Archive for September, 2009

Avia-tricks

30 September 2009
Amelia E.

Amelia E.

It’s on my life list to become an aviatrix, probaly since I first read Karen Blixen’s account of her initial flight with Finch-Hatton over the Rift Valley: “and now I understand everything.”  But at this time, lacking the significant time and resources required, I must be satisfied with dressing like one, living vicariously through books, and taking the reigns for a few seconds when G, the father of A, takes me up in his Cessna.  Other suggestions:

  • I have just received a promo code from J.Peterman (har har) and used it to purchase the Fort Knox PX sunglasses I’ve been wanting for some time now. I think they’re going to be quite cool and they are certainly advertised as unisex but if they’re a bit too manly even for me, I’ll regift them to T and go on filching his Ray-Bans like I do now.  Promocode: UPTICK *through October 1 (as in tomorrow, go!)
  • West with the Night is one of my favorite books…Beryl Markham (like Karen Blixen, she was one of Denys Finch-Hatton’s lovers) pens a beautifully written autobiography of her days in East Africa as a bush pilot and horsewoman
  • Looking forward to the Amelia Earhart biopic starring the unstoppable Hilary Swank, premieres 10/23

Into the wild blue yonder of Wednesday…Courtney

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HFNT Digest: 9/25/09

28 September 2009

En route to Carter Notch, New Hampshire

En route to Carter Notch, New Hampshire

 

No need to reinvent the wheel. During the week, I collect my five favorite articles and then post them Friday. Look for a wide spectrum, and I welcome you to send suggestions.

Week of 25 September 2009: *Delayed this week, was Maid of Honor at a gorgeous wedding in Marblehead Mass this past weekend. Made me miss the northeast very very much. I am wearing lots of Bean today.

1.  Nothing new for my fellow Cornellians. Thanks Jim Maas.

2.  Four decades ago, T’s mom told me when I sent her this article earlier this week, the order of happiness was: married men, unmarried men, unmarried women, married women. Some things change, some things stay the same.

3.  Kubla Khan is the lone, handwritten resident on my closet door. Not into Coleridge (or poetry in general)? Maybe this article will get you going. Or at least brighten your outlook. It’s from Happy Times, a NY Times set of articles that discuss the search for contentment in its various forms amidst the economic downturn.

4.  Cheerful WASPS. A little levity. A topic that will always intrigue.

5.  Like I said, I miss the northeast. But also, there’s a nice mention of DC fave Tabard Inn in this one. Now you’ll know where those oysters came from.

Happy Almost-October…Courtney

Buffalove

21 September 2009

My computer ate my blog post. Really, I had typed up a fascinating account yesterday of how I shook Lady Obama’s hand last Thursday at the opening of the new White House farmers market. I remarked that red carpets and farmers markets are rather odd bedfellows. I described how Michelle touted this initiative as not only opening a new consumer base for regional farmers but as a way for the government to take care of its employees. Then I became militant and demanded that all employers take proper care of their employees, because it is nice and respectful and because it is a good management decision. I subsequently realized that I was beginning to sound like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in VA, probably due to the fact that I’m knee-deep in his book “Everything I Want To Do is Illegal.” Then I compared Joel, in his radical but weirdly relatable ways, to Ted Nugent. It was quite a post. I hit publish and all was lost. So that’s the recap, here are the pictures:

The line-up: Mayor Fenty, Michelle ma belle, Ag Sec Tom Vilsack, other local local foods luminaries

The line-up: Mayor Fenty, Michelle ma belle, Ag Sec Tom Vilsack, other local local foods luminaries

Eat your arugula!

Eat your arugula!

Bino-envy

Bino-envy

Why Buffalove?  Well I was just about to thoroughly enjoy the piece-by-piece decimation of my MacDinosaur via the In-Sink-Erator when I realized it was nearly 4 and so instead I raced to McFadden’s to eat hot wings, drink a bucket of Labatt’s, and, amongst a mass gathering of Upstaters, watch the Bills……………WIN! I forgot all about my shitty laptop and went home and roasted the duck I bought earlier that day at the Dupont F.M. along with some winter squash and blue potatoes. I chopped off the tip of my left ring finger in the process but not even that got me down. The Bills make me wanna shout!

Guten freitag!

18 September 2009
It’s marshmellowy in the District this morning. Perfect for working at home amongst my flowers and pot of coffee.
 
Orchids and gourds find a happy home on a warm, fall-colored woolen Mackenzie runner.

Orchids and gourds find a happy home on a warm, fall-colored woolen Mackenzie runner.

 

Acacia fernleaf in a creamer pitcher cheers up my windowsill
Acacia fernleaf in a creamer pitcher cheers up my windowsill
 
 
Hydrangea, waxflowers, and glads; a soothing medley of bright whites and pale greens
Hydrangea, waxflowers, and glads; a soothing medley of bright whites and pale greens
Bear grass cuddles mums, underneath a laser cut wood map of the Crooked Lake and flanked by my beloved Mackenzie-Childs candlesticks
Bear grass cuddles mums, underneath a laser cut wood map of the Crooked Lake and flanked by my beloved Mackenzie-Childs candlesticks
 
 
 
 
 I’ve got lots to report on from yesterday…and an energetic weekend planned. Check back soon, and thanks to everyone for the feedback and encouragement.
                                                       Courtney

Promo-type

15 September 2009
Kingbird, a small, organic, diversified farm 20 miles outside Ithaca

Kingbird, a small, organic, diversified farm 20 miles outside Ithaca

One thing that has got me highly impassioned these days is local food. Actually, it’s more than passion—it’s my current professional focus. I published an article for my department’s policy journal last spring, and it was recently posted online. As the idea of eating regionally becomes more mainstream, this article highlights some of they ways such a notion is being treated academically. It hints at the complexity and interrelatedness of the issues surrounding a local food system, which hopefully leads all of us to become “food aware.”

Check out endnotes for good additional resources if you’d like to delve deeper, or contact me. I really like the feedback—I don’t primarily care if people agree or disagree, but I do care that people are thinking about it.

And finally: for DCers, for others

Click the title below to access full text, or just read the abstract that follows. At the top of the full text, if you go, click the ‘volume 12’ link at top of page to access the entire issue.

Local Food Systems in an Ecoagriculture Landscape: Developing Indicators of Performance

ABSTRACT: The segregated approaches traditionally employed to address issues of livelihood, food insecurity, and loss of wild biodiversity not only are inadequate to solve these issues, but have led to widespread social, environmental—and now, major economic problems as well. In this paper, I explore local food systems and ecoagriculture, and the linkages between them, with an aim to bring additional understanding to the challenges of developing integrated approaches to securing food supplies in an ecologically sound and socially just way. By highlighting the search for performance indicators currently being conducted by the Finger Lakes Ecoagriculture Working Group, I illustrate the synergies of the two frameworks. Such insight will inform policy and drive further research as well as emphasize the importance of implementing integrated approaches to solve complex issues.

All the small things

12 September 2009
South African November rains spurred the emergence of millions of tiny velvet mites

South African November rains spurred the emergence of millions of tiny velvet mites

You must turn over a painted turtle to see the underside of the scutes for which this species is named.

You must turn over a painted turtle to see the underside of the scutes for which this species is named.

Northern California, a gooey little red-bellied newt

Northern California, a gooey little red-bellied newt

The hallowed and heralded and trophied Big Five: the rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant. Importantly ecologically as top predators or bulk grazers, these megafauna are for centuries what have pulled tourists to Africa—historically to hunt with guns and today with Nikons.  The original magic was that these were the animals that were difficult to track and get a clean shot; these were the beasts that motivated days and weeks of tent life and trailblazing, and a sighting was the ultimate, adrenaline reward to an arduous adventure. Nowadays, the fitness demanded to view the Big Five is demonstrably less, but can still be shockingly difficult and it does carry with it a similar rush of biochemicals and fun.  The Big Five are what people want to see, but not seeing them is a usual outcome and so people are disappointed and their guides don’t get the Big Tips.

Thus was created the Little Five: the rhinoceros beetle, the antlion, the red-billed buffalo weaver, the leopard tortoise, and the elephant shrew. When a guide hasn’t found you a lion on a morning game drive, and guests’ necks are aching from twitching at birds, she can stop the vehicle in a nice patch of sand, easily locate an indicative stadium-trap, and fish for an antlion by pushing with a twig a few crystals of sand into the pit.  She can tell you how this mimics an ant who has fallen down the slope to be caught by the open pincers of the patient antlion, so he’ll emerge to prey. And perhaps that afternoon the breeding herd of ellies have crossed into Zimbabwe and so instead a guide will detour to the massive baobab to show the centuries-old red-billed buffalo weaver colony, a restless cacophony as well as a seemingly impossible feat of architecture and endurance.  The Little Five were thought up as a way to fill empty spaces on game drives, yes, but they are also as a way to intrigue guests in microfauna, and the miniature worlds that make Africa such a buzzing, dizzying, vivacious continent.

I love the little things. The point is something along the lines of smelling the roses—because little things take more time to appreciate. Most of us are so used to observing the world at landscape-scale that it requires some time to adjust brains and eyeballs just to create the capacity to notice the little things.  It takes a bit of homework, because little things are often not as readily accessible. This new outlook breeds curiosity and extends to an intrigue in the little intangible things in life—a greater understanding of the complexity of human behavior, for example.  Perhaps somehow we can translate the idea that elephant dung is not a mere dismissal but in fact an entirely dynamic little ecosystem to the notion that there might be a deeper and very meaningful level to something we might have similarly dismissed.

There is simply nothing as majestic as the heavy-tusked African elephant, but her little rival the elephant shrew is perhaps, out of the ten animals I have mentioned, the most difficult to find. I still haven’t seen one. It will be an awesome prize when I do.

Caught in the act outside Jo'berg
Caught in the act outside Jo’berg

Cheerio, old chap

8 September 2009

I thought I’d quickly share a pic of the lush bouquet on my table to celebrate the little sliver of summer that remains…and as a pick-me-up from the cats-and-dogs  this morning in DC.  (Hopefully, it further promotes Petals too.) Hope everyone had a fun Labor Day!

A luscious bunch of stargazers

A luscious bunch of stargazers

UPDATE: Petals, Darwin, and Goethe

Mapmaker

7 September 2009

Green as a life observer, I can only guess why people are, have always been, drawn to maps. I suppose that there is something about being interested in and knowing where one stands that must be directly tied to survival of the fittest. But less utilitarian, more in the reign of human curiosity, there is a hinting within the thin, precise line of the cartographer a richer story: a plagued history, whimsy and twists of fates and weather, the crew of adventurous and explorers, Buddhist monks, British n’er-do-wells, an entire motley lot who saw a dark spot at the heart of Africa or Brazil, or a smiling, frowning coastline that sung a Conradian* whisper, “Come and find out!” and who valiantly did so. For me, a map unearths a simultaneous knowing  that I am somewhere and yet that there are an infinite number of other somewheres too; I feel specific and small, and bursting with elation at my oyster-world. Details, lives, patterns, places, people, wars, tides, emptiness, exoticness, a deeper understanding of one’s domicile plastered together and visually striking.

The blank wall above my desk was begging to tell such a story, and all summer long I have been scouring the city for something suitable. Ironically enough, I wandered through Georgetown Flea Market yesterday Sunday and just happened upon my treasure. Ullrich Jentz is a formidable collector of prints and maps, and after an hour of thumbing through what we discovered composes a mere 10% of his inventory (and doesn’t include the pre-1600 pieces he keeps for himself), we had two armfuls of gold.  Below, two of the five maps or prints we ran away with.

Distribution of Forest Trees, Plants, and Minerals, hand-colored, printed 1870

Distribution of Forest Trees, Plants, and Minerals, hand-colored, printed 1870

Buffalo hunters in Montana, Illustrated London News, printed 1886

Buffalo hunters in Montana, Illustrated London News, printed 1886

Jentz Prints, every Sunday at the Georgetown Flea Market; or 34 East D Street, Brunswick, MD; 301-834-7275;

*Conrad called these “white patches for a boy to dream gloriously over”…Heart of Darkness, so good

Turmeric and spice and everything nice

4 September 2009
You eat with your eyes first!

You eat with your eyes first

I avoid boring at all costs, at all times, including (especially!) breakfast. Wouldn’t eating something bland upon arising set a mundane, routine tone for the day? But interesting doesn’t always translate to complex, and certainly not to time-demanding. After all, I run around in the mornings in a half-slumber just like everyone else. So what I have learned to rely on are spices, and I take advantage of the row of North African shops on 18th street for the best.

These days, especially the days when my fruit basket is looking lonely, I just dollop some yogurt into a pretty bowl (Fage or, when my wallet is feeling light, Stonyfield Whole Milk), crush with my fingers four or five walnuts and plop them down with a handful of raisins, quarter-dollar a nice ripe banana, and then sprinkle on top some turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and black pepper.  My taste buds deserve a proper awakening, and this combination is like coffee to them. The turmeric builds on the tang of the yogurt, the cumin adds a sweet earthiness, and the cinnamon is warming and aromatic. The black pepper I simply add because nutritional studies have shown that one of it’s natural chemicals, piperine, seems to improve the bioavailability of turmeric.  Why should I care about the bioavailability of turmeric, you ask? Well, it happens to be an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant super-container. Plus, it swirls my yogurt with its golden yellow and makes my first meal of the day exotic and very pretty.

Take a leisurely saunter down 18th street in Adams Morgan to find spices and other treasures.

Happy Friday everyone! Court

Serenity now

2 September 2009
Yoga is good.    photo credit: Studio Serenity

Yoga is good. photo credit: Studio Serenity

It’s not in my sphere of burden to elaborate on the benefits of yoga—I’ll leave that to the experts.  But I would like to share with you all, especially my readers that live in the District, how much I love my studio here in Adam’s Morgan: Studio Serenity.

Last January, when I was in town for some time between Ithaca semesters, I bought a newcomer’s pass—$10 for 10 days, unlimited.  This ridiculously good offer, I soon found out, very much reflects the philosophy of the studio, which espouses democracy and community and accessibility of yoga to all (at a usual $17 per class, it’s not—Serenity regularly offers $8 and charity classes).

Serenity was founded by Katja Brandis, a woman whose background story is as universally inspiring and beautiful as she is. Truly, she is breathtaking. The teachers she has hired are smart, kind, warm, and quite diverse, and so it is in their own unique ways that they extend Katja’s vision.

I also have to mention that the studio lives above a Subway. It’s comical, because now whenever I encounter the distinctive, enduring perfume of Subway baking its hoagies, my Pavlovian responses erect my posture, settle my nerves, and unearth within me a tiny hint of the grace that Katja and her teachers possess, and that the experts I mentioned have filled books describing. It’s good stuff.

Renovations and additions to the studio finished last month, strengthening and expanding the Serenity community. Come join! Excellent times to check out the studio in the next couple weeks: Adam’s Morgan Day, Sunday 9/13, 12-7 pm; Kirtan bash with Dave Stringer, 9/18, 7:30-9 $20 advance, $25 at the door

www.studioserenity.com

2469 18th st NW, (202) 528-yoga, 12 bus lines take you within two blocks