Archive for May, 2012

Spread Your Wings in the Sky

May 28, 2012

The NYU red-tail hawk eyasses grew up so quickly. This screenshot was from April 23, 2012:

And this one was taken almost a month later (May 18, 2012):

I stopped taking screenshots for a few weeks after one of the eyasses sliced (read shat) on the window directly front of the webcam and blocked smeared the view of the nest. For your viewing pleasure, I present one shitty screenshot from May 15, 2012:


But now that the New York Times adjusted the webcam (if you scroll down on this post from the Urban Hawks blog, you can actually see them adjusting the webcam), the new view extends beyond the nest to the ledge where the eyasses are spending more of their time, jumping and practicing flapping their wings.

And tonight, both hawks reportedly fledged. As usual, the Urban Hawks blog has incredible footage of the first flight.

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Let Yourself Go

May 24, 2012

It was hard to keep that Saturday free. I was asked to work at the farmers market (twice!) and I’ve missed working at the market. Our contractor had work I could do on our new place, and with our move-in day looming, our place needed all the help it could get. But I clung to this idea that I would feel better if I went up and worked on the farm instead.

And I did feel better one the farm. The day turned out to be full of things I love: the ham biscuit breakfast at the Fremont Diner, spending a sunny day outside on a beautiful piece of land in Sonoma valley, the satisfying, repetitive work of planting starts, a breeze that seemed to come along right when I was feeling too hot, time to stop and watch hawks and kites overhead and the piglets run around in their little pen.

It was nice to spend a day doing the mostly mindless work of planting starts: measuring out 12 inches between each plant, digging a hole for it, planting it as if I was tucking it into its bed, and starting again. I gradually worked my way down the half-acre row, working through the flat of eggplants.

I watched the field become thick with starts and I thought about growth for a change, instead of loss. I thought about the varieties that I’d helped plant and harvest last year: the lavender and white globe-shaped Rosa Bianca eggplants, the giant, heavy striped German tomatoes I’d harvested. There’s such hope in planting.

And there was a special treat on the farm this year: piglets. Adorable, funny piglets that rooted in the mud, napped in their straw bed, and chewed on fennel and radishes.

“Are they all named Bacon?” my friend asked. “No,” the farm hand said. “They’re all named Robert. I name all my livestock Robert.”

At the end of the work day, I ended up with two extra eggplant starts. The rows were full and when I asked the farmer if I should put them back in the greenhouse, he said to take them home and plant them. I gave one to a friend and I planted the other one in our new backyard. I’m not sure eggplant will be happy in San Francisco’s cold summer, but I’m trying to be.

The M to the C to the A and It’s a Must

May 11, 2012

Usually when I’m having a hard time, if I’m feeling upset or depressed, I can turn to the Beastie Boys. Their songs make me laugh when I don’t feel like laughing and give me confidence when I have none. There is almost always something in the lyrics that speaks to what I’m feeling–

Good times gone and you miss them
Everyone just takes and takes, takes, takes
Got weight on my shoulders and things on my mind
This drive through world it just ain’t right
I’m mad at my desk and I’m writing all curse words

– and also something that helps put whatever I’m dealing with in perspective:

What you think that the world owes you?”
I got no time in my life to get uptight y’all
Life comes in phases take the good with the bad
when I trust myself, I fear no one else”.

But I couldn’t turn to the Beastie Boys for help last Friday when I heard that Adam Yauch, known to Beastie fans as MCA, had died. It was too painful to hear MCA’s gravelly voice, playing so perfectly against Ad-Rock and Mike D’s delivery. And it was too impossible for a Beastie fanatic like me to think about the end of the Beasties. MCA’s words from “Root Down” kept running through my head: “What a fucked up situation.”

Incredible MCA mural that went up this week in Brooklyn

I spent Friday reading the many obituaries and tributes. (In fact, I’m still reading the tributes. This one on ESPN, of all places, was especially good. The writer got both the man — “People like Adam live 100 lives in the span of time it takes most of us to live just one.” — and the music: “It was not a record, it was a religion, and I lived in the church.” AMEN, sister.) I paged through my Glen E. Friedman photography books, which I’d originally bought because of the pics of the Beasties, and Ari Marcopoulos’s book of photos of the Beasties in the 1990s.

Mr. WholeHog hung one of our Beastie Boys posters in our front window and we lit a candle, making our own little Beastie shrine.

I tried to feel grateful (“It’s called gratitude. And that’s right”) and I AM grateful for all that the Beasties brought to my life over the years (“It started way back in history”) — but I just felt unbearably sad.

It was too big of a loss. I didn’t know Adam Yauch personally, but I knew all too well the distinct joy that he and the other Beastie Boys had brought to my life. And I knew that losing Yauch meant losing the Beasties, too — and I wasn’t ready for that.

I relied on the Beasties. I relied on their music to be, as so many fans put it, the soundtrack to my life. I relied on their live shows for a jolt of energy that I couldn’t get anywhere else. As a Beastie fan, I got to live in the happy anticipation of waiting to see whatever (fucking awesome) thing they’d do next. But that all ended on Friday. With MCA’s death, it was suddenly clear that the Beasties wouldn’t just fade away, releasing fewer and fewer albums, or performing fewer and fewer shows. Their music wouldn’t become less relevant to my life as time went on; it would just stop.

And I knew that what they’d left behind was more than enough, more than any fan should hope for, really: extraordinary albums, some the best music videos ever made, memorable lines and lyrics that now narrate my life. In the Beasties, I’d found a way to reconcile the seemingly conflicting sides of myself – the silly and the serious; the outlandish and the reserved; the desire to make fun of the world and the earnest desire to change it too. They’d taught me so many things, both big (that you don’t have to be defined by your past: “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue”) and small (how to navigate the New York City subway: “The Bronx is up and I’m Brooklyn down“).

Without the Beasties for help this last week, I turned to my other reliable source of wisdom and humor: Calvin Trillin. (At other times, I might have cringed over dropping the Beasties and Calvin Trillin into the same sentence – as if it was wrong to love both rap music and the New Yorker. But that’s another thing I learned from the Beasties: to love what you love, whether it’s basketball or Buddhism, New York City or LA, punk rock or hip hop.) In Alice Off the Page, Trillin’s  beautiful New Yorker piece on the loss of his beloved wife Alice, Trillin writes, “I know what Alice would have said about a deal that allowed her to see her girls grow up: ‘Twenty-five years! I’m so lucky!’ I try to think of it in those terms, too. Some days I can and some days I can’t.”

MCA

May 4, 2012

Photo from Ari Marcopoulos’s book, Pass the Mic.

If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece
If you can hear what I’m dealing with then that’s cool at least

What’s running through my mind comes through in my walk
True feelings are shown from the way that I talk
And this is me, y’all I M.C. y’all
My name is M.C.A. and I still do what I please.