Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions, 2011

I'm all for accountability, so here I am posting my New Year's resolutions for all the world to see. And fortunately I've actually remembered to do it before the new year started! So without further ado, here they are!

Learn Spanish. Do you know how annoying it is to live in Texas and not be able to communicate with a large segment of the population? I was in the grocery store yesterday--the kind where you sack your own groceries--and wanted to ask an older lady if she needed help but wasn't sure she'd be able to understand me. In more selfish terms, you don't get the best tacos in town from Anglos. So Chris and I will be firing up Fluenz and giving it another shot for the new year.

Visit my grandmother once a month. My poor grandmother has been neglected by yours truly for years. I really only see her at Christmas and at random points throughout the year when other relatives are around. To say that visits are few and far between might be the understatement of the new decade. So I'm finally going to get on the ball.

Go to confession once a month. Speaking of "few and far between", this is a basic part of Orthodoxy that I've turned into a rare treat. So I'm shooting to go 12 times a year instead of twice a year.

Lose weight. Just kidding--I actually resolve to double in size this year. :)

Volunteer at the Salvation Army. Pretty self-explanatory.

So, anyone want to share their resolutions, or will my comments section remain empty as usual?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Sad Anniversary

Has it really been 3 years since I first issued this? I hope the links aren't dead. Today is the third anniversary of little Tyler's passing after only 6 days of life, so I'm doing my annual tradition of reposting this (although I think I missed a year--sorry). The need still remains; so those of you who knit, crochet, and sew are still needed to do this charitable act. I know I've been posting stuff like this a lot lately, and I'm sorry--I think it'll tone down once the holidays are over. But think about doing this--if not for me, then for Tyler.

My friend who gave birth at 25 weeks--her baby died yesterday morning. They were able to hold him one last time. I wanted to pass along this information that has been in the back of my memory banks for years, but that I've only thought of again as I think of him. This is for Tyler.

There are groups all over the country who make receiving blankets for infants who die after birth, are stillborn, or are even miscarried (very tiny blankets). After the baby is gone, the grieving family will still have the blanket to hold on to during those difficult times (and there will be many of them). So for my readers who can knit, crochet, and sew, here's a list of those places:

Afghans for Angels - Headquarters
Afghans for Angels - State Chapters
Afghans for Angels - Starting a New Chapter (if your state isn't represented)
Texas Moms of Tiny Angels

I had hoped to have more, but there are a lot of dead links lurking about.

In addition, NICUs are in constant need of baby clothes for preemies--chances are good your local hospital would love to get some from you. And if you don't knit, crochet, or sew (or if you're like me, you only sew, and you find that knitting and crocheting are skills in higher demand), note that Afghans for Angels always needs old-fashioned safety pins and postage stamps to mail the blankets.

Thanks everyone. Hope you all had a merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Note to Self

Take hats and scarves to Salvation Army on December 23rd, not the 24th. They were closed!! The shelter opens at 5:00, so we'll try again then.

We've got nasty rain here, but it's better than last year's freakish snow that sent us skidding slowly into a ditch. Now that we have a 5 minute ride to church, we should actually make it this year.

Merry, merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

11 Hats, 3 Scarves


... all on their way to the Salvation Army shelter (the only homeless shelter in Denton County) tomorrow. Here's hoping next year is even more fruitful!

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Awww 2: The Second Hat

My original Caps for Good hat has a new buddy.


This one probably won't be taking such an exotic trip--it'll go to a local hospital for newborns.


It's quite a bit smaller than the other hat--perfect for preemies!


I want to see everyone else's hats! Get knittin'!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Awww.

Isn't it cute?


I've completed my hat for Caps for Good! I put it in my icon corner so it would be blessed.


I'm very liberal with what I put in my icon corner. When Christmas gets closer, there'll be a box of hats and scarves for the homeless sitting on it.


I think it looks rather sweet there. Here's a close up:


Finally, the most important picture of all:


Big thanks to Hammy for holding still.

It only took me two days! Get crackin', knitters and crocheters! It ain't hard!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pith!

I like to use the Loquacious Loquat as a force for good ... and occasionally evil, but it's a rather benign evil. Since the holidays are fast-approaching, I thought this would be an excellent time to use it as a force for good.

All you knitters and crocheters should get your needles and hooks (or, if you're like me, your knitting looms) ready to help Warm Up America! in the fine act of making baby hats for wee ones in the world's most impoverished countries! The Caps for Good Campaign will run until February 28, 2011, and the dainty little hats you make will go towards reducing infant mortality in the crucial first month of life. And what knitter/crocheter doesn't love to knit/crochet dainty little things for babies? Not one, I tell you--not one!

I'm a bit of an overachiever when it comes to putting my hands to use for charity, so I was a bit saddened when I read that they just want each knitter/crocheter to make just one cap. So I'll pop another Klonopin to calm my twitchy hands and quote this from the Action Kit (which you should definitely read yourself if you're thinking of doing this):
Making a cap is important - but so is telling your friends, family and co-workers about this project and enlisting
their support. So instead of making a bunch of caps by yourself, make one cap and then encourage others to
make a cap too. This will result in more caps and more people who care about this issue and feel empowered to
make a difference.
They've got a point (I guess ... grumble ...), so I'll use my social media connections to spread the message. And I expect you to do the same while working with your needles and hooks and looms and soft, washable yarn.

Also, don't forget that hospitals need hats and other supplies for mothers who don't have anything for their new babies, and they also need preemie stuff in the NICU. You don't have to stop at one hat!

Remember when I used to blog? Yeah, I do too.

Sorry, faithful readers of the Loquat. You've been staring at the same post for two months now. Apologies for the lack of loquaciousness on the Loquat. To break the silence, who wants a list of things going on in my life right now?

1. I'm done Christmas shopping.
2. I'm sick.
3. I'm almost done knitting a scarf.
4. I have a new kitty named Tuna (female).
5. I'm looking forward to Christmas.
6. I've got sticky fingers.
7. I just threw a balled-up piece of paper at Miss Lemon.
8. I'm drinking a Pepsi.
9. I'm still in my jammies (see #2).
10. I hate wrapping presents.

More pithy posts later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mourners

I have a new camera that can fit in the palm of my hand. Contrast that with my monster point-and-shoot that barely fits in both my hands. This makes the new camera, the Harinezumi, extra-stealthy in occasions where I may or may not be allowed to take pictures ... like at the Dallas Museum of Art, where they're showing a series of sculptures from Dijon that were in tombs.

The Harinezumi is an extremely lo-fi camera: My big point-and-shoot is 12 megapixel, but the Harinezumi is a mere 3 megapixel. It also seems to be very light sensitive, so the spotlighting on the Mourners was captured in a unique way. Here are the best pictures--enjoy:







Monday, October 4, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hey! Come rob my house! :D

Digital camera - check!
Analogue camera - check!
Film and tele-lens - check!
Underwear - check!
That's all I need! Let's go to Missouri!

Oh yeah, let's not forget the doggies who get to travel across state lines for the first time! Hammy and Bors off on an Oklahoman adventure? It's likely to happen if those little bastards slip their leashes and head for the hills! But hey, if you can survive West Texas, you can survive anything!

Yes, rollicking good times ahead in the state of my birth. A little baseball, a little art, a lot of R&R. Should be a hoot! See you back in Texas next Saturday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Follow-up

Today was the day of the gallery opening in Dallas. I was not dressed as well as I'd hoped because my cowl-back shirt was sleeveless, and that meant I'd be showing off my brand new farmer tan that I got at a UNT soccer game. I wore a shirt that didn't accentuate my red and white stripes so much, and that turned out to be okay ... because we arrived at the gallery in time to see two people waltz in wearing shorts and t-shirts. Like I said last time, someone, anyone, please teach Texans how to dress!

We bought art. We couldn't resist Craig Cully's "Lilliputian" series. They're little paintings that measure 2.5" square, and there seemed to be bazillions of them throughout the gallery. Sadly, we got there too late to get the one of the cigarette (easily the most appealing of the collection), but we did get a black peppermint. Don't ask--it's awesome. I'll post pictures once we have it. Anyway, you can see a larger-than-life picture of one in the series at http://www.galleriurbane.com/

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Adopt a dog

Today begins the beginning (ugh, my words disgust me) of University of North Texas Mean Green football! It's become an autumnal tradition for Chris and me to listen to the broadcasts on the radio even though we only graced a few live football games with our presence over the course of our lengthy college careers. Do you think we don't care? We do care ... but only a little!

One of the great joys of the UNT broadcasts from several years ago was an SPCA PSA (what?) that extolled the joys of adopting a dog, preferably a large one. I can't tell you how much listening to those ads made me want to get a dog. I was a dog girl in a cat world! But we already had the cats and they were presumably cheaper, so no doggies for me. Not yet, at least.

So, want to hear the ad that spawned the desire for a creature to poop on my floor, bring in fleas, and bark at 2 AM? Here it is:



Addictive, huh?

I have my dogs now. I didn't adopt a big dog, but I had a small apartment. Anyway, two small dogs equals one big dog, right?

Friday, September 3, 2010

So much for that.

I made several attempts at a post on suicide and, remarkably, just made myself suicidal. So there will be no "most depressing Loquat post ever." Sorry.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What to blog about?

My choices are suicide and fashion. Hmmm ... suicide or fashion? I guess I'll spare you from suicide talk for now. Stay tuned for the Loquat's most depressing post ever!

Okay, fashion. I have fashion on the brain because a gallery opening is coming up that I'd really like to go to. Problem? It's in Dallas. The gallery in question is Galleri Urbane in the Design District. Sure, I was a frequent visitor to their original location in Marfa. Sure, I've bought art from them. Sure, Chris has met and has a good report with the owner. None of that matters: I'm not fashionably equipped to handle a gallery opening in Dallas.

I can always hope that Galleri Urbane-Dallas has the country-casual charm of Galleri Urbane-Marfa, but the art festival in Rockland, ME, taught me the discomfort of going to gallery openings in a sweater and jeans. (The art festival in Rockland, ME, also taught me that you don't have to be straight to have an incredibly homophobic conversation, but that's another story for another time.) So I've spent the past few days pouring over a catalog (trendy clothes for tubby girls--not their motto, but I like it), searching for something that's dressy-but-not-Orthodox-church-like. My clothing philosophy used to be "only clothing that I'd wear to church too", but I'm realizing that church and gallery openings require a very different kind of dressed-up. Subtlety! I can remember when getting stuffed into a flowery cotton dress was good enough for any special occasion! Sure, I was a lot shorter then, but who wouldn't miss those simpler times?

Anyway, I have nice black pants and a lovely cowl-back tunic on the way for the opening. I'm ready to face my first gallery opening in the big city. Now I can stand back and be amazed when everyone else there is in jeans and t-shirts. Can someone please teach Texans how to dress?!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You can't find loquats anywhere.

Like the blog's new look? I searched high and low on the blog design page and never found a single thing that even looked like a loquat. (Don't ask why I chose barbed wire instead.) I've never seen a loquat in a grocery store. Kumquats generally aren't too hard to come by, but they're just not loquats. I do have a jar of loquat preserves that some of you may recall from the earliest days of the blog--I'm scared to eat them, not because they're loquats but because they've sat in my pantry since the earliest days of the blog. And they sat in the pantry for so long because I was afraid to eat them ... because they're loquats. Oh well.

Loquaciousness, however, continues to be in excess supply.

Silence is golden.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jimmy John's cookies are tremendously wonderful.

That is all. You may go about your business.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Purl of Great Price

Long time, no blog, huh?

I have a mood disorder, okay? So I may just be in one of those states. I realize that I should always take that into account when I get great zeal for something. I'm also having to reveal one of my great secrets here and possibly lose my reward in heaven, but I knit hats and scarves for the homeless. Hats 4 the Homeless served as my guide, and last year, just before that nasty Christmas snowstorm overtook Denton, I dropped off over 40 hats and a few scarves at the Denton County Salvation Army shelter (the only homeless shelter in Denton County, I might add).

Normally I'd keep such revelations of how I spend my free time to myself, but 40 hats took several years of work. Thus far this year I think I have five. Oh, but how much more the homeless could have if the people of my church (St. Maximus the Confessor Orthodox Church) were to pool their knitting/crochet/sewing resources toward a common goal! That's right, Church--I'm calling you out and demanding a knitting bee for the greater good! We can even have a quilting bee and make ugly quilts, if you like. Let's just use our mad domestic skills for the greater good, eh?

I'm clearly running on five hours of sleep, so I'll get a little rest and we'll get something concrete down, 'kay? Good. Night-night.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Luddite Summer

For the past two weeks, I've trudged begrudgingly into the Lembrary (Miss Lemon's room) and checked Facebook statuses that neither enlighten nor amuse me. Twitter is somewhat more amusing but still doesn't feel worth my time. Meanwhile, the biography of Dorothea Lange that I got for Christmas has been beckoning me from its spot on the shelf in the living room. So I figure it's time to have my own version of a Luddite summer and drop out of the world for a while.

Unlike the writer I'm taking my inspiration from, you will be able to find me. The cellphone won't be off, but Skype will. Saturdays will be my internet days until September (I'd hate to come back to 1000+ emails). I shall engross myself in reading and taking pictures. Heck, I might find that I like it and just keep it up.

But what will I do without the 24-hour news cycle? Here are my predictions for the summer:
1. The oil spill will still suck.
2. There will be hurricanes.
3. Republicans will not do a 180 on President Obama.
4. It'll be really hot in most places.

If Christ should return while I'm offline, I think I'll know without help from an NPR breaking news email.

So toodle-loo and happy summer to all of you! I'll consider updating my status on Saturdays, but we'll have to see.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Uncharted territory

I'm not a video game fanatic. I don't put clips of myself playing video games on You Tube. Some do, and I don't judge them ... I just watch what they put up. I will own up, however, to being a video game nerd who reads specific game series' wikia and listens to Mega Man music online in my free time (it's so embarrassing to admit that). But I'm usually so late on the draw that I can read other nerds' online guides when I get stuck in a game. Not this time: I'm going sight unseen into Super Mario Galaxy 2, which came out this very A.M. Well, Chris has been doing most of the heavy lifting--I'm helpful Player 2, who spends most of my time watching and hitting buttons that make crowd noises. Oddly enough, I don't think he appreciates it when I play the ooo noise while he's falling into a pit.

Other than that, I have nothing to report on except that it's fun, perhaps not as good as its predecessor, and has a kickin' soundtrack. It's been fun going into this with no preconceived notions. :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watching the British election

I get a little computer time while Chris is monitoring the British election results on the BBC. We can't be the only Americans who are taking an interest in it, right? It doesn't help that the BBC Friday Night Comedy podcast we listen to was doing specials on the election for several weeks prior. Last night they discussed whether or not Americans care about the election. Result? No, they don't. Made me want to chime in saying, "I care!"

I don't care as much as my husband, but I probably care more than you--face it. I know what Bigot-Gate is. I know who Sam Cam is. I've learned more than one could possibly want to know about UKIP. But as with most things, my interest lies in whether or not it can amuse me. The Vote Now Show amused me ... sitting and watching a little honeycomb grid of all the constituencies in Britain change colors does not amuse me. So I derisively call my husband a nerd and go back to reading cookbooks--who's the real loser?

Have I ever mentioned that I hate red state/blue state? I recall seeing an ad during our own recent primary season from a politician who wanted to "keep Texas red". Funny, I was previously unaware that Texas was a Communist state. I mean, I know Austin's weird, but I didn't think the weirdness had penetrated that far into the state government. Anyway, did you know it's the opposite in Britain? Conservative (aka Tories) wears blue rosettes and Labour wears red. That adds to my smugness over red state/blue state (Communist police state/depressed state) here in the States.

Anyhoo, you can watch the little honeycomb grid too if you want here (switch the view from "geographical" to "proportional"). I personally can't wait to see how the Independent Community and Health Concern and Respect-Unity Coalition parties do. Should be more fun than watching our own states change colors!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The poor, neglected Loquacious Loquat

Forgive me for my long absence from blogging. Chandler Photo has been my darling of late, and as a result the Loquat has fallen by the wayside. This is a crying shame since there's so much going on around here. We move back to Denton next week, and there may or may not be a house for us when we get there. With those two prospects looming over us, I'm sure you understand how full our plates are between packing and fretting and making plans to live in a hotel for a month (should push come to shove). What an absolute wreck.

Anyway, that's all the news that's currently fit to print. I'll work to update the Loquat more often in the month of May.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Month of Birthday

Wahoo! On the 22nd, I'm turning 27! Yip-yip-yahooey ... yeah, I'm as thrilled by that number as you are. Our society loves nice, round numbers: 30, 40, 50, 100, etc. I figure I can either freak out that I'm nearly 30 or I can do something to make this traditionally uneventful birthday special. Enter One Month of Birthday, my birthday wishlist for myself.

One Month of Birthday is inspired by something I read a few years ago: When a woman was asked what she wanted for Christmas, she replied that she wanted the asker to do something good for someone else. It needn't be huge things--results included: $20 to a homeless person found digging through a dumpster, a few hours volunteered at a soup kitchen, a donation in her name. I loved that story, and now I'm stealing it and making it my own (I'm sure she doesn't mind). One Month of Birthday is to inspire you to do things for others in honor of my 27th year on the planet.

So consider giving me a teensy-weensy act for my birthday. I've given you the whole month to do it! It doesn't have to be a donation: I like the notion of random acts of kindness, so helping a little old lady across the street would be a great birthday present. I'll feature things near and dear to my heart as the month goes on to inspire you. But do this for me--I insist. After all, I am the birthday girl.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life is filled with thrills


Chris quit his job. This is his last week. We're moving back to Denton, TX. Soon. Very soon. And that's all the news that's fit to print. Enjoy the pretty picture from Chandler Photo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why no testing? (Oh crap, it's a baseball post.)

I'm listening to the news that there will be testing in the minor leagues for human growth hormone, but the Players' Union in the major leagues is protesting such a move. I think this perplexes some people because they think that they believe the union should be bending over backwards to protect the purity of the game and the majority of players who aren't using performance enhancers of some sort. I have several thoughts on the matter, so here's my guide to .... WHY THE PLAYERS' UNION DOESN'T WANT MORE TESTING! [echo answers "testing"]

1. The cynical reason: They are representing the majority of players, who are all on HGH. Unfortunately, there's little proof otherwise, and we have little reason not to be cynical about the natural state of baseball players nowadays. Anecdotal evidence from players puts the number of players using some kind of performance enhancing drug at about 40%. Yikes. That's not the majority, but what are the odds with that number that some of the users aren't in the upper levels of representation?

2. The lazy reason: The union doesn't want its players to have to do more testing. This does make a little sense. The Players' Union may feel that it's already make a big concession by approving regular, pee-in-a-cup style testing, and a blood test may just be going too far in their minds. That said, if the number above is correct, it's not like Major League Baseball has no reason to require this kind of testing. Management is hardly overstepping its bounds by requesting such a test.

3. The most likely reason: They're the Major League Baseball Players' Union and they don't listen to nobody, nohow. The Players' Union is the most powerful union in the nation, and they have baseball management by the ... well, there's no way to not put it crudely--use your imagination. It could be possible that there is no reason whatsoever and they're just flexing their massive, steroid-enhanced muscles. Face it, some people get off on that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quick Hits: Too much tahini!

It's Kitchen Adventures time at our house, which means that it must be Lent. I've made hummus from sprouted garbanzo beans (sprouting, by the way, is exceptionally easy in the desert), lemon-garlic pepper, fresh garlic (never too much garlic), salt, and too much tahini. Word to the wise: Never go overboard with the tahini. We also had to travel one town over (which isn't quick out here--Alpine is 30 miles away) to get a blender for it. Anyway, we slapped a shmear on some dark rye and enjoyed a distinctly Jewish dinner.

Note to self: Next time, fresh lemon and less tahini.

Meanwhile, I think I'm going back to school for an art degree specializing in photography. Which reminds me, don't forget that Chandler Photo is up and running. I've got a whole mess of new photos back from the developer, so there will be oodles of posts in the near future.

Even though I put up spring break plans and said that putting them on the blog makes them permanent plans, we're doing something other than we originally designed. We're heading to the east side of Texas to visit Chris's relatives behind the Pine Curtain. To add to the fun, my trusty camera and I will get the visual feast of four nearby national forests: Angelina, Sabine, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston. Big Thicket National Preserve runs nearby as well. Best pack the hiking boots!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Pith

"Pith"? I don't know. I'm out of one-word titles to use.

Yet "Pith" is somehow appropriate, because here is the meat and potatoes of those insufferably long days without meat (but not potatoes): cookbooks and other resources. I mean, I can say what to eat and how to make it, but the thought of a meal of steamed veggies, unseasoned beans, and a slice of bread fill even pro-vegetarian me with dread. So now that you know how to get protein and cook beans, here's what to use to make it slightly tasty.

Two staples in your fasting cookbook collection ought to be the Veganomicon and Laurel's Kitchen. The Veganomicon is generally not recommended by Level 5 vegans for beginners, but if you're desperate for something tasty then this is your book. Laurel's Kitchen is not vegan exclusively, but it is vegetarian and has vegan recipes. It's also got a nice, pithy (ha!) section on nutrition. I covered the absolute basics, but if you want more than that then this is a good book to have. In fact, it's highly possible that it has more than you could possibly even want to know--it's a big section.

Other gems include the annoyingly hard to find Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Also not fully vegan (though perfectly admirable), it's got lovely authentic recipes ... "authentic" meaning "hard." Still sometimes authentic means more simple than some idiotic, American, fusion version, so for that reason I recommend it. The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is great because it contains zero meat substitutes. I have a particular disdain for junk made from tofu that's supposed to pass for chicken or beef or something decidedly more tasty than seasoned 'fu, so this one has a special place in my heart and has for years. Also from the same author are the Italian Vegan Kitchen and the Tropical Vegan Kitchen (which covers any tropical area). I might also recommend the Great Salsa Book--the bean salsas would be fine as main courses, and the other salsa are always handy for those days when you open up a can of refried beans (lard-free, of course) and a bag of tortilla chips for dinner. Yum.

If you're feeling exceptionally evil, the authors of the Veganomicon also wrote Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's just pretty to look at--can you imagine making cupcakes from it?!

For those too lazy or utterly broke to buy books, the library is an unlikely source of vegetarian cookbooks. I've filched recipes from library books many a time. Also, try the Vegetarian Resource Group recipes. Most interesting are the Egyptian recipes, which come from a Coptic Orthodox family. There are other places, but I know this website best (it existed--gasp!--10 years ago when I became vegetarian the first time).

Oh dear--I need to go bemoan how old I am now. Sunday's Meatfare, and Lent's fast approaching. Prepare yourself.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chandler Photo

I've started a blog dedicated entirely to my film cameras and photos. Check out Chandler Photo when you have the time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Cooking

I shan't claim to be a better cook than you are (my husband will attest otherwise). However, if you're looking forward to 40+ days of lentil soup, I will claim to be a better vegan cook than you are. I've heard it said that we should think about food less during Lent, but I don't doubt that we think about it more. That actually works just fine in my mind: Why not think more about the food we're preparing rather than mindlessly stuffing another cheeseburger into our mouths? Ah, Orthodoxy--we make paradox work.

BEANS: Okay, branch out from the damn lentil, for goodness sake. Last Lent I only ate lentils once, and it was in the form of lentil sprouts I made in my pantry. Make your own refried beans with pinto beans. Split pea soup doesn't need ham to be good (I prefer a little vindaloo masala in mine). Tepary beans (admittedly hard to find, but well worth it) are the meatiest little buggers you'll ever sink your pearly whites into. If you've never used dried beans, they should soak for 3-8 hours. Lentils and split peas don't need soaking, but I like my split peas with a little soaking so I wind up with mush. Man, I love mushy peas. Here's bean advice from a man I trust and admire, Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo:



GRAINS: Buy whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain anything--anything to complete the protein (like we talked about last time). It's here that I upset you by telling you that pearl barley is like white bread, so consider looking high and low for hulled barley if you're desperate for barley. Wheat berries are so much fun to chew on that it's almost not funny--almost. There are billions of different kinds of rice, so branch out and try a little mahogany or japonica black rice. And try the recently rediscovered grains like amaranth and quinoa. Mmmmm.

VEGGIES: I've heard you should eat the rainbow (red, yellow, green, purple, white ... blue?!) every day, but if you're like me then that's asking a little much. You can't properly saute a veggie without oil since oil gets a lot hotter than water, so that ought to make those days without oil all the more painful. It is, however, very easy to steam by putting 2 Tbs to 1/4-cup water into a saucepan, putting it on the heat until the saucepan's filled with steam, turning the heat down, adding your veggies, and tossing them (covered) until done. An admirable substitute for sauteing.

SPROUTING: If you're feeling especially adventurous, then ignore the somewhat alarming lady with the bouffant and watch:



Some time before Lent I'll do a thing about helpful cookbooks and other resources.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Small town-itis


Ever feel like you don't belong? No, this isn't a depressed episode talking: Chris and I have both dealt with this. That sheer isolation that was so charming has lost its charm, the friendly people openly rail on tourists who move to the area in front of you (uh, hello?), and guess what? You can go too long without a Panera. And a Target. And a drugstore, for goodness sake!! Yes, sweet little Marfa, for all of its charm, has lost its glint. Chris and I are heading back to civilization in the near future.

Chris has started to consider this a sabbatical year, and so have I. It's definitely been much needed after our miserable time in the suburbs of Dallas. We've learned a lot about ourselves, especially me: I never would've wanted to be a photographer or go to art school if we hadn't headed out to Marfa. We're still taken in by the mountains, even when Chris drives the road between them every day. But it's hard when the people around don't seem to want you there because you're screwing up their perfect little town. Yes, terribly sorry to be earning your businesses more money--what a pain in the butt. Marfa isn't too bad about that since it's filled with transplant, artsy types, but Marfa isn't the only town in the area ... it just seems like it.

Chris wants to go to grad school and become a counselor, and this isn't the ideal area for that. Therefore, though it pains us somewhat, we know we'll have to leave the beautiful west for more populated locales. And it doesn't bother me that we've never seen Marfa Lights: If you spend all your time looking for the lights, you may never notice that the stars really do twinkle out here--they don't even do that out in the middle of nowhere in the Hill Country, most likely due to pollution from nearby Austin. I'm grateful for what Marfa's done for me, but--how does the phrase go?--"It's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Marfa is a wonderful place and everyone should visit it at least once, but one must know that it takes a special kind of person to live out here.

Anyway, we've developed a nice list of things to do before we depart the area, hopefully getting to all the state and national parks in the area. ATV tour of Big Bend National Park? Yes please! Time well-spent in El Paso? Yes please! Solar viewing at the McDonald Observatory? Of course! It'll be hard to leave, that's for sure.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Settled on spring break

We'll be touring the Texas border and taking in a little birding down in the Valley. Tons of exciting varieties of birds pass through the southern-most tip of Texas before heading to the rest of America, so the tropical border region is home to the World Birding Center. So, Chris and I will go from Marfa to Del Rio (and Lake Amistad, my new favorite place on earth), Del Rio to Lake Casablanca (outside Laredo) to the tiny town of Roma, then from Roma to Harlingen. And this will take place because now I've put it on the blog--no more mind-changing!

As many know, we also just got back from a 3-day weekend in the Hill Country. Sure is nice and green out there in winter, but that's because the temperature doesn't drop so dramatically overnight there. Yes, it was 70 today in Marfa, but tonight it'll be 32. Humidity does have its high points.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lomography

Lomography is an organization that deals with toy cameras. Twenty-five years ago, while in Austria, the founders bought a Russian toy camera called a Lomo and ended up taking such surprisingly wonderful pictures that it started a firestorm. That firestorm still exists and is called (shock horror) Lomography.

Though Lomography.com has a store selling plastic cameras like the Diana (which I have), the Holga, and naturally the Lomo, they also exist as the world's biggest fans of analog (aka film) photography. For a little lost photographer like myself, I eat up guidance and ideas. Lomography's 10 Golden Rules really opened my horizons:

1. Take your camera everywhere you go
2. Use it any time – day and night
3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
4. Try the shot from the hip
5. Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible
6. Don’t think (william firebrace)
7. Be fast
8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
9. Afterwards either
10. Don’t worry about any rules
My shots have changed dramatically since discovering Lomography and street photography. I take pictures of very different things, and I can't get enough of using film. I branched out to color film after discovering Lomography--truth be told, it's not a cheap medium. I'm hard pressed to say that any medium is cheap or stupid or somehow inferior. That doesn't mean I like everything, though.

So where's the beef? I hate these little plastic cameras. Am I already so spoiled by the vintage cameras that I can't stand these? I spent $240 on a Diana and every one of its accessories (which, in camera terms, is incredibly cheap). I won't buy any more cameras from Lomography unless it's from their set of old Russian cameras. They're too lightweight. I have no idea if the focusing is accurate. Did I mention they're too lightweight? The dogs knocked my Bolsey onto the floor--the thing is built like a tank and sustained no injuries. I'm certain that if the Diana fell, it would explode. Film quality after I develop a roll will be the most telling thing, but when the time comes for me to buy a medium format camera I'll go back to my eBay source.

That said, the Diana accessories include a fisheye lens, so this weekend in the Hill Country should be fun. I'm just not sure that lomographic cameras deserve the worship they get much like I'm not sure that Leicas are the be-all-end-all of rangefinders.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Eating

I get a little tired of hearing that fasting isn't good for you health-wise. Well, actually, in the case of the person saying it that might be true, because chances are good that said person is doing this very, very wrong. The truth is that it's healthier than the average American diet (what isn't?) and good not just for mind and spirit but body as well. So let's just jump right in and count a few myths I've heard:

1. "Humans are supposed to eat meat. That's why they have canine teeth." Yes, massively underdeveloped ones. My counter is that humans also have super-long intestines that are great for absorbing every last vitamin out of vegetables but tend to cause meat to rot. Ewww. Let's move on.
2. "You can't get enough protein." Two counters: 1) Americans get too much protein from meat anyway, and 2) yes you can. More on that later.
3. "Make sure and take vitamins so you get enough protein." Whu?! Vitamins don't have protein--your food will. But you ought to take your vitamins--more on that later.

Onward!

First and most important is getting enough protein. You will eventually waste away eating white bread, white pasta, and potatoes. The combination of whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, and even the dreaded tofu) creates a lovely matching set of essential amino acids and makes--TA DA!--a complete protein. I've heard both that you must eat them together at every meal and that you can eat them separately and it'll add up at the end of the day, but I'm no scientist. Do what seems right to you. See? Annunciation and Palm Sunday aren't the only two days you'll get protein!

Best sources of protein? Among legumes, that oh-so annoying soy. Among grains, quinoa and amaranth. They have the closest to complete protein of all plants.

Vegan diets tend to be deficient in B12, so unless you love nutritional yeast or eat mushrooms like a mushroom-eating fiend, you should have some kind of one-a-day vitamin. Nutritional yeast, I should add, is not what gets put in bread: It's a cheesy-flavored, bright yellow stuff (clearly words fail me) that's insanely good for you. Ideally you'll eat delicious veggies to help with most of the vitamins you need.

Chances are good that you have plenty of extra fat hanging around, so you needn't suffer as a result of the fact that you can only have oil on specific days. After scientists said that fat isn't as bad for us as we thought and that olive oil is particularly good for you, we've practically been drinking the stuff. Check out a food pyramid sometime: If it isn't sponsored by McDonald's and claims that Chicken McNuggets are part of a healthy and balanced meal, then you'll see that oil takes up a tiny nubbin of the pyramid.

Next time I'll do a little bit on cooking.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The time has arrived.

I have 5 rolls of film to be developed finally. I asked Snapfish for mailers, but they never arrived. I'm not sure how much I trust them with black and white film anyway. They'll be going off to an old-fashioned film developer in Kansas--I'll plug them if everything comes back okay (and "okay" will factor in the fact that I hadn't used film cameras since college and certainly not low-tech, vintage ones).

Let's see, out of 16 or so rolls of film, only 5 are going to be developed and only 3 are either in use or haven't been used. Most were shredded by the camera because I didn't know how to get them out of there, some were the fatal result of the camera dying (always likely when they're 50+ years old), and one I tried to bail on and accidentally sucked it back in to the cartridge unused. I have the feeling that at least one of the rolls I'm sending off was shredded in the removal process, and I know that same roll of film will look like I got drunk and took pictures--not in the sense that I took pictures of ridiculous things, but rather that there's no telling where on the film the picture is going to show up. Double exposures, here I come!

The Bolsey and the Seagull are my go-getters. The Bolsey is a little hard to see through, so I generally use it in high light; the Seagull is well-suited for indoor situations with its giant viewfinder/rangefinder. My Nazi/Soviet camera sits in its case looking cute (I just don't have it in me to use it), and the Steinheil--which is finally home after a long sojourn at our old house in DFW--doesn't have a built in rangefinder and therefore drives me batty. And this time I mean it when I say it doesn't have a built in rangefinder--it's not that I haven't found it yet, it's that it's not there. I can either spend money and get a pocket rangefinder or put it on a shelf next to the Nazi/Soviet camera.

My first SLR, a Yashica, died in two days. It sucked the film into its gears and refused to let go, and now its shutter doesn't work. Meanwhile, I have another SLR on the way: a Kodak Retina Reflex III with 3 lenses. I'd be excited, but I'm afraid I'll kill it in an instant too. As soon as I find a place that'll do it, I'll ship the Yashica off for repairs (its prism could use a good clean anyway).

The Olympus, digital camera extraordinaire, is still wonderful for me. Sadly, I couldn't get a UV filter for it, so pictures will continue to be a little gray and washed out. My new thing is the light painting, which is using a long shutter speed and a light source that kind of smears across the screen. You can do it with film, but the instant gratification of digital has really reinvigorated the art. You can either manipulate the light source or the camera, and my favorite thing to do is sit in the car and let the road bounce the camera for me. At dusk, it creates some really beautiful images:
That's the St. Joseph's Professional Building (presumably part of a hospital) in Houston. I call it "Golgotha/Houston."

Anyway, that's all that's fit to print in the camera and photography world. I'll report back with the best and worst of the film once it's back in my clutches.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh, Piety Cat


One cannot absorb ones prayers by osmosis! Now get off my prayer book and stop eyeing the dog like that!

We indulge Miss Lemon being in the icon corner because it's one of the few places she's safe from the over-friendly Hamilton.