Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hail Brigid, Goddess Who Fires Up the Mind

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2008

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.

RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post. Last year when the call went out there was more poetry in cyberspace than I could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.

Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.

(Image: from artist attribution)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moist, Misty, Bloggy Wanderings

Whilst searching for the origins of the line "In the mystical moist night air" (from the poem "When I heard the Learned Astronomer" by Walt Whitman), which was the title of an article I found in an academic journal, I was first led here, and then that took me here, which is a very pleasing blog (no longer active, sadly) by artist/photographer Alec Soth. I am glad I found it in any case.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Festival of the Trees #21, coming soon!

If you wish to send me links, photos or other goodies for the Festival of the Trees for March 2008, I'd like to try and adhere to a theme of fruit trees and orchards...but virtualy anything that is even loosely connected to that theme is welcome! Gardening and growing, horticulture, heirloom fruits, food and recipes, environmental and conservation issues, folklore and mythology, travel, what have you!

You can send materials to me at this email address: amberapple at gmail dot com.

Thanks and I look forward to bringing the festival to fruition!

Image: "Apple in Faery" taken by me at Brushwood Folklore Center with Pentax Spotmatic camera.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Nice blog post on W. B. Yeats

Found here. I go through periods of being interested/obsessed with Yeats...I have acquired several books about him, including a volume of his collected letters. At one point I started writing a play about him...which I may try to finish one day...I also started an experimental fiction piece constructed entirely of snippets of Yeats' poetry, entitled "Yeats, Lost."

The image is "Yeats in the Magic Cottage" by Robert Moss, who has also written some interesting things about Yeats, dreams and creativity on his website.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Greener Pastures

The Garden Rant blog has a post about a recent article on Michael Pollan, and his desire to move beyond writing about food. The Omnivore's Dilemma has been a runaway success and articles in the New York Times Magazine, House and Garden and other publications have made him into something of a guru of the "real food" movement.

But Pollan wants to move on. His next project is a feature on orchid sex for National Geographic.

I first discovered him by reading his wonderful, erudite and sumptuous prose in his book The Botany of Desire, which takes four different plants (the apple, the tulip, the potato, and cannabis) and examines what the plants have done in their evolution to get humans to do their bidding. In other words, these plants, according to Pollan, have developed qualities appealing or useful to humans in order to persuade humans to do things to further the plants' ability to evolve and survive and flourish. A fascinating conceit which occurred to Pollan when he was laboring over the panting of Russian fingerling potatoes (and in that event one can surmise the real food obsession that would be Pollan's road to best seller status). This delightful book is well worth seeking out.

I love Pollan's writing and am happy he will be writing about something besides food. Maybe other journalists will now raise the standard (which I believe originally meant carrying a flag into battle). The article mentioned above (from the San Francisco Chronicle) says that Rachel Carson was not trying to create the Clean Air Act when she wrote Silent Spring. But her writings on the dangers of pesticides and other pollutants did lead to just that, and to an entire environmental movement based upon the centrality of agriculture. People who have been counting on Pollan's research and engaging writing to carry the passion for real, healthy food forward into the 21st century need to find ways to maintain interest in this crucial subject. If we can't learn (or, perhaps, re-learn) to feed ourselves properly, we won't survive to do anything else.

The image is the painter Arcimboldo's Vertumnus

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Ever since I first heard about Tom Robbins' obsession with the number 23, I have every so often tried to pay attention to how often the number occurs in daily news headlines. Over the years a lot of very prominent news headlines have featured the number 23, most notably the Heaven's Gate suicides (which occurred on March 23, 1997), and the Columbine high school shootings (where 12 people were killed and 23 wounded, and, in a story reported six months later on October 23, 1999, the mother of one student severely injured in the shootings shot herself to death), both of which featured early mentions of 23 dead victims that were later amended to their actual numbers.

Interestingly, 23 seems to be the default estimate for dead bodies. For example, this morning the news of a suicide bombing in Pakistan on CNN said there were 23 dead; a few minutes later the same story on the BBC network announced "at least 22 dead"...odd, no? Of course there are many more than 23 dead, but this will not be reported until final counts are taken.

Try this yourself: watch the morning news on TV, listen to National Public radio, read the morning paper (The New York Times delivers on the 23 enigma rather nicely, I find), check out the headlines on the internet. You may find yourself shocked at how often the number 23 appears in headlines.

Oh, and several times I have observed how often the number 23 appears in winning lottery sequences. A lot. Almost once a week in fact. I have not measured its frequency against other numbers, however. I am sure someone, somewhere, has done this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ooh, pretty

I have just discovered Chalk Hill Clematis, a plant nursery that specializes in clematis, in particular a wide variety of plants that can be grown in partial shade. I am in love. We have plenty of ugly chainlink fencing (inside the wood fences) in our yard and I would like to cover them with non-invasive vines. I have already planted several clematis, and an akebia vine. I started a wisteria to be trained as a tree standard but I may move it to one side as a fence-grower instead.

I love clematis vines. I look forward to trying to get them to grow and flower beautifully.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oh Noes! Satanists!

This story on AOL's news website says 21 year old "Satanists" started fires in churches and scrawled "Satanic" graffiti on walls.

Okay, here is the thing: since when do 21 year old hoodlums who get off on destroying property have any sort of affinity with any kind of religion? Is it possible these morons were just trying to make it look like they were Satan worshippers? Naturally AOL (or as I like to refer to it, "If's it's blond, it leads") likes to sensationalize anything that violates right-wing Christian sensibilities. I want to look for different sources on this story and see how they're treating it.

Coupled with the story on Jason's blog today about a "witchcraft ritual gone wrong" it is gearing up to be a really annoying week in the news...

Looks like I have some interesting media vibes helping set the stage for my courses I am teaching in Cinema and the Occult and Supernatural Television this coming semester...

Monday, January 7, 2008

11th Hour Soup

I found this recipe on (they did a feature today on slow-cooker soup recipes) and this sounded great to me. I want to find a way to use dried beans in recipes because I have some and they are cheaper than pre-cooked, canned ones. It cooks for 11 hours!

For this recipe, I would probably leave out the zucchini/squash (unless I have fresh ones in summer), and substitute fresh for frozen spinach if possible.

Tuscan Bean and Sausage Soup
1-1/4 cups dry Great Northern beans
1-3/4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
12 ounces fresh Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium yellow summer squash or zucchini, sliced (2 cups)
1 14-1/2-ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, cut up
1/3 cup dry red wine or water
1/2 of a 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Rinse beans. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine beans and 4 cups cold water. Boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet cook Italian sausage until brown. Drain well on paper towels. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart crockery cooker combine the drained beans, 4 cups fresh water, beef broth, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, cooked and drained Italian sausage, squash or zucchini, undrained tomatoes, and red wine or water. Cook, covered, on low heat setting for 11 to 12 hours or until beans are tender.
3. Just before serving, stir spinach into soup. If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 or 5 servings.

Friday, January 4, 2008

More Cloisters photos

Here are some more images from our lovely day at the Cloisters at Samhain. Here is Rosanna next to the courtyard fountain, and both of us by a jasmine bush at the cafe garden. Most of the photos we took that day are not of each other, but they're the ones with the most character, it seems. Maybe because they have more "life" than what I consider the often-flat image one gets in digital snaps.
I am still new to using a digital camera, and the lack of artistry and control is hard for me. But hopefully I will continue to get better at it and start taking some nicer photos. It is certainly cheaper and way more versatile than my old 1964 Pentax Spotmatic.
The cost of developing and processing 35mm film these days is turning photography into an even more expensive hobby than it used to be. But what can I say? I am an analog gal in a digital world.