Wednesday, June 30, 2010

blades and clover

poppy, 2010

The photograph is from
but it doesn't matter.

It is mine. Clearly,
although from several
decades before.

My blades and clover.

I knew them
well. I can't imagine they have

Faces move closer to the ground,
when they are young.

And little is forgotten.

I can feel myself posing,
grudgingly, in front of our roses,
before my mother's camera.

My arms bare. My hair in a

Her hope to coax a smile is before
me. I can touch it.

Practice restraint.

Kale in the Sun, 2010

I learned something important this year.

While visiting Portland I had brunch at a restaurant with fabulous Greyhounds and wonderful kale. The kale was bright green, the leaves maintained their textural integrity, and it was delicious. Until that moment I had believed kale required some serious stove top time. It couldn't be included in a last-minute dish. Too much heat and effort for lazy summer evenings. I was wrong.

What did I learn? Practice restraint when cooking kale.

What do I mean by restraint? I mean saute for less than 5 minutes.

Seriously. Try it. Heidi Swanson outlines this version of practicing restraint perfectly in her Garlicky Greens post.

After being enlightened in Portland, I enjoy kale much more often. I'll be making some tonight and it will be prettier, tastier, and easier than my pre-Portland kale. Thank you Blossoming Lotus.

If you are in Portland, pay this place a visit. Don't go because it's organic or vegan or sustainable. Go because the grapefruit juice in the Greyhounds is exquisite (in February...) and they know how to treat their kale.

Eat your greens.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Now entering the cherry phase.

After, 2010

Rinse. Eat. Repeat.

Oh, and one more thing. One of my favorite memories...

I am at a nude beach in Italy, but only brave enough to go topless. I'm sitting on an outcropping, my feet dangling in some shallow water. I'm reading a thick paperback copy of Jane Austen's Persuasion. A handsome Italian man (nude) walks up to me and presents a handful of cherries. Cherry? he says. I smile hesitantly, wondering uh oh--what's next? and take a cherry. He smiles and moves on along the beach, contentedly. I eat my cherry and continue reading.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

He used to run faster than me.

Farrah Fawcett skateboarding on the Charlie’s Angels set in 1977.
Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Feature

Tempe, Arizona -- June 1978

It's late morning and we are cruising down the hot asphalt in our shiny and new black Chrysler LeBaron. Just the three of us.

Dad couldn't decide between a historic Jaguar and a new LeBaron, so he asked us for help. The minute the 10 year old me and my 7 year-old sister saw the tiny bulbs light up around the passenger's side make-up mirror we were sold on the LeBaron.
It was done.

The air conditioning is cranked high when he grins and says what a chunk-o-chocolate and begins rolling down his window. Dad! What are you doing? we wail. He whistles at the robust woman walking along the side of the road. Dad! That's mean. Still grinning, he replies Noooooo, you don't understand. She never gets that. I made her smile. I made her day.

When we return home Dad says he's going out for a jog. I like the idea of joining him. I decide to take up jogging. I think it will suit me.

I tie my gym shoes tight, stand tall, and tell him I'm ready. My sister rolls her eyes. We head out the door, across the street, and onto a dust and gravel covered levee beside a canal (his track). It looks intimidating. It stretches straight ahead for what seems forever. I'm too hot already. The air feels thick. I don't say a word. I just smile up at Dad. I'm going.

I keep up with him. It's great. We run side by side for about one city block before I feel I am swallowing heat and dust. I don't want to give up, so I push a little further. I like being out with Dad, being his running pal. But I only make it a few more yards. I can't keep up. I tell him I'm turning around. Okay, be careful he says. I'm sure he's sad to see me go. I stop, put my hands on my little knees, bend over, gulp in some hot air, let out a big exhale, and head home with slumped shoulders.

Things were different back then. Farrah Fawcett was my idol. No one carried water bottles. Dad ran faster than least it's what I've always believed. Maybe he just pushed really hard during the beginning of our run so he could break away from me and be alone, eventually slow down and jog at a leisurely pace. A little peace and quiet. All by himself. An escape from our demands. How long ago it was, close to thirty years. I wonder if he remembers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mom, Tea, Momofuko, and me

lunch, June 21, 2010

I go through phases with ingredients. Some of my rhubarb phase was documented here. I adore rhubarb. I recently completed a dill and pea phase. It was glorious. The cucumber is my current muse in the kitchen. My mom loves the humble cucumber. She grew them in our garden. She got me started early. It's all her fault. Well, not completely. I spent the weekend with David Chang. Not really. But I did spend the weekend with his book, Momofuku (thanks, Amelia). It's fun. He's inspiring. Also, I just really like cucumbers. I made this for lunch today.

Cucumber Noodles for Two

1 onion caramelized a la Tea

1 medium cucumber peeled and sliced thin
1 medium carrot peeled and sliced thin
1 thumb fresh ginger peeled and chopped fine
2 cloves fresh garlic peeled and chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped

1 generous pinch (maybe 2) dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

3 oz. Sōmen noodles (any thin noodle will do) prepared per package instructions and rinsed in cold water

1 handful of peanuts chopped
1 sprinkle of black sesame seeds

Begin caramelizing your onion.
If you haven't done this before, follow Tea's lead. They are a fantastic condiment. Feel free to make extra.

Prep cucumber, carrot, garlic, ginger, and cilantro and place in medium bowl with lid.

Don't forget about those caramelizing onions.

Add red pepper flakes, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar to bowl. Cover bowl with lid. Make sure it's secure. Turn the bowl around a few times (somersault style) and put it in the refrigerator.

Finish caramelizing your onions and set them aside to cool.

Chop peanuts and set aside.

Cook noodles, rinse with cold water, drain well, and split between two attractive bowls.

Pull your bowl from the refrigerator and distribute its contents between the two attractive bowls.

Sprinkle some peanuts into each bowl. Now a few pinches of black sesame seeds.

Finish each bowl with a nice mound of caramelized onions.

I've made so many versions of this I've lost count. Above is just one. Play around with the ingredients. Add (maybe some mint). Subtract (oust the red pepper). Make it your own.

Friday, June 18, 2010


..., 2010
Today I thought of Trilby and how she used to sneak away on Sundays. Whenever I think of her I smile. She'll make you smile too.

Thank you, Jennifer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Somewhere in Tampere

She's Exploring, 2010

I have found the most inviting space. I would like to tell you that it is inside my own head. That would be sort of beautiful. I do enjoy journeys through the mind, especially in written form. They might even be preferred to reading dialogue. But no, this space is not mine. It is a place I visit. It is not around the bend, beneath a shade tree, or beside a brook. It is in a place called Tampere. I'm not sure how I found it, as is so often the case. It is a beautiful, quiet, and gentle place. The pace is that of a small fox treading lightly on the land, leaving faint and delicate paw prints.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Distractions, 2010

When you are supposed to be writing, have your camera nearby. When you are supposed to be photographing, be sure your notebook is within reach.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Behind the Bakery

Traces, 2010

He had hope in his eyes. There he stood, at the back door of the bakery, loading or unloading, I cannot be sure. His white t-shirt, pants, and apron hung lazily from his body. His hair lacked any sense of style and his glasses looked to have been bought several decades back. But that look in his eyes. It was reversed. As if somehow looking into his eyes meant seeing through them, and his innocence. It was entirely too intimate for this distant first glance. I looked down at my feet, but could still feel his eyes on me. I thought of him for the rest of the day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The sky was white.

I walked home beneath a stark white sky. Solid white. Not one hint of grey or blue. One dark bird, his wings stretched far and wide, flying high up against the white distance. The air rippled slowly. The leaves swayed.

Standing near the stove, having just set a pot of water to boil, I looked over at the small white vase and platter I'd constructed with my own two hands. I hadn't realized how beautiful they were when I'd made them. I'd given away or sold so many pieces, believing at the time that my making would go on forever. It hadn't.

Removing the pot from the heat, sliding the soybeans into the colander, and running cool water over them. Quietly pinching the slick little beans out of each fuzzy pod and into the bowl. I noticed, everything.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lucky Charms

Breakfast June 3, 2010

There are times in one's life when things don't really make sense. What I'm trying to say is that feeling good is not always linked to logical circumstances. This is okay. Actually, it's better than okay. It is preferred. It is how life should be. Predictability leads to boredom and eventually straight down to stagnation. I'll go so far as to say that a little illogical spontaneity now and then is required in life.

The air felt clean and cool this morning. Thick billowing clouds of fog rested on the bay. It was absolutely beautiful. I walked downtown with Chris and then began back up the hill without a coat. Not wearing a coat at 8:00am in San Francisco is a very big treat. It was the beginning of a perfect day.

Suddenly I was struck with a desperate craving for Lucky Charms. Yes, the cereal with sweet hard little marshmallows. I didn't beat myself up over it. I just popped into our apartment, grabbed a few dollars (it turns out $6.79 was required), and made my way to our corner market. They usually open at 7:30am, but they were still closed. I wasn't about to change my mind, so I walked around the block. When I returned, the open sign was lit. Yes! You see, I was very excited about this cereal.

I scanned the rows of colorful (cloyingly so) boxes and then I spotted him, the crazy little leprechaun. Seriously, he is pretty frightening. He's on the front and back of the box and holds a howling and manic sort of expression on both sides, it's actually worse on the back. I took him home anyway.

I set up my bowl and spoon, poured my cereal, and added my milk. There were more marshmallows than I remembered and they swirl some colors now, but it tasted just as I hoped it would. It wasn't at all one of those These really aren't as great as I recalled moments. Nope. I enjoyed every last spoonful.

Of course, my curiosity demanded I take a look at the first few ingredients on the label. First, Whole Grain Oats. Okay... Second, Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup (God forbid!), dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellows 5 & 6, blue 1, red 40, artificial flavor). Oh. And third, Sugar. Well. Hmmm.

I lead a pretty good life. I care about my family and my environment. This is one small blip on a very big screen and I don't feel bad about it. Isn't it obvious in my photograph? They were kind of pretty. You can't tell me you aren't at least slightly drawn to my shallow pool of green milk.

In the moment, I sort of loved those pink, yellow, green, and blue sweet hard little marshmallows. Maybe I still do.

Also, I sometimes make pancakes with Bisquick.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How closely did you look?

Save, 2010


Today is June. This pleases me.

Good things happen in June.

Never draw attention to your flaws.

I know why I'm broken.
I know where I'm broken. And I lied.
I wanted you to feel better.

Were the blinds loosely open or loosely shut?
They were not tightly closed.
How closely did you look?

This does not end or get better, does it?
It only gets worse. How do I frame this reality?
I won't. I'll have hope.
As blind as it may be, it is what's happening.

You wake, as usual, if naturally waking, unsure if you are actually awake, and if allowed, you will fall back to sleep. The wavering is a sure sign that you are not awake. When you are awake, you know. There is no doubt.

It's like anything else.

Say something when there is something to say.

You don't have to believe.

You are free to see it as you see it.
Is there any other way?

Things that are not used get dusty.

Leaves will blow, but rain will not fall.
This is the promise.

And the sun?

The spaces between.
There are so many more.

You know who you are.

This is my workshop, but I shouldn't be here.
Or should I?

I'm going.