Happy Earth Day everyone! by da-AL

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide to heighten awareness about our obligation to protect the environment.

It was founded and created in 1970 by Iowan John McConnell, a devout Christian who believed it is essential for each of us to work for the common good. He committed his life to working for the relief of human suffering, namely peace and helping the environment.

John McConnell - Earth Day Founder
Earth Day founder and flag designer John McConnell. By Charles Michael Murray, Courtesy Endangered Planet, Laguna Beach, CA

Read more about Earth Day here and about McConnell here.

 

 

Costa Rica animals, food, money, and plants. Some videos too by da-AL

A mere 0.1% of Earth’s landmass, Costa Rica harbors 5% of Earth’s biodiversity. Environmental protection is Costa Rica’s middle name. Ecotourism rewards Ticos (Costa Ricans) with jobs and commerce. Other countries take note: caring for Mother Nature pays off in $mucho$ $dinero$.

25% of its land is nationally protected. Compare that to the developing world’s average of 13% and the developed world’s average of 8%. Each Costa Rican drains the Earth a third less than each North American does.

Crops include coffee and sugar cane.

Tap or hover over photos for captions and to enlarge them.

What do you think about when you think of butterflies?

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

I Love Costa Rica: Ziplining and Tarzan Swing Videos by da-AL

My beloved and I have yet to come down from the serious high of the Costa Rica vacation we took some months ago.

Here we are, hanging out in the rainforest of Monte Verde, in the northern part of Costa Rica.

Stay tuned for more Costa Rica posts.

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

 

Flamenco and the Sitting Cat: a video intro to my novel by da-AL

“Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” is a twelve-part serialized literary novel I wrote!

Among the events that inspired me to write it is how, when I was growing up, my mom often supported the family. Given that between my parents and me, we were from three different countries, my earliest memories have to do with questioning how gender and culture shape us.

By the time I turned forty, I had won a number of journalism honors. Among them was an Emmy nomination and then an Emmy award for documentaries that I produced on social issues. That year that I turned forty, I married a wonderful man who added yet another country to my family’s mix.

I regard my life as a series of ongoing ‘coming of ages.’ Not just the traditional one of when I was eighteen and left my parents’ apartment to live on my own and support myself. This got me to wondering, ‘what if there was a 40-year-old-virgin-woman, not in terms of sex, but as far as trusting straight men and the institution of marriage?’

I love challenges, so I decided to learn to write fiction. The protagonist would have to be the most difficult to depict; a woman who is neither young nor old. The supporting characters would have to be an intercultural mix of personalities as multidimensional and confusing as people are in real life.

The twelve installments of “Flamenco and the Sitting Cat” comprise a sort of anti-novel that illustrates the need for tolerance and that happiness is available to any of us — during any of our coming of ages!

As the story unfolds over these posts, I’d love to know what you think about the novel’s content and unfolding. Any first-hand experience with successfully promoting literary fiction for adults would be welcome too.

“New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij: my review (by da-AL)

It’s the start of Spring and with it Persian New Year, the time of year that is among the happiest everywhere in the world. A time brilliant with hope, promise, and gratitude for overcoming the year behind us. Yeah! We have survived! All people can peacefully celebrate!

“New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij


“New Food of Life,” by Najimieh Batmanglij
celebrates the past that brought about her marvelous food. Her book promises to keep Iran’s most sensual art alive. She packs in love in all of its forms. Within these pages lie poetry, tapestry, childhood memories, and practical advice on how to make these recipes your own.

Persian 'tadig,' crunchy rice.
Persian ‘tadig,’ crunchy rice.
Persian 'miniature' style painting of picnickers.
Persian ‘miniature’ style painting of picnickers.

Colorful ‘miniature’ style paintings and lyrical poetry are interspersed among photos vivid enough to make me feel the aromatic steam on my nostrils as I experience crunchy rice (tadig), mountains of grains, pots of stews, platters of desserts, with all manner of drinks, staples including pickle and yogurt making instructions, and mixes for seasonings.

Platter of fresh herbs, feta, and nuts.
Platter of fresh herbs, feta, and nuts.

Without my husband, I might never have tasted simple elegance at its most sublime. Here Batmanglij features a splendid heap of fresh herbs that can include mint, fennel, parsley, watercress, and sweet basil. Alongside it, real feta cheese (not the miserly crumbled sort), and nuts soaked in brine.

Persian 'Lubia Polo' green bean stew with rice.
Persian ‘Lubia Polo’ green bean stew with rice.

Tea gets its own chapter — marvelous Persian tea that’s best appreciated by eyes and nose from clear glasses that highlight color and scent.

Persian sweet fritters.
Persian sweet fritters.

Batmanglij accomplishes much in this singular book! There’s illustrated explanations of holidays and traditions.

Persian poetry and painting.
Persian poetry and painting.

Even a list of her mother’s interpretation of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ foods — hot and cold, not to be confused with the dictionary definition of these words. In this case, they’re more akin to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine interpretations of how they affect the body, not merely the taste buds.

This book is for anyone who loves globetrotting via food and anyone who loves a Persian.

Batmanglij has other cookbooks for all ages.

Happy Persian New Year! a Toastmasters Speech by da-AL

For Persians, honoring the New Year is a happy two-week long event. Norooz 2017 starts Monday, March 20, at 3:28 a.m. Some go as far as beginning the Wednesday before, jumping over bonfires that represent life-sustaining sunlight burning away dark winter cold. Regardless of exact time or day when the northern hemisphere equinox occurs, many gather with family, friends, and food to welcome it. A flurry of brief cheerful teas ensues, with juniors visiting elders, then elders visiting back. Festivities culminate on the 13th day, when all gather for picnics to eat, dance, recite poetry, and sing.

This speech fulfilled my Storytelling manual project 5, “Bringing History to Life.”

Below is the photo I point at toward the end of the speech. It’s from an amazing book called, “Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij.

Photo from book.

 

Valentin Popov’s Ironic Icons at Long Beach Museum of Art by da-AL

Only days remain to see Ukranian-born Valentin Popov’s boundary pushing reworkings of Orthodox Russian iconography at the Long Beach Museum of Art. Don’t despair, however, if you can’t make it. The museum always has something wonderful going, along with free admission every Friday.

Artist Valentin Popov's Holy Family, 2011. Oil on Canvas.
Holy Family, 2011. Oil on Canvas.

 

Artist Valentin Popov, St. Batman, 2016. Oil on wood block, silver plating.
St. Batman, 2016. Oil on wood block, silver plating.

 

Artist Valentin Popov, The Crucifixion of Saint Batman, 1994. David Perry (photography)
The Crucifixion of Saint Batman, 1994. David Perry (photography)

 

Long Beach Museum of Art
Long Beach Museum of Art features cutting edge art, outdoor sculptures, a restaurant, and beach-side views.