Care Packages

So, when all this Covid-ness evolved to quarantine, I started sending out a weekly ‘care package’ to my friends/colleagues/family. It grew. And grew. As did requests for it to be added to my site. Thus…

Updated weekly! Questions, please email me at the email address on the home page.


Care Package #13 June 21, 2020

Good morning! Let’s begin with a couple poems in honor of our papa. The universe gifted me in that department, let me tell you…

Bird

–Nikki Herd

Yesterday, at Shepherd and Gray, the parking lot was 

filled with birds, black birds, actually grackles. It was a grackle 

lot; instead of a bumper on a car, there were ten grackles, instead 

of a sunroof, fifty grackles sat high, their bodies shimmers 

under cheap strip mall lights as shoppers delayed their spending 

to pull out phones and take shots, such spectators we were, 

like that summer in July, when I was left again 

to wonder who was the child and who the adult, 

that Sunday evening that hung in the air like bug spray 

when my father, the one who fed me and gave me his last name, 

stood two stories on our family porch, every neighbor, 

in all manner of dress, drawn from their homes, in the street 

watching. 

Let me tell you how he spread his arms wide, like the man 

he was before Vietnam, or before the schizophrenia. 

Let me tell you how a child learns the alphabet by counting, 

how she learns only 2 letters separate the words hero and heroin, 

how he stood high on the ledge of a porch the child never much 

liked because there was a crack in its wooden center as if the 

world 

was waiting to open its jaws to swallow her body whole. 

Let me tell you how that July evening didn’t hold death, 

but instead was the preface to death. The point being he jumped. 

Some will say there are worse songs to sing, others might believe 

it 

a tragedy, but who are we to question the Gods when a man 

unconcerned with the inconvenience of his presence shows up 

in a parking lot winged as an army of himself? Eventually, lights 

went dark in the shops and each watcher retraced their steps back 

home 

to find their families, to rejoice over food, to laugh and settle the 

night; 

and the birds, steadfast they stood, not quite ready for flight—

My Father and Myself Facing the Sun

–Lawson Fusao Inada

We are both strong, dark, bright men,

though perhaps you might not notice,

finding two figures flat against the landscape

like the shadowed backs of mountains.

Which would not be far from wrong,

for though we both have on Western clothes

and he is seated on a yellow spool

of emptied and forgotten telephone cable

and I recline on a green aluminum lounge,

we are both facing into the August sun

as august as Hiroshima and the autumn.

There are differences, however, if you care

to discover, coming close, respectfully.

You must discover the landscape as you go.

Come. It is in the eyes, the face, the way

we would greet you stumbling as you arrive.

He is much the smooth, grass-brown slopes

reaching knee-high around you as you walk;

I am the cracks of cliffs and gullies,

pieces of secret deep in the back of the eye.

But he is still my father, and I his son.

After a while, there is time to go fishing,

both of us squatting on rocks in the dusk,

leaving peaks and tree line responsible for light.

There is a lake below, which both of us

acknowledge, by facing, forward, like the sun.

Ripples of fish, moon, luminous insects.

Frogs, owls, crickets at their sound.

Deer, raccoon, badger come down to drink.

At the water’s edge, the children are fishing,

casting shadows from the enormous shoreline.

Everything functions in the function of summer.

And gradually, and not by chance, the action

stops, the children hush back among rocks

and also watch, with nothing to capture but dusk.

There are four of us, together among others.

And I am not at all certain what all this means,

if it means anything, but feel with all my being

that I must write this down, if I write anything.

My father, his son, his grandsons, strong, serene.

Night, night, night, before the following morning.

***
When you just need to moooove :-). Join or host a disco party.

***
A 6 minute short on female skaters in Athens fighting for a change.

***
The truth according to Carmelo Anthony. From 2016 (!). Same issues then/now. Let’s hope we move things forward more this time. Interesting to read through the lens of the context of the past four years and then past four months….

***
For Father’s Day, I give you Stevie
And for the past few weeks, Otis.
And H.E.R. and Daniel. Perfect. 

***
A few Black-owned businesses selling creative items.

***
Cook cook cook.


This broccoli salad is so incredibly good…

Pair it with quiche. Quiche is so freaking easy. And works with sort of anything, it’s like a clean out the fridge dish. Mix and match veggies and cheeses, regular or alt. And I have made it work with regular milk or nondairy nut milks, too.

Simple treats mmmm, Tahini Stuffed Dates Dipped in Chocolate.

And because it’s berry season and one can never have too much dessert, mixed berry crumble bars.

***
Been using the heck out of my neighborhood little libraries. Happy sigh :-).  I will leave you this week with another version hah.  https://www.birdlibrary.org

Be happy, be well, xoxok


Care Package #12 June 7, 2020

Obama held a town hall last week. Much happening through his and Michelle’s foundation, FYI. But one of his points in his talk was that hope and anger can co-exist. There’s a thought to think on for the week…

***
I try not to reprint things that have already been given to a wide audience, but this one bears repeating. I was on an early morning rainy run listening to NPR and heard James McBride reading the opening passages of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. It’s gorgeous language, sad truths, from 1945-1951 when he wrote the book, that carry forward utterly to this very day, 2020. Listen, it’s 2 minutes of your life and you’ll be moved. 

***
My kid and I were talking about feminism. She says I’m an old school feminist and not current–cough cough cough, I choke on my tea 🙂 :-0.  I give you the original-original, Ms. Steinem.50 Years Ago, Gloria Steinem Wrote an Essay for TIME About Her Hopes for Women’s Futures. Here’s What She’d Add Today

***
And, Baratunde’s World Saving Books

***
I love this song. Eeerily apropos to the past couple weeks. Wish Juice Wrld could still write songs :-(.

One of my top five favorite albums is one of my favorite collaborations ever, between Hank Jones and Charlie Haden. Here’s Danny Boy from their album Steal Away. And one more because it’s so good. 


Clarke’s podcast this week was on movie soundtracks and I’ve had string compositions whirling through my head the past few days. And while this gorgeous song from composer George Walker isn’t from a soundtrack, it’s utterly beautiful and reminds me of the strength, commitment, and fierce beauty I’ve seen this past week. 

***
Counterfeit Twenty

–Kim Stafford


The bill George Floyd paid for cigarettes,

a fatal fake, brought screaming squad cars,

an ambulance, a fire truck, films, then fires,

police in riot gear, the National Guard, curfew,

then jingle dress dancers to the drum at Chicago

and E. 38th–that bill should be displayed as relic,

talisman, emblem, icon revealing what’s gone

down since slave ships sold lives for money

to divide brother from brother, sister from sister,

to thrust a knee to the neck of a father, husband,

mentor begging for simple breath. Twenty dollars?

Take one out and study it: Andrew Jackson with

the White House in the back of his mind, two trees

with no trunks, a twenty telling us we trust in God

by a serial number, telling us eight different times

it’s a twenty just to be sure we know the worth

of a man’s life and a nation’s chance

to honor legal tender. 

Apology for Apostasy?

–Etheridge Knight

Soft songs, like birds, die in poison air
So my song cannot now be candy.
Anger rots the oak and elm; roses are rare,
Seldom seen through blind despair.

And my murmur cannot be heard
Above the din and damn. The night is full
Of buggers and bastards; no moon or stars
Light the sky. And my candy is deferred

Till peacetime, when my voice shall be light,
Like down, lilting in the air; then shall I
Sing of beaches, white in the magic sun,
And of moons and maidens at midnight.

***
All right. Let’s cook. Sustenance and nurturing and comfort. 

Roasted brocolli and chickpeas with kale salad

Crispy quinoa sweet potato fritters, mmmmm.

Perfectly roasted chicken. With garlic rosemary roasted potatoes

Any kind of fruit galette!

***
I remember a conversation that took place way toooo many years ago with photographer Simon Norfolk when we were working on an Afghanistan project. And he was talking about the coexistence of duplicity (ie. Obama above) but in this case, in terms of making a photograph that caught both the horrors of war, as well as the beauty of humanity and its resilience, the stories held in landscape. And then translate it directly and simply. The power is in that, is in the transmission. Artist Jammie Holmes did that with his public demonstration, as he called it, of banners of last words flown across the sky. 

***
A friend of mine from Iceland posted video of a BLM event held in the woods with music and solidarity. It was beautiful. Here’s more of the thousands showing up in one of my favorite places on earth. 

***
“If our children only hear silence, their heads are filled with noise.” From KairosPDX’s ED Kali Ladd. This is an incredible, incredible, incredible speech given a couple days ago in response to all that is going on. Hope as the theme continues here…please listen.

***
In response to the past couple weeks, Richard Rohr said if we don’t transform our pain, we will transmit it. 


Be well, everyone. xok


Care Package #11 May 31, 2020

Well, well. In need of some joy and light, yes? What a week this has been…Let’s put some positive energy out into the world right now, or at least for the time it takes for you to read this! xok

***

Terry Crews teaching people to draw perspective. Because he’s seriously awesome, as we all know. He also paints. More on that later.

***

And maybe on Monday you’ll want to curl up in a puffy chair with a cup of tea and listen to Michelle Obama read you a children’s book. Here’s last Monday. New ones each Monday.

***

I’m not kidding about this Care Package being all about love and light…Golden Retriever puppies and background on the breed. Because they are the kings and queens of caninelandia. See attached picture for proof :-).

***

Weird random knowledge. Because why not ! The emotions of pigeons. There’s really nothing else that I can write that will top that sentence :-)). 

***

Krista Tippett interviews Naomi Shihab Nye on On Being from a couple years ago. Your Life is a Poem. Yes, indeed. Every moment. 

***

Speaking of poems, times like these I remember why I got my MFA in poetry despite the, uuum, impracticality of such a degree :-)). The University of Arizona Poetry Center is fun to explore when you need a brain and heart and grief rest. They have this Vocalisms section with audio/video of amazing poets we all know and love, and some to discover, in their archive. Here’s on with Li-Young Lee. And here’s a poem they highlighted in their weekly newsletter that is a humdinger.

***

And some Golden Retriever kind of music :-). MIchael Franti and SpearheadCrowded House dates me but who cares. The Strokes. And Love is my Religion, Mr. Ziggy Marley

***

Animations by 39 artists. 

***

How about some comfort food? Homemade pizza


And One Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (and if you’re me there ain’t no dead chicken going in there, but instead maybe white beans or tempeh or both!)


Coconut Apple Ginger Dal


Clarkie asked for French Toast for dinner last night cuz it was that kind of night :-). Don’t really need a recipe, but here is one in case. The better the bread (ie. homemade or Grand Central :-)) the better the French Toast. We add vanilla and cinnamon and nutmeg and honey to the eggs and milk for our recipe.


Pudding is ridiculously easy. If you don’t do dairy I’ve found alternative milks tend to work just dandily. And despite what the recipes say, I’ve never in my life used heavy cream for pudding and they turn out just fine with even 1%. 2% or whole milk is ideal. Here is vanillaButterscotch. And of course, chocolate. Sprinkle the tops with chocolate chips or toast some coconut or roasted chopped nuts or strawberries mmmmmm.

***

And finally. I just have to stay on/return to the topic at hand amidst the Golden Retrievers and pudding. And I’ll do so with this incredibly thoughtful piece by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that came out in the LA Times the other day. Including quotes by Langston Hughes and Marvin Gaye. Please read. Thank you my heart friend Al, for the reminder. 

Honestly. Of all the rhetoric on every possible side from the past week, Trevor Noah’s 18 minute stream of consciousness thoughts is unbelievably articulate. Unfuckingbelievably spot on. Just spot on. Unreal. If you haven’t listened to this, please do. 

***

All right everyone. That’s what I’ve got for you this week. Be well. Go on runs. Running really does clear the soul. Look at the sky. Hug your people. Stay informed. Do your part. 
xok


Care Package #10, May 24, 2020

Happy, sun-filled inside and out, week to each of you! xok

***

The famously secretive Ghibli Museum (which showcases the work of the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli) is now offering a virtual tour . So inspiring. Can you even imagine if this was where you could go to work everyday??

***

In my world this is not just for kids. Ikea released instructions for how to build homemade forts

***

I know you’ve all been waiting for your illustrated guide to masked wrestlers. Go to explore mode. 

***

So let’s look at a couple new music releases that hit last Friday, May 22 ;-). Ironic day, because coincidentally a few that popped out are old school, going back far into my history. 


I saw the Indigo Girls waaaay back in the late eighties (!) at Pine Street Theater, before that space became La Luna, that then became a trendy overpriced warehouse thing. Indigo Girls still sounds, well, exactly the same, hah, but man you have to give them credit. Like lots of it. Closer to Fine STILL holds up. Here’s one from their new albums. 


Steve Earle is one of my heart musicians. His commitment to social justice and his songwriting deeply influenced my songwriting back in the day. He is one of the best. If you have the chance to see him live someday, if we are ever able to do that again :-0, do…this isn’t a tune off the new album, but one of my favs


And to end on a different kind of vibe, Malian musicians.

***
Baked eggs with smoked salmon and tarragon cream with country bread and melted gruyere. I mean, I don’t even eat anything that’s ever been alive, and this sounds so good. 


So let’s find something I can eat :-)! Mmmm, Charred sweet potatoes with butter bean hummus and lentil salad. Holiness. 


And Cauliflower cakes with brown rice and cheddar.


Chocolate glazed banana bread donuts. If you don’t have the donut mold dealy they don’t have to be that shape! Just use a muffin tin. 

***

Tapestry

–Carolyn Forche

There is no album for these, no white script on black
paper, no dates stamped in a border, no sleeve, no fire,
no one has written on the back from left to right.
Your hair has not yet fallen out nor grown back—
girl walking toward you out of childhood
not yet herself, having not yet learned to recite
before others, and who would never wish to stand
on a lighted proscenium, even in a darkened house,
but would rather dig a hole in a field and cover herself
with barn wood, earth and hay, to be as quiet as plums turning.
There is no calendar, no month, no locket, but your name
is called and called in the early storm. No one finds
you no one ever finds you. Not in a small grave
dug by a child as a hiding place, nor years
later in the ship’s hold, not in the shelter, nor high
on the roof as the man beside you leapt, not
in a basket crossing a vineyard, nor in a convent
kitchen on the last night, as a saint soon to be
murdered told you how to live your life,
never found you walking in the ruins of the blown
barracks, wading in the flooded camp, taking cover
in the machinist’s shop, or lighting every votive
in the Cathedral of St. Just, with its vaulted
choir and transept, a wall of suffering souls.
It was just as Brecht wrote, wasn’t it? “You came
in a time of unrest when hunger reigned.
You came to the people in a time of uprising
and you rose with them. So the time
passed away which on earth was given you.”
Gather in your sleep the ripened plums.
Stay behind in the earth when your name is called.

—-

After an Illness, Walking the Dog

–Jane Kenyon

Wet things smell stronger,

and I suppose his main regret is that

he can sniff just one at a time.

In a frenzy of delight

he runs way up the sandy road—

scored by freshets after five days

of rain. Every pebble gleams, every leaf.

When I whistle he halts abruptly

and steps in a circle,

swings his extravagant tail.

Then he rolls and rubs his muzzle

in a particular place, while the drizzle

falls without cease, and Queen Anne’s lace

and Goldenrod bend low.

The top of the logging road stands open

and light. Another day, before

hunting starts, we’ll see how far it goes,

leaving word first at home.

The footing is ambiguous.

Soaked and muddy, the dog drops,

panting, and looks up with what amounts

to a grin. It’s so good to be uphill with him,

nicely winded, and looking down on the pond.

A sound commences in my left ear

like the sound of the sea in a shell;

a downward, vertiginous drag comes with it.

Time to head home. I wait

until we’re nearly out to the main road

to put him back on the leash, and he

—the designated optimist—

imagines to the end that he is free.

***

Richard Rohr, an amazingly thoughtful theologian, says that there are really only two ways we humans learn: through great love and great suffering. It’s interesting/weird/disconcerting how closely those two concepts are aligned. For this week ahead, as you think big thoughts and do good things, love each day in a way you don’t normally, or in a direction you don’t normally, or to yourself with one loving self-care moment each day. 

Until soon! k


Care Package #9, May 17, 2020

Hello, all! Whew, hope you made it through the week with many happy moments. Walking through the neighborhood the other day we saw a kid, maybe 7 or 8, standing on the sidewalk with his bike holding an envelope and talking with another little guy standing in the doorway at the house up the walkway from the sidewalk. As we passed them we overheard one of them very earnestly and clearly annoyed telling his friend, “All right, but I fully, fully expect a letter next time! It’s not fair I always give you letters more.” And then the other kid goes, “But I don’t have anything to say. I’m not doing anything.” And the other kid says, “Well I find things to tell you. Like just if we were hanging out for real.”   It. Was. Adorable. 

xok


***
Movie Madness is one of my happy places. It’s closed now, of course, but they have free community programming each week. True to the store itself, they’re programming is unlike anything else and all over the freaking place :-). On the current list on the link above, Latin American Horror (Sophie, I’m looking at you…), female led narratives, even Saturday morning cartoons–’60s through ’90s only, of course hah!


***
Those on this list who’ve been to my house know I have a picture of Dave Grohl on my fridge. You can infer what you’d like from that :-)). I make NO apologies! And now he’s writing, brilliantly of course, in the Atlantic. What a treat. 


***
So, put on some Foo while you work on a crossword puzzle, why don’t you?

***
Asparagus is here! Garlicky White Bean Asparagus soup, oh my. 
Get powered with a power bowl, happy :-).
I could eat Apple and Smoked Mozzarella Calzones pretty much all day. If you don’t want to deal with the dough (it’s really not hard…) use frozen puff pastry for a different type of deliciousness. 
Top it off with Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars.


***
Monday is the 40th anniversary of Mount St. Helen’s erupting. Which makes me feel pretty old, as I remember exactly where I was and I remember the ash all over my parents’ station wagon. My sweet pal, Christine, who I’ve known my entire life, like for real, is our resident Mt. St. Helens Expert. Her book Return to Spirit Lake should have the word ‘seminal’ before it. I completely spaced on her online panel discussion through the Portland Art Museum that was last Monday, thinking it was THIS Monday (sorry, Christine…) but she did share this link to the Mt. St. Helen’s Institute, that has a number of happenings for the whole family…


***

Whew. Damn. If you didn’t see H.E.R.’s performance on Graduate Together last night, just watch it. I still can’t believe my Sophie got to see her live last year. 
Giveon. All day long.
And let’s just keep melting, shall we? Pink Sweat$.


***
Deena Kastor is one of my heroes, for so many reasons. On hard runs I just think about her words on mindset and those final miles. Here’s a great new interview with her on the StrengthRunning podcast (scroll to the bottom of the page). Listen while you cook or clean the house or whatever. Even if you’re not a runner. She’s got it figured out. 


***
Choices–Tess Gallagher


I go to the mountain side

of the house to cut saplings,

and clear a view to snow

on the mountain. But when I look up,

saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in

the uppermost branches.

I don’t cut that one.

I don’t cut the others either.

Suddenly, in every tree,

an unseen nest

where a mountain

would be.


——-


Another Night in the Ruins–Galway Kinnell
1
In the evening
haze darkening on the hills,
purple of the eternal,
a last bird crosses over,
flop flop,’ adoring
only the instant.

    2
Nine years ago,
in a plane that rumbled all night
above the Atlantic,
I could see, lit up
by lightning bolts jumping out of it,
a thunderhead formed like the face
of my brother, looking down
on blue,
lightning-flashed moments of the Atlantic.

    3
He used to tell me,
“What good is the day?
On some hill of despair
the bonfire
you kindle can light the great sky—
though it’s true, of course, to make it burn
you have to throw yourself in …”

    4
Wind tears itself hollow
in the eaves of these ruins, ghost-flute
of snowdrifts
that build out there in the dark:
upside-down ravines
into which night sweeps
our cast wings, our ink-spattered feathers.

    5
I listen.
I hear nothing. Only
the cow, the cow of such
hollowness, mooing
down the bones.

    6
Is that a
rooster? He
thrashes in the snow
for a grain. Finds
it. Rips
it into
flames. Flaps. Crows.
Flames
bursting out of his brow.

    7
How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
is
to open ourselves, to be
the flames?

***

And with that, a happy week ahead, dear people. –k


Care Package #8, May 10, 2020

Hello hello! Happy Mother’s Day to my mama folk on this list! 


I’ve got one kiddo home from college with the dorms closed and all that, and the other is still in LA in her amazing Mediterranean bungalow just up from the beach with a hot tub and garden veranda :-). OF COURSE she’s going to stay just happily very happily put! So, while we can’t share meals for now, her sweet soul shares recipes from her cooking explorations, and she knocks it out of the park every time. Here’s one from one of LA’s most lovely restaurants, Mendocino Farms, Curried Couscous. I added golden raisins and cashews to mine, and less cayenne. I think would work just dandily with quinoa if you don’t have Israeli couscous. 


Let’s just keep the food-theme today on LA, shall we? I love LA, I love how weird it is, I love how it turns on a dime from neighborhood to neighborhood, it’s culturally and socially complex and raw and very imperfect but rich in trying to hold space for a multitude of everything, it’s most identifiable industry is built on storytelling, and no, the traffic doesn’t bother me, and yes, the drivers I find to be better, much much better, than in Portland. But, I digress :-)…it also has Cafe Gratitude in Venice. Blissful happy sigh. Here are three amazing recipes from the place that is worth going to just to watch my son have to order :-)). You have to say “I am’ before the menu item name which are things like ‘grateful,’ ‘content,’ ‘powerful,’ etc….So, I give you Greek Socca, Grilled Asparagas Salad, Key Lime Pie


***
Cartoon Happy Hour with Pulitizer winning cartoonist. Free event (but must register) at one of my alma maters. Unleash your inner political pundit. 


***
UMASS has free weekly online global meditations here. One is just for caregivers and clinicians, one is just in Spanish, the rest are open. You may recall, the mindfulness program at UMASS was founded by Jon Kabat Zinn. Working on my certification from there to augment the trauma stuff!!


***
Powerful women stories from VoxFem, whose mission is to share the work of women composers and songwriters from around the world. Here’s an episode with the amazing Lilia Rosas who took over the infamous resistencia bookstore in Austin and who runs Red Salmon Arts out of that, as well as singer songwriter from Texas/Puerto Rico, Lourdes Perez, and the amazing Tish Hinojosa. Lots of amazing music links on the VoxFem site from women performing. Listen!


***
Apparently this is story-themed today. While widely publicized already, I’m going to go ahead and mention it anyway because it makes me smile, and again, reminds me of my kids and reading aloud to them every evening in the big grey puffy chair as they called it, and so since it’s Mother’s Day :-): Daniel Radcliff (and Eddie Redmayne–Sophie I’m looking at you :-), Dakota Fanning, David Beckham and others) reading chapters from Harry Potter

***
A Comedy Central documentary on comedians and their moms, Call Your Mother. Premieres tonight at 10, thank goodness that time won’t interfere with the next installment of MJ hahaha.

***
All right, I LOVE IT when people honor their mamas in songs. Love it. Here’s music and poetry and performance all bundled into one for you. Kanye performing Hey Mama at the Grammy’s one month after his mama died, sad sigh, but so beautiful. J.Cole’s Apparently. Drake Look What You’ve Done. Nas’s God’s Son released 8 months after his mama passed away, sigh. Mac Miller, I’ll Be There. And of course, Tupac’s, Dear Mama. Whew. I listen to these tunes and get all teary! Yay mamas everywhere, yay we single mamas who raised astounding humans, damn it wasn’t easy, damn it was an honor. 

***
The amazingly rich in insight theologian Richard Rohr has written quite about about great love and great suffering as the coalescing path to greater depth and understanding of love and life and experience and growth. My friend Paula mentioned the word ‘attunement’ the other day in a discussion on inspiration. It made me think about the things and people who inspire me in moments and daily (like my kids and my friends) and push me closer to some form of attunement within myself and the greater world experience. I’m just throwing words and concepts out, but some things to think about in the coming days on your walks or runs or while cooking or trying to fall asleep. 

***
While we are all now, somewhat sadly, getting used to this quarantining, etc., I’ll continue sending these out because you seem to like them! Thanks for the messages :-)). As always, if you don’t want to receive, just fly me an email. And yes because some keep asking, please do share as you wish! These are also now up on my site.

Happy day, all! xok


Care Package #7, May 3, 2020

Whew! Why does week 7 feel like quarantine saturation for everyone I know?! One of my friends put it perfectly when she said she feels like she’s walking through mud. Yuppers! But we’re all doing the right thing, so hang in there!!
Hugs to you all, k

***

So Kate Power and Steve Einhorn have been around the Portland folk music scene for-like-ever. And they’ve started a virtual weekly sing together with musicians/regular people (yes, there is a difference :-)))…you normal people be grateful you’re you!). Just get on their mailing list and they’ll send you a Zoom invite/link each week.

***

I have so many fun memories of taking my two sweet babes to Ashland and marveling at their little bodies staying in their chairs through productions that were three freaking hours long. That’s the magic of theater :-)). Oregon Shakespeare Festival has some great free digital content they’re making available. I particularly like DigiStories

***

This is pretty cool. A British architecture firm posted architectural challenges to do during lockdown. For kids needing some way to hone their geometry and spatial flexibility, or for adults tired of doing puzzles at the kitchen table every evening :-)…

***

For my fellow distance and trail runner folks, a deep dive read in Wired. Not too bad. Why we run.

***

I’m lucky to still have my PSU teaching, at the moment, but was happy to see Oregon Humanities publish a great piece on adjuncts. What a totally annoying concept. Whoever came up with ‘adjuncts’….puh…

***

These Tahini Butterscotch/Shortbread/Chocolate bars are stupid-good. It’s just ridiculous. In the best way. 

I have made A LOT of veggie soups in my day. This was actually really, really good. The combo of spices is left of center of what I’d usually do for a soup like this. Simple, took like 10 minutes to throw together, and we’ve been eating off it all week. Grated cheese of some sort on top, mmmm. 

It’s spring! This spring vegetable tart recipe is about as simple as it gets. Mix and match toppings of any kind to clean out the fridge or make it work for your veggie or carnivore-ness. 

***

And while you’re cooking, listen to:
This.
And this
And this

***

So one of this week’s assignments for my PSU class is to have my students write a draft of a piece on an abstract concept. It’s about figuring out how to manifest in a truly meaningful way these big humanistic concepts through concreteness, through simplicity, through the immediate moments and world we’re in. The topic is happiness. It’s amazing, but more than any other single assignment I get the most panicked emails from students about this. They totally freak out every single term, not kidding. AND, every. single. time the resulting pieces blow the top off the sky. They’re amazing, painful, honest, raw. I just have to usually push them to the other side of the draft. Every time. SO anyway, one of the things I have them read before they begin to draft is this teency excerpt from one of my favorite writers, Nicholson Baker. It’s from the title essay of his book The Size of Thoughts

Each thought has a size, and most are about three feet tall, with the level of complexity of a lawnmower engine, or a cigarette lighter, or those tubes of toothpaste that, by mingling several hidden pastes and gels, create a pleasantly striped product. Once in a while, a thought may come up that seems, in its wooly, ranked composure, roughly the size of one’s hall closet. But a really large  thought, a thought in the presence of which whole urban centers would rise to their feet, and cry out with expressions of gratefulness and kinship; a thought with grandeur, and drenching, barrel-scorning cataracts, and detonations of fist-clenched hope, and hundreds of cellos; a though that can tear phone books in half, and rap on the iron nodes of experience until every blue girder rings; a thought that may one day pack everything noble and good into its briefcase, elbow past the curators of purposelessness, travel overnight toward Truth, and shake it by the indifference marble shoulders until it finally whispers its cool assent–this is the size of a thought worth thinking about. 

*

I think about this concept, the size of a thought worth thinking, especially in hard moments or when my brain or heart needs re-orienting. So, here’s to a week ahead thinking thoughts worth thinking about, y’all. Life’s too short for much else. Have a happy rest of the day and week ahead!

xok


Care Package #6, April 26, 2020

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is posting morning guided meditations (they’re calling them MeditOceans 🙂 ) with videos from the various animals in their keep and they’re honestly wonderful. Like amazing. The one with the sea nettles/jellyfish I really loved. 

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And then when you finish meditating and aren’t quite ready to re-enter this slightly upside down world…This woman created a museum for her guinea pig. In honor of our dearly departed Harold and Clara, I give you this link.

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For my friends with K-12 kids still in the house. “David Attenborough is Teaching Online Geography Lessons to Kids at Home.” Honestly, the headline says it all. The link is in the article to the BBC’s Bitesize education site. 

*

2020 is the Hubble Telescope’s 30th anniversary. To celebrate, NASA has a feature on their site where you can enter your birth month and dayand see what image Hubble captured on that day somewhere within that 30 year span. It’s pretty cool. The image captured for me was an amazing b/w of Saturn from 1995 and by clicking more info I learned that in this year Earth passed through Saturn’s ring plane. And I learned the next triple ring passing won’t occur until 2038. And I learned about stellar occultation. I actually spent a whoooooole lot of time on the NASA site. It is a vast rabbit hole one can jump down if they wish. I did. It was fun. 

*

Documentary Storm is one of my favorite places in the world. Well virtually. San Juans and northern Iceland are my favorite actual places in the world :-). Anyway, back to this: free documentaries. Amazing. 

*

So I made homemade pretzels, and Clarkie said he wished he had queso to go with. Mom says, of course, that’s easy I can make that. He looks skeptical, asks it will taste like the stuff in the jar. I say heck no it will be much better, because it will not have chemicals, sugar, bad oils, food dye :-). Heh heh. He’s still skeptical. Mom makes. He is happy. He eats. End of story. 

Queso

Make a roux (melt like 2 TBSP butter, add like 3 TBSP flour, stir and combine well. Add milk, like 1 C. Bring to boil slowly. Never stop stirring. When it begins to smooth out and thicken, turn heat way down. Add more milk if too thick. Continue stirring). Add a whole bunch of grated cheese. Like 1 C at least. Shake in some garlic powder, salt, pepper. One small can of chopped green chilies (or add a few TBSP of salsa). Stir. Heat. Eat. (BTW: If you make the roux and the cheese and salt/pepper/garlic part along with chopped onions, that’s the base for mac and cheese or fettuccine alfredo. Just add cooked pasta, any other veggies or mixtures of cheese types, stir, eat).

What else…I used to make this Tunisian Eggplant Dip all the time, and hadn’t for years. Did this week and it made my heart happy. It’s wonderful on toasted crostini type bread or pita, then I usually sprinkle some feta on top. Good warm or as cold leftovers!

From the same cookbook, I had it with Mediterranean Lentil Salad (I substituted yellow raisins for currants). 

And finally, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars. Because it’s spring after all. 

*

Arvo Pärt. Just listen.

And to radically switch gears because it’s fun, from one of my top 5 desert island albums, Workbook, Bob Mould, here’s a track. Released April, 1989. Been listening to it ever since. 

And to bring us back to this century, Childish Gambino, I love this tune. 

*

Music is in the Piano 
Only When it is Played

–Jack Gilbert

We are not one with this world. We are not

the complexity our body is, nor the summer air

idling in the big maple without purpose.

We are a shape the wind makes in these leaves

as it passes through. We are not the wood

any more than the fire, but the heat which is a marriage

between the two. We are certainly not the lake

nor the fish in it, but the something that is

pleased by them. We are the stillness when

a mighty Mediterranean noon subtracts even the voices

of insects by the broken farmhouse. We are evident

when the orchestra plays, and yet are not part

of the strings or brass. Like the song that exists

only in the singing, and is not the singer.

God does not live among the church bells,

but is briefly resident there. We are occasional

like that. A lifetime of easy happiness mixed

with pain and loss, trying always to name and hold

on to the enterprise under way in our chest.

Reality is not what we marry as a feeling. It is what

walks up the dirt path, through the excessive heat

and giant sky, the sea stretching away.

He continues past the nunnery to the old villa

where he will sit on the terrace with her, their sides

touching. In the quiet that is the music of that place,

which is the difference between silence and windlessness. 

*

Happy week ahead, all. 

xok


Care Package #5, April 19, 2020

Hi all,Wishing you a happy week ahead. k

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It’s like a virtual hug. Daily love notes.


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Bodyvox is streaming dance. They are magic. 


*
This piece on Dame came out a couple months ago, but if you didn’t see it and like basketball and interesting life stories, it’s really good. And the Jordan doc starts tonight on ESPN, fyi…


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Homemade peanut butter bacon dog biscuits. Make some for your dog. Or your neighbor’s dog. Just love the doggos of this world. 


And for humans, my ultrarunner hero Scott Jurek’s recipe for Indonesian Cabbage Salad with Red Curry Almond Sauce is a staple in my house. I use the sauce on bowls and all sorts of things. It’s addicting. 

And to go with, how about some Alice Waters’ Hummus and Whole Wheat Flatbread. I think I just figured out what we’re having for dinner tonight :-).

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Fall Line Press has a new podcast on photographers. My people :-). Paul Shambroom is the first episode in conversation with the FLP’s founder on Pictures and Words. 


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When I used to teach art history I’d often show segments from this series called Art 21. Artists are profiled and discuss their process or larger humanistic concepts and how those fold into their work. Maya Lin inspires me. Her brain is pretty amazing. “All my work is much more peaceful than I am.” and “A lot of my works deal with a passage, which is about time. I don’t see anything that I do as a static object in space. It has to exist as a journey in time.” and  “To fly you have to have resistance.”  Here is her Art 21 page. The 10 min video excerpt from her portion of the larger ‘Identity’ segment is really good. Or just take the 53 minutes and watch the whole Identity piece. I’ll send many more bits and pieces from this site…it’s a treasure trove.


*
Needed beautiful things this week. Ólafur Arnalds. Every. single. note.

A different kind of lovely, King Krule

Here’s one of the best vocalists out there, Kid Travis. He melts me. 

*

And another poem I build lessons around in pretty much all my classes, whether writing or art-related:

Why We Tell Stories

–Lisel Mueller

I
Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles

feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

2
We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles 
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

3
Because the story of our life 
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story

with the word and


Care Package #4, April 12, 2020

Hope you all had a happy week, and the new one opens with smiles and sunny skies!


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This is pretty great. The Getty is asking people to recreate famous artworks with themselves as the subject, and household objects as the props. A selection of images people have posted or tweeted is on the link. Made me smile. 


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Six verbs dance in the Age of Corona by choreographer Annie-B Parson. You’re bored? Need a break from the seemingly endless (to me!) computer screen of work to go move your body and spin your thinking a bit? Reminds me of Merce Cunningham… 


Hey, well, then let’s look at a Merce dance, shall we :-). I got this from one of the Merce Foundation’s dance capsules. Includes footage from Holley Farmer, Merce teaching, Sigur Ros and Radiohead performing accompanying scores… 


*
Tunage:
I just discovered a new Sufjan Stevens album just dropped. I’m behind the 8 ball, it appears. Here’s an old but honestly just lovely through and through live performance of Futile Devices. 


Remembered beauty. Landscape. Traveling from somewhere to somewhere else by the end of a song. Ravel makes my brain do that. Here is La Vallee des Cloches.


And finally, Radiohead announced they are uploading concerts weekly on their YouTube channel for everyone’s viewing and listening delight. 


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I love this. TED is hosting a daily webseries on community and hope.


*
One night Clarke asked if I could make chicken tikka masala…hmmmm, okay…found a super good recipe. I didn’t have tomato paste, so substituted some pureed tomato sauce; I also didn’t add chile to the second step, only the first and it had plenty of kick; needs about half the onions. It was amazing. Tofu an easy sub for us vegetarians. 


And to go along with that, choose an always-works, tried and true, Madjur Jaffrey recipe from this warms-my-soul selection. I have most of her cookbooks and her recipes are easy and consistently wonderful. 

And for breakfasts or snacks or dessert, a comfort food streusel-topped apple cake


*
The amazing David Maisel’s exhibition is online at Haines. Think, learn, marvel :-).

*

Thank you for the dear friend who sent me this poem yesterday morning when I needed to hear it…

Kindness

–Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

*

And so…until next week. Hugs and all good things,

k


Care Package #3, April 5, 2020

Happy hugs to each of you! And here is your next installment of the Corona Care Package :-).


First off!!! Extra gratitude-filled shout outs to a few folks I care about a lot: Jeff (firefighter), Mike (ER nurse), Paula (nurse), Britty and Max (docs at OHSU), Kim (nurse), and Andy (ER doc). Thx for all you give, to my little family, and to the rest of freaking humanity. Really. 

Goodness, what a week, for me at least, on so, so many fronts. Not even sure where to begin. Well, here are some things to fill your brain…

***
For me, reminders of this beautiful world help. Back many years ago when I was working full time in photography, I had the graced luck of working on several books and exhibitions by Finnish photographer Pentti Sammallahti. He and I spent a lot of time discussing process. And I remember thinking his was really about waiting for grey. Patiently, trustingly, waiting for the grey to seep out of the sky, to marry the black and the white. That’s a good metaphor for me this past week. Here is a photo essay of his work. Click on the “Here Far Away” title to expand the images, get reminded. 

***
Your weekly tunage…
I don’t know about you, but hmmm, let’s see. 1999: Sophie was one year old. Clarkie was housed in my belly. A movie ticket was five bucks. Serena Williams won her first US Open. The Matrix hit theaters. There was plenty of bad stuff that happened that year, too, like always in this wide, weird world. But still, these days Party Like It’s 1999 seems in order. Little did we know…


And leave it to Frank Ocean. Dear April. ‘Nough said. 


And one more that popped into my Spotify playlist the other day and reminded me of a wonderfully fun date night with my daughter to see Daniel Caesar at the Roseland last year. Miss that girl as she lights up Los Angeles…

***

Tomie dePaola’s death last week made the world a bit less vibrant. If you don’t know his work, find some art and books online and nestle in. It truly doesn’t matter that they were written for the kidlit genre. They were written and drawn for us all. We all need a little Strega Nona magic right now…

***
I use both these poems in my PSU teaching every single semester, no matter the class, and build lessons around them. Been reading both of them over and over for years. They change, like any good art does, as I do. 

Around Us

–Marvin Bell

We need some pines to assuage the darkness

when it blankets the mind,

we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly

as a plane’s wing, and a worn bed of 

needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,

and a blur or two of a wild thing

that sees and is not seen. We need these things

between appointments, after work,

and, if we keep them, then someone someday,

lying down after a walk

and supper, with the fire hole wet down,

the whole night sky set at a particular

time, without numbers or hours, will cause

a little sound of thanks–a zipper or a snap–

to close round the moment and the thought

of whatever good we did.

Starfish

–Eleanor Lerman

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to 

the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a 

stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have 

your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman 

down beside you at the counter who say, Last night, 

the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,

is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the

pond, where whole generations of biological 

processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds

speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,

they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old 

enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?

There is movement beneath the water, but it 

may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the 

years you ran around, the years you developed

a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,

owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are

genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have

become. And then life lets you go home to think

about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one

who never had any conditions, the one who waited

you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that

you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,

so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you 

were born at a good time. Because you were able 

to listen when people spoke to you. Because you

stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your

late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And 

then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland, 

while outside, the starfish drift through the channel, 

with smiles on their starry faces as they head

out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

***
Taking care of your body means taking care of your soul. Clarkie and I have been sharing meals while working on puzzles, losing ourselves in Lord of the Rings or replays of vintage NBA games, or just talking for hours around the dinner table. Grateful for that kid, and for the healthy food we have access to. 


Thanks to my amazing friend Amy and her cookbook gift a few birthdays ago, I make this Milk Street brown butter cardamom banana bread all the time. I make ours without sugar and it’s fantastic. I usually mix up the flours, as well, so it’s a combo of white/wheat/millet/oat…
Have a slice along with 

roasted sweet potato and black bean salad with pepita dressing and a bowl of chicken (or substitute white beans) rice and garlicky chile oil soup. Thanks for the soup recipe, Sophers. 

***

Been thinking about something I read this week that a nurse in NYC said when interviewed and asked how she was coping. She said, I’m just trying to love bigger.

Been trying to do that a bit better, a little bit bigger, each day this week. Have needed to. One of my best friends lives in Europe and we have started Skyping each other each my-morning/her-late afternoon, and part of that conversation is a different daily word or phrase for us each to focus on or meditate on for the rest of the day and night. This ‘love bigger’ has spilled into a few days…Hard work.

***
A list of happy, wise, inspiring podcasts. Because we can. 🙂

***
The Get Down is hosting dance parties on the internet. I mean, come on people. How can you say no to that?! Jason, my dancing-loving friend, this is for you after the week you’ve had. 

***
Finally, many of you have asked if I mind if you forward this to your people. OF COURSE I DON’T MIND! Please do! And also, happy to add anyone to the email list, just have them reach out. 


Love and hugs and here’s to a week ahead of blue skies, air hugs, and smiles from 6+ feet apart, xok


Care Package #2, March 29, 2020

Hi friends and neighbors. Well, I continue to pilfer from my inbox and brain for things to share with you. Can’t get hired anymore to curate anymore it would seem, OY!!, but at least I can do this to give you for the week ahead! :-)) Been a really weird (understatement) week to have the flu, but I’m feeling better and getting there. Thx for all the check ins :-). As always, there are gifts in anything and the creative way friends and family have been staying connected has been super fun. For example: I didn’t know it was possible to whale watch through FaceTime 🙂 with a friend who’s sheltering in place at his beach house and had whales out his front window. Recipes and check-ins and phone/skype/zoom chat coffee breaks…it’s been about sharing and reminding…


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Words Without Borders. Do you know about them? Happy sigh. Their newest project detailed below. The inaugural ‘issue’ just popped into my inbox (just sign up for their newsletter…), a piece of fiction translated from an Italian writer, and a dispatch on COVID from a writer hunkered down in Mexico. Here is their description of the project. It’s free, just sign up! Their main site always has lots of good writing to read, as well.
“To keep up morale as we shelter in place, we’re taking a page from Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. In the fourteenth-century classic, ten friends hole up in a villa outside of Florence, entertaining each other by telling stories for ten days as they wait for the Black Death to pass. In this vein, we will be “gathering” with our readers around a different story every Friday for ten weeks. Our editors will select a piece from our archive and deliver it straight to your inbox for you to read aloud with your companions or savor on your own.”

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To continue the literary-ness: Tilted Axis Press has started a weekly online book club of translated fiction from around the world.

*
I heart Wy’East Wolfpack, they are some of my running inspiration people and they have a podcast with local interesting Portlanders (a huge range of creatives, athletes, restaurateurs, architects, CEOs…) called Get After It PDX. It’s free, and a nice way to be reminded of bigger things and smile and get to ‘know’ some folks in the local community. You’ll also see they have a few episodes in a special Health and Wellness edition. I mean, we’re all trapped here in our huts, so listen to a podcast while cooking some soup!

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Here is a nummy, healthy Greek lentil and spinach with lemon soup recipe one of my bestest friends ever in the history of the universe and college roommate from like a million years ago shared with me the other day. Unless you’re feeding an army I’d definitely cut the recipe in half. 

And another recipe inspired by a lovely phone chat the other day between Oakland and PDX with another great friend that spanned topics of running and work and kids and then–of course–pickled vegetables :-). Seems like good pickling time, perhaps…

And one more, because I live by this vegan chocolate cake from Moosewood and it takes like 10 minutes to make, freezes well, and we all need cake!

*
Here’s an inspiring NYT story on women runners in Somalia. 

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A poem for you. Dean Young. What can I say. And I, at least, can always use a little reminder to believe in the magic that is everywhere. This line is one of my life mantras: I believe reality is approximately 65% if.

Belief in Magic

By Dean Young

How could I not?

Have seen a man walk up to a piano

and both survive.

Have turned the exterminator away.

Seen lipstick on a wine glass not shatter the wine.

Seen rainbows in puddles.

Been recognized by stray dogs.

I believe reality is approximately 65% if.

All rivers are full of sky.

Waterfalls are in the mind.

We all come from slime.

Even alpacas.

I believe we’re surrounded by crystals.

Not just Alexander Vvedensky.

Maybe dysentery, maybe a guard’s bullet did him in.

Nonetheless.

Nevertheless

I believe there are many kingdoms left.

The Declaration of Independence was written with a feather.

A single gem has throbbed in my chest my whole life

even though

even though this is my second heart.

Because the first failed,

such was its opportunity.

Was cut out in pieces and incinerated.

I asked.

And so was denied the chance to regard my own heart

in a jar.

Strange tangled imp.

Wee sleekit in red brambles.

You know what it feels like to hold

a burning piece of paper, maybe even

trying to read it as the flames get close

to your fingers until all you’re holding

is a curl of ash by its white ear tip

yet the words still hover in the air?

That’s how I feel now.

*

And two tunes because music is magic, after all. 

My sweet son reminded me of my favorite Kendrick Lamar song, Love. Yup, where it’s at, all that matters.

Low Anthem, Matter of Time Normal will return at some point…*And finally. Make your own bubbles! Why the heck not! Paper clips and hangers work as wands :-). 


*
Love and hang in there and another care package in a week, xok