Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Hubby and I did the tapas restaurant for our anniversary. We went to our first tapas restaurant 3 years ago in Puerto Rico. In fact, we went to 4 tapas restaurants in PR. We went to Culturas in Lancaster which has been open about 6 months. Being someone who like to order off the specials board--give me something different!--I really like the ideas of trying many different plates of food. We tried the fried avocado with balsamic reduction and wasabi cream. A much better use of avocado was as a dip for the crab and cream cheese packets. Avocado is so luscious that frying proved to be overkill. The same dish would have been delightful as a plantain under all that sauce. But the fillet Mignon kebab with Peruvian corn (bigger, starchier kernels--more like lima beans) was unique and fun. The ceviche was refreshing. Our favorite dish was probably the potatoes stuffed with ground beef, egg, black olives and raisins. We toasted with a bottle of Argentinian Malbec, and topped it all off by splitting a piece of chocolate cake. All said, the meal was reasonably priced. The atmosphere and decor were inviting. I'm not usually one to write restaurant reviews, but being the cook that I am, I don't journey to them often. We will visit Culturas again--maybe with a crowd to try even more dishes. But in the meantime I am thinking of having a killer tapas party (I like to cook!) for a small group of adult friends. We can celebrate the kids going back to school.

Apple Crisp

I am not a baker, but this summer I've been glorying in the fruit. Just made a killer apple crisp from our own apples. So far this summer, I've made strawberry shortcake, blueberry muffins, peach cobbler, apple crisp, zucchini bread (okay--so not a fruit, but I was baking!), and though I didn't make it, I had a friend's homemade wild black raspberry pie. I also made a cherry pie, but those results were less than remarkable--in fact, I should probably refrain from remarking that I made one. Still, it has been a glorious summer for fruit here. And not over yet!

Monday, August 18, 2008


I have 2 anniversaries today. My husband and I were married 18 years ago on this day. That's the porcelain anniversary for those keeping track. A funny thought.
As far as years go, it was a challenging one for us on several fronts. Mark changed jobs in February. Previous to that, he was in a period of uncertainty at his old job as the company laid people off and he assumed some of the responsibilities of his fallen co-workers. It was a scary time. He got his job. My car broke down beyond repair. Then, when he got his job and was between insurance plans, my daughter broke her arm. This is about the pace of the past year. Lots of little stresses that accumulated and sent us reeling emotionally. We are a good team, but we were tested mightily. So it feels appropriate to be at this place celebrating something strong and good.

The other anniversary is the last day I had a job, which was two years ago. This is a bittersweet anniversary for me. I love that I don't have to punch a clock anymore (or in our case, write down hours), but I am little vexed at what the next stage is for my career. I am so immersed in family activities that I either need to make a new pattern or accept that this is where my priorities are right now. Still it doesn't help when everyone I know keeps asking "How's the book coming." How many different ways can you say SLOW! And, too at this anniversary, I am pulled back to the scene of the crime of my last job. I just heard that my old company has laid off a lot of people--including people I worked with and admired. I am sad for those whose careers are ending or redirected. These are uncertain times. I am also sorry for those left behind. They are working in a environment which is going through an era of scarcity of money and time (having to take on the tasks left by those who got laid off). I know it was right for me to leave that all behind. But today, I am sending out thoughts to all those who I used to call colleague.

I think that for me, I will use this day to regroup and plan out what I want for myself. Make some goals. Do some visualizations. With the start of school just days away, it feels a little like a new chapter is coming for all of us.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Moon phase

I feel I am entering a period of more feminine energies.

To begin, in yoga, we are exploring the moon salutation. This was created at Kriplau to be a balance for the more warrior-like sun salutation. The moon salutation celebrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual cycles of a woman. To me it seems that we are exploring a more vertical axis, descending and opening and returning, in a path not unlike that of Persephone. The sun salutation seems more horizontal-- hero's journey across many lands.

Also, this fall, I am co-teaching a curriculum called Rise Up and Call Her Name which is a study of the feminine divine in all forms, around the world, and across time. I took this course 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. I didn't know I was incubating a girl child. But after the deep immersion into the stories and myth of female archetypes, it didn't surprise me that she burst forth in a dramatic birth and, in the process, broke through several all-male generations on the Wood side.

I am getting into some more intense creative coaching, which I am hoping will translate into creative action and product. More birthing process!

And also in November, I am again gathering with women to celebrate in Woman to Woman event which, besides being a collective of women's wellness, has raised over $7000 for domestic violence services. This year, the event has more meaning to me than ever before.

All in all, I am feeling the pull of the moon. The call to the watery ways of being a woman.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beer Can Chicken

Yesterday we smoked a chicken in the smoker. Beer Can chicken. Spice rubbed chicken is vertical over a half-filled can of beer and spices. In our case it was an empty soda can filled with locally brewed Maibock. For dinner alst night we had the chicken, mashed potatoes, red chile gravy (Bobby Flay is king!) and homemade spicy baked beans. All with the beer. It was such a heavy meal that we went for a long walk after dinner and still felt like dumplings, but it was GOOD! Speakingof which, I'm going to go for some leftover potatoes and gravy for lunch. Sans chicken--that's reserved for a cobb salad later in the week.

Bring it on

Fall sports practices started today. I took my son to cross country practice. My daughter was at home with me. We logged onto her school. She is doing Cyber school this year in combination with a performing arts school (live and in person). For the last week I have had everyone's schedule sprawled on my dining room table. I have been putting everything on a master calender and making notations. This should be fun!

Yoga for Moms

Yoga should be mandatory for moms. I don't know how I coped without my weekly session. I wish I could do it three times a week. When all the activities and school starts up again, I don't know how I'll afford it time-wise or ecomically speaking. DVDs are not the same. Somehow, I have to figure out a way to keep this in my life.

That's so Buck.

My TV addiction is over. Our family loved So You Think You Can Dance. I don't get into American Idol. But this, we love. I am a visual person and love the movement and dynamism of it all. We voted, too. For Josh and for Katee. So we were very happy with the results on Thursday. And now my husband is excited for football season and the Ohio State Buckeyes. I wish I was as thrilled.


Currently I am in week 4 of my Couch to 5K program. This week I walk for 5 minutes warmup. Then I Run 3 minutes, walk 1 1/2 minutes, run for 5 minutes, walk for 2 1/2 minutes and repeat. It is working well for me to run three days a week and have a day of yoga in there to work out the kinks. I am hoping to run the 5K at Denver Fair time. Hard to believe that 5 years ago at this time, I was in the last stages of training for the Chicago Marathon. Maybe I should watch some Olympics to inspire myself.


My produce stand--the one a mile from my house, is closing at the end of August. Seems they just opened! I think they are opening later and closing earlier. Seems I was just there getting strawberries. Maybe I'll go everyday until they close. Today I bought 2 dozen ears of corn. I am going to freeze some creamed corn for Thanksgiving. Hopefully I won't burn my fingers whole processing them. (I usually do.) So I'll have burnt fingers with no nails. But I'll have a taste of summer to be thankful about come November.

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2

I went to see SotTP2 with my daughter. The movie was okay. It still made me cry. I think I would have chosen art school guy over Greek fisherman guy, but whatever. I wish I had a magical pair of pants or even a cool pair of pants. If I were to embellish a pair of jeans what would they look like. HMM? Notice, I am not wishing for girlfriends after seeing this movie. Girlfriends, I have. Great wonderful girlfriends who I have been leaning on. Thanks Marsha, Jodi, Becky, Kathy, Jan, Patti, Sharon. If I had great magical pants, I would share them with you.

Maroon 5

I am having quite the week. Quite the past two weeks. This isn't the time to complain or go into detail. It is the stuff of frustration, sadness, fear. Pretty universal. Who cares about the particulars. My friend Becky wanted me to go with her to see Sara Bareilles, Counting Crows, Maroon 5. I grudgingly agreed to go. When the time came, I really didn't feel in the mood to nod my head to any beat, let alone dance. Too late to back out. I went, and we had a most fabulous time. Someone even gave us their 3rd row tickets when they were leaving. We were ten feet from the stage for the last 2/3 of Maroon 5's performance. I could see all of Adam Levine's tattoos. Pretty cool. The music was awesome. I did dance.Thanks Becky! I needed that.


In yoga class a few weeks back, our instructor asked us to dedicate the day's practice to somebody or something. What a wonderful idea. Imagine how much more invested we could be if we dedicated certain tasks to others or issues. I could dedicate a day of painting or writing to my sister-in-law who is at that pregnant, ready to burst, stage. I could dedicate my walk/jog to my kids as they are getting ready to start a new year of school. And, in it all, I could transcend my small egoic mind that gets so self-absorbed and thinks everything has to be about me. Make it bigger. Be expansive.

bloody stumps

I've been biting my nails like never before in my life. I can't even scrape the leftover food off the dishes that supposedly come clean out of the dishwasher. It's bloody. It hurts. I'm lucky nothing has gotten infected. If I bite anymore, I'll be typing with my knuckles. Lots of stress right now. Some of my own making. I think the world is stressed out now. Gas prices, the economy. The lack of proper summer vacations. Makes people irritable. Little problems become messes. My only goal for the week is to grow my nails to cover the nail beds and maybe not be so defenseless against predators.

Ten Quick posts

I am going to attempt ten quick posts--here and now. Like Haikus only not that spare and beautiful.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A final thought

***I do not intend a running commentary on the events taking place in my community. I hope to make this my last statement on the matter until the time when a verdict is reached, but I did want to add to my previous blog.

Today my neighbor, the husband and defendant in the murder case, released a statement through his lawyer that he is not guilty of this crime. Knowing the children and the family, I want more than anything else for this to be true. He deserves a fair trial in our system. I debated about taking down my earlier post, but I think it is a fair snapshot of what I and numerous others are experiencing as we move through this tragedy. Beyond that it is a testament to the scourge that is domestic violence. If this man is innocent of murder, then he, too, is a victim of domestic violence as it casts its large shadow over our society. Imagine a world in which law enforcement no longer needs to look to a spouse as the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The sun will rise

In my blog, I make it a point to be candid about my influences and the sometimes frenetic life of a mother/artist/writer. I have not had an entry for two weeks because the latest issue is nothing short of tragic. Two weeks ago, a mother of four (my ten-year neighbor--until the family moved in January) was murdered. She was beaten, stabbed, strangled, and drowned. After an almost two week investigation, the police arrested her husband.

I live in a tiny neighborhood in a small community for whom these events have been devastating. I have personal sorrow over this. This sadness includes watching the pain that others are experiencing as they grapple with not only the questions of a spiritual/emotional nature but also the uncertainties of physical requirements. Four children, besides being parentless, are displaced from their home. Family businesses are at stake.

I cannot begin to catalog the atrocities that stem from this singular attack. The ripples, of which I am but a small one, fan out in all directions. I was struggling to confront my new novel and embrace my paintbrush before this happened. Now I am paralyzed. How can I make meaning out of the unimaginable? How can I do something so frivolous as telling a made-up story when the gravity of such a reality is on everyone's mind? If I, a casual friend of the family, am feeling this much anguish, imagine the anxiety and grief of the close friends, the blood relatives, the church, the community. My children feel it. How can I talk to my own children when I don't understand?

But, this is not a singular event. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 120 domestic violence related fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2007 alone. Multiply the pain of my community by 120. Multiply that by the number of years it takes a community to heal. In the past, I have done workshops at the local shelter that houses and transitions survivors of domestic abuse. In the time I have spent there, I noticed what appeared to me as a deficit of women from upper/middle classes. Domestic violence knows no class boundary. What is the stigma that keeps these women from self-preservation? I don't have answers. What I have is question after question looping through my brain.

And yet there is surety amidst the chaos. The sun will rise. I know enough about my own inner processes to know that when I find my voice again--and it may take some time--this tragedy will inform my art. How can it not? Art is the computer through which I personally process the world. The results? I am not talking about heavy-handed message or great social activism here, though that is possible and certainly within my reach. But there will be nuances--some so subtle that I, as the author or painter, might not be aware. For this I am grateful. Because of this, I know that art is no little thing, and I have to make no apologies for being an artist when humanity is flailing. Guernica, anyone? I am not Picasso, but I know that I have to be the transformation I wish for those who are in mourning--and art can be a great converter. Good art or bad. It doesn't matter. It is the action, steeped in optimism and intent, that transforms pain into purpose, into beauty. Maybe that will be the motivation that allows me to make that not-so-trivial first stroke with my paintbrush.

*Please click on the link to Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence to find out more including the article "31 People Die in 31 Days During Deadly Wave of Domestic Violence in PA". Also Click to Empower . Your click will provide a dollar toward education and job training programs which will help to financially empower survivors of domestic abuse.