Dual Mandate

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.35As a graduate of the Father Guido Sarducci’s 5-minute University, I was really happy that Larry introduced me to the issue of the Fed’s dual mandate in a way I could understand. Greg Mankiw, a Harvard Professor of Economics, has created a video to explain the thorny problem for our Federal Reserve, initially created to keep our currency stable and control inflation. Now, the additional mandate of keeping unemployment low has been added, and Greg explains this in a delightful country western song. Now I’m up to speed on current economics.



Larry forwarded an article about the cost of backyard chickens today. Here’s the graphic overview. The graph on top is the price of a dozen commercial eggs (not organic BTW, you’d have to at least double, and in some cases triple that number for pasture-raised organic eggs).

Screenshot 2015-07-23 12.59.05The lower figures are pretty accurate for startup costs, though they don’t include fencing, the electric fence, and the labor of scrounging fresh greens, straw, etc. for the birds. Continue reading “Chickenomics”

Summer food

Tomatoes and corn, sweet onions, greens, soft cheeses. That’s what I’m eating these days. Here’s a typical menu:

Polenta with fresh corn kernels
Tomato sauce
Grilled fish or pulled pork
Greek salad

FullSizeRender (1)I make the tomato sauce and polenta, then serve them like this with, some protein in the middle (or not). See below for a peek at a wonderful gadget I use that stirs the polenta for me while I’m doing other things.

Here are some recipes:

Simplest tomato sauce: Sauté an onion, a little garlic, chopped fresh basil in olive oil. Chop about a dozen of the ripest, best tomatoes around. Add them in. If you want, puree a few more, and add those. More basil, salt, oregano. Simmer.

Meanwhile, make a little polenta with 4 parts milk, one part water. (4 cups liquid to a little less than 1 cup of polenta.) Stir to avoid lumps. Add a few tablespoons butter and kernels from an ear or two of corn. You can add a little cheese if you like it cheesy. Cook till creamy.

Serve sauce over polenta. You can add anything you might want for protein in the middle of the sauce.

Greek salad: peel and chop a cucumber into chunks, add chunked tomato, sliced red onion, some crumbled feta.  Sprinkle with fresh oregano, salt pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Another by Tony Hoagland

TonyHoaglandHeadshotReading though poems this morning, trying to find one to post, I couldn’t resist this one. He’s got the jargon so perfectly. I especially like his description of “holding the fear inside/like a tipsy glass of water”:

And The Men

want back in:
all the Dougs and the Michaels, the Darnells, the Erics and Josés,
they’re standing by the off-ramp of the interstate
holding up cardboard signs that say WILL WORK FOR RELATIONSHIP.

Their love-mobiles are rusty.
Their Shaggin’ Wagons are up on cinderblocks.
They’re reading self-help books and practicing abstinence,
taking out Personals ads that say
xxxx “Good listener would like to meet lesbian ladies,
xxxx                              for purposes of friendship only.”

In short, they’ve changed their minds, the men:
they want another shot at the collaborative enterprise.
Want to do fifty-fifty housework and childcare;
They want commitment renewal weekends and couples therapy.

Because being a man was finally too sad—
In spite of the perks, the lifetime membership benefits.
And it got old,
telling the joke about the hooker and the priest

at the company barbeque, praising the vintage of the beer and
 xxxx  punching the shoulders of a bud
xxxx         in a little overflow of homosocial bonhomie—
Always holding the fear inside
 xxxx                 like a tipsy glass of water—

Now they’re ready to talk, really talk about their feelings,
in fact they’re ready to make you sick with revelations of
  xxxx                 their vulnerability—
A pool of testosterone is spreading from around their feet,
it’s draining out of them like radiator fluid,
like history, like an experiment that failed.

So here they come on their hands and knees, the men:
Here they come. They’re really beaten. No tricks this time.
xxxx         No fine print.
Please, they’re begging you. Look out.

Tony Hoagland

The Angelina Jolie of Chickens

For years my flock has consisted largely of Americana chickens, docile birds who are good layers of green or olive eggs. But this year, diversity has been the theme. I just can’t seem to resist new breeds.

hamburgIn addition to the original Americanas, of which two remain, I have a Black Australorp and Rhode Island Red (brown eggs), a couple of Silkies, little white puffballs with feathered feet who are great mothers and lay small white eggs, and my favorite from the original flock, Houdini, a Hamburg hen who escapes the chicken area every day to lay her white egg in the bushes.

When I ordered chicks, I decided to go for exotics, so I have two Cream Legbars (turquoise eggs), three Coco Marans (mahagony colored eggs), a Black Orpington, an Olive Egger, and a Rhodebar.  Some of these look pretty strange. Here’s a Coco Maran and a Black Orpington with her feathered feet:

Optimized.cocomaran (1)










And here’s a Cream Legbar: Continue reading “The Angelina Jolie of Chickens”

Tuvia Ruebner

ruenmerWhen I heard Rachel Tzvia Back speak at the Stronach lecture in May, she mentioned the poems of Tuvia Ruebner, a Slovenian born in 1924, who emigrated to Israel in 1941, escaping the holocaust in which most of his family perished. He writes in Hebrew, and Back has translated much of his work.  Here are a few short poems that illustrate his style:


How the sun couples with a cloud!
How the wind shifts the shapes of the trees!
There’s the fragrance of rain in the air!
Oh, all this joy!

Even after me. Continue reading “Tuvia Ruebner”

King Larry of Raffertitti

Optimized-Sonoma FogLarry’s over-60 softball league, the Creakers, posts write-ups for some of the games. Here is Larry’s from last week, with his well-deserved sobriquet:

“The Creaker Gold erupted in the top of six ….marching players to the mat and scoring runs with nearly every hit, including a second monstrous three-run homer by King Larry of Raffertitti that was nearly identical to one he had hit in his prior at bat. They both soared high and deep and parted the left center and right center fielders like Moses parted the Seas…..the two outfielders showed their numbers for a long time as they raced to the recess of center field and by use of about three relays got the ball back into the infield well after the Gold trio was doing high fives on their way back to the visitor’s dugout. ” Continue reading “King Larry of Raffertitti”

Some sadness

kinnellAt Squaw Valley, there was a lot of remembering of Galway Kinnell, who was the director and guiding spirit of the poetry workshop for almost three decades. His kindness, encouragement, and his own work were an inspiration. Bob Hass said that he “cracked the bones of life to suck the marrow into his poetry.” Here is a poem of his one poet recited:

How Many Nights

How many nights
have I lain in terror,
O Creator Spirit, maker of night and day,

only to walk out
the next morning over the frozen world
hearing under the creaking of snow
faint, peaceful breaths… Continue reading “Some sadness”

Garden without water

Although I have turned off the irrigation because of the drought, I have been watering the garden with dishwater from the sink–several gallons a day. In response, things are still looking good:


Optimized-2015-05-24 16.08.10In the backyard, I’m using water from the shower…not as much growing, but still enough! Of course it’s early in the season, but I’m’ still hopeful.