Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home Truth

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Home (Rough Trade East, 21st Aug 2009)

My honey and I are in search of a new home.  Wow.  What an adventure.  The one truth I know is that, no matter the walls, no matter the street, no matter the trees or tire swings or cabinet hinges, wherever he is is home to me.

Hope you are happy and at home wherever you are this week.  Take a listen to and a gander of the above song for a lift.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Deep in the Forest There Is a Promise

In one of the places where we walk we are always finding treasures and surprises.  We discover them at nearly every turn.  At the edge of the forest, indigo buntings fly from one stand of trees to the other then back again, their wings a flash of bright ink against the sky, which shimmers nearly white in the midday sun.  Just beyond them we spot a common flicker silhouetted on a bare branch; it holds itself nearly still for several minutes while the buntings flit about in the dappled shade. Deeper in the woods ferns unfurl against the moss like lace fans, and mushrooms stained raspberry pink at their edges grow with abandon.  Near the stream a rambling bush of blackberries just beginning to ripen bends low over the water, each of its berries sparkling in the dim light.  

At times like this, I won't lie, I am in a fairy tale.  It's not much of a leap: just follow the path, cross  the winding stream, turn right at the ring of toadstools, and there you are in your secret world--a world where old enameled coffee pots and cracked crockery jugs grow from fallen trees and apothecary jars sprout from the soil, each one offering up another chance at dreams.  In this world there are berries to eat and an old chipped mug for catching water from the stream.  The deeper you go, the cooler the air, the softer your step, and the more there is to see.  This forest holds a promise that you must find before you ever want to leave.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Smoothies!

Today we had the tennis courts all to ourselves for an hour and a half.  The sun was shining, the cardinals were singing, and for a little while I forgot about every single stress in my life.  This seems to be a theme for me lately.  It's been a long, long time since life in general felt okay, but I make sure that I do at least one thing every day that feels good--just deeply good, you know?  Tennis is good, picking berries is good, playing with kids is good, and roaming through the Asian foods market is good, especially because I can buy a whole perfectly ripe pineapple there for a buck.  One buck!  Not much costs a buck in this world, especially not something so darn amazing.  

So, what do I do with all those ripe pineapples?  Well, my favorite thing is to make smoothies.  My current obsession is a blend of pineapple, mango, banana, and coconut milk.  Here's my recipe for two tall glasses:

  • One third to one half a pineapple, cubed
  • Half a mango, cubed (2 for a buck at our store!)
  • One or two frozen bananas (I just keep whole bananas in the freezer all the time so I can grab 'em when I need 'em)
  • A couple of ice cubes
  • Canned, unsweetened coconut milk, to taste (I use a quarter of a can or so)

Puree the fruit and and ice cubes in a blender until smooth, then pour in the coconut milk and puree one more time until creamy and perfect.  

I pour the smoothies into two glasses that I've chilled in the freezer for a bit, then I top each one with a spring of orange mint from my windowsill.  Summer in a glass!

Hope you're having a beautiful weekend . . . 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Giveaway Winner is . . .

. . . Louis Dean!

I used Random Number Generator to select the winner, and it churned out number 10, which happened to be Louis.  Now, the funny thing about this is that I've known Louis for a very, very long time.  We went to college together back in the, ahem, 1980's, and have only recently reconnected on facebook.  Back in the day, Louis and I lived in the same dorm, shared many a laugh, ate many a dining-hall meal together, and drank many a cheap beer in many a grungy dorm room together.  He is one of the coolest pals ever, and I know he loves, loves, loves good music, so it seems right that the internet gods selected his number.

Thanks, everyone, for entering the Mary Gauthier giveaway!  I'll be hosting more giveaways this summer, so please keep coming back to visit.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Giveaway . . . Just Because!

Some songwriters just hit you where you live.  Mary Gauthier (pronounced go-SHAY) is one of those songwriters.  With a voice at once edgy and sweet, and lyrics that flow through your veins like a shot of whiskey, Gauthier crafts and performs songs that leave you reeling.  If you like Americana and roots music, Mary is your gal.  Think the lilting rhymes of Johhny Cash, the heart of Lucinda Williams, and a little of the darkness of Tom Waits, and you start to get a sense of her work, although she is definitely an American original.

Her newest album, The Foundling, tells the story of her search for her birthmother.  In Gauthier's own words from her website:

I was born to an unwed mother in 1962 and subsequently surrendered to St. Vincents Women and Infants Asylum on Magazine Street in New Orleans, where I spent my first year.  I was adopted shortly thereafter but left my adopted family at fifteen.  I wandered for years, looking for, but never quite finding a place that felt like home.  I searched for, found, and was denied a meeting with my birth mother when I was 45 years old.  She couldn't afford to reopen the wound she'd carried her whole life, the wound of surrendering a baby.  The Foundling is my story.  

If you would like to be entered in the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of this remarkable album, simply leave a comment on this post by Thursday, June 17 at noon EST.

The Foundling can be purchased here.

Click here to watch some of Gauthier's videos.

Mary Gauthier will be playing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 
on Tuesday, June 15 at Club Passim!

Thanks so much for visiting!  xo Gigi

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Sweet Dark

What to do when life speeds too quickly, when decisions loom, and changes come--ready or not?  Why, chuck it all and go strawberry picking, of course.  Twenty minutes, a couple of quarts, then home for homemade biscuits and whipped cream, and loads and loads of berries.  The ones we picked were ripe, of course, but  the very small ones just turning pink look lovely out there in the field.  They always remind me of William Morris's "Strawberry Thief," which I believe is one of the most beautiful patterns ever created.  Can a humble blogger declare such things?  Well there, it's done.  
Then last night, as I was preparing to clean the rest of the berries (okay, as I was watching Torchwood on Netflix fully planning to clean the berries in an hour or two), the electricity went out.  For those of you who are new to this blog, I live in a massive nineteenth-century textile mill, so when the electricity goes out at night, this cavernous place gets rather spooky.  The elevator stops working and the stairwells are nearly pitch dark.  I imagine no one living our building was too happy last night.  No one except me.  I lit all the candles in our place and set to work cleaning the strawberries by candlelight.  I felt a bit like a strawberry thief myself, paring off their tops, eating nearly as many as I dropped into the bowl, there alone in my kitchen in the sweet dark.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Up Close

First, I need to say thanks for all your thoughtful and heartfelt responses to my last post.  I've been thinking a lot about what prairie girl said about looking closely at the natural world around us.  I realized as I read her amazing words that that's exactly what I've been doing, too, in reaction to this BP disaster.  I feel a palpable need to get as close to living creatures and plants and rocks and water as I can.  As I said in my own comments on the last post, even the stuff like a colony of beetles eating the carcass of a chipmunk (don't worry, I didn't photograph it) is a profound thing to see because it is part of the natural cycle of life--nature doing its own housekeeping thing, housekeeping that we human beings so often seem incapable of doing.

As I walk the pathways at Great Meadows, though, watching the birds and being watched by curious dragonflies, I am grateful for the many people who do see themselves as caretakers of the natural world (like the biologists who remove invasive species from the marsh at GM each week in summer). It's not something we are separate from after all.  I suppose it is easy to believe we are as we buy frozen, prepackaged foods and wander through air-conditioned shopping malls, but I have to remind myself that I am connected to the tree fallen on the forest floor and teeming with the life of insects, squirrels, chipmunks, mushrooms, moss, and ferns.  They all are certainly more real, more necessary than the thingamabobs I throw into my plastic cart at Target. (By the way, can someone tell me why these huge stores so often don't reuse their plastic hangers?) 

Above is a curious dragonfly who landed on Todd's shirt.  I was happy that he let me take several shots of him before he flew away.  As he sparkled in the bright midday sun, we stood quietly.  I thought, how often do I do this--just stand without making a sound, without thoughts that reach beyond this moment to the next desire, the next movement, the next new fixation?  Almost never.  I'm grateful to the dragonfly who by simply doing his own dragonfly-thing reminded me of how much I miss by living for the future or worrying about the past instead of being, acting, living, feeling in the present.

P.S. Please visit Karina's blog for more about the effects of the BP disaster and her beautiful state of Louisiana.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Seeking Balance

~ Albert Einstein

I don't have words to express the sorrow and fear I feel about the BP oil catastrophe.  What are your thoughts?   I feel powerless to the point of despair.  Talk to me.  I'm not seeking comfort where there's none to be found, but real talk, your real thoughts, ideas, questions, and fears.