Writers Support Occupy Wall Street

Posted by admin on Tuesday Oct 18, 2011 Under Uncategorized

I really didn’t know how to tie the whole Occupy Wall Street thing that has inspired me so much into my blog about life on the ranch until I got an e-mail from a friend with the following heading: Writers Support Occupy Wall Street. Check it out.

And there it was! A list of 200 writers —Pulitzer Prize Winners, Booker Prize Winners, Poets Laureates of the US, writers whose books had been made into movies, writers who’d been my teachers, writers I’d interviewed for NPR, a young writer who went to high school with my daughter, a writer who used to be a neighbor, very famous writers like Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood and Michael Cunningham and lesser known writers— who’d signed the following statement:

We, the undersigned writers and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.

And you know what? The list is growing by the hour. Two hundred and fifty and counting. I’m adding my name.

For all the criticism by the mainstream media about how incoherent the protesters’ message is, it looks like it isn’t all that unclear. Looks like a lot of smart, talented people got the message loud and clear.

Francine Prose, author of numerous novels and one of the signers of the statement of support, wrote the following piece about what she experienced in Zuccotti Park. I can’t say it any better, so here is her observation.

“As far as I can understand it myself, here’s why I burst into tears at the Occupy Wall Street camp. I was moved, first of all, by what everyone notices first: the variety of people involved, the range of ages, races, classes, colors, cultures. In other words, the 99 per cent. I saw conversations taking place between people and groups of people whom I’ve never seen talking with such openness and sympathy in all the years (which is to say, my entire life) I’ve spent in New York: grannies talking to goths, a biker with piercings and tattoos talking to a woman in a Hermes scarf. I was struck by how well-organized everything was, and, despite the charge of “vagueness” one keeps reading in the mainstream media, by the clarity—clarity of purpose, clarity of intention, clarity of method, clarity of understanding of the most basic social and economic realities. I kept thinking about how, since this movement started, I’ve been waking up in the morning without the dread (or at least without the total dread) with which I’ve woken every morning for so long, the vertiginous sense that we’re all falling off a cliff and no one (or almost no one) is saying anything about it. In Zuccotti Park I felt a kind of lightening of a weight, a lessening of the awful isolation and powerlessness of knowing we’re being lied to and robbed on a daily basis and that everyone knows it and keeps quiet and endures it; the terror of thinking that my own grandchildren will suffer for whatever has been paralyzing us until just now. I kept feeling these intense surges of emotion—until I saw a placard with a quote from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” And that was when I just lost it and stood there and wept.”

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A New Yorker Cartoon and a Little Rant

Posted by admin on Thursday Oct 6, 2011 Under Uncategorized

NY Blog BreakdownI love the New Yorker. I really do. Can’t wait for it to show up in my little rural mailbox so far from anything remotely resembling New York City.

But now I have to respond to this cartoon. See the cartoonist’s little pie graph on the left titled “Blog Breakdown”?

A blog, according to this cartoon, is divided into three parts. One third: someone giving out recipes for “crap they made” — in this case a little old lady giving you her apple butter recipe. Another third: self promotion — a guy hawking his book. Last third: a rant — whereupon we see a fanatic-looking character typing some sort of position paper. That’s it. Recipes, self-promotion and rants.

Oh really? Let’s see. Jane’s Ranch. Recipes? Check. Asking you to read my book? Checkaroonie, as Dave says. Rants? OOPS.

Looks like I forgot to rant about something.

How about I start by defending homemade apple butter from snobby New Yorkers’ disparaging remarks. Really, if Zabars were selling bottles of apple butter made by Alice Waters herself from local apples hand-picked in the Hudson Valley and laced with Calvados, you know wealthy New Yorkers — like those hedge fund banksters — would be lined up.

When the Occupy Wall Street kids shout “MAKE ‘EM PAY”, they don’t mean make’ em pay $15 dollars a half-pint for apple butter at Zabars. But those bankers would, because they’re too lazy — I mean, too busy, too busy gambling with your money — to make their own.

For the rest of us mere mortals (the other 99% of us) and for the 1 in 5 residents of New York City who are now living in poverty according to the latest statistics, I offer you my recipe for apple butter. There’s nothing better in the dead of winter than a slice of homemade whole wheat toast slathered with apple butter, eaten at a window while watching the birds cluster around the feeder.

Jane’s Ranch Apple Butter avec Calvados

7 cups peeled, cored, chopped apples ( a mixture is good)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup Calvados
1/2 cup apple cider
juice of 1 lemon
1 large cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
tiny pinch of cloves

In a large heavy, non-reactive pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Stir constantly, being careful not to scorch.

Once the apple mixture is boiling, turn to low-medium and simmer until very soft.

Take off the heat, cool slightly, remove cinnamon stick (don’t throw away) and do one of two things — run the mixture through a food mill or use an immersion blender to puree.

Return the apple butter with the cinnamon stick to the pot and simmer for about two hours until thick.


Here’s the thing: I put the apple butter in sterilized jars in the refrigerator. They don’t last long around here. I glaze squash with it. I use it in baking. It goes. HOWEVER, I’m not suggesting you do that.

YOU should can according to Ball Jar instructions. ( And, if you’re going to all that work, you might as well double the recipe.)

Apples should be coming in pretty cheap now. Hey, you can even hand-pick your own. The Calvados, I admit, is a splurge, so go in on a bottle with a friend.

Better yet, put on the Wailin’ Jennys and make the apple butter together.

Okay, so I’ve covered the apple butter recipe, the rant, and all that’s left is the shameless (utterly shameless) self-promotion part. I’ve put up Chapter Two of Palace of the Blue Butterfly for those pod-castingly challenged folks out there.

And one last thought, brought to you from New York City, too, from one of those kids occupying Wall street.

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