Monthly Archives: August 2007

two parts exaggerated

pigedit8Vancouver is really lovely. (Pig shot downtown at left.) Alys has put me up in what purports to be a trendy boutique hotel. It’s nice enough, but a bit strange. The showerhead comes straight out of the ceiling, at no angle. This looks cool, but it means that the water comes straight down on one’s head, and to get one’s figure wet, the head must be directly under stream as well. It’s unpleasant.

Alys is here from London shooting the Time Out Vancouver guide, and I’ve come to meet her and have a look around. We walked around town today shooting, her for the guide, me for fun. It was quite fun, too, as I saw stuff for her shoot list that we’d never have sought out as casual visitors. I haven’t shot a guide in about five years, and it’s more fun when it’s not my work. I probably won’t use the photos for anything, or look at them much after I do an edit (quick, before school starts) and post them, but it was great fun shooting with her. I wouldn’t have guessed it at all, given my odd relationship to my cameras of late. And it will be good fun to see her results when it’s published. She’s a brilliant photog and has really made a go of it. She was a PDN ‘one to watch’ this year.

(10/31/08 note: I didn’t get to it quick, before school started, and only 1.2 years later, have the pics finally been edited and posted.)

I love the city. It’s pretty and friendly and gorgeous. There’s a sense that the people here care about people, and I like that. I’d always heard it was lovely, but I thought it’d be Toronto lovely (small). The water and mountains and nature and city all feel vast and well-proportioned here. Many of the taxis are Prius hybrids. Very clever.

Setting up August seemed such a nightmare, but it’s worked out beautifully well on it’s own, in spite of my concerns and attempts to plan this and that, here and there. So much time spent with friends. So lucky.

Photos soon.

The rest of the blog is archived elswhere.

why? sherry explains

A few santa cruz pics are up.

My long unanswered question about almonds has been answered. Sherry’s great for such things. About two years ago, out of nowhere, almonds more than doubled in price and I wondered why. Granted, I never googled it, but I did ask a few. No one knew. Sherry explained, “pollinators. There’s been a problem with pollinators.” Ahh.

rosie
sherry’s kitchen & beyond

She spent her lunch hour explaining various things to me. Why GMO food may be an issue. Why choosing to genetically modify a wind-pollinated plant (like corn) changes everyone’s food supply. Why Monsanto is creepy (as if agent orange weren’t enough). Basic bio refreshers on how seedless watermelons are cultivated (they aren’t GMOs, duh). Why our genetically sparse food supply is a huge food security risk (this bit I knew. She got specific). Why putting small farmers in Mexico with genetically diverse corn crops out of business (by dumping our genetically uniform corn on them) has put our food supply at risk. Why Norway has created a genetically diverse world food bank. Then we moved on to the war.

Sherry argues that she doesn’t care what the administration’s motivations are because it’s silly to believe politicians have sincere motivations. As long as conditions improve for Iraqis, which is seldom part of the discussion, she doesn’t care how much Halliburton makes. And matters have recently improved, as far as improving the situation for Iraqi’s.

I agree that the US has an obligation to stabilize Iraq, as the US took it upon ourselves to destabilize them. I don’t think that the administration is currently improving the lives of Iraqis and I do not believe they care about them in the least. I don’t believe that they care about the lives of Americans, for that matter. That this administration might accidentally improves the lives of anyone while on their profit-motivated offense strikes me as highly improbable.

sonoma
not a grape

I do agree with Sherry’s central argument, which is that the quality of life for Iraqi’s should be a topic of discussion, rather than the seemingly sole focus and constant chatter about the administration’s ill motives. I seem to be more alarmed about the effects of their motives on the citizens of the world, but maybe I’m an alarmist.

Here’s a blog on Cuba Sherry wrote a bit back, iyi.

Three days in Sonoma and I’ve yet to visit a vineyard. I’ve been before, and it’s not a big interest at present. Sherry is underimpressed by the grape and doesn’t clamor to see more of them, even less in liquid form.

doing, and how

georgie's bday
Georgie’s Birthday dinner. G’s probably my oldest friend. His locker was a few down from mine in third grade. He gave me my first book on Buddhism (that’s a bit of a story, as he’s neither Buddhist or Hindu).

I will not pretend I don’t love to drive, but really, the Bay Area needs to get its act together transit wise. The other night I met Georgie for his birthday dinner in the city (he came in from Reno, it was the first I’ve seen him in maybe four years). I could have taken the BART in, because, unlike most venues, this place was close to a stop. But Heesun doesn’t live by a BART station (or any transit really) and it would have taken me 10 minutes to drive to the station, 10 to park, walk, and get the tix, 10 to wait for the train, 20 to ride into SF, and 10 more to walk to the restaurant. An hour. Instead, I hopped in the car and was there in 20 minutes for a third of the cost. That’s not right in a city like San Francisco. Yeah, I could have done it, but it was way too much work. I got home in about ten minutes.It’s so strange and lovely to see old friends and spend some real time with them. Heesun, Lide, Sherry, George, and, next week, Alys, all from way back. I feel off kilter because when I’m at home, I have so little time to spend with friends, and so many don’t live in NY anyway. It’s hard to have such important people so far away.

Georgie and I went to Santa Cruz on Wednesday, which has changed since last visited in ’89. It was a great day, and I took some fun pics. I still do not know where I stand as far as the pictures go. Editing I’ve never liked, and it’s a larger part of digital photog than film. I do love to make stories, though I feel guilty about the time spent. The internet feels unclean to me, now that I’m on vacay. So easy to fritter time, and sometimes playing with pics feels that way as well, though writing seldom does. Writing, in fact, has a cleansing quality to it. But the entire production most definitely takes from the moment. I haven’t read that much because I’ve been out and about and online. I know that I need a break from school reading, but at the same time, the no internet, no junk, just resting and reading is really a beautiful thing and I haven’t done that yet. The trip is half over, as of today. Hmm.

The Santa Cruz pics are half edited. I left Heesun’s today for Sherry’s place for a few days, up in Sonoma County. She lives and works on a nature preserve, where she’s an ecologist. Pulling up to the fence, punching in the code, and driving into the preserve was great punctuation for the shift of location (in case the interminable traffic en route was not). She made me hummus with her hand-crank blender.

blender
compost tupperware at front-left-center

And some taboule. When she came down to Berkeley last week she biked to the bus, then another, then the BART, then biked the rest—a 50-mile trip she chose to do without her truck. She’s got a commitment to public transport that requires a hell of a lot of patience. But this is the woman who biked across Australia on her own (it’s almost nothing but desert. Aussie’s thought she was mad).

She’s not mad. She’s brilliant. And interesting and fun. It’s so good to see her again.

She’s also made me question the way I do things, and the opening kvetch about bay area transit. If we are going to change the rate at which we destroy the planet, we are going to have to be inconvenienced in some ways, because it’s the mindset of ultra-convenience and the culture of consumption and ease that is the problem. Sherry walks her talk, and few do that. She reuses everything, bikes everywhere, uses a hand crank blender and windup radio. She buys her rice, beans, and nuts in bulk and brings her own reused bags to carry them. She buys her clothes, books, housewares, and tools second hand. She fixes her seldom-used truck and oft-used bikes herself. She grows veggies in her garden. She loves to know how things work, and she puts her knowledge to good use. She volunteers her Sunday afternoons to a community bike center in Santa Rosa. It’s not about wearing expensive organic clothes or driving a trendy car. It’s living in a way she believes in.

I’ll be honest. There’s no way the clean freak in me is going to reuse most ziplocks. But how hard is it to bring my own bags to the store with me (I do it only about 60%)? Or a mason-type jar to Samad’s for my hummus? Get a good bottle and mug for water/tea/coffee and fill that instead of using paper and plastic all the time? Hmmm. Trouble.

She’s also made me question the way I do things, and the opening kvetch about bay area transit. If we are going to change the rate at which we destroy the planet, we are going to have to be inconvenienced in some ways, because it’s the mindset of ultra-convenience and the culture of consumption and ease that is the problem. Sherry walks her talk, and few do that. She reuses everything, bikes everywhere, uses a hand crank blender and windup radio. She buys her rice, beans, and nuts in bulk and brings her own reused bags to carry them. She buys her clothes, books, housewares, and tools second hand. She fixes her seldom-used truck and oft-used bikes herself. She grows veggies in her garden. She loves to know how things work, and she puts her knowledge to good use. She volunteers her Sunday afternoons to a community bike center in Santa Rosa. It’s not about wearing expensive organic clothes or driving a trendy car. It’s living in a way she believes in.

love after love

In the thick of the e.k. pain in May, Biju sent me Walcott’s ‘Love After Love.’ I promptly stuck it to my refrigerator, which doesn’t often get such paraphernalia. In fact, the fridge is naked but for a small framed photo of lyabi haus, the same photo that tops the blog menu at right. And now ‘Love After Love,’ pasted up just by the freezer door handle.

.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine, Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

I said it over and over until I knew it well. I passed it on to a number of friends. I took solace in the fact that Biju knew this pain too, and had recovered. Then in June, at the Jon Kabat-Zinn retreat upstate, on, let’s see, day 4, he announced he was to read a poem by a Saint Lucian poet. “Oh man, he isn’t,” I thought, but of course, he was. He recited “Love After Love,” which I’d never heard but a few weeks previous. I might have, had I read much of JKZ’s stuff, as he’s put it in some of his books, and even titled one Arriving at Your Own Door. That was a lovely week, a lovely retreat.

Heesun and husband return tonight. It’s good timing, as I’ve had their space to myself for some time and am feeling less hermit-like. It’s been a lovely, slightly strange week.

xo/A

to be dazzled

But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

from Mary Oliver’s ‘the Ponds’

biju wisdom

The paper is very done. I’m still recovering from the last two weeks, but am in a very different place, which is refreshing. Very.

Bij is one of the few who understand how I feel about people with kids. It has little to do with them, and everything to do with me. I won’t go into this, because I’m too tired to think clearly, but suffice it to say that I’m sensitive to watching the dynamics of people carving themselves into their children, antigone style, while tooting the horn of parenthood is next to godlihood. I find it painful. This says more about me than them. & let this not get me in trouble with my many friends with kids. Mostly we’ve had this discussion anyway, so don’t sit quietly and fume. call me up on it. I could write an addendum to Ulug’s because you don’t have kids (“cause I don’t want kids”), but that time will not likely permit.

I’m tired. I hope this doesn’t sound cranky. I do have a beautiful story about parenting that I must share, since I’m in judgment mode. Soon. That is, after all, why I’m here.

Love,
A

“Always a Godmother, never a God.” —fran liebowitz