This is going to be a weird spring.
For 13 winters something has been growing in my basement.
Now don’t be frightened, especially if you are a potential buyer of my house.
The things that grew were my seedlings. All through the winter. Under grow lights set under timers.
Trays and trays of seedlings growing in plantable peat pots.
Annuals. Perennials. And Herbs.
All legal herbs, that is.
From the tiny seedlings grew the fully grown plants that populated my garden each year.
But this spring, the spring of transition, the only thing I’ve planted has been this:
The only gardening I’ve done is the kind where you weed while kneeling on a gardening pad and watch the bulbs you’ve planted from previous years emerge from the ground.
So, this gardener without a garden needs your help.
Won’t you write to me with your gardening plans – especially if you live in my current town of Rochester, or better yet, if you live in Detroit, tell me what the gardening scene is like in the motor city. Write to me where you find my contact information and I will feature you as a guest blogger right here.
So, get your green thumbs out of the dirt and onto that keyboard and write me!
Thank, you, WordPress, for your latest daily prompt: All About Me.
It was the impetus that got me thinking: Once I move to Detroit, the name of my blog will be outdated.
When I started this blog about three years ago, I named it Transplantednorth because that’s how I felt. Even after nine years of moving from the New York Metro Area to Rochester, I still felt somewhat on the outside, still very much a transplant.
Now, (as we native New Yorkers say) whadaya know? Just as I’m feeling grounded and rooted, it’s time to move, to transplant, yet again! (Yay.)
So, this is where you come in. And you get to vote.
When I move, what shall I name my blog:
I’m waiting with bated breath for your vote OR other suggestions!
I’ve even been Freshly Pressed!
The one post that I got this honor was, ironically, a post about being Jewish!
This post was a tongue-in-cheek take take on how Jews perceive Halloween. For a Jew to be funny on WordPress, that’s okay. Poke fun at themselves or at their religion, or express ambiguity at one’s Jewish identity, that’s cool too!
But to write about Israel from a pro-Israel standpoint? Apparently, that falls on deaf ears to the WordPress gods.
I wondered to myself in all the favorable posts I’ve written about Israel, in my writings about my travels there, why blogger love didn’t come my way.
As a Jewish educator and a Jewish mother, as a trained writer and reporter making multiple trips to Israel, I wrote thoughtfully.
In one post, after experiencing hostility towards women by the ultra-Orthodox, I wrote critically.
I added great photos of all I saw. I showed pictures of how Israeli soldiers keep ALL religious sites safe and accessible to ALL religions.
I’ve written about how Israel helps earthquake victims and how Israel develops state of the art agricultural and medical advances that can benefit all of humanity.
Still my stat counter didn’t budge. Maybe, my writing isn’t all that. But still, I wondered.
So, out of curiosity, I entered “Israel” into WordPress’ search engine. This is what came up:
A blog post criticizing Israel for blocking backers of Palestinian protesters for entering Israel:
Oh, and what blog post popping up into my reader spewing falsities about Israel would be complete without calling Israel an apartheid state, Israel as apartheid state
PLENTY of those posts to go around. One, filled with so many lies I had not the energy or the strength to refute every lie this blogger claimed to be true, was Freshly pressed. WordPress Freshly Pressed not one but two diatribes all but legitimizing and justifying Hamas and their industry of death.
Then, there are the tried and true tales of Israeli occupation of Gaza, never mind the fact that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely in 2005.(What, what about the blockade you say? If Gazans would only import food and clothing and construction supplies to develop an oasis of hope for a Palestinian state instead of using its resources and spending it on BOMBS imported from Iran smuggled in from Egypt, there would be no need for a blockade).
And genocide in Gaza, when the deaths of any Gazans are actually welcomed and glorified, that’s why the innocents are used as human shields.
All these blog posts delegitimizing Israel floated right to the top of my searches for posts on Israel. You know what else floats?
When I looked for Israel blogs that defended Israel’s right to defend herself from months and years of missile attacks from Gaza, or any post that gives the Jewish state any legitimacy, they were way down on WordPress’ search engine results.
Worse than the violence, worse than the missiles, worse than even the mothers in Gaza who cry for their martyred sons wishing they had more sons to give to Allah, is all the misinformation about Israel in the media, WordPress being just another guilty party.
Sometimes, one has to make a big move, say, relocation for a job.
Here is a guest post from a man who took a chance with his wife and son to live in a new place simply because it was the place they wanted to be.
I’m off this weekend to check out the next potential chapter of my family’s life in the Detroit, Michigan area. While I’m away, I’m letting an old friend hold down the fort here at transplantednorth.
I met Chris in college at the Daily Targum, the daily student-run newspaper at Rutgers University. I wrote copy while he was either shooting photos or developing them in a darkroom. Though our paths did not cross until college, we also both grew up on Staten Island.
I haven’t seen Chris since those college days, but we’ve kept in touch thanks to the miracle of Facebook. Since our college days, Chris worked for 12 years as a fundraiser and spokesperson for the American Red Cross, being the spokesperson for major disasters such as the TWA flight 800 and other air crashes, several dozen major hurricanes, tornados and floods, the Kosovo crisis, the 1999 Turkish earthquake and many others.
After leaving the Red Cross, Chris moved into private business in sales and business development and acquisition. In 2010 Chris led a group of investors in the acquisition and restructuring of Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company in Crofton, Maryland, where they produce a premium coffee that is also the most sustainable coffee you can buy. From the custom-built roaster that uses 78% less energy and packaging manufactured entirely from recyclable materials to the “H2O Initiative” which commits 2% of coffee sales (not profits) to organizations that help protect and restore the watershed, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company coffees make a great cup while making local communities better places to live, work and play.
Now semi-retired and living with his wife and son in Panama, Chris keeps his hands in some charitable organizations with a mission for sustainability, including raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for EarthEcho International (EEI), an organizaiton founded by naturalists Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau.
He and his family relocated to Panama City, Panama in the summer of 2012 to give his son an international high school experience and explore life and business opportunities in a booming Latin American culture.
Here is his story of being a transplant. What is yours?
Three months ago my wife, 14 year son and I picked up and moved from Silver Spring, Maryland to Panama City, Panama – after just six whirlwind months from coming up with the idea to execution. We’ve always been a little impetuous, but this one was our biggest idea yet!
We actually made the move because we wanted to, not because of work or family. The idea of “slowing down” while giving my son the chance to go through high school in an international environment was one we all thought shouldn’t be missed.
We knew we were moving to a completely new environment that operates in a language we don’t speak, but it was still a major shock once we arrived.
No matter how much you prepare yourself, stepping off the plane without a return ticket and realizing you actually live here is something you really can’t understand until you do it.
I went from feeling like a confident and successful entrepreneur to someone who struggled to set up the basics for his family. I just wasn’t ready for how difficult it would be to get cell phones and internet service, satellite TV, and an account wit the electric company.
Even though I learned to drive in New York City, I was completely unprepared for the insanity of Panama City roads and the aggressiveness of the drivers. Traffic signals are truly suggestions, and a road is any place you can drive your vehicle – shoulders, medians, even grassy strips.
three months into the adventure I’m starting to see the challenges as opportunities. The Latin attitude of “mañana” is actually a great way to live if you can embrace it. Panamanians truly “work to live,” as opposed to the American attitude of “live to work.” I never really though that was how we were living our lives back in the States, but now that we’ve lived someplace else for a while we’ve realized just how much our American lives were defined by what we did for a living, and how much time and energy we devoted to it.
to trying to figure out what all those guys standing on the side of the road are doing (relieving themselves in the grass – why actually find a rest room?). And there have been plenty of humorous moments as we learn Spanish. (Text messaging is huge here; for weeks I kept asking my wife, “what the hell does ‘jajaja’ mean?” Must have read it 20 times before I pronounced it in Español – hahaha!)
We’ve also tried to find a way to make a difference in our new home country, and we’ve “adopted” a home for abused and abandoned girls. We’re leading a campaign to raise the funds to rebuild the roof, electric and plumbing. It’s been a moving experience (you can read more about the project at http://www.panamahogar.org).
Now that we’ve been here for three months, I’m realizing most of life here isn’t better or worse – it’s just different. Embrace the change – which was the whole reason we made the move in the first place – and life in another country can be a really fantastic experience.
It is your turn to host the holiday. Sigh. What to make this year? You look at old recipes and nothing seems all that exciting. Brisket? Been there, Done that. Roasted chicken? Boring. Turkey? We are gonna have enough of that in November. If you feel like you are in a rut, and you are looking for some new ways to spice up your new year, try these recipes!
I don’t really get bogged down about checking my blog stats.
I really could care less about how many eyeballs come to visit my blog or which country they reside.
Blog stats keep me from going to bed at night and get me up and going every morning.
Lately, the tag words that lead people to my blog the most are “kosher” and “kosher meat”
In fact, in the last 30 days, searches like “kosher,” “kosher beef,” and “kosher meat cuts” led 227 people to my blog.
It’s all very flattering, folks, but I’m no expert here.
Although I follow kosher dietary laws to some extent – I have a kosher home and stick to a vegetarian diet at non-kosher restaurants – I’m no guru on kosher certification or laws of kashrut. Leave that to the experts like Kosher Maven, Los Angeles Kosher Restaurants and here is a whole list of kosher bloggers I found on Pragmaticattic.
But still, the Kosher hits keep coming.
Additionally, thanks to WordPress’ mapping feature that lets you check out where in the world the hits are coming from, many of my hits are coming from countries where I bet hardly anyone keeps kosher.
The United Arab Emirates
So, what do I think about this? Maybe – just maybe, people are reaching across the blogosphere to reach across the Muslim/Jewish divide. Maybe, as we approach 9/11, blogging can dispel the myth we build up about each other. Maybe, there are people in Muslim-dominant countries who really want to find out who and what Jews really are. Maybe we can find common ground, at least in a gastronomic way.
What interesting trends have you unearthed in your blogging statistics?
This is a self-portrait of my daughter
This is a self-portrait of graphic artist Sarah Wisbey:
One day, visited
in her high school visual arts class to share with them her experiences as a professional graphic artist.
That prompted my daughter to ask me something very unusual.
She wanted to accompany me on my next trip to the grocery store.
She was not necessarily going with me to help me pick out groceries, she was there to look at art.
Once inside our supermarket, Wegman’s food markets, she could not wait to go visit the pasta aisle.
My daughter was downright giddy
“Mom, today in art class, I met the woman who drew the illustrations on these red boxes!”
She then pulled me over to the coffee aisle pointing out other packages that Sarah Wisbey illustrated.
Later that month my daughter interviewed Sarah and how she got started in her career in graphic design. Sarah also took the time to look at some of my daugher’s most recent compositions.
So, when I needed to write a feature about a prominent person from Brighton, I knew just the person to profile.
Here is my piece in the D&C about Wisbey. Thought it would be best to keep it here on my blog, for you never know when the links will go dead.
Thank you again Sarah for, inspiring my daughter, and your time for developing this piece:
It’s not often that an artist cooks the subject she is painting, especially when the artist does not like to cook. However, when Wegmans Food Markets hired Brighton resident Sarah Wisbey to work on the packaging for their pasta line, the freelance illustrator wanted to perfectly capture the shape of spaghetti, the color of a campanelle and the texture of tortellini.
Shortly after she took the job, she found herself at the supermarket with 20 different boxes of pasta in her shopping cart.
“The cashier wondered why I was buying so much pasta. My children wondered why they were waking to the smell of cooked pasta every morning,” said Wisbey.
Overall, Wisbey illustrated 27 different kinds of pasta — from egg noodles to frozen ravioli. Her colorful illustrations are also on the labels that entice Wegmans shoppers to try flavors of coffee like orange cappuccino, raspberry hazelnut or crème brulee.
Wisbey saturates her illustrations with color, playful black lines and gaps of white space that suggest a sparkling light. Her food illustrations, like the label for the orange cappuccino, emit a tempting juicy quality that seems to drip off the packaging.
Wisbey jokingly blames her less-than-perfect visual depth perception for her flat illustrations. Since her earliest explorations in art, her style has been shaped from the books she read in the children’s sections of bookstores and libraries. She was drawn to the vibrant, simple lines and collage work of Eric Carle and later, Fauvist painters such as Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin.
When she started out as an artist, Wisbey attempted to capture Carle’s watercolor collage technique, though she admitted the result was “messy, tedious and frustrating.”
“Watercolor can be unpredictable. One wrong brushstroke and everything can turn out looking like mud,” she said.
The “aha” moment came when Wisbey realized she could achieve the look of the collage by painting swaths of color onto single sheets of paper, which she scans into her Mac computer and manipulates in Adobe Photoshop.
“In Photoshop, I can easily tweak the colors, cut and paste shapes and manipulate them into the ideal composition. The white gaps are just as important to me as the color. This gives my illustrations a light, airy feel,” she said.
But it takes more than talent to make it as an artist.
She said to be successful as a graphic artist as opposed to a fine artist, one must think of a project from a collaborative rather than an individual standpoint.
“The difference between being a fine artist and a graphic artist is that you are creating not just for yourself but for a client. You must know their parameters and expectations.”
She credits her ability to work on a team to her 11 years of experience at Rochester’s Icon Graphics. There, she learned the business side of art, the importance of sticking to a deadline and how to effectively collaborate.
It’s been four years since Wisbey embarked on her own freelance illustration business. When Wisbey was commissioned by Wegmans to work with their in-house design team for the supermarket’s pasta line, the red color of the box, the style of lettering and even the illustrated steam were already in place. She was strictly charged with designing the look of each variety of pasta.
“Wegmans has a style that really meshes with mine. They put a high value on illustration. I love that they give me a basic direction on a project and just let me run with it,” she said.
Her advice to those seeking a creative career is to become immersed in any artistic resources available. College students and recent graduates should get as much paid and unpaid experience as possible. Most importantly, just keep creating.
“Draw every day just for yourself. That’s how you will develop your own style. The creative process is a way of life.”
First, I have to tell you that my inspiration to write this blog stems from three sources:
222 Million Tons – This is the amount of food we waste each year. This food blog wants to put a change to that by offering delicious recipes and ways to take action on how to waste less food;
Your Kind of Salad: Another food blog where I found this beautiful recipe for watermelon pops;
and, my daughter.
If you were confused at the headline of this blog posting, you are not alone.
When my daughter was about 16 months old and was being watched by her aunt on a hot July afternoon, it was this occassion that my daughter put together one of her first sentences beyond “I love you.”
It was: “I popeese”
Translation: Ice Pop Please.
It was on this hot day that my daughter wanted what most of us want on a hot day, something very cold.
An ice pop.
So, she repeated this sentence over and over to her aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend who could not figure out what she was trying to say.
Now, any other infant would have had a meltdown tantrum at this point. Not my daughter. She simply walked over to the refrigerator, and, with her tiny hand raised above as if she was holding the torch like Lady Liberty, she patiently, and a bit more slowly, repeated
I -Pop – Peeze!
She finally got what she wanted:
Flash forward 15 years:
The other day I came home with one of those cute, personal sized seedless watermelons
I will not make that mistake again.
While it was cute as a button on the outside, inside, it was a mealy, mushy disappointment.
But it was $3. I couldn’t just toss it away. What a waste of food and money.
So, following the recipe I found on Your Kind of Salad:
I scooped out the watermelon flesh:
Pureed it in a blender
Passed the pulp through a strainer.
Then to this I added one cup of corn syrup (I know this sounds like a lot of a bad thing but the corn syrup adds a nice smooth finish to the pops) and the juice of one lime:
And poured it into the molds:
Then the hard part. You have to wait about six anguishing hours for the pops to freeze.
At last, they are frozen.
So, when the world hands you mushy watermelon, don’t throw it out, make ice pops!
These are the last days of school. I’m trying to make the most of them with my youngest by having our morning one-on-one time while waiting for his bus. We did just that today, just talking and waiting as the rain fell.
All I was trying to do was play a little math problem solving game with him, and lo and behold, it turned into the beginnings of THE talk.
I was not going to write about this funny conversation with my youngest child, my eight-year-old boy who is a bit worldly thanks to big brother and sister.
However, Blogher and Venus Embrace are putting bloggers up to the challenge of writing about tips of how to have a talk about sexuality with your kids for a $50 Visa Card giveaway, I would take them up on their opportunity.
So, there we were waiting for the bus when my son asks how old his grandparents, my parents, were when they got married, and how old they were when I was born.
Perfect. Time for a little math while waiting for the bus.
Me: Grandpa was born in 1940 and he got married in 1965.
Son: So… he was 25.
Me: Right. Okay, Grandma was born in 1943-
Son: So Grandma was 22.
Me: That’s right. And I was born in 1968.
Son: Didn’t grandma and grandpa want to have kids right away?
Me: Ummm….maybe, but it takes some time to have a baby.
Son: Why? I mean, why didn’t they, right after the wedding, drive up to a hospital and say “We want a baby, please?”
Me: It doesn’t work like that….
Now, I have to say, I had these conversations a little earlier with my oldest two, who watched my belly grow when I was pregnant with my middle and youngest children.
My youngest, however, never had the opportunity to be around a pregnant woman on a daily basis, so these questions had yet to come up.
The conversation continued:
Son: So just HOW does it work? Does a mommy one day look down at her belly and say, “C’mon, belly, give me all you’ve got!” and then the belly grows and then POP! A baby comes out?
Me: No, um. It takes longer than that. It takes nine months for a baby to be born. You see, a mom and a dad have to lay very close…..
Son: Oh, they have S-E-X??
Me: Yes. (Just what does he know? I wondered. But I didn’t prod.)
Me: You see, a woman has an egg inside of her and a man has a seed, and if the seed goes into the egg, in nine months a baby is born.
Son: AN EGG? Like a Chicken?
Me: No, not like a chicken.
Son: Was I Born this way?
Me: Everyone was born this way. And every thing.
Son: Were trees born this way?
Me: No, but most mammals are born this same way.
….. and so on.
After having three kids, my best advice about THE talk is:
- Be calm. Be matter-of-fact. Don’t brush off any questions.
- You don’t have to have THE talk all at once, but take it up gradually
- Only give them just the right amount of information they need and don’t expand. I didn’t get into the complications of birth control, sex before marriage, having babies between same-sex couples, in-vitro-fertilization. WHY? An eight year old just needs the basic facts.
- When they stop asking, it means they’ve had enough information for now.
One thing’s for sure: I will take out a few books for him on the topic at the library. One good source I found was a blog post by Story Pockets, a blog written by the Children’s Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hey, guess what? I’ve been nominated for The Versatile Blogger and the Kreative Blogger awards!
A very special thank you to landscape designer Nicole Brait who blogs at The Sustain Blog.
Nicole Brait is Landscape Design Consultant recently transplanted to Austin, Texas who focuses on sustainable design. She has done projects back in the boroughs of my hometown: Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as Sun Valley, Idaho and Denver, Colorado.
With an emphasis on native and drought resistant plants, water-wise irrigation, and chemical free disease and pest control Brait aims to not just transform her clientsʼ yards but to change the way they think about outdoor space. She also posts on her blog any great products she happens upon such as “repurpose” compostable disposable cups and where to buy recycled building materials.
Through comment exchanges, I’ve learned that Nicole and I share common interests like gardening in our own backyards and community plots in our local community garden. We both love tomatillos. Also, we also share a common heritage that she has commented on my non-gardening posts.
Thanks so much, Nicole!
Because this is a versatile blogger award, I wanted to nominate Seven blogs I have discovered that tie back to the sort of amorphous themes I’m starting to develop on my blog. These blogs hit upon some of these themes: New York City and the New York Metro area, moving to a new town (or even country), family life, and hey why not — food and gardening.
- Letters from New Jersey – Debbie and I met out in San Francisco through her friend Craig, the man who was soon to be my husband. She and Craig met as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. During my years out in the Bay Area, Debbie introduced me to a great group of people who helped me find one of my first jobs in public relations. She also threw some great game night parties. Now transplanted east, she is a freelance writer living in Westfield, NJ. In her blog, she writes about navigating roads with jug handle turns and beaches filled with tattooed ladies. She is also a travel and healthcare writer, which makes her completely deserving of the Versatile Blogger Award.
- Chutzpah in the Kitchen – this is written by my brilliant hard-working friend Tammi who is a chef at Wegmans in Maryland. This is the woman who, when living back in Rochester, treated our Israeli Dance group to fig and date stuffed hamantaschen and who created Southwestern Chipotle blintzes. Now that she has been transplanted south, I do miss her, but can’t wait to dance at her wedding this October!
- I Love Upstate New York – Now that I live in Western New York, I’ve come to appreciate this beautifully photographed blog and will refer back to it often when I plan my next day trip to explore our beautiful state. New Yawkers, there is life beyond Westchester County, so come on up and visit!
- Wind Against Current – Okay, for starters, this blog, written by two scientists, has on its home page a panoramic shot of the New York City and Jersey City skyline that can only be viewed from my home digs of Staten Island as one crosses on the ferry. Tugs at my heart every time. And, get this, for the past decade, Vladimir Brezina, neuroscientist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine KAYAKS all through the waters around NYC on his kayak he keeps up in his apartment on the 17th floor! Relating back to blog nominee No. 2, that’s chutzpah!
- Foodimentary – This guy who goes by J.B. is a regular food historian. Every day is some kind of national food day, did you know that? For example, today I learned is National Cheese Day. Might inspire me to make America’s most popular cheesy dish. Can you guess what that is? Hint: most kids LOVE it! He is so resourceful he even helped me dig up facts on the history of sushi for my son’s Japan project.
- Munira’s Bubble – Munira writes about the everyday events in the life of a wife, writer and mother, but what makes her fascinating to me is that she writes from Pakistan. For example, she recently wrote about going through an old autograph book (think last day of grammar school autograph book) with her daughter that had been kept in a storage area for 20 years. She and I have connected through my posts about Judaism and parenting. Through Munira I get to sample a snippet of life in a country I will never get to visit safely, a country that is having crumbling relations with the United States. Through this exchange, I have learned that two women can share thoughts about raising our kids and find common ground although we are worlds apart and our countries may be at odds with one another.
- Lastly, I came across Kaori’s blog Meuleh!. Kaori is a Japanese woman who has made aliyah (moved to Israel) and who blogs about her new life in Israel. She writes her blog in English, Hebrew and Japanese, talk about versatile!
- My favorite colors are orange and purple, and sometimes I’ll even wear them together.
- I have this niche hobby attempted by very few at least in the Rochester area. Every Sunday night, I join a small number of people for Israeli Folk Dancing. Wherever you live, you should really check out an Israeli Dance session in your neck of the woods.
- I’ve lived in Rochester for 13 years now, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else except in Staten Island.
- I take great pride in my compost heap.
- I learned to read Torah at age 38 and have taught Hebrew school now for nearly a decade.
- I met my husband at camp.
- Here is one weird fact that puts me way in the weirdo category by my kids ‘ standards: I like Dr. Brown’s Cel-ray soda. Thanks to my grandmother introducing it to me at a very early age.