winter holiday wrap up

So many things have happened in the past week that there was very little time for posting, but I wanted to acknowledge them in some way if only to get that feeling of completion.

So reaching all the way back to December 17th here's what's been happening.

Great Ellis show and food drive at Ginko's, another annual tradition for me since 2003. Finally bought the new album. Fabulous.

Followed by more snow, cookie baking, solstice and a chest/head cold. My illness wasn't too bad, but bad enough that the only thing I could do on solstice to celebrate was show up for a massage. No ritual, no dinner, no concert as planned.

There was much rejoicing over the generous blanket of snow everywhere, it looks like something out of a holiday movie even now.

Then some long days of work, then we cooked and hosted dinner for 12 on Friday night. [xmas eve] This was really wonderful for me. Again I cooked my family's traditional italian recipes. Speak to any Italian family who follows this tradition and you will hear different recipes. My family has a haddock-leek stew, a paprika sauce with cod, hot bread crumbs with cod, calamari, and fried smelts and fillets of various fish with platters of pasta.

I made the first 3 along with pollo alla cacciatora to balance out all that fish. This year it was followed by my variation on my family's nuthorns and my recipe for pecan tassies [recipe coming sometime]. I had three people offer to help with the cooking but I could only handle one helper so that I could maintain focus. It is really such a simple straightforward meal. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and it was a fun time.

For us it is the 9th day of Yule today. We have opened up a handful of presents already. I got a really lovely watch, the nicest I have ever had and a small messenger bag. Much needed since most of my old bags/purses seem to have died.

We went out for breakfast xmas morning to Common Roots and it was wonderful, low key and really enjoyable.

Then I spent a lot of time meditating and reading over the weekend. Doing some year end wrap up on the spiritual side. There will be stuff to share in the future from this musing.

This week is whipping by between work and spending time with friends. I know that this can be such a hard time of year for people and I certainly have had challenges of my own in that regard. My hope it that all can find some space and love in their circumstances right now, a bit of ease. And hold on, it's almost over.

winter solstice 2010

I have a bit of a cold and am feeling under the weather. Our weather, by the way, is chill and snowy. We certainly have the winter wonderland this year and it is so beautiful. Here it is the winter solstice, and the full moon and lunar eclipse all wrapped up in one day. I am still zen-like from my massage this morning and feeling low keyed. But still a welcome back to the light is order, perhaps by poem?

*The Shortest Day*
By Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

Luckily there is lots more yule to enjoy, hopefully without my cold.

endings can be fabulous

So many times I dread an ending. When something horrible ends I find that I frequently forget to celebrate the ending of it. Even if I have comforted myself with the thought 'that everything changes' while in the midst of it.

Yesterday I was reminded that endings can be really lovely happy things. I can't help but rejoice for our country and I am so grateful to hear this good news. In fact, like everything right now, it moves me to tears-happy ones.

I find myself wanting to acknowledge this moment but not having many words. Existence is not fair we all know, but it is nice to rejoice in justice.
I wish you all a happy,
peaceful week if that is what you would enjoy.

ending of a busy week

It's been a busy week. So busy that I woke up this morning and realized that I didn't write for days without really realizing it.

Still all the presents that needed to be wrapped and shipped are done [yeah!] I love holiday cards and they are all mailed [yeah again] and I am making out a mammoth grocery list that will take us through the next week. I even got my old phone turned on, it barely holds a charge but I kind of have a phone again...

I have also been having fun. Last Sunday, when the high temperature was only about 3 degrees, I went with a friend to see the Santaland Diaries at BLB. Theatre Limina did a great job and combined with the fabulous company and the drinks and the mock duck rolls [which were saltier than usual] brought right to your seat it was a wonderful night. If you are wondering why I didn't link to it, unfortunately there are no more performances this year. However if you are dying for some xmas bashing cheer there are other 'holiday' shows to check out at BLB this week.

Performances like that remind me how fun it is to live in a big urban area with so much to do. My housemate goes out a lot as well, but we hardly ever do the same thing, there are just too many fun things to do in the city. And getting to laugh hard at David Sedaris' writing is one of the best cures for any holiday stress I have found. If you haven't heard it yet jump out to his myspace page and listen to 6-8 black men. And let me know how hard it made you laugh after if you like. [go MI hunters!]

before I forget again

I just want to get the word out in all possible ways. My phone is dead. Has been for a week now. Phones just do not like getting wet at all. I am trying very hard to not be furious with myself, you know for being human and making a mistake but that can be a hard pattern to overcome.

I am pretty down about this and also it's now way harder to get hold of me, email is your best bet because it will be a few more days before I get a new one. sigh.

It all seems to be going at once. The oven is dying, it took forever to get it to 350 on Saturday, we have a strange burning smell coming from the dishwasher [we stopped running it] and we already know our ancient washer is on borrowed time.

I may be an appliance whore but this is making me feel pretty overwhelmed with it happening all at once. ah well. At least with the appliances it's mostly age.

and I can't seem to remember to feed those trolls even though I bought the beer... I love the grim yuletide stories though.

an old fashioned December

If you heard about Minneapolis getting a tons of snow this weekend know that they did not lie. Eighteen inches in less than 24 hours is a hell of a lot of snow. Especially when neither snow blower/thrower wants to work and you have to resort to shoveling it all.

Since we only own one snow shovel we pretty much spread out the work between three of us and it is incredible pretty. The drifts are huge and sculpted and beautiful. Many neighbors took pictures. [that is actually our truck with the huge drift] Which is great because we all know I suck at taking pictures and getting them online.

There was a ton of wind as the snow fell, it was actually a blizzard there for awhile even in the city with all the buildings to block the wind. The buses stopped running and many performances were canceled Saturday night. I guess the show doesn't go on if the audience risks death to get there? [But then my unruly mind wonders about theatre in London during the blitz of WWII]

Although the snow threw me off a bit this weekend, I didn't get my father's candy made or shop or finish my cards or or or, still I am happy about the snow. Nothing makes me more grumpy than to have a snow-less December. I feel that if I live up here in the far north, I better have a white winter solstice or else. [Else move to somewhere tropical] If the snow all wants to disappear come January that would be fine. If not we'll try out our new skis, you know if it warms up above 10 degrees at some point.

Stay warm all!

trying the blackbird

So last night was resiliency follow up and beforehand I went out to dinner with a friend. We hit the newly opened Blackbird Cafe and had a nice time but that may have been due to the company not the food.

My gnocchi was wonderful although the truffles were extremely understated. My shitake short ribs were tasty. My companion said her food was very good. And perhaps they are still trying to get their feet under them, what with being so newly reopened? We were there very early, 5 pm, and the place was virtually empty, but it took almost a half hour for them to take our order. Then they made a mistake on it, which they quickly fixed. It felt very scattered somehow.

The menu was so eclectic, I found it confusing. Or was it just me and my mood that night?
As you can tell it was all very mixed for me. But I would try it again, definitely, although I will not be in a hurry. I'd be interested in hearing how it goes for anyone else at the new Blackbird.

For anyone wondering I never visited it in it's old location before the fire so I can't compare it to 'back then'.

oh and before I forget Mr Tuffy says purr

the 'how can I be so lucky' anniversary

Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I can't believe I am so lucky. I have a dear, dear friend and this is the anniversary of the day we met. [this does not mean I don't appreciate all my other wonderful friends of course!]

I am going to guess that we all have pivotal people in our lives. The kind of people who had/have a profound effect on us. She is one of those people for me. Still. I truly don't know who I would be without her. I do know that before I met her I felt her absence in my life. I longed for my friend.

True we sometimes [still!] after all these years misunderstand each other, thank goodness we can laugh about it now. Apparently we are both human and all. But the benefit of having the 'superest' of Virgos in your life cannot be underestimated. Like health, you cannot buy friendship in a store, it is a gift. Sometimes, if you are lucky. During a week where people are getting laid off right and left at my company it is good to know this--I am truly fortunate in friends.

This year I am in snowy MN with my friend and we can celebrate it together. I can toast her in person and with my hand over my heart as I bow, I turn my face towards her in gladness, in gratitude.

I hope everyone can find something to celebrate this Wednesday.

near perfect cookies, phones and trees

I am not fond of the word perfect. I don't use it, I don't even believe in it's existence. Is it possible to be a word-atheist, a 'watheist'? But it's ok that others do, we all have our things after all. This weekend I made a version of my Rustic Salted Pecan Cookies. They were deemed perfect by the people I live with, 'damn fine' even with the nuts by my favorite nut avoider, and excellent by two other testers. So I figured I should share my recipe. I had thought that I had shared an earlier version but hell if I can find it.

EB's Rustic Salted Pecan Cookies

sift together:
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 t baking soda

cream together:
3/4 c butter
1 c palm sugar

Add to the butter-sugar mixture:
eggs, room temperature
1 t vanilla

Stir in by hand sifted dry ingredients and
1 t sea salt [I used a vanilla infused sea salt with added to the yummy I think]
1 c crushed pecans

chill and bake rounded teaspoonfuls of dough for 9 minutes at 350 degrees,
remove and cool on rack.

If anyone tries them please let me know how they turn out for you.

In other news I think I may have killed my phone, it's sitting on the buffet drying out and it doesn't look good. *sob*

On the brighter side we got our tree today at the fabulous Mother Earth. The night air was brisk, there was a little snow drifting down, the women there were fabulous as well as my friends, the shop cat friendly and now my home smells like a forest in heaven. Add to this a great writing session with my partner, and a few more cards getting sent out and it was mostly a grand Monday.

Here's too a good rest of the week for us all!

so that running thing? report already

As at least some readers know I started running last April. Those who have known me long hit the floor in a resounding thud of disbelief. The idea of me running still seems goofy to me as well. But I have been keeping at it in a very modest way the past 7 months.

However for the past 3 months I have kept it around the 2 1/3 mile mark. While this is huge for me there really wasn't anything to report. It was a static state of running, and yes I know that doesn't make much sense.

Now with the early and beautiful snow I am back to running indoors completely which I do not find as comfortable. I am attempting to run on the treadmill, which still feels so awkward. Part of me insists that I need to worry about shooting off the back of it. Hopefully I will get used to it at some point.

The indoor track is more tiring than running on dirt outside, or is it that it's just more boring? I have to wonder. Either way I am spending time on the elliptical machine which does not seem like running to me at all and getting the odd mile or part of mile in around the track or treadmill. I may not make the 5k mark until sometime next year when the weather warms up....I'll reassess after the holidays.

In the meantime while working out today I realized, you know I think I kind of like running. Perhaps not all the time but way more than I would have ever guessed. It's easy. It's good exercise, I just need to do it more often. I need that happy pill that exercise gives.

I hope everyone gets to participate in their favorite de-stressor this weekend.

My apologies to those who hit the floor again when they read that I actually like running. I know it's freakish sometimes how we surprise ourselves [and others]. peace out

at least there were klingons

The past 2 days were just one big work suck. The kind of suck that makes you think 'really being laid off is sounding better and better'. Usually followed by crashing guilt because hey I still have a job.

I hate that feeling, being overwhelmed by judgment and aversion. And the overwhelm makes it harder for me to bring a friendly eye and curiosity to it. It's hard to find any distance from it.
To be kind to myself and just have sucky feelings. Of course the migraine that I woke up with this morning didn't help. It just seems evil to wake up with a headache.

However last night was the Klingon Christmas Carol. This did not suck, it was delightful. There were 5 of us and 4 who had seen it last year. It is in the more spacious hall in the Landmark Center over in St Paul. Very well heated by the way compared to Mixed Blood. We had phenomenal luck parking thanks to the sharp eyes of one of my passengers. All in all a delight.

It is a work in progress, there were differences from last year. I thought the first act could use a little tightening up. The tone seemed slightly more somber this year as well. But I enjoyed it immensely and between my shopping trip and now this I feel that the holiday season has been well and truly kicked off.

I have a spacious weekend opening up in front of me. I can't imagine I will get everything done but it may be fun to try. Almost certainly more fun than work.

nanowrimo ends and winter holiday season begins

December is here, Nanowrimo is officially done for another year. This means that the winter holiday season has begun. And my brain is regaining a bit of lost ground.

I hit the ground running Monday morning less than 12 hours after I won nanowrimo. My dear friend and I had our annual "shopping--spend time together" trip.

It was a rainy warm day and we got quite a bit accomplished. It was really helpful for me, I had tried to think of gifts for people beforehand but I was just feeling stuck. The act of shopping, having someone to exchange views and ideas with was so helpful. It all seems doable now.

Also it was just plain old fun. We had a long a fabulous lunch and did our best to catch up on each other. That didn't happen fully but at least we made a start. We made plans for other holiday gatherings and learned something new about ourselves; we are open to bribery. [at least it was new to me] My wife treated us all to take out so that she didn't need to cook that night. We quickly caved in to her bribe/suggestion.

I returned home exhausted and satisfied about 12 hours after I had left that morning. Truly one of my favorite things this tradition. I am so grateful there are no health issues this year to interfere with it. Now onto addressing those holiday cards. I just can't help it, I love them. Call me a kook.

unbelievable -- done

Word count = 50,044

Yes, that means what you think it means. I am finished, as of last night at 11pm. I wanted to call everyone but it was too late.

The feeling of wonder and accomplishment is so sweet. The feeling of mental exhaustion near complete.

I look at my stats, I finished 2 days early and missed 11 days of writing entirely due to outside circumstances. This certainly made things harder, I don't recommend it at all. But it does show me what I can do under a stress and a tight deadline and saying 'no' to some things.

I did not take time off to work on this project. I have enjoyed working on it and fleshing out my imaginary world some more. I am hoping that this year I have built a stronger habit or writing more regularly in smaller amounts now that I have shown myself the incredible goals I can meet.

Mostly I am just happy. A beautiful Monday to all.

still waiting for brain to turn on

Word count = 45,515

It always seems that a big writing day [like Friday was with over 9000 words] turns my brain completely off. I managed to write another 2000 words yesterday but it was not easy going. And my brain has not bounced back yet.

But still I stayed on track and wrote and now look at that total. I am so close. I can feel confident that I will finish this year even if I don't believe anything else. I want to write today, perhaps even finish, get ready for my annual shopping trip with a close friend and perhaps get out a few winter decorations, address a few cards.

This may all be way too ambitious, probably. We'll see how it goes though. Then I may sleep for a week.

finally on track

Yesterday for the first time this entire month I was above where I needed to be for nanowrimo, no longer lagging behind.

word count = 43,581

That means the end is really in sight. It also means I wrote over 9000 words yesterday and my brain is rather numb.

But no matter, I'm sure by December I'll be able to pithily sum up my experience from this year's nano, now all I can do is sit with a blank look on my face.

It's early Saturday morning and I am off to workout. Hopefully that will help me get these last 6K words written this weekend before my next week explodes with work and fun. Although at this moment it doesn't seem very likely... I think I was writing something but I only have the vaguest recollection of it and really no idea what I was going to write next. huh

perhaps more coffee would help?

so how did that stuffing turn out?

Or wait, perhaps you are not here for a stuffing report but this:

Word count = 34, 485

I wasn't able to write at all yesterday but I am feeling good about that word count, I am only about 8K off the pace and it's the long free weekend for me, so I plan to write and write and eat yummy leftovers.

But before I do that, how to sum up Thanksgiving this year. In a word; crock pots. In an attempt to keep food warm before serving, my crock pot and several others were used. One warmed the mashed potatoes [made earlier by my sister in law], likewise the yummy bean/tomato dish. One crock pot kept hot the sweet potatoes with chambord sauce. [all the alcohol burned off first].
A platter of the carved turkey was covered in foil and kept hot in the toaster oven. And I think it helped. The food was hot when served, or at least warm. It was a freezing day of about 15 degrees, more like January than November so it seemed even more important to keep the food above room temp. Ah well, perhaps one day I will have a double oven so that I can keep stuff warm with ease.

The company was wonderful, the food very good I thought, although this year continues to be the year of 'fighting with pastry'. The turkey, which was stuffed, quite moist. The gravy made by my chief ninja fabulous. The pies ok, and the persimmon pudding good. The artichoke dip, seriously the best I have ever made, with just the right amount of kick.

I hope everyone else, whether you are celebrating american Thanksgiving or not, working your fingers to the bone writing or not, is having a great week and is well fed!

at least once

Yes, indeed at least once in every Nano cycle there comes a time when you realize you are writing complete crap. And right now is that time for me my friends.

Seriously this story sucks, it has no plot, no point and except for one occasionally recurring character from a previous story who I happen to be in love with, it is supremely boring. Boring and bad. It upsets my tummy just thinking about it.

Still let's rejoice; I wrote close to 18K words in the past 48 hours of complete and utter crap. I am now only about 6000 words behind the pace and yes it's crap but still it's an accomplishment in crap. Takes some effort to keep going on when it's this bad. I'm not kidding, it's bad.

Word count = 30,071 and ok I admit it, that sex scene turned out rather well, I'll cop to that.

Newsflash=bread does not need sugar

If I had the time I might actually be interested in finding out how we got the idea in this country that bread must have sugar in it. Sure it may help to get your yeast going quickly but you do not need it. But virtually every recipe you see will call for it unless it is subclassified 'european' and the sugar may be suggested any way. le sigh

The most delicious bread I have ever eaten is made of flour, yeast, salt, a bit of fat and water. This is in fact the bread I grew up with and yes it spoiled me. We have been known to travel with it in our carry on luggage. After all my family has been eating it since 1926 when the bakery first opened.

Not only did we use the old bread for breadcrumbs in our home made meatballs, we bought balls of dough for pizza crust and bags of old dried [seasoned if they came from Jenny Lee's] cubes for stuffing. I wonder if they still fire up the old brick wall ovens?

Which brings me to my stuffing issue. I haven't been collecting old bread for the past 6 weeks so I need to buy my bread cubes for my stuffing. This usually is not a problem but for some reason every bag of cubes I look at either has sugar in it or worse corn syrup! Blech.

That means I'll be spending time I don't really have trekking out to Whole Foods on questionable roads to get bread for the stuffing this morning. Oh well. Does this make me a food snob, perhaps? But if you grew up eating the bread that I ate you would be as well. [Hmm I just noticed they actually sell their cubes online now....I had no idea. Perhaps for next year!]

Happy thoughts about this though...Word count = 25, 587

I am over the halfway mark and it's downhill from here folks. Be safe all and I hope you all have good bread to eat!

Stormy icey fun

Word count = 20,539

Look at that my friends. That just shows you that the worse ice storm in 30 years can have it's up side. After work every tentative plan yesterday evening and now today has been modified by the horrible condition of the roads. Although it is disappointing in some ways I have been able to get a monster amount of words done and I have really enjoyed the writing. I am currently about 12K off of last years pace but there is many hours left in the day. It may not be autumnal weather but it's been productive.

Due to the groove I am in I have thought and dreamed story even when I am not actually writing it. It's probably a bit hard on the others in the house,it is rather difficult to get my attention. Thank goodness for their patience.

According to the daily goal total I should be at 35K, I hope to finish at 25K today. Who knows it may be more, already I am enjoying the satisfaction of watching that word total graph creep up. I love that graph! Go Nano.

yep, definitely giddy am I.

breathe, breathe

Word count = 12,700, you can find me under user name cervyn if you want to look yourself.

So little written this week. Paid employment sucked up a huge amount of time and energy this week.

On one hand my total seems so low, I will need to average about 4000 words a day in order to meet my glorious goal.

On the other hand, just the fact I got 500 more words written this week is a triumph with the week I have had. So as I pat myself on the back for that I will also try to coax my shoulders down a little more and not hunch over my computer.

Because the main point is the fun, and you know the writing is still fun. There are 10 days left in the month and it's all about Thanksgiving and Nano from here on out.

patterns, what to do

word count = 12210

so I am fairly good at recognizing my patterns. I am also fairly good at trying new things. I am pretty damn good at letting go, especially of perfectionism. Also I think I have gotten kinder as the years pass.

time out for a yeah me!

Here is something I suck at:
replacing a pattern that no longer serves me with a new pattern that reflects the current me.

For instance it took me years [but no judgment, uh huh] to figure out that one of the reasons I didn't really exercise was that I didn't know that I should. Crazy eh?

Finally it clicked [about 5 years ago] that seriously I need to exercise just like sleeping or breathing. it is necessary. I even understood why I hadn't realized that before and I believed it deep down in my body.

However all these years later I have not been able to change my pattern of not exercising to any great extent. I mean I do exercise, at least some. Certainly more than 10 years ago. And I actually know that I need to, I even desire it. But still I can't seem to break the old pattern of not exercising it seems to be always there, it's like it's still holding on ---on some level. Or perhaps it's more clear [ha] to say the old pattern has never been replaced by a new pattern based on my current bone deep realizations? It's like a pattern.

ow. ok more on this later.

[why yes I realize this is basically incoherent, but what can I say, it's November and snippets are pretty incoherent]

can I have some writing with that soreness?

So I have been writing and it's been good. I mean the act of the writing, cause seriously the story itself is total crap and I have no plan and don't seem to care all that much.

Although at my little write in this morning someone mentioned that if you give your character a name like Bobby Jo your word count will accelerate big time---so brilliant. Will try to remember when I need to name a new character.

word count=10356 and it's not over for the day yet. I need to average 2643 in order to still hit goal and that amount does not look that scary. Of course the more I write today will keep on dragging that down so yeah.

It feels pretty good to be in quintuple digits.
[ok is that actually a word I wonder? too sore to check]

So mostly yeah writing and pain from shoulders. I am pretty sure the sore is from my tiny baby shiva nata practice where I laugh hysterically while windmilling my arms. The perfect accompaniment to nanowrimo, because I so suck at both.

I needed more laughter and this is working.

challenge thinking

word count = 7249 and I am not done writing for the day yet. I am hoping to get to 10K today.

I have been thinking about challenges. Although nano is not new to me this year, it is certainly still a challenge. In fact looking in the archives on November 14 last year I was at ...hmmm I don't have a snippet for this day last year. But on Nov 12th last year I was at about 12000+ words so I am certainly off that pace. Being challenged.

Part of me wants to panic a bit and part of me keeps thinking 'let's see what happens, I think I can do this.' Well, whatever the outcome it feels great writing today and more time is planned for it tomorrow.

You know I haven't run a 5K yet, but I am still running. And even figuring out how to do it on the treadmill. More challenge. Makes me wonder how I can bring a bit of challenge joy to my work. Hmmm

Yummy challenges to all who need them.

Hmm, I kind of suck

Seriously, my word total sucks! 5533

So little writing got done this week! But now my time is opening up a bit more, we had a 9" snowfall which encourages staying home and the writing can now continue.

Will I finish in time? I certainly don't know. Hm I am only about 20,000 words behind

While I didn't have time for writing this week I did have time to struggle with my favorite self criticism. I don't critique my writing attempts but I feel that I failed at self care this week. Why is this still so hard at times?

I have the hardest time setting limits, pushing myself when I am too tired. I would have thought that my friend's stroke would have helped me focus on what is important health-wise...but it's still such a struggle. How to take time to exercise, sleep, be quiet? And not beat myself up when I feel like I fail and fail. sigh.

Although it does encourage me to know that lots of other people have this issue... not being alone is a great comfort.

A tenth of the way

I am trying to stay positive. word count = 5495 That is a tenth of the way!

And really I need to celebrate that and not look at those silly stats that persist on telling me how far behind I am. Although there is a goal for the month, the point is to have fun and meet the end goal. You don't win more if you keep up with the 1667 word total per day...

I am noticing how different this year is already from last year. Since it's not new anymore I don't have that same sense of wonder. Yet it is still fun. and absorbing. and challenging.

I have 4 more great days with family and then hopefully I'll get some writing meet ups with friends. And I am proud to be writing complete crap in the true nanowrimo tradition. I dare to write badly! peace out.

tiny people charm

Word count=4174

My number is slowly moving up but I am still having fun. I did really wonder about nanowrimo this year. I knew I was going to have wonderful visitors for 9 days the beginning of November including my 22 month old goddaughter. Obviously I decided to write anyway, because the truth is most of us don't have a lot of leisure to write. We have to balance it in with work and relationships and laundry. We have to choose over and over again what we are going to spend out time doing.

We are having fun but there are many hours I choose to spend with them instead of writing. That is ok with me. The truth is I don't get to see my family that often and I want to see them when I have the chance. Also I don't want this to turn into a 'should'. I don't need another one of those. Last year I started late and missed a least a week of writing due to travel and other commitments but I still finished. And I had fun.

Of course I don't know what the future holds, I may not finish my 50,000 words this month but I plan on having fun. It's still not too late to join the creative free fall if you want!

writing with birthdayish stuff

I have a conflicted relationship with my birthday, it has been hurtful in the past so I always feel like I am bracing myself. This year I am having another good day.

There is sun and it's not raining or snowing or sleeting.

I was served breakfast in bed, my favorite quiche from Turtle bread and cranberry bread from Mayday..

I got out for a run.

My niece and goddaughter took me to Travail for lunch. It was yummy, I had the chicken, with soup for starters. My niece had the homemade pastrami. Very nice and much more relaxed at lunch time. It amazes me how filling their food is!

My wife baked me a no sugar cake with agave nectar and grain sweetened choc chips. It tastes so good and I feel so lucky to have people to share it with me.

Tonight I am taking out a few friends for dinner. Fingers crossed the 22 month old will be happy. She hasn't napped all afternoon even though she has been up there 3 hours babbling to herself happily. She'll probably doze off in her rice tonight.

Word count = 3047 So lucky today.

a choice was made

Once again I have started Nanowrimo late but I have started.

Word count = 2349

This year I had to make a choice. What was I going to write about this year? Last year I had basically dreamed out the beginning third of my book. I had a course mapped out in front of me. This year I had to make a choice between something completely different and a sort of sequel to my last book.

Since I am currently revising the first story and living in that mental universe I decided to stay there and work on the second story in the same world. I am putting the focus on some minor characters that wanted their chance on the page. I don't think I'll be getting a crush on any of my characters any time soon though. I think I may miss that.

Happy writing, remember it's suppose to be fun!

November and Nanowrimo have started

I hope you all can put up with my bloggy snippets as I once again try to win nanowrimo this month. It is going to be a challenging one.

I have house guests for 10 days. I have a birthday to celebrate. I am once again starting late. But I have to give it a try, it is just so much fun. You can still join the crazy throng.

Samhain was awesome. There was a fabulous ritual in a graveyard. There was warm sunshine and soup eaten outside. There was nano prep and fabulous japanese food. And now it is onto November. Hopefully I'll be updating you on my word count soon.

Remember: 'write like the wind!'


samhain 2010 and walnut cake

Samhain is here already. [And my computer thinks we went into daylight savings time over night, even though here in the states it's not until next week]

For my practice new year starts tomorrow. I love having many new years to celebrate and I am really looking forward to the day. There will be a ritual remembering our dead this afternoon with sisters and later a festive dinner with my wife. Life is good. Tomorrow starts nanowrimo and the new year. Are you signed up yet? It's not too late. I'll be prepping my ideas in my head for the big start!

This weekend I have been trying to cook out of my pantry as part of my plan to waste less food. I wanted to bake so this is what I ended up with; a small walnut cake with frosting. Not too big, rather hearty and like all of my baking not too sweet.

Walnut Cake based on a recipe from Great British Cooking by Jane Garmey

Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 8" round cake pan.

1/2 c butter softened
1/3 c agave nectar
2 eggs, room temp
1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c ground walnuts

-cream the butter and agave nectar together
-add the eggs one at time and mix
-sift the flour and baking powder together
-add to the butter mixture
-stir in the ground walnuts
-spread in the greased cake pan
-and bake 20-25 minutes until a knife to the center comes out clean

Remove from oven to a wire rack and remove from pan after 5 minutes. Cool completely then frost. The frosting I used was a cooked 7 minute frosting with palm sugar instead of white sugar. Half of a typical recipe is enough for this small cake. But I could also see a cream cheese frosting being yummy on this or perhaps a chocolate frosting.

I hope everyone has a glorious Samhain and enjoys some cake if that's your thing.
Samhain Mhaith!

CSA 2010 and food

Our CSA ended this month and I have been thinking a lot about food in general. Our CSA is awesome and it was a really good year with lots of yummy veggies [the watermelon was inedible] but even though we dropped down to every other week it was SO MUCH FOOD.

I remember being in India and seeing the camps of people living on rock heaps right outside of the office building. And there was nothing you could do. There wasn't even a place for people to grow food for themselves.

Fast forward a year plus and I get so much food in my CSA every other week that I end up forgetting what I have and then it spoils and I end up throwing it away. It is really hard to not beat myself up over this.

What can be done? I try to feel grateful every day for all the blessings I have which include so many choices, so much food. I try to be conscious that food is important, I don't want it to be convenient and easy all the time. I want to put effort into giving my family and myself the energy to live our lives. I want to be aware and remember all those who have so much less. But still food goes to waste.

So even though I am busy, even though I get tired I am going to put extra effort into keeping track of the food we have and thinking about how to use it or store it for the future. I am going to try to make it a priority.

I have a head of broccoli yellowing in the fridge right now and soup is coming. If anyone has any ideas about how to make this easier I would love to hear them.

celebration at Travail

I am having a rare conjunction of energy + thought, Quick, direct it to the blog immediately!

Wednesday my wife and I were treated to a fabulous dinner at Travail. They don't have website as far as I can tell so here is a link to a recent review.

Go ahead and read it if you want, I'll wait. Or not, whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Ok, if you read that review I need to make a clarification to it. Don't get stuck on the idea that you can get their 'ideal meal' when you go to Travail. The menu changes constantly, completely. What is listed on the chalkboard the night you go [lucky you] will be entirely different from the menu that is talked about in this article.

Anyway onto my 'review'. Travail was splendid. The 4 of us all got different dishes and we were all happy. The portions are on the small side [for the States], so if you arrive there starving do not hesitate to start with a salad or order something as a side as well as your main course. Or share the dessert tasting with the table, you'll have room for it and it's pretty amazing.

Be sure to not make assumptions about what your food will be, either let them surprise you and be ready to roll or ask. The cook/servers are happy to talk to you about the food. They are happy to discuss the wine as well. I had the Marietta old vine and it was exquisite. The beet salad lovely and the agnolotti sublime. They were stuffed with parsnips, marscarpone and and parmesan. I wish I could described what happened when I bit into one of them, but I can't find the words. foodgasm.

Foie Gras is locally sourced and cage free, my writing partner who had said it was the best she has ever tasted. It was served with chocolate, cranberries, cashews and looked as beautiful as it tasted. The italian sausage sandwhich was lovely as were the fries and the scallops were enjoyed. I couldn't get all the details of the dishes at that end of the table.

I can't even begin to tell you everything that was in the dessert tasting, here is a random list of what I can remember. Doughnuts, nutella, coffee sauce, vanilla creme, cheese cake mousse, apples, plums, plum cake, lemon curd, cookies, brownies, white chocolate and dark chocolate mousse and more. I can't eat sugar and I was still impressed and entertained.

All in all it is well worth your time to visit Travail.

Some caveats: At this point in time Travail does not take reservations. If it's crowded, and I think it's always crowded, there is very little room for waiting. There is a bar area from which you can stare at the lucky diners. This will get worse as the weather gets bad; when it gets too cold to spill over to the outside. We went on a Wednesday night for this very reason and still waited 45-60 minutes. But we were prepared and it did not mar our enjoyment.

Also the room bounces the sound around a lot and with all those people waiting, there is a lot of noise, if you have anyone HOH in your group they will have issues.

If neither one of those things bothers you then you are ready for some fabulous food.
Buon appetito!

wrapping up the week at random

Another week of stunning autumn weather. I can't even count how many days this has been going on anymore but it has been blissful.

This week I got a couple of bike rides in and enjoyed them immensely. As I rode west down the greenway I realized it was for the first time this year. Some lovely plantings had been made. Between having my bike stolen last spring and working on the running thing I just didn't have time for bike rides. I'm looking forward to getting more riding done in the nice weather that is coming up.

I attempted Bird's nest pudding with some of my apples, no recipe to share yet. The oddest thing happened it was not sweet enough. It is so rare that something is not sweet enough for me! I'll have to work on the recipe quite a bit more, it needs major tweaking.

I tried to bring order back to the chaos of my work after taking a week off. Rather dispiriting. I was able to blog which was lovely. My friend who had the stroke agreed to go back on medication again, hopefully it will last. I had breakfast with a friend and tomorrow I return back to English Country dancing. I have ideas for this years nanowrimo.

I hope you all had nice weeks as well.

a tale of apple dumplings

Remember my fabulous visit to the orchard last month? I brought many apples home with me. Both Cortland and Haralson, two of my favorites. This week I decided to do cook something new [for me] and made apple dumplings. In the past I have always talked myself out of making these for some reason and certainly I had issues. But if you are looking for something low sugar, scrumptious, rich and seasonal they will be perfect.

The first issue was my pastry. The last two times I made pastry it was oddly wet, so determined to not have it be too wet, yep you guessed it, it was very dry and crumbly. I basically had to mold the dough all around the apple. I think that this is the reason why the cooked apples expanded through the crust in a very fluffy fashion. Although as soon as they were removed from the oven the apple sank back in a very disarming way.

I indulged myself by making a larded WW flour, pie crust as my pastry, but these work with any type of pastry. Make your favorite and don't tell me if it's pre made or made with shortening, we all have our illusions we try to maintain.

All taste testers said they were yummy, which I guess is the most important part. Perhaps I'll do bird's nest pudding next time and not have any pastry worries.

EB's Apple Dumplings

-4 peeled, cored apples
-1/8 c of palm sugar [perhaps more to taste]
-1/2 c softened butter [you may not use it all]
-1/2 c agave nectar
-1/2 c water
cinnamon and nutmeg

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

-Heat the agave nectar, water, dash of cinnamon and 2T of butter to a simmer for 2 minutes.
-Remove syrup from heat.

-Roll out pastry into a circle big enough to fold up and cover the apple
-Place apple upright in the center of the pastry
-Place a small spoonful of butter and a spoonful of palm sugar into the center of your apple.
-Sprinkle apple with cinnamon and nutmeg.
-Lift edges of pastry and cover your apple, use water as needed to make pastry seal
-Place in an oven safe dish and brush dumpling with the syrup.
-Make the other dumplings in the same manner.
-Bake 10 minutes then brush all dumplings with syrup again.
-Turn down oven to 325 degrees and keep baking dumplings.
-Every 10 minutes brush dumplings with syrup

-Remove from oven after 30 minutes of baking at 325 degrees.

-Serve with heavy cream, whipped cream, creme fraiche, ice cream [maybe cinnamon]
-Make a tasty breakfast the next morning, you know I saved one for that.

Enjoy even if they burst.

The Third Second One

Another October is rapidly passing and that means it's time for us to celebrate our Canadian wedding anniversary.

Although we have many loving thoughts of our first wedding with our family and friends which I believe is ever fixed in people's minds by the heat wave that year. [Though it sounds like some have fond memories of the cake and polenta entree as well, both excellent.]

Our Canadian wedding is special for other reasons. Getting married outside in a garden, the ease of the legal side, the beauty of a whole country acknowledging our right to marry who we love. The incredible kindness of strangers. All wonderful.

We both had to work all day so we went out to celebrate with dinner. Fittingly we used a gift card we got as a wedding present for Salut. The celebration with my wife was lovely. The wine, a white bordeaux, was delicious. The duck confit was nice but extremely salty as was the bread. The ham and eggs on my croque madame just so so, I don't think they source local high quality pork. They are famous for their pomme frites, but again, I have had better. Also the food sat very heavily on both our digestions. Oh well. My wife really did enjoy her hangar steak however and noted that she enjoyed coming there for lunch for the better prices.

I don't really want to dis them, there wasn't anything really horrible but it just wasn't my thing in general. In fact half of their menu is steaks and hamburgers. Perhaps they are trying to be more american/kid friendly?
Their desserts, which we did not try, were huge.

With so many favorite places to eat and so many I want to try I won't be heading back to Salut's any time quickly. But for some people it's probably the perfect mix of accessible french/american food. The restaurant was crowded for a Tuesday. For the same price point I would rather try here next time.

Still it was a lovely time to celebrate.

so hard

We are back from vacation. I could babble on about the perfect weather, the friends that visited, the golden woods, my running, the dharma talks I listened to, and the way leaves falling sounded like wings flapping.

In all my autumns, which I have loved, I have never heard falling leaves sound like that.

But all I can really think about is how badly my friend who had the stroke is doing. It's hard and I am sad. We visited her last week. We had time for the 3 hour drive thanks to vacation. She can't speak. She can form some words but they are not the words she is trying to say. She can't verbally communicate at all but she spent the entire visit trying to do so.

Then she had another meltdown over the weekend. She wants to go home but can't. She keeps attempting to do stuff and falling. She is refusing her medication. [as a nurse she knows exactly what it is] She has at least one more clot in her leg but she is refusing treatment for it.

She didn't seem suicidal to me when I visited but I have to wonder.

She seems to have excellent comprehension but perhaps her judgment/understanding was impaired by the massive stroke because well... let's just say its bad.

I'm trying to stay with all this discomfort and I guess I am facing up to the very real overwhelming possibility that my friend may not make it.

So the hard. and I am sad. Lots of sad.

third first one

I can hardly believe that our third wedding anniversary is here. In some ways it went so fast and in some ways it seems like it was just yesterday all the family was in town.

We are having a brilliant week with the perfect autumn weather we were hoping for back in 2007. The woods are stunning with a carpet of gold stretching out under the brilliant trees. The sky and the lake are incredible shades of blue.

I look around at the beauty and feel luckier than ever. My wife is someone I really do enjoy more and more most days. I feel rested and full and grateful for our health and lives in general. I am so happy we got married 3 years ago and that so many of you were around to witness or hear about it. [If you weren't there is always the archives]

I hope that everyone out there has something to be happy about today.

nature refreshment

We are having beautiful autumn weather and I forgot my camera. Of course forgetting your camera does not negate the weather but it does make it hard to take pictures.

I am finding the glowing leaves healing. I had a nice time running yesterday and on the days I don't run, I walk. I have room in my brain to think. For instance I realized that I need to pick out a new cell phone. But I don't feel overwhelmed or depressed about this, I feel rather excited, like I have energy to think about it.

It looks like this settled gorgeous weather is with us for a week. I feel so fortunate. I was really looking forward to writing posts as well but my slow brain seems to have forgotten everything I was thinking of saying. Perhaps next time I will be more eloquent?

a break is coming

All next week in fact. I have the whole week off from work and I really need it. I plan to write, run, laugh, knit, cook perhaps do a little painting and completely luxuriate in this most fabulous of seasons and months; October!

This may mean that little blogging gets done or I may feel moved to blog a lot. Heck if I can get it to work I may even post pictures. My wife has time off as well which does not happen too often and we will be celebrating an important day together next week.

I try to not live my time in the future. There are a lot of wonderful things right now but it's a bit hard to remember. I try to turn my mind away from the worry of work and my friend who is trying to recover from her stroke and has a blood clot in her leg. It is a bit uphill.

Still I can look at my front locust tree turning to gold against the blue of a perfect October sky and something eases in my chest. I can feel fed and here for a minute. I can remember it's my eldest sister's birthday and feel lucky in love and family.

I hope it's a splendid day where you are.

apprehension and routines

I like to think I am a person who isn't routine bound but I guess I depend on them at the same time. Mondays, which I usually have off, are days where I recover, write and recharge.

Today though I needed to spend half the day in the office, it didn't seem like a big deal but now the day is almost over and I have felt off all day. I haven't gotten anything done or at least that is how it seems. But I don't feel badly about it, just vaguely confused. It's like it's a lost day and I am waiting for my normal Monday to come around.

I have also been waiting about news about my friend. I don't know whether I should be concerned that I have not heard an update since last week. I feel fearful and silly at the same time. I dread what I may hear if I call but at the same time it's so silly to dread something that may not have even happened... Hmmmm.

I certainly have that human habit of pain avoidance. Off to be gentle with myself and maybe make a call.

One of my laughs today "Meditation. It's not what you think"

change of season

Yesterday, the first day of autumn, was a day of near constant rain, windy and oddly mild in temperature. Today the wind is roaring, it's cooler and things are drying out a bit even with the heavy clouds. This is a good thing because I was distracted and let the interior of my car get soaked yesterday.

The rain reminded me of how much I enjoy a warm rain in the woods. The pattering of rain on the many leaves of the trees is sublime. Moving through the cottage listening to that sound casts a special magic of it's own. Cozy and refreshing.

I could certainly use some cozy warmth right now. It's been a stressful month in many ways. And there is just a week left, I can't believe it's almost October. My wish for you all; some coziness and comfort. Perhaps a big pot of soup of your choice?

autumn equinox 2010

So far it's been a great holiday. It's been a bit hard balancing all the things I want to do with my day off and how tired and head achy I have felt. Depletion continues I guess.

Still, I had breakfast outside on the terrace next to the waterfall. It was lovely to sit in the sun and not feel too hot. We visited an apple orchard, had a picnic next to a lake, and did a short ritual welcoming autumn. The apple smell of the orchard was amazing. It was like the best apple perfume in the world. Just the memory of it makes me smile.

Now time to prepare for dinner out [Indian food], perhaps get out a few autumn decorations and try to deal gracefully with the ongoing headache. I'm going to wear my new boots in celebration of the official start of autumn. I am so happy about my favorite time of year being here.

I hope everyone finds some joy today, even if it is as simple as walking in a cloud of apple smell.

knitting for me, maybe

While I was worried this past week I spent some time clearing out closets. I put a lot of summer clothes away, got a big bag ready for charity, sorted and just tried to get some energy flowing. It was all uphill. I did find my only skein of Malabrigo yarn tucked away in a drawer. As I was petting it [as you do] suddenly things clicked.

The weather was cooler, I had worn my suede coat [remember] already this month. I don't have a scarf that I like. I have been in denial for a couple of years every since I had felted [accidentally!] the last scarf my mom made for me. She is in her 80's, I don't know if she'll ever knit me something again, sigh. But I am a knitter and I have no scarf.

I realized I could experiment with this skein. I am fairly short and I do not have a swan like neck. But I love wearing scarves doubled over with the ends pulled through the apex. Is it possible to knit myself a scarf that would still be cozy yet thin and drapy enough for me to wear it my preferred way without making me look neckless? Will one skein make it long enough? We'll see. It may be the worsted weight is too heavy for this experiment. I decided to take a chance, and put aside the latest baby sweater I was knitting and attempt to make something for me.

Knitting for me has not worked too well in the past, we'll see how it plays out this time. Wish me luck!


I realized today if I wait for things to return to a more normal state I may not blog again for a month. Hell no. At the same time I don't want this to become a 'should'.

So I think I'll try for the short quick snippets just like it was nanowrimo time. [Only 40 days until nanowrimo, are you ready?]

An old friend had a massive stroke a little over a week ago. It's been a big, painful, tense time period. I am at a loss in many ways. Strokes don't run in my family so I know very little about them. But I am shocked and dismayed at how quickly and completely a health crisis can change a person's life. I knew this intellectually of course, but it's different to be seeing it first hand. Any calm that I retained is solely because of
mettā. I hope everyone has someone to hug and feel grateful for this day.

Howdy Wednesday

I seem to be in a bit of a daze this month. It may be from happiness that the weather seems to have firmly turned toward autumn. It may be that the miasma of depression at work is leaving me less than sharp mentally as well.

Really though things seem fine. It's my favorite time of year. I am enjoying my knitting. I still think writing is fun and the speed of my second draft is picking up. I am even having dreams about this years nanowrimo.

Thanks to the cooler weather I am back to running. The dirt/sand roads up by the cottage are soft so I only went about 1.6 miles, but still I ran for 30 minutes.

As you saw by my last post it's finally cool enough to turn the oven on and I am indulging in all the late summer fruits I can lay my hands on as well as experimenting with pastry recipes. The garden though small this year has been nice, I'll be freezing a big batch of dinosaur kale this weekend.

Soon there will be details about an upcoming dinner party and we'll also be throwing a soiree to celebrate the new waterfall.

The waterfall was my wife's project this summer and it's almost done. It is finished enough that we can run it and sit on the terrace listening to it splash. Heavenly.

So many things to be grateful for as well as anticipate. A concert next Friday, apple picking is planned and David Daniels is coming to the opera.

So theoretically I should have lots to blog about, we'll see how it goes.
Happy almost autumn to all .

kitchen distraction

When you start thinking 'if I chop my leg off maybe it won't itch anymore' then you know it's time for some serious distraction.

As my poison ivy rash runs rampant on my left leg and I grow thick headed from the antihistamine I am so grateful for the cool turn in the weather. Not only does the cool weather lessen the itching a bit but it gave me a bit of space to bake with some fabulous summer fruit.

Nectarine Galette [I'll be playing more with this one]

Gently toss together.
4 ripe nectarines, thickly sliced
1/4 c coconut sugar
1 T WW pastry flour

[ very much a work in progress, you may want to choose your favorite crust recipe instead]
sift together and chill:
3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/4 t salt

8 T cold butter into dry mix above
until it resembles crumbly meal


1/4 c sour cream
1 t lemon juice
4 T ice water

with you hands toss this liquid with the flour/butter mixture, form into a flattened ball, cover with waxed paper and chill at least an hour.

After chilling roll out a crust 15" in diameter. Place crust in tart pan or on pizza stone, fill center with fruit slices, then bring the edges haphazardly up and over the filling to form a rustic tart i.e. a galette.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40-55 minutes until bubbly, brown and nectarines slightly caramelized.

Cool on a rack. If you care for glaze, brush on some peach or apricot jam over the warm tart when it comes out of the oven.

Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, barely sweetened greek yogurt, nothing....

-even though it's cooler today I baked this in my toaster oven instead of turning on the big oven. This worked well.
-the dough as it is written was yummy but very soft, another chilling stage might have been needed [or roll faster]
-This could be tweaked for any stone fruit, I can't wait until plums are ready for it.


It's craptastic

This has been one of those weeks where I really need to chicken, else I'll end up climbing into a black hole of a hormonal well that may take me the rest of the summer from which to escape. [how many people just winced reading that...or maybe ducked and ran for cover..?]

what was hard:
-having to work part of my normal day off.
It was unpleasant but manageable until the week kept getting worse.
-at work, layoffs coming, people in 'my' position by 25%
This had everyone in pain, frustration, anger. It was almost impossible to shield it out. Thanks to my metaphor I can deal with the effect on me personally fairly well. When dealing with work=active addict my expectations are low. But the huge waves of anger and depression from everyone were everywhere. I felt like I was trying to swim in it and almost drowning. And what would be better; being one of those left with a huger amount of work or being one of those trying to find a new job? I can't even tell anymore.
-someone guessed my age at 15 years higher than it is
This just left me flabbergasted. It was the day of the above work announcement which must have also resulted in me looking like death.
-things all felt off
I couldn't get into a flow for anything. I dropped things, forgot things, was tired no matter how much sleep I did or didn't get. Combination of stress universe at work and mercury retrograde?
-Poison ivy
probably from my dog, since I did not tramp around in the woods last weekend like others did. so itchy.
-pms hormones made all of the above feel worse and personal

Wow, I hated typing all that out, it's been a such a week. But this helps me remember there were good nay great parts to the week as well.

What was good:

-3 days of perfect summer weather.
highs in the mid 70's with sun and a breeze. 3 days of weather happy.
-I love virgos!
and the virgo birthday season has started which includes some of my bestest friends. There have been presents and phone calls and chocolate soufflé and dinners out. Celebrations!
-my wife and family and friends
I am so fortunate to have a large network of people who have the time to talk with me, reassure me, and love me even when part of me feels like I'm choking on stress [and apparently look about 87 years old] and really exaggerating.
-in the midst of it all I was able to find space and be nice to me, sometimes.
sure I would love it if I could do it all the time and with ease, but still I could feel compassion and I could laugh and I could read silly adventure stories to distract myself.
-the tomatoes
my garden isn't producing many but they are glorious, and lucky me, others more blessed have been sending some my way, both fresh and salsa.

I hope this ritual wrapper helps me start the next week fresh. New starts to all who need them...share if you want about your week. I'd love to hear it.

musings on community

Thought rambling warning!

This year festival sparked a lot of musing about community for me. Then, as I mentioned earlier, I am reading the Lonely American, which is about feeling disconnected, why and what to do about it. My vacation and my reading are mixing in my brain and generating lots of hmmms.

Festival is a very large, [for us in this country used to small groups], short term, incredibly diverse community. It is self policing. It has community goals. It's diverseness makes it very broad in scope I think, it can be many different things to many people.

The book is a fascinating read about how our biological [almost cellular] bent toward community is in constant conflict with our almost subconscious ideals of independence and self reliance. It also details how just the perception of being 'left out' make stunning changes to both our thoughts and our behaviors.

I think of myself as being fairly relationally oriented. I do give attention to and work on my relationships. However I am lousy at staying in contact with my family, who I moved away from when I was only 20. I have several solitary activities that I enjoy very much. Once again I am surprising myself. How well do I actually know this person that I have lived with all my life? How good am I at compromising with those I dislike? Do I feel disconnected sometimes and do I then withdraw to avoid feeling the discomfort? Do I act without thinking sometimes if I feel left out? And then the kicker for me...what stories do I tell myself about my connection or lack thereof.

I don't really have a lot of conclusions yet... but I see in me the person who shrinks or lashes out from simply perceived feelings of being ignored, even though I remind myself everyday to not take things personally. We are all the centers of our own universes. And I know rationally just how busy everyone else is...we are all juggling too much. [and not getting enough vacations]

It so pervasive in our culture, it's a bit freakish to me. I need to absorb this new information and see what pops out. Go hug someone eh? Even if it's just a beautiful tree.

vacation downside

and I don't mean the bugs!

great vacation = time away from work = very full inbox at work on return = so much time trying to get caught up + special work projects ==> no time to blog for days!

There have to be jobs out there when you don't come back to a bigger pile and end up having to pay for your vacation, right?

There is just guilt all around this situation for me. Guilt that I am complaining about the effects of a paid vacation [oh poor me], guilt about having a job when so many do not [how dare I not appreciate it], and overwhelming guilt that really why do I take vacations at all...

I read a startling statistic in the Lonely American last week ...'Americans workers gave back, or didn't take advantage of, 574 million vacation days in 2005'.

This just stuns me. And this wasn't me, the only days I 'don't take' are the ones I can carry over for the next year, and that is just 40 hours at my company. Why does vacation have to have negative consequences for me and what can I do to change that?

Do other people struggle with this? Do other people have success just walking away for a week or two saying to themselves 'no one is indispensable' and can just let it go? Currently I am an odd mix of the two. A work in progress.

knitting completion and recharge

Although they had some periods of agonizing slowness I did get my 2 knitting projects done. Though not by the end of May or even the end of June, although not for lack of trying on my part.

Let's concentrate on the part where the knitting got done and how I am pretty happy with it. I think I showed true creative tenacity in sticking with those projects when all kinds of roadblocks popped up. I even succeeded in keeping comparisons to a minimum [like RWC encouraged] And now I seem to have flowed into one of those periods where the yarn feels right and there is all kinds of creativity flowing out of my fingers naturally and thought not getting in the way.

Lots of credit has to go to my fiber partner who devised a brilliant series of creative workshops full of fiber that could be successful under less than ideal conditions. [think outside, no shelter/roof, with only 2 tables, heat, humidity, large numbers of participants and running water 50 yards away]. The effect it had on me was like a huge creative battery getting recharged.

'see this is what is possible...' It pushed the limits of my creative process in the best ways. Then towards the end of the week the 'learn to knit' where I watched again people getting it as I varied the ways to show them, connect them. I was reconnected with my knitting on a visceral level, funny how teaching can do that for you. It was like they were sharing the new neural pathways they were creating with me.

The Festival can have a profound effect on one if you are in a place to receive that. This year I was given so many gifts of focus and connection, it was delightful and unexpected. My self care was spot on, truly came from a place of listening clarity. I was also so honoured to have a framework where I could give from my heart, truly it can be a delight to give from a place of ease, it only increases joy. Even the resultant tiredness in the extreme humidity was just what it was. No issue.

Well I'm babbling and full of woo, as you can tell. Words can't really describe how glorious it was. Probably silly of me to try. Ease to all.

running nowhere week 8

My running at the festival did not go as I had hoped. In fact my whole 'week 8' got derailed.

First every time I tried to run my 28 minutes it just didn't work out, my podcasts kept on cutting out on me, which would throw me off. I was left not really knowing how long or far I ran. Just small challenges but enough to confuse me.

Then there was the muggy blanket of humidity that wrapped all of us in MI. In order to run in some comfort and have time to shower I would need to get up very early before it got totally oppressive. But most nights were quite noisy until late. Even with earplugs it was hard falling asleep. Getting up at dawn just did not seem like good self care. I couldn't prepare.

So I just let it go. I was getting tons of other exercise just walking everywhere all the time. I think I only took the shuttles once the whole week. When I woke up on Saturday/race morning it was cooler but that was the only time all week. I wasn't prepared to run though. And the 8 am starting time just seemed too late, it heated up so fast.

I realize now that it wasn't meant to be this year. A race during August heat was too much of challenge for my new self. I think I'll shoot for late September or October if I can find one not on asphalt. Meanwhile life is returning back to usual, the heat looks like it may be breaking for at least the next few days and I am hopeful I'll get a few runs in. Send me good luck and happy exercising all!

it is a bit embarassing

But rock on Mexico.

One of my best moments of my vacation was last Wednesday night. Phone service is spotty in central Michigan, there aren't any computers so I fall out of touch with the rest of the world but during one of the intermissions they announced from the stage that Prop 8 had been ruled unconstitutional. The cheers rang out and I burst into tears feeling like my heart was soaring? singing? Just feeling I guess. It was intense in the best way.

There I was with a celebrating group thousands strong. And I was reminded that life is very good and there is so much to find joy in and to have all those women to celebrate it with was just icing on the cake.

The sangha of woman at the MWMF is a beautiful and uplifting experience though full of very imperfect beings, myself included. But the transcending of all our individual pains and imperfections is a glorious thing. This is one of the reasons I go; to remember how to be a part of a community and to feel safety.

Someone should have told me

Seriously, there I was driving through the UP in Michigan for the first time ever. It is beautiful, warm, charming. People are speeding like maniacs and I feel perfectly at home.

Then I start seeing the signs. PASTIES. The first few times as I cruised by at 70+ mph [and being passed constantly] I thought I was seeing things. But no.

UP Michigan is full of shops that make Cornish Pasties. Unbelievable and yummy. No one told me. How many years did I lose? I cursed the ham and cheese sandwiches I had prudently stored in my cooler thinking I wouldn't be able to find anything to eat.

So I am telling you all. Are you thinking you need to make a long awaited trek to Britain for your pasty fix? Not so. They are closer than you think.

More about vacation coming up.

green and purple

It is a colourful time right now.

On spa day I fell in love with a pine green nail polish. I don't usually paint my fingernails but I figured why not. It was gorgeous then it drove me crazy for a week.

My toenails I can paint in any wild color and I never think anything more about it. I just enjoy them. I even paint them blue sometimes even though I hardly ever wear blue and just enjoy mermaid toes. [you know if a mermaid had toes] But those pine green fingernails! I had nothing that 'went' with them. I kept trying but hardly anything I owned looked good. Very frustrating. Finally I removed it all. I have to wonder if it had something to do with my skin tone.

Still this didn't keep me from another foray into new colour. I wanted to deliberately create a ritual spaciousness for my time in Michigan this year. So inspired by a fabulous server last April [dining out for life] I decided to dye purple streaks in my hair.

My hairdresser bleached streaks in my hair, I let them rest for 36 hours, then I applied the purple. It is wild, much bluer than I thought it would be. And I keep forgetting that I did it, catch sight of myself and give a start of surprise. But it is a very 'taking a break from the regular life' kind of change. And it's only been a few days but I think people react to you differently when you have purple hair...

I'll report back in after I put more time in as a 'purple head'.

bug zone

So the early spring was great stuff this year. This summer has been pretty good with plenty of rain at regular intervals. I haven't had to drag the sprinkler around once. I am very grateful for that. But oy, the bugs!

They have just been ferocious and even the simple mosquito raises a huge welt on me. It is rather disheartening. It's been 8 years since I gave up sugar, surely by now they should have found someone sweeter?

I hope everyone is having a sweet summer in their world.

Oh, and just to let you know due to travel, the start of August will probably be kind of sparse here on the blog. Hopefully I'll have lots of fun tales when I have better computer access.

lughnasadh 2010

Here it is first harvest already. Lughnasadh. I love this holiday. Partially because in the world of flexible holidays you can really celebrate it however you want. Partially because I am not that crazy about the heat of summer and the first harvest reminds me that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. I don't really like it's other name lammas, too churchy sounding for me. I know that the holidays were co-opted but I just don't want to remember that fact all the time *smile*
It certainly has a sadness as well for me, my dog would have been 16 today.

Although bonfires are common as part of the celebrations and the smoke would certainly help to keep the bugs off of one, usually it's a bit too hot for me to enjoy fire the first of August. So this year it will be about the water. Being by a big body of water always makes any day better for me.

So what ever you do. Have that bonfire, dig some new potatoes; Lughnasadh mhaith!
and here's to a really great dog that I still miss.

sigh, CSA failure

The most recent CSA was brilliant, squash, arugula, beans, savoy cabbage, pickling cukes, broccoli, fresh onions. I can't even remember it all.

I love it but with the best intentions I still can't keep up with it. I had the best plans. I tried to be organized and we ate a lot of it. But still I ended up throwing stuff away that went bad before I could get to it. It makes me so sad and guilty, which isn't helpful because I really am doing the best that I can.

Sometimes it even seems like I did better last year even though I was dealing with twice as much, that can't be accurate though. It must just be that haze of time. I am going to try to come up with new ways to meet this challenge, any ideas be sure to let me know.

As for the garden the first full size tomato is rapidly turning gorgeous. Those d@mn squirrels better not pilfer it, take one bite and mock me. We'll see though. Minneapolis squirrels have no fear.

I hope everyone's growing projects are moving along nicely.

Death of a Screened Tent

So I like to plan things. But I am also trying to just get stuff done with some grace and not drive myself [and others] crazy with the planning and preparing. Have I mentioned I am married to a non-planner?

So it wasn't until last week that I got around to airing out my screened tent for use at the cottage and camping next month. [I am so relaxed, see?] It hadn't been used at all last year due to my trip to India. As I erected it I noticed that 3 of the 4 poles seemed stressed, like they had been bent incorrect ways. It wasn't helping matters that I was attempting to put it up myself. I forgot that it really takes 2 people. I gave up because I was afraid of breakage. When my wife got home she helped me get it up properly and we left it up to breathe. There was rain coming that night, which we figured would be a good test of its' dependability.

The next morning it was in a twisted heap in the yard, poor thing.

We assessed; all the poles were shot and replacement poles cost $19 dollars each. I was hesitant to spend that much money, $76 on a tent that had only handled 4 weeks of work over the past 3 years. I was quite aggravated with it. I then questioned if we really needed a screen tent , to which my wife who knows me pretty well said 'yes'.

So off to Craig's list where my wife's luck was fortunately in full flow. She found a fabulous little/never used tent. It would sleep 7 [...children under10 or 3 adults] and it had an attached smallish 'screened porch' AND it was only $65 [proceeds going to an animal charity]. I had been wanting a tent I could stand up in, and here it was plus the screened room. I'll have to adjust not having them apart but I decided what the heck. It will be pretty brilliant for overflow at the cottage as well.

We put it carefully up and I reeled back stunned. It's called a 'lodge', but seriously it's like a palace. wow. It's like HP4 at the Quidditch world cup [peacocks not included].

Thank goodness for the kindness of campers because you would have to be a giant [or have magic] to put this one up by yourself. It stood up to a good storm, and then I seam sealed it and let it dry then miracles of miracles we managed to get it all back into the bag. It may just be magic now that I think of it.

So we now have a palace to camp in, we'll see how it holds up to conditions in the field next month. [but it doesn't have closets]

ice cream makers are dangerous

Combine them with hot sticky weather and you don't have a chance.

It was a lovely weekend, I got to hang out with 2 friends that I don't see very often, one on Saturday and one on Sunday . We huddled in the air conditioning feeling grateful for coolness and talked and talked. Very different from the weekend before, this time the talking went both ways.

On Saturday as I visited with the co-creator of IMAD, we made ice cream and as a nod to IMAD had side by side home pedicures.

An ice cream maker, especially if you have the freezer space to store the 'bowl', means home made ice cream is only an hour or so away at all times. I'm sure not having it every night during a heat wave helps me grow as a person. Or perhaps the heat affects my brain so that I don't realize I could be making ice cream. Anyway this weekend we made chocolate coconut ice cream.

EB's Chocolate Coconut ice cream ..based on many recipes

Whisk together or use your stick blender

2 cans coconut milk don't bother using 'Lite', you're making a treat!
1/3 c of agave nectar
2/3 c of cocoa
2 t of vanilla extract
1/2 t of sea salt

Place this in your ice cream maker and process 20 minutes or so until it is starting to set up then add

1/2 c of unsweetened flaked coconut

Finish processing and ripen in freezer while giving yourself a pedicure. Then enjoy. See if you still have some left 3 days later.

Stay cool all.

running report week 7 and Argentina

Week 7 was interesting.

Two of my 25 minute runs were fine. But the middle run showed me how little my mind and body communicate.

When I did my first 25 minute run in week 6, my brain was amazed that my body could do it. So for week 7 mentally I was comfortable, it was more 25 minute runs. So I was surprised that during my second run of the week that I dropped into a walk without any conscious thought after 15 minutes. My body just took the break. I went back into my jog after a minute or so but soon I dropped into another walk, this time I walked 3 minutes or so until my body really felt like moving again.

In spite of feeling fine in my head, my body only ran 21 minutes or so. It showed me again how different my head space can be from my physical space.

My end run for week 7 which I did this morning was nice. Body and head space were aligned. Weather at 7 am pretty pleasant. Bugs not too bad. I do miss the autumn breezes though, we have had a lot of calm, buggy weather this summer.

My ankle was feeling much better than earlier in the month. All my runs were outside so I am still not sure how far I am going. 2+ miles for sure. Hopefully I'll make it to the track for my Wednesday lunch break and get a good idea how far I am running.

Here's to a great week 8, and my attempt at a 5K in less than 2 weeks. I guess it will depend on the weather and my body how far I make it running that day. It will be something new. Best wishes to everyone's summer projects.

Not running related-- I noticed this blog had it's first visitor from Argentina, and that reminded me to express my pleasure and delight at the July 22 legalization of marriage for all adults in that country. Good to have wonderful news to celebrate. Did you see the ad?

sometimes it's better to be fake

This post comes with a disclaimer. If you read this blog and know me offline as well be assured that this post is not about you or anyone who would ever read this blog.

So I have this guy in my life who does not listen. Occasionally if he is really working on it he can listen somewhat but this is fairly rare. He gets overloaded with information very easily, even if he is the one asking for the information. It doesn't seem to make any difference if we are communicating face to face or by email. Occasionally I get very judgmental in my head and wonder if he is just a moron but then I let go and I work on not taking it personally. He has this difficulty with many people.

I don't know much about him but he comes across as a goodhearted, very anxious, fearful person. I try to have compassion.

I cannot avoid him entirely. Although some days I certainly try. Right now he is in my life and that is what it is. I have attempted at various time to give him information, seen him fail to understand without realizing it and have recognized that there isn't anything I can do to change this. So now I nod pleasantly, thank him for his input and say things like 'I see your point' or 'thanks for passing that on.' and move on.

So what is the issue? It seems like I am coping pretty well, right? Well I feel like a big faker. Totally inauthentic and well... a big condescending liar. Metaphorically I am patting him on the head like he's 2 years old and say 'that's nice dear'.

But there isn't anything else to do at this juncture. I know I am making the most emotionally healthy response. Still it is weird to have being fake be the best option. Certainly took me by surprise. Here's hoping the situation doesn't last too long.

Those of you both online and off, thank you for listening, thinking and being real.
You are appreciated. Stellar weekends to all!

revisions are different

Writing update: So here I am in revision world. It's different.

My first draft is done and I finally have the space to fix things, write the prologue I was thinking about, get rid of slow scenes I kind of hated and just tighten things up in general.

My story is in 4 parts and I have broken my revised draft into those parts so I am no longer dealing with one humongous file.

It's quite fun, I am enjoying it as I thought I would but it is pretty slow. It seems very slow. I am on page 12, that's about 6000 words. Word counts aren't really meaningful anymore though while I am deleting and creating and cleaning up so much. Did I mention it's different? I am doing more active thinking. Playing a bit with word usage, polishing punctuation, and trying to catch illogical stuff.

Of course part 1 probably needs the most revisions out of the four. right? Perhaps it will start speeding up? It would be great to be done with revising before November 1st and the next nanowrimo.

[Nanowrimo is in just 3 months, sign up this year, you know you want to...]

Oh and one of my characters is Dutch. I am barely getting over the Netherlands defeat in the world cup. It was sad.

talking to the max

So back from a weekend up north. Ah the quiet north woods but it was different this time. I was up there with some of my family and my family are talkers.

I define talkers as people who can just effortlessly chatter away, about pretty near anything and it doesn't really seem to cost them any energy. This wears me out so quickly. Also I usually can tune things out when I am reading but the volume didn't really allow for that this time.

The talk is interesting, mostly and they really aren't expecting a lot back from me. I think they realize that I am not a big talker. [you there, quit sniggering]

Ok, yes at times I am extremely talkative but it is a continuum and after I talk I get all tired out. I also try to listen and give the people I am with my attention. This also takes tons of energy. I think I know this about myself but still it surprises me. I found myself Saturday afternoon in a heap on the bed listening to the rain with the door closed 'taking a nap'. I am a horrible napper but I was like an overstimulated toddler who just needed downtime.

I am not exactly sure why I am writing about this except that it was a big deal for me this weekend and I feel the need to acknowledge that in some way. Also, perhaps, I am noticing my burnout level sooner than before and self care is kicking in quicker, so that is a very good thing.
I am also becoming aware that it may take several days, up to a week, for me to really recover. Do I bounce back slower nowadays?

I don't want to imply there is any right or wrong about this, some people are more talkative than
others and that really is ok. but for now, Quiet to all who need it .