Wednesday, July 30, 2008

night out

I used to love camping. Once when I was a college student I camped out solo -without a tent - in the Cascade mountains in Oregon, woke up to a view of Mt. Shasta in northern California. It was splendid.

Don and I actually used to camp a fair amount, and when we lived in the city, we thought, hey - maybe we need to live in the country. So we bought the farm (so to speak) in November 2003. It really does feel like a little campground or park.

So, finally, after intending to do this since we moved to the farm in 2003, I slept out a few nights ago, in Lesley's little single person tent.

And this is why I love sleeping outside:

  • rustling of poplars, like breathing
  • fireflies
  • no walls (tent walls don't count) full of plaster, electrical wires, lath between me and Nature
  • no clock, TV, refrigerator hum, furniture
  • the moon
  • cool night air and the damp
I could probably come up with more. My sister Dee Dee says as long as there are 3-star hotels in the world, she doesn't plan on camping. I wonder what you prefer, clean white sheets and room service, or a sleeping bag in the great outdoors?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

blueberry kuchen

Blueberry Kuchen (or for peach kuchen use 8-10 peach halves)

Serves 6 (or two piggy types for a couple of sittings)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine in bowl:
1 1/3 c. sifted flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar

Cut in:

1/3 c. butter

Pat mixture over bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan or skillet.

Arrange in pastry:
3 c. blueberries (? I'm guessing)

Sprinkle over:
1/4 c. sugar

Bake 15 minutes.


1 egg, beaten (or 4 quail eggs)
1 c. sour cream, sour milk, plain yogurt, or combination (I used yogurt)

Pour over blueberries (or peaches) and bake 30 minutes longer.

I'm off work for two weeks!

(Recipe from the Mennonite More with Less cookbook; don't know what year, the book is so old and worn I don't have the copyright page.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


I needed some blue for clarity and focus, and magenta for peace and harmony.

I got them from the morning glories and the hollyhock.

(If you click on the morning glory photo, you can see the tiny circle of moon above the leaf at top.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the story of stuff

If it's the last thing you do this week, even at midnight Saturday night, promise me you will watch the 20-minute video in this link to the Story of Stuff. (Thanks to a reader, this link no longer works. You can read the referenced and annotated script here.) And make your kids watch it.
Thank you, rauf, for bringing it to my attention.
Annie Leonard is easy to listen to, and the 20 minutes will be over before you realize it, and you're sitting there dumbstruck, ready to watch it again.
STUFF. We've been conditioned to buy, consume, dispose. Can we re-condition ourselves? Annie Leonard tells us for every bag of garbage taken to the curb, there are 70 bags of garbage created from what we consumed resulting in that one bag. And, the average life of a product is 6 months. 6 months!
IDEA. I'd like to start a clothing exchange. An easy way to 'shop' for clothes that exist out there that someone else doesn't want. Something online, and not consignment. Free, maybe cover the cost of shipping. Could be a local exchange, like freecyle, which Don interacts with frequently. But I want it to be more user friendly and focused on clothes (to start), so you could plug in: size 8 pants, and go from there. Any suggestions?

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Glen Velez and Coleman Barks at the November Rumi event

I just read about the 47-minute film called "Rant" that came out in 2006. I watched the 7-minute YouTube video, below, and added the film to my Netflix queue. Here's the summary:

In this intoxicating blend of words and images, the observations of great poets mingle with the images of cinematography's masters to bring seven poems alive to viewers. Footage ranges from the front seat of the Cyclone roller coaster in 1940s Coney Island to present-day gun battles in Iraq. The film's visual underpinning gives an immediacy to the poets' words, touching on a wide range of social, political and spiritual issues.

Yesterday Don and I watched the new Batman movie: "The Dark Knight." It was splendid, in spite of the times I wanted to walk out, sick from disturbing scenes. It reflects what I feel from this video: that power is a frightening intoxication; a very few have gotten drunk with it and nearly ruined the world; we need to tap our power and change it, even if the change is only in the world in ourselves.

See what I'm huffing about . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2008

opening up

You hold your best qualities inside, along with the ones you think are your weaknesses. If you can't let the weaknesses out, you might not be able to let the strengths out either.

Have you noticed how a loving friend opens you up?

When you feel confident, free to be yourself without worrying you'll be judged?

And maybe, just maybe, your best strengths are closely tied to what you perceive as weaknesses.

And once it's all out in the open, someone might feed at your openness and be nourished.

balloon flower

platycodon grandiflorus

'sentimental blue'

Sunday, July 13, 2008

it's what's in the frame

My friend Karl loaned me his copy of 1964 by Garry Winogrand, and I've had it for some months. We've toyed with the idea of my selling it on eBay since it goes for $325-500 apparently. He said he'd give me a commission. I would decline.

In the year of the book title, Winogrand won a Guggenheim fellowship grant for a four month photography road trip. That sounds just about like heaven to me. In his application for the grant he wrote:

"I look at the pictures I have done up to now, and they make me feel that who we are and how we feel and what is to become of us just doesn’t matter. Our aspirations and successes have been cheap and petty. I read the newspapers, the columnists, some books, I look at some magazines [our press]. They all deal in illusions and fantasies. I can only conclude that we have lost ourselves, and that the bomb may finish the job permanently, and it just doesn’t matter, we have not loved life. I cannot accept my conclusions, and so I must continue this photographic investigation further and deeper. This is my project."

My friend Alek found this interview with Winogrand by Barbara Diamonstein, which is an inspiring piece, to read how unaffected he was by his fame and success.

Paraphrasing one thing he says in it is that it doesn't matter how you set up a photograph, or what kind of techniques you use processing it. And whether you prefer film or digital. What matters is what's in the frame.

I like thinking about that, using that as a mantra - for photography, and for daily life.

"I left New York in mid-June and returned late in October. The time was spent driving through the country in a slow car photographing all the time." (- Garry Winogrand)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

author homecoming

Ford, McGuane, Harrison, and moderator Bill Castanier

Three American authors came home to their alma mater tonight, my university. All three graduated from the English department where I am the academic adviser. No, I'm not that old, I wasn't their adviser. And oh, I got my BA in this department too. It was fun to hear them talk about their antics in Morrill Hall back in the 1960s though.

They've written over 50 books among them, and I have read ONE: True North by Harrison, set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

They made us laugh and quoted a lot of other authors tonight, but a few lines I can recall:

  • If we knew what went on between women and men, we wouldn't need literature. (Ford)
  • When I read 'Alice in Wonderland' as a kid I felt that I'd been struck by lightning. (Harrison)
  • Pundits think talking is thinking. (Harrison)
  • I became a writer to justify my reading. (McGuane)
  • When asked what the Pulitzer meant to him, Ford said: Philip Roth had an off year.

I think that as a representative of the English department where these guys studied I should probably read a couple more of their books, eh what? I mean, they're good. I hear Jim Harrison is France's favorite American author.

Monday, July 07, 2008


A few snaps at Hukilau, our family cottage, where 39 of us descended for the 4th of July weekend.

And Peter's 4-minute video:

Here's another video Peter put together from his footage. WARNING: There is a snake in this one.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

4th of July letter

". . . and the rockets' red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there . . ."

How true.

How sad.

To honor our nations' 232nd birthday Friday, I have written a letter to my state senator. Come read it at huffing.

Thursday we leave for the lake with my extended family for the holiday weekend. Have fun, be safe, and above all, figure out what you can do to make this country work.