June 22, 2022

The Picnic

 The Picnic

Let's go on a picnic,

We'll bring our favorite foods,

Everyone is welcome,

No need for attitudes.

We’ll spread a festive blanket,

A checked quilt to make it bright,

Unpack everything mindfully,

Discover just what is right.

Sarah enjoys her Bosco, 

Quite the saucy treat,

Malty good and oh so,

Chocolatey sweet.

What makes a woman’s,

Belly go aflutter?

For Debra, it's easy -

A spoon of peanut butter.

One might wonder, 

Is it crunchy, or is it smooth?

Nanette likes to dip her

Pickles in this ooze.

Kayla only wants plain, white,

Bread and a slice of baloney,

A few salty potato chips, smashed

In order to make it homey.

Now, Rhianna prefers,

Her baloney to be fried,

With a slice of cheddar cheese,

Hidden deep inside.

A plateful of blintzes, 

With bananas is Lisa’s dream,

Of course topped off,

With dollops of fresh sour cream.

For Kristin, there is,

Simply no other,

More sublime than, 

A stick of golden butter.

Carol will char yellow corn

Tortillas without fail,

Smothered in fresh red salsa

And the darkest green kale.

Kimberly, hair swept up,

In a fancy chignon,

Pours luscious caramel,

On her tender filet mignon.

Let's go on a picnic,

We'll bring our favorite foods,

Sharing all our stories,

With Grace and gratitude!


June 15, 2022

The Red Still Life

I posted a recipe for Four of Quiche recently, with a photograph of, as one one would expect, four beautifully baked quiches. There’s also four knobs on the stove, beautifully aligned. The quiches are subtle shades of ocher curry, yellow turmeric, burnt paprika and dusted cumin, atop a bland cook top with a speckled black counter top. On one side you can see part of an enamel green kettle, which I know longer have, but was part of a set with a turquoise kettle, Two of Kettles, that’s another story. There is also a rather sad looking pot holder, not sure just yet if it needs washing or replacing.

Dominating the scene is a still life. A red still life The infamous Red Still Life in Mr. Bartman's senior year art class at Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, Maryland, 1985. We started the first semester with a white still life. I remember a candlestick, a set of goggles not much else. We played with shadows and light, complements and contrasts, created psychedelic paintings fit for a tea part with Alice from Wonderland. The year went on, and right after Christmas break we discovered just how devious Mr. B was in his set up.

There were bright red, rooster red, cast iron camping red. Shiny objects, cherry. A proud water jug, crowing coffee pot, vermilion soup bowl, crimson funnel, versatile lid - all with a gleaming white enamel interior and a severe black rim. Two mottled apples and a purple onion. Along with highly polished steel, both the pestle and mortar and the meat grinder, which reflected in more ways than one our thoughts as high-schoolers in the eighties. We had two months to complete this painting before the annual student art fair, let alone graduation. Day after day, tube after tube of Liqitex’s Naphthol Crimson acrylic paint splooged onto a random magazine page that will be ripped off for tomorrow's palette, we learn how to make a layer upon layer upon layer. How to contrast the saturated red with a soft, complementary background made of soothing dark greens, and what happened to apples as they turned to mush over two months, as well as the fact that the onion sprouted and then grew every day.

I found this painting in my parents house when they decided to move from Seaside to Santa Barbara, about five years ago. It was with a bunch of other paintings from my high school. Purple Tony, a sad looking merry-go-round, the back of a VW bug. I gave away all the paintings to Project Purr figuring someone would just paint over the canvases and use it for their own art. This one I kept because it was a good reminder of how many layers it takes sometimes to complete a particular vision.

June 8, 2022

Thoughts on Junk Drawers

The junk drawer is as American as apple pie. Everyone has one. It's the one place where you can throw in anything and (hopefully) find everything. Usually in the kitchen, near a wall where once a landline phone used to hang, so you could grab a pen, scratch paper, etc.

Here is my secret Superpower - Organizing my junk drawer. Believe you me, this has given me solace on many an anxious occasion. Simply dwelling on the amount of order in this relatively tiny space makes me feel in power, in charge, and in control, even if the rest of the world is in shambles.

Start by taking everything out of the junk drawer. Everything. Take the drawer out, shake out the crumbs, line it with fresh contact paper, the marbled one that hides the ubiquitous detritus. Notice the well oiled hinges, remove the fine layer of oily scum off the top brackets with a quick swish of the industrial sanitizer wipes. Put it to the side.

Begin to sort - Notice the appropriation of various tools used once, but too lazy to put back in the garage afterwards, end up here. Ask yourself, would I use it once a week? A month? Keep one screwdriver (the one that reverts between flat and Phillips head), wire cutter/pliers, small hammer, box opener, tape measure, and the big ass flashlight. Check the batteries of said torch.

Find your cache of empty Altoid boxes. These tins are the perfect size for credit cards, business cards, mini helpful people boxes, let alone the assortment now before you. Label them using a label maker if feeling industrious, or find some file folder labels, at least use a sharpie. Fill them - one will actually be Altoids, of course, next is paper clips, staples, rubber bands (but not your husband's hairbands, from experience), push pins, razor blades, twist ties, safety pins, miscellaneous seeds you picked up on walks in the neighborhood, most likely Icelandic or California Poppy.

Use the old greeting card boxes to sort the rest. We are talking not just three sizes, but three colors of post it notes.White glue stick, super glue, gorilla glue, at least one refill for the hot glue. Lighters, matches, birthday candles that must be over twenty years old because they go back to Amber's sixth birthday but, hey, they are still good. A size D battery that might be a part of the new automatic cat feeder.

Dedicate one to keys - spare keys, bike keys, neighbor keys, bike lock keys, padlock keys, fence keys, shed keys, storage shed keys (remember the pass code to get in, write it down, attach to key) keys you have no idea what they go to anymore but can't do be too safe don't throw them out. And of course a plethora of key rings.

Make a space for the scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape - both kinds, clear and tan. Then staples and stapler, too bad the three hole punch won't fit in, good thing the scissors are in the pen cup. As well as an exactoknife because the exacto blades are in the razor blades box. Honor that the toothpicks are in their own container.

Glasses cleaner - cloth, as well as the little packs of photographic lens wipes that Chip bought for his cameras, and the bottle of solution scored at a show in San Francisco presented by Money Magazine on the opportunities to invest in Marijuana products that is still somehow your favorite, maybe because the plastic container is peridot green.

Find a smallish recycled container, one that you've already lost the lid for (well that's true of most) just to throw in all of the remaining ephemera - Plastic bread bag closings you always want to throw away but somehow your husband adores: miscellaneous buttons that maybe match to something in your to-be-sewn pile: clothespins masquerading as clips for bags of frozen spinach or tortilla chips; the weird metal angle with the tiny nail you have no idea what it goes to; Xmas lite bulb fuses; The second knob for the stove because one broke but they're only sold in pairs; The big blue stick of chalk for writing FREE on the sidewalk anytime you have succulent cuttings or an office chair ready to be given away to the whims of the curb; A green felt cat toy that jingles softly.

When it gets cluttered, start again. Notice what piles up, what lingers. The ebb and the flow. The flotsam and the jetsam. Ask yourself the deeper questions, activate your inner Marie Kondo, be brutally honest - Do you really need that many Ikea Allen wrenches?

Close the drawer. Be at peace.

June 1, 2022

Thoughts on Bagels

Thoughts on

I was only introduced to my first bagel when I was nineteen, a frosh at Wesleyan in Connecticut. I had gotten off the required meal plan as I had lost fifteen pounds my first semester, and gained one doctor's note, though I doubt they thought bagels would be my prescription.

My roommate Ilana and I would go to the University Cafe and split a plate. Plain, lightly toasted, served with cream cheese, I would place the thinly sliced red onions, capers and tomatoes on her half, while I enjoyed the generous portion of lox. Soon it became as addictive as my daily coffee and camel lights.

During my junior year, when I was an exchange student at UCSC, I had a brief fling with my dealer, who worked the graveyard shift at the Bagelry. I remember the burns on her wrists, our sleepless nights when we drove across the country, the incessant east coast joke, "time to make the donuts," another carb with a hole.

After my senior year, my next girlfriend and I crossed the country, stopping at her grandmother's house in Kansas City, Kansas. I pulled my Honda into the long driveway and Herb, Grandma Kay's second husband, came rushing out, yelling, "Haven't you ever heard of Pearl Harbor?" and made me park out on the street. Later, we all went to the grocery store for breakfast items. I picked up a pack of bagels, and again Herb confronted me, "What, you eat that Jew food?"

When we moved back to Santa Cruz, I rediscovered the joys of the Bagelry, including their fabulous Pink Flamingo smear. Cheaper than lox but packed with flavor, that and a can of coke became a lunch staple. However, I was only making minimum wage at Aries Arts in Capitola, a hippy store that sold tons of tie-dye, incense, and tarot cards. Money was tight, and I realized that for the same price I could get a six pack of Lenders onion bagels, a tub of cream cheese, a pack of sliced lox, and a six pack of coke. Lenders bagels were small, dense, and compact, but I didn't complain. 

Eventually I opened the Herland Women's Book-Cafe at 902 Center Street. We had the most amazing vegan ricotta basil tofu spread. I’ll find the recipe. I'd eat this daily on whole wheat bagel, which are even denser than the Lenders, but they burned nicely. I do like my bagels well done. After our four year agreement was up, I bought out my business partner. On my first day running the cafe by myself, a regular customer yelled at me for toasting her bagel. I burst into tears as she stormed out, never to be seen again.

Two years later, we lost our lease and I closed the cafe. The bookstore moved over to Cedar street, and I would hop on over to Noah's, where I would indulge in garlic cheddar bagels, toasted dark, with just butter. If I felt particularly flush, I'd add sliced smoked salmon. At some point I lost my taste for cream cheese.

Six years later, between Borders Books opening in Santa Cruz and  the recession after 9/11, I realized I was not making it as a single mom. I decided to close the bookstore and went back to school, exchanging retail therapy for hypnotherapy. During that time, my daughter only ate about five foods, all either white or yellow, and bagels became a manna of its own. I was always more tolerant than her other parent since I'd been such a fussy eater as a kid. 

Now, Chip and I tend to go to CostCo and get the two pack of bagels - one "Everything" and one Asiago. We slice them in two as soon as we get home, then freeze half of them. Pre Slicing has made a world of difference, because slicing a frozen bagel sucks, and they get doughy and weird in the microwave. 

I'm not a huge fan of the "Everything" bagel because I'm not fond of fennel, but these are the little compromises in a marriage. I'll cut the slices in half again, so that when we split the bagel we each get both a bottom and top. I'll butter up each piece, add freshly shmooshed avocado, a squirt of Meyer lemon from the neighbor’s tree, and a dash of celery salt. I pop these onto our favorite cobalt blue ceramic plates, grab the red poppy floral napkins, and present with a flourish.

May 13, 2022

Full Moon in Scorpio


Sun in Taurus, Moon in Scorpio, Mercury Retrograde

Taurus - Fixed Earth - what are you fixated on, focused on? Willing to plow through in order to plant those seeds of change?

Scorpio - Fixed Water - where do you feel obsessed or stagnant emotionally? Try some ice cube magic.

Mercury retrograde reminds us to review, review, review. In its natural sign of Gemini, we have the opportunity to reflect upon all we have learned in the last three weeks, and what action steps we will take when Mercury goes direct, particularly in terms of communication, ideas, and to disperse information.. 

Create an altar, focal point, collage, whatever works for you. For me, this meant finding a meaningful cloth, my husband's mother's lace doily will do nicely. I added a centerpiece of fresh flowers from the garden - the Coretta Scott King Roses, deep fuchsia bougainvillea, the last of the orange crocosmia before they go to seed and fade away. If you don't have a garden, splurge on a few blossoms from the farmer's market or your local store, pick wild flowers from the meadows and fields.

Carefully place symbols for the four elements in the four directions. Today I chose a  deep purple sugelite for Earth, a turquoise and gold beeswax candle for Fire, a pale wisp of a shell for Water, and the blue agate athame for Air. Time to let go.

Cast your spell: take a piece of parchment paper on which you have written your intentions in red ink, honoring the blood moon. Roll into a scroll and wrap with red or purple thread, circling it nine times. Bind it by tying nine knots. Sing over it.

Put into your Helpful People Box, bury in your yard, or burn and spread the ashes in running water. Not the ocean, it tends to bring things back. A creek, river, even your toilet - flush and say goodbye.

Open the circle. Bless the moment - This or Something Better Now Occurs for the Highest Good.

So Mote It Be.

May 11, 2022

Be The Witch

Be The Witch

Softest feathers on the wings of a moth, 

Know how to fly in your mind, 

Dream, transform,


Be the wolf running through the mossy forest, 

The eyes of the ancient redwoods, 

The heart of mother nature. 

Fire crackling, 

A gleam in the lover's eye. 

Know how to channel energy wisely. 

Soft gentle spring rain, 

Violence of the hurricane, 

The storm that sweeps sailors out to sea. 

Combine all of the elements, 

Be the alchemist, 

Co-creator of the universe,

The Witch. 

-excerpt from Laphrodite's Mini Mindfulness Meditations