Around the World with Ernest and Friends - 'Fly Brother' Airs on Public TV, Create TV

Ernest White II in Mongolia with a Smile
Ernest White II in Mongolia.

Editor's note: You know it's a thrill when a friend makes it to the big time. I've known Ernest White since the two of us were in grad school together for creative writing, both trying to turn our lives into art. We've stayed in touch ever since - across multiple time zones, career changes, and major life events. I've loved watching him evolve from writer to multimedia storyteller. I'm over-the-moon excited to bring you this announcement about his debut public TV series, Fly Brother. Here's Ernest.

By Ernest White II

It may seem odd to launch a new travel television program in a year when travelers are grounded with canceled and postponed plans to traipse around the planet. For my TV debut, the timing may not have been perfect, but it did give a new sense of meaning to my work. 

Fly Brother with Ernest White II is a new travel docu-series available in the United States on Public Television Stations and Create TV nationwide. The show follows my travels around the globe meeting with real-life friends and getting a local’s perspective as they show me around their home cities. In each episode, I visit their favorite hotels, restaurants, social haunts, and more. Throughout the season, we see festivities, food, and fun, but also the friendship that proves the whole world is our tribe.

Mike-Ana-and-Ernest-SF-Edited
Ernest and friends Michael Childress and Ana Ayala.

Season one takes viewers to Brazil, Canada, Georgia, Namibia, Sweden, Ethiopia, India, Tajikistan, South Africa, Colombia, and Morocco. My friends and I chase sunsets in Cape Town, twirl to the samba beats of São Paulo, explore the jazzy side of Stockholm, and much more. As the world begins to reopen to tourism, I'm also making plans to (safely) film a second season filled with even more unique experiences. 

Nambian-North-5-by-Ernest-White-II
In the Northern Flatlands of Namibia.

Beyond allowing viewers to ease the pangs of wanderlust, the show focuses on the power of connection and friendship through travel. As a gay, Black American man, I left the U.S. for a decade in search of adventure and community. I've circumnavigated the globe six times, befriending people of all walks of life along the way. It was during those travels that I realized that everyone—myself included—wants the same things in life: to be seen, empowered, and loved. It’s my life mission to express this love and sense of community through storytelling. As the world reckons with its problematic past and present, making an effort to build a better future, this unique message of interconnectedness is needed now more than ever.

Hong-Kong-by-Ernest-White-II-e1437674039264
Hong Kong.

The series first started airing on Public Television Stations this past spring and then made its national cable debut on Create TV in August. The show airs on Mondays at 10:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. EDT. But don’t worry if you’ve already missed out on a few episodes. Create TV will re-air each episode of season one October 19th, so you can be a part of all the fun from the beginning, starting with one of my favorite cities and my former home for several years: São Paulo, Brazil. 

Sao Paulo by Rodrigo Soldon
São Paulo. Image credit: Rodrigo Soldon via Flickr.

For more information on the show, including how you can catch the latest episode in your area, sign up for the Flight List at flybrother.net

About Ernest White II

Ernest is a storyteller, explorer, executive producer, and host of television travel docu-series FLY BROTHER with Ernest White II, currently airing in the United States on Public Television Stations and Create TV nationwide. He is also founder and CEO of Presidio Pictures, a new film, television, and digital media studio centering BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and senior/elder narratives. Ernest’s writing includes fiction, literary essay, and travel narrative, having been featured in Time Out London, USA Today, Getaway, Ebony, The Manifest-Station, Sinking City, Lakeview Journal, Matador Network, National Geographic Traveler’s Brazil and Bradt’s Tajikistan guidebooks, and at TravelChannel.com. He is also senior editor at Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, former assistant editor at Time Out São Paulo, and founding editor of digital men’s magazine Abernathy.

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Easy DIY Rehab on a FREE Vintage Glider Set

Gliders_DIY7

By Lisa Brunette

I'm of the opinion that few of the things manufactured since, oh, let's say 1975, are of sturdy, high-quality construction. You know what I'm taking about, right? A major reason we love antiques is because truly, they don't make 'em like this anymore. Take the above glider chair as an example. The structure is heavy-duty steel, and the slats are real wood, each one fastened with a steel bolt. It's called a "glider" because it gives you a smooth, rocking-chair motion as the seat glides forward and back.

I picked up a set of 3 for 100 percent FREE more than a year ago. Here's what they looked like when I got 'em, with the addition of some new bolts where several were missing or too-far-gone to be salvaged.

Gliders_Before

As you can see, they were pretty weathered and beat up, but I saw good bones, and if I were willing to put in the effort, something I just can't buy new these days. I don't honestly know if these gliders were made in the 50s, 60s, or even early 70s, as I haven't been able to find a perfect match with provenance noted in my online research. If you have an idea, please tell me in the comments below. I'm dying to find out. But suffice to say, they've been around a while, and as far as outdoor furniture goes, I think they've stood the test of not just time but the elements as well.

Now I could have cut new wooden slats to replace these, as they are definitely warped. I thought about it, and my brother tried to convince me to do it. But I'm not that handy with a saw, possess few woodworking tools, and didn't like the idea of scrapping the wood, from an economic and eco standpoint. Besides, the warped curves give it a bit of charm, and the weathered patina, in my view, add to the whole look.

So, the wood would have to be part of the rehab process. I wanted the chairs to be as eco-friendly as possible - not just out of obligation to be kind to the environment but because I planned to spend a good amount of time sitting in these chairs, and as someone with autoimmune sensitivities, I have to think about the chemicals in my world more than the average person. That led me to tung oil for the wooden slats.

Gliders_DIY3

Ah... tung oil. Where have you been all my life? It's obtained from the pressed seed of the tung tree and is a safe, fume-free alternative to the prevailing wood sealant available in most hardware stores, a noxious substance containing petroleum distillates. Please note that many products for sale are labeled "tung oil" or "Dutch oil," and they might even contain some actual oil from the seed of the tung tree, but they are NOT pure tung oil. If there's one thing I've learned over 30+ years of trying not to come in contact with things that make me sick, it's to ALWAYS READ THE LABELS. What you see in the photo above is pure tung oil. What you're likely to find in your box hardware store shelves is, frankly, a lot of GICK: toxic chemicals and extracted byproducts from the petroleum industry. I couldn't actually find pure tung oil in these stores and ended up purchasing it online from Woodcraft. This is not a sponsored endorsement; we don't take any commissions for the products we mention so that you're assured to get an unbiased take. But this stuff is liquid gold, trust me.

Gliders_DIY1

I heavily sanded the wooden slats first, and then wiped any remaining sawdust with a dry cloth. Then it was time to apply the tung oil. Pure tung oil feels amazing to use - it glides on easily and smells pleasant, and a little bit goes a long way. I finished 3 chairs using that 1-gallon jug above, and I still have more than half a gallon left! It was a hot day, and I didn't like sweating inside plastic gloves, so I worked barehanded, and it was fine. In fact, the oil moisturized my hands, for a bonus benefit, and washed off with no problem. Tung oil hardens as it dries, giving the wood a deep, wet look, and the result is a protective sheen. I rehabbed the first chair, the orange one you see in the photo at the top of this post, all by my lonesome, handling the whole process in the space of two afternoons. Here you can see the slats drying in the sun behind the chair frame. Oo, look at how the green patina pops out! Look at that deepened woodgrain!

Gliders_DIY2

Now that I've soapboxed on the topic of eco-friendly wood preservation techniques, lemme get to the issue of the chair frame. I researched around and could not find an alternative to spray paint for metal surfaces. I feel like an eco-failure in this regard, and maybe I've missed something. If you know of a better substance than your standard can of gicky spray paint, please enlighten me in the comments below. 

I had a leftover can of pumpkin spice hue from another project, and I thought that would look cool on the chair, so there you go. My Cinderella chair turned into a pumpkin coach, all set for the ball.

I don't mind telling you I had a bit of a bad time, though, on that first chair. I'd made the mistake of replacing a few rusted-out screws in the glider mechanism. At first I felt like a genius, as this fixed a wobble and brought the frame into better alignment. HOWEVER, the wooden slats had warped to that wobble shape, and I had a devil of a time getting them back onto the chair frame after I'd "fixed" it. Lesson learned. For the other two chairs, I decided not to mess with imperfection. I also had Anthony to help, and he was only too happy to take on spray-paint duty so I could concentrate on wood restoration. For these, I opted to go aqua, of course. Do you not know about my obsession with aqua?!

Gliders_DIY4

The process went faster with a second pair of hands. We finished the other two chairs in one day, with enough time left to admire them in the setting sun.

Gliders_DIY6

If you come across a trio of these beauties, or even a duet or solo, I recommend snapping 'em up. Now restored, I'm sure we'll get many more years out of them. Here's the process in a nutshell.

Step-by-Step DIY Glider Re-Do

  1. Remove wooden slats from chair frame. You can do this by hand, most likely - ours were screwed on with bolts and washers. We just unscrewed the washers in the back, and lifted the slats off. Keep the bolts and washers in a bucket for later. Replace any rusty or broken bolts/washers with new ones.
  2. Wipe the metal frame, making sure it's clean and dry. Spray paint the frame, keeping the can moving to avoid drips and globs. We wore a mask and gloves for this.
  3. At the same time or while you're waiting for the frame to dry, you can sand the wooden slats. Note you'll want to place the slats on your sanding surface IN THE SAME ORDER THEY APPEAR ON THE CHAIR. This is to make sure the wood gets placed back in the same spot. Otherwise you'll have trouble re-bolting the slats to the frame. I used a heavy-duty sanding sponge, and I went through two of them on all of the slats, but you can use sheets of sandpaper instead. Wipe the slats clean.
  4. Check to see if the frame needs another coat. You might also need to paint the frame in two stages, propping it at different angles to get the undersides of the frame tubes.
  5. Pour tung oil on a clean, dry cloth and spread it onto the wooden slats. Coat until the oil penetrates all surfaces of the wood. I really put in some elbow grease here, rubbing to make sure the oil got into every crack. Let the oil dry on the wood.
  6. Bolt the slats back onto the frame. The wooden slats don't have to be 100 percent dry; in fact, the oil will continue to dry and harden as time goes on.
  7. Dispose of the oil rags properly, following the instructions on the tung oil container and your local guidelines/ordinances.

Now... the stunning before and after comparison!

Gliders_DIY5

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50 Ways to Love Your Larvae

Achemon_sphinx
Achemon sphinx moth larvae (caterpillar), on native grape.
 

When it comes to providing more habitat for pollinators, it really doesn't take much to see results. My brother's been amazed to find monarch caterpillars after adding one milkweed, and swarms of bees supping from a sole aster. Here at Dragon Flower Farm, it's only been two years since we kicked off this project in earnest, and we already feel as if we live in a nature preserve. All of the photos here are from this spring and summer.
 
Black_Swallowtail
The larvae, also called instar, for black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes.
 
To illustrate that pollinator-friendly yards are easy-peasy to create, I've penned this parody for you, inspired by both the Paul Simon original and the play on the song that aired on The Muppet Show when I was a kid, "50 Ways to Love Your Lever." I apologize in advance for the excessive corniness, but hey. I live in the Midwest now.
 
Monarch
Monarch larvae on Asclepius incarnata (swamp milkweed).

50 Ways to Love Your Larvae

The problem is all inside your yard, I say to you
The answer is to see it ecologically 
I'd like to help you get more than a bird or two
There must be fifty ways to love your larvae
 
I say I don't mean for this to sound at all lewd
After all, it's earnestness that guides me not a desire to be rude
But I'll repeat myself at the risk of starting some feud
There must be fifty ways to love your larvae
Fifty ways to love your larvae
 
Time to plant natives, David
Make it your wish, Trish
Don't pick up the leaves, Jeeves
Just let the fall be
 
Ditch your grass lawn, Dawn
You won't miss it when it's gone
Pot a new tree, Lee
You're helpin' the bees
 
Tussock_moth
The white-marked tussock moth, at larvae stage, on Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo bush).
 
It's time to plant natives, David
Make it your wish, Trish
Don't pick up the leaves, Jeeves
Just listen to me
 
Ditch your grass lawn, Dawn
You won't miss it when it's gone
Pot a new tree, Lee
You're helpin' the bees
 
Monarch_into_chrysalis
Monarch positioning for chrysalis stage.
 
I say it thrills me to see you've made it this far
I hope there is something here that will help our little instar
That word might confuse you but it just means caterpillar
You know, the fifty ways
 
I say feel free to sleep on all of this tonight
And I believe in the morning you'll know my words are right
But don't freak out too much when you know you've seen the light
There must be fifty ways to love your larvae
Fifty ways to love your larvae
 
Time to plant natives, David
Make it your wish, Trish
Don't pick up the leaves, Jeeves
Just let the fall be
 
Ditch your grass lawn, Dawn
You won't miss it when it's gone
Pot a new tree, Lee
You're helpin' the bees
 
Monarch_chrysalis
Monarch chrysalis.
 
Time to plant natives, David
Make it your wish, Trish
Don't pick up the leaves, Jeeves
You just listen to me
 
Ditch your grass lawn, Dawn
You won't miss it when it's gone
Pot a new tree, Lee
You're helpin' the bees
 
Monarch_butterfly

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Don't Forget to Take Your (Food) Medicine This Fall. Plus, a Special Discount for CITF Readers!

Hazelnut
Native hazelnut, going dormant for fall here at Dragon Flower Farm.

By Lindsey Thompson

In East Asian medicine, food is itself medicine. Food theory runs on two important principles. One, specific culinary ingredients will nourish the organs directly associated with the current season. Two, by nourishing the organs of the season, you are also strengthening and preparing your body for good health in the following season. This takes seasonal eating to a different level than simply eating what is available locally in that season. Spices, stock choices, and whether or not you cook your food are all part of the seasonal eating strategies in East Asian medicine food therapy.

As I write this post, we are well into autumn, the season of the lungs and the large intestines. Autumn is a time when we battle moisture from rains, dryness from cold air and wind, and temperature swings moving ever towards the colder direction.

This weather will start to dry out our skin, our nostrils, and maybe even our lungs. If your lungs are ‘drying’ out, then you’ll notice that slight ache when breathing chilled air, or you may have a dry cough in the mornings and late afternoon without being sick.

The lungs and large intestines are considered in charge of our skin, our nostrils, and our immune system. They are associated with the ability to grieve properly, experiencing nostalgia, and the ability to let go of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we do not need. In autumn, it's normal that if the lungs or large intestines need to be strengthened, instead of experiencing nostalgia, you may actually feel melancholy and a lack of inspiration. Or if the large intestine needs more attention, you may find it hard to let go of negative thoughts, emotions, and even small interactions that normally wouldn’t bother you. Physically, you may feel slight tension in your chest, struggle a little more with phlegm, and tend towards dry or cracking skin. If you notice these symptoms, then it is a great time to start incorporating some food therapy.

Snakeroot
Snakeroot, aka boneset, a late summer/early fall wildflower, fills in the gaps left by falling leaves at Dragon Flower Farm.

The color of the lung system in Chinese medicine is white, and its flavor is pungent. Both of these associations become important for autumn food therapy. The pungent flavor includes aromatic and spicy culinary flavors, such as perilla leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, curry, pepper, and chili peppers.

The pungent flavor helps lung function. It helps to open up the pathway in the lungs, break up mucus, and circulate qi or energy through your chest. If you feel melancholic and notice tension across your pectoral muscles, adding in aromatic spices to each meal will be important. Moderate use of chili peppers can help to break up phlegm, if your stomach can handle the spice, but for melancholy, spices like rosemary, thyme, perilla, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and basil may be better choices, as they strongly circulate qi through the chest. Some of them also improve digestion.

A few ideas for pungent herbs: have cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger in your oatmeal in the morning. Drink teas made from pungent herbs, such as fresh ginger tea, or holy basil tea, or even a caffeinated or non-caffeinated chai tea (but skip the sugar and milk if you have phlegm. Both sugar and dairy will actually increase your phlegm production). Try baking chicken breasts with perilla leaf wrapped around them, and cook roasted root vegetables tossed in rosemary and garlic.

Perilla
Though non-native, perilla is naturalized throughout North America. Here it is growing as a volunteer at Dragon Flower Farm.

Another way to strengthen your immune system and support your lungs is to eat naturally white foods, such as pears, onions, leeks, capsicum, and cauliflower, as well as rice. Rice is considered the specific grain of the lungs. Pears are especially fantastic for people who live in a climate that gets dry in the autumn.  If you get a dry, persistent cough, adding a baked pear with a little cinnamon can help immensely. In fact, if you are prone to dry, wheezing induced by cold air in the autumn and winter, eating pears daily while in season is indicated in Chinese medicine. Another pear recipe for dry cough/wheezing, is to make a porridge with the grain called "Job’s tears" (same basic cooking instructions as oatmeal) and add slices of a baked pear, a dash of cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey.

The final way to strengthen your lungs is by eating vegetables that nourish the organ system that is considered the "mother" of the lungs: the spleen/pancreas and stomach. This works on the philosophy that the child stays healthy and strong when the mom stays healthy and strong. Orange and yellow vegetables with a hint of sweetness nourish the spleen, pancreas, and stomach. So eating a healthy dose of orange-fleshed squash such as butternut, banana, delicata, acorn, pumpkin, kabocha, and hubbard squash is what the doctor ordered. Also remember to add in carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams. I like to substitute mashed sweet potatoes and yams for regular russet potatoes.

To Learn More - Plus a Discount for CITF Readers!

Autumn-foods
Photo courtesy Lindsey Thompson.

If you’d like to learn more about how to specifically use Chinese medicine food therapy to help keep your body strong and healthy each season, Thompson Acupuncture Clinic offers a downloadable six-part nutrition video series. The series - comprising more than four hours of content - will show you how to incorporate this ancient, time-tested theory into food choices and cooking styles for each season. It will teach you how to listen to your own body in order to recognize the subtle signs that our bodies use to tell us we are drifting away from optimal health. It will then teach you how to use real food, common kitchen herbs, vegetables, fruit, spices, and proteins to bring your body back to optimal health.

CITF DISCOUNT: Use coupon code "The Flock" to get a 20% discount at checkout, good until midnight Nov 1.

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Lindsey Thompson holds a master's in acupuncture and East Asian medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) in Portland, OR, with extra training in the Dr. Shen Pulse Analysis system, an 18-month internship in Five Element Acupuncture, and advanced cupping training from the International Cupping Therapy Association. After graduating from OCOM in 2012, Lindsey volunteered with the Acupuncture Relief Project in Nepal to hone her clinical skills at their high-volume clinic in rural Nepal. She now owns Thompson Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, Wash.

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Hügelkultur - More Than Just a Pretty Word

IMG_1248

By Anthony Valterra

Ah, the Germans, a lovely people with a lovely language. For example, did you know the German word for daisy is "gänseblümchen?" It just rolls off the tongue. The Germans created a method of gardening in which they cultivated plants on top of a constructed mound made up of logs buried in the earth. They call it hügelkultur - literally mound or hill culture. The theory is that as the logs decay, they provide nutrients to the plants growing on top of them. In addition, the mound shape provides a sort of natural rain drainage. Plants on the top that need less water get less, and those nearer the bottom get more water. You can also use the hill shape to vary sunlight. Plants on the sunny side get more light; plants on the opposite side a bit less. Finally, the hill itself is supposed to provide a bit more growing space. Imagine the mound as half of a sphere. If the mound was not there, you would be planting in a circle with an area based on the diameter of the sphere. But with the mound, you have a planting area half the surface of the whole sphere. Assuming a mound with a 10-ft. diameter, you are roughly doubling your growing space (if I did the math correctly).

Above is our first try at hügelkulture, as it stands today. We decided to make it an herb mound. It could just as well support other plants, but an herb mound is a common choice. As you can see, we did all right. We have good growth from the sage in the foreground, the marjoram at the top, and the grey santolina to the right of the marjoram. There are also a couple of young oregano plants tucked between the sage and marjoram. Not shown: the reddening lepiota mushrooms, which grew prolifically all over the yard including on the mound - delicious! More about them in this post here. Herbs that did not make it on the mound (this year) were all sown as seeds, a tough go for non-native perennials, especially here in the beginning before the logs beneath the earth had a chance to decay.

How do you make one of these mounds? I'm sure you are thinking it requires elaborate planning, detailed construction, and a great number of resource inputs. Or maybe you're looking at it and thinking, "It's a hill; how tough can it be?"

Herb mound hugel

If you have read about my squash tunnel here, and its tragic demise here, then you know I am a big believer in scavenging for resources. Fortunately, we live in the Midwest, where the same storms that brought down the squash tunnel regularly bring down trees in the neighborhood. And when workers are cutting up those trees, they are usually very happy to have you help them out by hauling off some of the debris. That's how we got the logs for the base of our hügelkulture.

Herb mound hugel 2

We took some of the logs and arranged them in a circle with the diameter we wanted for the mound.

Herb mound hugel 3

Then we buried them and placed more logs on top. Repeat this process until you have a mound - easy peasy!

IMG_1248

Once we had the mound shape, we covered it in cardboard, a layer of mulch, and planted herb starts.  As I said, they did pretty well. But in theory each year that goes by, they should do better and better. The buried logs will decay and provide nutrients to the planted herbs. The first year the logs barely had time to start the decay process so the herbs were more or less relying on the soil covering. After this winter, the logs should be breaking down nicely, and I hope we will see a much more robust hügelkultur herb mound next spring and summer.

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