Tuesday, March 24, 2009

a life with purpose

Volunteering time with or donating to HRC, NCLR, or Equality California can save a life. Not to mention make yours more meaningful.

Friday, March 20, 2009

victory gardens count as work

Even for office workers, Fridays are not only for office work--especially after Thursday presentations go so well and the future of our book projects looks bright. It's with that spirit then that my neighbor and I exchanged emails today, lusting over our spring garden visions and flinging links of seed packets and plot maps over the web-fence to each other with breathless speed. This weekend, she and I will split up the unthinkable bounty of chard and kale we've got going, let the onions and cousins (shallots, garlic) continue their plot for world domination in their back bed, and, though both have worked wonders to retain the moisture from the blessed rain, cut back the grass and clover creeping over everything.

And then. And then with unabashed glee, I placed our modest order of the season, the one that makes me clap and swirl just at the thought--two precious packets of heirloom tomato seeds: a pineapple variety that hails from Kentucky, as well as the new Black Ruffle, a sexy, curvy cross between heirlooms Black Krim and Zapotec Pink Pleated. I love planting tomatoes more than anything else in the gardening world. They grow so furiously, their leaves reward anyone who brushes by with such an intoxicating springy smell, and the taste of them alone!--I love the need to prop them up and support them as they plump up with their photosynthetic ambitions. I confess it's all also steeped with a sepia-tinged, sentimental set of memories, how my old dog Shea used to sneak out into the backyard to pluck them off the vine, fling them over his head all around the yard, and leave the poor eclipsed prospects, all decimated and half-chewed, for the wild critters to clean up after him.

I can still see the view from my old kitchen window, only the tops of the tomato plants visible from behind a fence covered in ivy--how those tops would shake and shiver, telltale signs little man was crouched just on the far side of the fence, craning his neck forward to pluck a little snack, fresh from the vine. Could you blame him? So yeah, I love tomato time. It makes me deep with the happy, friends.

So happy it's one of those "all I can talk about" instances. I bored my poor coworkers at the company social yesterday, chomping the broccoli and carrots fanned out in standard form on the crudité tray and yammering about gardens and the inevitable icon that accompanies the conversational thread, Alice Waters, who had just appeared on 60 Minutes.

She'd long been challenging the White House to make something of the sprawling grounds just outside their every window. And in Michelle Obama, it appeared, Waters finally had found a sympathetic audience. We round-robined our conjecture--would Barack Obama end up pulling weeds for a photo-op? We thought not. Well as we talked about it, an article was being published to the contrary. Michelle Obama has plans for her husband and kids: weeding! And I figure, hey, if Michelle Obama can spare time in her Thursday to map a garden plot and Barack can take on the oxalis, well then my Friday emails must count as a valid day's work too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

plum tree petals all over my car

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter;
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

—Zen master Wu-men

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

dapper chapper

Just got a new assignment from a local magazine and will be busy doing silly research. In the interim, though, because I'm a considerate bloghostess, I give you yet another indication of my sea change when it comes to style. I think I am starting to appreciate it. And I have found my mentor.

Behold Arlo Weiner.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


So we hope for liberty and justice for all in the Proposition 8 hearings today. Let it be.

Day in court began four hours before the courthouse opened.

Here's what's significant about today's hearing and deliberation, in plain English.

Live blog.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Some days, I love receiving the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day (though even then I resent having to capitalize it as a proper noun). Other days, not so much.

oligopsony n \ah-luh-GAHP-suh-nee\ 1: a market situation in which each of a few buyers exerts a disproportionate influence on the market

Each of a few buyers? What does that even mean? And when, pray tell, will E. Kennedito have occasion to use that in a sentence exactly? Each of a few never, that's when.

Why can't they send me fun words like the scientific term for the jaw-breaker alloy-type coating on those little silver balls that they used to put on top of cupcakes back when I was a kid and broken teeth were just a way of life? Now that would be a word to toss in with the chits and the chats. Or more stuff like treppenwitz. Give me good words, God damn it.

It's not like we're short on them.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

battle-star distractica

Not that this has anything to do with Battlestar Galactica. It doesn't. I watched one episode and fell asleep. No. This is about other distractions.

Writing personal essays: easy. Feature articles: snap. Book reviews: could type them with my eyes closed (though I'd need a solid proofreader). Writing anything imaginative, though, is much like building my own fiddle out of boardwalk planks and hair ties. The elements are more or less all there, yes, but success depends entirely on my ingenuity.

So given Newton's third law of procrastination, all that focus requires hours of useless passivity. And I find myself at all hours of the night waist-deep in diversions these days. And seeing as my book club is currently reading Revolutionary Road and I got a mass market copy, I see celebrities there kissy kissy on my coffee table every day (Leo and Kate of Titanic fame back at it again). And I naturally spiral into other Hollywood thoughts of everyone's favorite alien invader of all time: TILDA.

My mother and I discussed the inimitable Miss Tilda Swinton yesterday. Or should I call her Captain? Or Colonel? Maestro? Master? First, let me explain what my three devoted readers already know: I have worn the same boots for a decade. I own no jewelry. I have the same few pairs of pants, only in different shades of blue and brown. I am not, in other words, a fashionista. I have no idea what the stink is all about. I'd rather spend money on food. And it shows. I am lucky if I get out the door without cat hair, dog blobber, and pasta sauce all over myself.

Given all that, it is a testament to the otherworldly, mindbending might of Chief Whip Swinton that she manages to trick me with her snake eyes into thinking I care about style.

STYLE, people. Just look at this woman, for god's sake. She is ridiculous, which I say a little afraid I might be struck down by Demeter for defamation of the heavenly guard. But she really is so far gone on the wackadoo train that she choo-choos right back into the perfection depot. The woman makes me want to leap through the computer screen and then realize with a not-unpleasant shock that I can only hover in reverent caution there on the hem of the red carpet, chanting in tongues. Awe. My mother agrees. ("Oh yeah, was she the one who played the bad witch in Narnia?")

Why yes, she is a Very Bad Witch, Mom. That's most astute and progressive of you to note. Just look at the way she holds herself. There is no towering being more wrathful than Corporal Tilda, I am sure of it. And did I mention she is taller than I am? Tilda bless, how often does THAT happen?

Now really. How can I be expected to return to my writing when Tilda just keeps showing up to events in outfits that are just unforgivably cuckoo for cocoa? I mean, she's entertainment just standing there, like Grace Jones without the pretension, David Bowie without the datedness, God without all that morality hassle.

By Swinton, that's it. Is there a church of Tilda? Behold, like a prayer, ordain me, Witch of Wonder! Ave Tilda, gratia plena, Elizabeth tecum. Amatus tu in mulieribus, liber eram et vacuo meditabar vivere lecto; at me composita pace fefellit Amor. Cur haec in terris facies humana moratur? Iuppiter, ignosco pristina furta tua. Calvin Klein Eternity spritzed and brand name gossamer swaddled as crazily as possible, Amen.