ks, my colleague and friend across the hall

was thinking ahead


preparing for the school year

when ordering the food

for her classroom’s fishtank.

there were two size options available.

hmmm… she thought,

i may as well get the one

that looks just a little bigger

it costs just a little more

 but i won’t have to buy it again

until later in the year.

once it arrived,

much to her surprise

it was a gargantuan version

of the little fish food jar

we’re all so used to seeing.

it kind of looked

like an overblown prank prop.

but it was real.

i think it will last quite a while.

i think it may outlast her little fish.

and even if she retires in 30 years,

it may outlast her teaching career.

it may be her legacy.

most things in life come as a surprise. – lykke li

row your boat.


mark at home on the water in his boat

i connected to this adventurer, mark slats,

through an old friend in the netherlands.

read below to see what he is currently undertaking.

i am amazed every day.Mark Slats is hugged by his mother Maria in Ramsgate, UK last May.

He was about to row to The Netherlands here, never rowed before in a boat like this.

Now Mark is leading the field in the Talisker whisky atlantic challenge with Row4Cancer

with just two teams of 4 rowers ahead of him.

This is a 3.000 mile journey from Europe to America.

Mark’s mom has cancer and this gentle giant is raising money  

for cancer and for the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Cancer hospital.

( )

UPDATE: (early January) Mark Slats is rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean for 28 days now and with this blistering pace he’s on schedule to break the World Record with a stunning two weeks!! Mark is competing in the solo class, but he’s ahead of the leaders in the double and trio classes as well. Currently, the Gentle Giant is on the 4th place overall with only fours around him. Be prepared for his arrival, which is expected on January 14th! 

UPDATE  (January 8th)

World’s most bizarre rowing competition is approaching denouement:

Does Dutchman Mark Slats crush the world record ocean rowing?

Mark Slats participates in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge , the toughest rowing event in the world, to raise money for the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Foundation.

The route runs from Europe (the Canary Islands) to America (Antigua). He is rowing solo and nonstop.

Until last year, this carpenter from Wassenaar had never rowed. Mark is rowing for his mother who is seriously ill and all those other people who fight cancer every day.

Despite the hardships of the race, Mark remains positive, he enjoys the ocean and feels good. His physical and mental strength are extreme. Blisters, abrasions and contusions do not bother him, he is determined to crush the record. He rows around 100 miles a day and the expected finish date is currently being tested on January 14th.

After his three previous world voyages as a sailor, the sea has few secrets for Mark, yet every day is new on the ocean. Mark talks about birds, flying fish and dolphins around the boat, even a collision with a whale. He can not heat the freeze-dried food because his gas bottle has been thrown overboard. Cold is not tasty so it is a task to get enough calories. He no longer has a feeling in his fingers but jokes that he no longer feels the blisters on those fingers.

Mark has to finish his boat before January 18 13.03 to break the record of 35 days and 33 minutes. Then he has to walk an average of 2.6 knots, he has rowed an average of 3.4 knots from the start and now has 581 miles to go to the finish. He is in the lead in the Solo class from the start and 4th in the overall rankings. Still, the race has not yet run, a technical defect or sudden whirlwind can still be decisive, it remains exciting until the finish.

More about Mark and the race:

More about the charity:

“and so in time the rowboat and i became one and the same-like the archer and his bow or the artist and his paint. what i learned wasn’t mastery over the elements; it was mastery over myself, which is what conquest is ultimately all about.” ― Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life & Living



credits: michel porro, magic marine, talisker whiskey atlantic challenge, mark slats

eat like a genius.


The Grocery List Sketched by Michelangelo
You can’t sculpt like Michelangelo, but you can eat like him.

In March 1518, Michelangelo feasted on fish and bread. 

ACCORDING TO MICHELANGELO’S SHOPPING LIST, genius thrives on a diet of fish, bread, and lots of wine.

Owned by the Casa Buonarroti museum in Florence, Italy, this 500-year-old list was written and illustrated by the sculptor/painter/poet/personality on the back of a letter. Michelangelo’s servant was likely illiterate, so Michelangelo sketched out what he wanted to eat.

And Michelangelo wanted a feast, spread out over three meals. He depicted bread rolls as quickly-drawn circles, and for one meal, Michelangelo wanted two rolls. For another, he wanted six. On the page, an elegant herring floats in the air, while bowls overflow with salad and anchovies. Two dishes of stewed fennel are sketched side by side, and when asking for a smaller amount of dry wine, Michelangelo carefully drew a small wine jug next to a larger one. Sadly, he did not draw two plates of tortelli—he only asked for the ravioli-like pasta pouches in writing.

The menu consists mostly of vegetables, fish, wine, and bread. This might seem particularly healthy, but the letter on the other side of the list is dated March 18, 1518, around the time of Lent. Since eating meat was frowned upon, Michelangelo ate the requisite vegetables. However, Gillian Riley writes in The Oxford Guide to Italian Food that this was definitely an upscale menu. Despite his frugal reputation, the artist was probably used to dining with nobility.

By 1518, Michelangelo had already finished many of his most famous works, including the Pietà, the David, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But among all his work, this rough list is perhaps the most down-to-earth glimpse of the artist himself. It’s interesting to imagine the famously mercurial Michelangelo taking the time to illustrate for his servant what he wanted for dinner.

The survival of this list is remarkable, too. Only around 600 of Michelangelo’s sketches still exist. 1518 marked the year that Michelangelo burned many of his early drawings, and 46 years later, he ordered many of his papers to be torched in anticipation of his death. Maybe he wanted to preserve the aura of divine genius that surrounded his art. A list showing his sketched takeout order might not have given the right impression.


“all writing is an act of self-exploration.

even a grocery list says something about you;

how much more does a novel say?”

-steven saylor




credits: atlas obscura/gastro obscura, anne ewebank,Casa Buonarroti- Florence, Italy

naked? with gravy? with ketchup?


the more time i spend in the “always interesting” world of online dating, the more i’m amazed by the many options and specialized sites that appear. npr recently featured the latest in michigan dating sites: yooper.


for those of you not familiar with the state of michigan, it’s made up of two peninsulas. the lower peninsula, and the more remote and rustic, upper peninsula. the upper peninsula (u.p.), is where the ‘yoopers’ live. originally settled by the native americans, and later the cornish and finns who came to work in the mining and logging industry, they have their own dialect, and have tried off and on to become their own state. much to their dismay, they are still a part of our state as of this posting.


one of the food mainstays for these hardy working people were pocket sandwiches/pies known as pasties. filled with root veggies, and with or without meat or fish, a pasty is considered an art form in the u.p., with recipes passed on through generations.


and just like people from every culture all over the world, yoopers are on the universal quest for love. thus, their site was born, and just like every other dating site, it has its own slant, target demographic, and set of parameters. to register you’re required to answer a series of questions only a yooper would love:

a) how do you prefer your pasty served?

naked, with ketchup, with gravy

b) favorite color?

carharrt tan, real tree camo, duct tape grey

c) interests?

wearing plaid, bear wrestling, outdoor snow activities, chopping wood, home brewing

d) favorite great lake?

and then there’s the pitch:

At Yooper Singles we will match you with a quality Yooper.  Each of our members is looking for a long lasting connection, that’s deeper than Lake Superior.  Every year, dozens of  single Yoopers seek love in the vast forests of the Upper Peninsula and along the beaches of the Great Lakes.  Yooper Steez pioneered the dating industry in the Upper Peninsula by launching Yooper Singles and within days, YS has served as many as eighteen Yoopers, across all fifteen Upper Peninsula counties. We continue to redefine the way single Yoopers meet, flirt, date and share pasties, proving time and again that you can make love happen in the Upper Peninsula and that lasting relationships are possible. Our members aren’t only serious about finding flannel, saunas, and pasties, they also seek love. Yooper Singles puts you in control of your love life; meeting that special Yooper and forming a lasting relationship, where you can live happily ever after … in a log cabin. Whether you’re interested in Lumberjack Dating, Fisherman Dating, Finnish Dating, Native American Dating, or just finding someone to share your venison with, we can help you find the date or relationship that fits you best. Search free through all of our online personals. Literally, dozens of single Yoopers in your area have posted their dating profiles on Yooper Singles.  Young and old alike, bearded and not, from everywhere around the world, there is a Yooper waiting for you. Find your Yooper today!

and the reviews:

I have finally found my lifetime sauna partner — Toivo

Thanks, for helping me find my lumberjack— Jane

love, eh?

maybe i’ve been looking on the wrong peninsula?

i do really love the great lakes and pasties and accents.

still not sure about the bear wrestling though.


Right now, I’m as single as a slice of American cheese.
Nick Cannon

credits: npr/stateside,, michigan pasties

animal, mineral, or vegetable?


part of my life as a full-day kindergarten teacher is having lunch with the kids 3 days a week. it’s especially fun because the pre-kindergartneners also share our table, and while we might not get much time to eat, it never fails to be exciting and i am endlessly fascinated by their take on the food.



here are some chickeny stripnuggetstick things


here are some fishy stripnuggetstick things 


they are never quite sure what to ask for, or what we’re having, when wanting more.

every year, someone declares themselves to suddenly be a ‘bege-tarian’,

because they like animals.

and they stop eating any meat,

but somehow they don’t identify our nuggetstickstrip items as meat,

and i understand completely.


and i loved the day when one of them asked for syrup to go on their foodstripnuggety item.

why do you want syrup, i asked?

aren’t these french toast strips?, they answered.

i’m not really sure, but let’s go with that.

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

 Mark Twain




holy toledo batman!!!




  life experiences, good, bad, and otherwise, during a whirlwind weekend, helping my  niece find a house to rent for her upcoming grad school stint in toledo, ohio.

  • even though it is located less than 1 hour away, it is in another state and i know nothing about the city except: it has an amazing minor league baseball team – the mud hens, has a great zoo, is known as ‘glass city’ for it’s artists, and is different than toledo, spain. 
  • even though it is pretty much a straight shot down the highway from where i live, i have an incredibly horrendous sense of direction, leading us to experience many other places along the way. niece casually asks if i have gps on my phone. 

–  ‘siri’ on my phone gets testy, and says, ‘i don’t know what you are asking, do you want me to look that up for you?’, and know we will have to sweet-talk her from here on out. 

–  our day begins in toledo with a stop at a local breakfast spot to meet a kind friend to give us neighborhood advice, and we get to choose between such selections as: ‘uncle moose’s manhandler’ and a ‘bounty of the sea’ breakfast crepe,  and you just know it is going to be a wonderful day. 

  • when the first house we look at and a woman who claims to be a local ‘realtor’ does the following: dresses as a burnt out drag queen, fishes into her ample cleavage to pull her purple cell phone out of her bra to take a call, says she ‘is not allowed’ to tell us how the neighborhood is, has to stay back to ‘reset the alarm’, and does not have any business cards, it is going to be a special day.

– when my niece, being from sweet, small towns in arizona begins to understand that we are in a city, and can base our ‘good and bad neighborhoods’ decision on how many people are out on the streets and not working, or perhaps making deals on the street, it will be a life-lesson kind of day.

  • when we decide to do ‘drive-bys’ of the many other potential homes, to eliminate those  not close to school or safe in any way, we eliminate the majority of them and stop for a break at a local coney spot. 
  • when the family-run coney spot waitress snaps and yells out, ‘i am not delivering any more food, i have to ring up at the register, he can damn well do it himself!,’ and yells at my niece to plug my phone in for a recharge under the table and we unplug their neon ‘open’ sign, it is the lunch experience of a lifetime. 
  • after the lunch experience we have 4 more places to look at, have a graduation party to attend back at home, and my car, ‘the red devil’ begins to get hot, it is a moment of truth. 
  • we find a random auto shop to check the red devil before she blows and the highlight of the day and our adventure continues. 
  • we pull into Toledo Motor Sports at 4154 Monroe Street, and the owner, ali, takes a look under the hood. he and his mechanic determine it will need some new heating and cooling thingamajigs. we are a captive audience, completely at their mercy at this point, and i can certainly appreciate their honesty and fair pricing. of course one part is located in a hard to get to, bizarre place in the car. the time estimate is 2 hours. 
  • as time winds on, we reschedule the rest of our appointments for the next day, visit with another customer, jump in and offer her my unsolicited auto repair advice, swap stories and 6 degrees of separation family connections, tell jokes, recharge my phone again, use their computer to look up addresses, laugh a lot, get neighborhood advice, share pictures, and we continue on that way all afternoon, as we find out more bad news about the car. even though we are treated like important business guests at an out of town marriott, you know it is going to be a long day.  4 hours later, after the very generous owner walks to a gas station to buy us water and a bag of junk food to sustain us, (we must appear quite sweaty and pathetic at this point), the red devil is ready to go back on the road again. we have found the best repair shop in the city and i would recommend them to anyone. 
  • we drive back and make it to the grad party and sleep for 12 hours.
  • day 2 and back to toledo – we meet incredible landlords, also honest and fair and generous. it is as if we have landed in a whole new housing market. 

– we see a random sign for a house on a pretty street and are met there by miss lillian, an 86 year old firecracker, dressed in flowered pants and full of life. this house is a jewel on a beautiful street, safe and calm and a bike ride to school. we do a 30 second drive by tour of the campus and it is lovely and the sun is shining.after we take care of 657 other details, like where are we going to get the money, we make a deal and head back to a surprise party that i’ve planned but will now be very late for. it has been a weekend filled many special moments. 


 where we spent our lovely spring afternoon in toledo, ohio – even the owner is laughing