Monday, July 8, 2013

Haunted Summer

Dress: UO. Shoes: Kork-Ease. Location: Elizabeth Gamble Garden, Palo Alto, CA.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Melting My Resolve

We're moving back to California on May 29th, which is now only two weeks and two days away. All semester long I was counting the days until I could get out of New York City, but now that our flight is fast approaching, I'm second-guessing my choice. I got sick with a bad cold on the first day of May and I'm only now almost completely recovered--it took me out for two weeks. Because of this, I haven't been out and about and getting the closure I wanted, so now I have to cram a month's worth of packing and goodbyes into two weeks.

I'm not going to miss my classes--by the end I was feeling extraordinarily burnt out on school. I'm not going to miss the commute to midtown I've made for various internships. I'm not going to miss the constant sirens or other noise, air, or personal space pollutants. I'm not going to miss the mosquitos.

I am going to miss our friends, my job at the library, Columbia's campus, and our apartment. I'm going to miss the concept of the subway system, if not the subway system itself. I'm going to miss Riverside Park, both Devin's and my favorite place in Manhattan.

It doesn't help that it's finally nice here. How resilient the body and brain are, willing to cast off the memories of a harsh and unending winter at the first gold-green leaf on a tree. This winter was traumatizing and eternal, but now I've forgotten what real cold temperatures were like, even though I experienced it less than a month ago. I'm also having a hard time convincing myself that in a month NYC will be a gross, humid, 90 degree-plus mess like it was last summer and the summer before that. My mind is tricking me by saying "It's nice here, why would you want to leave?" "But mind," I say, "This niceness is extremely temporary." And my mind goes, "What are you talking about? It's nice here. Look at it. Nice."

There are certainties in California--It will be temperate and mild there, even in the winter and summer, and there will be fruit on the trees, and flowers all the time. The farmer's markets will always be overflowing with abundance, and there won't be an apple-only policy from October to May. But there are also uncertainties--When will Devin and I have our own place again? We're staying with our respective parents until either 1) I start at UCLA to pursue my LIS degree and we move down south or 2) I get a job and we move to San Francisco or the East Bay, so the date for this hovers around September, but it's still more nebulous, teetering uncertainty than I'd like. Plus job applications. Never a favorite.

These photos are from right before I got sick, so the very tail-end of April, when winter finally relinquished its grasp. 

Sandals! Without tights! And not even a cardigan!

Something else that's contributing to my end-of-an-era angst is my hair. I got a pixie cut last June, and while I liked it, I've been in the process of growing it out ever since. It's now at a really awkward length, and the only way it looks nice is if it's curled. The trouble is, I have very little resolve to actually curl it, so generally I'm just annoyed by it. Another blow to the old self-esteem.

What I'm not annoyed by is my new go-to necklace: A miniature lightbulb with a (sustainably harvested, so says the Portland-based maker. But what else would a Portland-based jewelry maker say?) bee wing.

Sunshine = an inducer of selective amnesia.

Devin in his favorite park, which walks through daily on his way to work, and which he's really bummed to be leaving behind.

Which path to take?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eating Beauty

I had never appreciated daffodils until this year. I had always thought they were okay-looking and not that exciting--my favorite flowers are fluffy, like those ranunculus. Last year the daffodils started daffodiling in February, and all the trees bloomed on the first day of spring. This year, it's almost mid-April, and spring is still just creeping around the edges of things. Six months of winter is plenty. So when the daffodils finally bloomed this week, it was as if thousands of tiny suns began radiating light. And tomorrow is supposed to be 70 degrees! This is after months of freezing temperatures, and an April that's stayed mostly in the 40s and 50s. So in celebration, I decided to make a meal that included edible flowers in as many iterations as possible.

Any good meal begins with the right seasonings. And the right seasonings in this instance was sea salt with edible flowers from Trader Joe's. I love it so, so much. It has a lovely herbal flavor, and the pink salt crystals are such a nice touch.

For my beverage of choice, I brewed a nice hot cup of green tea with jasmine, and added a dollop of honey--which, after all, is just distilled essence of flowers. In this case, wildflowers from Santa Cruz, CA. This jar was gifted to me by a lovely friend with beachside apiary connections. Even my monogrammed mug which I've had for several years has flowers (a gift from another lovely friend). 

Along with dried flower sea salt, I flavored my meal with lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The cross-section of citrus resembles petals...I may be projecting a little in this instance, but I don't think it's unwarranted. 

First course: A salad of baby greens from my very favorite farmer's market stand, dressed with the aforementioned lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and floral sea salt. All the little leaves are so tender and delicious, and I love that includes baby Russian red kale. And! These little Johnny-Jump-Ups and the yellow flowers were included in the mix! I admit I dug around in the bin of lettuces to get a particularly flower-y mix. Also, the flowers are delicious. Sweet and spicy and very green tasting.

My main course: Flower crostini. I got a bunch of what I think is flowering bok choy from the selfsame stand. I steamed it lightly to keep the colors bright, and it's very sweet and yummy. I put it on whole wheat sourdough toast which I smeared with a garlic clove and some aioli, and then topped it with dried flower sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Oh, also, I solved a code. This is something most cooks probably already know, as it's a pretty obvious breakdown of flavors, but I felt all smart when I realized all my very favorite dishes have these components, and to make a dish amazing, you just have to follow this formula. For something to be scrumptious, it needs a fat (in this case, aioli), something acidic (the lemon juice), something spicy (the garlic), and something salty (sea salt). You can mix and match the components (olive oil for aioli, red wine vinegar for lemon juice, red pepper for garlic, parmigiano for the sea salt), but as long as your dish has a balance of these flavors, you're good to go. If you have fresh herbs, too, add them liberally. CODE OF DELICIOUSNESS BROKEN.

My edible flowers with my non-edible flowers. Do not eat daffodils or ranunculus. They are not for eating, especially the daffodils, which will certainly make you sick. But they make for a pretty tableaux! 

I also got some pussy willows from Trader Joe's for $2.49. (I'm sorry if this is turning into a TJ's infomercial, but it's hard to avoid, since Devin works there and it's also awesome).  I saw some pussy willows doing their fuzzy thing on the High Line in Chelsea yesterday, so these are a direct reflection of what's going on outside. And they're so soft!

Group portrait before consumption.

And now for some gratuitous photos of ranunculus. I bought my very first ranunculus from a Trader Joe's in California when I was a sophomore in college--they were a lovely peachy color. I kept them alive as long as I could because I was so enamored of them, floating their heads in bowls of water when their stems gave way. And the rest is history. They're so fluffy I'm gonna die! These especially are enormous. Also, check out the green-centered one! This is actually a thing, so it's not as mutant as I thought it was. Still, super awesome.

Here's to a predicted high of 70 degrees tomorrow. I may just eat my lunch in Bryant Park instead of at my desk at my internship. One can dream.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ill Omens

This has been the longest winter of my life, so I've been creating elaborate escapist fantasies fueled by Craigslist apartment browsing (Inner and Outer Sunset in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and Westwood in LA, all with hardwood floors, white kitchen cabinets, and glowing with natural sunlight). This isn't healthy, I realize, as it's certainly keeping me out of "the moment." But my current moment is mostly made of anticipating the second half of this year's uncertainty. Move back to California, yes, but where? Get a job? Start a second master's degree at UCLA? Will I be able to find a job? Do I want to keep going to school? Anyway, it got me thinking about our trip to California in December. We had just watched The Birds, and were hoping to take a day trip to Bodega Bay. Unfortunately, Devin and I both came down with the worst incarnation of the flu--the norovirus--and those plans were put on an indefinite hiatus. Earlier in the trip, we took a hike at Rancho San Antonio, and on the way back to Devin's neighborhood, we drove past our high school's rival school. The neighborhood was swarming with huge crows, all cawing at the top of their lungs and lurching about on their spindly legs. It was dusk, and having just watched Alfred Hitchcock's interpretation of avian dispositions, it was more than a little eerie. Here's suburbia swamped in inky black feathers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


These were taken on New Year's Eve when we were back in California at an abandoned nursery turned abandoned homeless encampment, less than a quarter of a mile away form Devin's nice suburban childhood neighborhood.