We're ten years older, but wiser?

Ten years later, the country remembers the devastation it faced in 2001. Could it really be ten years from my geeky freshman self, sitting in french class while my instructor wept, the head master making the rumors materialize on the overhead speakers. There was an immediate need to know exactly where our families were, a pit lay on the bottom of our stomachs till we could hear their voices. Our hearts ached for everyone who suffered, directly and indirectly, from those calculated attacks. It was a punch in the stomach and we had the wind knocked out of us. All of us, the world. In our NYC suburb, we all knew someone whose life changed for the worse. Yet, it was almost masochistic the number of times the footage was replayed, it was shocking, heart wrenching, and the media set record viewings. We couldn't tear ourselves away. That was what extremism looks like, we thought, without perspective and a value for the sanctity of life. What rose up from the ash and debris was most shocking of all, in this polarized political environment in America, which we have accepted as reality - we united, like never before. Could we channel all that amazing patriotic and heroic post 9/11 energy and make some progress in washington? Instead, we went to war with a country that had nothing to do with those attacks, Bush's personal vendetta, his life's mission. And he exploited our broken hearts to pave the road to a senseless war in Iraq. Sanctity of life? Here in lies the parallels. But no matter who you talk to, God's on THEIR side. Everyone remembers that patriotism, but no one knows how it became so intangible. Because here we are, ten years later, far removed our sense of unity and togetherness, sitting on opposite sides of the lunch table, making inflammatory remarks, blocking any legislation that might stand to improve the quality of this life. This precious life. Let us not waste it.


beauty & bounty

Green bean, potato, tomato pesto salad - yum!

Raw desserts.... Apricot chew bars with pepitas & coconut

Raw thumbprint cookies made with sunflower seed butter, almonds, oats, dates and wild mustang grape jam

Goat cheese and tomato jam toasts

Almond cake with whipped cream and strawberries = A very happy birthday boy.

Brooklyn farmer's market!


farm lust!

This weekend, much to my delight, I discovered that my best girlfriends were also consumed with farm lust! We salivate at the idea of growing vegetables, making our own compost, milking goats and sitting down to a table of VERY local and beautiful food. The ability to truly understand and value where that meal came from. We are giddy at the idea of animals and soil, of planting seeds and picking fruit, of rolling pastures and lush overgrown gardens. Canning tomatoes, homemade jam, and fresh churned butter? I think it might be time for a cold shower...

Eat your heart out, Monsanto frankenseeds. My green zebras taste like sunshine.

Maybe its too much time in suburban waste land, of mindless consumerism and a feeling of - how much more out of touch could we really be? Maybe we are sick of our televisions telling us what to think, beauty magazines telling us that nothing in life is more important than size 2 mini skirts, or the realization that money really does make the world go round? But hey, I think we want off the merry-go-round. It's making us sick, and its melting the polar ice caps, and lets face it, our priorities are totally out of wack. Unique to our age group, we are also growing up part of the generation that asks the previous "What the f*** were you thinking?" And HOW DID WE GET HERE? And how will we ever get back to a simpler life, more connected to each other, the earth and the life we were granted? I can't say that everyone in my age group falls in line with this thinking, but I feel a movement stirring... in my bones... and I like it.

Fabulous trends like roof top gardens, seed exchanges, farmers markets, and a belief in the healing power of local organic produce is reason enough to keep us farm lusts optimistic. We want to escape the realities of modern life, the nuclear waste, the impending environmental catastrophe, the smoke stacks, the burried by products of oil refinement, and the stupid SUV's that take up two parking spots at the grocery store. We reject the obnoxious entitlement issues that manifest-destiny-esque mentality has given Americans, and our international bad rap its given us. We are getting fat, lazy and mindless, and if we don't do something now, we are going to materialize into a pixar movie where robots are left to clean up an uninhabitable planet, "wall-eeeeee!"

Farming is hard, you have to wake up really early, you get dirty and sometimes, even though you did everything you were supposed to -- your crop sucks and your tomatoes get blight! You have to milk twice a day, and you have to shovel shit. But, no other lifestyle can truly offer you first hand experiences in the circle of life. Where your animals mow your lawn with their teeth while fertilizing your soil, where the compost of your biodegradables nourishes your garden patch and makes your zucchini taste like gold. On a farm, everything moves in a circular motion as it should. In a modern consumer driven society, the only direction is forward at 100 mph and there are no rear view mirrors.

Local food production will save the world.


spice girl

So, in a deviation from my usual work out routine of getting up and making coffee, I recently began lifting weights. Not entering a female body building competition just yet, I decided after a winter of hibernation and the over consumption of cheese and wine, I need a little bit more spring in my step. So in an attempt to eat more protein and less crap, I started drinking something called Vega. Ah! It's ALIIIIIIIVE!

Its a challenge to find veggie proteins that don't taste like saw dust. I dig Vega for its protein and nutrition, certainly not its taste. This dish on the other hand is healthy, veggie, and has protein rich seeds + legumes to boot. Amidst the chaos of life, I found refuge in the kitchen this week. So here's how you can add some spice to your life:

Potato Chickpea Salad (Serve hot, or cold over greens)

Potato Mixture:
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup) + 1 tbs olive oil for saute
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c sun dried tomato paste
1 1/2 tbs mango chutney
2 large sweet potatoes diced + boiled (until softened but still firm, this isn't a recipe for mashed potatoes!)
2 large red potatoes diced + boiled
1 large green apple, diced small

Make chickpeas separately:
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of salt

Serve with a tablespoon of raw sunflower seeds on top, and some chopped cilantro if you have it.
(I didn't have any cilantro so its only garnished with raw pumpkin seeds in the photo below.)

Saute onions till soft, 5 minutes over medium heat, then add ginger + garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add spices, toss onions to coat in spice, saute one minute then add the sun dried tomato paste + chutney, scrape bottom of pan, use the the paste + chutney to pick up all the flavor. Saute one minute. If it gets too dry you can add broth or water to make it saucier. Or, if you do want it to be a cold dish (salad) you can wait until this mixture has cooled, and add 1 1/2 c of plain yogurt and some fresh green onion (I didn't want any dairy in mine). -- After the mix has cooked, before it dries out, remove from heat and add the potatoes (drained) + apple.

To cook chickpeas saute them in the oil, add spices and cook for about 5 minutes. Mix with potato mixture OR add it atop when serving. Delicious over a bed of spinach that has been tossed in lemon and oil. I served it up with some sauted rainbow swiss chard. ENJOY!

lessons from mother.... earth

"The universe is indifferent", according to Don Draper on Mad Men. I'm not sure I agree, I think the universe has an off kilter sense of humor that lands us in awkward circumstances for its very own amusement. From these situations we can assimilate lessons, learn from them, and in the future avoid them if at all possible. Here is one thing I've learned amidst the turns, twists and stumbles of fate: love your mother. Whomever she may be. And maybe, if you're lucky, she'll love you back, and plant you in a bright and sunny spot, where you can grow and thrive.

So you've decided to plant a garden, you sew the seeds, fertilize the soil, provide it sunlight, and rain. You are patient with its growth cycles, you talk to it, you intervene when you see it needs pruning, water, or light. You also give it a lot of love, in such case its safe to assume that the garden will love you back. What more does a bean sprout need? But if you step, stomp, and spit on it, if you scream, yell, and kick it, it will wither up and die. If you grow it up just so you can cut it down to size, while you tower over it with your garden shears, it won't be beautiful, productive or happy. It will be a sad stump of a sprout. What a crying shame. People should really give more thought to gardening. It's a huge responsibility.

So love your mother, and if you're lucky she will love you back. Fortunately for the universe, there are mothers everywhere, with keen instincts to grow, care for, and nurture those of us that need a little bit more tending to. Lucky for me, there are many women who put me in their brightest light, who shower me with support. Daunting as the garden shears towering over me might be, I continue to rise, grow, and shine on.

"... you may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will, but the scent of the roses will hang round it still."


The Strike


It begins at the roots, rises up towards the sky, she comes as swiftly as she leaves.

I woke up one morning to the sound of screaming.

She was stirring somewhere deep.

I found myself shaking uncontrollably from its piercing wrenching shrieks.

She was stirring somewhere deep.

I felt it in my arms and legs and hands and feet, my chattering teeth.

She was stirring somewhere deep.

I stood on shaking ground, as the the soil began to sink.

She stopped for a moment, and I finally had relief. Breath. Just breath.

But she began again, stirring in me, somewhere deep. I couldn't reach.

The crying sounds of earthly pains, of exhausted weeps, pulling heart strings.

I tried to shake it from my core, but it was far far too deep. I couldn't reach.

The trees began to holler, the grass began to cry, into itself, the earth begins to shrink.

I woke up one morning to the sound of screaming.

It begins at the roots, rises up towards the sky, she comes as swiftly as she leaves.



Earthlings... ate my appetite whole

I have inflicted far too much information on myself in regard to food. Call it a binge on all matters of the appetite. I'm a foodie, a bonified cheese loving, meat eating carnivore. I've loved eating my whole life, even as a kid, I licked plates clean and asked for seconds, I'd cry if you ate my cookies. But here I am, a "grown up", who has just unveiled to myself the truth about mass food production, in particular animal agriculture (that phrase doesn't even SOUND right). Diet for a Small Planet, In Defense of Food, Omnivores Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., Animal Vegetable Miracle, Skinny Bitch, and now the beginning of the China Study are examples of literature that I'm drawing from as I try to sort out my thoughts on this big, dirty, disaster of an issue we call the modern western diet. What tipped the scales and broke my little animal loving heart was the film Earthlings. Ignorance is bliss, a place where birds are chirping and the sun is shining and people are good and kind to all creatures big and small. I now realize that I was living in a disney movie before I sat down and watched this film - having added this film to my repetoir, my eating habits are changing, and I'm not even trying. I just feel nauseated at the thought of biting through flesh. I am suffering the consequential disinterest in anything animal, period. I assume such is the aim of its filmmakers. But in a very organized, systematic and eloquent way, without spelling out the moral injustices in front of you, Earthlings shows us what we refuse to see of ourselves.

It should be noted that I was not seeking this film out, believe me. I found it when I was watching the trailer for a movie I've been looking forward to seeing called Forks Over Knives . This brought me to a trailer for earthlings, which itself was hard to watch but I felt intrigued and compelled to get to the bottom of it, to roll up my sleeves and provide visual evidence of what I already knew was going on. It is something that you have to prepare for with a big box of kleenex and hand holding. It's not easy to watch, at all. Physically sitting down to an hour and forty minutes of graphic raw footage of torture, pain, abuse, and the exploitation of animals, is the greatest challenge of all. That and trying to figure out where to go from there.

50 billion animals a year consume massive quantities of grain, water, antibiotics, and hormones, just so we can feed our insatiable appetites, and for what? Convenience? A big juicy burger? The issues: its making us fat, its causing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disease. It absolutely destroys the land on which these animals are raised. The runoff of manure and bacteria spills into water ways, it damages ecosystems. The waste it creates is criminal. We sit here watching global warming unfold before our very eyes, and we take absolutely no responsibility for it. Animal agriculture is contributing to global warming more than all transportation combined. We turn a blind eye. Health, the environment, the human rights violations of workers at the packing plants, the animal cruelty that endures, pain, suffering. It has moral, social and environmental implications. Oh, and did I mention it makes a big buck? The USDA, the FDA and congress are in bed together. Dirty, dirty whores.

I don't want to eat a cow that was boiled alive, hung to bleed to death with its airway cut open, thrashing about looking for an escape, with fear in his eyes and blood flowing down his face. I won't eat that energy, that fear, that pain, I won't be at the receiving end of that chain of events. I won't be a consumer that makes that demand. Animals feel pain, they make social connections, they are emotional beings, how can we be so ignorant and self serving as to ignore that and plow ahead? "Oh, don't tell me about it, you'll ruin my dinner". I'd hate to come between my boyfriend and the bond he shares with his steak and his charcoal grill, but I'm pretty sure I never will. But hey, nothing bad ever came from thought, so put your steak knife down for a second and think about who you're eating and how he or she got there. The information I've sought out will determine my journey. I don't want to preach a holier than thou philosophy, because when people want to know, they will. Where to go from here? I'll start in my ill equipped kitchen and see if a foodie can also be an animal loving, vegetable eating, earth friendly epicure.

On the floor (surgical)... laughing

Time flew by me. I find it so hard to believe that the summer is inching towards us and apparently mother nature feels the same way too, because it's 56 degrees outside. The past few months have been full of unexpected events. Having begun to settle into my role as nurse, I feel both grateful for my experiences in the hospital, and also somewhat perplexed by them. I certainly haven't digested it all, I'm still chewing. I love the staff I work with, and the diverse patient load I've been assigned. Along with thoughts of "how in the hell am I going to get all my work done" or "when will I ever get to pee!?" or "god save me from the varicose veins that are forming along the back of my thighs" -- are thoughts of "how can someone so sick be so gracious and kind." Sometimes the patients exhaust me, but sometimes they amaze me. In my own opinion, people working on a hospital floor quickly learn about the strength of the human spirit and about the sanctity of life. As different as we all are in our perspectives and backgrounds, as much as we may get on one another's nerves, working in this setting is a bonding experience. We tend to be frank, crude and have an off kilter sense of humor with virtually no discretion in topics covered at the lunch table, but this is the culture of a hospital floor and the reason I love my nurse friends. My favorite part of my job is laughing, sometimes it's at the events that unfold which leave me scratching my head and snorting with laughter. Other times its laughing at each other, but mostly I can't help but laugh at myself. I still feel like I'm playing dress up and that someone will ask for the scrubs back because halloween is over, kid.

Walking the fine line between child and adult, between keeping my tale between my legs or opening my mouth, between saying what I believe or keeping quiet, has been my dilemma. There is the way people perceive you and the way you perceive yourself, and I find that the disparity between the two can be wide. You feel strong but they see weak. "Deep breath, deep breath" is what I find myself repeating in tense and ambiguous work situations. When I work, I don't always know what is right or what is wrong, but I can say with confidence that often times I can feel it. So, again is the back and forth of how to handle something I feel is wrong when I don't feel brave enough to stand up for what is right.

I don't just have a hunch about right and wrong, I can also feel energy from people. Not in a weird psychic "I see auras" way but I can sense their emotional state just by being near them, and it helps to direct the way that I interact with them. This proves helpful in the clinical setting when gaging how cooperative and open my patients will be with me can help navigate my schedule and anticipate their needs. Some patients don't want a nurse cracking jokes and laughing with them, and in all fairness, I completely understand. But some good humored individuals need that ice breaking laughter to feel comfortable in the uncomfortable state of finding oneself in the hospital with what maybe a serious diagnosis. Some people hate being touched, period. Some people absolutely need it. The variety of people, of illnesses, of psychological states, of emotional states, of needs, and of expectations varies from day to day, shift to shift. As a new young and inquisitive nurse, to take on the challenges that accompany working with the public in an acute hospital setting can be mind boggling. At the very same time, entertaining, and all you can do is tilt your head back & laugh at the sky.