Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Lens

My daughter has helped understand the source of those luminous still life photos one sees in magazines and some blogs: a portrait lens.  I couldn't resist - I bought one.  The play of light on texture and color is irresistible to me.  It draws me in an unspeakable way, as if I were a helpless moth. 

One of my favorite coffee mugs.  I've not quite gotten the hang of this lense yet; please bear with me.  I will be posting lots of photos as I go along.

My son made this dish in pottery class in high school.

What is your favorite lens?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can't We Think of Something Better Than Plastic?

Somewhere In the  beautiful Pacific Ocean, a gigantic ugly mass of garbage floats.  It's bigger than a landfill.  Bigger than a couple of landfills.  Think about this - this mass of garbage is twice the size of Texas.
Picture it.

(National Geographic)

David de Rothschild is using his name, influence and engergy to bring the world's attention to this astounding unseen tragedy.   Mr. deRothschild has built a catamaran from 12,500 plastic bottles.  He will sail from San Fransisco, California to Sydney, Austrailia, investigating the plastic pollution inthe Pacific Ocean along the way.  The Plastiki Expedition not only seeks to bring attention to the incredible pollution caused by the use and irresponsible disposal of plastic, it also highlights the many alternative uses for recycled plastic.  The entire boat is created from recycled plastic. 

I'm taking stock of all the garbage, especialy plastic, that I use.  I think it is amazing how much trash one person can generate!   While, yes, one solution is to recycle, and we do.  But, think about how many products we buy in plastic packaging!  Cleaning products, personal hygiene products, hardware, automotive, all those little things that are wrapped in so many layers of plastic you need heavy duty scissors to open them.  Why can't we minimize our waste right from the very start? It is hard, if not impossible, to find these products contained in anything other than plastic.  There should be other alternatives to plastic packaging?  Isn't there a way to make biodegradeable plastics?  Yes to both of these, I am sure.  So, why isn't this happening?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts for Those Who are Ill and Recovering

Here we are, a February day in New Hampshire, and it is so warm that the heavy participation is falling as rain instead of the usual snow.  It's been raining so hard that most of the snow is gone.  This is the kind of weather we usually have in April!  So, it's raw and dreary, and I have a headcold.  I'm never sick, and feeling less that 100% is just plain strange.  It's almost like I am experiencing myself as some sort of strange experiment: "And here was have an example of 'sick.'"

And yet it isn't.  I am not really ILL.  These moments of slight discomfort will go away all by themselves.  In a few days, the stuffy, foggy headed feeling will be forgotten, not even a memory, because my fortunate, healthy me will be back at it and going along - living - and (hopefully not) taking it all for granted. 

What I do NOT forget is that there are so many others who ARE ill, or have suffered hard through illness and recovered: Renee, Maggie May, Barry, Janine.  And so many more. 

My thoughts and prayers are with you.  This is for you.

(kuddleyteddybear2004 - Flickr)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Good Day

For February.  The sun came out and melted snow.  It was strong enough to sit outside without a jacket and feel it on your face. 

A flock of robins swarmed the crabapple tree.

And, for the first time ever, cedar waxwings joined the feast.

The dogs played tug o' war.

And I attempted an Olympic feat...

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

I feel so satisfied and accomplished - just for cooking a simple meal.  Partly because I figured out something delicious and special from ingredients already around the house.  Partly becaue it was my own recepie.  Partly becaue it was so yummy.  Spinach and ricotta stuffed raviolis. 

To a non cook, the idea that a regular person could make pasta, and without too much fuss, is astounding.  Pasta comes from factories, I believed, some unknowable process that involves machines spewing forth a hard substance that must be boiled soft.  I have come to understand that a not-particularly-talented-cook can create tender, tasty delights.  Lola, and Lidia have shown me that it is possible.

I realize now, that magic is always there, waiting to be born from the innocent and ever present flour in the cupboard and eggs in the refrigerator.  Mix, knead, press - tah dah!

Saute some garlic in a little butter, add spinach, ricotta and prosciutto.  Plop little piles in intervals along a long rectangle of pasta.  Fold, seal, cut, and boil.  And there you have it!  I made a dinner fit for a cookbook, for a cooking show.  If I can do it, you can do it, too.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

sounds of love on Voyager

Friday morning I heard a touching love story on NPR (public radio).  As I was going about my usual morning routine, I became enthralled by the voice of the woman telling the story.  I later learned it was the wife of Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan.  She was telling the story of how she and Carl Sagan fell in love and married, and how a part of that process is now travelling through space on the Voyager spacecrafts. 

Druyan-Sagan Associates, Inc.

In the piece from Morning Edition, by Soren Wheeler and Jad Abumrad, Ann tells of the comaraderie between herself and Mr. Sagan as they worked together to create the golden record which was placed in the two Voyager spacecrafts launched in 1977.  "The records on board were meant to survive for a billion years, in the hope that some day, against enormous odds, they might cross paths with an alien civilization."  They were created to educate that alien civilization about Earth.  (see link to story below.)  Mr. Sagan was in charge of the project and Ann was the creative director.  The record included recordings of people saying "Hello" in 59 languages, the song of the humpback whale, a mother's first words to her newborn baby.

Ann and Carl worked together as nothng more than acquaintances colleagues for 18 months.  In one night that changed.  Ann had been working hard to find just the right piece of Chinese music for the record.  She excitedly called Mr. Sagan at his hotel when she discovered it.  During the conversation that ensued when he returned the call, they became engaged.  They had never even kissed.

Ann then had an idea for the record: if they could record electrical impulses in the human brain, perhaps whomever discovered the records sometime in the future could decode the information and understand our thoughts.  Two days after Ann and Carl became engaged, Ann had her own brain impulses recorded.  Of course at that time, she was feeling ecstatic and tremendously in love with Carl Sagan.  During the recording, she meditated on "the wonder of love, of being in love."  That recording was included on the golden record, still continuing its journey at 35,000 miles per hour through space, carrying the sound of a human body in love.

Listen to the show, or download the transcript at:
Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan's Ultimate Mix Tape

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The sun just this minute slid its rays around the piney curtain barring its earlier climb above the horizon.  It was almost a flash, or like someone turned on a spotlight.  One minute it was dreary gray and cold outside, and the next - light.  Let there be light. 

I had been sitting in my sunroom feeling... well, gray.  No reason.  No justification.  Nothing to do with my previous post.  In fact, I was sort of wondering at it, feeling somewhat more wretched because I am a very fortunate person and have nothing to justify the self indulgence of blah.  Then the sun slapped me in the face. 

Friday, February 5, 2010


I found out today that a client of mine passed away a few days ago.  I myself had been trying to reach her last week.  I had wondered about how I would find out if something happened, and whom I should call to check on her.  She had moved to another state, so was too far away to check on myself.  Today I learned that my concerns were real.  She was my age. 

I am not able to talk about her in any detail, but I can tell you that she had a good heart, was generous, so outgoing and funny, and she was very brave through hard setbacks she had to endure.  I am thinking about you, L.  I hope you have peace now.

double black diamond

Last night I made a milestone: skied the double black diamond trail on our little mountain.   What fun!  The snow these days is hard and fast - so easy skiing.  I am getting used to skiing fast, and last night felt loose and easy.  That's the best part.  No, wait, the best part is being outside on a sparkling night and feeling the wind tear your eyes (the only part of my body not covered).

Just a tiny funny, a photo memory for myself - just one of the many new chewed items in my home.  At least she did not get the phone!

Something About Sunsets

There is something about sunsets that always makes me melancholy.  Dylan Thomas whispers in my ears.  "Do not go gentle into that goo...