25 October 2011

some photographs

It's been nearly two months since I've posted, for which I once again feel like a very bad blog mommy. But such is life for me in New York; and I am beginning to simply accept this aspect of myself and my life and move on. We are knee-deep in fall colour right now, and I do have some pictures, with which I am rather happy:

In addition, I have two very unusual discoveries to post, one which I found exploring my bedroom ceiling several weeks ago:

To put this fellow (or lady) centipede into perspective, suffice it to say that his body alone was about an inch and a half long! Needless to say, I carefully captured him in a cup and deposited him outside where he belongs.

Here is another surprising thing:
This is the appropriately-named Phallus ravenelii, a type of stinkhorn fungus that I was lucky (or unlucky, if you count the stench these things produce) enough to stumble upon in a stand of Beech trees near Lynd house. The smell is obvious by the large fly that seems to think the sticky black pollen is some sort of rotting food item.

This semester is proving itself to be a truly hectic one-- I have undertaken a huge conference paper on the taxonomy of green algae for my botany class, as well as the writing of a long allegorical poem for yet another class with Bill Shullenberger. In addition, I've joined the equestrian team, which means I have horse shows every weekend from now until the end of time. But I plan on making it through this semester alive!

07 September 2011

a summer hiatus

I am back from my summer hiatus in California--and I have brought pictures.
New Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
The Mister and I as Morrissey and Karen O, respectively, at my 21st birthday party.

County fair sheep
A breakfast of fresh farmer's market berries and cream
A beret for Amina!
A little hat for my new baby cousin, Parker Johanna!

I am back in NY now, having mostly nested in my new room: I have m benjamin's art on my walls, an East-facing, treetop window, and a non-college-issued mattress courtesy of one Miss Erin Perfect, and so I am quite content once again. Class are just beginning, and I am not quite yet in my routine, but for now I am content. This semester I am taking: a. French literature, focusing on Balzac; b. botany; and c. Renaissance poetry with a focus on the environment and imagination (with my beloved Bill Shullenberger). It promises to be a wonderful semester. The mister has moved into a new apartment in Park Slope with our good friends J, Erin, and Lucas, and we have enjoyed exploring his new neighborhood on our bikes. We have made a pact to take more field trips this semester, while the weather is still nice, and explore New York before we leave it.

Well I'm off to finish my breakfast of apple slices with chunky peanut butter, and then to the bookstore to pick up my Botany textbook. Hopefully, more posts and pictures soon!

p.s. while you are at it, you should check out this new musical project, which releases in the US on September 12th. We are planning to see them in NY at the West Park Presbyterian Church on October 30, and we are super excited about it!

11 May 2011

rainy day post

Okay, so the April showers here in NY have officially ceased in order to make way for May flowers, but here are some photos from a very pretty rainy day not too long ago:

Moving out tomorrow, and heading back to California in six days. My love and I are excited to be back home, but we will also miss the little family we've made here in New York. It has been an important, and largely successful year here--despite a handful of tragedies this spring. I, for one, am very ready to go home to the sunshine and slow pace of my life on the West Coast. Soon, soon.

04 May 2011

100th post!

We are stepping over a threshold here together--this blog's 100th post and second birthday! On this occasion, I want to thank all my lovely readers out there who have so diligently followed me, even through periods of extreme lack of diligence. It has been a pleasure to type at you for the past two years.

Watching the numbers tick up toward the third digit this past week, I have been contemplating exactly how I want to spend this momentous post; it occurred to me that the life I've led since I began this blog has been the manifestation of a fantasy for me, and I want to compile here a list of things I have learned/discovered from it, and things that have surprised me since I became a student.

12. Paper disposables cost a lot of money and disappear WAY too fast in a house full of college students. I don't buy any paper products in New York (except t.p. which we get for free at school anyway--I'm not about to go that far!)--I've switched to rags from paper towels, and hankies for tissues. I never really used paper eating stuff anyway.

11. You should never, ever assume the people you live with have learned the same things about cleaning that you did. For example, that you are not to touch the spice bottles when your hands are covered in raw fish juice, that in order for dishes to be cleaned, they must be washed WITH soap, that normal people use towels when they get out of the shower, etc. (You'd think people would at least get the soap thing!)

10. The romance of working on your conference paper all night at the end of the semester when the library is open 24/7 is not worth moving out of your dorm and flying home to California on on 1/2 hour of sleep (but is worth the the walk home to your dorm at 5:20 am with your finished paper in your hand and the sun coming up).

9. Like-minded souls really do exist, no matter how much your adolescence wanted to convince you otherwise.

8. Your body doesn't like all the goop you put on it every day. Before I moved out here, I used at least eighteen products on myself daily. I use six now, and my skin and hair have never been healthier. (My six are Dr. Bronner's Magic soap for hands, hair, body, and face, a homemade vinegar rinse instead of conditioner, toothpaste, non-antiperspirant deodorant, one lotion for face and body, and sometimes a little mascara.)

7. Sometimes, there are just people in your life with whom you don't want to remain in contact. Good friends are worth the extra effort of long distance.

6. Staying in is usually more fun and less expensive than going out; that being said, a change of scenery is welcome and sometimes necessary when you've been in your own home-bubble too long.

5. Public transportation, no matter how inefficient, annoying, and troublesome it is, is SO much better than no public transportation, especially for those of us who choose not to learn to drive.

4. Nearly anything can be cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, hot water, lemon juice, or a combination thereof. Anything. Clothes, shoes, hair, body, house, dishes--Anything.

3. The most important elements in changing or even revolutionizing an artistic culture are craftsmanship and discontent. Nothing changes if no one gets angry. And do we all want to go on in an art world ruled by egotistical, postmodernly ironic, multi-millionaires Jeff Koons and Damien Hirsch? Do three basketballs floating in an aquarium belong in the SFMOMA? I didn't think so. That being said, although there is hope in discontent, there is hope in beauty, too, and that, really, should come first and foremost.

2. That really, I am a West-Coaster at heart. I miss the Pacific, and when I have served my obligatory term as an artistic soul in New York, I will be packing my bags right back up and moving back Home, where there are redwoods and sea otters.

1. That everything works out in the end. If you know it as hard as you can know something, you work toward an end, and leave yourself open to creative opportunities, everything turns out the way it should. Not necessarily the way you thought, but certainly the way it should. But the only way this works is through exploring--if you are not constantly, diligently searching, brainstorming, and trying on new hats, sometimes you don't end up find the thing that needs you in order to work out the way it's supposed to.

Well, my beloved family, friends, and even my anonymous (and beloved) followers, I hope that you've discovered as many things in these past two years as I have--and I wish you many more years of precisely that. My love to all tonight and all nights.

03 May 2011

fancy springtime cupcakes

With all the procrastinating for me to do this time of the year, I have been a mad baking fiend! I made these on a whim last night trying to use up leftover buttermilk:
These are (deep breath) vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with cream-cheese-pomegranate-honey frosting topped with home-candied violets!

I was inspired by these cupcakes, got the recipe for the cupcakes here and came up with the rest on my own. Here's the (modified) recipe (again this is not my own recipe, but I changed a few things, such as omitting almond extract):

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and almond extracts until mixture is smooth.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes, or about 36 mini cupcakes


Mix together 2 parts homemade or store-bought cream cheese frosting and 3 parts jam of your choice (we used a pomegranate-honey jam that a neighbor in California makes).


Wash violets and allow to dry thoroughly. Lightly beat one egg white with a little water. Dip each violet in egg white and then roll in granulated sugar, and set on wax paper to dry.

We also made our own aluminum muffin cups, as we didn't realize until after we had bought regular-sized ones that we owned only a mini-muffin tin. We just cut circles out of aluminum foil by drawing around a coffee mug with an X-acto knife. We've decided we're never buying muffin liners again. :)

Well, still just working on one thing at a time, but despite these baking sprees, I am actually getting schoolwork done. Done this weekend, hopefully!

02 May 2011

the cloisters and a cake

With only two weeks of classes left, I find myself in good shape academically, and this weekend I allowed myself a little free time with my Mister to celebrate his birthday. Honestly, it was a nice break from the computer for a couple of days (it's amazing how tired, sore, and irritable just sitting in front of a screen several hours every day will make you). Here is a picture of the cake I made him (I apologize for the poor quality):

This was a mocha cake with a chocolate-hazelnut glaze, both recipes from the wonderful Complete Tassajara Cookbook, by Ed Espe Brown and it was to-die-for delicious. This is the best cookbook I have ever beheld--directions are simple, ingredients common, and every single recipe is perfectly balanced and delicious. Ed Brown is an inspiration and a wonderful chef.

Anyway, the cake turned out brilliantly and was completely stress-free (I often avoid making cakes because they tend to call for special flours, lots of sifting and whipping and then turn out only plain-tasting), and so I highly recommend the recipe, and will surely be making it again, on multiple occasions.

After eating half the cake for dinner, we got up to eat the second half for breakfast, then made a pasta salad to take with us as a picnic lunch to the Cloisters, the beautiful medieval art extension of the Met in Washington Heights. Both the collections (inside an old cloisters on a hill) and the vast gardens that surround them are beautiful, especially this time of year, and we were lucky enough to have the lovely weather to enjoy them:

So much beauty all in one day! The Mister and I noted how like the "complacent smiles" of the Classical Chinese and old Buddhist works were the smiles on the faces of the Virgin in many of the Medieval works. And how wonderfully Utopian these old interpretations of Christian allegory were. And the colours on the angels' wings--crimson, and lapis, so beautiful!

Back to the books now, unfortunately, but if all goes according to plan, I should be finished with all my work and have it turned in by next Tuesday! And then, the following one, back to California. More before then though--I have more pictures that I've saved for a rainy day. :)

28 April 2011

limping along

Well, as my third-to-last week draws to a close, I find myself in an almost irretrievable state of overload. I have my French conference paper finished, to be turned in today, and will be turning in my final philosophy paper on Monday. That will leave just my philosophy conference paper to write in the last two weeks. Hooray for being on top of things!

Yesterday, in between procrastinating, working my butt off, and dinner, I had time for a quick walk with Jamie (who, unfortunately for all my lovely readers, refuses to be photographed). The newly blossoming dogwood trees, however, were certainly not so modest, and were much obliged to gussy themselves up for my camera:

Anyone who knows me knows, of course, that these are my very favourite trees, and their sudden blossoming yesterday caught me entirely by surprise. However, the last thing I need is another natural distraction before the end of the semester. :)

26 April 2011

quick stop-in

Don't have much time before class on this foggy april morning, but I want to stop in to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet one-and-only, m. benjamin.
This man is not only my picnic-buddy, fellow aspiring chef, and companion in just about everything, he is also the someone whose art and life I strive to emulate in my own. I am so blessed to have this truly good man in my life now and forever... And I think he thoroughly deserves the mocha-hazelnut cake I intend to bake him for the occasion. :)

24 April 2011

happy easter!

Happy Easter, all! I awoke too early on the impetus of a faulty alarm, but the sunshine and the sound of birdsong floating in through my window compelled me to leave my bed, throw on some clothes and my rainboots, and take my camera out before the rest of the campus woke up. This warm, wet, bright weather makes me miss the West coast, though...

(a little fort someone built in slonim woods)

These last two pictures are of some cockle shells I've been meaning to photograph for a while, left over from a meal we made in Brooklyn. We had made pasta with fresh mussels and cockles ("cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o...") and I had never cooked cockles before--they're hard to come by on the West coast. They were so petite and colourful, I couldn't help but save a couple of shells to photograph.

I know my family is at home celebrating with a big breakfast, and I wish I were there with them. I did wake up this morning to a bundle of of big chocolate eggs wrapped in coloured foil, one for each member of the house. I don't know who left them there, but the mystery is a little bit exciting.

The Mister and I made this pasta last night, which was a major success, and will probably prove to be even better as leftovers. It was, indeed, one of the best pomodoro sauce recipes I've ever tasted.

Well, today begins the 24-hour schedule at the library, which officially denotes the beginning of the dreaded conference weeks here at SLC... I will do my best to keep this blog updated through that time, but I'm afraid I have little faith in my abilities to be diligent while I am writing conference papers. Many things will be happening during this time, though, so I will do my best... but, worst comes to worse, I'll be home in three short weeks, and that may suffice. For now, I am off to work and play on this beautiful Easter morning!

17 April 2011

the future of poetry / poetry of the future

Yesterday, as part of my college's poetry festival, I went to a panel with the above title. The last month or so has been a huge time of research for me--I've been thinking so much about where the creative universe will be headed after the huge meteor crash of postmodernism, and just how the art world will be recovering from the huge shock of it all. This research (unfortunately scanty for now, because although scads of critics have declared the end of postmodernism, almost no one has taken the time to define what will succeed it) will be culminating in a grand critical essay on my part, to be undertaken before my graduation from Sarah Lawrence. Logically, this panel seemed right up my alley, and I was expecting to leave it optimistic about the state of art, rather than entirely discouraged. But the panel, which consisted of the poets Vanessa Place, Christian Bök, K. Silem Mohammed, and Doug Kearney, was largely more concerned with poetry as yet another "conceptual" field.

Although it wasn't what I expected, and although I came out of the panel more frustrated than enlivened, I was still provided with a better view of my opposition's standpoint, and, to be fair, Doug Kearney and K. Silem Mohammed challenged the views of their peers in a very satisfying way for me. And, through the festival, I've been offered some wonderful opportunities to see incredibly talented poets--both established and students--so I certainly cannot complain simply because some of them do not believe as I do.

Also: new successful recipe, adapted from one I found on the Sunset magazine website:

cream of lettuce soup with spring salsa:

for the soup:

sautée two finely chopped leeks in butter (or olive oil, for vegans) until soft. add roughly two heads of lettuce, (we used one head of butter lettuce, one of romaine, and a good helping of watercress) finely chopped, and 1 quart of vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. once boiled, reduce to a simmer for several minutes until lettuce is soft. add salt, pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, and a sprinkling of nutmeg, and whir it in the blender until smooth. add 1/2 cup of half and half (or rice milk, for vegan recipe), and heat to temp without boiling.

for the salsa:

combine 1 cup fresh green peas and 1/2 a fennel bulb, chopped to pea-sized with a handful of fresh chopped basil. dress lightly with a vinaigrette of lemon juice, garlic, salt, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. serve but the spoonful in top of the soup, or on the side. serve whole meal with garlic toast.

This made a wonderfully light, flavourful meal, and would be a great way to use up lettuce that's gone wilty (but not slimy) in the crisper. It would also be great served cold, or with grilled cheese sandwiches. We used rice milk instead of the half and half the recipe calls for (one of our guests is lactose-intolerant) which worked out just fine, although for those of you who are neither vegan not lactose-intolerant, half and half (or, let's be honest, heavy cream) would be incomparable.

I have one more reading to attend today, as the festival dies down, as well as old projects to finish up, and new ones to begin. I'm going to be beginning a new series of interviews here on ye olde blogge, the first of which should be up within the next two weeks--the series will be called "artistic synergies" and will be made up of interviews with artistic couples that feed off each other's talents and ambitions to further their own arts. More later!

15 April 2011


Today ended up being surprisingly cool, with that sort of bright diffused sunlight I imagine all tundras to possess. Good day for a walk with the old Nikon. And look at how beautifully this campus has "broken into blossom," as James Wright would say:

It seems as though every little tucked-away corner holds some brightly-coloured treasure--such colours I have never seen on daffodils or tulips. Even the dandelions and violets seem quaint. I love the knotgrass and the fiddleheads--there is something so wild and yet so quiet about them.

Tonight begins the SLC poetry festival, which should be amazing this year, as always. The Mister is coming into town for it, and so are our good friends J and Erin, who will be visiting tomorrow night. It promises to be a lovely weekend. Cheers to all.