asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I've seen banana leaves on banana trees, so I know they're big, but somehow I was still amazed to thaw out a package of them and see how they take over a kitchen, like really large caterpillars or space snakes.

banana leaf is long

loooong banana leaf

I used some of them to make koba, a Malagasy sweet:

in the pot, getting ready to be steamed
banana leaf and koba packets

finished product
koba

I've never had the real thing, so I don't know how well mine approximated it, but it *looked* right, and it tasted good.

... Eating food from faraway places is one way to bring them a little closer.

Music is another great way. This song, "Latinoamérica," by Calle 13, is powerful stuff (I'm on a Calle 13 kick right now), and the video is just incredibly beautiful, showing faces of people from all over Latin America. At the start, the radio announcer switches from Spanish to Quecha, and about two-thirds of the way through, the chorus gets sung in Portuguese. Powerful stuff.

traveling

Oct. 9th, 2018 10:38 am
asakiyume: (autumn source)
For reasons that would make a good story, which I will tell any of you if I see you in person, but which I won't go into here, we made a journey to Canada yesterday.

That is a long trip for a day trip, may I just say, but anyway. We encountered some interesting people along the way.

The Leaf Lady

She was from England. We encountered her at a a rest stop and information center on the interstate in Vermont. She was here, apparently, for the foliage, which is looking pretty magnificent in northern Vermont right now, but my phone got itself in a tizzy trying to update operating systems, so NO PHOTOS.

Leaf Lady: Excuse me, where are the leaves?

Visitor Center Staff Person: There's a board out front that tracks the foliage. It's best in the Northeast Kingdom right now.

Leaf Lady: All right. How far is it to Kingdom?

VCSP: You're entering it now.

Leaf Lady: And so I'll see leaves?

VCSP: Well, it's overcast today, so it may not seem as impressive, but yes.

Us, mentally: THERE ARE BEAUTIFUL LEAVES LITERALLY ALL AROUND YOU.

We made up a story that one of her children, who likes mountain biking and free running and recaning old chairs and making cheese, came to the United States and married a Vermonter and wanted her to see this beautiful place, but the mom is very suburban and didn't really want to come and this is her passive-aggressive resistance.

That center had a school parent-teacher group raising money by offering fresh coffee and baked goods fro a donation. Excellent.

The anti-tourism border guard

We crossed into Canada at a very small crossing point. There were no other cars on the road, and only one border guard, a young woman in her twenties.

Border Guard: And what is the purpose of your trip to Canada today?

Thanks to Wakanomori's research, we had a good answer to this question.

Wakanomori: We're going to see the museum in Coaticook.

Or was it a good answer

Border Guard (incredulous): No one goes to see the museum in Coaticook!

Wakanomori (laughing): Uh, well, we are.

Me (piping up from the passenger's seat): It's a holiday in the United States.

Border Guard: It is here, too: Thanksgiving.

Me: Hmmm. I wonder if the museum will be open, then...

Border Guard: And where are you from again? Massachusetts? And you're coming up just to see the museum?

Wakanomori: It's a long story.

Border Guard: I have all day!

Wakanomori then told her the story of how he and the older kids had biked this route to Canada years ago, and how he'd noticed about the museum then, and....

Border Guard: I see--so you're retracing your steps! Well, enjoy yourself. Maybe you can get some honey or cheese!

Interestingly, we saw a place selling honey a little further along the road--so we could have!

The gas station attendants

These were boys who looked to me like maaaaybe they were 14 or so, but I guess they must have been older? They were full of life and smiles, and they were going to pump our gas! It wasn't a self-serve station. Going to Colombia has emboldened me in languages that I'm not fluent in, so I tried out my rusty, rusty French: "Avez vous une salle de bain?" And he answered me in French and pointed out where the bathroom was! 通じた!(This handy word means literally, it passed through and more accurately, I made myself understood. THE BEST FEELING)

The man at the museum
The museum had a definite shut vibe to it, though there were other people walking the grounds when we got there. We rang the doorbell, as requested by the sign. After a bit a man appeared and told us, politely and with a smile but at length, that he was desolé and that it was un dommage, but the museum was closed. We nodded and thanked him but he kept apologizing, and in that moment all I could think of for "we understand" was 分かりました and entendemos.

The fox spirit
On the grounds of the museum, the healing angel spied a fox. It ran under the museum porch, but then came out again and ran up some stone steps leading up a hill behind the museum. It was very tall for a fox, with long, graceful legs. It stood on the steps halfway up the hill and regarded us, very foxy. Then it ran the out of sight. It was a prince among foxes, a god, a spirit.

Annnd then we came on home, long drive back. Hope you all had a wonderful Indigenous People's Day/Thanksgiving/Monday.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Went walking with the healing angel along the narrow causeways in the Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke. On one side of one causeway the water level was higher, so it was flowing through pipes to the other, lower side, and as it did, it was forming tiny whirlpools.

tiny whirlpools-parent and child

Here's a closeup on one--it's like a morning glory, and the reflected sun is a bright bee.

tiny whirlpool swallowing the sun
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
[personal profile] osprey_archer has talked about how we need to have more gradations in how we refer to people than just "acquaintance" and "friend" (and then piling on the adjectives to explain how close a friend the friend is, or how distant the acquaintance is). I'd like also a word for a person you don't even know at all, but who you see often and whose existence brings you joy--

--like this older woman I often see walking around the time I'm finishing up a morning run, or sometimes on weekends if I'm doing stuff in my front yard, she may walk by. Her face says her heritage is something East Asian, and there's some air about her that makes me think she's doesn't speak much English, if any. Maybe it's her clothes, which seem to come from elsewhere (I can't describe why I think this--I'd need to look more closely--but they're not what you see on American sixty- and seventy-year-old women) or maybe it's her hairstyle (and again, I'm not sure I can recall it precisely: maybe parted in the middle and pulled back in a bun?), or maybe it's that what we do when we see each other is smile and nod, or sometimes, if we're on opposite sides of the street, I'll wave, and she'll wave back. We've never spoken a word to each other. (For all I know, she thinks of *me* as a non-English speaker)

Today I have the care of my neighbor's dog, so just now I took him for a walk around a housing development that's going up across the way from my neighborhood. There's one paved loop, and then a dirt-and-gravel road leading to ongoing roadworks and other excavations, and on either side of that, piles of stone and discarded water pipes and wildflowers: right now, mainly queen anne's lace, St. John's wort, and black-eyed susans. I'd completed three quarters of the loop and had my back to the dirt-and-gravel road, and heard a sound, like a tune coming from a radio somewhere, like maybe some of the workmen had a radio on--but it's Sunday evening, and there are no workmen out.

I looked back, and I saw the woman sitting on something--maybe a concrete slab or a big rock--surrounded by wildflowers, some way down that dirt-and-gravel road, just sitting, enjoying the evening. And maybe singing? Maybe it was her. Or maybe it was someone else's radio, somewhere. Anyway, I waved; she waved.

It made me so happy. I'd like a word for a person like this. Special fellow-traveler in the non-Communist sense of the word.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
We didn't make it to Medellín on this trip to Colombia, but in reading through our guidebook, we discovered that some distance outside of Medellín, drug lord Pablo Escobar had his private ranch, Hacienda Napoles, where he had, among other things, a menagerie of exotic animals, including hippos. After Pablo Escobar's downfall, the other animals were taken to zoos, but the hippos had managed to elude capture... and established themselves in Colombia's Magdalena River (and other watery locations), which they apparently LOVE.




(images from this National Geographic video about the hippos)

There were originally four hippos--and now there are more than 40. Unlike in Africa, there are no predators in Colombia, and there's also no hot, dry season, so the hippos are having babies every year instead of every two years, and they're coming to maturity sooner.

I thought this was a kind of amusing invasive-species story because usually invasive species are ... smaller? Zebra mussels or Japanese beetles or starlings or rabbits. But hippos are the third-largest land mammal (after elephants and rhinoceroses); adults weigh more than a ton. Hippos are not quite a godzilla-level invasive species, but they do represent a challenge for the ecosystem; Colombian zoologists worry about the impact on the local manatee population.

Lucy Cooke, a zoologist and filmmaker, has a great nine-minute video (and you can get a transcript if you don't like watching videos) describing the situation, here. Hippos may look kind of dopey-cute, but they're apparently pretty aggressive. It's made worse by the fact that male hippos have harems (the original four hippos were one male and three females), and they kick out newly mature male hippos to go find mates elsewhere--but of course, there are no other females elsewhere for these poor newly grown hippos. So they're lonely and sexually frustrated.


(image source)

Lucy Cooke said killing the hippos was unpopular among Colombians, so they they decided to try castrating the male hippos. But this is apparently very, very, very hard to do--it's hard to sedate a hippo because of their fat; you don't want the sedative to take effect when they're in the water or they'll drown, and--hippo testicles move about in their bodies when they're under stress, so you've got your sedated hippo, and now you have to find his testicles. .... Okay, they don't move around that much--they don't troop from the groin region up to the shoulders or anything like that--but apparently they can move like eight centimeters or so. One castration cost around $100,000, so that's probably not a solution either. She thinks they'll establish themselves and become a new subspecies eventually. Maybe the manatees and hippos will work something out...


Sources:
Marta Rodriguez Martinez, "Colombia Declares War on Pablo Escobar's Hippos," Euronews, February 2, 2018.

Lucy Cook, "Pablo Escobar's Hippos Are Now Colombia's Problem," Big Think, July 10, 2018.

Wikipedia, hippo entry.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Esmeralda Santiago is a writer I hadn't heard of before a couple of weeks ago, when J, one of the teachers at the educational program I volunteer with in Holyoke, said she was coming to give a talk at Holyoke Community College. "I was hoping you could talk her up in your creative writing session and get some of the students to come."

He handed me the sheet on her, and wow:

Esmeralda Santiago grew up in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico in a one-room shack with a dirt floor and tin roof. Her family moved to New York when she was thirteen years old. The eldest of eleven, Esmeralda learned English from children’s books in a Brooklyn library. A teacher encouraged her to audition for Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, Esmeralda transferred to Harvard University with a full scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1976. Shortly after graduation, she and her husband Frank Cantor founded CANTOMEDIA, a film and media production company that has won numerous awards for excellence in educational and documentary filmmaking. With the publication of her first memoir When I was Puerto Rican, the Washington Post hailed Esmeralda as “a welcome new voice, full of passion and authority.” Her first novel, America's Dream, has been published in six languages and made into a movie by executive producer Edward James Olmos. Her second memoir, Almost a Woman, received an Alex Award from the American Library Association, and was made into a Peabody-award winning movie for PBS Masterpiece Theatre’s “American Collection.”


It gets long )

The people from my class who went--three women (one in her late 20s, one in her 40s, and one in her 60s) and one man (in his 30s), all Puerto Rican--loved the talk, and I did too. And I felt a swirl of gratitude and pride, pride because if I hadn't persuaded them to come, they wouldn't have gotten to, and gratitude, because if it wasn't for their coming, I wouldn't have probably gone.

It was a Good Experience.


Esmeralda Santiago
(photo source: centerforfiction.org)

marriages

Mar. 17th, 2018 04:54 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I really love the work of the photographer James Morgan.** He takes me all over the world--like to a Newar wedding ceremony:



Mr. Morgan explains the photo:
Among Newar people in Nepal, young girls are first married to a bael fruit, as in this image. They will later be married to the sun. The third marriage is to a man
Source on Twitter; source on Instagram

Fascinating! I just can't stop thinking about the possibilities of consecutive marriages like this--it's sparked a story in me, I think. I can feel it tingling to get out.

If you'd like a little more on the Newar marriage traditions, here's a post that goes into more detail about the marriage to the bael fruit, and here's one about the second marriage, the one to the sun. (My story won't be about their marriage traditions; I'm intending on taking the idea somewhere else.)

**You can follow him on Instagram or Twitter, if you're on either of those platforms, or just check out his website.
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
I thought these stamps were just cool because hey: cool image! Black and eclipse-y. I've received some on letters and I'd recently bought a sheet.



But then [personal profile] missroserose sent me a letter with this stamp and pointed out THAT IT CHANGES WHEN EXPOSED TO HEAT.

And I tested it, and it's TRUE. if you expose the stamp to heat, the silhouetted moon suddenly becomes pale and reveals all its features. SO COOL.

What a fun thing for the post office to do. Thank you, USPS.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Valentine's day just happened, but this little valentine was apparently given to Mrs. Escobar not in February but in June--June 2011.

That year, Mrs. Escobar must have been reading A Cup of Friendship (my book group's next read)--it was the year the book came out. Alina gave one of those pictures that switch between one scene and another depending on how you tilt them (this one is either one elephant or several), pasted on a small piece of paper and with a pink heart colored around it.

Mrs. Escobar stuck it in the book and lost it when it got returned to the library. But that was six-and-a-half years ago. The book surely circulated after that. Everyone else who borrowed the book left it in?

Or did Mrs. Escobar maybe only read the book a few months ago, using an old card from Alina as a bookmark? And then the bookmark was returned with the book?

I think I'll leave it in the book too. It can be a treat for someone else to find. Mrs. Escobar, Alina, and all the future readers of this copy of A Cup of Friendship

found in a book

found in a book
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Lucio Perez came to the United States from Guatemala in the 1990s, undocumented. He's worked here peacefully ever since and never been in any trouble, but he came to the attention of ICE in 2009 when he and his wife stepped into a Dunkin Donuts, leaving their kids in the car. Charges against him were dropped but--well, you can guess how the story goes. He ended up scheduled for deportation in October 2017. Instead, he took sanctuary in an Amherst church and has been there ever since.

Photo of Lucio and his daughter Lucy, taken by Sarah Crosby for the Hampshire Gazette



The community has rallied around him and his family, but life has been very tough for them--emotionally, because the family only can visit three times a week, but also financially, since he obviously isn't able to work at his previous job.

As one way to earn some money, he's been offering group and private Spanish conversation lessons. Although it's not something I could afford to make a regular habit, I took one of the private ones--it's money toward a good cause and beneficial for me, too.

more about the lesson )
asakiyume: (good time)
Last week's prompt for the students in Holyoke was "This cat is very strange ..." I did a couple of illustrations to go with some students' descriptions:

This cat looks like a dog. The cat ears are hanging to the floor, has a long tail but the cat skin is red and blue.

Then there was this cat:

I was in the park and I seen a cat with three eyes looking at a bird.

What did you think when you saw this three-eyed cat?

He has a better chance of catching the bird! LOL

A few students were suspicious of black cats, though when I asked one if black cats were bad luck, she said,
No, cats are not bad luck, they just cats. They are good of seeing ghosts around, though.

When looking for an image to illustrate that woman's writing, I found this fun story about Sable, the crossing-guard cat, who comes out every day to watch the kids safely cross the street to school in the morning and leaving school in the afternoon.

Sable has been watching over the students from across the street for about a year. Tamara Morrison owns the cat. She says one day, Sable just walked outside to greet the students, and he's been doing it ever since ... [Tamara] has now bought a safety vest for Sable to make him an honorary member of the Enterprise Safety Patrol.

asakiyume: (miroku)
Wakanomori is providing me with all kinds of interesting items these days. For today, have some cat kanji. It looks made up, doesn't it? But it's a bone fide form of seal script--that is, stylized kanji used for signature seals. The source is 篆楷字典 (Tenkai Jiten), a dictionary of seal script (tensho) and kaisho, a very clear, blocky style used in inscriptions.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Rampisham Down is where, from 1939 until 2011, the transmitters for the BBC World Service in Europe were located--"twenty-six iron giants stand ... with a grey cat's cradle in their hands," in the words of Talis Kimberley in her song "Rampisham Down." They were so well known that when my mother came to visit us when we were living in Dorset--where Rampisham Down is located--she was excited to drive by them.

A friend gave me Talis Kimberley's wonderful song about them, which starts with a message on a picture postcard of them and then goes on to describe them and their stalwart duty:

Eight miles northwest of Dorchester
ST5401**
On the high chalk land where the Romans were
Upon Rampisham Down
Oh twenty-six iron giants stand
ST5401
With a grey cat's cradle in their hands
Upon Rampisham Down
Upon Rampisham Down

Here the news comes in and the news goes out
ST5401
And the world will hear what it's all about
Upon Rampisham Down
...
And when the world looks dark, as it sometimes will
ST5401
Then look to the giants on the high chalk hill
Upon Rampisham Down...

*This is the grid reference in Great Britain's Ordinance Survey maps that Rampisham Down is located on
Rampisham Down
(source)


The song--and the concept of those twenty-six faithful iron giants--really touched me, so I was sorry to learn from Wakanomori that they'd come down, victims of changes in how broadcast technology works. Here's a short (2.07 minutes) video about it:



That video is from August 2017. Let's have a moment of silence and respect for these hard workers.



... I'll post my picture for inktober next.
asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
If you're going to meet an actual hero, a freedom fighter and former political prisoner who helped birth a new nation--that's YOU, Mr. Xanana Gusmão--you would do well not to be 45 minutes late. Alas, Google maps misled me about how long it would take me to drive from my house to the Pell Center, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Mr. Gusmão and a panel of distinguished experts were going to be talking about the future of Timor-Leste. And then I made a wrong turn at the very end and got lost. By the time I was driving down Bellevue Avenue, past RIDONCULOUS mansions, I was more than a half-hour late. But damn it! I did not drive all that way just to ... go home again.

Finally I found the place. A guy waiting in a bus kitted out like a trolley told me yes, this was it.

The talk was happening in a room with gilded Baroque-style accents.


Source

between entering and **the kiss** )

I hung back in the hallway, hoping to somehow say something, anything, to Xanana. I knew I wouldn't really ask him if he could shapeshift, or if he'd like to collaborate with me in writing a story based on this experience, and I didn't want to just gush that I was a fan, but I wanted to say **something**.

And I got my chance. He walked by and saw my expectant face and stopped and smiled at me. And I started blurting out that one small thing he'd done that made me admire him was get out and direct traffic one day in Dili, when there was a traffic jam. I think I said more presidents should do things like that. But before I got two words out, he had lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it, all the while looking at me with an expression of friendly affection.

I can see why people would die for him--or better yet, live and struggle for him. He was EVERY BIT as charismatic as I thought he would be, and then some.


source
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
I was driving to the post office, and I noticed that the car in front of me had a sticker of Garnet, from Steven Universe, on the back of the car. Also, the car was from out of state.

Garnet



I haven't watched much Steven Universe, but I've really enjoyed the few episodes I've seen. I felt warmly toward that car. Then, coincidence of coincidences, it turned into the post office parking lot too. "Wow, someone from New York is going to the post office here in B'town," I thought, and also, "I can tell them how much I like their Garnet sticker." I followed the driver into the post office. They got in line; I had to fill out a customs form, so I was standing nearby.

"Excuse me," I said.

"Oh!" they said, startled, and made to get out of my way.

"No, no--you're fine! I just wanted to say, I really like your Garnet sticker, on your car."

"Oh!" they said again, but a pleased and happy one this time. "Thanks!"

Then it was their turn at the counter. On their way out they smiled at me and said goodbye.

I had no clue what gender, if any, they were, but they inhabited their skin and their space with a pleasant, easy charm. They looked more or less like this:

asakiyume: (Em reading)
The British Journal of Photography has a post featuring classrooms around the world, taken by Julian Germain.

I found them so attractive and thought provoking that I went to his page for the classroom project, which includes photos not included in that article. The international photos start around image 9.

They conveyed a lot not just in what each photo contained or lacked (though my eye was drawn to the stamp "donated by Ogean Energy" on a desk in a captionless photo--donors always having to get their due), but in their side-by-side contrasts. An all-black classroom in St. Louis, followed by an all-white classroom, also in St. Louis:





A class in Peru where everyone is in uniform, followed by another Peruvian classroom where the kids are in ordinary dress:





And, of course, classrooms of all boys or all girls.

Germain says,
We are responsible for the world they’re growing up in ... Despite being absent from the images, adults permeate every corner of every image. I like to think the work is confrontational; hundreds and hundreds of children and young people looking back at us with such intensity. I find that challenging.
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
I want to do a post about the power of calendars, in honor of [personal profile] yhlee's Ninefox Gambit, which I just finished, but first I want to share with you this great beer label from a small New York State brewery:



Red-lipped woman with a smoking gun! And this text:

From behind the iron curtain comes our Czech'rd Past. We're not ashamed, and have nothing to hide. No regrets with this classic Bohemian Pilsner. Served cold, like revenge, it cuts to the chase. It's the choice to make when you can't afford any more mistakes in life.


Here's a can with the label still on:



We have one can left, which we can maybe drink as we take pictures of the crescent shadows during the partial version of the eclipse that we'll get here--or maybe not. It is, after all, still a work day. The CALENDAR tells me that. More on Ninefox Gambit and calendars anon.
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
I liked the people who were waiting at the red light with me at the intersection of US route 202 and Massachusetts route 33. I was in the middle of three lanes, with my windows rolled down. To my left I could hear pleasant music. I stole a glance: the driver was large-necked, middle-aged woman with a relaxed and pleasant face. To my right was a guy on a motorcycle. He had a grizzled beard, maybe six inches long, that tapered to a point. Someone in a pickup truck driving across the intersection honked and hollered, and the guy on the motorcycle laughed and waved. The pickup truck person waved back. In my rearview mirror, I could see the guy behind me, young man with a baseball cap on and a little figurine of a rooster on his dashboard. It was a good smattering of humanity.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
My dad has a friend--and now I have a friend--who co-owns a vineyard and winery--the Hudson Chatham winery. I was especially interested to get a look at it because I'd just copyedited a novella by Joyce Chng in which the protagonist inherits a vineyard. It was really cool to see the actual reality.

My big takeaway was that a vineyard is HARD WORK. Here is my friend pruning the vines in a cold time of year (she gave me permission to use the photo)



Here are those same grapevines this past weekend. Lush! The Hudson Chatham winery grows both white and red wine grapes, and many of the wines it makes are what are called estate wines--made totally from grapes grown on site. (This isn't true for a lot of small New York wineries, which make wine from grapes they buy in, and even the Hudson Chatham winery buys in some grapes so it can make certain sorts of wines, like Chardonnay.)

grape trellises

Here, up close, are some Seyval Blanc grapes, for white wine. They'll eventually turn a yellow color; they're about as big as the green table grapes you get in the supermarket.

Seyval Blanc grapes

Seyval Blanc grapes

And here, just beginning to get some color, are some Chelois grapes, used to make red wine. They're smaller, only slightly larger than the wild fox grapes you can see out in woods and fields.

Chelois grapes

photos of pressers, barrels, bottling machines, corking machines, and labels )

Last but not least, the wine on display in the tasting room!

wines on display

My friend invited me to come help out with the harvest this fall. I want to give it a try!


asakiyume: (far horizon)
If it wasn't for today's Google doodle, I wouldn't have learned about the Silent Protest of 1917 or the massacre of East St. Louis. It's a deeply evil streak in humanity that gets people to delight in the slaughter of the defenseless. I'm full of deep gratitude and admiration for the people, like Ida B. Wells and James Weldon Johnson, who have the courage to fight against that evil. (After seeing the Google doodle, I read this article on the Silent Protest.)

Profile

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
asakiyume

February 2019

S M T W T F S
     12
345 6 789
101112131415 16
171819 20212223
2425262728  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Feb. 20th, 2019 06:09 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios