Tuesday, August 24, 2010


On Sunday, a dear friend Neda, who i literally had not seen since 1994 arrived for a 24 hr stretch at the end of a two month journey around the west coast and Mexico.  She looked just the same, only a little older for the college and job wear that comes with 10+ years of grinding it out. I, of course, looked similar but like a gigantically overgrown version of my 1994 4'9", 70lb self. Also, i got rid of the horrid spiral frizz perm that i was rocking. That was probably the best part.

At any rate, i had a weird time warp day. It felt like i could have seen Neda last week. It certainly didn't feel like a full 16 years (a small driving person for crying out loud) since we had sat down, laughed and debated the fate of our dreams to run off to third world countries. Neda's still chasing hers---mine got eaten by the mythical Alaskan moose.

I've never been good with distance or time. Perhaps my abstract nature doesn't conform to it. I am incapable of feeling "far" from someone or that it has been too "long". Admittedly, i don't like being apart from Adam, but it would be the same if we were apart here as apart by a 3.5 hr plane jaunt. The size of a continent or an ocean just doesn't register...except in terms of how many hours i have to sit almost motionless next to some stranger who doesn't understand why i perpetually want to get up.

ok, back from that detour. the point is that it was great to see both Neda and Dayyon who was in town from Beijing. Time flies when you get older and I am epically grateful for the small moments with people i grew up with.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Learning to cook in my 30s

Alternate title: Quitting smoking means i have taste buds again.

Since quitting smoking 1 year and 8 months ago (yes, i count--as a former two pack a day-er it's one hell of an accomplishment) one of the biggest changes in my life has been the re-emergence of taste. When i was a kid i was super duper picky. In my adolescence, i started the cancer sticks and then everything tasted more or less the same with hints of flavor. In conjunction with going to boarding school and not having to make my own food often, it made my cooking pretty lame, flavorless, and painfully boring for other people to have to eat. The journey towards things not being bland has been slow, but i'm getting there. This week i was aided by Ashley and Alex, the fabulous New Yorkers who i met in Chelan. They gave me this:
This wonderful baggie of goodness is from their garden. The fresh blueberries didn't survive the drive home...devoured during I-90 traffic. Yesterday, i got into the rosemary and made some chicken with lemon pepper and rosemary which was really tasty--a BIG DEAL in mar cooking and the first time i had ever used fresh herbs in my frying pan forays. So, just in case they ever see this: THANK YOU ALEX AND ASHLEY!!! Not only did you fill my tummy with yummy, but this baggie o goodness has convinced me than an herb garden is in my future!

Also in my future boxes of fresh organicness from: http://www.fullcirclefarm.com/?fbid=0K4SiJG9PJj. Guess this taste thing also comes with freshness demands.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

i get lost sometimes

Sometimes i turn around and realize i don't know quite how i got there. Life moved around me and then, poof i woke up again. Adam's been gone for 3 months, 4 more to go. i could have sworn i just finished finals the other day, but school is set to pick up again on Monday. All i want is another week to see my friends--the people i never get to see but absolutely adore, the people who i love to eat dinner with, laugh about old storeis with and make new adventures with. i wonder sometimes about, if my life were a movie, whether i would want to watch it or after the first five minutes i would turn it off and say "that chick is sqauandering her time". Maximizing each day seems like a righteous and lofty goal and a bit of a setup to be irritable when its just another day that goes by.

how do you challenge yourselves to make everyday one you are excited about??

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hello, Chelan.

his is Abe:

This is Abe's House:

This is a little of what we did at Abe's House: laid out, cliff jumped, paddle board jousted, played ladder golf and croquet, water skied, swam, boated, and napped and went out on the town to do karaoke with bachelorette parties (click for bigger pics):

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Once upon a time in a land far away, (read: North Carolina), my family was out camping and hiking around at Mount Mitchell. We were part of a group hiking with a guide. Anna and i had been fascinated by the little tree frogs and other such creepy crawlies. We were younger...i think like 6 and 8 at the time?  As we rounded a bend the guide had just concluded a schpeal about how (famous last words coming up) "in all his years he had has never seen a rattlesnake" when lo and behold the tell tale noise like a mini maraca started up. There, sitting just off the edge of the trail was a HUGE Eastern Diamondback rattler.

Another day, i was up in the treehouse we built in the back yard that wrapped around two pine trees, contemplating getting down to go in search of ice cream when i realized the lovely critter in the picture above was hanging out at the base of the ladder. Yeah, fun, you try waiting out a snake.

And then there was summer camp--usually some kind of aquatic girl scout camp where i spent endless hours in a lake getting Red Cross certified to sail, canoe, whatever. Well, about once every few days you'd be diving off some dock in the middle of the lake when the whistle would blow and snake would be yelled and everyone would get the heck out of the water because there was a water moccasin swimming around with us.

Lesson learned....poisonous snakes are everywhere in Carolina. There are 6 kinds (3 are rattlers and all are on the most poisonous in N. America list). In fact if you click the link under the snake you will see you are more likely to get bit in NC than anywhere else in the country. Personally, i believe this to be one part snake and three parts the stupidity of the general folk, who do things like (on the same trip to Mt. Mitchell) stick their hand inside a hole to pull out the snake. At any rate, it meant i was always on the look out hiking or doing anything else for snakes.

A couple months ago, Laila and i went on a mini-hike. About 1/2 way through a garter snake slide across the path in front of us....send both Laila and I leaping backwards until we could identify it....NC trained us girls...assume poisonous until proven otherwise. A little research later it turns out that poisonous snakes are basically no where out here in Western WA (there is one type of rattler in eastern WA) and NO snakes at all in AK unless a garter snake gets lost and comes over the Canadian border.

The point is, i'm going to have to learn a new way to put the fear of teach my kids to respect snakes into my kids than without actually letting them almost step on one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A gem from Huffington Post...

Maryam Ishani
Specialist, impact of armed conflict on civilians
Posted: August 9, 2010 05:18 PM

What Is the Future of Religious Diversity in a Region Dominated by Iran?

I recently sat down with a successful Iranian writer who resides in New York and Tehran. He publishes on the politics of the regime, its future and the possibilities for democracy. I was hoping to visit Iran at the time, home of my birth, to get a chance to see firsthand the impact of the elections uprisings and whether the movement had really been squashed completely as it seemed. Mostly curious, eager to cover a pressing story and see the country that expelled my family 20 years ago, I asked him to meet me in a very trendy café in NoLita.

Over coffee and pastries he was very optimistic that I should have no problems coming in and leaving, even as a journalist covering the elections, things were not so bad he said. His writing reflected a realist and positive view on Iran's political development. "Things are changing, the government is changing," I've heard him explain more than once to crowds at book signings.

I didn't want to press him too much but I had a specific concern: What if I am a Baha'i?

"Can you be proven to be a Baha'i?" He asked, "By the authorities in Iran?"

I told him I had published a story once in an interfaith college newsletter in undergrad that mentioned in the tagline that I was a member of the Baha'i faith.
"Then no, you can't go. Get that article off the server at the college before you ever think of going."

The threat facing the Baha'is of Iran has been a slow simmer that has in recent years begun to boil. This past June, the homes of 50 Baha'i families were razed in the town of Ivel, in Mazandaran province. Amateur video, shot on mobile telephones and posted on the Internet capture the homes being leveled and burned in the northern town.

This Sunday, seven Baha'is have quietly disappeared into the ether of Iran's human rights record sentenced each to 20 years in prison for practicing a faith that is not recognized by the Islamic Republic of Iran. This seven in particular represented the administrative leadership of the nation's community.

Accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations, they have been held -two women and five men- in Tehran's Evin prison since they were arrested in May 2008.

Their incarceration received some attention when Roxanne Saberi referred to being held with the two women, Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet, from the group of seven during her own incarceration. Saberi described that as she was being driven away from Evin upon her release, she cried "tears of sorrow for the many innocent prisoners I was leaving behind." But sadly with only six brief court appearances beginning in January and very limited access to their defense counsel, the case of the seven Baha'i leaders has slipped largely unnoticed by major reporting.

Which is exactly as Iran's leadership would like it to be. With the attention of the world seized on its nuclear program and its relationship to groups like Hizbollah and Hamas, it's no wonder that Iran's domestic policies garner little reaction.

Ultimately, the Baha'is of Iran would not be the first vulnerable community whose plight would slip behind larger world policy issues. But the impunity in which Iran gains advances against religious freedom does raise alarm for the region as a whole. Iran is aware that it has the global human rights community in a death grip, its larger campaigns occupy the international spotlight allowing it to continue to make gains against religious diversity in the region, a region where religious intolerance has made it a tinderbox for violence on the largest scale.

The way in which the arrest, trials and sentencing of the seven Baha'is in Tehran passed quietly by, confirms Iran's confidence that the world has failed to notice that the injustice that Iran commits against a few is intrinsically related to the intolerant threats it makes abroad.

As the 300,000 member faith suffocates slowly in it's own birth land, only those who have experienced modern Iran know the grim reality the Baha'is in Iran are facing.

Iran is changing, but for the Baha'is of Iran, whose adherents advocate non-violence and obedience to one's government, change is not coming soon enough. And while the world waits with optimism that sanctions will do the trick, Iran gets to continue with business as usual.

"I really wouldn't go if I were you," my colleague warned, "If they find out you're a Baha'i and arrest you, there isn't really anything anyone can do for you."

Sadly, the seven sentenced in Tehran, and their government, know all too well how true that is.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to eat Pho, starring Adam

The man i plan to spend my life with has a few ritual things....eating Pho (a vietnamese noodle soup) is one of them. We finally documented the process, which i assure you is VERY slow.

  1. Start with empty spoon and helpful chopsticks. Yes, helpful ones, otherwise this will take even longer.
  2. Add noodle. Best if done in a circular motion.
  3. Add vegetables---a variety if you can manage.
  4. Add chicken (or beef).
  5. Slowly dunk spoon in broth up to edges, careful not to disturb mountain of goodness.
  6. ENJOY!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why Drew Miller is a great friend...

1. Will, the wonder-corgi, aka world's biggest Corgi, eating cheese:

Drew and i became friends bonding over the Obama election and UNC basketball, i think. He and his partner Kyle, were the first people to invite Adam and I as a couple over for dinner. I am always, always awed by their kindness, humor, and deliciously tasty dinner treats. (Champagne for Drew, Sparkling Cider for me...also, no hot sauce for me). Also, the whole from NC bonding thing is not to be underrated.

2. Scrumpscious Dinners:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

in memorium: LEYB

I'm not sure i ever knew Leyb's last name. Usually, we created a swear word and i would call him Leyb, you *&^$-jack@$$. As i got older and less volitile, i said Leyb more like a lullaby word. It rolled off my tongue a little more gently, dripped with a honey that i wish could have surrounded him with love and forced him to eat. Sadly, all my Haifa pictures are in Alaska. So, i am going to do my best to write you a word picture of a soul who i only recently found out took flight from this earth a few months ago.

Leyb was Russian wrapped in Chicago Art critic. I was never certain just how old he was--time had not been kind and his leathery skin betrayed his old soul. The truth i suspect is younger than we would have guessed. His fingers were always stained with dirt--the brown earth he loved caked on his tanned hands with big knuckles. Usually the fingers clutched Noblesse cigarettes, a brand made-of-the-scraps-from the-floor-of-other-cigarettes-kind of cigarrette--strong, ashtray like, and filter-useless.

Leyb was the gruff and scary man you see on the corner only to realize he's selling the most exquisite artwork. His stories came in fits and spurts--always adventures filled with beautiful things and poetry or rants about the universe and all its wrongs. In my imagination, he had an epic library where books and plants wove their way around each other. Flowers and greenery were always called by their proper names, given love and respect, and treated as precious cargo. He handled them the way you would a Chagall or O'Keefe, with tenderness and awe. He was in the garden for the love of the art. The lucky few of us who got to spend time with him were treated the same. Everyone had a pet name and a small glance that you knew was yours. I truly believe he thought of each of us as his children. He rejoiced in our small triumphs and pushed us through failures (usually involving epic plant killing disasters or personal heartbreak). Leyb had an epic sense of humor--always in the midst of our practical jokes and devising ways to improve them. When directed at him--even involving singed eyebrows--Leyb never failed to find the humor in the joke or appreciate that it had been concoted just for him. As a friend pointed out yesterday, his immortal words "kissem tukus" will live with us all our days.

In the end, stalwart and independant as always, he refused to accept weakness or infirmity, refused help, and refused food. The last time i hugged him--over a year ago, he was so thin i was scared he was brittle. My heart aches wishing that one of us had been there to hold his hand in the end and laugh with him one last time.

A dear friend asked last night what i learned from him. My answer came without reflection--i learned that you cannot judge the strength of one's soul based on an exterior or a first impression. Still waters run deep.