots!
To me, these pictures of some of my favorite Missa-outfits are proof of just that.
New Dress

Even still, it's kind of a trip to explain to other people how exactly I met this mysterious "Missa" character (as well as well all the rest of our California girls, or for that matter our girls from all around the world). The unfortunate folks who don't have internet friends, blog-friends, penpals, or Moon Sisters, can't quite fathom how it is possible to be good pals with someone you've never met, or even only met a handful of times.

50 cent flower power
Sounding of the Trumpet Vine
I try to tell them that ours is an old-fashioned kind of relationship: we "write letters", we share packages, we "exchange" pictures. Though unable to spend physical time together, we share our little everyday moments, thoughts, book recommendations and small insights online. Sometimes I feel that I'm more deeply entrenched in the lives of Missa and my other blog-friends, than those of people I've known much longer, but who don't blog.
The Calm Before the Storm
Since I live on the other side of the world from many of my friends or family, I know full well that physical presence is no measurement of affection, understanding, or involvement. Actually, I often wish that all of my faraway friends blogged, so that I could follow their lives and thoughts more closely and intimately.
Country Girrrl
In this world of constant, instant communication, most people seem to have lost the ability to write about their lives to others in a cohesive manner. Instead of epistolary explanations, I often catch only the shortest facebook snippets of my friend's lives, receive only the most cursory descriptions of their emotions, hardships and triumphs in bi-yearly emails.
Shades of Blue
Fall Dress on a Rainy Spring Day
Sometimes I find I know more about Missa's day-to-day existence than some of my best friends back home and though this makes me a little sad for those friendships, it also makes me remember that I have to strive to keep those connections vital and lively, part of the every day reality of both parties.
Footwear Woes
A Tisket, A Tasket
Here Comes the Sun
I saw him standin' there by the record machine...
Happy Camper
Warm Fall Day
"Cuddle Knit"
Beach Day
Sunny Saturday
All I have to say is that thank goodness for these world-wide-webs for bringing us and our "frivolous" habits together.
Little White Dress
The Little White Dress
I feel very blessed by Missa's friendship and consider our meeting nothing short of serendipitous, an unlikely event that has added so much to my life, as well as a whole, ever-widening circle of other wonderful, powerful, thoughtful women.
Island Life (Day 1) By the Sea
Time for girl crush confessions ya'll!

Ps./PSA: Because of the nature of my computer sitch right now, there's not going to be a lot of outfit/photo posts, since I gotta figure out where to unload my photos. Also I know we skipped a "Serious Friday post" and since those take quite a bit of research I can't I'll actually be able to post them every Friday until I get my computer back from the shoppe, so just bear with me now. All my girl-crushy love,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

...of impermanance and pain.

Remember how my computer died a few weeks ago? Traveled to oblivion for no apparent reason? Yeah, well I'm starting to believe that A**** has some sort of a planned obsolescence chip implanted in its wares, because shortly after I scheduled my last post, C's computer also took a leap off the digital cliff, albeit in the form of something called "a kernel panic".

That's right, even though I obviously have access to one, I am currently without a computer of my own and all that this implies.

"Well, good." Was C's rather Zen response. He is of the opinion that we don't really need those damn things for anything anyway, that they're worse than TV and anything we do on them could be done better with something else. Check the weather with a barometer. Read a newspaper. Play music. Write a letter.

In principle I agree with this, of course. We are of the generation that lived without these Universal Turing Machines for more of our lives than with them. We know people who barely touch them. I myself have been using them less frivolously (well, I guess that depends on your definition of the word) lately. All the music in the world is not my *tunes. My memories are not on *photo. My friendships are not my email. I'm not my facepoke (as anyone who's friends with me on facepoke can plainly tell, since I never use the damn thing anymore). These truths are simple and self-evident.
And no. A computer is not an essential. One could argue that it's not even that useful. Not as useful as a wood stove-heated iron, or a shed roof, a hammer, a kettle, a saw, a whisk, a fern leaf, a small porous mushroom...

And yet. I'd be lying if I told you I took this second computer calamity with an equal calm.

Never mind the fact that said machine crapped out on me in the middle of a newly started short story, which at twenty minutes and two pages in, I had not had time to back-up yet, or that I lost some glorious shots of my cat, possibly for forever.

The somewhat epic freak-out had little to do with the million and one things I could easily think up as reasons for screaming "But! I! Need! A! Computer!". I mean, I need one to keep in touch with my family and friends, scattered across the globe. I need it to write. And yes C., I do need it to blog. These are all good reasons.
I need a computer, obviously not to survive, or even get through an average day, but because it has become a useful tool for me to relate to the world, to arrange my thoughts about what is going on around me. Seriously.

When I was little, my mother always had a typewriter. First the regular kind and then, the more fleeting kind, an electric one. I remember luxuriant feeling of typing with the electric typewriter. How smoothly it moved, how it was empowering to know that I could erase things, unmake words as well as make them. Still, it did not move at the speed of thought.

In eight grade I took the first computer science class ever offered at my school. The lesson plan consisted of teaching us how to learn programming on a language long since obsolete. The goal of the class was to code ones and zeroes into making a owl sitting in tree wink. This took all semester.
Luckily for me this surprisingly arduous task was to be completed in pairs. Since I was completely uninterested with ones and zeroes I let my then best friend who was good at math, do the coding while I dicked around on the computer next to her. Mostly I used the innovative application created by the Soviet computer scientist Alexey Pajitnov. That's Tetris folks.

Then one day I discovered another game, which called for the player to type certain words and sentences at an ever increasing speed. Your fingers were supposed to do this in a particular configuration with each one assigned with particular keys of its own.

Over the semester I got quite good at this game and after a while I found that using those keys and all of my fingers, rather than just two, I was able to type as fast as I could think. This discovery sort of blew my mind. It made writing out your thoughts, observations and emotions infinitely more satisfying. That's right. Being able to type totally changed my life.
I relate to the world the first and foremost through words. Reading and writing to me are the highest from of communication. Spoken words as beautiful and passionate as they may be, so often fly out carelessly, inarticulately, filled with makeshift information and ill-remembered facts.

Perhaps because of this, I particularly cherish these relationships I have that are so dependent on typed words, both of frivolity and careful thought, peppered with images and hyperlinks and snippets of music, at the mercy of the fickle filaments of the internet.

For all the supposed disconnect this machine supposedly offers, I have found a correlating connection. For every wasted hour on the internet, there's a horde of words I want to hold onto, or a crucial piece of information unearthed.

For instance, in what now seems a rather ironic twist of fate, I found this uncollected Gary Snyder poem that rather more eloquently explains my feelings on my "need" for a computer.

Why I take good care of my Macintosh computer

Because it broods under its hood like a perched falcon,
Because it jumps like a skittish horse and sometimes throws me,
Because it is poky when cold,
Because plastic is a sad, strong material that is charming to rodents,
Because it is flighty,
Because my mind flies into it through my fingers,
Because it leaps forward and backward, is an endless sniffer and searcher,
Because its keys click like hail on a boulder,
And it winks when it goes out,
And puts word-heaps in hoards for me, dozens of pockets of gold under boulders in streambeds, identical seedpods strong on a vine, or it stores bins of bolts;
And I lose them and find them,
Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted and vanish in a flash at “delete,” so it teaches of impermanence and pain;
And because my computer and me are both brief in this world, both foolish, and we have earthly fates,
Because I have let it move in with me right inside the tent,
And it goes with me out every morning;
We fill up our baskets, get back home,
Feel rich, relax, I throw it a scrap and it hums.

-Gary Snyder-
I need a computer to type. I need it to stay connected.

What do you need yours for? Would you be willing to do without?

Friday, November 18, 2011

A letter from the kid himself

The Sundance Kid that is. As you may know, I'm quite moved by letters from my favorite activist causes and I got to say, it does tickle my vanity a bit when none other than the infamous outlaw calls me "Dear Friend". All jokes aside though, what Robert Redford really wanted to talk to me about was the sadly NOT infamous Pebble Mine. And since he might not have your address (God only knows how he has mine...) I'm here to tell you all about it.

The odds are that unless you are on an environmental causes mailing list, have seen the excellent documentary Red Gold, or have a small-time fisherman friend you may not have heard about Pebble Mine. Though it's a cause celebrity, it's not exactly a cause celebre. Yet.

The proposed Pebble gold and copper mine would be one of the biggest (if not the biggest!) open pit mines in the world. Its proposed location lays on top of the watershed of the salmon rivers that lead into Bristol Bay, possible the last place on earth where the salmon run remains pristine. It is, by and large, an intact eco-system, where people are, mostly, just one more mammal part of the natural order of things.
Pebble would require massive industrial infrastructure, including but not limited to, five damns to retain its waste water, bigger in scale than China's Three Gorges Dam. In addition to this, the waste water pools and the damns that would hold them would be located in an area prone to earthquakes.

Now does this sound like a good idea?

Right. So why is the EPA letting this project go ahead? Aren't they here to protect us, the American People, and the natural resources we jointly hold from exploitation by large corporations with dubious motives? Yes. The italics do stand for sarcasm. The EPA might, for all its interest and efficiency in protecting the environment, stand for The Environmental Plundering Agency, just as BLM should really be an acronym for The Bureau of Land Mismanagement and DNR The Department of Nature Rape.
As Red Gold rather eloquently points out, it would be an entirely different thing if the mining industry had a damn near spotless record, or even a good record for managing the catastrophes it incurs. Perhaps then it would be fair to consider Northern Dynasty's (the multi-national corporation planning the mine) pleas for an unbiased review of their plans. The environmental impact of previous open pit mining projects and the utter lack of interest in cleaning up the messes they've collectively created, don't exactly reassure one of their good intentions. For all its history, mining has been a dirty business in one way or another, but recently these companies have only ramped up the scale of their indifference to the environment.
Red Gold follows the lives of a variety of folk connected to the watershed, but also lets the industry and its representatives have their say. In fact some of the more succinct reasons to oppose the mine come from the mouths of the company's employees, most notably a mining engineer giggling to himself about how really the mine is a rich gold deposit, but the company is ostensibly using the excuse of mining copper, more important for instance, to all of our every day electronics, as a reason to open Pebble.

While the movie covers a lot of the ground and presents different viewpoints, it is sponsored by fishing interests and must be taken in with a grain of salt. That grain of salt however, does not negate the films central premise of the compromised motives of the EPA, the absolute foolishness of putting the fate of our collective lands in the hands of multinational corporations.
I heartily recommend the film to anyone, not just because of the information it deposits about the proposed mine, but also for its uplifting portrayal of the lives of folk who oppose it, a diverse collection of people from Native fishermen, to newcomers from the lower 48. It is a beautiful film, both in spirit and cinematography and in spite its serious topic, it manages to elate rather than depress the viewer.

Though Pebble may appear a problem on a smaller scale than, say the Keystone XL-pipeline (Yippee! We Won! Something good can happen when good people get together and believe in it!), perhaps a problem concerning only Bristol Bay, Alaska, or the Northwest (we know and love a lot of fishermen down here), it is fundamentally part of the same attack that large corporations are mounting against communities, city governments, public lands, freedom and safety of private citizens and fundamentally, our society as a function of representative democracy.

On a spiritual plain, Pebble is just another facet of the same battle that we're fighting against the Tar Sands Pipeline, or West Virginia mountain top removal mining. Here is a decision we, the people, and our representatives have to make right here, right now. It isn't one of those environmental, human or spiritual atrocities that we can lament in retrospect. It is happening at this very moment and unlike the past calamities, so clear now with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, we can stop it.

So if you can, watch the film, check out the information and then just sign here, here or write a letter to your representative. (We here in Washington have certainly been proud of the work State Senator Maria Cantwell has done on the issue.)
Though I know that they are not always you guys' favorites (judging from the amount of comments)I'm planning to post about some serious topic such as this each friday from here on out; be it simplicity (I finally made headway on my food post while I was ill), environmental causes, or musings on some social topic. These posts could take the form of reviews on documentaries we've watched, book recommendations, or discussions like we did with the first simplicity post.

These ideas and the actions that they inspire are just as much part of my view on life as everything else you see on this log, and to be able to share them here with you is important to me.

Thoughts, questions, comments?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hot and heavy pumpkin pie, chocolate candy, Jesus Christ, ain't nothing pleased me more than you...

Being confined to the house can be awfully boring and intellectually stimulating in turns, but the upside is that there's tons of fun little things to do that we've had a hard time getting to when not ill. And the best part for sure is the license to drop everything to take an unscheduled nap.

In addition to nodding off regularly, I've written a few short pieces, chipped a little away at a big piece and even finished a couple of my 20 odd lingering blog posts. Don't be surprised if posting pace suddenly doubles. Then again don't be surprised if it doesn't.
First in the long line of "things I've been meaning to post about" is of course Mary's beautiful creation, The First Annual Terralectualism Bioregional Swap.
When we got home from the Fair three (!) weeks ago, what was waiting in our package-sized mailbox if not a treasure trove from Elizabeth. As excited as I was for the swap in general, my excitement was only compounded upon finding that she was to be my swap partner. Since she found my log and started commenting on it, I'd been wanting to get to know her a little better and what more perfect opportunity than this swap.
As a side note, I have to add that, man, it feels good to wear something other than bed-clothes. My philosophy has always been that if you have to wear clothes, might as well wear ones that reflect your personality and artistic temperament. Or to put it in plainer words: if you have to wear tights, they might as well be yellow. But you don't want to hear about that. You just want to know what was in that package.
Box 1
Behold the multi-bioregional cat-en-tat!
No but seriously, M and Elizabeth did not send me a cat. They sent me hand-dyed yearn, home-made toffee and plum jam, Irish heather (the sage of the heath?), earrings, an angel for my christmas branch, pictures, art and cards, a beautiful dress and a scarf that C. promptly put to use...oh endless treasures!
Yellow thread
The box was equal parts scrap book, a little museum, the perfect market had most everything I could have dreamed off and many things I never would have thought of.
Portrait by M.
My favorite has got to be this portrait of us by little M. I look forward to framing it and a bunch of other swap art from little girls and boys around our circle and hanging it on my walls. My own small gallery.
Plum package

There was also another very special piece (very special among such special things) in the package that I'm waiting to show you when the occasion arises.

Thank you so much little M and Elizabeth! And, of course our fairy godmother Mary. If you want to see what I gave Elizabeth and M, here's a link to her post about the swap. If you haven't visited her blog before, you're in for a treat, her art is dreamy and her posts very thoughtful and inspiring.
Chicken soup for my soul
While I've been ill, I've received so many blessings and such kindness from near and far, that it's been damn near impossible to even pity my poor sick self. Packages from friends and family, juice from my co-workers and two jars of chicken soup from my friend Julie, who is so kind you can taste it in her soup.
Julie's soup
With friends like these, it's almost worth it to get really sick. Also, the cat really approves of this lazy, do nothing all day lifestyle.
Stop looking at me mama

G-o-d and four other letters
Who's house? My house!
I did manage to complete a couple of food-preservation projects during this time. First, there was the all-night adventure of bake-apple-sauce, which is just apple sauce baked in the oven.
Box 2
Canning projects always take way longer than I think they're going to, so that what was going to be a few hours ends with you trying to learn ukulele cords, or finger-knitting around midnight while you wait for the last batch to come out of the canning pot.
Bake a apple sauce
The sauce turned out good, but I accidentally put a little too much sugar into the last batch. I have a very low tolerance for sugar and I like the taste and tartness of the fruits themselves, so that was a little disappointing. The actual baking of your apples first though, I highly recommend.

My second project was a kind of a fluke. I had a few leftover tomatoes that had been slowly ripening, and Mary's lacto-fermented ketchup inspired me to try making this American staple myself. Sadly mine's not fermented, but it turned out shockingly good, if a little spicy. (I accidentally used hot peppers instead of sweet. I'm having a lot of cooking-related accidents it seems. I blame it on that cough syrup...)

I've always thought of ketchup as one of those consumer goods not worth making yourself, since we hardly ever use it, but it was so easy and fun, not to mention a welcome change to the grind of canning salsa and pasta sauce, that I think I'll definitely do it again.

Home-made it seems, is always tastier, no exception for junk food.
The most important meal of the day
And breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You didn't think I was going to stop posting pictures of my cat?
Christmas Tree
After all that downtime indoors, it's been amazing to have our strength back, going on little strolls, harvesting the last bounty of Fall. This has been a good year for Madrone Fruit, the trees are simply laden with it.
NW inedible grapes
As much as I love eating local produce, growing food, learning about farming and striving slowly towards more self-sufficiency trough homesteading, I'm even more drawn to learning to make use of nature's wild bounty.
It's not only fun to gather this profusion of wild edibles, but also to figure out how to eat it, what recipes to incorporate it in, how to process it and how to enjoy its unexpected flavors.

The Northwest is so abundant with wild foods that one can hardly resist the urge to gather them. Almost any time of year, there's something to fill a jar or just your pocket with. The shortest stroll turns into an expedition for edibles.

Though a little tart and dry, I like the flavor of Madrone Fruit fresh off the tree and some food hipsters even seem to think it's a superfood. Whatever. I'd like to try preserving it like rosehip and mountain ash berries, a jelly with the seeds still in it. I'm also trying a bunch for tea.
The day of this particular gathering trip was very stormy, the wind chasing the clouds so fast they did not have time to rain on us and the weather changing from moment to moment.
80s hipster lichen
We wandered around the park aimlessly, just feeling happy to be together, alive, on this blessed piece of earth.
Supple Nippy
Some sort
There's so much perspective one can gain from illness and hardship, a clarity that really makes you appreciate that which is right there in front of you each moment; a mushroom, a mountain top tugging at a cloud, a cluster of red berries.
A storm over there
As Sheri so gently reminded me in a message she wrote in response to my sick post, music can heal the soul and the soul is needed the heal the body. So I took her advice and put on some of my favorite good time jams, most notably Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.

I dare you not to smile and get that warm, fuzzy loving feeling inside. And possibly flail your arms around like a loon.

The best part of this whole miserably being-sick- together-extravaganza has been for us having lots of quiet snuggly movie watching, cat-loving bed-time together.
Here she comes
Being married can be hard sometimes, butting heads over the same small things time and time again, but damn if it isn't the most awesome thing in this life too. To me Home embodies that feeling.
before the storm
I also love how filled with pure, naive, uncynical happiness the song is. It makes me wish people, myself included, could let go of their hang-ups and burdens more often, and just be well, happy.

If there's anyone I've met that knows the art of doing so, it is definitely Heather herself.

Happy Birthday Love!