At Your Convenience

Just go here: Stuff White People Like. I linked to this site a few days ago through a post on Firas' blog and have been reading pieces of it ever since.

Basically, it's a highly snarky blog containing a comprehensive list of Stuff White People Like (such as #96 New Balance Shoes) interspersed with White People In The News blurbs and White Problems (like "Poorly Read Partners"). According to the website, a book version of the blog is coming out this summer.


Our First Shareholder's Dividend

If you read my post about the CSA program Daniel and I recently joined, and were hoping for an update, well, here ya go.

Right. So, yesterday was our first CSA pick-up of the summer season and we were handed a half bushel box full of zucchini, summer patty pan squash, green onions, asparagus, yellow crookneck summer squash, and red, ripe strawberries! Yum. I am a huge fan of all of these fruits and vegetables, except for the patty pan squash which I have never had.

Everything had been picked and boxed up that morning and you could smell the sun and dirt still clinging to everything. Gwennie was particularly interested in the onions and kept nibbling on the green stems. For dinner, Daniel grilled some of the squashes and threw them together with some whole wheat pasta, garlic, tomatoes and some leftover broccoli we had. Soooooo good. The strawberries, which I tasted almost immediately upon receipt, are sweet and juicy. Below are a couple of photos of our first week's farm bounty.



WARNING: This is a REALLY long post, so don't even start reading it unless you've got a good chunk of time to waste. No, seriously.

You know those friends you have who you see maybe once a year and there's a fairly good chance you've barely even talked to them during that year, but as soon as you're with them, it's like you just hung out yesterday? There's no awkwardness, there's no feelings of guilt or obligation, there's no uncomfortable silences. You just fall effortlessly into the comfortable old loafer of friendship that's been patiently waiting. It's awesome.

I spent a long Memorial Day Weekend with those kinds of friends. My Hiram friends. We've been friends for like 14 years and since graduating from college 10 (oh.my.god. TEN!) years ago, we've managed to plan at least one group vacation every year.

As the title cleverly implies, we vacationed in Seattle this year. Alison moved to Seattle 6 months ago, and since none of us had ever been to the damp northwest city, we all converged upon her. (All except Janelle, who sadly wasn't able to get away this year. But the awesome thing is, when we see her next year, it won't even matter. We'll just all pick up where we left off, like we always do).

Aaaaaanyway, following is a lengthy recap of the weekend. I apologize in advance for the distinct lack of photographic evidence, but I'm just not a very motivated photographer. 1. I never seem to be able to pull my camera out at the appropriate Kodak moments and 2. I hate looking so obviously like a tourist. So, you'll have to just use your imagination. Deal.

Sara, Joanna and I all arrived at the SeaTac airport Thursday afternoonish. Alison had planned for us to meet up at the Starbucks (naturally) outside of ticketing. My flight was the last one to arrive, so after grabbing my baggage, I headed to our designated meeting place only to find Alison sitting at a table, by herself, talking on her cell phone.

Apparently, Joanna's flight had arrived over an hour ago and she had yet to show up at our meeting place. Sara was out looking for her and Alison was calling people to find out if Joanna had indeed gotten on her flight. You may be wondering why we didn't simply call Joanna to locate her. Well, dear reader, Joanna is the only human being beyond the age of 12 who does NOT own a cell phone.

After an hour or so of scouring the airport, having various airport employees page her, and calling random friends and family members, I spotted her wandering around Baggage Claim. She had not gotten the memo about our meeting place. She had also fallen asleep on a bench in Baggage Claim and was thus unable to hear her name being paged all over the airport. Joanna is the only person I know to whom these kinds of things happen on a fairly regular basis. Seriously.

So, as we drove from the airport to Alison's apartment, the weather was relatively clear. It wasn't raining but was suspiciously overcast with small patches of semi-blue sky peeking through every once in a while. Alison was practically beside herself with glee at this while the rest of us non-Seattlers were wondering what she was so happy about. (We found out the very next day...stay tuned).

After getting settled at Alison's apartment, we went for a stroll at Discovery Park, which has walking/running trails along Puget Sound. Even in the semi-gloomy conditions, it was really pretty. We ate fish n' chips at Chinook's down on the waterfront as the temperature continued to drop and the wind picked up. In addition to being travel weary, the time change was kind of kicking our butts, so we zonked out pretty early while scenes from the movie "Lars and the Real Girl" played in the background.

Gloomy view of Puget Sound at Discovery Park. Photo courtesy of Sara.

My central time self woke up promptly at 5 am - bright eyed and bushy tailed - to a gray, drizzly morning. Joy. Alison cheered us up with some kind of gooey french toast casserole deliciousness and then we trooped down to the bus stop. A side note: in case you weren't aware, as I was not, Seattle is a VERY hilly city. Another side note: Seattle has a great public transportation system.

We rode the bus downtown to Pioneer Square where we immediately bee-lined to the Elliot Bay Bookstore and loaded up our bags with books. Fortunately, we're all fantastically geeky bookworms who get excited at the mere sight of a quirky, independently-owned bookstore.

Once we were properly loaded up with heavy-ass books, we went for an entertaining and informative tour of Underground Seattle. From there we walked to the library and then to a building with a spectacular view of the city. (I can't remember what it was called - NO, not the Space Needle. sheesh). We continued walking (in the rain. uphill.) to the Pike Place Market and then to the Olympic Sculpture Garden. Without exaggeration, we literally walked from one end of the city to the other (in the rain. uphill. with heavy bags of books.) Good times.

Above is a photo of the library designed by Rem Koolhaas in 2004. We thoroughly toured the inside and discussed the design merits (yes, this is what we do on our vacations).

The picture above is us resting our weary feet at the Olympic Sculpture Garden. Photo courtesy of Sara who actually got up off of her chair in order to take this photo.

Our plan for Saturday was to drive an hour north to the town of Anacortes, board the 10:45 ferry to San Juan Island and spend the day hiking and whale watching on the island. First of all, the weather couldn't have been better. It was sunny with bright blue skies and those big puffy cotton clouds, and the temperature was a balmy 70-ish. Unbeknownst to us, everyone (yes, everyone) within a hundred mile radius had decided to also take the 10:45 ferry to San Juan.

We ended up hanging out at the ferry dock for a good 4 hours and finally were able to get on the 2:45 ferry. Once on the island, we drove to prime whale watching territory but managed to only spot a few porpoises, a harbor seal, and a log.

We finally gave up on the no-show Orcas and hiked to Lime Kiln Lighthouse.

After that we drove to a local sculpture garden on the island which was WAY cool. I should've taken pictures, but as I've already explained, I'm a crappy photographer. As part of the sculpture garden there was a forested area with rugged trails along which were great installation pieces. We were sort of like giddy children everytime we unexpectedly came across a new installation. Again, it was WAY cool.

One ice cream cone and one ferry ride later, we were headed back to Seattle.

Sunday we got to sleep in before once again catching the bus downtown to check out the Northwest Folklife Festival. It was a hippie paradise with lots of ethnic musicians, dancers and performers of all kinds. We were blessed once again with fanfuckingtastic weather.

After spending a considerable amount of time wandering around the Folklife Festival, we went to the Science Fiction Museum nearby. Despite their claim of owning the original chair belonging to Captain Kirk, it was actually a really neat museum with a heavy focus on the literary tradition of sci-fi and the history of the actual science behind sci-fi. It was more interesting than I had anticipated. Plus they had a replica Death Star, so really, how bad could it be?

We hustled ourselves back onto the bus, back to Alison's apartment and then drove to the quirky trendy neighborhood of Fremont where we took our annual group photo with a large sculpture of a troll and then shopped around the little boutique stores and bookshops before continuing on to another quirky little neighborhood called Greenwood, (I think), where we had plans to attend an Open Mic at the Wayward Coffeehouse.

Annual group photo courtesy of Sara. We're the four specks up on top of the troll's shoulder. I have no idea who the other people are in the picture but I suspect they are some kind of group photo hijackers who cleverly wait in the shadows before jumping into the photos of unsuspecting tourists.

We hung out there for a while drinking (coffee and tea) and playing Balderdash while waiting for the Open Mic to begin. It was a very disorganized Open Mic and with all the hippies down at the Folklife Fest, also very sparse. The participants ended up being one female singer/guitarist, one male singer/guitarist, and Joanna, our kick-ass performance poet.

Though the female singer/guitarist was very good (her name is Allyson McCombs and you can find her website HERE), Joanna clearly stole the show and it was so much fun to finally get to see her perform. We celebrated with dinner at a nearby Greek restaurant and then drove back to Alison's apartment, where I caught a quick cat nap before being picked up by the airport shuttle service at 3:10 am (yes, that's right, 3 o'clock in the fucking morning) to catch my 6:00 am flight back to Nashville.

Exhausting but supremely fun trip.

In case this post left you thirsting for more, you can read Joanna's blog about the absence of whales HERE


Death? No. Wait. Cake!

I live with a foodie. What is a foodie, you ask? A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food. One who watches Food Network with concentration and reads cookbooks with fervor. What does this mean, you ask? This means that intense culinary endeavors occur regularly in my kitchen. I am not opposed to this, just sort of dumbfounded. What I consider to be food, is merely ingredients to my foodie roomie.

This past weekend, which started out as a typical weekend included such typical activities as tennis and laundry and shopping. Sunday, after one of our favorite weekend activities of driving around looking at houses on the market (fortunately, this is an activity enjoyed by both architects and economists), Daniel asked if we could stop at the grocery store to “pick up a few things”.

Argh!...I hate going grocery shopping…especially on a weekend. I hate the narrow aisles. I hate everyone moseying around with their buggies. I hate never being able to find anything I’m looking for. Grocery stores just annoy me. He is aware of this, but we were already out and about, and he had a foodie plan gestating in his foodie brain.

So, we popped into Publix, snagged a buggy and had just started scoping out the confounding aisle signage, when Daniel hurriedly ducked down an aisle eyeing me to follow. I followed. While hidden amongst the chips and sodas, he hissed, “See that kid over there? That’s her daughter, so she must be around here somewhere” as he looked wildly around. “Her” in this case is often referred to in our household as “the one who must not be named”. She is Daniel’s co-worker and the bane of his existence. It has become his goal in life to have as little contact with her as possible. This goal made for an interesting shopping experience as he ducked and swerved amongst the aisles while I performed discreet surveillance updates.

We managed to escape undetected, but then had to stop by another grocery store to get the items that were deemed just too dangerous to attempt to acquire under the circumstances at Publix.

Foodies like complicated recipes. Yeah, I know, I don’t understand it either. In fact, the more complicated and labor intensive, the better. They openly scoff at culinary short-cuts of any kind. So when Daniel beamed at me that he had been reading reviews of some recipe from some chef from some show on the Food Network, and wanted to attempt said recipe, I knew it would be an event. I just didn’t realize the extent of the event.

Coconut cake. I am a fan of coconut and I am a fan of cake. Put them together and I am doubly happy. I’ve never made a coconut cake, but it never seemed like it would be too big of a deal. Right? I mean, you just get a Betty Crocker white cake, maybe throw a little coconut extract in there, add a tub of vanilla frosting and a bag of dried, sweetened coconut and call it good. THAT is what I define as baking. There is mixing involved, there is an oven involved and there is assembly involved.

When a foodie decides to make coconut cake, he does not go out and buy a Betty Crocker cake mix. He goes out and buys coconuts. Yes, whole coconuts. He then extracts the coconut juice, bakes the coconut, opens the coconut, removes the coconut meat, and shreds it to a fine and even consistency (this process alone takes a good 2-3 hours). He then proceeds to make his own coconut extract and coconut cream from fresh coconutty ingredients. The actual cake requires ingredients such as flour and sugar and egg whites and fresh coconut juice. The two cake layers are then sliced horizontally, sprinkled with more fresh coconutty goodness and spread with white fluffy made-from-scratch (not from a plastic tub) frosting and freshly grated coconut. I swear to god, this whole complicated coconut cake making process took, like, 7 hours.

He does this kind of thing for the “fun” of it. There was no occasion for the cake except for the pure challenge and enjoyment of accomplishing a cake such as this. I suppose foodies view cooking and baking as a creative outlet, instead of as a chore to be avoided at all costs - go figure. And as long as I can benefit from the creative efforts of my foodie roomie, I fully support culinary feats of divine deliciousness. Cuz I have to admit, that was the best damn cake I have ever had the delightful opportunity of tasting. Just call me a Foodie Fan.



One person's day of celebration is another person's day of mourning. Maybe Gee-dub doesn't realize that.



Controlled Substance Act? No.
Combat Support Associates? No.
Certified Senior Advisors? No.
Contract Services Association? No.

Community Supported Agriculture?

Heard of it? I actually hadn’t until very recently (sorry, apparently I’m just woefully ignorant of sustainable farming practices) when author Michael Pollan mentioned it in his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. The concept of buying a share in a local farm to meet my produce needs struck me as such a neat idea, especially since moving away from my garden growing grandparents and having to settle for the produce fare offered at my local grocery stores, which more often than not has been trucked in from industrial farms from all over the world.

The LocalHarvest website says, “A CSA is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce.”

Sooooo, I did a little internet research and found Doe Run Farm located in Petersburg Tennessee (just south of Nashville), contacted the owners and after some broad economics-based discussion (zzzzz…), Dan and I decided to buy a share of their farm for the summer growing season. For 14 weeks beginning May 27th, we will be receiving a half bushel basket of various produce, vegetables, melons and berries grown organically on local soil.

We’ll be helping out a small local farm and in return we’ll be getting really fresh, healthy produce at a great price. Cool, huh?


Summer Blockbuster with a Side of Xenophobia

So, guess what movie I’m NOT going to see this summer? Yep. That’s right. The new Adam Sandler wart of a film, You Don't Mess With The Zohan, brought to us by the same douchebags who brought us last summer’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. The premise, in a very small nutshell (think pistachio or filbert), is an Israeli commando fakes his own death in order to move to the US to work as a hair stylist. A concept that will, no doubt, hilariously allow for plenty of both racial and gay jokes. Hollywood is ushering in the summer with offensive cultural stereotypes and homophobic language! Boo-ya!

Even though it doesn't come out until June, from the synopses and early screening reviews I’ve read, it seems fairly unanimous that the film takes every offensive stereotype of middle easterners and exploits them until your teeth are grinding uncomfortably together. One reviewer wrote, “If you are middle eastern, have middle eastern friends or just don’t like racist jokes, this movie is definitely not for you at all”. So, I guess if you’re an ignorant red neck who has no middle eastern friends and really likes racist jokes, then this movie is TITS.

Yeah, the thing we need most right now is a good ole racially charged comedy about middle easterners just to strengthen the cultural stereotypes and strongly reaffirm US and THEM. And way to surreptitiously encourage people to blindly support the IDF! – that’s a smart move right now too. Hezbollah hotline? Seriously? How is that okay?

How about a comedy that is evenhanded and promotes peace, using a little device known as wit? Because here's another thing, I'll bet that anyone who condemns this craptastic movie for the culturally offensive, Israeli propaganda that it is (yes, even despite the fact that Sandler's character apparently falls for a Palestinian), will be labelled anti-semitic. How much ya wanna bet? And then there will be those who high-handedly scoff it's "just a movie", get over it. Yeah well, Birth of a Nation was just a movie too.

Yes I know, stereotypes abound. Southerners are stereotyped as inbred and uneducated. But see, people can laugh at that kind of stereotype because they know it's not a true representation of southern people. However, arab-phobia is rampant largely due to people (okay, Americans) being globally unaware and not having any real idea what Arabs are actually like or how they live or what they deal with on a daily basis. So, movies like Zohan are dangerous because the majority of the population doesn't have any alternate information to combat the stereotypes being put in front of them. Hence the whole not funny thing.

I'm not promoting indiscriminant political correctness. Really. But many people are simply not mature enough for entertainment that promotes false images of other cultures. The majority of the people who will buy a ticket to see this movie will be the globally uneducated who will have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction. Offensive stereotypes just serve to dehumanize, and do we really need that right now?

You Don't Mess With The Zohan - this summer’s huge gay bashing, xenophobic comedy! Yippee.


Things You Never Knew You Wanted To Know

Or, things you actually never wanted to know. Whatev.

I currently have a mosquito bite directly between my third and fourth toes that is Driving.Me.Crazy!!!

After enjoying another episode of LOST last night with my fellow LOST fanatics, Amy and I found out that Terah does not like to mix her fruit with any kind of bread product. That's right - no muffins, no cobblers, no pastries...you get the idea. Although she does like tomatoes, which, as we all know are fruit. And she does like pizza...sooooooo....pizza dough = bread product and tomatoes = fruit. Am I right?

We also learned that Amy spends good portions of her days eating mini doughnuts by the sleeve while wearing an eye patch. Huh.

Kelly has perhaps discovered the greatest alternative to real-live s'mores EVER. Graham cracker smeared with Nutella and a dollop of marshmallow creme. Can I get an AMEN?! I have every intention of testing this alternative as soon as I drag myself to the grocery store (am I the only one who hates going to the grocery store?) to get graham crackers and marshmallow creme. You know I have Nutella.

If you leave a turkey sandwich in your lunch box, in your bedroom, under a pile of clothes for...oh...5 days or so, that lunchbox will develop an ungodly stench and a miniature forest of mold. And then you will need to get a new lunchbox.

When someone gives you a container of unopened foundation powder on the premise that "it was buy one get one free and I'll never go through two of these things", is that a polite way of saying, "you have bad skin, please cover it up before I vomit in my mouth"? Hmmm...in a rare spirit of self-love, I'm going with the theory that it was simply a thoughtful gesture and an opportunity for free makeup!

Today is Friday and I am oh-so-thankful. There is alcohol in my immediate future. Oh yes there is.


The Things I Do For A Little Cash

WTF!? Okay, so seriously, I never really considered myself to be terribly money-hungry or materialistic, but after this weekend, I'm re-thinking that self-assessment. Yes, it's true I've done some strange things in order to make money - re-shingling a three-story barn, painting rental apartments with Bob and Rita, working 3rd shift slinging around 30lb bags of mail, appraising art in Cleveland with a bi-polar art dealer (yeah that one was fun)... And yes, my parents instilled a strong work ethic in me. And yes, historically, whatever employment opportunity presents itself, I'm usually up for it. But, money-grubbing never really crossed my mind.

Rare have been the periods in my life when I've maintained only one job at a time, but up until recently those jobs were necessary to my survival. At one point I was working full time during the weekdays at an architecture firm in NY, while working 20-30 hours during the weeknights and working retail on the weekends...and still barely scraping by. Can you say crazy?

For the first time in my life, I actually have a job where I don't HAVE to work another job in order to live. This is good. And yet, here I am, still sacrificing my precious weekends on a regular basis to make a little extra money kidsitting or dogsitting or housesitting or whatever. It's like a sickness. A compulsion. Like if the opportunity presents itself and I don't take advantage of it, I'm a bad person. A lazy person. A person who will regret not making money when she had the chance. A person who would be foolishly prideful to turn their nose up at a job. Part of me knows this is stupid.

But the other part is stubborn when it comes to extra cash endeavors. It's not about the money...well, okay let's be honest, it IS about the money. And maybe it's because I'm inherently greedy, but it's also because I'm afraid. I've been in that dark, scary realm of NO money. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Not even enough to pay for basic living expenses, and although money doesn't mean a lot to me, I don't ever want to be in that place again.

So, I've spent the past 5 days being a single parent (that's right, you heard me - FIVE days!), interrupting my life, sacrificing my time not because I really wanted to, but because I would've felt guilty passing up the golden opportunity to make extra money. Although, after this hellish long weekend, I think I may be cured of my compulsive behavior...or at least willing to take a looooong break from future extracurricular money-making activities.