September 30, 2009

pioneer town.

So I was pretty astonished when I realized how much money I used to spend keeping myself entertained--Betty Draper wasn't the first to point out that only boring people get bored, and since this is the Desiree Show I began to get concerned about what all of this might say about me. In the interest of proving that I am indeed a dynamic and fascinating young lady, let's discuss the blackberry jam workshop I taught, shall we?

Free (or Relatively Inexpensive) Diversion #2: Get Active with a Community Group. I joined up with the lovely folks at Claremont Food Not Lawns, a "local community organization dedicated to replacing our lawns with edible gardens in the name of sustainability and self-sufficiency" (their words) to host a jam-making workshop. We went up to Mt. Baldy to pick wild blackberries then came down and made jam.

Picking berries is pretty much the most wholesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon, btw. People brought their kids. It was like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Also? When it's like a gazillion degrees outside and your other option is melting into the couch with ice packs at various pulse points, it's time to haul yourself to mountain climes where the air is cool enough to breathe.

The Claremont United Methodist Church let us use their kitchen, which was huge and featured this massive stove that looked like the dinosaur version of the stove in your kitchen. The Methodist kitchen was approximately the size of my bedroom. Thanks, Methodists!

This picture was taken through a little window above the sink, which--when I'm on the kitchen-side lecturing about the pros and cons of sterilizing jars this way or that way--makes me feel like a tv chef. Kick it up a notch, indeed.

Bonus: Food Not Lawners make an enthusiastic and gracious studio audience:

So to summarize: great day outdoors with foodies who care about sustainability. It cost me nothing (CFNL paid for the jam supplies) and I got to leave with a jar of organic home-made blackberry jam.

September 28, 2009

of recent note.

It's been a busy couple of weeks, and I'm excited to announce that verbadverb is moving to Austin! Swimming holes. Bats. Things that are bigger than their non-Texas counterparts. The stars at night are big and bright, etcetera, etcetera. I'm eastbound after one last holiday season as a California resident. So if you want to say goodbye, do it before department stores replace the Santa displays with hearts and cupids.

We have a lot to talk about. For instance: All of the Free (or Relatively Inexpensive) Diversions I've been enjoying. And: The 21 Ways to Say Goodbye to Los Angeles, which is pretty much what it sounds like.

More on those later, I have some important information for you--guess, dear reader you will never guess because it is so astonishingly wonderful your chin may wobble and your eyes may tear up, but just try and guess what rice can do (besides feed hungry people)! Rice, my friends, can save a phone that's been dropped in water. Drop the drowned phone in some rice and let it recuperate. The rice will pull the moisture out and leave you with a fully-functional phone. But don't eat the rice afterward because it will probably give you cancer.

You're welcome.

September 11, 2009

capital-a anecdote.

A nightmare woke me up in the early morning hours I usually never saw, and clomping down the stairs felt like gravity was particularly aggressive. A lamp spilled orange light on one of the boy roommates who hadn't seen the business end of a morning in awhile, either.

"A plane just flew into the World Trade Center," he said, one of infinite echoes of that same sentence being uttered to the sleepy unknowing by those who woke up first. We were both reluctant to become fully awake. Our levels of alertness were maybe congruent to the demise and fall of the first tower, at which point I realized that years of disaster movies had stolen some of the horror from that moment. I took a radio to work and held it the whole time I listened to it, using my free hand to google some of the words of the day: Terror. Osama. Pentagon. al Qaeda. I tried to donate blood on my lunch hour, but blood from Los Angeles wasn't anyone's priority, and an orderly waved me through the automatic doors with comforting words that suggested she'd spent most of the day ushering the lost and dazed back out onto the sidewalk.

I went home. It became night again. We made deeply insensitive and untimely jokes to see who could get the biggest and most offensive laugh. This felt better. Terrible jokes, it turned out, were the Very Best Thing, in a way that I'm not sure I can articulate but will defend because laughing that day momentarily contained the horror, pushed it out at arm's length.

September 2, 2009

report from the smoke shadows.

California is on fire. Each of the past three mornings has veiled everything in ash--the car, tomato plants, the succulents along the driveway. I think of Pompeii after Vesuvius. The ash turned to cement, the world preserved as it was that day, ripe with secrets to be harvested in another millenium.

The fire seems to have its own weather system. We endure inexplicible humidity, we endure the smoke lingering langorously in our streets, we endure the fine film forming on our skins from the moist smoke. Our eyes tear, our animals become suspicious, our mountains disappear from view. The sunrise looks like sunset through the haze and glows a lurid red until late morning, making us wonder if up will soon be down, or if concepts like "up" and "down" are immune. Nothing appears to be immune.

The fire controls our lives. Any question can be answered by a raised arm, index finger held out to indicate the shortest distance between you and the flames. It's as if our view into the past and future are also invaded by an omnipresent smoke that keeps us from seeing the blackened hills of our autumn, the echoing bleakness of our own particular winter. There is only now, this smoke, these flames, the strange survival of us: In the foothills, breathing through barriers, keeping our eyes closed, melting into furniture.