Friday, February 27, 2009

If you give Jill some venison...

You will get chili, roasted venison loin with potato celeriac gratin, creamy mushroom stroganoff over egg noodles, a spicy tomato ragu over rigatoni, bologna slices spread with goat cheese, Guinness game pie, and Southern fried chipotle steaks.

If you give a mouse a cookie...

If you give Jill some goat's milk, she will have to make chevre.

If there is cheese, there is leftover whey.

If there is leftover whey and a few overripe pears, Jill can make oatmeal pear muffins.

If there is still more whey, Jill can make Imbolc bread.

If there is leftover flour and yeast and still more whey, Jill can make indiviual crusts to freeze for a future pizza party.

If Jill has pesto frozen in her freezer she can make a yummy cracker spread with goat cheese, to take to a party.

If Jill has some dried lavender from her garden she can roll goat cheese rounds in it.

If there is more lavender than goat cheese, she can make lavender sugar for use in lavender poundcake with lavender whipped cream.

If there is more lavender sugar leftover from poundcake and still more whey, Jill can mix up a batch of fairy pancakes.

If you give Jill some goat cheese, she will make a mess of the kitchen.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have just discovered Pretty fascinating stuff. I have been uploading audio on some of these talks to my iPhone to listen as I go for walks. Some of the stuff is best with the visual, but this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert is a keeper. I don't have time to look through all the stuff on Ted, but I will come here occasionally. If any of you find some interesting spots, let us know in the comments section.

It also makes me wonder--if I had to give an 18 minute talk for Ted, what would I say?

Another lesson from the mat

My yoga practice is has helped me in more ways than just physical. And even more than just the inner peace. There are a lot of metaphors in yoga that work in life and here is one that I am beginning to assimilate. I am a pretty inflexible in my muscles, especially hamstrings and legs. Stretching is important to my health because the strength and inflexibility in some of my muscles can throw me out of balance--as my lower back can attest. So I have always tried to stretch in a way that was ultimate--go until I feel resistance and then go until I feel more resistance. The harder I stretch, the looser I'll become, right? Recently, I've been taught another approach. Don't stretch to your limit. Stay just inside of it. Then stay with the stretch. Breathe into it and observe how your body relaxes naturally into the pose. This has worked wonders with hip stretches. I can see the uses of this practice in life. Sometimes I try soooo hard to make something work. Over-exert. Use up my energy stores trying to push a brick wall (which is what my hamstrings feel like at times). But if I back off a little, I can find that the impediment with loosen and give way. I am seeing how this can work with my writing, my relationships, parenting. While I have yet to put this to the test, I am really looking forward to seeing where I can go with this.

Intro to Labyrinths

I have talked about labyrinths before and my experience with them. But if walking a labyrinth is not practical or there isn't one near you, here is a virtual way to get acquainted with the meditative practice and possible uses. I would still recommend trying to find a labyrinth to walk in its physical form. Click here to find a labyrinth near you.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Looking back, looking ahead

Looking back, I wonder if the tone of my ten entries is a little preachy. Maybe. Not done yet. I really am optimistic about this world and don't feel the need to be apologetic about that stance. I don't think it is big ideas and actions that are going to free us from current economic climates. But we all do need to do our part. I am bothered by the country's consumerism. My house isn't exempt. I could point fingers particularly at my husband and daughter. He likes new electronics. She can't go into a store without wanting to spend money. I am not an impulse buyer, but that doesn't mean I don't buy things I don't need.

I am really trying to cut down on my consumption. Not just of food and meat. But paper. I canceled our phone book, the freebie paper that gets thrown on the end of our driveway once a week, and many of the catalogs we get. I've used the back of used paper to print out items such as directions and coupons. These are small steps, but they feel right.

Just One thing

Recently I attended a ritual in which participants were asked to write an intention for the coming seasons on a small piece of tissue paper. The paper was then crumpled to the size of a pea and ceremonially planted in the earth. This was to signify the planting of our intentions that they may flourish and grow with the seeds of the earth in the coming Spring. What to write. Focus on one thing? UHM? Let's see. Lose Weight? Balance my books? Take care of clutter and overflow in my house? Care for the environment? Use all those new art supplies I have been buying and actually create something?

I felt overwhelmed. But I also felt like all this stuff had to be connected. It was! I was able to write an intention that encapsulated all these things.

I intend to appreciate, conserve, care for, and share the physical bounty I possess.

This may seem broad and a little corny. But think of the application. If I put this into practice all of the aforementioned issues would disappear. It's worth planting the seed.

Square Foot Gardening

Already contemplating the garden. I produced the most stunted produce last year. Not only do I want to compost to save waste from going in landfills, but my soil needs improvement. I have a book called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew which is probably my favorite gardening book. I just found out he has a new version of the book. I like his ideas for easy and organized gardening. The basic idea is 4'x4' raised beds that are subdivided into 16 one foot blocks. Plants are planted according to the density best suited for them. One eggplant in one block. But maybe 16 carrots in the same size square. You get the picture. I have a variation on this with an L-shaped bed that is 4 foot wide. Next year I hope to have actual 4' square boxes as prescribed. One change in the old book to this book. In the old book, you dug down deep in to the soil and to the soil you removed, you added many things. Put it back into the raised bed (6"). In the new book, you remove sod, put on weed blocking material, lay your frame over and fill with vermiculite, peat moss, and compost---all bought. No fertilization needed. Each year, you just add your own homemade compost. I like the idea of this. The ease. But part of me wants the romance, the groundedness of eating vegetables grown in my local soil. Is it really local produce if all the soil is imported?

Limp in, Walk out

I have been doing a walking meditation called a labyrinth for years. I have posted on it. Love it. It settles my mind and keeps my body occupied. Generally when I walk the path of a labyrinth I try to imagine letting go as I walk toward the center. In the center, I try to center. DUH! Be in the now. One with all. Experience the Godlight. Got it? Then I allow this spirit to swell and fill me as I walk out. Well, the last time I walked the labyrinth was the beginning of February. I forgot my agenda, and low and behold, I had a bit of a transformation. I am a spiritual person, but I don't often go into my journey with others. It is personal. What I do reveal is generally the stuff of the surface. I am not going too go deep here, either. These are quick sketches I am writing. But during this latest walk, I hit pay dirt and went to a new level in my consciousness. Some issues broke open for me, and I began to see things with a new sight. AH-HA moment. Lightbulb. Just some issues I have been working on since childhood cleared up for me a little. Nothing I would normally write about. But on the way out of the labyrinth, I heard a little voice say, "Now that we got that settled, how about the knee?" I had been having quite the time with me knee since November. All kinds of pain. Limping. Pain that moved around so I couldn't really explain it. Popping noises all the time. It clicked. It froze up on me. Pain on stairs. I iced it. Took pain killers. Did every thing except go to the doctor. I was waiting for the holidays to be over. Then I was waiting for the new insurance. Then I was waiting for my sis-in-law to get her knee done so I could ask her questions. Well long story short, the knee hasn't bothered me since the labyrinth. I remembered what a healthy knee feels like. Today I was doing deep squat after deep squat in Yoga. I've never experienced anything like this in my life. The bothersome thing? Now that this has been so miraculously overcome, I wonder why my whole life can't be WHOOSH the way I want it.

Oprah's Best Life

I tuned in for Oprah's Best Life Week. It seems I need a kickstart in all areas. Where to start? But especially since my 40th birthday is upon me, I especially was paying attention to health matters. So this is the way of it. I know I need to lose weight. The Best Life Diet seems intuitive and reasonable to me. And I am easing into it. Gathering resources and information. I am not procrastinating as much as I am taking things slow. I have started a new regimen of vitamins. I got my eyes checked and am sporting bifocals. I really like them--no problems adjusting. I scheduled a mammogram. I will schedule a physical. I was going to schedule an appointment for my knee which has been bothersome for far too long, but I didn't for reasons that will become the subject of another blog entry.
I am investigating nutrition in ways I never have before. I am about ready to eliminate white breads and flours from my diet. I just need to plan out meals I love to get me through the transition. And I have been walking an hour a day on most days (weather permitting). When I do yoga, I have been taking it to a new level. All in all, it has been small slow changes. Nothing so radical as a diet, but as I enter a new decade, I want to do so with care and an eye forward on how I can optimize my future decades.

Still loving the iPhone

I can go for a walk, stay in contact with the kids, have emergency contact, listen to music and podcasts, text or write myself a note (often a walk will clear my mind and allow me to remember something important that I want to call to mind when I get home), and take photographs of nature and things I observe. Plus I can map my route and see how far I've gone and approximate calories consumed. Now, all of this depends if I am out for true exercise or mental escape. But the iPhone is great tool for me to hone my intent. If I want a hard session, I listen to my iTread workout. If I need to think, I can put in a meditation tape. I can use it to learn with podcasts. And if my walk gives me artistic inspiration I can take pictures or notes. I can even check the weather before I go to make sure I am dressed appropriately.

I Pledge and Starbucks

I got swept up in the spirit of the "Be the change" and the "Yes, we can" attitudes that pervaded the inauguration. Would I have done so if a new Republican administration had inspired these ideas. I'd like to think so, but I can't be sure.

Anyway, to answer the call put forward by Ashton and Demi and their "I pledge" campaign, I have pledged to start composting this year. So far, I have been doing research, but I hope to put this into effect starting next month. It has always seemed a little intimidating to me--having to get the mixture just right to created the proper chemical reactions, but I am going to start.

And to answer Starbuck's call for 5 hours of volunteer work, I am going to do some workshops with the local domestic violence shelter. I have done this before, but in light of my present commitments to my volunteer work with the Lancaster Literary Guild, I had not planned to do any workshops in the near future. Still it feels good to be putting an extra effort out there. Times are tough, and I want to help get this country on its feet again--even if my efforts are small ones.

Green Tara

I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions this year, but I am beginning of journey learning about and working with energies of the Green Tara. She is a female Buddha associated with (among other things) compassion, enlightenment, success in the workplace, liberation from fear. I am not a Buddhist, so I don't want to step on toes with my year's quest. I taught a survey course of Goddesses from around the world this past fall to a group of extraordinary women who are still gathering to meet and share energies. I chose one of the figures we studied and decided to take my personal study to a deeper level. I am experimenting with meditations and mantras. I have experienced many different kinds of meditation over the years, but have not built a practice. It is ongoing. I probably won't have much to say until I come to the end of my year, but I'll put it out there as intention.

Inauguration of Barrack Obama

I didn't even blog about the inauguration??? You know that Obama gave his acceptance speech in Grant Park where I finished my one and only marathon. It was thrilling to see the landscape of my biggest challenge in the spotlight. Well the inauguration conjured other memories. Mark and I got engaged on a picnic beside the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial. And I just finished reading a book on the Lincoln marriage. So all the Lincoln references felt personal to me. That's not even beginning to hit what I felt about Obama taking office. In a lot of ways I felt healed. I didn't expect that. But I have been feeling sorry about my race's treatment of other races. I didn't realize how I had internalized all of those messages until the moment Obama arrived. I feel proud and awakened. I am not saying that he will be able to cure all ills with a magic wand. But I finally have someone in office I can respect. I couldn't say that about Clinton. I don't know if I have ever really felt that as an adult. I am looking forward to seeing what happens. But YEAH! President Obama did sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I did a dance. Would that it have been in effect when I was in the workplace.

Time again for ten new posts

I can't believe I haven't posted yet this year! My goal was to design a new website in January. Perhaps I was waiting. I think I have the homepage designed. But I am working on a template. It is hard. I have forgotten all that I know about designing a website. Why must I reinvent the wheel each time. Any web designers want to volunteer to come up with a real stripped down site? I just want something simple where my artwork will provide the visual focus. I need to get this done so then my artwork may once again be my focus. It isn't any fun writing about NOT MAKING ART!