asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
(With this job I'm likely to be mainly a Friday-Saturday-Sunday poster, but I'll try to be reading and commenting on people's blogs on other days.)

The crow and the dove
This morning was *warm* and although the hills are still waiting to spring alive again, there are hints of life all around--pussy willows, birdsong. On a morning run saw a magnificent crow up so close, close enough to admire his bill and exchange glances and hear the wind whistling in his wings as he flew off.

Later I heard a distant radio--but it wasn't so distant: it was on the other side of the road, and there was a woman sitting there on her stoop in her bathrobe, enjoying the sun slowly climbing above the trees on the hill across the road. I waved and she smiled and waved. Something like that is as good as sharing a whole meal with someone.

Then a little further on in the run a mourning dove flew up into a tree and the sun shone through its white tail feathers, glowing ... After the flood the dove and the crow became neighbors and told their kids stories about Noah's crazy habits.

music
And music. I have been listening to lots of cumbia and now want to learn to dance it, couples-style. Past me is looking at present me in frank amazement. There there, past self. It's all good. But what I'm sharing here are two songs that are not only nice to listen too but also have cool videos. The first I discovered through Afropop Worldwide: "Tenemos Voz"--very cool animation and a great song.

And "Zapata se Queda" is spectacular in a different way.

Gender of the Day
There's Twitter bot called @genderofthdday that comes up with different amusing combos each day. "The gender of the day is the smell of stale beer and the sound of a dial-up modem"; "The gender of the day is a dragon with a lute." (Actually, I'm realizing as I trawl the back pages that it gives several per day.)

A couple of days ago it gave "The gender of the day is a tired basilisk on a pegasus," and I thought that one needed an illustration, so:
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.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
In this video, a guy pours couscous over a plate and plays the edge of the plate with a bow to make musical vibrations, which then causes the couscous to move into beautiful patterns.




This inspired me to try similar, except I don't have a thin metal plate or a bow--or, right at the moment, couscous. What I do have is a cookie sheet, rice, and a saw. So!

Here's the rice on the cookie sheet:

random rice

Here it is after I shook the tray back and forth. The way I was shaking it, the rice all clustered together like a murmuration of starlings:

rice when I've shaken the sheet

Here's a roll of duct tape on the floor. I'm going to set the tray on it and then bang the saw over the top of the tray:

base for the sheet, plus saw

Here's the tray in place ...

sheet on the base

And here's how I'm going to bang the saw:

how I'm going to vibrate the sheet

And here are the first results!

after vibration (1)

Not exactly symmetrical, but still very interesting! The rice collects where the sheet is *not* vibrating.

a couple more before and after shots )

I am so science!!





asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today Matt, of Where the Hell [now toned down to Heck] Is Matt fame (videos here and here), came to dance in South Amherst.

I was one of the first people to arrive, but gradually more and more people came, until we had a small crowd. There was a woman whose name was Forest--not Forest Something, or Something Forest, just Forest. She's a dancer. There was a young meteorologist, and an acquaintance of mine who does shape-note singing, and a pastor who is going to let me go up into her belfry to take pictures of her bell and who has a little daughter. There was a woman with her two grandchildren. So many people, happy to dance!

He came with just a smartphone to film with! And asked for a stepladder and a chair, and people found those things--and then for someone willing to film, and guess who was willing: [livejournal.com profile] wakanomori!

Here he is consulting with Matt (forgive the crummy photo; I didn't bring my camera (crazy), so this is taken with my cell phone)



Here are two pictures of the crowd that [livejournal.com profile] wakanomori took from his vantage point on the ladder (you can click through to see bigger) (Also, the pastor's church is over on the right as you look at the picture):





Here's the front row, where the kids were (my cell phone picture again):



After it was over, one guy called out, "You've been all over the world--what's one thing you've learned?" Matt thought about it a minute and said, "That people want to be helpful."

It's true--you could see it in action right there. A sunshiny thought.

Matt collects way more video footage than he uses in his final video, and what he got today may not make it in--but it'll be up on his website, eventually. When it is, I'll link.

Last of all, a posed shot together :-)



[Edit, from 2018. I'm going through carefully putting photos that were only available on Livejournal into my Dreamwidth photo storage, so that when I cease to pay for an LJ account, the photos will continue to be visible. As I do, I'm revisiting the past from the future. In this case, I know now, which I didn't then, that this Matt video would be lackluster compared to the early ones; that you can't go to places based on popular demand and have as interesting and diverse a video, and that the enthusiasm of the earlier years can't be maintained for ever and ever. Matt deserves to--and ought to--move on to a new project. Hopefully now he is/has.]


asakiyume: (turnip lantern)






To take your mind off the very sad news about Terry Pratchett, here is a 28-second video of Jiji acting as goalkeeper in a game of tinfoil-ball soccer.




asakiyume: (Em)
I believe I've mentioned Nicola White and mudlarking before: mudlarking is scavenging for found items on the banks of the Thames. Nicola White, an artist, keeps a blog of her finds--a marvelous blog (link here; the top entry is on vulcanite screw bottle stoppers: fascinating).

One thing she looks for in particular is messages in bottles. The BBC did a five-minute report on her search for the messages of the Thames. She reckons that about one in every 200 bottles that she finds has a message in it. She has words of advice for message writers, too: write in pencil, as the sun tends to bleach the ink in pen messages.



Today on Twitter she posted this magnificent mermaid that she came across. It's made of some sort of cast metal, and she thinks it may have religious significance:



Here's a post she did on votive images and other religious items she's found by the water's edge.


asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
I still can't seem to bring myself to talk about all the ideas bubbling around in my head, so instead, here's something fun. Topatoco sent me some things I ordered in a box filled with packing peanuts--but not evil, styrofoam packing peanuts. No: these packing peanuts were made from corn starch.



The thing about them is, they can dissolve in water.


How can you learn a fact like that and not want to try it?



Yeah, they smelled like popcorn as they were dissolving. Makes me **almost** want to try to eat them. Almost.


asakiyume: (far horizon)
From NASA, A beautiful visualization of ocean currents, showing how the waters of Planet Earth move.

(Good for story research, too)



Here is a link to the NASA page where you can download the video.


asakiyume: (the source)
It rained so hard the street was streaming, and as always, when the street gets like that, I want to send a boat down it. So today I turned to the internet, refreshed my memory on how to make a paper boat (I think last tried when I was a kid and reading Curious George), and sailed it down the street.

Here is the street



And here is the boat, prior to launch



And here is her 20-second maiden voyage!



Alas, she took on water. . .



asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
Doing some research, I came across this moving song, "Timor Oan Mos Bele," ("We Timorese Can Do It"), sung in Tetun, Portuguese, and English. It's addressed to everyone in Timor-Leste and urges them not to lose faith in the possibility of a good future for the country.



hatudu ba ema katak Timor oan mos bele,
labele lakon esperansa tuba rai metin
no lao ba oin nafatin

We have to show people that we Timorese can do it
We can't lose hope; we must stand firm
And continue to walk forward


The little signs say things like "Fight Corruption," "Education Starts in the Household," "Stop Using Violence," and "Create Peace and Love."

There are lots of tensions in Timor-Leste; violence and corruption1 are problems, and I bet it's easy to get discouraged. But lots of people are doing such great work--I'm not talking about million-dollar initiatives; I'm thinking just of the ordinary people I met, who are running computer classes or transportation services, or investing in a washing machine and then offering laundry services, etc. And those are just the people I was aware of from my brief stay. But meanwhile there's a law in the works that may restrict journalistic freedom, and there've been some pretty dramatic police actions . . . so, I appreciate the spirit of this song, and I hope people hang on to this spirit.

Timor Oan Mos Bele Halo--Viva Timor!


(And I do love learning language through listening to songs. Phrases I learned today include fiar-an, "believe in yourself," and ida-idak, "everybody.")

1Like this worrying story about petty police corruption that came down the line this morning from the East Timor Action Network :-(


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
One of my earliest memories of Internet goodness is of searching for a recipe for wild mushrooms--this would have been sometime between 1998 and 2005--and finding one offered by a guy who identified his location as Turkish Kurdistan. We had a brief back and forth, and I thought, Now this place is personal to me. I know someone there. I know he used to pick wild thyme with his grandmother.

Fast forward to last summer. One of my best memories from Timor-Leste was of being served deep-fried plantain chips, homemade, and of sharing the leftovers with friends. I wanted to make those myself, to feel close (because eating food brings us close) to Timor-Leste. And the best recipe I found? Was a Nigerian one.



So easy to follow, so clear, so pleasant! (And the recipe was a success)

Not only did this bring me close to Timor-Leste, it made me feel close to Nigeria. I had one previous experience with Nigerian food: akara--wonderful, croquette-like deep-fried items, made with ground black-eyed peas, with onions and hot peppers to flavor it. I bought some at a local market, loved it, wanted to know how to make it, and had found recipes online, but was stymied by one key detail--getting the skins off the black-eyed peas.

Oh My God, the time that took. I'd soak the black-eyed peas, and as they expanded, the skins would begin to come loose. Then I'd rub them together in the soaking water to get more loose, and then I'd strain off the skins (which would float), while trying to keep the peas themselves from pouring out. It was such a slow process! I mean, kind of relaxing, too, if you have nothing else to do, but. . .

Well, Flo, the woman behind All Nigerian Recipes, has the answer for that, too:

two videos about getting the skins off beans )

So by this time I'm really loving this Youtube channel, loving the recipes, loving the fact that Flo responds to comments--and loving her personal videos, too. Like this one:



Pretty cool, right? Not only does Flo put up fabulous cooking videos, she also has an *intense* day job!

And because the Internet lets us make friends with people all over the world--just write hello, just hit send--I thought . . . maybe she would let me interview her.

Then I checked and saw that she has close to 30,000 subscribers. Her top video has more than half a million views, and her top ten videos all have over 100,000 views. I'm not the only one who loves her. So then I felt more hesitant about getting in touch. . . . But I overcame that and wrote to her, and she said yes!

So come back on Monday, everyone, when Flo will answer my questions about cooking, YouTube, and self-publishing a cookbook.

Meantime, enjoy her channel and maybe have a Nigerian meal tonight.

Video List Here!



asakiyume: (Kaya)
I promise it won't be all activism all the time at asakiyume dot livejournal dot com, but sometimes things happen all at once.

Back in 2010, when I was doing research for Pen Pal, I found out about Africatown, a unique community in Mobile, Alabama, home to descendants of people brought to America on the last slave ship, in 1860. People in this community spoke African languages well into the twentieth century. When I went to Alabama, I visited a memorial in the community (pictures here), and I've always thought it would be great if someone from the area were to write a history of it--or historical fiction.

But alas, what's happening instead is an oil pipeline is being put right through the community, with no communication with community members, jobs promised but not delivered--the typical story of disregard of the wellbeing of people in minority communities. As one protestor points out, a violation of the Environmental Justice Act of 1984. As this protest was being filmed, the construction crew were demolishing a baseball field at the local elementary school--now the children can't go out for physical education. The pipeline also runs right next to a community garden.



The community seems well organized and has at least some support in the wider area. Hopefully their protest will be heard and some changes will be made to the route of the pipeline . . . though where and how. . . can it be stopped altogether--who knows. . .

Meanwhile more on Irom Sharmila, from the previous entry. She has a court date this Thursday. [livejournal.com profile] amaebi took the initiative and wrote to John Kerry, in his capacity as secretary of state, via this handy contact form, to ask that he press the Indian government on her behalf and on behalf of her cause. Inspired, I did too. I'll enclose the letter under a cut in case anyone else would like to send a letter and wants some thoughts on talking points.

If people would like to write to Sharmila directly, I do have a contact address. Send me a message via LJ, and I'll share it. I intend to write her myself, tonight or tomorrow.

letter to Secretary Kerry )

I promise next entry will be something lighter!


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
How to be an authority figure: Carry a clipboard

After a band concert at the high school the other day, I was waiting with all the other parents for my child to emerge from the band room. It was a real confusion of people, families waiting, meeting their performer and leaving, kids talking to one another, adults talking . . . And in that, a kid came up to me and said, "Do you know where we pick up the butter bread? I ordered four loaves."

I was really puzzled--then realized I happened to (a) be standing behind a table and (b) be holding my clipboard. I carry a clipboard around a lot--it gives me a hard surface to write on; it's a habit I got into in high school. And I've found that a clipboard identifies me as an authority figure--never mind that the clipboard has an I brake for mutants bumper sticker on the back that I put there in 1983, during a brief window in my life when, thanks to my roommate, I read X-men comics. The clipboardy authority trumps the bumper sticker.

It has happened other times. Once I was watching a 5-K road race--with the clipboard--and someone came up and asked me about the route and where to sign in.

I think it's like wearing a laminated card on a lanyard or a card attached to a shirt pocket with a silver clip--details that make you look like someone in the know.

Constellations before you knew their names

Were there constellations you discovered before you knew what they were, and did you give your own name to them? A comment by [livejournal.com profile] ap_aelfwine in [livejournal.com profile] sovay's journal got me thinking about noticing the pleiades and not knowing what they were, but thinking that they were the most wonderful thing in the sky, a tiny, mini dipper, a tiny ship. A bunch of stars who hadn't gotten the message that they were supposed to put some distance between themselves and their neighbors, and so huddled right on top of one another. ... "Tiny ship" and "Very tiny dipper" was how I thought of them.

What searching for an agent is like

It's like trying to get a lawyer to take your case. You're going to have to go before a judge, and you want a good lawyer to argue for you. So you present your case to different lawyers, but they're very busy and maybe your case doesn't seem very promising to them.

It's heartening to know that in this day and age one can--to continue the metaphor--argue one's case oneself. I really liked what [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar had to say on the topic here. And in between self-publishing and big-six publishing are small presses, which offer some of the advantages of both routes--not sure how to work that into my metaphor. (The metaphor breaks down anyway, because it shifts from the lawyer being the agent and the judge being the publisher to self-representation being self-publishing and the judge being the reading public. But maybe small presses are like a combination idealistic lawyer and activist judiciary.)

A singing marsh
shaky cam!




asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Two gin and tonics, enriched and flavored by sweetfern (spicy, aromatic) and heal-all (can't discern its flavor,but it's in the mint family, and its name tells me it heals all!)

I practiced on a skateboard this morning. I still don't get it at all, but at least I see where and how I must get it. Lean to the left, lean to the right. Balance.

Goldfinches, hardly visible, but audible in the unrelenting blue sky. Sparrows. Mourning doves. Hawks. Also: things that rustle, invisibly, in the greenery. Snakes, chipmunks, squirrels, mice.

In bloom: yarrow, spotted knapweed, birdsfoot trefoil, black-eyed susans, meadowsweet, goatsbeard (mainly to seed), crown vetch, queen anne's lace, chicory, day lilies, purple clover, rabbit's foot clover, hop clover, butter-and-eggs (toadflax), purple toadflax, poke blossoms.

Could it be that the world is made of mathematics, and when we make music, we're reaching for those principles? Here is the number Tau (it's Pi x 2) played as music:

asakiyume: (bluebird)






Yesterday at dusk, two wood thrushes were competing to see who could claim to have the best voice in the darkening trees:



After listening, I closed my eyes a while, then opened them, and the sun was rising.

morning sun through trees

That's life in the land of hours and days!


asakiyume: (bluebird)
The coolest part of today was before the sun rose. The birds were singing it up at 4:30, but they were drowsy again by 7:00



Jiji-the-cat knows how to stay cool...

hot day, cool cat

I like hot days. The air has so many different flavors, and you appreciate a current of cool in it as much as a stream or spring of cold water. On this hot day, I picked red currants. (Among the many other things I like are berries and red things. So today was perfect.)

red currants

Now I have two bowls full:

two bowls of red currants

There will be red currant jelly sometime in the near future.


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
There are probably not many who read me who don't read [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, but for the few--here, via [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, is the latest "Where's Matt" video, featuring, among other places, Damascus, Syria; Kabul, Afghanistan; Karachi, Pakistan; Pyongyang, North Korea; and Irbil, Iraq, as well as Vienna, Port au Prince, Talinn, New Orleans, Kigali, Terelj (Mongolia), and many more, including two cities I've actually lived in--Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Kyoto, Japan ([livejournal.com profile] khiemtran, it's the Fushimi Inari shrine, I think). As in other videos, he also dances with animals, under water, and this time he also dances on the deck of what I guess is an aircraft carrier--the USS Abraham Lincoln.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
in which to seek your fortune




Every single moment of that video is poetry and story:



map your future in your dreams:



Add feathers, so your hopes will soar:





Prepare your net ...



... to catch the sky itself



You may have moments of doubt



... but do not be afraid. The wide world awaits.

asakiyume: (man on wire)
. . . watch the latest bicycle parkour video from Danny MacAskill. Can humans *do* this? Yes they can. ([livejournal.com profile] wakanomori first showed me this. Marvelous.)

asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Some time ago, [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving posted an otherworldly photo of Slovenian Koranti (or Kurenti) dancers, doing a dance they do to drive away winter. You can see the photo (and another, of one of the boys with his mask off) here.

I thought of those dancers last night, when we were visited by Morris dancers in their costumes of tatters. [livejournal.com profile] marmota_monax mentioned that there were videos of the Slovenian dancers on YouTube. I thought this one was especially lovely. It's a 1:13 minutes long. Listen to the bells!



(If you have a YouTube account, and you like the video, please go and give it lots of stars... I accidentally hit one star when I meant to hit five, and I feel terrible about it--I can't undo the rating...)

ETA YouTube user cvetkoci has a couple of beautiful ones, very short. here is one at night, around a fire, and here is another of the dancers wandering from home to home.



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