Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sisters + 9200 Miles: Seeking life beyond ourselves

Of beauty, of nature, of something wild.
Of a simple moment.
Breaking a gaze, and looking down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Open up the window and let some air in

Freshening things up. Not around here, but over here. I've retired the old heavy Sassy Gardener blog, and finally come to terms with no, I'm not keeping it up much there. (Actually, the old blog is now Ye Olde Journal, and is still accessible.) So instead, I've gone back to a paper journal for gardening this year. And taking photos of the journal, and lists, and posting them there. And writing the column in Just Out. I hope this actually means more time to be in the garden, and away from a computer. Experience more.

Bonus: I've combed through a few years of photos and put up the best and variety from the garden. It's so rewarding to look at photos through the years of the garden, and remember what it used to look like, and what it is different times of the year. Looking at these, I realize, yes, I am a gardener. Yes, yes, yes. See for yourself here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Across a sea of forget-me-nots

Across an ocean of forget-me-nots
9,200 miles separate my sister and me. And different cultures, dialect, mores and lives. She lives in Western Australia, and I in Portland, Oregon. The last time I saw her was in 2001. We used to be very close. Now? Not so much. 9,200 miles is a long, long ways away. But looking at her stunning photos on Flickr I can see her life, her kids and husband, and the amazing landscape of Australia. Seriously. Amazing. Especially now since she's been "on holiday" in the northern and remote area of Exmouth. The photo above is Mangrove Bay, near the Ningaloo Reef. Their own beach for the day.

Last week we received in the mail a paper "blog" detailing their journey, along with a map, a pinch of the red sand from the area, and lots of details and drawings from their journey. I look at it every day and read a bit. I feel those 9,200 miles shrinking.

I gazed at the blue of the sky and the water, and the horizon, and later that day, saw in my own backyard a sea of blue. A wave of blue forget-me-nots have made themselves at home in the garden. My little blue ocean. And I thought of my sister's ocean. And all of the ocean in between us. And I smiled. Beautiful.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I am a strong, capable woman

clearing the water
A few months back we had a house project that I must have whined about. Hem hawed. I don't want to do it. And AdRi looked me directly in the eye and said, "We are strong, capable women. Come on. We can do this." And I knew she was right.

I used to believe that all of the time. I can do this. What happened? When did I become soft? Have I become the woman who screams at bees? Who looks at projects of manual labor and whines for help? God I hope not. But I don't know. AdRi's simple statement, her reminder, awakened the woman inside of me. (And no, I didn't spell that womyn, thank you.) It shook me. Now? I'm all about the work. The camping. The garden. The canning. The picking. The harvesting. The work. The creating. The running my own business. We can do this.

And it's the same with blogging. I feel like I've gone soft. Too much mindless surfing. Twittering. Scanning. Reaction and trigger pulling. Not enough life, and simple reflection of life. Not enough carrying my camera with me and just capturing.

So this week is all about the photos. And connections. Is it possible to connect across the world through photography? I believe there is. And we'll find out here on this blog, as a reflection of life, of my imagination, of my world. I am a strong, capable woman. I can do this.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Don't mess with the carnies.

They'll bite ya and hit ya with a stick. There's so many great things in this story it's hard to choose just one. Though I do like this line: A police dog named Tiko later found the flesh, but surgeons at Rogue Valley Medical Center could not reattach it and had to remove the exposed bone. Don't miss the comments either.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sexy Robot? Yes, yes, yes.


Shush it! We were shushed at the North Portland Candidate's Forum

I could write a really wonderful overview, thoughts, reactions, etc. to yesterday's North Portland Candidate's Forum. Candidates for US Senate, City Commission and Portland Mayor were all in attendance, mere blocks from our house, and for three hours we heard enlightening answers, differing opinions, and I had some real clarification on who I would and wouldn't be voting for in our upcoming election. I could write about all that, but instead, I'm going to tell you about being shushed.

AdRi and I turned our phones off. We don't speak (more than an occasional whisper) when speakers are at the mike. I like to think we're courteous audience members. So we were completely taken off guard when a woman sitting in front of us whipped her head around during the forum to snap at AdRi and tell her to stop rustling her papers because she couldn't hear the speakers. And then she whipped back around, so quickly I was afraid her head would snap. Did I mention she wasn't nice about it? Well, she wasn't. AdRi and I stared at each other with our eyes wide open, and AdRi's mouth agasp. She had been shushed!

At the break, we moved a seat down so the grating abomination of turning a piece of paper would not set the woman's head afire. Her colleague, however, whipped her head around and threw daggers out of her eyes at a few people sitting in the top corner of the auditorium who may have dared to say a few words to each other during the forum. She did this several times, and then cupped her ear to ensure she could hear the words being said from the stage.

A few things: the audio system was good. This was in a university auditorium, with good acoustics. I guess I just didn't know there were professional and appointed shushers in the crowd.

And sure enough, after it was over, the original shusher attempted to engage us in why the papers bothered her and how she was there to listen and if there was really a reason we needed to actually read the agenda and background information about the candidates that was passed out to all attendees. Sigh. This is what I think: Shushers should sit in the front row.

I'm now finding it quite entertaining to shuffle and ruffle all papers and paperwork when around AdRi. And we're both practicing our head whipping around talents. It's not easy.

P.S. People who stood out for me during the forum? Frohnmayer for Senate, Nick Fish and Charles Lewis for City Council, and Sam Adams for Mayor. But I'm not completely decided on any of those yet, just my take from the forum. Now shush it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tell me Portland is not only made up of white, heterosexual 2-parent families with kids?

Portland's very white, heterosexual families
Race underlies everything. Scratch the surface a little—immigration, renaming a street, what neighbors moved in down the street—and up it pops. Or the not-so-subtle ways it shows itself when the media reflect back to us, through photos and stories, a society where we don't see ourselves a part of. We are "the other."*

Race is becoming a part of the national dialogue with Obama running for President. Wow, to think of a national dialogue about race? When we can't even talk about race among neighbors or friends or family? I welcome that, wholeheartedly. But racism, and defining "the other", it's in our daily lives, in the little things, where race and privilige live, and where I'm seeing them more and more. What can I do when I see and hear these things? Do I shrug them off and let them go? Do I become part of the problem when I let them go? And my mom would agree, it's not really in my nature to let things go. (My friend Donna Red Wing is a professional agitator: I like that title a lot.)

So today I had a late breakfast, and sat down with The Oregonian's FOODDay section. The cover story was a large feature—the whole page!—about trimming household grocery budgets. You can see the page I took a snap of above. I mentioned to AdRi what I felt about this story—that it made me feel invisible—and she laughed. As a woman of color she's used to it. Me? Not so much. But it's becoming more obvious to me, and in places where I normally feel I belong.

So this is the letter I sent to the writer, and to The Oregonian.
Hi Leslie;
I really enjoyed your article today in FOODday, and I love the budget challenge for families to trim their grocery spending. We have such a great foodie scene in Portland, and it's easy to waste food and resources. There are some great ideas in your article and I look forward to reading some of the corresponding recipes next week.

But I have to tell you that when I read your line, "We took the dilemma to four Portland families who look a lot like many FOODday readers" and I looked up at the photos, my heart sunk a little. I looked at the families you profiled, and then read their stories: you chose four families, and they all are white, heterosexual couples with kids. No single parents, no families of color, no gay or lesbian families. And all of a sudden, I felt very invisible. And surprised. Because I often read FOODday, and your articles, and am able to reflect personally on them, but this time I realized that nothing about my family is reflected in the examples you show.

Now I know that certainly not all types of people and families could possibly be featured in a story like this, but it seems that when you have the opportunity to profile four families, you could at least make sure the families you're selecting are more reflective of the real community. We both know that not all Oregonians, or Portlanders, are white, heterosexual couples, 2-parent families raising children.

And you see, it's not only reflected in the photos, and seeing a whole front page full of white faces and families, but in their stories, as well. No references or ideas for tortillas? Greens? Culturally relevant foods? Couples without kids portions? What we eat can be such a great unifier in class and culture, and also very distinct. With such a large feature story like this, our cultural differences were completely erased with stories from such a specific white viewpoint.

The media, and you, Leslie–and FOODday–have such power to influence not only what people know but how they feel about their community. The media, in conscious and unconscious ways, communicate important values and sends us messages about what or who is important or not. It's not that I think anyone did this with malice, but instead, what appears to be a lack of focus and, perhaps privilege, that can cloud decision making like this. Oregonians include all different kinds of families: I wish I could see more of them, in our paper, and reflected in daily life in areas such as FOODday.
I hope I hear back from them. Do you think I will?

*Sidenote: for a great history and viewpoint on immigration, and discussion of "the other" watch this, thanks to my lowrider librarian friend, Max.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Discovered! A crafted item that hasn't shown up on Etsy

What, you may ask, are these strange looking creatures? Jack-a-lopes? The goat man? Snipes? Nope.

They're Portland's newest hippest DIY projects, an artform called Assquatch.

Assquatch you ask?
Well, those aren't creatures, actually. Nope.
And they're not really made in Portland. By hipsters. Drats. Then what are they?

They're deer asses, crafted into animals.
And I checked on They're not there. Yet. If you're quick with your assquatching, you can corner the market! Quick! Get to assquatching!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Get your gardening shoes on

Are you ready to garden?
I'm putting on my gardening shoes and doing some much needed work out there. Shoveling mulch! Digging out weeds! This sunshine and warmer weather has me about to explode. Don't waste a moment of it.

I plan to...
-feel the breeze on my arms again
-reintroduce my feet to fresh air and that thing called the sun (ooh, it glows, warm)
-play ball in the park with the dog
-hoe with my new "hula ho", presented to me as a gift from our mortgage consultant (come on, how awesome is that?!)
-explore some new plants at the plant sale at the expo center

Other things on my list....make homemade butter, and then biscuits with the buttermilk, make more fresh asparagus, spend some time on the porch, and relax my shoulders. Shoulders? Yes, I've been hunched over a bit with a massive crush of work (which is good!) but I need to stretch it out some, garden some, and breathe some. Some.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Let's talk about blog, baby

the answers
Let's talk about you and me...and I'll be talking about blogging at the library as part of the Multnomah County Library Series "Writers Talking." I'm so honored to have been invited, and to be the first blogger to be part of this series. And the perfect opportunity to finally put together a presentation about blogging, what it is, and how it connects you to so many things....if you let it. I'll read some of my favorite posts (time to dig through ye olde archives) and share lots of photos, so I hope you'll come! Unless you want to throw tomatoes at me. Then you should stay home.

I'll be at the Hollywood Library, Sunday, May 18, 2-3:30pm. And a link is here!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Blast from the past

lucha libre del zucchini
One of my most favorite photos of AdRi. Bet you didn't know I had my own super hero, did you? And that there is a homegrown zucchini, the weapon of choice for Lucha Libre del Zucchini.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Have a seat, won't you?

Have a seat, won't you?
Pokey. Ouch. Pointy. Don't touch it. Ouch. You touched it, didn't you? I told you so.

I recently worked "freak flag" into a column. It's about euphorbias. Euphorbias are weird, and definitely freaky, and that is exactly why they are near the top of my favorite list. As are pokey pointy ouch things. I like to look at them. Not touch them. Here's a closer look at a euphorbia in our garden...
that crazy euphorbia
Pretty, huh? Ah, the wonders of nature. Spring is awakening the garden, and my little freaks are coming back to life.

Which reminds me, I've been plotting a goth garden, and am almost done with my list of bloody, black, deep red, scary or contorted plants. Also included in that are carnivorous plants. I imagine creating this goth garden, and feeding it with people who are mean. So here's a warning to all mean people out there, and that includes those on the internet. You mean to me? I'll feed you to my garden. And I'm sure the Bloody Butcher Tomato will produce a bumper crop this year. Mmmmmmmm. Yummy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What's your internet culture IQ?

Before you take This Quiz, here are two hints for you. First watch this, and study the image above. Whatever you do, don't use the code they give you at the end to post your results to your blog: they're thinly disguised links to sex toy sites. That's right. Classin' the place up over here at Lelo in Nopo.
P.S. I scored 115.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spring asparagus: cooking clean

spring asparagus
This is going to be a very complicated recipe. Very. I might need to have a reference list and youtube demonstration to accompany the following series of steps. Ready? You sure? Okay, here goes.

Buy asparagus now. In spring. Preheat oven to 450. Wash asparagus well, trim, and lay in single layer in baking dish. Squeeze one Meyer lemon over asparagus. Season with a little salt and pepper, and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. Done.

You still with me? Sweet. That's clean cooking. Or what I've been reading about lately, as defined as clean cooking. Simple, pure, and the best ingredients. I see my friends over at The Little Red Bike Cafe have been reading the same book I am. The Meyer lemon? Smells like both an orange and a lemon (because it is), and this is the perfect place to use a little Fleur de Sel de Guerande finishing salt and some Ashanti black pepper. (More on those two in another post.)

Super simple, and super good this time of year. Eating seasonally actually tastes better.

P.S. Thank you to Slashfood, for making this delish asparagus Food Porn Daily!