The cocktail/mocktail challenge

I am very actively involved in a theater/performing arts/cultural nonprofit, the Portland Revels. Each spring we have an event, Flourish, with the purpose of connecting with our friends and supporters and of course, raising money. This year’s restrictions of course have put a crimp in in-person gatherings and we have been pivoting and shifting to an on-line get-together – hasn’t everyone!

To spice things up, we settled on a cocktail/mocktail challenge — designing drinks worthy of the name “Flourish”.  We have several talented amateur mixologists on board. Robert Lockwood has been called out in a previous post and I myself have fun with a drop of this and a squeeze of that.

We’re hoping to have all attendees come up with something and I’ve been posting beverages, both silly and serious, in this lead up to the event on May 31.

I have no idea how a totally on-line event is going to go and am a bit nervous about that.  But hoping to get enough buzz on the cocktail/mocktail challenge that people will have fun with it.  At least I get to try to use every piece of different glassware in the house!

What’s the best ‘event’ you’ve attended  in the past few weeks in an online setting? I’d love to hear what made it work or made it special.


A cold day calls for a hot tea toddy


Flourish quince cooler, my first drink

#revelsflourish #portlandrevels #revelsconnect #revelscreates

The grass is greener….

The power of green


The wall apparently took some getting over.  And I’m not sure I’m quite over there yet but I am being propelled by the power of green. The color green. The greening earth. The green smell of my tomato plants and (of course) cut grass.  I’m pretty well convinced of the power of nature and there is evidence empirically, that things like ‘forest-bathing’ are essential to our mental health.

Twenty years ago, American biologist E. O. Wilson noted that humans are “hardwired” to connect with the natural world, and that being in nature had a profoundly positive effect on human health.

It makes sense.  For thousands of years, if not more, the human species lived off the land and in the land. The evidence indicates that agriculture, as in farming, arose a mere 12,000 years ago.  Humans have been around much longer than that, the oldest known skeleton of an anatomically modern homo sapien (us) dates back at least 200,000 years ago.  Cities, on the other hand, are only 5,000 years old (give or take) – some anthropologist believe that strong agricultural practices were necessary before cities could coalesce.  In any event, as my friend Erna is fond of saying, we as a species have had much more experience being in natural environments rather than in built environments. Some researchers have even proposed that living in high rise apartments increases your risk of depression! Perhaps its because we are not ‘built’ for that kind of living.

These past few weeks have been an interesting experience in separation from the natural environment for many people. As a result, there’s been a phenomenal uptick in the purchase of house plants, garden seeds, vegetable starts, and the like. People are experimenting with regrowing lettuce and scallions in a kitchen window.  It of course remains to be seen if people will stick with this green growth but I’m optimistic. Millennials are fueling an overall increase in house plant purchases. I know the nursery I work at has stocked more and more houseplants as the years have gone by.

I’m very, very lucky in that I’ve got a big garden and am an easy drive from natural (and safe) beauty. I can feel my blood pressure and anxiety decreases whenever I’m working in the garden or walking through the woods.  But even grooming a house plant can improve your mood.

Go green.  You may find yourself happier for it.


peering into the wild


#quarantinegardening #forestbathing

Hitting a wall

Hitting a wall

Or maybe its just a fence.

Or maybe that it’s fatigue from the getting up at 5:20 am yesterday to dance up the sun on Mayday – a quaint custom I’ve been doing for fifteen years or more with my dance team. Alas, without my team this year.

Or maybe too many zoom meetings in a week.

Or maybe it’s keeping lively during this unexpectedly long time of sequestering.

Whatever it is, I hit a wall. Or a fence. Or a pause point.  Maybe a little depression, a little sadness. Poetry month is over and that always deflates my balloon a bit. Going from receiving 5-10 poems a day, and writing one, to the absence of shaped words in my in-box and life.

What I know , or believe, is this is a temporary banana peel.  I come from a long line of strong-hearted women, who pick themselves off the floor (and then wash it).  Move forward because that’s what you have to do.  But there is a little space when you have to pull back.  To sit at the bottom of the wall.  Sit with your sorrow or grief or anger.  Maybe butt your head against it. Maybe imagine it as a fence with space between it. Space that will gradually widen.

Whatever it is, I’ll sit here awhile.  Then today, or tomorrow, or the next day, I’ll plant something, or make something, or write something. Or just be. In the now of having climbed over the wall.




Til next time.



A May basket of goodies

Celebrate Mayday


I’m experimenting, truly, with media so I thought it might be fine to include a video in this post which is a bit about Mayday.

May 1, Mayday, has been celebrated as some kind of holiday in many cultures and traditions, perhaps most especially in the British Isles.  Given the historical US ties to England, Mayday is one of those days that has been celebrated in the past, but maybe not as robustly as it used to be.  Perhaps its because of the unfortunate connection between Mayday and the former Soviet Union. Or maybe the customs surrounding Mayday have become out of date, obsolete and quaint. They have certainly died out in many places.

However, some of us persevere.

Besides getting up to dance the dawn in (which, full disclosure, I have been doing for the past twenty years or so!), children, and perhaps adults,  used to put together May baskets, or May posies, to leave on a neighbors doorstep or doorknob. With my kids, I considered this anonymous gift a way of paying back the kindness of neighbors who put up with Halloween!

Mayday is 1/2 round the year from Halloween, and in some countries is considered the beginning of summer (thereby making the 23/24 of June – midsummer – something I had deeply wondered about in my  younger days – mid-June did not seem like midsummer). Maypoles, May dances, Maywine, fire leaping, and other special activities were part of village or small town life celebrating perhaps, the end of cold weather and the start of truly balmy days.

If you are hankering to do more to celebrate Mayday, this year on Friday, you could cut branches from flowering trees or shrubs.  Most trees flower, really!

Or you could decorate a May bush with streamers, ribbon, leftover Easter eggs and other decorations.

A sort of May bush.

Finally consider making May posies or May baskets to leave for your neighbors with or without a note. It’s a small kindness when small kindness means a lot.

Make posey cones, collect flowers and fill your cones.


Here’s a link to the video,


Our own Library of Congress has some interesting history, backstory, and resources about Mayday celebrations both here and in England. Here are links to two of them: Mayday and dancing and May celebrations.

And here’s an NPR piece specifically on May baskets from a few years ago.

Whether you dance up the sun, leave neighbors May baskets, or just enjoy the day, have a wonderful first of May.


(Song written and sung by Dave Weber)



#maydaybaskets #diyspring #mayday

Why DIY (in the kitchen that is)

Why DIY?

If you’re used to going out, whether to hike, eat, visit friends or go dancing or drinking, this time of social/physical distancing might have have given you more time (or at least a different kind of time) to do things you’ve always ‘meant to do’ like garden or bake bread or make things. You may have discovered some of the joys of DIY. Or perhaps have been curious in watching youtube videos of other peoples’ DIY

I’ve been a proponent of DIY in the kitchen for a long time, although it’s been, shall we say, emphasized lately.  I’ve already talked about making hummus for example. But there are other things, and other reasons, I DIY many things.

  • Generally foods taste better homemade than pre-prepared. Or at least fresher. With fewer additives. That leads to….
  • You have control of the ingredients. For instance, did you know that peanut butter often has added sugar and oil (and salt). Condiments like ketchup may have may more sugar than you want to have in your diet, not to mention the corn syrup. In DIY, you get to decide how much to add. And what.
  • A corollary to that: you get to experiment. Want to add garlic to your mayonnaise, just add garlic.  Want to shake up your hummus flavors. Hey, you are in control of that. And it doesn’t cost much if it goes south and you need to start again. Mad kitchen science is fun.
  • It can be cost -effective (not always but often).
  • You may be able to replicate an out of date or unavailable, taste or flavor. The pickles you had as a kid, a certain store-bought cupcake.
    • Or maybe you can’t get something now because stores are all sold out. Maybe you’ve got the ingredients at home to do so.
  • You can minimize other unintended consequences inherent in the packaging: many store bought, pre-made items are packaged in plastic. How many of you have way, way too many yogurt containers or other plastic containers?   I do, without reliable ways to recycle the containers or the lids.  If I DIY and make it myself, I can use re-usable glass containers for storage. Which also makes me feel better health-wise because glass is inert, while plastic (some plastics) can leach chemicals into your food.
  • Finally you can gain skills and get great satisfaction from doing something yourself. From home-made maraschino cherries to mayonnaise; from bread to bitters (my next project), there are instructions on how to hack, or make, just about anything these days. Chose a reliable source and try it.

    Life can be a bowl of maraschino cherries


Note: there are of course many, many arguments against DIY, chiefly time, effort, and money. If this is your opportunity to try something out, then go for it, really. You may find that that DIY mayonnaise takes very little time to make.  Or that cooking at home is actually more time efficient than eating out.  This can be an opportunity to experiment.  Open your heart and try.

Til next time:


#quarantine cooking #roomsinbloomnw #DIYcooking

2/3 of the way through on the 20th

That’s 2/3 of the way through NAPOWRIMO and my writers group has been busy.  About ten of us swapping poems and prompts.

I also encouraged three other friends to take on the NAPOWrIMO challenge of a poem a day. I feel like a mother hen to use an old expression, clucking over what my friends have taken the time to create. I don’t claim to be a ‘successful’ writer though I write, a lot, both technical things and creative things. But as mentioned in a post earlier in the month, I believe that we all have creative instincts and abilities.  We just need to trust in them, and in ourselves. Sometimes we have to dig quite deep. Sometimes we get crap and doggerel. Sometimes, we unearth a sublime gem.

I have been having some fun myself matching poems with images. I am a terrible 2D visual artist but, like many, I do like to take photos and play around with those.


So even though National/Global Poetry writing month is 2/3 done, pick up your pen. And go.

For prompts and ideas: NAPOWRIMO

Adult Beverages, Part 2

Well, this being Oregon, it seems like every other person we know makes wine, beer, mead, kombucha, etc.  Or is somehow engaged in dishing up yummy  beverages.  Our friend Robert, whose drink was featured a few weeks ago, loves to experiment but he’s not the only one.

In any case, in honor of this quite extraordinary sunny and warm Friday here on the west coast (and apologies to you midwesterners who may be getting snow), I’m having the concoction on the left, aka, “The Back Porch”


It’s pretty simple. I took stock of what I had (not much really) and used 2 oz. of Lillet (a French aperitif, kept cold), 1/2 oz of cherry liquor that came with the homemade maraschino cherries I made last summer, a squeeze of lime, 2 drops of bitters, a cherry and a lime peel. Shaken w/ an ice cube to get colder and then served.

Mmmmm. I think I’ll have another.

The cherries are quite easy to make if you can get your hands on cherries and Luxardo liquor this summer.  Either pie cherries or sweet cherries will do,  you can pit them or not. 1 pint of cherries to 1 pint of liquor.  Put the cherries in a jar (or two, how ever many will fit), pour the liquor over the cherries, let rest in cool dark place (refrigerated is best) for a few days at least, 2 weeks is best.  Apparently you can make non-alcohol versions using pomegranate juice or grape juice. I might try some with tart cherry juice or black cherry juice. You can also add lemon peel and other spices.

Saving the cherry for last.


Good luck to everyone heading into this weekend. Stay safe, stay well.