Early Birthday Birds

Granola bars cooling, a copy of American Grown by Michelle Obama on my coffee table (only $20 at Barnes & Noble with discounts — and, yes, printed in the U.S. of A.), and a couple of weird off kilter odd hour birds doing the old fashioned kind of tweeting.  My dog answers back with barks, and warns off any would-be interlopers or party crashers.  I know this bird.  I missed him last year, noticed he wasn’t around.  Before that, though, he would be up at all kinds of odd hours singing loud, listening to his tune bounce off the row houses and down the street.  People on the block knew him.  We called him the Crazy Bird.  “Did you hear that Crazy Bird at, like, 2 in the morning?”  Some people were amused.  Others, rubbing their eyes and pushing back their hair, fumbling for their metrocard, not so.  Even though he would wake me up inopportunely, something about the persistence was admirable.  He’d perch on the ledge of the deck outside my bedroom door, where my jalapenos were happiest last year but the morning glories never grew.  Some mornings I would wake up and there he’d be, wrapping up another night of revelry.  I don’t know where he went last year but he’s back now.  I can’t see him now in the dark of night but I do recognize his voice.  It’s unmistakable.  And  I tip tap away at my keyboard, wishing I could whistle back.  (It’s not a talent I possess).  I hear another one, though, talking back.  Might be telling this one to get some sleep.  I’ll take heed.  Before I do, I pause because I think I recognize that tune … sounds like happy birthday to me.

Film Recommendation: Collapse

The following recommendation is from my friend and fellow reveler, Susan.  Since it’s her recommendation, I no doubt will be checking out the film as soon as possible.  If any of you have seen it or see it, your feedback’s invited.  Thanks Susan!

“This is a film recommendation for “Collapse”, an interview with Mike Ruppert, a former LAPD cop, investigative journalist, publisher, and thinker.  He has vital things to say about our world, some of which, like “peak oil”, are not exactly household terms.  It is not a light film, but there are issues here all of us ought to think about.  He connects the dots in ways that I haven’t seen before.  And although these are huge concepts, he explains them in ways that make them understandable for most of us.

“Ruppert shows how energy depletion is causing the collapse of the economic system that supports the entire industrialized world.  He doesn’t blame any of it on individuals of any political persuasion, followers of any religion or “-ism”, creed, or greed.  Although we all have our pet issues, he goes beyond them all and pares things down to what he sees as inevitable effects. He has no panaceas to offer, and he explains what won’t help, and why.

“I have to admit that in the first few minutes, I found Ruppert irritatingly full of himself and more than slightly  paranoid.  Of course, that could also describe some of us.  But the things he has to say are so basic and important, I’m glad I watched the whole film.  It lasts about 80 minutes. And I believe that if we understand the underlying causes, we will be able to better think about how to survive them, perhaps even cure them.

“For those of you on Netflix instant view, this film is downloadable until June 1.  I can’t wish that you enjoy “Collapse”, but I hope you watch it anyway.”

The Things of Living

Toothpaste, papers, laundry, oil changes, Con Ed notices, buying socks, sweeping floors, paying bills, setting alarm clocks, tying shoes, updating a drivers license, reading food labels, getting shots, millions of advertisements burned across your vision. These are the “things” of life. They eat patience and energy and attention. They are eternal in a lifetime. They are largely meaningless. Menial, mundane tasks and items that get in the way of living, that are life itself.

“I never thought this would be past,” has come to mind times too numerous to mention, while listening to a song (today it was Pavement’s “Shoot the Singer,” which, when we heard it, felt so far ahead of yesterday that no today could catch up, much less pass that moment) or re-being in a certain state of existence newly discovered to be temporary (sitting on a sofa on Madison Street watching my cat Danny – or Dani, gender ending felion/ess s/he/he/she was – jump sky high with no forewarning while summer turned old outside comes to me now). This is just only another thing: the time spent comprehending time, which I have heretofore resisted as just a human construct, granted unjustified weight and reverence and attention. The reality of no longer being (other than via vicarious memory building) in a given moment, however, and being whisked through moments piled on as years, has become increasingly undeniable to me. But, time, too is just another thing. Other than astounding us with its sphinx mysteries, turn this rubix cube around and there is no breathing shining gem of life pending revelation in any of its sides or contortions. It is a distraction and tool not much different or more or less useful than toothpaste or socks.

So what is there? A walk in the rain at 7:00 when the streets are largely empty, and faith in the shuffle function of technology pays off, and each word was written, specific and painstaked like veins on the backsides of leaves. This, and spurts of joy in appreciating another being, animal plant or human. The understanding of what effort it takes to plate a little kindness, and the wild flush rush feeling of being a guest at the table.

Here’s to you, and your kindnesses.

And here’s to my iPod, that always knows what to play. On my quick jaunt out to drop off dry cleaning and pick up a bottle of white for dinner, tonight’s set went something like this, while the rain danced in harmony above me.


Sorry to lose Donna Summer this week.  She was a regular voice in my house growing up.


Nice of Erica Wheeler to visit me through the headphones tonight.  When I was a law student in Madison, she stayed at my place when she went through touring.  She asked me later what the big books were for.  It only occurred to me then I’d never mentioned I was not a full time music junkie but also did some other stuff, like study, on the side.  I didn’t know what she was up to now but I’m glad this post brought me to it.  Check out her site.  I like the idea – reconnecting to place.

The only real downside to iPod on shuffle mode is that if you witness something like I did tonight — where the songs perfectly align with your mind and, even more, jump in the dialogue with swift and deft precision — and you want to save it to recount the unparalleled synchronicity of your thoughts with the so called random selections, be careful which way you spin the touch pad.  I tried to just pause it but the songs disappeared, shuffled back into the 7,000+ songs on rotation.  The last song I was going to share with you was a Bob Dylan one that I don’t hear often.  From the sound of it, I figured it was on Love & Theft or Modern Times.  I’ve been through both and haven’t been able to find for certain the song I was hearing earlier.  I am thinking now it just may be that you never can hear a song again the same way.  Either way, every song on Modern Times (esp. Spirit onAnd now I’ve just learned today is his birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Dylan.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVjqXXCQx3g  (I’m particularly fond of this one and the articulation of sounds/words in the foreign tongue)

http://www.wat.tv/video/bob-dylan-charlie-chaplin-kejx_2gsa7_.html (this is my favorite — Bob Dylan singing, Charlie Chaplin playing)

Project EATS

I satisfied my herb search today at my local nursery, Shannon Florist, and supported a new-ish and innovative local business, Brooklyn Commune, and a non-profit organization that fosters urban growing, Project EATS at their plant and seedling sale. I came home with basil, a couple heirloom tomato plants (insurance in case my seeds don’t germinate and an opportunity to expand my varieties). I also brought home a couple small cucumber plants because I got wrapped up in a moment of gushing gardeners. The purple kale is because the lady from Project EATS (pictured below) was, wisely, offering sample tastes.  I also compared notes with several other visitors to the stand on what’s the best way to grow beets in Brooklyn (I was relieved to know I’m not the only one who has struggled to get them to grow, container or ground).  A lovely woman who I learned is a neighbor gave me a suggestion for using an empty kitty litter container for cucumbers.  (Ironically, the reason I’m looking to raise them off the ground is that there is a stray cat who prowls the yard so I want to keep them up, up and away but I don’t have much trellis space).  The sale started in the morning.  I got there around noon, and it still had a few hours to go.  I left with hands, but not arms, full. I was proud of myself for the restraint, given that I really wanted to snatch up every single one of those plants and soak in hours of the casual chatter, brimming with advice and anecdotes. But I left with just enough, and no more than I needed.


Sorry I Missed Our Anniversary, Dear

The one-year anniversary of Revel + Gardener came and went with me mostly sick in bed.  It also came and went with me nursing that cold with a bowl of hearty chicken soup and rosemary buttermilk bread. And I didn’t even give you the recipe.  Sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to be cheap or forgetful.  The chicken soup was so basic as to not warrant a recipe.  Suffice it to say, it is a one-pot wonder that starts with oil & butter and lots of onion and garlic, and takes the better part of the morning.  Throw in left-over brown rice, handfuls of parsnips, carrots, celery, tons of spices and a sprinkle or three of cayenne, and you’re good to go.  As for the buttermilk bread, it’s one that I make when I’m too lazy to sourdough it, and it’s usually some quick reminder recipe (the kind you find online to give you just the basic proportions and you make it your own from there).

My basic recipe came from Thekitchn.com, and goes something like this:

2 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar (scant)

1.5 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. kosher salt

2 T. dried whole rosemary*

1 c. buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 c. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Prepare a bread pan but greasing it and lightly dusting with flour.

Whisk the dry ingredients together, including the rosemary.

*The rosemary I use for this comes from Kauffman’s Country Store in Beloit, Wisconsin.  My mother surprises me with occasional gift packages stuffed with lots of treasures from there, or packs it in her carry-on bag when she comes to visit.  I was hoping when I went to search for the link just now that maybe they delivered but it doesn’t look like it.  The blue box on their website that says “Shop Here for All of Your BAKING Needs,” means literally shop here, as in Kauffman’s Country Store on Hwy. 81 in Beloit, not as in click-n-shop here on this blue box that looks like it should link to an online shopping experience.  But, I digress.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and olive oil.  When that’s well whisked, pour the wet over the dry and stir together till you have a moist, sticky batter.  Be gentle with the stirring.  You want them to meet, not mate.

Pour the batter into the prepped pan.  Pop it in the oven.  Pull it out 45 minutes, give or take a few, later, when a toothpick comes out clean.  Let it sit on a cooling rack for about ten minutes, then enjoy it with a pat or two of butter.

This bread is very excellent warm.  It makes for tasty toast, too, but is prone to crumble.  You’ll be okay, so long as you’re prepared.  Always remember to unplug the toaster before going in search of stragglers.

So, I may have missed the one-year mark since I started this blog, but that’s okay.  There will be more. (Mayans be damned).