An Inscription from James Leo Herlihy

James Leo Herlihy's inscription to my copy of Midnight Cowboy

I first met James Leo Herlihy in June, 1971, when we both guests on The David Frost Show.

He was promoting his novel, The Season of the Witch, and I was on the publicity tour arranged by Random House for the Vintage Books edition of Living on the Earth (the second edition – the first was published the previous year by The BookWorks, in Berkeley.)

A mutual friend reconnected us in 1977, and, after that, I was a frequent guest in his home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.  It was during those happy times that he gifted me with his book, The Midnight Cowboy, with this sweet inscription.  I gifted him with a drawing of his face as a huge photo on the wall of a living room, with Marlene Dietrich admiring it from the sofa.  He had a movie screen-sized photo of her face on one wall of his living room.  “That’s the size I’m accustomed to seeing her,” he told me.

Jamie had been Anais Nin‘s confidante, and told me this story:  In her forties, Anais told him that she wanted to die at fifty, so she would be “always the ingenue, never the dowager.”  When he reminded her of this as she lay dying at seventy-two, she replied, “How could I have known that my best years would come after?”

In 1980, Jamie’s long time partner, Bill Lord, was one of the first gay men to perish from AIDS.  After that, Jamie’s life centered on hospicing and eulogizing many of his beloved friends.  In 1991, when it became clear that he, too, was succumbing to the virus, he took his own life. I was devastated.  Only one year later, a three-drug therapy came into use that could have saved him.

My Eggshell Paintings

flat of painted blown eggs

My mother, Verna Lebow Norman, a sculptor and painter, taught me and my siblings to blow eggshells and paint them when we were in elementary school.

My method: I use a thick hand sewing needle to pierce one end of the shell and to chip off tiny pieces until there is a hole about 1/4 across. Using the same method, I make a bigger hole at the other end. Then I use the needle to break up the yolk. I blow through the small hole, so the raw egg goes into a bowl through the bigger hole. (If it’s very hard to blow out the egg, make bigger holes, and scramble the egg more thoroughly.) Then I let the egg shell dry for a day or two, so the remaining raw egg white seals and hardens the inside of the shell. I don’t cook with the raw eggs that are blown out of the shells, because they have shell fragments in them. Once the shells are completely dry inside and out, I like to seal up the holes by gluing circles of colored tissue paper over them.  By gluing on a loop of ribbon or cord at the narrower top of the shell, the decorated eggs can be displayed by hanging them from a horizontally suspended, slender tree branch.  This allows each eggshell to be viewed on all of its curving surfaces.

Most of these painted eggshells are from a decade of my life inwhich each spring I would prepare blown eggs for myself and some children I knew, and we would paint them together, using enamel paints and nail polish, and sometimes glue things onto them. Mine were mostly “wish eggs” – visualizations of experiences I wanted to materialize.

I will also share here a couple of eggshells that I prepared and decorated around the age of 10.

I painted this eggshell (with nail polish) shortly before I turned 40. It says: “I am a precious being at every stage of my life.”  Yes, we all are.

I am a Precious Being egg

Here are three views of an egg I painted a few years later, in celebration of vegetable gardening.  I painted asparagus, rutabaga, radishes, crookneck squash, scallions and tat soi.


Here’s an eggshell with the opening line of Paul Desmond’s jazz classic, “Take Five,” a song I learned to sing and to play on guitar.


This egg is a wish from my 25 years based on Maui, to make friends with a whale in the ocean.


This one depicts a lop-eared rabbit of my acquaintance, contemplating a carrot patch after a long night of hiding Easter eggs.

Here’s the “vegetable that will bleed for you,” as Tom Robbins described beets in his timeless novel “Jitterbug Perfume.” I call this “Heart Beets.”

Heart Beets Egg

This one reminds me of the last line of Amanda McBroom’s song, “The Rose.”
“Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that, with the sun’s love, in the spring, becomes the rose.”

Far beneath the bitter snows Egg

A (purple!) guitar and a colorful stream of musical notes: a wish egg for joyful song.


Here is a wish egg for romance!  It came true, too.


Here are a couple of the eggs I decorated when I was about ten years old:
“The Girl in the Pink Turban,” and “The Lady in the Lace Mantilla.”

 

Sophia Rose’s video collage of Alicia’s books and art, with Alicia’s song 1966

Sophia Rose, very creative herbalist, writer, photographer, designer, life artist, and my good friend, assembled this video collage of art from my books and photographs of me and my communal friends in the early 1970s in Northern California, to a fragment of my autobiographical jazz waltz, 1966.  You can savor Sophia Rose’s divine herbal and artistic offerings at La Abeja Herbs.

Gluten-free Maple Nut Muffins (Re-purposing Leftover Gluten-free Baked Goods)

Preheat the over to 380 F.

Line muffin pan with unbleached paper muffin cups (or make muffin cups from squares of unbleached oven parchment paper)

Break leftover gluten-free baked goods into pieces, tossing them into the bowl of a food processor. I used cinnamon-raisin bread to make these muffins tonight, but any sweet (as opposed to savory) flavored bread, roll, cake, cookie or pastry (or a combination) would work as well. Use the food processor to reduce the baked goods to crumbs.

For every cup of crumbs, add:

A beaten organic pasture-raised egg (this gives batter the same expanding flexible structure while baking that gluten does)

1 or more tablespoons of maple syrup (less sweetener needed if the crumbs contains cookies or pastries)

¼ cup of raw organically grown walnuts or pecans, pulverized in the food processor
1 tablespoon of organic virgin coconut oil

Optional: ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon (if you are using cinnamon raisin bread crumbs, you don’t need it)

¼ cup pure water (the amount depends on the inherent moisture of the ingredients. Just add a teaspoon at a time while blending, until the batter is thicker than pancake batter, but more liquid than cookie dough)

Once you have a thick batter, stop the food processor, and stir some organically grown raisins and dried cranberries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into muffin cups, filling them about 9/10 full. They will rise, but not a lot.

Bake about 20 minutes (the sides and tops should brown a little bit).

Leave the muffins in the muffin tin until cool enough to handle, then move them to a rack to cool completely – or, serve them warm.

Videos, plus a magazine article with photos, all by Hikaru Hamada during my summer 2015 Japan tour

Kaorico Ago Wada’s portrait of Alicia Bay Laurel at Cafe Millet, near Kyoto, on June 13, 2015.

Here‘s a link to Hikaru-san’s article and photos in the magazine he founded in the 1970s and has edited since then.

Here‘s a link to a video he made of my performance at Art Cafe Naksha in Awajishima of a famous old peace song on July 11, 2015.

Here is a link to a video he made of my performance at Modern Ark Pharm Cafe in Kobe of my song Beautiful, Beautiful, June 28, 2015.

Here is a link to a video he made of my performance at Modern Ark Pharm Cafe in Kobe of my song Paisley Days, June 28, 2015.

Many thanks to you, dear Hikaru Hamada!

My Dozen Vegetable Plus Avocado Green Salad Recipe

LOTE salad illustration

 Salad illustration from Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

(Please insert the words “organically grown” in front of each ingredient. Yes, I know tomatoes and olives are not really vegetables.)

Lettuce (my fave is red lettuce, but whatever you prefer)
Arugula or spinach or dandelion greens or baby sunflower greens
Grated carrots (I’m loving the ones in a variety of colors)
Grated daikon root and/or grated beet
Sliced radishes (also loving the ones in a variety of colors)
Sliced cucumber (usually Persian or hot house)
Sliced and chopped red cabbage
Cilantro leaves (whole) and/or basil leaves (sliced)
Scallions (cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
Sauerkraut (preferably homemade, but packaged is OK)
Pitted olives (I like green, because they don’t stain my teeth)
Cherry tomatoes (also love them in a variety of colors)

(Of course, all of the ingredients are optional, depending on what you like and/or can medically tolerate.)

I like to offer a half avocado (Hass, mostly), to each person having the salad. If the avocados are small, I offer a whole one.

Dressing: two parts olive oil to one part freshly squeezed lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar with “the mother”), seasoned with freshly pressed garlic and pink Himalayan salt or sea salt. Sometimes I soak (and remove) a branch of fresh rosemary from my garden in the olive oil before adding the oil to the dressing.

Sometimes I boil, chill in ice water, and then peel, a couple of five-minute (pasture-raised) eggs and slice them into the salad, making it into a one-dish meal. Other times I add cubes of baked tofu or cooked tempeh instead eggs for protein.