Category Archives: culture

life, death and…a cookbook?

wow. it’s been a long time. a few things brought me to back to the blog:  david rakoff,  my friend kelli’s new job and my friend marie’s book. and because it’s monday, meatless monday news from sprouted kitchen…

first, the sad news. the passing of one of my favorite modern writers, david rakoff. even that phrase, “the passing of” gives me pause. the passing to where? i’ve been thinking a lot about that lately…life. and how i’m living it. wondering if all my efforts of eating organically, supporting local farms, recycling, composting, having a garden, trying to do good in the world…all the things i do and try to do…do they really matter in the face of drought, population growth and the millions of other people who don’t give a sh*t? are we making a difference? or are we just making ourselves feel better? the death of someone so talented and so young (only 47!) always makes me reflect on my own life and how i spend my waking hours. the irishman and i were finally able to get away for a few days off. we went to big bear, pretty, but not spectacular, and a short drive from l.a. we stayed in a little cabin, cooked most of our meals, hiked and tried to stay away from people – which, even during the summer at a ski resort, was difficult. we came away with a couple decisions:  one, we need to get out of the heat and two, we need to get out of l.a.

which brings me to kelli. recently, she got the perfect job. and by perfect, i mean PERFECT. perfect for who she is and what she cares about and why she got her degree. the perfect job in the perfect city. she had been searching (like so many of us) for a long time and in a moment, her whole life changed. all the struggle suddenly made sense. and she realized that a seemingly random series of events lead her to exactly where she needed to be. a contact she had made 6 years ago in new york lead to a project in l.a. which was the exact kind of work she was applying for in san francisco. so against all odds and hundreds of applicants, she ended up getting not only a job, but a real future with a group of equally passionate and intelligent people.

next up is my friend marie. she has been writing a book. not just a book. but an idea that will change how people think about life and how they live it. she’s very close to finishing. but in the meantime, she and her husband have been fighting an emotionally draining legal battle and health issues and all the stress that comes with running your own business.

so many people struggling. and yet, so many people still trying to live right. so many people trying to make sense of how their lives have changed. of how that plan they had or that path they felt they were on, took a wrong turn and now they are just trying to get back to where they were before it all went to hell.

but before this post becomes a complete downer, let’s have some happy meatless monday news from sprouted kitchen. i’ve shared quite a few of sara & hugh’s recipes and i think i’ve written about how excited i am about their new book (coming out on august 28th!). but because it’s been so bloody hot in l.a. and i haven’t really been cooking (loads of salads and fruit…thank you, c.s.a.!), instead of a meatless monday recipe,  i thought it would be nice to share how excited they are about the fact that their dream, started two years ago, is finally a tangible, touchable thing…

in an interview with npr “there is no answer as to why me?“, david rakoff addressed the cancer treatment that caused the loss of his arm:

” … I’m fortunate in that I am 46 years old, and I do have a nifty little career so that the comma, noun after my name is David Rakoff comma writer. I’m very fortunate in that that’s kind of established, so even if I do lose my arm … I have managed to establish an identity that is based on my internal self, and for that I feel tremendously lucky.”

and maybe that’s all we can do. try to live our lives as best we can, as authentically as we can and one day, like kelli, a series of random events suddenly make sense of the chaos and confusion of what we’ve been living through. maybe like marie and sara and hugh, we express something or create something or do something, no matter how big or how small it may seem, that helps others or helps the planet. most of all, i think we must find a place that brings us calm. for the irishman and me, i’m thinking it’s northern california. i still haven’t figured out my “comma, noun”, but i know the things that matter to me and i have to believe that what i believe will one day, lead me to that comma…

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a wee voice makes big change: neverseconds…

maybe you already know about young scottish VEG (Veritas Ex Gustu, “truth from tasting” in Latin), the brilliant 9 year old whose blog neverseconds has, in less than 20 posts, revolutionized her school lunch program (with a little help from jamie oliver).  basically, little martha payne blogged (complete with ratings – including “pieces of hair”) about her school lunches, with unappetizing photos like this one:

brown lunch with 3(!) cucumbers via neverseconds

and now, look like this:

not perfect, but a definite improvement | via neverseconds

the other completely charming thing about this blog is that other school children send photos of their lunches to martha. this one from japan is my favorite:

so, in a very short time and all thanks to martha, kids at her school are now able to have as much bread, fruit and veggies as they want…way to go, VEG!

UPDATE little martha has been shut down by politicians!

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“8”: a play about the fight for marriage equality… @8theplay #prop8

Featuring an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon and others, “8” is a play written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and directed by acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner. It is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER ) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, “8” provides an intimate look what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial.

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@freshthemovie FREE online til 2/1…spread the word!

aptly named, “fresh” takes a fresh approach to talking about sustainable food systems. like documentaries before it, it discusses the horrors and damages caused by factory farming. but more than the others, “fresh” gives voice to the farmers caught in the monsanto/foster farms/KFC/industrial agriculture web. you meet farmers who got out and others who want to. you meet activists and average folks who just want to eat better and are willing to work for it. most importantly, you find out what you can do.

the first thing you can do is watch this amazing film for FREE until february 1st. tell everyone you know to do the same. buy the dvd. make a donation. have a fundraiser. spread the word.

watching the film made me think, i can establish a co-op wherever we land. even though whole foods market supports a lot of local producers, many americans live in a food wasteland where access to produce is nearly impossible. for the farmers, getting a fair rate for their efforts means the difference between survival and bankruptcy. so i’m adding this to our idea jar.

the bottom line, organic farming is sustainable and it can feed the world. and the first step is for us to step up and support local farmers.

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the day it all changed…

via treehugger

have you ever had a moment when everything changed? a moment of such clarity that it shook you to your core and upended your life path? well, i’m happy/grateful/excited to say that happened to me last friday. i went to a class for work. i felt i didn’t have time to devote a whole day to this class, little did i know the earthshaking lesson i would learn that day…

the chef who lead the class was an amazing man. with an amazing story. a story that was filled with the ups and downs many of us face (and one, that broke his heart and his spirit).  but with time and meditation, what he came away with was a realization that he was meant to be of service. and everything shifted for him. i sat there, mesmerized by his tale. and i started to wonder about my life. and the lives of my friends. all of us, working so hard. and for what? to pay the rent. to pay the mortgage. to dream of the day when we are retired (and old!) so that we can live some life of simplicity.

why not now?

why not sell everything? why not say, to hell with it and get off the grid? for the first time in a long time, life seemed full of possibilities. and these possibilities made total sense. i called the irishman to see if i was crazy. was this something we could do? could we grow our all own food? could we build our own tiny house? could we have a workshop where we could get serious about creating? could we have loads of dogs and toil over soil? he was all in. i started googling “homesteading” like a mad woman. there were many things to consider. as eco as i am, there are certain things i cannot live without:  a bathtub. wifi. a washer. i definitely could live smaller. but i need access to a city. museums. a job.

i started looking at all our possessions as assets to freedom. we’ve been collecting a lot of stuff for a lot of time. and now that stuff would help us get to a place where we could actually live our lives. i started calculating:  those sofas + that diner = a solar panel system. i opened closets, filled with clothes and shoes and more stuff. kitchen cabinets filled with plates and bowls and appliances. our garage…oh, our garage…

so. the plan is to plan an exit plan. to figure out how to get from here to there. the first step is to liberate ourselves from and with all this stuff. to pick maybe the top 5 places we would like to own land. maybe there’s an interim step where we are still city dwellers, but we reduce our environmental impact. we grow a serious garden. we start to barter more, and spend less…maybe we raise some chickens for eggs? i’m not going to overthink things. i have to remember that moment in that class where everything felt so clear…it wasn’t rational, it was emotional. i figure 2012 will be all about squirreling away money. about research and learning and meeting like-minded people.

but all of that could change in a moment. and we’re completely open to that change.

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a personal plea from dion neutra to save the kronish house…


images from neutra.org

things are not looking good for the kronish house, the largest neutra in beverly hills. not even waiting until the agreed upon extension date next month, the owners have taken the house off the market and have started asbestos abatement (do they even have a permit?). there’s something fishy about this move, it reeks of backdoor deals – are they doing this so that the new owners won’t have blood on their hands? this way, the demolition has already been done and the new owners will be free to build the mc mansion of their dreams on 2 acres of prime beverly hills land. because that’s what beverly hills needs…

time is really ticking on this one. dion neutra is asking EVERYONE to attend the beverly hills city council meeting tomorrow evening (public comments will be heard around 7:15pm, so get there by 7pm). and please, please sign and share this letter addressed to the mayor and city council. it will only take a moment, and it could make all the difference in the world.

we need to unite as an international voice – too often, money trumps historic preservation. absolute worst case scenario, we lose the kronish (and i don’t type that lightly), but we pave the way for historic/cultural preservation to be the norm in beverly hills and not the demolition of irreplaceable treasures of architectural art.

p.s. if you were planning on attending the event on the 24th, it has been CANCELED. that’s why this latest push is so important. it is critical that we spread the word and do all we can in the time remaining.

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9/11/2011…

image from ussartf.org

it’s so hard to believe it was 10 years ago.  i was walking my dog in brentwood, another beautiful morning on the westside, a day like any other. a neighbor asked if i had seen the news. there was a horrible accident in new york. i took hershey home and turned on the tv. i was trying to get my head around what i was seeing when the second plane hit. in that moment, we all knew. this was something bigger, something darker. in that moment, there was an international gasp. in that moment, everything changed.

it was one of those seminal moments in human history. when all we knew or thought we knew was lost forever. when the best and the worst of people came to light. when the courage and heroism of first responders and of ordinary citizens moved you to tears. when the loss of life and the loss of hope was so overwhelming, you didn’t know what to do. when the devastation wrought by a small group of young men in 4 planes was too much to bear. what was happening? were we really under attack? time stood still, as the images replayed over and over.

and then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the towers fell. even now, a decade later, remembering that moment, it is hard to breathe. the massive cloud. the ashen people. the darkness. i thought about all those souls. the firemen, climbing up, up, up as everyone else descended. it was all too much. and it still is.

in the following days and weeks, it felt like america was at a crossroads. the world was united with us. which path would we take? the newly created homeland security and their color coded chart did little to alleviate our fears. it was the people who came together – giving what they could. consoling each other. posting photos of their missing loved ones. trying, against all odds, to not give up hope.

last night, for the first time since 2001, i watched documentaries. the images still inconceivable.  all those moments of horror and disbelief and rage and sadness. of heroism and unity and collective grief. and now, 10 years later, so much has been lost. shock and awe. so many lives in iraq and afghanistan. and at some level, the very core of our civil liberties.

10 years.  maybe it’s too soon to know how that day really changed us. all we can do is remember that feeling of wanting to do more. to be more. to unite as citizens of the world. to nurture that sense of community we all felt in those days following september 11th. life has grown more difficult, so many of us struggling financially, but the core of us, the soul of us, is still there, flickering deep down as it was on that fateful day. the best remembrance of all that was lost may be to renew our compassion and try to live our lives as we did a decade ago. to remind ourselves that the world is much smaller and more connected than we thought on september 10, 2001.

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