asking my brain to do something different

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Procession of the Produce

Posted by on 18 Jul 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

Olympia, WA originated a great parade in 1995, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Earth day. Dubbed “Procession of the Species”, there are only three rules regarding participation: no motor vehicles, no lettered signs –

The Skagit Valley Food Co-op is turning 35 this year, and inspired by our neighbors in Oly, we’re having a “Procession of the Produce” Parade, with artichokes and asparagus, mushrooms and butternut squash, watermelon and grapes, bees and honeycomb and blueberries. I’ve been hosting paper mache parties on fridays in the studio shop. Tonight Britt and Matthew and Shelley came over with Eva and Simone, two gorgeous little girls, to prepare Eva’s blueberry costume for the parade. Eva took off her dress and painted herself pink. Also some flower petals – while I tackled corn husks and bee wings.

We spun some dreams and ideas around, we caught up on old friends from when we were kids – the people convened and played together for a while. In honor of the joyful conversation, I offer this wiki-style research
into the nature of fruits and vegetables and legumes. :

The term fruit has many different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds— of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and the surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds.[1]

In cuisine, when food items are called “fruit”, the term is most often used for those plant fruits that are edible and sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. But in cooking, the word fruit may also rarely be loosely applied to other parts of a plant, such as the stems of rhubarb, which are made into sweet pies, but which are not botanically a fruit at all.

Although the word fruit has limited use in cooking, in reality a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are botanically speaking, the fruits of various plant species.[2] No single terminology really fits the enormous variety that is found among plant fruits.[3] The cuisine terminology for fruits is quite inexact and is likely to remain so.

The term false fruit (pseudocarp, accessory fruit) is sometimes applied to a fruit like the fig (a multiple-accessory fruit; see below) or to a plant structure that resembles a fruit but is not derived from a flower or flowers. Some gymnosperms, such as yew, have fleshy arils that resemble fruits and some junipers have berry-like, fleshy cones. The term “fruit” has also been inaccurately applied to the seed-containing female cones of many conifers.[4]

With most cultivated fruits, pollination is a vital part of fruit culture, and the lack of knowledge of pollinators and pollenizers can contribute to poor crops or poor quality crops. In a few species, the fruit may develop in the absence of pollination/fertilization, a process known as parthenocarpy.[5] Such fruits are seedless. A plant that does not produce fruit is known as acarpous, meaning “without fruit”.[6]

The term “vegetable” generally means the edible parts of plants. The definition of the word is traditional rather than scientific, however. Therefore the usage is somewhat arbitrary and subjective, as it is determined by individual cultural customs of food selection and food preparation.

Generally speaking, a herbaceous plant or plant part which is regularly eaten as unsweetened or salted food by humans is considered to be a vegetable. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom Fungi, are also generally considered to be vegetables, at least in the retail industry.[1][2] Nuts, seeds, grains, herbs, spices and culinary fruits are usually not considered to be vegetables, even though all of them are edible parts of plants.

In general, vegetables are regarded by cooks as being suitable for savory or salted dishes, rather than sweet dishes, although there are many exceptions, such as pumpkin pie.

Some vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers (or Capsicum as they are known in Australia) and celery, are eaten either raw or cooked; while others, such as potato, are traditionally eaten only when cooked.

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or a fruit of these plants. A legume fruit is a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a “pod”, although pod is also applied to a few other fruit types, such as vanilla. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, and peanuts. A peanut is not a nut in the botanical sense; a peanut is an indehiscent legume, that is, one whose pod does not split open on its own.

Varieties of soybean seeds, a popular legume

Varieties of soybean seeds, a popular legume

Pea pods

Pea pods

The history of legumes is tied in closely with that of human civilization, appearing early in Asia, the Americas (the common bean, several varieties), and Europe (broad beans) by 6,000 BC, where they became a staple, essential for supplementing protein where there was not enough meat.

Legume plants are noteworthy for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, an accomplishment attributable to a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria known as rhizobia found in root nodules of these plants. The ability to form this symbiosis reduces fertilizer costs for farmers and gardeners who grow legumes, and means that legumes can be used in a crop rotation to replenish soil that has been depleted of nitrogen.

Legume seed and foliage have a comparatively higher protein content than non-legume material, probably due to the additional nitrogen that legumes receive through nitrogen-fixation symbiosis. This high protein content makes them desirable crops in agriculture.

Farmed legumes can belong to numerous classes including forage, grain, blooms, pharmaceutical/industrial, fallow/green manure, and timber species, with most commercially farmed species filling two or more roles simultaneously.

  • Forage legumes are of two broad types. Some, like alfalfa, clover, vetch, stylo, or Arachis, are sown in pasture and grazed by livestock. Other forage legumes such as Leucaena or Albizia are woody shrub or tree species that are either broken down by livestock or regularly cut by humans to provide stock feed.
  • Grain legumes are cultivated for their seeds, and are also called pulses. The seeds are used for human and animal consumption or for the production of oils for industrial uses. Grain legumes include beans, lentils, lupins, peas, and peanuts.[1]
  • Bloom legume species include species such as lupin, which are farmed commercially for their blooms as well as being popular in gardens worldwide.
  • Industrial farmed legumes include Indigofera and Acacia species, which are cultivated for dye and food gum production respectively.
  • Fallow/green manure legume species are cultivated to be tilled back into the soil in order exploit the high nitrogen levels found in most legumes. Numerous legumes are farmed for this purpose including Leucaena, Cyamopsis, and Sesbania species.
  • Various legume species are farmed for timber production worldwide including numerous Acacia species, Erythroxylum species and Castanospermum australe.

The term is derived from the Latin word legumen (with the same meaning as the English term), which is in turn believed to come from the verb legere “to gather.” English borrowed the term from the French “légume,” which, however, has a wider meaning in the modern language and refers to any kind of vegetable; the English word legume being translated in French by the word légumineuse.

Legumes are good sources of iron and fiber.

All hail the plant kingdom.

Azul?

Posted by on 09 May 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

what it must be like to paint in spanish/ the colors unsame? the blue in the sea of cortez remains/ untranslated

and skagit blue is not the same / this northern valley

claimed from an inland sound / the soft clay soil / diked

and waiting for seed. what simple blue this sky/ breathes

in and out / salt breezes/ riding on/ rising /birdsound / brightcloud / cowpoop

sometimes the coyotes come down from the hills and cross/ the fields

to fish for ducks in the light fading behind the islands.

do the mexican coyotes too/ descend from hill to shore

in search of ducks floating on the bright blue cortezian sea?

Dandelion Remedies

Posted by on 10 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

In spite of so many things, I love America – in theory and all that jazz about the right to life liberty and the pursuit of – (oh no, wait, this is where we went wrong and gave ourselves full liberty to pursue happiness at the cost of people in countries that are not american)

yet also in the particular glow that certain faces shine when they are being most animatedly themselves. On fire with something. Call it pursuit of happiness if you must – I’m going to borrow a term from a fantasy book about shapechangers, called Cheysuli, who make decisions based upon their intuitive sense of tahlmorra, or fate. These are not generally the easy decisions you know – the ones that fate determines – these are the ones that call for steppin up. And the pursuit of happiness on the soul levels can kindle this kind of glow.

So I do love America, even when it persists in trying to demonize and spray with toxic shit a plant like dandelion, whose origins are a bit mysterious, and who offers a veritable plethora of helping healing remedies for those of us brave enough to refrain from mowing or spraying and choosing instead to dig it out by the roots in the spring and treat ourselves – remedy-style.

This quoting came from www.altnature.com/gallery/dandelion.htm

Did you have any idea that those weeds sprouting up in the grass all over might also fade your freckles? (Not that anyone Here is looking to do any freckle fading, I’m just sayin -)

Dandelion Habitat and Descripton

Dandelion is a perennial herb thought to be introduced from Europe and Asia. It is now naturalized throughout the Northern Hemisphere. No one is sure exactly how the dandelion has spread so widely, and there is some debate on the origin of the plant.

When placed in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers and leaves of Dandelion release ethylene gas ripening the fruit quickly. A liquid plant food is made from the root and leaves. A dark red dye is obtained from Dandelion root. A cosmetic skin lotion made from the appendages at the base of the leaf blades distilled in water, is used to clear the skin and is effective in fading freckles.

Dandelion Herbal use and Medicinal Properties

The whole plant is used as a medicinal herb internally and externally.

External Uses

The fresh juice of Dandelion is applied externally to fight bacteria and help heal wounds. The plant has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphococcus aureus, pneumococci, meningococci, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, C. diphtheriae, proteus. The latex contained in the plant sap can be used to remove corns and warts.

Internal Uses

Dandelion is also used for the treatment of the gall bladder, kidney and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, dyspepsia with constipation, edema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. As a tonic, Dandelion strengthens the kidneys. An infusion of the root encourages the steady elimination of toxins from the body. Dandelion is a powerful diuretic but does not deplete the body of potassium.

Research is revealing that the many constituents of Dandelion including Taraxacin, Taraxacoside, Inulin, Phenolic acids, Sesquiterpene lactones, Triterpenes, Coumarins, Catortenoids and Minerals, mainly Potassium and calcium, are very valuable in curing a number of disorders and illnesses. Dandelion is traditionally used as a tonic and blood purifier, for constipation, inflammatory skin conditions, joint pain, eczema and liver dysfunction, including liver conditions such as hepatitis and jaundice.

Weed? Okay, if you say so.

Now somebody tell me what to do with the thistles.

Nettle Soup

Posted by on 08 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

When they first shoot up, the purple tips of new spring nettles curl to a point with a frill and swirl, like soft serve ice cream. I went trimming nettle tips last night, from the patch in the back 1/4 acre. Nettle, mint, and thistle – this is how the garden wants to grow. All winter the sentinel plants have been silent, rooted beneath the soil and waiting. And in this interminably slow spring, they are the first heralding of all the wild green sprouting to follow.

And they will win. I know that now. last spring I was still hopeful that some tugging and clearing on my part would balance the scales. Then I watched the the skin on my arms burn and blister from thistle toxin, felt the nettle sting reverberate for days on the pad of my thumb, tasted the mint frolic from the mound by the hammock, and accepted that something in this soil, stronger longer deeper than mere human insistence, would persevere to make mockery of my intentions.

Good to know where I stand.

The mint I’ve made my peace with, easy to do with mint: harvest and dry, muddle fresh into Hendricks gin and tonics, sip in the hammock while gazing upon the slow passing of an afternoon.

The thistles – I’m soliciting advice, from all sides. Being Scottish, I may take a certain pride of association with their ambitious tenacity, but mostly they make me nervous.

The nettles – well I’m harvesting them for tea, and offering a nettle soup recipes from last year’s Spring Co-op newsletter. They are full of calcium, magnesium, chromium, iron, and B vitamins. Harvest them before they flower. Wear gloves.

Nettle Soup:

1 quart young nettle tops, rinsed *5 cups stock or water * 1/4 cup cooked brown rice * 1 carrot * 1 onion * 1 celery * 2 cloves minced garlic * 1/2-1 cup warmed milk if you want a creamy soup * olive oil for sauteing * salt and pepper to taste

Pick and clean the nettles. Slice onion, carrot and celery; saute in oil with garlic. Add rice and toast briefly. Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Add nettles and simmer 10-15 minutes. Blend, add warmed milk, season with salt and pepper.

For straight up nettle mint juice:

Pick, dry and crush 4 parts nettle to one part mint and treat as loose leaf tea. Heating will lose you some nutrients, so you can steep the mixture in a glass jar for 10-15 minutes and drink cold.

Dandelion remedies, coming up next…

Live

Posted by on 10 Feb 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

Been cleaning out paper this weekend. Redecorating a space or two, keeping my hand in and my eye alive, saying hello to the books. I found this poem copied on the back of a handbill for a New Year’s show at the Grand Ave Ale House that the High, Wide, and Handsome Band did a few years back. The quote on the front of the handbill, superimposed on a photo of a man dressed in marching band regalia and wearing a clown nose, reads:

“the barwalker was the type of drunk who was not happy unless he was up on a sagging     bar, arms akimbo, dancing a cossack dance and kicking over glasses of beer.”

– Joseph Mitchell

The poem on the back, which I cannot remember copying down, is by a woman I’ve not heard of, and untitled:

I will not live an unlived life./ I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire./ I choose to inhabit my days,/ to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid, more accessible,/ to loosen my heart/ until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise./ I choose to risk my significance;

to live,/ so that which came to me as a seed/goes to the next as a blossom,/ and that which came to me as blossom,/ goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova

Take Light

Posted by on 08 Feb 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

Some mornings, the ducks are swimming in thin mirrored slivers of liquid sky and my legs are engines of true progress as the road flies by beneath the rhythm of my feet, moving land, and my lungs, moving air.

Some mornings, the duck are barely floating in field mud and I can’t make it out the door. Early February looks so dark from here. Even my dreams are dim, the force and place obscured by the weight of a cloud wall that lurks behind Blanchard mountain and makes frenetic forays of wind and lashes of rain on the flat valley ground.

In this light, everything – the tree bare the grass clumped the pavement dark and soaking – looks flat and forlorn. When the warm light returns this same tree will beam munificently with fresh green on its limbs and the grass will wave lengthy in the light breeze.

The world the same the world separated by vast differences in perspective. I don’t love it equally, I don’t. I want to – but more I want to be running, always, with the bright glow of something rising. And the ducks in their puddled field, they’ll never say how it seems to them, though we want to believe that it all just rolls off of their downy backs.

Heyiya

Posted by on 28 Jan 2008 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

I picked up Ursula K Le Guin’s Always Coming Home again this weekend. This quote is from text at the very end, in a chapter called “Living on the Coast, Energy, and Dancing”, it describes the meaning behind a greeting, “Heyiya“:

The first element of this word, hey- or heya-, is the untranslatable statement of praise/greeting/holiness/being sacred.
The second is the word iya. This means a hinge: the piece of hardware or leather that connects a door to the opening it closes and opens. Connotations and metaphors cluster thick to this image. Iya is the center of a spiral, the source of a gyring motion; hence a source of change, as well as connection. Iya is the eternal beginning, the process of energy arising and continuing. The word for energy is iye.
Energy manifests itself in three principal forms: cosmic, social, and personal.
The cosmos, the universe, was usually referred to rather casually in Kesh as rruwey, “all this.” There was a more formal and philosophical word, em, meaning extent-and-duration, or space-time. Energy in the physicist’s sense, the fundamental power incontrovertible with matter, was emiye.
Ostouud described weaving or the weave of a fabric, bringing together, relating, and so was used to mean society, the community of being, the fabric of interdependent existences. The energy of relationship, including both politics and ecology, was ostouudiye.
Finally personal energy, selfhood of the individual, was sheiye.
The energy of these three forms of energy throughout the universe was what the Kesh called “the dancing.”
The last of the three, selfhood or personal energy, ramified into another set of concepts, which I shall treat very summarily: relating to sex, mind, movement, work, and play, each with an inward-coming and outward-going aspect…..
1.Lamaye, sexual energy. Lamawoiye, the energy that goes into sex (libido?)
2.Yaiya, extraverted thought. Yaioye, introverted thought.
3.Daoye is kinetic energy proper. Shevdaoye is energy expressed in athletics, traveling, all bodily skills, labors, activities. Shevdaowoye, personal movement, is the body itself.
4. Ayaye, playing, learning, teaching, Ayawoye seems best translated as “learning with out a teacher.”
5. Sheiye, personal energy, considered as work: the basic activities of staying alive – getting and preparing food, housekeeping, the arts and work of life. Shewoiye, work directed inward, work towards personhood or selfhood, might be translated as soul-making.

To be alive was to choose and use, consciously or not, well or ill, these energies, in a manner appropriate to one’s stage of life, state of health, moral ideas, and so on. The deployment of iye was really the principal subject of education in the Valley, in the home and in the heyimas, from infancy till death.
Personal energy was of course a personal matter; the individual made the choices, and the choosing, wise or foolish, mindful or careless, was the person. But no choice could be made independent of the superpersonal and impersonal energies, the cosmic/social/self-relatedness of all existences. Another word, very important in Kesh thinking, tuuvyai, mindfulness, might be described as intelligent awareness of this interdependence of energies and beings, a sense of one’s place and part in the whole.

Love

There are six Kesh words which can be translated as “love,” or conversely, one can say that there is no Kesh word for love, but there are six words for different kinds of love. At first I thought the Kesh distinctions were similar to the Islandian – that subtle and useful trilogy of ania, apia, alia – but the overlap of meaning is only partial. The following list is the best I can do.

1. wenun: noun and verb, to want, desire, covet (“I love apples.”)

2. lamawenun: noun and verb, sexual desire, lust, passion (“I love you!”)

3. kwaiyo – woi dad, heart goes to -: to like, to feel an impulse of warmth toward (“I like him very much.”)

4. unne: noun and verb, trust, friendship, affection, lasting warmth (“I love my brother.” “I love her like a sister.”)

5. iyakwun: noun and verb, mutual connection, interdependence, filial or parental love, love of place, love of one’s people, cosmic love (“I love you mother.” “I love my country.”)

6. baho: as a verb, to please, to give pleasure or delight (“I love to dance.”)

The principal distinction between 3 and 4 is one of duration – 3 is brief, or a beginning, 4 is lasting or continuing. The distinction between 4 and 5 is more difficult. Unne implies mutuality, iyakwun asserts it; unne is lovingkindness, iyakwun is passion; unne is rational, moderate, social love, iyakwun is the love that moves the sun and other stars.

Surrendering

Posted by on 16 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

To what, exactly, did I raise this flag? There was no end of freedom in sight, and while I thought at first that freedom was the ultimate goal, I found it mostly to be an excuse.

This flag, this bright banner of independent words, this standard stood for my own irrevocable pride of mind. I flew assertions overhead and dared people to disagree.

I could not help but go to war, once I had a stance in mind. And each interaction became a skirmish, not full fledged, but hedged in the possibility of battle, every time.

I waged my freedom over each encounter, or took the liberty of backing out, blowing off, staying home. My special circumstances, calling for emergency measures.

So serious, this business of freedom. And it is true, if you set no standards then someone else will impose them upon you. Yet still, to use an ideal as excuse to bully reality

is cowardice. I refused to work with anyone, where they were. If they could not meet me in the elevated space, then I would not let them engage me at all. Or remind them

of their tendency to disappoint. What use is this? None at all. My freedom spoiled me. Other realms of being exist than freedom. Exist without flags, without notice given,

without the need to inflict or insist. So what if I surrender my right to freedom, and let the world as it is impose its needs upon me? What if I give up the flag of my own self

and hope to become a part, a piece, one bit of a whole ecosystem, that isn’t insisting on freedom, but working toward symbiosis instead? This kind of surrender, calls us all.

Take Surrender

Posted by on 16 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

So  here is Sasha’s Take for Muse. The next one we are working with is :Surrender. Enjoy, please play along if’n you like.

Fire for One

Red wine in a plastic cup, red beans and rice in a paper cup, hot coals burrowed beneath a struggling fire, warm late August evening on the peninsula.
I’m camped along the wild coast of Washington, solo, beneath the coral reef of stars on the eve of the full moon eclipse. I awoke early this morn and began unexpectedly carting camping gear out to my car: sleeping bag, tent, water jug, stove, fuel, sleeping pad, fleece jacket, pants, wool hat, pillows, books, and my journal. On the ferry ride across the Sound to the Olympic Peninsula I saw five Orcas playing, fins of black rising and cutting through the surface in the blue rutted waters just beyond the vessel that carried us to land.
I was brought to the coast- the one from my dreams with the green waves under a darkening gray sky- by a silent guide, much like the tug of the moon on the tides of the ocean. I forgot what it is like to be wild, to be free. I forgot how wildness makes me soar because nothing is fabricated out here. I had even forgotten my dream where, without fear, I dove head first into the skin of the arc of repose of a wave far larger than me.
As the fire gasps and sputters in front of me, I follow the wand of smoke up among the trees. This smoky spiral opposes gravity in an upward dance that dissipates into the transparent darkness. There exists in nature an invisible current of energy that rustles, curls and deposits a free formed mark that alters the original static state: dried fallen leaves randomly scattered beneath a forest, the design in a patch of long blade grasses bent or flattened, or fingers of sea water slapping the rock as the tide comes in. Also the muse that forces action in our own bodies.
The heaving of the Ocean sprays the night air with the sound of breath. A full moon eclipse will darken the sky in a couple of hours, a marriage of celestial bodies and earth clearly marking the passage of time. Movement is life, the web suspending by the light; the muse a shadow illuminated by the initiation of movement.

Takes

Posted by on 03 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: asking my brain to do something different

Not been talking to the world for a while now, bout time to start up again.

A few Novembers back, after Charlie and Joel and I had an incredible experience of thanksgiving on Lake Titicaca, we each reflected on it in our own fashion and started to do a writing practice called Triple Take. I found it to be a challenging and simple exercise: to take a word, and to express myself around it, with image or other words. The three of us eventually fell off the wagon. I still want to do this practice. And while it’s alright to do by myself, I’d rather do it with others. I’d like to re-learn about playing. So I’ll invite you, in the spirit of Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More assignments for art, to join in when you see a Word posted that sends a little fire shiver to the creative spark in you. For this week, I’d like to request your Take on: Muse

Last month’s Take was on: Acolyte, if you’d like to play catch up. Visit tripletake.org for examples that Charlie and Joel and I played with last year. I wrote up another version of our Thanksgiving Day experience, it’s on your right in the Pages area.

Send me your takes by posting a comment with your email – I’ll not publish without your permission. But if you’d like to, I’ll create pages for the ones that get responses.

I think this is what I’ll do with this site for a while. That, and I’ve got some quotes from Liz Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love excerpted, please visit that book – if only for a minute!

Send friends this way if they are looking for a writing practice to visit?

Here’s my offering for Muse:

Take Muse

What does call to us, like that
ineffably? From within the everyday notes
of living, the rhythms of routine
there is sometimes a bass line
repeating, a few simple low tones
that we feel bone deep.
The hips know what to do with this
they move.

And then there is a morning
on that gentle cusp of fall
when the hills are socked in fog
and the ripening corn nestles
tight still in its husks
and the mind which has been so busy
thinking, always, of lists and possibilities
stills down quiet
and the wonder creeps in.

We could waver like this
between movement and wonder
without words ever reaching
the page, without song ever
bursting out between the lips,
and nothing would be lost
of the living – it would remain
contained within the skin husk
intact, inert.

But then some Other comes along
steps in, says: What?
And we rise to the occasion
called forth to present ourselves
ready for connection.

[illumination, Because of the fog –
sometimes that happens with people too,
you scratch a little and you get a lot]

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