Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: Dirt Edition

An embarrassment of “years in review” this time of year. Have some more.

An exchange with a friend this afternoon about putting things in dirt. As in planting stuff, hiding dead bodies, or time capsules. Banter about how those things are similar in intended effect (sometimes). It was silly and wonderful.

These are my personal things from this past year that I would like to bury deep, somewhere. I would prefer you not to know these. Like Grover with the monster at the end of the book, WHY DO YOU KEEP SCROLLING DOWN??!

1/23/14            Met Gary Paul Nabhan, aka Brother Coyote. An architect of the Local Food Movement, author of Coming Home to Eat. Forgot all my big words, regardless, he was nice. Feed that night all the nitrogen and water it wants.

2/16/14            Traveled an ocean to an anxious and homesick friend. It was hard to do (work, family, life, money). Months later, my friend tells me we are no longer friends because I couldn’t visit sooner.

I want to bury that loss so I never feel it ever again. I’m sorry things were hard, friend. I did my best.

4/11/14            Watched the person I’ve known the longest (outside of blood-family) marry in beautiful Hawaii. Dug my toes in the sand. Forgave myself gluten and ate all the pancakes. Did not die. But boy was I puffy.

(In December, I will repeat this behavior in New Orleans with croissants. I am insensitive to my sensitivity. Or making dumb choices.)

5/1/14              Asparagus finally pokes up on the same day that two students complain that their final grade was too high. Something magic in them there dirt.

7/18/14            First major feedback on my dissertation. My project is called “elegant.” Take that word, seal it in a diamond, swallow it. Every now and then let it shine behind my smile. Sometimes it will burn like frostbite.

10/27/14          Made a Halloween costume, a sequined dress. Painted on Julia Roberts lips. Behind this costume is a woman deeply proud of attending sewing camp as a tween. At the time, however, I wanted to crawl under rocks.

11/7/14            Lovely, redemptive, trip to Atlanta. My last trip to Georgia was to bring my Grandmother up to live in New York, and for her coda. Train trip from hell, it was. Being a bone collector is humbling, hard and sickening.

12/6/14            New Orleans. Once, I dated a bad man that had an underage prostitute in this city. My stomach turned, immediately, I turned him out. My turning stomach resisted one position in this city. If she is still alive, she would be in her 20’s now.

Who ever you are, I am sorry. I wish you peace, and I wish him and whoever put you there deep down into a dark pit. The things I want to bury, are different from yours.

1/1/14              I read 138 books (for fun) in 2014 (mind you, I’m writing from the future now). The first book of the year will be Paulo Neruda’s Full Woman, Fleshy Apple, Hot Moon. Another friend advised me toward this choice over others, exalting, ‘begin the year with love.’


Bury love with the bodies, bury the bodies with love. Plant all the things with love, even if the things aren’t things that grow. Begin the year the way we must begin everything.  

Xu Bing. Genius.

Taste Buds and Molecules:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Dirt Cheap Holiday Gift Guide


Don’t bring a tired DIY Mason Jar Gift that’s been over pinned on pinterest! Whether it’s a Xmas, Hannakah, Winter Solstice, or an Evil Dead Watching party, I have got you covered with these unique and thoughtful suggestions. This holiday season, give the gift of earth.

These DIY Handmade gifts all require a Mason Jar and some soil. However you adapt them is up to you!

Top 5 DIY Gifts:

1.       Gluten Free Mud Pie.

Everyone is going gluten-free these days. Give the gift of pastries from a simpler time with a lovely pre-mixed mud pie in a Mason Jar. This gift will stand apart from all the hot-cocoa-in-a-jars and brownie-mix-in-a-jar that philistines always bring to holiday parties.


Step one. Fill a Mason Jar with soil (or dirt. Your choice.).

Step two. Close the Jar.
Step three. Attach a decorative recipe card (reading “mix with water and pour into pie tin. allow to bake in the sun until set.”).



2.       Magic Soil.

A perfect gift for the hipster, Millenial, or “Water World” fan in your life.


Step one. Fill a Mason Jar with soil (or dirt. Your choice.).
Step two. Close the Jar.
Step three. Explain to the recipient that the soil becomes dirt once it’s brought inside,
and changes back to soil again when it is outside. Brilliant!



3.       Mud Bath.

Nothing says “You mean the world to me, dirty lady/gentleman,” like the gift of a romantic, soothing Mud Spa without the pomp and annoyance of going to a fancy spa.


Step one. Fill a Mason Jar with soil (or dirt. Your choice.).
Step two. Close the Jar.

Step three. Put a label on the jar.
Step four. Write: “pour into running bath water. Adjust temperature to preference.”


4.       All-Natural Air Freshener


The holiday season can be an overwhelming cornucopia of scented candles with names like “pumpkin latte spiced crab cakes,” and “cinnamon sticky buns of steel.” Don’t bring a soy-wax monstrosity. Bring an all natural, clean scent of joy.


Step one. Fill a Mason Jar with soil (or dirt. Your choice.).
Step two. Close the Jar.
Step three. This gift is self explainatory. The recipient will know to open the jar to unleash the earthy –freshness.

*variation: for you Christian friends, just add some hay to make it a Manger-scented Soil Air Freshener!



5.       Donation in the Name Of.

Charities are plagued by too much money throughout the year—but the problem increases during the holiday season. What they do not get enough of is, actually, useful items.

To really make a gesture, pick a charity that really makes you feel feelings (feelings may include nausea, frustration, rage and disappointment), and donate this useful gift in the name of a special someone.

And don’t be a scrooge! Charities aren’t the only groups to consider. Think community groups (like the Westboro Church), former lovers (especially if it’s a jennifer-brad-angelina situation), or those that compete with your own business ventures. Get Creative!



Step one. Fill a Mason Jar with soil (or dirt. Your choice.).
Step two. Close the Jar.
Step three. Mail to the organization of your choice with a lovely note explaining that
it is from your friend. Make sure to include their contact information, home address,
and social security number/criminal record if possible.



Any of these gifts are sure to amaze. Trust me, I’m going to be a doctor.
(Note: under no circumstances do anything that this blog post recommends. At best, the gift recipient will be annoyed at you, and at worst you could be facing federal charges (probably) due to all the provisions in the Patriot Act. Especially for gift #5. Use your judgment and don’t give any of these gifts.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Soil and Seizure

Let’s revisit cow poop.

In an earlier post (“Soil vs. Sadness” ) I mused on Mycrobaccterium vaccae—bacterium found in soil, originating in cow dung and that may be helpful in fighting depression. That was back in the beginnings of Ferguson. After the latest non-indictment, I want some Mycrobaccterium vaccae more than ever.

On the other hand, I want to make sure that cow crap doesn’t steal the spotlight. Dung of all kinds has had an important historical presence in American life. It would be myopic to tip a hat to only the bullshit in America.
Particularly in politics and policies, poop has had an important role. There’s lots of crap for us to consider. I shit you not. For serious. Hear me out.
Take, for example, the Guano Islands Act of 1856. In the 1850’s America was all about the magic of bird and bat crap. ‘Merica passed an Act allowing us to take any guano from any unpopulated (unaffiliated with a government) island.
This happened on over 100 islands. We could also kinda sorta take the island along with the guano. Kevin Underhill argues that this particular piece of history is important in that it helped set precedents for appropriation or seizure of “unincorporated areas” or “insular areas.”

This is still on the books. It affects Haiti.

That’s not all. This history of “bring on the poop! We need more poop!” led to our chemical fertilizer mindset. Years later we call chemical farming “conventional farming,” and nonchemical farming “organic.” These words don’t make sense. That’s a smaller, yet significant, ripple from the Guano Islands Act.

Furthermore, the science behind Interstellar that scares me is about the desertification of soil. Whether or not the 5th dimension is a load of crap isn’t really the point. WHY DOESN’T SOME BLOGGER WRITE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF COLONIALISM, POOP, RACISM and CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS IN THAT MOVIE? IS THAT NOT A RELATIVE DIMENSION TO THE FILM?

So why not pay attention to the shape of the dung shaped laws. The dung shaped stuff shapes other things, too. Let’s think about their histories, and where we’ve spread them. Sometimes the things at the heart of it are a load of crap. Literally.

More on the Guano Islands Act:

My puppy with bird guano on his head. Unstaged, untouched, and uncensored: