Friday, July 31, 2009

Three Bee Salad

Many people can't distinguish between honeybees, bumblebees, and yellow jackets. It's a bummer for the bees, because yellow jackets are nasty little things. Bees-- honey, bumble or otherwise-- are, on the other hand, fuzzy, cute, and hardworking.

The honeybee, seen below, collects pollen from flowers for honey. The chubby bumblebee also collects flower nectar for honey, although she produces far less than her petite cousin. Do the bees inadvertently pollinate? Or do they have a deal worked out with the flowers?
The yellow jacket, sleek, hairless, and yellow-faced, is a predator. She lives in a dusty nest made from wood, not wax. She will happily eat the rest of last week's pulled pork sandwich from the dumpster. No flowers for this girl.

After the Michael Jackson incident, I take pride in the fact that every single photo on this blog (except the humping bees) was taken by my trusty Canon. In an attempt to remain in this same vein, I tried and failed to capture a yellow jacket in action on my camera. Those suckers are quick! Instead, I created my own picture of a yellow jacket on stray cardboard (to represent garbage,) using my yellow and black nail polishes:
As you can obviously see from this anatomically and politically correct diagram, yellow jackets are more yellow than honeybees, and at least this one bumblebee. (Many bumblebees are more yellowy than this one.) They have these creepy, dangly, yellow legs that create the impression of a skulking hunter.

Yellow jackets are aggressive, and their sting registers a 2.0 on the sting scale, described as "W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue." Most people who have been stung by a yellow-and-black insect have most likely been stung by a yellow jacket. So back off the bees!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How To Make the World a Better Place

Think of it: never stop loving anything-- anyone, anywhere-- that you've ever loved, even for one moment. Just continue loving--love my little ponies--love my dog Sassy who died when I was 17-- love David Maetos, my crush from grades 1-5-- love The Phantom Tollbooth and A Muppets' Christmas Carol-- love and love and love.

Couldn't it spill over into this world?

Love collecting seashells and keeping them forever
Love making and taking weird photos with my sisters

Love the morning light
Love pretty colors
Love the gentle asymmetry of wind on sand
Love the ocean's vastness;
Love the moon, my moon
Love Dana's white birthmark on her scalp
Love the gentle, inward tiptoe of North Carolinian crabs
Love life that grows despite unforgiving circumstances

I don't know, maybe we don't have the capacity for such love. The worst part of memory is its inability to stand up to the equalizing power of time. Maybe we're protecting ourselves from ourselves. But some pain feels important, doesn't it?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Falcon Butlers

This, I believe, is a Gyrfalcon. If it is, it is the largest species of falcon out there. This particular falcon lives in and around my parents' backyard. I say "in" because our gyrfalcon has been seen a) floating on a raft in the pool, b) doing a mating dance on the ground, c) with talons stuck in screen door, and d) heckling my sister, Eliza.

It has taken me two years to obtain documentation of this guy. I've been researching hawks and falcons to try to identify our feathered friend, mostly basing my findings on whether or not the species look like they're wearing pants or not. (Ours has pants.)

The gyrfalcon circles its prey, hence the name. (A gyre is a concept represented by a continuously widening to an eventual narrowing spiral, thrown back down into itself.) Back in the day, gyrfalcons were used for falconry, literally fit for kings because of their difficulty in capturing, (so of course all the kings just had to have gyrfalcons.) I'm fascinated by falconry: here you have this huge bird of prey that you've trained to go kill things for you. Pretty crazy.

I researched what it takes to become a falconer, and the response to the question, "How do you train a falcon?" is about as succinct and one-minded as that to "How do you raise bees?" meaning, not at all. I'm wondering if I've found a new hobby...

If I had a gyrfalcon, I wouldn't train it to hunt for me, because it would make me feel like I was smack dab in the middle of Yeats' The Second Coming. I'd fear that as soon as the falcon couldn't hear me, the falconer, things would imminently fall apart. And if they didn't fall apart at that moment, they would fall apart at a later date; waiting for this day to come would inevitably drive me insane.

Instead, I would train my gyrfalcon to fetch me things like burritos, rather than prey. Or, perhaps you consider a burrito to be prey? (I can think of a few burrito hunters...)

More monkey butler than vulture, my gyrfalcon would be named either Yeats or Willie, depending on its personality.

I believe I might have found a new hobby. Anyone got a trained gyrfalcon? I think I need to start a falcon blog.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer;
things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Falling in Love Again

with Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Will we, really, though?
Can't a woman love two men?
Me: Coming Soon to You in My Wildest Dreams, Red Hook (tranquil garden included)
These guys are on my team:
Hello sketchy van violating sanitation laws. Are you filled with puppies and candy? If you were filled with puppies in costume, I'd definitely jump in:
Except that she's kind of intimidating:
Yeah dude, where is that guy?
It's been 7 whole years?? I'm glad someone's counting.
An urban sanctuary that seems to sing, "Come to me, Cara!"
Oh Elbowtoe, if only you could spell "beautiful."
Bloody Mary! Bloody Mary! Bloody Mary!
Sure sign of summertime:
Summertime morning light in leafy puddle:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Being Homeless

Overheard in NYC on Sunday, Downtown A Train:
MAN: Excuse me, can I have your attention, I'm sorry to interrupt your day, but I am homeless, and all I'm missing are the shoes. My boss is Jewish. He hired me under the condition that I show up to work tomorrow in a suit and tie. I got the suit. I got the tie. I have six dollars and all I need are the shoes. If you could spare some...
WOMAN: You can buy shoes for six dollars! (screaming)
MAN:...some change, I'd really appreciate...
WOMAN: You better watch who you talk about, when 25% of that group lives in this city! (still screaming)
MAN: WHAT did I say? I just said he was a Jew, I didn't say anything...
WOMAN: Well Good! Then you're alright with God!
MAN: I don't give a f*** about God!

The banter continued, each strange outburst from the woman inciting an "I don't give a f*** about _________!" (Your religion, children, etc.) until he concluded with "Because nobody gives a f*** about me!" and stormed off the train at the Museum of Natural History. (I bet he wanted to see the dinos.)

The whole conversation was so ridiculous and hilarious: one of those essential NYC moments. However, when he concluded "Nobody gives a fuzzybuzzness about me," my heart hurt a tiny bit.

After a long day of getting down and dirty on the urban farm, the skies' water broke and drenched everything, cutting the humidity and freezing all minimally clothed farmers, like me. I retrieved what looked like a spare rain coat from the greenhouse to wear on the long, over-air-conditioned subway ride to Wash Heights. On my way out of work, I spotted the bus and ran to catch it. At this moment, I caught my first whiff.

There is a comprehensive composting operation on the farm that volunteers frequently help turn. I did it last weekend, and it was quite a stinky job. I learned that things that don't really have much of a scent, like iceberg lettuce, absolutely reek when rotted. The scent clings to cloth, skin, and apparently rubber raincoat material.

I sat on the end of the train, in the non-handicapped two seater. The A train was empty when I got on at Jay Street, so I spread out a bit, lapping up the luxury of lounging and legroom. At Chambers Street, however, the stockbrokers piled on, all suits and pantyhose. Every seat quickly filled with people. Every seat, that is, except the one next to me.

You can see where this is going: somebody sat down, smelled me, got up, and I became the "smelly one." Knowing passengers glared at innocent newcomers who thought they'd spotted a hidden treasure, as if to say "Don't do it!" I busied myself. I tried to ignore the fact that a sphere of empty space encircled me. But I saw the looks at my dirty, bee camo-bedecked toes, at my streaked legs, at my mud-covered coat. I heard the whispers of "You probably don't want to sit there." And I'm not claiming that anyone thought I was homeless per say, (although it has happened, namely in San Francisco outside of a Kinko's at 6am,) but they thought I was smelly and dirty, and they were correct.

I wished I could make the stank evaporate, to allow someone to sit in the adjacent empty seat without nasal assault. I considered standing up and offering up my stinky seat, but thought I'd infect more people if I stood. So I sat there, from Brooklyn to 181st Street, stinking away, feeling awful about myself, even though I knew deep down that I did not stink, not the innermost part of me at least. Is this what all smelly people think?

Nobody on the train said anything mean to me, they all just looked at me with expressions ranging from shock to vague disgust to condescension. They say looks can kill, and trust me when I tell you they're not talking about big-boobed blondes.

When I emerged above ground, I stood in the rain and let the caked compost sludge flow back down into the ground, purified of my alleged sins. I hope the homeless museum-goer got his shoes and went to his job with the Jewish boss. I hope he got a chance to take a shower first. If he didn't, I hope the boss wasn't too hard on him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sustainable Weekend

A sustainable weekend looks like this:

1. Friday night farm dinner, eaten with "stranger." All produce picked in Red Hook only hours earlier.
a. Massaged kale (spoken in child-molester-voice)
b. Fresh cukes with garlic-basil yogurt sauce
c. Collards and black eyed peas
d. Red Stripe
e. Greens

2. Saturday Farmer's Market in Red Hook
a. Purple kale and Hakeuri turnips
b. Ruby Chard, aka Eliza Chard:
c. non-Funyon onions. (Funyons are on my top-10 Grossest Foods list because they smell like feet, feel like like eczema, sound like styrofoam, etc.)
3. Free reggae Concert in Central Park on Sunday:
a. Play with last night's pinata winnings! Don't let these chotchkies go to waste!
1. Pretend they are members of your army, fighting to save the planet!
2. Imagine what it would be like to fall in love with a small yellow soldier.
3. Marvel at the self-restraint you've demonstrated in withstanding the urge to pull the parachute's string. (2 days and counting!)
b. Watch the happy people enjoying a free summer concert.
c. Get inspired to dig around Craigslist for size 8.5 roller skates!
d. Pump Up The Jam:
4. Ruminate about American consumerism:
5. Don't let the rain get you down! Instead, set up still lives involving reusable milk cartons, fresh produce, and antique books!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Down On The Farm

A skeleton becomes fertile when wished upon

Fragrant, verdant basil vitality

Anise Hyssop and fuzzy, flying friend

Blush-inducing zuke

Green soldiers


Water break

Blue skies in July

Growing inside-out

Blue-green sea of collards

All photos taken at Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn, where everyone is welcome to volunteer on Saturdays!