Friday, December 12, 2008

a plea on behalf of my fave bookstore

In Other Words, an absolutely rad non-profit, collectively-owned, volunteer-run, feminist, queer-friendly bookstore is going under and needs $11K to stay afloat. I've already chipped in, and, if you're a fan of them and their rad gatherings and radder community, you should too. I love this place. You can find all the activist and feminist reading you could want, plus great cookbooks, nature books, and gifty trinkets that aren't appallingly kitschy. They host Dirty Queer, a notorious monthly erotica reading. It's a great place to spend a few hours and more than a few dollars. They're taking donations in any amount, so kick 'em a few bucks and help keep one of the places I adore most in Portland up and running.

They're at 8 NE Killingsworth, if you feel like stopping in.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Merry Christmas to me!

The fact that I'm so excited, nay, ecstatic about this shows:

a) that I will likely live and die the rest of my days in the Pacific Northwest
b) I can most definitely lay claim to the adjectives "outdoorsy" and "pear-loving"
c) that I am not afraid to shill in my blog

It's really, really good.

Moving Update: The mountains of boxes are closer to hills or knolls, and every piece of clothing I own is no longer on the floor. Also, roommate's dog has annexed my bed. Or maybe I'm allowed to sleep in her second bed. Either way - cute.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

moving sucks!

and that's what I'm doing, so bear with the silence, please.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Bill Sizemore, local anti-teacher author of tremendously moronic ballot initiatives, was jailed for contempt of court. His above-linked "non-profit" has been suspected of and investigated for fraudulent practices, and Sizemore blew his fourth chance to file required state and federal tax documents. As such, the judge tossed him in jail. This man, I might add, is a convicted racketeer. Pardon my glee, but I do enjoy watching corrupt folks go down.

a pleasant thought for cyclists/talking about the weather

It turns out Portland averages as many days over 65 degrees (F) as it does rainy days - round about 150 each. To be precise, PDXers get 156 warm days, and 151 wet ones. Not bad for a reputedly damp, depressing and gray city. (If you follow the link, you will also see the rather unfortunate statistics on how many cloudy days we get. But it's still better than Anchorage!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

two-wheeler edumacation

I took apart my drive train this weekend and cleaned it all up. Sadly, this is the time of year where that fresh, well-oiled machine feeling lasts about a day and a half. To say nothing of the state of my bike generally - let's just say the little lady is starting to slow down in her old age. Next stop: hub overhauls.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Senator-elect Begich!

I'm not going to get tired of that title for a while, either. Check it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finally! Formal recognition of monosyllabic apathy!

"Meh" has been added to a dictionary. I'm not sure how the Collins English Dictionary - published by HarperCollins - stacks up in the pantheon of dictionary legitimacy, but it gets mad points on my scorecard for including "meh". When the OED gets on that wagon, we know we've got a winner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

briefly: props to Julia Butterfly's heir apparent

Any Ducks or former Ducks know Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky? She's taking to a tree in Salem with the rad and radical enviro group Rising Tide to protest logging and deforestation. Pretty hardcore, considering the biblical amounts of rain we're getting these days. Salem likely won't be hit as hard as Seattle or Portland, but I would still rather not up a tree 24/7 in any amount of Oregon rain. Anyway, props to Jasmine. Go Ducks!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

let's make one thing perfectly clear

This election was a landmark victory and a long-awaited and much-needed step in the direction of American decency. I don't want to qualify this, as many queer bloggers have, by saying "but Prop 8..." and I won't. For those who oppose GLBTQI rights, that was a landmark victory too. A landmark victory that galvanizes the removal of civil rights, but I suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

Well. Now that the perspective-talk is out of my system, let's talk about why everyone, absolutely EVERYONE, is to blame for this mess. Myself included. Hell, myself especially.

By now, Dan Savage's surprisingly idiotic comments have gained a following among queers who start sentences with, "Now, I'm not racist or anything..." - often, but not always, white. The thrust of his argument cites exit poll data and cultural stereotypes that indicate homophobic attitudes are more prevalent among African-Americans and Latinas/Latinos. What I got out of this is "they're less open-minded than us" - which, in the world of the smug liberal (my world, mind you) - is tantamount to saying "we're just better people than them." Before you accuse me of being reductive, look at Savage's language.
...I’m thrilled that we’ve just elected our first African-American president. I wept last night. I wept reading the papers this morning. But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual.

Are you joking? Of course the love and support aren't mutual. African-Americans still get hassled by the cops for nothing at all. Legal Latinas and Latinos get flak about their immigration status from total strangers. I may be a whitey just like you, Dan, but at least I can see that we are far from the Promised Land of Mutual Love and Support. Furthermore, the fact that Savage feels entitled to reciprocity of this support despite no real indication that he has earned it strikes me as a very (pardon me, but) White Male Attitude. Perhaps Savage has done some major outreach to people of color, and has really been active in advocating for minorities other those pertaining to orientation and gender. That would be news to me, and I'll happily take back my ugly words if so. Near as I can tell, though, Savage doesn't deserve the "love and support" of voters of color de facto, based solely on his status as another sort of minority.

What bothers me most about this is that these comments truly marginalize folks whose identities are not tied up solely in their sexuality or race alone. Whether Savage intended to or not, he drew a line and put queers on one side and people of color on the other. We all know that's absurd, since there are millions of queer people of color. We also know that white people can be homophobic too. Many, many white people are. This is so basic! In this great post by Anxious Black Woman, the author rightfully points out that the people who killed Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena were white. So were the people who keyed my truck when I came out and beat the hell out of a guy I went to high school with. To truly embrace the melting pot means one cannot ascribe valued terms or characteristics to entire identity groups. For crying out loud, can we get away from villanizing identity politics? Please?

On that note, I'd like to point out that demonizing the Mormon church is not going to help matters. Yes, the Latter Day Saints went marching in to California with oodles of cash and may or may not have been a turning point on the Prop 8 front. Removing their tax exempt status will not overturn Prop 8, though. Nor will it do much besides remove the tax shelter for an organization that I frankly don't get but provides community and solace for a bunch of people who think I'm a double sinner for liking ladies as well as this fantastic cup of coffee.

What truly needs to happen, in my humblest, is an effort toward giving everyone a decent standard of living. "Wait," you may protest, "how does that help gaywads get married?" It doesn't, not immediately, but let's look at the biggest concerns facing the country as a whole. Not everyone can eat or afford their housing. Not everyone can get access to basic medications. Not everyone gets a decent education or adequate legal representation. Compared to these, officially and publicly recognizing that you and your partner shop for drapes instead of have sex is pretty pale. Yes, there are legal implications. Yes, I think queers should be able to get married and divorced, adopt kids, and be with each other in times of need. But other, more fundamental issues of equality are where my top priorities lie.

Damn. I think I'm a traitor to the movement.

Anyway, I know this is a novel, but it's been percolating for a while. Also, I haven't been cooking as much and the latest craftery is still in the works.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yesterday, I had a fantastic moment with clear skies between rain showers, fresh produce and a bearded man writing not-half-bad street corner poetry. This morning, I had a crappy moment with coffee spilling in my waterproof bag, destroying my work phone and day planner. Talk about the difference between a Sunday and a Monday.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

check it!

New layout courtesy Kelly.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ground control to Major Tom

Happy Halloween and Happy Election Day! GO VOTE.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 31

Over this month, I've done a fair bit of self-righteous hating (or whining) on my month of veganism. That's pretty out of line, considering it's just an ideological difference and can't we all just get along? So for my final MoFo post, I'll round up some of the benefits I reaped from this and conclude with a plug for my favorite vegan cookbook.

My intake of fats - saturated, un-, trans- and otherwise - decreased drastically. With the exception of EB and cooking oil, meals I cooked for myself were largely fat free. Naturally, I wouldn't want to waste away, so I found ways to augment this situation. A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do to maintain her boyish figure. Further, the amount of fiber I was eating increased drastically. Without being too verbose about my fiber intake, I will say that I think part of the "boy, do I feel great!" element of veganism is due to my fiber consumption.

I successfully broke my cheese addiction, too. Meg posted about casein's addictive properties a while back (can't find the post - sorry, internet), and though I was decidedly omni at the time, that thought stuck with me. In fact, I started throwing the term "cheegan" around for vegans who "just can't give up cheese." Bad cheese - non-vegetarian, factory-processed stuff - is pretty prevalent, and I quickly became very discerning once cheese was off the menu. The shreds in a bag? Kind of off-putting. The stuff from the farmer's market? Spendy. Diminished cheese consumption will definitely be a habit now that I know that the Earth won't shatter if I don't chow down on some cheese for a spell. Very helpful in breaking said cheese addiction was soy cheese. That stuff is not AT ALL to my liking, so I bypassed (ha!) the cheese methadone route.

PB and Js excepted, I was largely gluten-free this month. Go figure.

I ate lentils by the metric fuckload and feel no remorse. In fact, I'm making lentil soup tonight. Just you try to stop me.

There was a good deal of freeganing this month as well, as I'm trying to save my pennies. I found some dumpstery scores on free produce and made friends with the free section on Craig's list. Sometimes people give away food! It's amazing.

My vegetarianism, I think, is here to stay. It was also something I got into without much thought ("eating meat hurts, so I'm not going to do it"), but I've come around to the environmental and ethical notions. Meat sort of disgusts me now, even though I rationally know that I'll probably enjoy the taste of some dishes.

Anyway, enough disjointedness. I'll still post vegetarian recipes (with veganization directions) and such, but I don't think that veganism is my bag. Moving right along, my favorite vegan cookbook is a little something I've had since the omni days. The Hot Damn and Hell Yeah/Dirty South double play is amazing. Hot Damn has some excellent introduction to veganism tips (explanation of TVP, how to drain tofu, etc.) and doesn't shy away from the spice, as the name suggests. Plus, the noot yeast cheese sauce recipe is BOMB. The Dirty South veganizes or reinvents all the southern comfort food that my Virginian-born-in-Texas-raised-in-Louisiana grandma makes. Successfully. I'm a particular fan of her hush puppies. Mmm. Plus, the two together - distributed by a rad Portlandy distro - are $7. It's on sale for $5 right now. Support your vegan zinesters and order a copy.

in totally unrelated news, book club got drunk and I hit my face on my handlebars. things are swollen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vegan Mofo Day 29 and things I've made

Look tasty? You betcha. Mosetta Stone got me thinking about foods that are naturally vegan - like produce - hence the raw, no recipe, totally vegan post. Fresh picked by yours truly courtesy of some neighbors and the Portland Fruit Tree Project, a non-profit that solicits fruit from fruit tree owners who can't or won't fully harvest their goods. Half of each picking goes to the food bank and half goes to the volunteers. Hence, ten pounds of pears and four of apples. (Full disclosure: This went down a while ago and most of this fruit is long gone.) A fun morning, free fruit for myself and others, and the chance to play with a really cute two year old? Sweet.

Since I actually have access to my pictures, let's see what non-edible projects I've been up to, shall we? I wish I had a picture of the table I painted before I painted it. The camera has been sick lately. Anyway, the table:

Leg detail. Rock!

Plane detail.

Different plane detail.

The whole thing! Picture taken while the clear coat dried. I'm pretty damn proud of it.

Knitting has taken over my brain lately. I made myself a helmet liner as a maiden voyage project (pic below with my washed-out face). For the record, the difference between a helmet liner and a hat in my world is just a matter of thickness and when I wear the thing. For all intents and purposes, they're the same thing.

Finally, the cabled (!) scarf I'm making my brother for Christmas. My first attempt at cables, fyi. Not too shabby!

Shout out to Vegan Knitting for her tips on finding cruelty-free yarn. Word!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alaska's Sugar Daddy Goes Down

Stevens got the book thrown at him today - guilty on seven counts, sentence TBA. Although his hard work and efforts to get Alaskans seven federal dollars for every tax dollar we spend paid for a fair bit of my (out of state) education, I'm still more than pleased to see the guy get his. Rampant corruption is the political norm in many Alaska political circles, and this is a sweet victory for honest folks. (Not to get all Joe the Plumber on you or anything...) Another fun fact: googling "Ted Stevens" still brings up his "series of tubes" remark as one of the top five hits. The internet is a funny, funny place.

Totally unrelated, but hilarious. Everyone loves disco, right?

Token Veganism Comments: Larabars are the shit. I have yet to find any other food in bar form that has fewer than six ingredients. And the ingredients are recognizable! Figs! Dates! Cashews!

Anyway, I'm starting to come to a conclusion on veganism as it relates to my life. It doesn't always jibe with trying to eat close to home when any number of grains and beans don't grow anywhere near the West Coast or trying to eat less processed, packaged food (Tofurkey, anyone?) I'd rather keep my eating ideology flexible to accommodate and balance as many of my values as possible than tie myself to one that - sadly - means less to me than reducing my overall footprint. I realize I'm opening myself up for some flak from the animal rights angle. In my defense, I've realized that I definitely don't need animal products to eat well and live happily and have already started eliminating them from the diet, closet and medicine cabinet. But I doubt I'll call myself vegan anytime soon. So while I ditch the leather belt and ice cream (and grill up veggies like no one's business), my goal will be to live within my means in all senses of the word.

I'm finishing out the month strong, though. Cornbread pear muffins were not a huge success the first time, so I'm trying again. Also, lentil burgers. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Now HERE'S some Alaska pride!

Did I mention that I used to work for this newspaper? I'm so stoked that, for once, ADN is taking a solid, reasoned, liberal stand. Usually one of those is missing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 23: Not feeling creative

So I resort to thievery. From Meg.

1. What was the most recent tea you drank?
I'm a dyed-in-the-natural-fibers coffee drinker, but I believe good old Throat Coat was my most recent tea. It's getting chilly up in here. I'm also a fan of Yogi Teas - a Eugene company!

2. What vegan forums do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!
PPKers may know me as foodiedyke. I'm not on too much these days, though.

3. You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?

A silken tofu creamy sauce concoction that involves basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic and a food processor. Better than it sounds.

4. How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?
A handful. Five or six at most, since my workplace is set up to keep my putzing around to a minimum. It's been a stretch to even post this much.

5. Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?
Yeah, that Vegan Sh*t

6. If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do?
A Portland blogger party sounds about right to me. Every PDX blogger I've read sounds pretty rad.

7. If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be?
Tempeh. It goes best with BBQ sauce. Also, that is NOT the trinity.

8. If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?

Those sheets of frozen tempeh could work both as a weapon and a shield. Then it's all conveniently broken up for stir-frying.

9. Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!

Tempeh reubens, BBQ tempeh (last night's dinner) and any variation on the theme of stir-fry.

10. What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?
The pear and pecan stuffing up on PPK and the carmelized sweet potatoes Meg mentioned.

11. Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?

12. Have you made your pilgrimage to the 'vegan mecca' yet? (Portland, duh)
I live there. Here. Portland. It's delightful

13. What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?
I started this month and there has been a noted backsliding incident. We'll see how it works out.

14. What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?
See also: the first vegan meal I ever had. Probably 8 years ago - some absolutely dreadful vegan pizza at a friend's house. His mom probably slaved for hours over it, so I didn't want to visibly wretch. Still, it made me sick for a solid 24 hours. Since then I have been intensely shy of soy cheese.

15. What made you decide to blog?

This blog has been around in some incarnation or another since my freshman year of college. It was originally designed to keep me in touch with others while avoiding the indignity that is Livejournal (sorry, friends, but I just can't hack that shit). I also kept an opendiary while those were thing in junior high and high school.

16. What are three of your favorite meals to make?
Any soup (esp. with homemade stock), the shockingly healthy mess I've lovingly come to call "Vegan Frito Pie", or dal. (Daal? Dhal?)

17. What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?
My grandma's "nippy carrots" - no idea about the name. Steamed, sliced carrots in a sauce that's equal parts dijon mustard, brown sugar and butter substitute. (Melt the not-butter, stir in other ingredients over low heat. Serve warm with mashed potatoes.)

18. Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant? How many times have you ordered it?
Red and Black's tempeh reuben. Also, anything from Paradox.

16. What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?
I'm with Meg - Cafe Yumm is the shit. When I'm feeling down, a little jar of Yumm sauce will lift my spirits like no other.

17. My kitchen needs a...
Toaster. Breakfast is hard.

18. This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen...!
Okra. I tried to like it, out of a contrarian nature (my mom has always hated it) and utterly failed.

19. What's for dinner tonight?
One Pot Lentil Mass. I think I posted the recipe back in the day. It's what I eat when I have no dough.

20.Add a question here!
Fun vegan fact of the day? Both Carl Lewis and Martina Navratilova are or have been vegan. Neat!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 22: On Food Security

As Michael Pollan so clearly points out in this article published in the New York Times earlier this month, the US is rapidly approaching a food crisis. The days not only of big oil and big meat, but of big corn and big soy are rapidly spiraling into the same deregulated chaos that the financial markets now find themselves in. We are so removed from our food, Pollan states, that we have created economical sinks across our country; farmers can no longer afford to grow anything but cash crops, and those cash crops don't always pay anyway. The days of local agriculture in our most fertile areas are nearly dead, and this is often at the hands of legislators.

I'm likely preaching to the wrong crowd here, but the most revolutionary acts at this point are the ones that make us more independent in sourcing our food and aid others in doing the same. I tried my hand at gardening this year and found that it doesn't take nearly as much time as I thought it would, and yields a surprising amount of munchables. Victory gardens are returning to fashion, and I'm so down with that.

Check this article on volunteerism and food security while you're reading up.

via sophie

My pal Ness. She works for the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul, which you should check out right now. Every morning, I cut to news from Afghanistan and sigh with relief when I don't see her name.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 21: How the mighty...

My first - and likely only - transgression in my Million Seconds of Veganitude went a little something like this: One of the clients at work had a cake and offered me some. This was a cake that his girlfriend had brought him celebrating his 90th day clean. For those not as familiar with the AA/NA culture (as I was and still am - needless to say, I would never make uninformed remarks about it being "churchy" now), racking up 90 meetings in 90 days while fighting an intense physical and psychological addiction is (pardon) fucking hard. These men, these clients, struggle daily for their very selves with good humor and dignity. So when this client, who actually rubs me the wrong way more often than not, approaches me with a grin as wide as his face and a piece of cake from Safeway, I'm going to eat it.

Any thoughts on food values vs. social values?

Vegan Mofo Day 20: Posted today for your pleasure

Posting at work is risky business, and not just on account of the "hey, you shouldn't be doing that" factor. My computer sucks on ice, so posting by email is actually not a bad way to go, minus the formatting disasters and inability to create links. So I've been saving mad drafts. Case in point.

Portland's small business friendliness enables tons of crafty, homegrown, quirky, kitschy, or just plain strange entrepreneurial ventures. If you could afford it, you could eat, wear, listen to, and ride entirely local. Pretty rad, no?

As such, PDX, being the super-liberal, local-pride type town that it is, hosts a host of vegan bakeries. My two favorites are the two heavy-hitters in town. Both Black Sheep and Sweetpea have storefronts and wholesaling enterprises, and are utterly, utterly bomb. Black Sheep's blueberry cornmeal muffins are truly inspirational, as are their peanut butter brownie bars. Slabs of heaven. Sweetpea, also often gluten-free, does these g-free brownies that are to die for. I don't know what kind of mad genius makes them so rad, but they are, friends. They are.

Sift is also gluten-free on top of being vegan, and distributes their cookies widely, notably through grocery stores like People's and New Seasons. New Seasons, by the way, carries a fair selection of vegan goodies and even makes some of their own.

Monkey Wrench owns my heart in terms of cookies. I have yet to try the lemon poppy seed or the espresso chocolate chip because I usually breakdown and reliably go for peanut butter chocolate chip. These cookies are my solution to a bad day and have been since I moved to Portland - well before Operation: Vegan Month.

Cherry Bomb Bakery appears to be an all-order type operation that does wedding cakes and other things of that nature. Her pictures are gorgeous. Check it!

Piece of Cake in Sellwood has a decent range of vegan cakes and cookies. Their storefront is truly strange, if you're ever in the neighborhood. The owner is quite friendly, but don't get her started on politics.

Word is that Sweet Masterpiece in the super-yuppie Pearl District has many vegan options. I have yet to confirm this. anyone have the scoop?

Close encounter of the fratty kind

So I was running last night, headphones on, and a subaru wagon rolls up next to me with three or four dude-bros in it. They didn't seem drunk (it was maybe 7:30), but they were certainly yelling gleefully and having a merry old time. The dude sitting shotty sees me and yells out the window, "YEAH! Running for OBAMA!" Not knowing what else to do, I grinned at them and pumped my fist in the air in time with my stride. They all cheered and drove off. Ahh, Portland: Where even the dude-bros lean left.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 19: Update on Project Vegan

Number of pounds lost since Oct 1: 5ish
Average number of meals per day: 5ish
My level of appreciation for the difficulties hardcore vegans face: Through the goddamn roof.
Number of Monkey Wrench cookies devoured: Actually, no more than usual.
Presently eating: An apple.
Amount of noot yeast consumed since Oct 1: A pound or so. Seriously.

The new incarnation of Erica-as-Vegan now involves avoiding soy products where ever possible. There's a lot of soy in my life at the moment, and that's kind of lame considering (a) soy is generally comparable to corn in terms of agroindustry and (b) soy makes me quite gassy. Unfortunately, that's very, very hard. If anyone has new found or old stand-bys on the snacks without soy front, I'd appreciate a holler. (Fruit leather, ps, is the shit. My neighbor made some in her dehydrator and I'm pretty well in love with the stuff.)

Look forward to polenta pear muffins, my favorite vegan cookbook, and a round-up of Portland's vegan bakeries. This week I was lame, but next week I'll be better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

words from the potential First Fornicator

Levi Johnston speaks.

misc. wtfs

ITunes went nuts! Chances are, I'm way late to this news, but what on earth is the genius bar? The only bars I want to do with that have no liquor involve either salads or attorneys. (Pause for requisite dirty joke.) I suppose I've been ignoring those "update iTunes?" pop-ups for too long.

Portlanders: Ignore the Mercury's voter guide and vote NO on 60. NONONO. Imposing "quality" based standards on teachers ensures only one thing: that teachers will teach to standardized tests out of fear of losing their jobs or their schools' funding. It's as bad an idea as 58, Sizemore's other idiotic education reform brainchild.

Recovering or former sex offenders in Maryland are being asked to not celebrate Halloween (via Feministing). It's this sort of mentality, this "criminals are a different breed" mode of thought that keeps offenders and ex-offenders segregated from greater society, and thus inhibits reintegration after prison. Don't get me started - this is foolish in the extreme. Why not just tattoo "child molester" on their foreheads and get it over with? Why not just send them to Australia? Honestly, if we don't start treating our offenders better as a nation, we'll never find our way off the Amnesty International watch lists.

Go Phillies!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 16: Spelt Buns


These were actually a little disappointing, and not just because I discovered that my loaf pan has gone amiss. Grainy and dry, this recipe was the first failure of my "hey, let's try..." method of recipe procurement. That method consists of googling relevant ingredients and using the recipe with the fewest ingredients. Generally, that method is shockingly successful. Not so much for the spelt bread.

On the plus side, it converted nicely to muffin/bun form. The dough was awfully wet - I don't know if that was a function of the spelt or the recipe or what. Does anyone know what I can do to make spelt bread not so sandy and blah?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 15: In which I fail, sorta.

The ethical grounds of veganism seem pretty cut-and-dried: no animal products. So what does it mean for my trial-period vegan self when vegan products made in the presence of dairy (for example) are on the line? I'm not asking to be absolved of that Clif bar - that was an informed decision, justified by the notion that not consuming animal products negates supporting companies that do use animal products.

In my understanding of capitalism, that doesn't jive.

So what consequences come of the occasional snarfing of a vegan item made by a non-vegan company? Ultimately, it's a political decision that - implicitly or explicitly - expresses approval for that business.

This month, I've supported decidedly non-vegan food sources. Even in Portland, it happens. Because the stand I've taken this month is more or less dietary, I don't think that veganism burns in me like it does for others. Not to say I condone the mistreatment of animals. Of course I don't. I suppose all of this is to say that I'm not sure how thorough I'm willing to be about this. After all, veganism is a type of extremism - a dogma carried to a logical conclusion. Extremism gets a bad name these days; it can be a very noble and brave thing. (See also: folks from Malcolm X to Julia Butterfly to Gertrude Stein to Peter Singer.) And although I feel better physically (to say nothing of the sense of righteousness), this form of extremism might not be my path. Keeping my footprint small and the lives taken so I can enjoy my meal to a minimum was my guiding principle before, and I'm still exploring the perimeters of that.

In the end, I'll feel like I failed myself in this month's vegan session because I didn't do it with the thoroughness that I bring to my obsessions.

Next time: pictures of spelt rolls!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 10: Grow Your Own

Gather 'round, my friends*, and I'll spin you a tale of euphoria, tragedy and unspeakable loss. A story that will inspire, titillate and horrify you. Yes, it is the story of my first garden.

Loyal readers (all two of you) may recall a small photospam from the days of yore that included proud pics of scraggly but recognizable vegetable plants. Damn right, I grew those suckers, but I'll begin at the beginning. Most of my personal epics like this begin with a related failure. In this case, it would be the garden bed in our side yard. It stands, clay soil and all, overrun with thistles and scilla - totally devoid of all useful or tasty plant life. My grand plans involved runner beans, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots - you name it. First, though, I needed to clear the bed of bulbs. Armed with a borrowed pitchfork, I tackled that shit Sunday after rainy Sunday through the winter. Then I gave up, mixed a bit of my burgeoning compost heap into the mix and called the whole thing off. The scilla bloomed and died, and the thistles took hold. The side yard mocks me daily.

All was not lost, though, thanks to my miserly ways (read: I'm a cheap bitch I am I am). Folks offered me starts, and I took them. Crookneck squash, tomatoes, broccoli and a very battered snap pea plant. By this time, it was late May - on the late side in a strange growing year - but I hardened them off and put 'em in the ground. The pea plant probably needed a little more TLC before getting a-planted; live and learn, I suppose. The broccoli has not exactly been all that hardy either, which surprises me. My dad grew the hell out of mad broccoli back home in Anchorage, so I figured climate was on my side in Stumptown. The Oregon climate, it turns out, is also quite hospitable to bugs that like to prey on nascent gardening endeavors. The broc survives to this day, but just barely.

But enough sorrow! My tomatoes went gonzo - I've been enjoying fresh 'maters for more than a month now. One plant well outgrew the stakes I used to prop it up - when it was but a wee sprout, I jerry-rigged it with BBQ tools and twine. The rains are here, so the fruit is definitely at an end, but there was nothing finer than parking my bike after work and snacking on a handful of earthy-smelling tomatoes before tackling the dishes from the night before.

I also managed to grow some squash. It was delicious, but a small yield. Something tells me I should have planted this much earlier, perhaps in fresher, more pliable soil. The sprawling, uncontrolled growth I've seen on some squash eluded me. The squash took up the majority of my garden trouble-shooting time. Once I finally resolved the slug issue, powdery mildew set in, and plagues my remaining squash plant yet no matter how much cajoling and home remediation I dole out.

Despite the emotional rollercoastery nature of my first vegetable garden, I'm addicted. Keeping the number of plants modest prevented the need to invest oodles of time, but still yielded a reasonable crop (I seriously had more cherry tomatoes than I could handle). Next year will bring salad greens, beans and more of the same, but with the wisdom that can only come from a very haphazard Round One.

Not sure what about the specific type of tomato, but these orange cherry tomatoes are most certainly the bomb:

*apologies to anyone else who saw or listened to McCain destroy this phrase. Honestly, fella. Give it a rest.

Vegan MoFo Day 9: My Co-op Owns My Heart. Collectively.

The vegan food emporium closest to my house is People's. I adore this place. It's like the best candy store in the world, but instead of jawbreakers, there are three different kinds of lentil. In bulk. One lovely thing about supporting a grocery store that shops as locally as possible is the freshness of the produce. My potatoes smell like dirt and taste rich and buttery. It's almost impossible not to eat with the seasons, as the surplus produce goes on sale with the harvest cycles. Oh, did I mention the weekly farmer's market that runs all year long? Yep, ALL YEAR LONG. Hells yes, I eat fresh in February. Hells yes, that's possible.

All of that is fantastic in and of itself, but I also own a share of this beauteous creation. The collective ownership notion appeals to me in a big way. The sense of locale, the sense of community is very strong there; the faces are becoming familiar as my neighbors and I bump into each other while foraging for damaged avocados and agave nectar. I'll see the gal who works at the video rental place, a friend from Eugene, or just someone whose face I recognize from shopping regularly. It's not quite the neighborhood bar, but it's just as warm and fuzzy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 8: Two things

A Dialogue

Me: (whistling nonchalantly and innocently as I enter my boss' office to deposit some paperwork)
M&Ms Dispenser on Boss' Desk: 'Sup.
Me: EGAD! M&Ms dispenser! You startled me!
Dispenser: Heard you went vegan.
Me: That's quite true, M&Ms dispenser. I guess I won't be giving you any business anymore. What with the milk chocolate and all.
Dispenser: Uh-huh. I've seen this before. Diets don't last. You'll crack, and you'll come crawling back for some of this sweet, sweet candy, if I may borrow a creepy-ass phrase from Family Guy.
Me: (pause) Yep. Creepy. But nonetheless, I'm trying veganism out for the month not only to see if I can hack it, but to gain a little insight on other eating habits. I've been playing with the idea of going raw, too. It's more a matter of learning about food and food politics than any particular ideology. My ideology revolves more around the footprint of my meal than --
Dispenser: Sweet, sweet candy.
[uncomfortable silence]
Dispenser: Come on, you don't miss chocolate?
Me: There's plenty of vegan chocolate in this world. I don't want for chocolate. To be honest, M&Ms dispenser, ours was a relationship of convenience. You were there, the peanut M&Ms were there... things happen. And now I'm moving on. Chances are decent that this veganism kick may not last beyond the month, but I doubt I'll come back to you.
[another uncomfortable silence]
Dispenser: Baby, I can change! Dark chocolate M&Ms are a distinct possibility. Talk to the Bossman. He'll hook you up. He'll hook us up.
Me: Sorry, M&Ms dispenser that sits on my boss' desk. It's over between us. Compulsively eating sub-par chocolate just isn't for me anymore. Goodbye.
Dispenser: You'll be back! Someone has to sign off on the purchase orders! And when you come around, I'll be right here.

Also: I have not stopped being hungry for three days. Is veganism really just a ploy to make folks constantly (albeit healthily) graze?

Vegan MoFo Day 7: Discount veganism

Hello there, half-price Holy Cow burritos. You're a little taste of Eugene right here in, uh, Portland, and you're damn cheap. I think I will live off of you (and that enchilada situation I was so proud of) for the next few days.

Also: It's time for yams. Cheap, healthy and excellent when roasted, I'm ready for a long winter if yams are involved.

Enchilada Situation:

(Serves one over and over)

Half a bag of torilla chips
A can of lard-free refried beans
Nutritional yeast
A jar of enchilada sauce
Veggies of your choosing (I used rainbow chard, onion, spinach and bell peppers)

Put a layer of chips down. Cover with beans and yeast. Add veggies. And more yeast. Smother with sauce and throw in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 350. Serve with tons of avocado. Devour and don't take any pictures.

Apologies for a short entry, but frankly, I'm exhausted on this damp Tuesday and should probably get real work done. Alas.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Birds and Cubs

The Cubs went down to the Dodgers, and you probably don't care too much. Maybe you do. In any case, I let nine men (plus pinches) break my heart. Again. I am growing equipped to deal with life's disappointments. By the time I'm 30, I should be able to roll with any punches. Having perennial hopes squashed year after year is pretty damn harsh.

Having traded my old trumpet for an old sewing machine (thank you, Craig's list!), I've gone on an alteration rampage. All of my rad-but-gigantic shirts WILL fit, and thus my rather limited wardrobe will get a boost. AND I'm knitting my first hat ever! It looks small, but I think it'll stretch out. There was much craftiness this weekend, although that table I've been meaning to refinish is still unfinished. Or rather, it's half-finished and the project is unfinished.

Flickers have been following me this week. They're one of my favorite birds to watch because they're so sassy and beautiful. I've seen both males and females lately - distinguished by the red shafts on the cheeks, which the females lack. For a while, they were teasing me; I think they know that their call is one of the few I can identify, and therefore decided to hide in trees and let those little "wiki-wikis" loose. They sound a bit like a flinchy turn-tablist scratching an oboe track. Oh, it turns out that the little songbird I saw while hiking Larch Mountain last week was a Townsend's Warbler. The sweet thing was that I was looking down from the peak and got a (sorry...) bird's eye view of the little thing flitting around above the treeline of this colossal old growth forest. So awe-inspiring.

Vegan MoFo Days 4-6: I heart cruelty-free lists

Cravings for cheese: Abundant. But I'm still not whining.
Weekly food budget: $7 tops. This is not a good month to get all crazy creative with the culinaria.
The number of soy products in my life has: Drastically increased. I'm not sure how okay I am with this. More on this later.

10. Living off of chips and salsa, oatmeal, and/or PB&J gets the job done. Not that I'd want to or have been, but those two items have saved me in a pinch more than once already. And I'm sure they will again. Guac, too. Mmm.
9. I don't really feel like I'm better, smarter or more ethical than anyone else. I just think about food constantly. So much for the "smug vegan" trope.
8. Earth Balance is damn expensive! Granted that I'm on a serious budget* but come on!
7. Soy yogurt should never, EVER be eaten at any temperature other than straight-outta-the-fridge cold. The tapioca associations are too much for this girl.
6. Rennet. Why don't people tell me these things when I am eating cheese? That's filthy!
5. Evidently it's common for most vegans to graze all day AND eat major meals.
4. Veganism isn't always a sure-fire weight loss plan, but the golden triad of veganism, biking as a sole form of transportation, and having no money seem to do the trick. Explains why Portland is full of skinny-skinnies (in skinny jeans).
3. Gluten-free vegans who opt not to eat soy are the most hardcore people alive, dietarily speaking.
2. Animal rights is really not an issue that politicians ever talk about, unless it's the city counsel going on about pit bulls. And that's crap.
1. Absolutely NO ONE told me that - how to put this? - my GI tract would kick into high gear. I kept a pretty high fiber diet before, but now!

10. Nutritional yeast makes damn near everything taste better.
9. It's just a dietary choice. It's only an identity if you make it one.
8. Soup is the simplest thing ever to make vegan. I have big plans to alter a matzoh ball soup recipe. Mmmm. Seitan dumplings.
7. Coffee is universal, amazing and essential no matter what your breakfast looks like.
6. Being more attentive about what and how you eat is immensely rewarding. Why would anyone want something unidentifiable in their meals? That's silly and gross.
5. Vegans are not necessarily picky eaters. There are worlds of foods omnis would never touch that vegans embrace. Most omnis in my circle are tofu-tolerant or even pro-, but other synthetic proteins scare the hell out of 'em. To say nothing of exploring the full extent of the bulk section or anything with "sprouted" in it's name. Really, there are more edible plants, grains and legumes on this planet than are dreamt of in omnivory.
4. Portland is a ridiculously easy place to go vegan.
3. It's not horrendously rude or out of line to ask what the french fries were fried in.
2. Tofu scrambles are best served frequently.
1. Nutritional yeast. Again. Seriously.

*I'm saving money pretty aggressively so I can move out. My rent is too damn high, and I don't want to pay to heat this big, under-used house (our landlord won't let us add more people despite the extra room, so we're locked into way too much rent mo-nay) all winter. Plus, everyone I know lives in a different part of town. Granted that I'd be further from the vegan mini-mall, but closer to just about everything else. So that's that news. I haven't informed my roommates, but this will likely go down around January.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 3: I haven't messed up yet.

Number of dairy items substituted since yesterday: 4
Number of dairy items (including eggs) omitted since yesterday: 3
Number of times I got up to grab some peanut M&Ms from my boss' desk, remembered this project and turned back around: 37 or so
Amount of whining: Surprisingly low.
And I feel: About the same.

This veganism trial period draws my thoughts back to my little bro's lactose intolerance (I know there's more to it than that, but dairy is my biggest hurdle for this project), which was severe and tragic. My family loves the cheese and the ice cream, and my brother was and is a huge fan of cold cereal. Figuring out that he had a hardcore dairy sensitivity - and "sensitivity" doesn't do it justice; major, agonizing reactions sounds more like it - was awful, but watching him adjust to "weird" soy foods and substitutes that have since come a long way was almost worse. Although I probably gloated over a cream cheese smeared bagel at some point, I recall more pity and sympathy than anything else. He just looked so damn sad. Anyway, he grew out of it when he started high school,and has since been a consumer of dairy (although never straight milk) since. He doesn't appear crazy about it though. I think some trauma may remain, and I mean that without sarcasm.

All that to say: If he can do it, so can I. Baby Brother and I are equally tough, and if we aren't, I'll never admit it.

Surprisingly, I nearly forgot to order the egg out of my noodles at the Thai food cart near work. For reasons beyond me (but not my dad, as he pointed this out to me) I'm hyper-aware of eggs and extremely fussy about them. Still. Score one more point for the vegan hordes.

I've also decided that, while I'm blogging the hell out of this escapade, I'm not going to talk about it much. My coworkers already think I'm a freak for being a vegetarian and appearing to subsist on fruit and seeds (it's apple season and I like trail mix...wanna fight about it?) so I may as well roll with it. An ever-increasing number of my friends are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or are otherwise dietarily restricted, so no one would likely notice that I'm eating more nutritional yeast than usual. I'm doing this, as the kids say, for me. And because I like to write about food.

Totally unrelated: The VP debate. WHY oh WHY did Palin not answer any question without trying (and often failing) to tie in four other totally irrelevant talking points? Biden may be long-winded at times, but at least his statements follow some kind of logical path. Her answers and rebuttals were patchworks of soundbites. To her credit, she sounded more prepared, but I couldn't help but think the questions went in one way and out the other. When she mentioned women's rights, my listening party and I all just laughed. It was a joke wasn't it?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I've got nothing to lose but dairy. And eggs. And honey.

And probably a couple other things I'm not considering. But in honor of the Vegan Month of Food (holla Vegan MoFo!), I'm going for-realsies vegan until the end of the month. Prepare yourself for whining of the "damn it, soy yogurt is nasty" variety. In the meantime, I'm planning a small shopping frenzy, including a heaping vat of nutritional yeast and all the local apples I can carry. Any advice or tips for a dairy detox is welcome. Am less concerned about eggs and honey. Agave charmed me a long time ago, and eggs are just a baking thing. If living in Portland (aka Land of a Thousand Vegan Bakeries) has taught me anything, it's taught me that one doesn't need eggs to bake. Also that rain can be an acceptable shower substitute and that the hipsters will always lose, Mister Lebowski, but they will still make you self-conscious although you have the less pretentious hairdo.

That said, I'ma pontificate briefly on how extremely lucky those of us in the Pacific Northwest truly are in terms of apples. If I may channel Meg and her rad Gravenstein post* for just a moment: Walking into my grocery store and seeing upwards of eight different varieties of apple throughout the fall and into winter is a wonder to me. A fresh apple is not easily found in Alaska, as is the case for most produce of any quality. So discovering that the apple not only has a complex genealogy (insert family tree joke) with a wide range of tastes, colors, textures and personalities amazed me. Trying new apples has become a bit of an obsession now, and while I trend toward the Pink Ladies (natch) and Jonagolds for their balanced, sweet-n-tart flavor, I'll try most anything. I'd never had a Spartan until recently, and I noshed through those like lightning - they were so crisp! Gingergolds and Honeycrisps don't do it for me; they're a little too sweet, and the skin doesn't have enough resistance for me. I like to taste that rind. The Arkansas Black Spur apple made an appearance last year, but I didn't get a chance to grab any. According to the internet, they're late season so apple freaks like me get something to look forward to. My neighbor brought me a ton of Jonafrees from the gorge; she clearly knows the way to my heart.

*Meg and Kelly: We need to start a band called the Rad Gravensteins.

(ETA links and extra love.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What's a vegan mofo? and some self-defense

Other than a less-than-supportive invective? This is the wherein, at the suggestion of a fantastic and rather cute Portland vegan chef, all vegan blogger types blog about vegan things every weekday or with some similar frequency. It sounds pretty loose, but I can manage a few words a day about food specifically.

That said, I'm not a vegan. I come close fairly often, but am generally too enamored of/addicted to dairy cheese and yogurt to truly let go of them entirely. This choice doesn't trouble me too much. I'm a vegetarian who eats local (as local as my backyard when it comes to tomatoes, squash, blueberries and a few herbs this year), and am extremely scrupulous about the politics of my food dollars. Although the ecological footprint of my dinner is about 30% of that of the average American* when I eat in, and still less if this Jane Average is eating beef. Self-righteousness aside, I -do- see the hypocrisy of going vegetarian and citing ethics among my reasons while noshing on cheese, and I accept it. Feel free to correct my perhaps naive belief that dairy production at smallish, local farms is not cruel or not as cruel.

Then there's the can of metaphorical worms that is seafood. Many in vegan circles would likely view my occasional indulgence in these critters deplorable, or at least super gross. Again, I recognize this and the hypocrisy I carry with it. Clams may make a bomb chowder, but they're most certainly fauna, even when chowder-fied. Still, I don't believe that it's a cop-out to claim my Alaskan childhood, my whitey cultural heritage from an eclectic, proud, frigid postcolonial outpost where salmon and crab are king. Good seafood - which I can never afford anyway, and therefore only have in Alaska on someone else's dime (twice a year tops) - is a weakness of mine. Salmon farming politics are near and dear to my heart - let's not go there. I again recognize this as something some would call a moral failing, but salmon or dungeoness crab are still tastes too nostalgic. Self-denial, at least for me, becomes an act of martyrdom at that point. Crabs are cool critters! They're like underwater spiders. Don't think that I have no respect for their lives.

I guess I'm just not ready to dive into veganism whole hog-alternative because my reasons for eating the way I do are a confluence of the environmental, ethical, financial, and physical (that's what we'd call health reasons, right?) - were I to make this an entirely moral issue for myself, that would be one thing. But I see many facets to the politics of food, and I think vegan extremism is not for me at this point. Veganism is a brave and admirable thing, but as I've seen it, it is also a decision that often walks hand-in-hand with a certain level of privilege. Not everyone has access to Peter Singer, or the conditions to allow them to read it without judgment. Nor does everyone have a sweet food co-op or natural foods store in their area where flax seeds and hemp milk flow like... okay, bad comparison. But try finding a pair of dress shoes for an interview at a thrift store that aren't leather or some other animal derivative. Not everyone is going to be that dedicated because not everyone can. I'm not defending the cheapskates who buy $1/dozen eggs; I'm trying to gently remind the vegans in my sphere of influence that omnis and vegetarians (and vegetarian-buts like me - "I'm a vegetarian, but I do/don't eat...") aren't all ignorant or all wrong. Most folks I know are trying to live ethical, healthy lives, and all of us go about it in completely different ways.

Okay. Self-righteous novel over. Recipes and pictures and stuff start tomorrow.

*this is a guestimate and you should only check my math if you're really mean and/or like decimals. I'm pretty confident in this figure, so don't burst my bubble.

Friday, September 26, 2008

heads up

In a little bit, this little chunk of webspace will move. Not far, though. It'll be and it will be far, far prettier than what you see here. Also, more content. Yay content! Perhaps even some kind of unified purpose or theme, but I won't get ahead of myself with the promises.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let's hear it for the Cubs

The National League central division champions! Granted that this is no guarantee of anything - pennant, series... they're both still off in the ether. Still! Last week's no-hitter! The walk-offs! Wood's return! Who's stoked? This girl.

In other news, I've started the exercise in frustration known as Law School Applications. It took me altogether too much deliberation, but I have my list of five (in approximate order of preference - the first two are nearly tied): Lewis and Clark, UW, Temple, Northwestern and UO. Ideally, I won't leave the West Coast and can maintain much of my present bike-heavy, low-cost lifestyle.

Writing these essays has been pretty handily kicking my ass. Boxing class too, but less so.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If you read one campaign op-ed this week...

Make it this one.
White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-size colleges, and then governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. senator, two-term state senator and constitutional law scholar means you're "untested."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Palin Rant

As much as I hate to admit it at times, I love Alaska. My homeland is my homeland, even if I never live there again. Sarah Palin is part of the reason I left. Not she herself, per se; when I was looking to leave AK upon graduation from high school, she was still safely sequestered in Wasilla. (Yes, viewers of the SNL skit, it IS the meth capital of Alaska.) The rabid right-wingers like her - hockey moms and folks with retrograde ideas of gender roles and all of that - are the ones who make me grimace.

Sarah Palin herself, though, is a tremendously frightening possible president. Every woman in this country should be scared. Her record on taking care of rape victims is reprehensible. Should sexual assault victims pay their medical bills? Evidently Palin doesn't think so, and further, doesn't have the compassion to consider the health and well-being of her constituents. Look up the rape statistics for Alaska, and for the Mat-su valley (Wasilla and Palmer) specifically. It's a problem that she more or less ignored. Never mind the book banning atrocities.

An interesting effect is the fallout among Alaskans. A 1500-strong protest, an unheard-of phenomenon in the notoriously not-in-my-backyard-or-I'll-shoot-you type residents of my hometown, went down last week. AGAINST Palin. Our popular governor.

Another interesting piece of fallout: horrendous right-wing woman-who-hates-women Lyda Green denounced her former ally. In the blue state rag The New Yorker, no less. Green introduced and or supported the dismantling of women's and Native Alaskan rights as effectively as a wrecking ball in her tenure. The interesting part? Green and Palin are ideological allies in nearly all ways (they probably both root for the New Jersey Devils because Anchorage superstar Scotty Gomez plays for them), but Green hasn't been shy about unleashing some admittedly petty and personal screeds against Palin. Palin, it seems, is a politician through and through - she is not shy about burning bridges.

Speaking of bridges, it is a well-documented fact that Palin SUPPORTED THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE INITIATIVE UNTIL CONGRESS SAID IT WAS A RIDICULOUS USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS. Apologies for the excessive caps, but everyone needs to know this about that be-lipsticked opportunist.

Gloria Steinem said it best: A woman in the White House is not good enough. She has to be the woman for the job. Palin is not pro-woman. Palin stands for the same doctrine as our present administration and will only further destroy our social services, our economy and our credibility with other nations.


ETA: I heart Katha Pollitt.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


When Karl Rove says you're running a dirty campaign, you're definitely
running a dirty campaign. Link:

(email post)

what's a water bear and why are they stronger than us?

This is fascinating. A tiny critter can survive near absolute zero - something use spined creatures could never hope to do. Not that I'd switch my sentience for the ability to perma-hold my breath, but still. Neat!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

NY times RSS special du jour

Welp, if it's not the Mayan doomsday, it's the newest particle collider. CERN goes online tomorrow, and while I rationally understand that the solar system and its immediate surrounds will likely NOT collapse as a results of kooky scientists playing God, the outside possibility is humbling and amusing. It's a very "find your higher power" moment - with or without my approval, someone will flip that switch in Switzerland, and we either will or will not continue to exist. I've been putting a lot of stock in Recovery lingo lately - accepting the status quo and focusing on personal development rather than what I cannot change, etc - and it's definitely a result of the new job. I'm the only person on staff (that I know of) who is not in recovery, and it's even more humbling than Higgs bosons or potential cataclysmic destruction. We are all works in progress, little personal construction zones who create ripples upon ripples overlapping other personal construction zones. That said, my ripples can't control whether or not we all get mooshed into a walnut-sized mass in a matter of hours, so I'm not going to sweat it too much.

Speaking of sweat, my boxing class hurts so good.

From another interesting NYT article:
For social-role psychologists, the bad news is that the variation is going in the wrong direction. It looks as if personality differences between men and women are smaller in traditional cultures like India’s or Zimbabwe’s than in the Netherlands or the United States. A husband and a stay-at-home wife in a patriarchal Botswanan clan seem to be more alike than a working couple in Denmark or France. The more Venus and Mars have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their personalities seem to diverge.
I can't help but speculate that gender is becoming a more visible, more acceptable place to hang one's identity. Does that make it ripe for codification? Must we all be something-boys and something-girls: party boys, sporty girls, butch ladies and bro-dawgs? The whole thing makes me wish we could all bypass gender in a sense. It's never been the hugest deal with me, and I now embrace a sort of genderqueerishness that I resisted for a while. Identity is not necessarily equal to gender in my head, but maybe that's just me.

Palin rant and Chi-town pictures coming soon. I promise. am housesitting, so it's hard to get my pictures up and running with this damn dial-up.

Friday, September 05, 2008

not sure about this.

I have business cards. Be sure to ask me for one. You'll be guaranteed to scare the crap out of me. Aren't business cards for responsible professionals? I still haven't quite mastered color coordinating my outfits. This is a sign of competence well beyond my comfort zone. It might not be okay to be inept at this job - that's new. Hmm.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Industry! Science! Technology!

Well, I had a constructive weekend. I was honored to be a part of a task force of four handywomen, bent on adding 100 square feet of garden space to an already charming North Portland home. A 6'x10' bed, two 2'x6' beds and a 20"x6' bed now await planting. The woodwork was only half the job, and I wish I could kipe pictures off of a myspace page to show a) how great the beds look and b) just how much dirt we moved up some pretty obnoxious stairs.

For the illustrated part of the show, I do have photographic evidence of the compost boxes that a proud member of the aforementioned team and I put together. They only took about and hour to an hour and a half apiece. Because of technical difficulties (poor planning in the power tool department) this entire compost bin project was done with hand tools. Old school saws. Hammers. Nails. It was intensely rewarding.

Pictures of Chicago forthcoming. Rant about Sarah Palin ongoing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the morning peloton

Every day, I bike across the Hawthorne bridge - arguably the most iconic of Portland's 12 river spans. It's certainly the most crowded, as literally thousands pedal over it every day; the bulk of these riders, like me, travel east to west to get downtown, to the med school, or to the West Hills. As such, depending on when I get my start in the morning, I tend to be in a crush of about thirty other cyclists. This peloton contains casual commuters like myself, bespandexed muscle-cases, scrawny bike messenger-types, middle-aged power-riders with bikes far more expensive than necessary, cruisers on cruisers, and so on. There's a bit of reshuffling, cries of "on your left!", before we all drop into the chute, the downslope that raises Madison street above the Southeast industrial district. Once we're speeding down that course, it's single file for a quarter mile because of heavy foot traffic. The pedestrians merge onto the bridge and skitter like mice while biker after biker zips by. Only assholes try to pass on the bridge itself during morning rush hour.

I used to bike into the heart of downtown (which admittedly is not at all far from the Hawthorne bridge), but now I turn off earlier and cruise down Naito parkway. Most bikers opt for riding along the waterfront, but I can't stand all the traffic (foot, bike, recumbent and rent-a-cop) and there's no easy way to get to my turn from that path. Natio has a straight-shot bike lane and very few northbound cars. I'm going half a mile to a mile further everyday now, but it doesn't take me any longer than it did to wend and wind between cars in the thick of downtown's morning riots used to.

The peloton will thin out when the rains begin. Don't think that I'm sad about it, either. The camaraderie of dozens of speeding bikers wears thin, just like a pack of Toyotas caught in the 7:45 jam. The wet makes it harder to stop quickly, and less experienced bikers will often eat shit because their brakes aren't reacting "normally" in a downpour. The rain itself is an obvious deterrent, too. The familiar faces in the pack are the folks I've seen day after day for months, folks I've commiserated with during storms and heat alike. Still, the crowd becomes more of a trickle. For the here and now, though, my morning peloton gives me such a fucking rush. It's my own personal Tour, contracted into a fifteen minute bridge sprint.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

lentil raviloli AKA super-yum wads

Note to vegans: Wonton wrappers without some kind of egg derivative or whey are EXTREMELY difficult to find. If you are lucky enough to have a fairly thorough Asian market near you, that's probably your best bet. My co-op did not have much to offer, despite their ordinarily thorough veganishness. So use whatever vegan pasta you can dredge up.

2/3 c lentils
half a medium onion, diced
a couple cloves of garlic, minced
1 or 2 tbsp minced ginger root
cumin, curry powder and coriander to taste
small splash of oil
diced spinach

1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tbsps minced ginger (I used more)
cinnamon stick

Saute onions, garlic and ginger. Throw in the spices until things start to get fragrant. Add the lentils with enough water to cover. If you want some spice, add hot sauce or cayenne here. Cook until the lentils are soft but still hold their shape. Add the spinach until just wilted. Remove lentil mass from heat and let cool a bit. Some heat is fine, but it shouldn't be hot.

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar on medium-low heat. Add the tomatoes and cinnamon stick and simmer until you can smell the cinnamon. Remove the cinnamon stick and keep the sauce warm. Adding a few dried cranberries is pretty tasty, too.

Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the filling into a wonton wrapper, leaving a half inch of clearance on all sides. Seal the wonton, using a little water as glue. Boil the ravioli-wontons for about four minutes. Top with sauce and serve. Makes four modest portions. Goes well with beet salad.

ETA: Ginger in the sauce. Toss it in with the tomatoes. Trust me.

My kingdom for tickets...

"San Francisco non-profit City Arts & Lectures has enlisted good folks
from around the music world for a series of conversations and
performances it calls "Talking Music".

The list of music-makers taking part in the series over the next
several months includes John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats), Neko Case
(herself/the New Pornographers), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Stephin
Merritt (the Magnetic Fields) and Laurie Anderson. Each of these
"Talking Music" events feature the musicians "in conversation and
song" alongside a literary light acting as host. Merritt has been
paired up with his Gothic Archies partner Daniel Handler (who also
writes the Lemony Snicket books), while Laurie Anderson is "in
conversation" only (no music) with Our Band Could Be Your Life scribe
Michael Azerrad.

All "Talking Music" events will take place at the Herbst Theatre in
San Francisco's Performing Arts Center."

(kiped from Pitchfork)

Meg, you'd best hit this up.

Welcome to the inaugural voyage of posting-by-email, which makes for slightly less conspicuous goofing off at work and (I hope) slightly more plentiful posting on el blogadero. If there's a confidentiality message at the bottom of the post, please disregard.

Getting mistaken (once again) for a dude was a small price to pay for free tea from Amanda'splace of employment. Damn clueless middle-aged white men. Anyway, the tea is delightful. Spearmint! So fresh!

Everyone should read The Canon by Natalie Angier. Yes, I am given to hyperbole from time to time, but this book, by a Pulitzer-winning science journalist for such esteemed venues as the New York Times and NPR, demystifies the hard sciences with depth and hilarity. I actually want to take a statistics class, and I am the slacker queen of math. (I had modest talent for it in high school, but no motivation. So I flunked out of calculus and never touched a math book again. This turn of events kept me away from majoring in a hard science, despite my love of all things biological. Admittedly, realizing this while reading Angier's introduction made for some sour grapes.) The Canon fully embodies the somewhat cheesy but heartfelt blurbs on the back jacket. It's rad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

filling in some gaps

First, and of minimal importance: the Cubs are doing quite well. Leading their division, donating several fiery arms and bats to the NL all stars, and only occasionally breaking my heart. I no illusions about the strong early and mid-seasons leading to inevitable heartbreak, but a girl can dream. That's what makes her a Cubs fan.

Anyway, I realized that this catch-as-catch-can blog doesn't really cover what I've been up to lately in any detail. So, an update. The new job - as an office manager in a 12-bed halfway house - treats me well. The clients (primarily homeless drug addicts, all men) are cordial, my coworkers are pretty interesting, and my hours are fairly flexible. That said, it's also pretty draining. Impulse control among the clients (and the occasional coworker) is lacking. Everything is URGENT. As the logistics gal, all of these demands fall to me. To say nothing of the lack of air conditioning in this sweat box. Damn August.

Family reunion number two commenced in Chicago, revolving around my grandfather's memorial service. My great-uncle, father, aunt, cousin and I all spoke, as well as some old friends and colleagues. I was surprised at the turn-out initially, but my grandpa was such a kind, intelligent, witty and generous man that I realized that he'd be remembered by many, many more. This was the first time I'd met some of these relatives. I met a very cool second cousin who seems to have a viable Broadway career, among other accomplished cousins and folks-once-removed.

I'm running. Boxing class starts in September, and (free!) yoga begins next week. I went vegetarian a few months ago and haven't looked back. The body is well on its way to detoxification after the abuse I put it through so far.

Presently reading The Red Tent. It's pretty disappointing. The time period fascinates me, but the writing is meh. I'm not wild about the biblical beget-fest or the aggrandizing of Earth Mama-ness beyond all reason. Still, I'll finish it. Ancient midwifery is kind of cool.

Law school may wait. There's a bit more youth to take advantage of before I consign my future to massive debt and a questionable career path. Still, it's in the cards.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

fun fact

There are no Saints by the names of Eric or Erika (with any spelling). However, the Catholic saint whose feast day is my birthday is Saint Bibiana. She just so happens to the be the patron saint of hangovers, the mentally ill, the insane, and "single laywomen." I sort of wish that I were a lapsed Catholic so I could enjoy this trivia all the more.

I've been having some doubts about the Law School in 2009 plan. There seems to be an awful lot more to do while I'm young and my debt is minimal. Thoughts?

Also: Dark Knight? Easily the best Batman flick so far. Discussion of responsible use of power and law enforcement ethics aside, the writing was excellent and well buttressed by good-to-quite-good acting and editing worthy of The Bourne Ultimatum. Christian Bale, as I was saying to my movie-going companion last night, is easily my favorite Batman. He's as good of a bratty Bruce Wayne in public as he is a brooding Bruce Wayne as Batman. The performative elements of that character came across really, really well. Props, Chris Nolan. Mad props.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


If you're telling me about Sen. Ted Stevens, it's pronounced in-dy-ted, not in-dick-ted. Also, to save you that first question, yes. I've heard about all of that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the triumphant return

I'm back from Montana and the Sierras and definitely wish I were still lounging in, on and around beautiful mountain lakes. Not that being back in dear, sweet PDX is a shame. My workplace finally opened its doors for clients, and while I'm pretty limited in what I can report about that, I can surely say for now that it's going well. The only bumps (so far) have been administrative. So I continue to be the unofficial VOA Oregon bike messenger, but hey.

Lentil ravioli with ginger sauce tonight. I'll post the recipe if I don't screw it up too badly. Meantime, have some photos.

The elder generation of Whitaker cousins. Ad, me, Nick, Lisa.

Me and my cousin Patrick. Pato has three sisters, not pictured, who are amply documented on my flickr site. They're rad, but this was too cute to pass up.

Echo Lake in Montana. It's near Flathead in the Kalispell area.

In the Sierras, we hiked to this lake. I forget what it's called, but it's near Mt. Rose.

In other news, Ted Stevens was indicted. Not surprising, but I almost feel sorry for the doddering old fella.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Away for a week for some family time. I'll likely return with pictures and terse tales of tension. In the meantime, for those of you who haven't seen my pad, here's a summer summary.

Friday, July 11, 2008

check it, part deux

I can kind-of, sort-of swim. I'm not very good, but I don't freak out in the water anymore.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

check it

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Things I've learned in the past week

Cops love to talk.

Saying, "I hope that's a coffee stain" in the world of inpatient drug treatment is apparently a pretty good line.

I can, given enough time, sew a hat. It can, given enough determination, be fairly cool-looking and durable.

Getting paid to chase a Jack Russell terrier around is perhaps the best part of this job. Especially if someone's playing Nick Drake at the time.

Petropolis by Anya Ulinich is damn good, and taking book recommendations from NPR is three for three. I really enjoy her word choice - it's playful and unusual. "...icy acne on the sidewalk..." still sticks out in my head. The characters have already broken my heart with their guilelessness and earnestness and I'm not yet halfway done.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Veggie/vegan chili - attempt one

Chili Prototype

Four links Field Roast chorizo-style fake sausage
Two cans beans of choice (or a pre-soaked bulk equivalent) - half pinto and half black was tasty
One medium yellow onion
A bunch of garlic, chopped roughly
A green pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces or so
A zucchini, chopped into thickish coins
A carrot, chopped into thickish coins
Whatever other veggies are sitting around the freezer needing to be used (frozen corn, chopped spinach, etc)
Dash cayenne
Dash cumin
Black pepper to taste
Avocado and sour cream/yogurt/substitute of choice for toppage

Put everything except the avocado and dairy/dairy substitute in a crock pot. Remember crock pots take forever and that you just got off work. Turn the crock pot on low. Mumble about how you don't want to eat dinner at 2:00 am and turn the crock pot on high. Leave it alone for a few hours, stirring occasionally. Realize that you should have drained the beans better since it's pretty soupy. Make a mental note to blog about it. Reproach self for overwhelming nerdiness. Come back to the pot eventually, checking to make sure the veggies haven't disintegrated. They haven't. Sweet. Serve with toppings and freeze the rest for subsequent dinners. Thank roommate profusely for use of crock pot. Have odd conversation about fish that can change their sex. Crack a 22 of Midnight Sun Sockeye Red IPA and hunker down for the night.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ben Franklin's In-Grave Rotation Speed Hits All-time High

This just in: We're not quite done with the sacrifice of privacy for alleged security. The retool of FISA lets major mobile telecommunication companies off the hook for releasing consumer information to the government. My own carrier, Verizon, is among these lucky beneficiaries. Before I get too steamed, it's worth mentioning that the retool applies primarily (if not exclusively) to parties "reasonably believed" to be overseas. The blanket protections for the cell companies drives me crazy, but on the whole, Nancy Pelosi called it a "balanced bill" - not bad for a behind-closed-doors, bi-partisan effort. Nothing about this sits right with me.

Also, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of extending rights for employees who believe that they have been discriminated against based on age. Being young and green and new to the workplace, seeing the old hands with ample experience on the chopping block is troubling as is. I mean, that doesn't exactly give me much to look forward to.

Right. Legal affairs segment over. Let's talk about my body. My arm hurts from my first HPV vaccination (hooray for planned parenthood! hooray for Merck subsidizing shots for the uninsured! hooray for spongebob band-aids!), and plants are having sex in my face, to wit, i have mad hay fever. Isn't leaving Eugene and the Valley of Sickness supposed to fix that sort of thing?

I just discovered that Black Sheep Bakery has a bike-through coffee outpost on my way to work - hel-LO blueberry cornmeal muffins. I will replicate you in my kitchen and chow down appropriately. If only they carried better coffee...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I tried to pick up a comic book today (Tank Girl 2) and simply couldn't do it. What that means, I don't know, but it's troubling.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Get Smart - hell yeah. This kid watched the show on Nick at Nite like crazy and can't hardly wait for Steve Carrell to bring his amazing and Anne Hathaway to bring her not-quite-disconcerting doe eyes to one beloved waste of hours of my childhood.

The jury's still out on the new job. I mean, I can tell that it's going to be challenging in all the ways my previous gig was not, but I miss my AHMRT coworkers and the strange feeling of safety that was almost familial.

Speaking of family, my mother visited and my grandfather died in the same weekend. Not really coping, not really clear.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I want to write something quiet and profound about hope and failure, after an absolutely shattering and inspiring night at election central for an Oregon state legislature candidate who lost her bid. The journal entry I wrote in my head on the bike ride home was a paean to ambition, failure, and the toughness it takes to rebound from all of that. Some damn good turns of phrase in there. Shame I never wrote it down.

This journal entry turned blog post got sort of muddled with my more self-centered thoughts. It takes major league guts to pour yourself into something, not succeed, and navigate the fallout with dignity and courage. That's the sort of strength I aspire to because it's become extraordinarily evident that I will not ace every endeavor I undertake. Even though I'm growing accustomed to falling on my face, saddling up again has only become marginally easier. Still. I'll take that much.

So here's to courage in the face of (at least for my part) death of loved ones, grief of loved ones, friends coming and going, (new) employment anxiety, emotional instability, money troubles, impending law school admissions (or rejections), overwhelming generalized guilt, late fees, due dates, roommate shuffling, and, inevitably, women.

(Shit! My laundry!)

I'm the first to admit that the urge to blog/exhibit my life and thoughts/indulge myself in this medium comes and goes. Expect changes, though, and with those changes, content. Content of interest! More pictures! Less pseudo-profundity! Probably about the same amount of whining, navel-gazing, and wry commentary!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cedar attacked another dog. She went berserk. I have to pay more than $700 in vet bills AND deal with my furry little maniac now. She's on a definite Strike One, but I don't know how many she gets until she's out.

It's very difficult to remind myself that this is not a failure on my part, that things like this happen, that I may well have to give her up and it won't entirely be my fault.

My grandfather's health continues to decline - I can't get ahold of my dad, who is in Chicago visiting him, for an update.

If bad things really do come in threes, then I'm going to hope for a disappointment along the lines of the Ducks losing the game on Sunday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My dad flew to his hometown this afternoon because his father's health continues to deteriorate. The only person I've had a sensible, honest conversation with about all of this is my brother - for some reason, talking to my parents about it makes me check out. In fact, I keep checking out anyway. This may or may not be denial.

I have mosquito bites. Hooray for spring being on its way and all, but I thought I could get away with at least a few more months of not itching like crazy.

Meeting people in a new city is hard, but it's getting easier. I felt at home for a minute not too long ago. It was soothing.

Camera is still kaput. Not taking pictures is starting to have an effect. (In a weird way I'm grateful - I was starting to wonder if the creativity had drained from me entirely or if it had just been beaten back.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

to do

Overseas disaster relief.
Teaching English abroad.
Law school.
Find a damn date in this town.
Train Cedar into reasonable habits.
Train self into reasonable exercise/eating/caffeine/alcohol habits.
Learn Spanish.
Become comfortable and competent at work.
Visit grandparents in Chicago.
Road trip to family cabin in the Sierras.
Re-finish new table and add shelves to it.
Brew up a satisfactory red ale.
Live somewhere else for a spell.
Live in Portland for a spell.
Get over self enough to ask grandparents about family history.
Pick up the trumpet again and exceed prior level of proficiency.
Make that apron I keep talking about.
Use up the snap peas and spinach in the fridge (stir-fry?)
Write old friends.
Save dough for tattoos and vacations and emergencies.
Make dentist appointment.
See Black Keys at the Crystal while NOT complaining about the Crystal.
Get over people and things I should have gotten over a while ago.
Hike Latourell Falls and Larch Mountain.

ETA: Send something to Grabman.
Find freelance work.
Chop wood.

Friday, February 01, 2008


The pup bites occasionally - it's only been me and another dog (who was admittedly being a jerk) so far, but there's never a call for biting. I don't know what prompted her aggressive kick, and I don't know how to stop it. She's in doggie therapy (as much as I can afford, anyway, which isn't much), but I have to keep a fairly close eye on her, which is difficult and draining. Unpredictability around other dogs is not okay, but it's hard to figure a way to train her out of it. C agreed to take care of her for the weekend so I can get a break. I'm looking forward to friends, basketball, Bier Stein, VV&B, and perhaps a trip to the Reasonably Priced Comics Shop.

Work remains fast-paced and somewhat frustrating. I'm severely micro-managed and will be until I prove my mettle. The thing is, my immediate superior demands a standard of perfection on par with her 10+ years of experience. There's no way that's going to happen after a matter of months. Oy vey.

I had to dump my homebrew - it got infected. Need some better tubing and a sanitizer that doesn't give me chemical burns, which I plan to procure in Eugene.

We're over the winter hump - theoretically it will rain less soon. Hooray!

Grabman: I keep losing your address. Please to email?