Thursday, September 29, 2005

virginia plant sightings: asiatic dayflower

commelina communis

i have seen this precious little friend on walks in our neighborhood, and today, at the barn swallow. the genus comes from the dutch commelin, the name of two renowned botanists and their dead brother. the flower's petals, two blue and one white, represent the three brothers.

the blossoms live but one day.

my new library book, "wildflowers of the blue ridge parkway," by j. anthony alderman, says, "dayflower roots, boiled and served with white sauce, make a tasty substitute for creamed potatoes. also, the young leaves can be eaten in salads."

one angry source said, "as 'communis' suggests, it forms huge spindly 'communities,' which choke other plants, and return in full force year after year." indeed, our little pal seems to be quite invasive.

it has been recognized medicinally in china, where it is used as a gargle for sore throats. it is also known to alleviate symptoms of various infections, including flu, tonsillitis, and urinary tract infections.

gavity overpass barn

last night i took tashi to the gravity lounge where some old friends from buffalo, john and mary,had a gig. i first met john and mary when i was fresh out of college and wanting to be a journalist. i went looking for assignments at this little entertainment rag in buffalo and one day the editor said, interview this guy, john lombardo, he was a founding member of the 10,000 maniacs. and so i did and so it was.

i didn't really expect to speak to them last night, or for them to even recognize me, but when i walked in the guy collecting the money said to me, "this is mary ramsey." i looked up and there she was sitting right in front of me with her little dog. i said, "i know mary but i don't know if she remembers me." she jumped up and exclaimed, "zoe!" and we hugged and chatted and she brought out john and they met tashi and all was cheerful and i got to reconnect with folks i haven't seen for over a decade. welcome back to the east coast.

the gravity lounge is a cool bookstore, art gallery, cafe, bar, performance space. very kid friendly and laid back. john and mary played some old songs and some new songs and some covers. it was a nice visitation with days of old.

in the mean time dan was standing on an overpass looking down at the allman brothers who were playing at the charlottesville pavilion. the pavilion is this new somewhat controversial stage that has been built at the east end of the downtown mall. sometimes they have free music and sometimes they have music that costs over $40 a ticket. the allman brothers fall into the latter category. the ironic thing is that you can hear the music loud and clear from many points just outside the pavilion (and miles beyond, to the chagrin of many locals), and if you stand on a nearby overpass as dan did, you can see the stage better than people in the audience can.

before our little folk show tashi and i were madly seeking parking in a parking garage full of allman brothers fans. the place was thick was pot smoke and tashi said, "mmmmm, sage."

today i worked at the barn swallow. there was one sale, a cutting board for $310. a cat named izzie and a blind dog named rory came in and hung out with me. even though the things in the barn swallow are way too expensive for me and just about all of my friends, i don't mind being surrounded by the beauty of hand made things. i feel peaceful in there once i get over the price tags, and i love gazing out the french doors at the cottage garden beyond. being there inspires me to make things and grow things and that is the best part of all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

one voice

i overheard someone talking on their cell phone this morning.

a woman who was probably in her late 30's said,

"while most people my age are firmly established in their career or at least well on their way to it, i'm like a girl in college trying to figure out her major."

she continued, "while most people my age look for work based on salary, benefits and status, while most people my age look for work based on their long history of like experience, i just want to work at a plant nursery so that i can learn something new about something i love."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

virginia plant sightings: the cigar tree

catalpa speciosa

i saw one of these in a neighbor's yard. i believe they also grow along broadway in ann arbor. the flowers are beautiful and showy in spring. there are long thin bean pods hanging high up amongst the broad heart shaped leaves. it is also called indian cigar tree and apparently the pods can be smoked for hallucinogenic affect.

here is a story i found about smoking the pods and not hallucinating.

as for medicinal qualities, apparently the seeds , bark and pods can be used in a decoction for bronchial conditions and asthma. the leaves can be applied to wounds or brewed for their sedative and narcotic qualities. the bark was used as a treatment for malaria. and if that's not enough, the tree hosts the catalpa sphinx caterpillar, highly regarded by fishermen as bait.

here is a pretty good article about the catalpa.

windows explode

apparently there was a big fire in this house a year ago. i nice neighbor named jennifer told me. she said there were 12 libyan refugees living here and the fire was linked to the use of a sterno stove in the upstairs bedroom.

that would explain why there is broken glass all over the ground on one side of the house. other than that, i would have never guessed. apparently the house was empty and under renovation for a year prior to our move in. nice job guys.

Monday, September 26, 2005

bloody cravings

it is a lovely, breezy, cool & overcast day at the edge of the blue ridge mountains.

this morning i'm finding some great botanical resources in and around charlottesville. first of all there is sacred plant traditions, an herbal medicine school. then there is virginia plant savers, an organization committed to protecting native medicinal plants and their habitats. there is also the virginia native plant society. their website has some great pdfs on growing butterfly gardens, native hedgerows, woodland wildflowers, and the like. and then there is garden medicinals and culinaries, a fantastic online resource for seeds, plants, supplies and books. let's hear it for medicinal plants and native preservation!

on other fronts, yesterday was our 6th wedding anniversary. because we're broke and babysitter-less, we didn't do anything out of the ordinary. we did have lunch at and indian buffet and, in the evening, we went for a long walk while tashi rode her bike alongside us. the lunch was mediocre; it made me miss the delightful indian restaurants in ann arbor. it just didn't compare to raja rani, or madras masala, or shalimar, or my very favorite, the take out counter at foods of india, a grocery store at the bottom of the broadway hill. it appears that there are only two indian restaurants in all of charlottesville, and zero grocers. there are virtually no middle eastern eateries or grocers. oh the difficulties.

dan and i also managed to make some progress in setting up our bedroom. it and our offices have been the last hold-outs of chaos. the dresser is now in the right place and we can begin to sort out the placement of our clothes. even though we have two walk in closets, they both have very short bars for hanging clothes, and one of them is a storage place for our landlord's random shit. it is too bad because it is a closet as big as a room and would make a great chill zone or meditation chamber.

tonight i'm going to make stuffed zucchini for dinner, cypriot style.

just for the record, my craving for the perfect southern bloody mary has not yet been satiated. life has never been the same since that fateful day i had a bloody mary from lafitte's blacksmith shop in new orleans. if anyone knows where to find the tastiest bloody mary in charlottesville, do please let me know.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

vegetables on a cool day

today there was a home football game. about eight white dudes in a monster truck parked in front of our house. they spit chewing tobacco all over the street and urinated in the grove of trees between our house and the neighbor's.

i did not go to the demonstration in dc today, but i did go to the vegetarian festival in charlottesville. instead of telling bush how i really feel, i sampled wheat gluton meatballs and talked to alternative health practicioners. i learned that there is a vegan bed & breakfast in the blue ridge mountains called the white pig and a vegetarian tibetan buddhist sangha called semchen. alas, i am still not a vegetarian and bush is still president.

i also went to the farmer's market this morning where i purchased a lavender plant and an abundance of organic veggies. i brought cinnamon rolls home to dan and tashi and then we went to the salvation army store in search of a desk for dan. we had no luck. afterwards we took all our flattened boxes and bags of packing paper to the recycle center where tashi had a blast pouring things into big dumpsters.

i was pretty thrilled to find that, while channel surfing late last night, viggo mortensen was on both david letterman and charlie rose. viggo is not just an actor. he is an outspoken leftist, a painter, musician, poet and publisher. check out his thoughtful press, perceval.

Friday, September 23, 2005

virginia plant sightings: the boxwood

boxwood trees are very popular around here. every day i pass boxwood lane and boxwood farm. the barn swallow sells small boxwood trees. and we have a boxwood in front of our house. i like to brush my hand along the leaves; they are very soft and papery. i just learned that boxwood has medicinal qualities: "Some view boxwood as a medicinal plant, and others as a dangerous poison. Popular medicine recommended its use as a laxative, a diaphoretic and a cholalogue. One of its suspected benefits is its high anti-flu efficiency. Studies are also underway to use a boxwood extract, the SPV 30, in complementary treatment against HIV." to learn more about the boxwood visit the website of a gentleman who makes recorders from boxwood. for information more specific to virginia, check this one out.

oscillating okra

another hot day approacheth in charlottesville. today's high is expected to be 88 degrees. i'll be at the barn swallow all day, sitting in front of the huge oscillating fan, gazing out the french doors at the butterflies frolicking amongst tall cosmos.

last night i made deep fried okra. how southern is that? i soaked sliced okra in a mixture of egg and buttermilk and then dredged the slices in a mixture of cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. i then dropped the breaded okra into bubbling canola oil and let the heap sizzle until brown, giving the pan an occasional shake. mmmm mmm. i think next time i'll add cayenne pepper to the breading.

aside from out of control hurricanes, here is more exciting evidence of global warming.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

stripmall fatigue

i changed my template. it's an obnoxious green isn't it?

our printer is broken, a rather discouraging dilemma. i wasn't able to print out the necessary forms this morning to apply for uva jobs. i ended up having a long chat on aim with a dear old friend and roommate. we used to live together in a groovy area of buffalo called allentown. that was when i worked at a great independent bookstore and regularly hung out at bars until 4am.

after chatting i ran some errands at the barracks mall, a strip mall i will be frequenting for the duration of my charlottesville life. it houses a decent natural foods store as well as the post office, an art supply store, a couple of chain grocery stores, a copy shop and ben & jerry's.

another thing i discovered today is that our landlord is a psychic and a massage therapist. he owns an intersting healing center in fairfax, ca.

tashi has a playdate which means i should be taking advantage of this time. i think i'll go do that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

sad applicant

i just spent over two hours filling out a detailed application for a job as "library circulation assistant" at piedmont virginia community college. i have to fill out the same awful virginia commonwealth applications for any uva job i might want to apply for. my hands are shaking and my tummy is rumbling.

it's a day of patchy clouds and sunshine. loki is sleeping in the linen closet and luna is outside exploring. soon i will go buy a stamp so i can mail my application and then i will drive up to tashi's school where i am volunteering at the cute little waldorf store.

we've received two letters from ann arbor this week. yesterday it was from our former landlords who told us of all the renovations they're making in our former house. they're totally fixing up the cramped little kitchen, putting in new maple cabinets, a dishwasher and a microwave. they've already installed central air. i miss our old house with the bright and airy living room, its tall windows looking out at a thick forest. i miss the two acres full of wild herbs and tall trees. i miss the pond, alive with singing frogs, mating ducks and frolicking fawns. i miss the friends that appreciated it all. i miss the oregon chai and fair trade coffee from cafe verde. and of course i miss the co-op and the good people i worked with there.

and today we received a card from our former neighbors, glen and ruri, an older japanese couple who lived through the days of internment camps. they sent us a bunch of photos they took while we were packing the uhaul and then driving off early the next day. ruri told me my plants would be transplanted in her garden. at least i can be reassured that the hands of a master gardener will care for them, even if she does use round-up sometimes.

if i sound a little sad, i am. no regrets. but some sadness anyway. i numbed myself throughout the entire move. but now i'm able to feel again.

Monday, September 19, 2005

oh shenandoah

yesterday we jumped in the car and drove uphill to the
shenandoah national park. we drove along skyline drive and checked out the observation points. we attempted one hike but tashi quickly became unhappy because of the gnats flying into her eyes. the appalachian trail winds through the park, along with many other trails. tashi was certain she saw a bear, which is entirely possible, and we saw several deer. there were a lot of great herbs: red clover blossom, yellowdock, mullien, plantain, marigold, to name a few. the wildflowers in spring are something to look forward to. we had a bit of a struggle with a huge bee that was attracted to the interior of our car. and unfortunately the whole event took a turn for the worse when tashi refused to hike and dan started to slump over in his seat, sound asleep.

the cats are out. yesterday was the first day we let them outside without our supervision. they came back! and so now the world is theirs to explore. hopefully they won't get into a tangle with the vicious dalmation named maggie who lives next door. and hopefully they won't be preyed upon by the family of red tale hawks that roost two doors down. as for our neighbors on the other side, they're mormons, and i think we have to worry about them more than the cats do.

today i have to get serious. after three weeks of unpacking and arranging and puttering, i now have to focus on an occupation. my little less than part time job at the barn swallow is just filler. i'm hoping to get a little herbal cottage industry going here. something i've been wanting to do for over five years now. and i'd like to write and make collages and assemblages and maybe even paintings. but aside from the dreams, i have to get a real job. wish me luck.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

leaf light and dew

it's a bright and sunny morning in charlottesville, after an evening of scattered showers and cooling breezes.

we enjoyed free live reggae music at the pavilion last night. stable roots opened for guano boys.

tashi was bustling with energy, jumping all over dan and i, bathing us with wet kisses, poking us, sucking at our cheeks, ramming us like a bull in the small of our backs, pulling at arm hair, spinning and begging to be spun.

it was a love fest speckled with pouty moments of withdrawal when dan and i would bark at being injured.

but i listened to the music and examined the crowd and felt pretty good about my new community.

there are a lot of suit coats though. i am as suspicious of them as i am of cops.

speaking of such, three kop cars pulled up in front the other day and their three drivers descended upon the house across the street. i made a special effort to view the situation. one took post in the back of their yard, another in the front, while the third knocked on the doors. no one answered. the kops hung around a bit too long for comfort and then left. i guess i can't help but say, wtf?

this morning i made an early visit to the farmer's market. bubbling with humanity, it was a colorful scene of ripe vegetables and three piece bluegrass. the harvest is in! i purchased a pound of okra and a fresh baked blackberry pie.

this full moon evening, dinner guests and a playmate for tashi.

having drunk a cup of strong free-trade coffee i am now feeling edgy. it's the first coffee i've consumed in three weeks. three weeks ago this very day we moved here. on that day i drank three double cappuccinos in order to stay alert at the wheel.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

this just in

a great and just article from the front lines of new orleans.

in fact, the whole website deserves attention.

prisms and colored glass

the humidity is back.

so many dangling things. what to do w/ broken wooden memory of egypt. bottles of teal and blue, reminder of small round windows in thatched pub.

dank little root cellar, filling with boxes of what if and piles of this was.

huge old wooden desk, two doors down, discarded on road. six drawers. oak probably. ours now.

dan and i, undecided on what room should be who's office.

too many books for the number of cases. missing some crucial storage that cedar bend provided.

drink: water
snack: animal crackers
music: cicada

cedar bend. sad now, that i didn't salvage my lavender and sage, that i didn't dry more of my mugwort. disappointed that i didn't collect the seeds of calendula, echinacea and cosmos. a cinquefoil, transplanted, forgotten. all that out of control oregano, nettle, mullien, catnip and coltsfoot. shameful that i didn't dry more for use. must start all over here, another rental, the grounds crawling with jasmine and ivy.

last two times i've taken loki outside have ended with him hissing at me viciously as i carry him indoors. our yard is abundant with catsmell. he bounds off into wooded areas along fence, carpeted in poison ivy. i have to make a choice: do i count on his return or follow him into the mass of suffering. so far, he has returned.

as i must. to the work at hand.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

waste mismanagement

in charlottesville, in order to have your garbage collected, you have to purchase a weekly sticker for your trash bin. the garbage man was nice though, and dumped our festering pile into his truck anyway.

as for recycling, pick up is for cans and bottles only, no paper.

Monday, September 12, 2005

thomas jentropy

a sure way to induce brain entropy is to alphabetize cd's for an hour.

things are falling into place so much now that i can actually see sunlight spill across floor boards. a new breath fills corners.

drink: nettle infusion
music: nick drake

tashi has a playdate today and at this moment is being picked up from school. she's found a sweet sprite named phoebe who loves to be a little girl as much as she does. they'll chase faeries and hug and giggle.

streets of charlottesville named after tj

jefferson highway
jefferson lake drive
jefferson park avenue
jefferson park circle
jefferson street
thomas jefferson parkway
thomas lane
thomas road

(we live off of jefferson park avenue, otherwise known as jpa)

some businesses and some organizations named after tj

jefferson coin shop
jefferson communications inc
jefferson engraving and awards inc
jefferson foot and ankle associates pc
jefferson heights at pantops mountain
jefferson madison regional library
jefferson midwifery
jefferson nephrology ltd
jefferson obstetrics & gynecology ltd
jefferson park baptist church
jefferson park junior academy
jefferson ridge apartments
jefferson signs
jefferson supply co
jefferson theater
jefferson tibetan society
jefferson vineyards
jeffersonian apartments
jeffersonian wine grape gowers society
thomas j photography: the studio without walls
thomas jefferson center for the protection of free expression
thomas jefferson memorial church

out of all those, i'd visit this

i gotta go look for a job now

Sunday, September 11, 2005

baking grounds

last night dan and i baked some very special orange chocolate chip cookies.

when searching for flour at harris teeter i noticed an aisle marker that said, "cornmeal/baking goods" and sure enough there were about fifty varieties of cornmeal on the shelves. there was also no light brown sugar, only dark brown. i attribute this all to southern culture.

today we are going to a mini renaissance fest on the university grounds. it is being put on by the society of creative anachronism.

one is not to call the university of virginia a campus at any time. it is the grounds. and there are no freshmen, sophmores, juniors or seniors. just first year, second year, third year and fourth. and a wahoo is a fish that can drink twice it's weight in liquid. the uva football fans call themselves wahoos.

edgar allen poe attended uva.

soon i will tell you how many streets in charlottesville are named after thomas jefferson.

tashi has decided that today is valentines day in september. we are supposed to give love notes to each other all day.

Friday, September 09, 2005

done sitting listlessly

dsl stands for dangerous.

well the d does anyway.

can you believe that this is the first time we've had dsl at home. all these years with a dial up. i think i shortened my life with all the anxiety over slow downloads. and now i don't have to do anything. just walk up to the computer and begin. and we're still really behind the times because it's dsl and not wireless.

but what do i know about these things anyway.

this morning has been completely wasted with puttering and playing with the computer.
but it's friday. and i had insomnia last night.

i did take loki outside a short while ago. i think he will have to pave the way for luna, who, won't let me carry her first of all, and second of all, is impossible to catch. loki stayed right beside me, sniffing everything, his eyes wide and ears pointed. he let me carry him off to certain locations in the yard where i would set him down and croon at him like a crazy cat person. he didn't pelt up a tree or over the fence. he was such a model cat. and when i brought him in he gazed at me with pure gratitude. he knows now his day is coming for being let loose upon the jungle.

but tell me, how do i convince a cat to leave creatures smaller than himself alone?

i wonder how many cats died in new orleans. how many dogs. hamsters. guinea pigs. last night i watched the bbc news and saw nightmarish footage of bloated dead bodies that have not yet been gathered up. let's take care of the living by leaving the decomposing dead amongst them.

loki is curled up in the sun behind my computer. a soft mass of purring fur. that's a pleasing image isn't it.

have a nice lunchtime.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


the cats are getting restless. i'm keeping them inside for a while until they are used to the place, but yesterday luna was chasing her tail like she used to do as a kitten. and this morning loki kept clawing me. even when i was in the shower he jumped onto the side of the tub, stuck his paw in and gave me a poke on the side of my leg. they've been doing a considerable amount of acrobatics, from couch to table to chair to windowsill. soon kitties, you will explore the great out of doors.

dan was reimbursed finally for his interview trip to c-ville. we can buy groceries, gas, cat food and maybe one chai! it was getting pretty scary there. he only gets paid once a month and i haven't yet started my part time job.

now i will pick up tashi and drop off a box of toys we gathered to be delivered to nola kids with nothing. i wonder if president bush will donate anything. go on, mr. bush, clean out that closet overflowing with blankets, sheets, shirts, and snake oil. ask your cooks to gather up some canned goods from the white house kitchen. and while you're at it, maybe you could help out some of the homeless people in washington, dc.

my brother-in-law, bagus, and his partner, sissy, almost certainly lost everything. they got themselves and dog zita out of there before the hurricane, but didn't manage to pack anything else into their car as they scrambled to escape. they are lucky to have a car. and they are lucky to have lots of family and friends elsewhere to help them. but really, it hasn't been a lucky year for them at all. not at all. i'm glad they didn't get stranded on their roof for days.

our roof is really slanted. it wouldn't do one bit.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


is it possible to say "albemarle county" without sounding southern?

Friday, September 02, 2005

mosquito fuzz

some things i've noticed about being here:

* folks are very friendly. they wave from cars and yell hello from across the street.
* the mosquitos are numerous and smaller than dandelion fuzz.
* many rooms in our house dip. this makes marbles rolly and shelves tippy.
* there is a serial rapist on the loose in charlottesville.
* a lot of people have chain link fences.
* ann arbor was very white.