Tag Archives: flower

Hibiscus Nectarine Tea: A Trip to Hawai’i in a Glass

4 Aug

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When I was attending college in LA I became friend with few ladies from Hawai’i. We were equally distant from home, each of us taking a six-hour flight to get to Scripps. More than just the physical distance, we felt culturally far from our origins. They were used to the slower and friendlier island life, where drivers rolled down their windows and signaled the shaka sign while saying “aloha” and everyone let them through. I was quickly pegged as a New Yorker thanks to my mostly black wardrobe, sarcasm, and the way I quickly walked through crowds, ignoring strangers who tried to engage me. I knew a hand gesture as well, but it was a lot less friendly.

One of my dear Hawai’ian friends had the corniest sense of humor. As we’d walk around campus, she would point to one of the beautiful blooms, and ask me, “Do you know what this was called?” She amazed me with the way she always seemed to know the name of every tree and budding flower, and I was glad to pass the test. “A hibiscus,” I answered. She pointed to another bloom just a little lower on the tree. “What is this one called?” I paused, confused. Was I missing something? This was surely the same flower. “A low-biscus,” she laughed. I groaned.

Summer calls for tropical drinks, and what’s more tropical than hibiscus? I decided to make a hibiscus iced tea infused with fresh fruit.

Hibiscus Nectarine Tea

This is not the sweetest of teas, so you may want to add sugar or honey.
Or, turn it into a festive summer punch by adding a splash of gin!
Brewing your own tea is a great money saver for the starving artist.
It’s also more healthy because it allows you to control the sugars and preservatives. Hibiscus is a natural source of vitamin C. It’s also believed to lower blood pressure. It’s like a trip to Hawai’i in a glass!

Allen Ginsberg’s William Blake Vision

3 Apr

 Blake_Roses_Sun-Flower_LillyWilliam Blake’s illustrated “Ah! Sun-Flower”

I’m kicking off this National Poetry Month series with William Blake for reasons that will soon become obvious. In 1948, when he was in his early twenties, Allen Ginsberg experience a supernatural vision. He was alone in his Harlem apartment, reading William Blake, when the Romantic poet appeared to him. Ginsberg said he wasn’t high at the time but was having some … um, personal alone time. Wink, wink. He looked out his Harlem window at the bright blue sky and realized that the sky had been created, that the sky did the creating, and found God. In later years, Ginsberg experimented with drugs to try to recapture that feeling.

One of the poems that Ginsberg heard Blake read in his vision was “Ah! Sun-flower,” published in his 1974 poetry collection Songs of Experience. Blake illustrated the poem (see above). Here is the poem in its entirety:

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

Close to a decade after his Blake vision, while in Berkeley in 1955, Ginsberg composed his own sunflower poem, “Sunflower Sutra.” I’m inclined to say it’s my favorite poem. You can read it here.

You may also like these posts:

And of course you can read more about Allen Ginsberg in the book I coauthored, Burning Furiously Beautiful.

Clip: One Subject Many Ways: The Sunflower

6 Aug

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I’m currently enjoying art critic Martin Gayford‘s The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles. Published in 2009 by Hachette, the well-researched book tells the story of how the artists ended up living in a house together in the south of France and how their time together influenced their work. It’s a great read for anyone interested in artists’ collaborations.

Both Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin painted sunflowers, but today we remember van Gogh’s still lifes better. It got me thinking about how even though van Gogh’s name seems synonymous with sunflowers, so many other artists throughout history have also painted this captivating flower.

Read more and see painting selections at Burnside Writers Collective.

Blogiversary: Greeks Beat Kerouac in 2012

10 Jan

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January 1 marked the anniversary of my blog! Thank you all for your support and encouragement of my writing and blogging. It means so much to me that you take the time to read and comment on my blog entries.

I just reviewed a report of my year in blogging, and it’s been a good year!

Here’s a recap of my most viewed posts of 2012:

Notice anything interesting? They all have to do with Greece, and four out of five of them have to do with Greek beauty and fashion. Despite the fact that most of my blogging efforts this past year were about Jack Kerouac, not a single Kerouac-related entry made it into the top 5.

Two out of the above-mentioned blog posts didn’t receive any comments, despite being popular views. My most commented on post of the year was:

That just goes to show you that comments and views aren’t necessarily correlated.

What were your favorite posts from 2012?

Happy 86th Birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

3 Jun


 

“Poetry is not an expression of the party line.

It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”

~Allen Ginsberg

 

Today would’ve been Allen Ginsberg’s 86th birthday.  In celebration, here are a couple of links:::

2012 Howl Festival

Howl (the film starring James Franco); clip of the section on how to write poetry

Allen Ginsberg reading part 1 of Howl

The flowering dogwood at St. Mark’s is blooming for Ginsberg’s birthday

“when did you forget you were a flower?” ~ Sunflower Sutra (one of my favorite poems — It’s beautiful. It’s true. It makes me tear up.)

Ginsberg’s Karma (documentary on Ginsberg’s time in India; produced by Ram Devineni and hosted by Bob Holman)

Ginsberg’s photography

Vomit Express (Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan)

Howl on the list of banned books

Ginsberg’s hometown of Paterson, NJ

Chloris and the Greek Myth of the Rose

21 May

 

The Greek myth of the rose is one of my favorites.

Chloris, the goddess of the flowers, was in the forest one day when she tripped over a beautiful nymph lying lifeless.  Chloris was so overcome by the nymph’s fate that she reached out to the other gods to transform her into a flower.

Aphrodite gave her beauty.

Dionysus, the god of wine, gave her nectar for a sweet-smelling fragrance.

The three Graces—the Charites known as Thalia, Euphrosyne, and Aglaea—gave her charm, joy, and brilliance or splendor.

A Tree Flowers in Queens

3 May

 

I got off the subway in Astoria, and this is the image that greeted me.  I just had to stop and take a photograph.  I love the delicacy of the pink petals against the steel of the subway ramp, the art in nature and graffiti, the way the tree reaches out to the blue sky, persevering.  We must bloom where we are planted.

Astoria is a neighborhood in Queens, New York, that in the 70s had the largest Greek population outside of Greece itself.

Lunch-Break Rendezvous to Celebrate the Feast of the Flowers

1 May

 

 

Let’s all ditch work today and celebrate the Feast of the Flowers!  …Okay, okay, I’ll behave.  I’ll take a nice long walk through the park during my lunch break for Protomayia (May 1).  Now that the weather’s warming up, I use my lunch break to get a little sun on my face, stretch my legs, and admire the beauty of the every day.  I used to feel guilty about leaving my desk for lunch.  I thought I should just power through and get work done.  But I’ve found that actually taking my lunch break energizes me.  I come back feeling so refreshed and ready to tackle projects with a clear mind.  Maybe today for the Feast of the Flowers I’ll buy some fresh flowers for my desk while I’m out!

Greeks celebrate May 1 (also known as May Day, Labor Day, and Protomayia) with the enchanting Feast of the Flowers.  Revelers flee to the countryside on this national labor holiday to herald spring.  By May 1, most of the Greek islands are warm with gentle breezes and the mainland can even get hot.  It’s a marvelous day of picnicking and flying kites and enjoying nature.  People spend the day collecting flowers and turning them into wreathes.  There are even several flower festivals throughout Greece.  Isn’t the Feast of the Flowers the loveliest of holidays?

Protomayia

1 May

We all know that April showers bring May flowers, but Greeks celebrate May 1 (also known as May Day, Labor Day, and Protomayia) with the enchanting Feast of the Flowers.

Revelers flee to the countryside on this national labor holiday to herald spring.  By May 1, most of the Greek islands are warm with gentle breezes and the mainland can even get hot.  It’s a marvelous day of picnicking and flying kites and enjoying nature.

People spend the day collecting flowers and turning them into wreathes.  There are even several flower festivals throughout Greece.