More notes to myself

June 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

Feel-good story about France’s far-reaching efforts to boost its stork population. Quite a successful program; they’ve gone from 9 breeding pairs in 1983 to 270 pairs today. I especially like the schoolchildren’s efforts to repair nests during the birds’ migration.


The best ratio (so far) for Kung Pao Tofu sauce is:

1 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon habañero sauce (2 t if using Tabasco)
1 soy sauce (only if the peanuts aren’t salted and you’ve forgotten to salt the tofu)

Food blogs worth visiting regularly:
Fine Furious Life
Evolving Tastes

Is this gorgeous-looking rum bundt cake on Design Sponge worth making even though it calls for both cake and pudding mixes? Am I being a snob? Or am I just easily swayed by its sculptural qualities?


You know someone at The Wall Street Journal hates you when this is the photo they use to illustrate a story:



They Feed the Lion
from Philip Levine’s New Selected Poems, Knopf

Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter,
Out of black bean and wet slate bread,
Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar,
Out of the creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies,
They Lion grow.

Out of the gray hills
Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride,
West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties,
Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps,
Out of the bones’ need to sharpen and the muscles’ to stretch,
They Lion Grow.

Earth is eating trees, fence posts,
Gutted cars, earth is calling in her little ones,
“Come home, Come home!” From pig balls,
From the ferocity of pig driven to holiness
From the furred ear and the full jowl come
The repose of the hung belly, from the purpose
They Lion grow.

From the sweet glues of the trotters
Come the sweet kinks of the fist, from the full flower
Of the hams the thorax of caves,
From “Bow Down” come “Rise Up,”
Come they Lion from the reeds of shovels,
They grained arm that pulls the hands,
They Lion grow.

From my five arms and all my hands,
From all my white sins forgiven, they feed
From my car passing under the stars,
They Lion, from my children inherit,
From the oak turned to a wall, they Lion,
From they sack and they belly opened
And all that was hidden burning on the oil-stained earth
They feed they Lion and he comes.

Links on New Victorians

June 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

Not the stratospherically-rich kind who took their time in discovering the less fortunate, the frugal kind.

October 2007 article in the Telegraph Fashion section

The July 2007 piece about Hollywood New Victorian types

Sort of related: Elspeth Thompson, a British gardening expert, is converting two Victorian railway cars into an ecohome.

And that Kipling poem that’s always haunting me:

The Glory of the Garden

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You’ll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise ;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows ;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:-” Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.
There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner In the Glory of the Garden.
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!

And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!

One of a kind

June 3, 2008 § 1 Comment

I always thought we’d make up. One of these days we’d see each other at the Superstore or on Spring Garden and we’d both apologize — her for having no compassion for a broke illegal scrambling to make enough to pay my share of the power bill, me for refusing to pay rent for the summer months (after they’d forced me out of the apartment five months earlier).

We were great friends for that first year of university, a dozen girls living in a truly golden time, full of curiosity and open to possibilities.

I thought once she’d calmed down a bit, and we’d both grown up, we could laugh about the misunderstanding. We had a strong foundation.

Fast forward six years.

I stumbled across the obituary accidentally, and then I was sure I’d read it wrong. It is with great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of our beautiful daughter and sister….
Ten weeks ago she was cheerfully teaching in Japan, and today I went to her funeral.

But I still think I must have read it wrong. No one was ever more alive than she.

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