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Saturday, July 22, 2006

death by chocolate: survival

those of you, dear readers, who wrote with concern about my whereabouts may be relieved to hear that i have survived. the justly world-famous death by chocolate, that is.

obviously i had to try it. thanks goodness i had 3 other people to help!

travelling on business is always difficult -- esp. when it means you have to visit the mainland. luckily i fell into the company of the most charming and sweet people, ones who remind you of everything you like about your fellow americans.

it was really a little refresher in de tocqueville. however it was also a refresher in all the perils of post-9-11 aviation, and why it's better to take amtrak than to fly whenever possible.

i nearly had to return to nyc by way of atlanta, then flint (i kid you not), and finally to laguardia! but in the end good karma prevailed. . .and i tossed my body on a direct flight.

i will confess i took my own coffee with me: in this case, the last of oren's sumatral, which i brewed in the little travel press david dallis gave me.

so today finds me at my usual yoga class, drinking peter g's counterculture cafe san ramon iced, and peeling 4 lbs(!) of fava beans. many cookbooks say that if favas are less than an inch long, you don't have to peel them.

don't believe it. fava bean skin is thick, stiff, and nasty, like the pectin walls of an apple core. who would ever willingly eat an apple core?

worse, if the beans are large, it's quite bitter too.

many authors blithely tell you to slit the top of the bean at the brown mark where it attaches to the pod. then they claim you can just pinch the bottom and the inner bean will slide right out.

dream on. mostly the skin clings fiercely to the bean -- often you end up peeling them almost like an orange.

so i'm spending this hot and muggy afternoon listening to sigur ros and peeling favas. at home.

happily at home on my little island off the coast of the united states, with my husband and my cat.

mr. right was so happy to see me he even whirled up one of my favorite summer dishes: gazpacho! now, that's a gift.

thank you, mr. right. . .

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posted by fortune | 1:27 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

message to florida yoginis. . .

"Hi All,

A film crew from CNN is coming to Pensacola to film our military yoga class members at the Avery Center. They are coming on Thursday, July 20, and class will be at 6:30pm that nite.

It would be great to have you there for this historic moment, and to support our troops by letting the world know that yoga is benefiting them in peaceful ways in these difficult times.

Save the time and date: July 20, 2006, Avery Center (directions), 6:30pm. Wear your best yoga clothes!


Nancy LaNasa"

if you can't make the class yourself, dear readers, please send a blast of good vibes for nancy. and stay tuned to cnn to look for the segment!

once again, congrats nancy!

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posted by fortune | 6:54 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

and a shout-out to nancy la nasa

i've been remiss on congratulating one of bccy's oldest pals, the jivamukti teacher and devotee of the mother, nancy la nasa. she is just one of the best yoga teachers i've run across in nyc, and we were all bummed seriously when she moved to florida permanently.

she got a very nice article in her local florida paper, which seems to have been picked up by the wires worldwide. you go, nancy! you deserve it!

since lately i've been talking about pseudo-yoginis, i'm happy to be able to return to a positive note through nancy. she is a real, inspiring yogini and beautiful lady inside and out.

looking at her picture it is impossible to conclude that nancy is -- to be frank -- over 40. in person it is even more difficult: when i first met nancy i thought she was under 35.

this is what decades of serious yoga practice, careful diet, regular meditation, balanced attitude, and a positive outlook will do for you. not to mention her awesome sense of humor and hip style.

i have often said here that i want to grow up to be nancy la nasa!

so congrats to you again nancy -- i hope more people can now benefit from your lovely and unique presence.

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posted by fortune | 8:14 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

Monday, July 17, 2006

peter g's new counterculture nicaragua & more sequence rants

first of all, lemme thank peter g. of counterculture for his new nicaragua matagalpa, the cafe san ramon. this organic, shade-grown and fair-trade coffee -- triple cert equals all good by me! -- is a group effort from 22 farmers around the town of san ramon.

i'm definitely looking forward to this one in the cafetiére tomorrow. peter has a strong relationship with this community and with these farmers, so i'm sure the coffee's going to be worthwhile.

this is just another example of how coffee innovation and a real concern for farmers can be reflected in so-called relationship coffee. this concern goes beyond a roaster merely buying fair-trade green for the cachet that comes with marketing the ft label.

speaking of our favorite beverage, now that it's set to be about 100 f in nyc the next couple of days, let me point you all to a useful thing: aussie iced coffee.

i try to talk about yoga only when i have something good to say, and recently that's been rare. i nearly walked out of yoga classes on friday and yesterday.

i felt terrified and unsafe to be in them, actually. on friday the mat next to me featured a clearly brand-new absolute beginner, who didn't belong in the intermediate class she walked into.

i was immediately filled with alarm when i watched her wobble through the standing pose flow, a quick vinyasa involving a lot of twisted balances, bound poses (like bound side angle/bound revolved side angle), as well as both arm and leg balances. several times she nearly fell on top of me.

and yet the teacher, a sweet lady i otherwise respect, didn't bring her up to the front, offer her blocks, or provide any support. in shoulderstand i couldn't even be next to her; she wobbled so violently from side to side i knew she was about to fall.

so i sat forward on my mat and waited for the 5-breath inevitable. boom! down she came sideways.

i should have walked out at that moment, but it was near the end of class. . .and she couldn't hurt me in savasana now, could she?

i had this same issue yesterday, along with a terrible, terrible sequence. the teacher, once again a lady whose class i normally liked, decided to start with an iyengar routine, even tho' she is not a certified iyengar teacher.

i moved thru a basic iyengar pose sequence -- from gate pose on -- in a freezing, over-air-conditioned room. ok, it's hot.

but air-conditioning is gym yoga! we yoga students enjoy summer for how it helps us with our poses!

after a brief experiment with this iyengar-style sitting sequence, she then -- in an air-conditioned room! -- launches the entire class into plow pose! this is a fairly serious bend for adults who haven't been warmed up!

not warmed up and then in a frigid room -- it was a nightmare. after this dog's breakfast, she decides to borrow a laughing lotus-style (which is itself based in the iyengar-like style of rodney yee) vinyasa for about 3 rounds.

bored with that, she then moved into a few bits of repetitive vinyasa à la gary kraftsow. at this point i began to wonder if she had any idea of what the heck she was doing with this class.

and i began to notice the guy next to me, who had been in about 3 classes with me before, was losing it during these repetive vinyasas in pyramid pose: bend forward 3 times to pyramid, hold the pose; then launch forward to warrior 3; rinse and repeat again.

after my friday experience, i was on guard. when this crazy-quilt class then moved to some om-style pose flows before a quick pilates move and onto shoulderstand, i could tell i was once again in trouble.

it didn't even take 5 breaths -- i had just laid myself down to move into shoulderstand when from the corner of my eye i detected him coming down at me sideways. his feet were going to crash right in my face when i screamed, rolled over, and sat up.

he missed me by a quarter second. the teacher didn't even bat an eye.

i was enraged. i don't know that i will ever return to this class again.

when teachers see students like this struggling, i strongly believe they have an obligation to help these people before they become a danger to themselves and innocent by-standers, such as myself. i have completely lost respect for this teacher.


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posted by fortune | 7:07 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 8 comments | leave a voicemail

Sunday, July 16, 2006

knock knock

ooh ooh ooh and one of the many wonderful espresso toys from the espressoparts care package was a lovely, large knockbox! hooray!

you know, this is one of those little things i just didn't have, really. i've spent years rushing my still-dripping portafilters over to the trash and knocking them out against the edge of the can.

while it seems as if this would be an expedient solution, it actually has many drawbacks:

  1. espresso dripping from the spouts stains your wood floors unless you clean it up immediately, which means your just-pulled shot sits around longer than it should
  2. to keep said espresso spouts from dripping on said floor, you place the other hand beneath them as you run across the room to the trash
  3. dripping espresso is hot, burning the palm of said hand
  4. knocking against the rim of the trash can somehow results in grounds and espresso drips flying out of the trash and sliding down the side of the can
  5. said trash can is white, meaning it is now covered in messy, sticky coffee gunk and said gunk can't be hidden
  6. unhide-able gunk requires you to clean off the side of the trash can immediately, which means your just-pulled shot sits around longer than it should and you have a burned palm
  7. banging around on the trash can makes a large noise, frightening cat and drawing husband's attention
  8. said husband comes into kitchen during this bit o' chaos and for the 1,000th time remarks that home espresso is too messy
  9. said husband then nostalgically sighs for the wonderful, mess-free, cheap cappuccini of the tazza d'oro and wonders aloud why no coffee is never really quite as perfect as that in rome
  10. with result that you really wish you had a knockbox

you see, a little thing like a knockbox -- especially a knockbox with a so-called "quiet base" -- can be more than just a convenience. . .it can actually be a saver of sanity and preventer of humiliation. . .

my pals at espressoparts tell me that the rubber on the center bar might over time become loose. one suggestion was to replace it with a part easily acquired at most hardware stores.

well, forewarned is forearmed. i guess i'll see if i have that problem, but i don't think i'm going to do so much knocking that this will ever be an issue, personally.

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posted by fortune | 1:40 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 1 comments | leave a voicemail

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