Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wrapping the World in Beauty.....

There is a new baby in New Zealand that I am thinking about....her name is Minerva.

Minerva was the Roman goddess who the Hellenizing Romans from the second century BC onwards equated with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic, and the inventor of music. She is often depicted with an owl, her sacred creature, and a symbol of wisdom.

I decided to knit baby Minerva a blanket, to wrap her in love and knitted cosiness.
Her parents are sailors, and have braved the seas in their beautiful boat, Sereia.

So I chose colors that symbolized land and water.

It is amazing to begin a knitting project....hours and hours of love and meditation woven into a creation.
Knot after knot......Stitch following Stitch......

This project traveled many places with me as I was working....Portland, Stinson Beach, Marin, on the BART, over the mountains to Cazaderos.....

The last stitches are like the end of a marathon...heart beating faster, anticipation brewing....excitement to get to the end of an incredible journey......

Ah, the edging....each stitch stitched with love.....

And now it will wing its way, wrapped in layers of tissue paper to New Zealand!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Figs & Honey: Honoring the Sensuous and Sensual

On 10.10.10 we were productive here on Aileen Street.

The goals for the day: Extract and jar honey and make fig jam. 
We are alll about the YUM here in Oakland.

Here are some interesting facts to think about:
* A honeybee's wings stroke 11,400 times per minute. Bzzzzzzzzz.....
* Honeybees are the only insect that produce food for humans.
* Honeybees can travel as far as 3 miles from their hive.
* Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80% of all fruit, vegetable, and seed crops in the U.S.
* To make a pound of honey, the bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, and fly over 55,000 miles.
* A single honeybee will produce 1/2 a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

* Figs are believed to be the first agricultural plants grown by humans.
* Figs are of great nutritional value, and a great source of energy for athletes.
* If you are lactose intolerant: 1/2 a cup of figs = 1/2 a cup of milk!

We first had to pick the beauties from our abundant tree......plump & purple & sweet!

It takes time and energy to make sure all of the lids and jars are sterile. 
But it is satisfying to see the line-up of multiple forms.........

Scott Ward does not usually like the taste of fig...
Things have changed. for the honey venture.......

You need something called an extractor that looks like R2D2.....

7 frames of capped honey...that is what we had to work with....

You also need a special knife that enables you to carefully open 
up the cells to reveal the golden nectar. 

 Once the frames have been spun, the honey trickles into glass jars....

In the end we jarred 10 lbs. of beautiful Oakland honey.
Scott also loves the waxy yumminess that is like candy.
Thank you amazing bees! 
The honey is sweet and amber colored: tastes of lavender and citrus tickle the tongue.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Aileen Street Yum

There are as many as 7, 500 varieties and are divided into categories depending on shape and size.
And the heaviest tomato known was 7 lbs 12 oz. WOW.
But we struggled this year.
Not enough heat? Watering issues?
We spent a lot of time wondering and worrying about our tomatoes.....BUT the below images are a sight to behold.
Tomato sauce! Created from the Aileen Street tomatoes!
We were proud.
And our bellies happy.

Freshly plucked orbs: Please note: Shot taken up close. Behind these orbs marched a bounty in the thousands......

Nothing better than making your own saucy sauce:
Purely tomato, olive oil, garlic, and thyme

And here you have it: fresh garlic and parsley pasta with fresh tomato sauce and some sauteed chard.
Come on over anytime.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

.....When a rope is not just a rope...........

"Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by the simple things." 
~ Noam Chomsky 

Today I was surprised by the graceful elegance of the ropes laid to rest at the climbing gym.

And then I was struck by the curl on the girl taking photographs and the shadow being cast.

And the curve of the lit curve struck my eye.

And the cascading grace of the telephone curl.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Thinking about bees......Always thinking about bees.......

Here is Marla Spivak: one of this year's MacArthur genius grant recipients....

Here is text from her website.

Marla Spivak is an entomologist who is developing practical applications to protect honey bee populations from decimation by disease while making fundamental contributions to our understanding of bee biology. Essential to healthy ecosystems and to the agricultural industry as pollinators of a third of the United States' food supply, honey bees have been disappearing at alarming rates in recent years due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides. To mitigate these threats, Spivak's research focuses on genetically influenced behaviors that confer disease resistance to entire colonies through the social interactions of thousands of workers. Her studies of hygienic behavior—the ability of certain strains of bees to detect and remove infected pupae from their hives—have enabled her to breed more disease-resistant strains of bees for use throughout the beekeeping industry. Spivak's "Minnesota Hygienic" line of bees offers an effective and more sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides in fighting a range of pests and pathogens, including the Varroa mite, a highly destructive parasite that spreads rapidly through Western honey bee colonies. By translating her scientific findings into accessible presentations, publications, and workshops, she is leading beekeepers throughout the United States to establish local breeding programs that increase the frequency of hygienic traits in the general bee population. With additional investigations into the antimicrobial effects of bee-collected plant resins under way, Spivak continues to explore additional methods for limiting disease transmission and improving the health of one of the world's most important pollinators.

Marla Spivak received a B.A. (1978) from Humboldt State University and a Ph.D. (1989) from the University of Kansas. She has been affiliated with the University of Minnesota since 1993, where she is currently Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Entomology. She is the author and creator of numerous beekeeping manuals and videos, and her scientific articles have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Neurobiology (now Developmental Neurobiology), Evolution, Apidologie, and Animal Behavior.