Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pilot Design Rocks My Mantel... and My World

The conversation went something like this:

Me: "We need something to fill that space over the mantel piece."
Husband: "Yeah. Also, what time is it?"
Me: "We need a clock in here too."

And then we bumped into each other and we were all, "You put your chocolate in my peanut butter!" and "Your peanut butter's on my chocolate."

Not really. But it might as well have.

We had space. We needed a clock. Enter Pilot Design and Keith Moore, a Minneapolis-based designer and wood-worker who I'd seen around town at various art shows.

His stuff is awesome. (See above clock -- the "splat" on my living room wall above the mantel.) Modern, sleek, functional and well made. Check out his website. Look for the wavy bookshelves. Your mind will be blown.

My husband also got to visit his workshop, which he deemed, "pretty cool" and then tried to explain to me how the clock was made but he was drowned out by me shouting, "Let's hang that thing up!"

I'd love to have his bamboo chests (that sounds weird) for the disaster that is our closet right now. Thanks for everything, Ikea, but your storage "solutions" have become storage "headaches."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Inoculated log

This is a log. An oak log that was cut this spring and that I bought from Cherry Tree Mushrooms, which is run by the same neighbors who I got the eggs from (I promise to stop blog-stalking them now). This oak log has been soaked for 48 hours in rainwater and then dried for 24 hours. The lichen was scrubbed off with a wire brush. I love lichen. What I don't love are the unwanted fungus spores that might be hiding under the lichen. This is because the unwanted spores might complete with those that I want to succeed: shiitake and oyster mushroom spores. The last thing we want in these logs are foreign spores. Hear that foreign spores? Go away.

This is a log. An oak log. An oak log cut this spring with holes drilled into it in a diamond-shaped pattern.

This is a cluster of wooden dowels covered in mushroom (either oyster or shiitake) spores. The dowels will be hammered into the holes drilled in a diamond-shaped pattern into an oak log that was cut this spring.

This is a blob of paraffin wax sealing the dowel covered with mushroom spores into the holes in a diamond-shaped pattern drilled into the oak log that was cut this spring. Again, further measure to keep the foreign spores out. You do not have proper passports and visas and documentation, foreign spores, and so even though you might work very hard and do all the jobs that we don't like to do, we do not want you.

In six to 12 months, assuming we keep the logs well watered and out of the sun, we will have lots and lots of mushrooms growing along the sides the logs.

Why are we doing this?

There's something very, very satisfying about working hard to produce something tangible and then being able to actually eat that thing. It's like gestating and then giving birth. Except, after nine months of pregnancy and labor, we didn't eat our baby.

I would like to be able to go into a forest somewhere and come out with baskets full of wild mushrooms that we can cook into omelets (made with eggs from our own chickens -- hint, hint, husband) and saute in butter, but I'm afraid that takes more mushroom knowledge than I have. I can play the part of mushroom forager on TV, but I'm afraid that in real life I'd end up accidentally killing off my co-stars. I'd end poisoning our dinner guests and everyone would end up either rushing to the emergency room or being very, very entertained by the bright, colorful trails at the ends of their fingers. Either way, that's not a good way to end a dinner party.

And so we're growing our own, which we will be fairly certain are not poisonous. Here's to hoping no foreign spores have made their way in!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sun Gold Eggs

I got these eggs from our neighbor who has chickens a few days ago. These neighbors have the life I want. They keep chickens and grow mushrooms and can food and garden and grow stuff and sew things and are generally kicking sustainable butt. They are like pioneers. But they're not obnoxious about it. There's nothing worse than an obnoxious pioneer.

I like buying eggs from neighbors. When stealing another creatures young, it's always nice to know that they are well cared for and that they, perhaps, have names. It's nice to know that they are fed on table scraps and insects that they peck from the ground.

The real reason why I like these eggs is the color and texture of their yolks.

Look! They're almost orange -- like the sun or like gold. It's much more appetizing to think that I'm eating gold or the sun than someone else's almost-baby. Eating gold or the sun is so much more indulgent. I feel like a very rich person with inconceivably strong teeth or like a giant God-like galaxy destroyer.

Some eggs I've eaten have crumbly yolks. Not so these ones. The yolks are rich and thick and stay together under pressure.

Also, they are naked baby endorsed and are packed even more full with good stuff than caged eggs. The vitamin D thing is of particular interest to me because I am terrible about giving my kid her liquid vitamin D. (Shhhh, don't tell our pediatrician because then she'll think I'm a big fat liar.) The thing is that a deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets, an old-timey disease of the skeletal system and one of the reasons (along with the rest of this list of illnesses) why being a pioneer sucked. (For those of you who searched the linked list for "dysentery" as in "You have died of dysentery", the pioneers called it "flux" characterized by "discharge of fluid from the body." The makers of Oregon Trail must have thought that "You have died of flux" didn't have the same ring to it. Although I like the sound of it.)

In sum, I like eggs from neighbors and eating gold and the sun and kindly pioneers, I sometimes tell our pediatrician little white lies, and I do not like rickets or obnoxious pioneers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's a Big, Beautiful Machine

Saturday night, U2 played TCF Stadium here in Minneapolis. It was the first outdoor stadium concert in Minneapolis in 30 years. My husband and I were there.

We were the snarky ones in Section 226. I spent a good portion of the night texting sardonic, not terribly clever tweets ("Bono, The Edge, and those other 2 guys are really rockin out." "I thought Bono could keep the rain away by the shear force of his will and the power of his sunglasses.") and shouting cynical comments about the size of Bono's ego into my husband's ears. We "people watched" and played "Suburbs? South Minneapolis? NE Minneapolis? Student? Uptown?" in which we tried to guess where fellow concert goers lived based solely on appearance. Bono, with his entirely leather outfit and sunglasses, stumped us. We don't get a lot of that around here.

So if we were going to be so jerky about it, why did my husband and I shell out 100 plus dollars and sacrifice a night away from Little A? We're not particularly huge U2 fans. I think that somewhere in the basement, I might have a Joshua Tree CD that never made the transfer to the hard drive. Even so, like most Americans, U2 has been unavoidable. It has, inevitably, been the background music to a high school or college memory. So, yeah, U2 has a little nostalgic meaning for us.

But the truth is, we had a great time on Saturday. Yeah, yeah, part of it is that I always have a great time with my husband, no matter what we're doing, but it was a little extra thrilling to be a part of this spectacle. There were 60,000 people out, energized and geared up to partake in a cultural phenomenon. The college girl on the bleacher next to us was beaming excitement like laser beams out of her face. She was so amped up and jittery and gushy, she could have easily been on something. But she wasn't. Her drug of choice was Bono's awesomeness.

We guffawed a little at the foursome entering the stadium, all swagger and soaking up the adoration, to Bowie's "Space Oddity." We sang along to the songs we knew. The stadium floor literally bounced. The rains came. And we stood in it, getting soaked, more or less not complaining. We watched the fireworks from a nearby festival explode behind the stage. We had to leave right before the first encore (see above mention of time away from Little A) but we could hear "Where the Streets Have No Name" as we walked through the nearly empty surrounding campus to our bikes. They riffed a little Purple Rain into "One," as a shout out to local hero, Prince. We biked home in the rain, my husband leading the way as droplets covered my glasses.

That Sunday, we still talked about the show and still marveled at the size of Bono's ego. The man had stood, listening to a crowd of 60,000 people sing his own song back at him and declared it "the most beautiful sound in the world." Really, Bono, really? Your own music being sung back at you is the most beautiful sound in the world? More beautiful than children's laughter? He'd mentioned the Peace Corps and Gabby Giffords and Somalia and Burma. Oh, man, did he mention Burma. (As a side note -- and it's a long random story that I'll post about at some point -- but I can read a little Burmese and someone needs to teach Bono how to pronounce Aung San Suu Kyi. I can do it. I can teach him. Bono, give me a call so that I can help you. Please. Call me.) We wondered, is Bono going to save the world or does he just think he is?

The next evening, while on our family walk, my husband brought up a book he'd read in college: Garcia by Blair Jackson about Jerry Garcia. (Yes, don't worry, I give my husband plenty of grief about his long-haired hippie days.) The thing that fascinated my husband about this book is that it looked at the entire culture and industry that had risen up around this stadium band, The Grateful Dead. Thousand of people followed them from place to place and bought t-shirts and food and transportation (and weed, lots and lots of weed). They had roadies and drivers and techs. There was a lot of money and a lot of jobs. And it all mostly centered around this one guy, Jerry Garcia. He didn't necessarily deal with it very well. In fact, he did a lot of heroin to deal with it.

Of course, this made us think of Amy Winehouse and other musicians (Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Robert Johnson) who flamed out at 27. Can you imagine being 27 and suddenly (seemingly) all of these people and industry and fans are relying on you? One day you were playing guitar in the basement with your buddies or singing at divey clubs and then the next you're performing in front of thousands of people and thousands of people are relying on you, your talent -- not just for their entertainment but, in many cases, for their jobs. That's a lot of pressure. When I was 27, I was mostly reading books and drinking in bars on the Upper West Side while in graduate school.

But not so with Bono. How does "the sunglassed one" not flame out? For one, he's quite a bit older than the artists mentioned above. But my guess is that he has to have a giant ego. He has to know that this entire tour, the whole machine, which costs three quarters of a million dollars in overhead every day even when they aren't actually performing, rests pretty much entirely on his back. No wonder it gave out last summer.

His music, his banter, the performance, the spectacle, it can't alienate anyone. So if it seems, at times, a little hokey, that's OK.

In other words, I get you, Bono. I get you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Put a bird in it.

This is my new birdbath. You will please notice that it is wrought iron, simple, and features a thin wire with leaves and a bird perched on top. The base is slim. The bath itself is a pot saucer.

It was made by a local artist and purchased here. I often buy local because then more of my money stays in the local economy, which means that my money stays close to me. I do not like the idea of my money traveling far away from me. If it stays nearby, perhaps one day it will decide to return to me as a lottery win or improved roads in my neighborhood or as thousands of gold doubloons left by a stranger on my front doorstep. By buying locally, I ensure my own wealth and success.

Birds, I invite you to come and enjoy and bathe in the waters of 25th Ave S. Birds! Come, take a bath! Birds! Birds... Birds?

I don't know why the birds won't come to my birdbath. Perhaps it is too big or too small or too hot or too cold. Maybe they're a bunch of snobs and don't like this neighborhood. In which case, "I hate you birds." Maybe they're not dirty. Or they already took a bath. Maybe they don't like to bathe in plain view of all the neighbors, thank you very much. Maybe I should leave tiny bird-sized washclothes and soap and floral bath beads and light some candles and turn on some Enya. Maybe they birds have had a really hard day and all they want to do is have a long, relaxing soak.

Why do I want the birds to come bathe in my birdbath? The birds do not look particularly dirty. What I really want is for them to choose my yard. "Oh look!" they will say. "That is a beautiful yard free from cats and full of seeds and flowers that we can pollinate. And there's even a bird bath! And Enya!" And what they will really be saying is, "The lady who lives here is good and kind and thoughtful and takes care of animals (except for cats). But she's obviously not some crazy bird lady wanting to lure us into her yard in order to create some faux urban Garden of Eden and to bolster her own sense of self worth. No. Not this lady. She's the real deal. We love her."

Choose me, birds. Choose me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

500 Words and Counting

Here is the plan.

Write five days a week.
At least 500 words a day.

I am not saying that you bear any sort of resemblance to a furry rodent but you, dear readers, are my guinea pigs. Nor are you a large, sparsely populated flat plot of land but you are my testing grounds. Nor are you "a structure placed above or behind a pulpit or other speaking platform which helps to project the sound of the speaker" but you are my sounding board.

Enough with the dissection of analogous language.

This is my goal. Sometimes this goal will be met. Other times it will not. Isn't there a saying, "Goals are made to be broken?" I am a very, very busy person so sometimes I will just not have time for 500 words. Sometimes, if I have to choose between running and writing, I might think, "Which one will make me feel focused and energized and accomplished, and earn me the accolades of my peers?" The answer is neither, but at least with running I don't have to think. In fact, with running, thinking is discouraged because if you turn on an internal monologue it will inevitably tell you how much pain you are in, how slow you are, how hot it is, and how much farther you have to run if you plan on making it back home alive. But when running, I can press a button and my Nike+ will play my "power song." There are no power songs in writing.

I am also a stay at home mom so sometimes I will have to choose between feeding my child or writing. Feeding my child will win out, but only just barely because even though nutrients are necessary to keep my child alive, it is very discouraging when she just poops whatever she ate back out. I promise to keep discussions of my kid's poops to a minimum. (For your sake more than for the sake of her teenage self because I cannot wait to embarrass my 14 year old.)

Sometimes I will have to choose between writing and cleaning the house or doing laundry or gardening or sweeping the floor. I will often choose the cleaning because the goal of this blog is to write 500 words a day, not to appear on Hoarders. But other times I will choose to write even though there is dog fur all over the air vents and an unidentified sticky substance on the kitchen cabinets and a funny smell coming from the basement because writing is more fun than dealing with any of those things. That funny smell could be anything. ANYTHING. And I just hope it's not a dead rodent. That's no way to start a relationship with my guinea pigs.

Are we at 500 words yet?

Just over 400?

Good enough.

Welcome to the blog.