This summer I'll be continuing the theme of The Poet's Notebook with an emphasis on The Five Senses. The class will run for ten weeks, with a sequence of two week segments exploring the fields of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
We'll experiment with braille and sign language and synesthesia, and we will think about our habits as writers (what sensory information do we favor? what sensory information do we ignore?).
The class is open to creative people of all kinds, and the dates of meetings are Mondays (6 pm to 8:30 pm):
June 3, 10, 17, 24,
Fee for the class is $300 ($275 for returning students) and the class will be held in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
From The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter:
Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, of the University of Chicago, studied the greenhouse gases emitted by the production of animal products, and concluded that the typical US diet , about 28 percent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories. (240)
The prevailing Western ethic assumes that human interests must always prevail over the comparable interests of members of other species. Since the rise of the modern animal movement in the 1970s, however, this ethic has been on the defensive. The argument is that, despite obvious differences between human and nonhuman animals, we share a capacity to suffer, and this means that they, like us, have interests. If we ignore or discount their interests simply on the grounds that they are not members of our species, the logic of our position is similar to that of the most blatant racists or sexists— those who think that to be white, or male, is to be inherently superior in moral status, irrespective of other characteristics or qualities. (246)
According to Dr Timothy Jones, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona who led a US government funded study of food waste, more than 40 percent of the food grown in the United States is lost or thrown away— that's about $100 billion of wasted food a year. (268)
I read Peter Singer and Jim Mason's The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, and as I said to my friend Evan today, I don't think a book has changed my life so much since I read Ulysses.
In our household we've eaten sustainable meat and dairy for some time (coming from local farmers at our Green Market or from Amish farmers who also deliver raw milk to us). That felt like a step in the right direction.
We assumed that the animals were better cared for than factory farmed animals (and this was confirmed by word-of-mouth from friends who had visited the farms, and from website information about the farmers' practices.)
A couple things came up in Peter Singer's book that revised our food-thinking yet again. Firstly, we don't own a car and don't drive because of its impact on the environment. I've always thought of that as a basic important step I can take to help. But cow-eating (and milk-drinking) has as much of an impact on the environment as car-driving. So now I ask, do I really need to eat cows? The answer is no. Chickens? Well chickens are treated really poorly, sometimes even in "organic" farming contexts. Cage-free doesn't mean free-range; it can mean that the chicken is kept in a shed in close proximity to a lot of other chickens with its beak clipped off. It can not see sunlight and still be cage-free. So, this is a bummer, as they say. Fish? Forget it. Fishing is almost entirely not-sustainable in the 21st Century. Our old friend salmon is either farmed (requiring tons to fish-food which is trawled from the ocean in the form of fish that are then ground up and processed to feed the salmon fish-pellets) or mislabeled as "wild" when often it is farmed. Turkeys: see Chickens. Pigs: pigs have really awful lives in captivity, and yes, they are pretty smart.
I'm always trying to conserve. (I take public transport, I turn off lights, I dislike plastic bags, etc. etc.) It's nothing radical, and in most of the world it's really just the way things are (in Europe people are food and energy conscious, in the Third World they don't have choices— they eat less meat because they can't afford it or can't access it.) But the impact of animal-eating on land, water reserves, and oil energy (pesticides are oil-based and necessary to grow cattle-feed) is phenomenal. The impact of vegetable and fruit eating is usually three times less and sometimes ten times less than the impact of meat eating. Under these circumstances, I think I shouldn't eat meat. I certainly don't need cow milk. I might still eat some goat cheese. And eggs, yes, I use them for our morning pancakes, but I have an egg connection, and I know those chickens personally. (They're pretty happy girls.)
This is the news from the Lisablog headquarters. I think everyone should read The Way We Eat. I think people should stop eating cows too. I mean people who are worried about global warming need to stop eating cows. People who are worried about corral reefs should stop eating fish and shrimp. People who are worried about global warming and about corral reefs should just give up and become vegetarians.
More on this soon. Meanwhile, keep eating the rich!
We went to yoga class today and Bea explained that we'd been away to Buffalo, London, and Chicago. That's also part of the reason we've been away from the blog, but the every day of "just being" is really what keeps us away from the blog lately. It's more and more delightful to be offline, which raises a bunch of questions. We dumped Facebook and have forgotten about the chatter on the various neighborhood listservs and really somehow don't miss even the New York Times, but would like to stay informed about meteors striking the earth. Also we dumped Youtube, for the sake of the kid (and the sake of my sanity because My Little Pony was full of baloney.) This has made family movie time a lot more exciting. We watch together on a big screen (not very big.) Our friends Kent and Tara and Lyv and Fyo have a projector for their wall. Hmm. Well, it's a thought. And Thomas brought home some Buster Keaton the other night, which had Bea cackling like a mongoose.
So what is the universe about? Mostly cooking and autonomous learning. (The term "unschooling" increasingly bristles in that it implies that school is a grid from which to "un-".) We're really using schools as places to poach from and doing something that suits us as learners. Art classes, yoga, museum tours. It's all around us and we tend to come and go as we please, depending on what time the kid wakes up and what kind of mood we're in. But let me say now that I hope Bea never wants to go to school because I so much love our lazy morning wake up and variable breakfast-time.) We did talk about "what-school-is" the other day and she said it wouldn't work for her if she couldn't be naked there. Fair enough.
As for breakfasts, we're getting hot and heavy with the gluten-free pancakes. Here's one recipe we've been making use of:
tablespoon of honey
teaspoon of vanilla
teaspoon of baking powder (the hippie non-aluminum kind)
a handful of walnuts
a blended apple
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of raw milk or coconut milk or bone broth
heap up in big silver dollar shapes, slow fry in butter or coconut oil.
And yes! We just got bucket of organic coconut oil and a pound of raw cacoa powder. It's heaven.
We'll be back in a month, give or take a few weeks. And here are some pictures. Peace out people.
Central Park Snow Drops, February
Pool hall at the University of Chicago
In the autumn I ran a workshop with the theme "poet's notebooks" and
it went really well. I'm hoping to do part 2 of the class on mondays
6-8:30 from Feb 25 to April 29 at my apartment in Jackson Heights,
Queens. I will see if I can get 7 students-- I think that's a good
number. It would be $300 for new students, $275 for returning
students. I want to run the class as a theater performance of sorts.
There will be five topics that we'll focus on in notebook writing:
State dept (current international affairs)
And we will spend two weeks on each topic. The goal is to write
obsessively in the notebook about the topic in an "as if" mode.
(during these two weeks I AM an architect or I AM fluent in Japanese,
or I AM a state dept official.) I'm thinking of the workshop meetings
as a kind of salon, where we come in, have a glass of wine, (or tea),
and talk about our discoveries, read from our notebooks, and spin off
into in-class writing exercises inspired by the information we've
Please let me know if you're interested, and please forward this to
Last year at the New Year the Burmese Prince made a list called "Fifty Things", not of things he particularly wished to do, but of things he grooved on. I made a list of Fifty Things that was more goal-oriented, which is my way of being— like a hamster on a wheel. Last year's list had some nice things on it. Fermenting food (we've really had fun with that, and this week we came up with an excellent fermented applesauce that tastes like fizzy thick apple cider.) Baking bread— we gave up on that one as we don't eat wheat anymore, and the alternative bread-types are so odd and complicated (though a pie crust of almond flour and coconut oil is pretty fantastic). Buying a house in the Bronx. Well, we did buy an apartment in Jackson Heights, so that's the big deal for this year: having a homestead that is lovely and lovable. And then there was the theme of birds. In 2012 we learned to identify a lot of birds in the course of our Central Park walks: the titmouse, the chickadee (an old favorite from childhood in upstate New York), the house finch, the chipping sparrow, the golden crested kinglet, the downy woodpecker, the grackle, the wood duck, the northern shoveler, and so on and so forth.
The theme lately has been simplicity, so in 2013 our Fifty Things will become Ten Things. Here it is.
Old English could be on the list too. Ancient Greek? Back to that soon.
Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all our peops here there and everywhere. And a heads up to the UK crew: we arrive January 19.
In an effort to be cheerful despite the upcoming Consumer-Family Holiday, here is a photo essay.
On a side street here there is good weird cheer (the santa pig is charming). The Beast and I took a stroll along this route the other night on our way home from the park. Jackson Heights continues to delight (and Bea actually now calls the neighborhood Jackson Lights).
Milk and Cookies. In an effort to curb the kid's sugar consumption, we've instituted an afternoon milk and cookies ritual. We even found gluten free cookies so that I can join in (wheat has been out of circulation for some months here as it gives me wicked headaches). Instead of having a treat in the morning or a treat on the way home from the park, we wait til we're home and at the dining room table to break out the snacks.
A tufted titmouse in the Ramble, Central Park. The last few weeks have been filled with winter bird sightings in the park. The Forest Nursery kids are now pretty clear about what's a woodpecker and what's a sparrow and what's a starling. As for pigeons, Bea refers to them as Rock Doves, which is what they are. And the toe action of the pigeon? Well, any Forest Nursery three year old can tell you that the pigeon foot is pretty similar to the T Rex or Allosaurus foot. The "unschooling" thing comes together organically, which is why we don't want to call it "unschooling"-- we're not "un-ing" anything and we're not relying on the apparatus known as "school". Learning all the time, autonomously, yes, but that's not radical, it's just what humans do. The Burmese Prince appreciates "defiant lightness" as a principle of being. That's how life-plus-kid-minus-school feels: defiantly light.
This photo, well, I just like it. Leela (age 8) took it the other day when we had a mini-party with Miku, Yui, Toby, and Aisha.
The other miscellaneousness of the season is related to food. Shredded beets, carrots, and ginger are fermenting, and two more projects of fermented apple sauce and pickled turnips are on the schedule for tomorrow's kitchen experiments.
The news of the world is still the news of the world: haunting really, with massive ice melt stories (can't wait to see what the next hurricane season brings) and as for guns and the NRA, holy shit as my friend Bernadette would say. Because after all, if you're going to send your kid to school, you want to be sure they have the opportunity to see good guys shooting bad guys. (And you can imagine the mental state of any "good guy" who wants to volunteer his time to stalk around the outside of a school with a gun.)
We're pretty depressed about the fact that the victims list for Sandy Hook has been officially set at 26. Victim number 1, Adam Lanza's mom gets left off the victim list, as does victim number 28, Adam Lanza. The Guardian ran a good editorial piece on this part of the story:
Peace people, and eat the NRA (remove the buckshot first).