Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tune in

One of the great things about my job is that I get to meet people who are doing important work in the City of Buffalo and help hatch plans as to how we can collaborate. Case in point: we met yesterday with Mark Fuller from the Stop the Violence Coalition.

If you live in Buffalo, you've probably heard about this organization. In short, they have about 15 balls in the air, including responding to homicides, working with families of victims, putting themselves in the middle of urban war zones to create and keep truces, looking for missing persons, running a GED program, and launching economic literacy programs. Plus more.

I was and am beyond inspired by their work. Therefore, I'm making a plug:

Radio-thon today to benefit the Stop the Violence Coalition
WUFO 1080 AM - "Pledge for Peace" all day long

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Oh Why

It turns out this is a great song to listen to in your kitchen when it's raining and your stomach is full of food.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scenes from an urban farm

When we first bought the house, both of my parents commented on the backyard of the house behind us. I specifically remember my dad saying something to the effect of, "I know where you can get a lot of shit." My mom consistently grimaced.

You see, two rottweilers live back there and from what we could tell back in February, they were free to fill up the yard with poop. No one picked it up and as the snow melted and the rain came pouring down in the spring, the backyard was one giant puddle of shitty mud. Here's a shot from a snowy April day:

We had suspicions though, due to the set up, that our neighbors were actually great. We suspected they were gardeners, of the put-everyone-to-shame category. Later in the month, after that last snowfall, they started to work the ground. Not only did they turn over the soil in their own yards, but they did the same in the two yards to the right as well:

Throughout the rest of Spring and now into Summer, we've been watching their bounty take over. It's really not fair at this point to say that they are gardeners--how trite! how self-indulgent!--because in all actuality, they are farmers:

Look at those rows! This is the third or fourth different vegetable they've harvested from the middle lot.

On the fence they're growing squash and that tree in the left corner is full of ripe pears. Show offs!

So you're probably wondering, who are these neighbors? We are too. We know they're old and we think they're Polish. We know they water their masterpiece every day and get lots of deliveries. We know they walk very slowly. We've never exchanged words.

Stay tuned though, dear readers, for I'm hatching a plan to become best friends!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Balancing act

Last night Micaela came over to talk with me as I was having a rough sort of night. I've been working a lot, as is the case during the summer campaign season, and also feeling kind of lonely. Seems like I've gotten out of practice with asking people to be there for me. Or rather, with asking more than a small selection of people to be there for me.

Micaela & Steve: probably the most "Kodak moment" moment we've had.
We were writing a song about the Holy Trinity--no joke, we're in a band!

I told her about the calm I felt post-vacation and how I've been trying to carry it with me since coming back into the grind. She said she thought a lot of it started with canceling out the chaos around you, and we both agreed that our physical environments have a lot to do with it.

Somehow I thought I'd be more settled in at the house. I never thought the dishes would always been done or the bathroom sink clean but I did think that I'd have pictures on the wall and a relatively clean bedroom and all boxes emptied by now. Not the case, not even close!

I'm so tired at the end of the day. Last night I thought I could use my little ball of energy to clean out my office after I read the last two chapters of my book but by the time I read the last few words, I was too whipped.

I'm not asking for advice per se, just admitting that I'm still adjusting to a life that is not, well, college. Even years later I'm still hoping for a chance to get it all done and probably romanticizing the hell out of the past. It's all about balance and if you've got any pointers, hit me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some not-so-good news

Last weekend delivered two murders in our immediate neighborhood as well as other violent incidents. The Buffalo News reported on it earlier this week. At 7 p.m. last night, there was a Stop the Violence rally/vigil around the corner and the News reported on it too. Here's our neighbor, Lona, speaking about the neighborhood:

Credit to Buffalo News

I don't know much else to say right now but to emphasize what a lot of my friends, co-workers, and allies have been saying: we can't stop violence unless we organize against poverty. Period. Own the word, use it.

Boundless energy

I told everyone about my first new friend in Buffalo, Michael Gainer, a little while back. Well, now you can see how everything has come full circle: he's on the cover of this week's Artvoice!

This lengthy profile is an adequate portrayal of Michael's boundless energy, his sincerity, and his vision. I'm so proud of him and of Buffalo ReUse--we've come a long way, baby!

Picking the Buffalo ReUse logo at a Board Meeting

Quick story about Michael: when the toilet overflowed last Friday and poured down through our tenant's kitchen, I panicked because Steve was at work and I didn't really know what to do. The first person I called was Michael.

"Where are you?" he asked. I told him I was at work, about to hop on my bike and ride home. "I'll meet you there in a minute."

Sure enough, when I pulled up, he was already there talking to the family, making jokes, and assessing damage. He mopped up the water in the bathroom upstairs, showed the kids how to turn off the water should the toilet overflow again, and helped me haul out the water-logged ceiling tiles. He did all of this while smiling.

You go, my friend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Things I want to do

I'm sorry to say that my office hasn't gotten any more organized but I think I'm going to move some of my crafting stuff (i.e. knitting, paints, sewing machine) into an empty bedroom downstairs.

I want to start painting again, and knitting, and otherwise do some stuff with my hands. Sometimes I feel like my life is a long list of things I want to do.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Shameless plug of friend

My friend Mic has just begun an 8-month job aboard a Carnival cruise line ship. He is blogging about the experience over at The Salty Tales of Seabag Manbag. Go read!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

When it rains, it pours

Quite a few crazy things happened in my first week back from vacation: my car was stolen, for one. Before I left for my break, I dropped it off at the mechanic's because the transmission seemed screwy. When I came back and called to inquire about the status of my car, the shop owner discovered that the car was missing. He thought that perhaps some of his guys took it to a "trammy shop" to be scanned; he'd call me in the morning.

Sure enough, the next morning, he called to tell me that the car was gone and the police were on their way. A stolen vehicle report was issued, my insurance company and the mechanic's insurance company set up to squabble, and then last night I picked up a voicemail from the police saying the car had been found.

I'll give some updates when I know more but let me take a minute to gloat about this particular irony: my car was stolen not in my neighborhood in the city but in Amherst, the "safest town in America."

Besides stolen cars, I rang in the weekend with an overflowing toilet and spent Saturday replacing the tiles of the drop ceiling in our tenant's kitchen. I think this is one of the gifts of owning a home though: necessity makes you do things you didn't think you would, or could.