Party like it's 12-21-12

Happy Yule all!!

December thus far as been very full of bronchitis, traveling and planning for the solstice bash that we threw on Friday. You know before the world ended. Except it didn't.  

Good thing really, it gives me more time to enjoy these grain and dairy free Almendrados and hopefully you will as well as soon as you make them.

These are very easy to whip up. Some might say too easy...


Almendrados 

preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Mix together ~

2.5 cups almond flour
1 t cinnamon
4 t lemon zest
1/2 cup honey [add two more tablespoons if you want them sweeter]
1 egg
sprinkle of salt

This forms a soft sticky dough. If needed chill it so that you can handle it with ease.

Form dough into walnut shaped blobs, dust with more cinnamon, and press an almond down in the center of the cookie. This movement will flatten the cookie into a disc.

Bake these on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden.
These freeze well and are heavenly with coffee.

makes 2 dozen


Wishing everyone a very happy, peaceful and sweet end to December. xox

Kissing November

So many kisses to dear November. 

Kisses to my birthday [25 hours!], the fun times with friends, the work challenges, vacation, the mild weather, Thanksgiving, wonderful turkey, knitting oddness, hats for the homeless, retreating with Tara Brach, sitting out on the terrace and of course Nanowrimo which colors everything in November for me. Word count=50044

Once again I am so grateful to my family and friends for their support during my almost complete writing distraction this month. Kisses for everyone! 
And special kisses to the election results and the winner -Math

writing and writing

Still in the writing zone it's all I do -- 

Word count = 42,753.  This may be the first year I do not finish early one.

That's ok though. I am learning to push through tired brain fog and still write. It's a good skill to have. I feel a bit sad about that stuff I can't do this week though.

This year it has been so much easier for me to write in the morning. I wonder why that has changed. Oh well too tired to figure it out now.

Write like the wind!

In the Zone

Word count = 36,009

A quick check in to rejoice over my word count. I am still behind at this moment [by 4K] but it seems all very doable at this point. I am in the writing zone and having so much fun!

Nanowrimo is so different every year for me. Although this year is not yet over I am already noticing the lessons and quirks of 2012.

in past years I have missed many days of writing during the month. This year I have written 22 of the 24 days thus far. Some days had tiny totals but I did write. This rhythm feels very odd to me. I am not sure if I like it or not. It certainly gave me more of the 'I am writing horrible stuff' feeling, stretched it out. In fact for awhile I was moving so slowly I wondered if I would simply run out of time even though the will was there.

Much like working a program I kept bringing my focus back down to that day, that hour, that paragraph and let go of the word count. Over and over again. It was challenging.

But if I do win Nano this year, and barring a catastrophe I will, I will have learned a new type of progress. In fact if for some reason I don't win I still have learned something. Now I feel humbled and rather choked up.

None Nano content --> Thanksgiving was wonderful around here, I was grateful to not host and for all the love and fabulous food. I hope that you all had the kind of Thanksgiving that suited you best. xo


behind but it's been worse

Word Count = 21,257

I am rather shocked at how much I am behind. That is until I look at 2010 and I see how much worse it was that year.

There is writing happening along with a huge needed break from the day job. There is even tiny bits of knitting getting done.

I do feel scattered and lacking in focus though. Can nano be won this year? Probably but I could use a little more space and time for myself. Not sure how to make that happen.

On the plus side I am seeing friends and family and they are all wonderful, I only wish I had time to chat about all the current good stuff.

To bed and then more writing, that's the plan. Love to everyone's November efforts!

My favorite won

So there was an election last week, did you all know?

Of course you knew, I wonder if there was anyway to live in this country and not know? I did my best to hold to my new years resolution of 'view no political tv ads' but one slipped by me, it was so pleasant and non-strident I didn't realize what it was until it was almost over. Oh and one slipped by online as well. [does that count?]

Still it's a good resolution which I will keep striving towards. I pity anyone living in Ohio, I hear the ad wars were hell there.

So if you have been reading me these past years you know that politics is not my thing. You may make some guesses about the causes that interest me and you would probably be right... and of course I am pleased about what happened in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington. I believe that all [tax paying] adults should have the same rights. Ok even if you don't pay taxes.

Even without the ad watching I still had to witness people freaking out and it was painful. I may get teary-eyed over the possibility of my third wedding [to the same woman] but the real highlight for me was this

 --- Math won.   xkcd says it best  





So happy about the Math I forgot to report on my word count => 14780 words.  I always seem to fall behind when I go out of town, not too worried.

The 25 hour birthday

The thing about the 25 hour birthday is that it's awesome but.. well there is no but, it's fabulous all the way around. 

Time changes can be problematic for us all, but it always fun to feel like you are getting an hour 'back' and the timing this year was such fun for me.

I could get up 'early' on my birthday but it wasn't really early. It felt like a spacious, magical, wonderful time all day long. True the weather was not as stellar as it has been the past few years on my bday. I don't think it got above 50 F but that didn't seem to matter on the 25 hour birthday. 

I was up early enough to see the sun, I had presents and cards from my family. My clever wife replaced the watch in my battery as one of my gifts which was so great. It gave me my watch back and saved me an errand. We had a decadent tea party and ruined everyone's dinners. I got tons of birthday wishes and flowers and presents... and I enjoyed being able to remember how much I love people and how much love there is in my life.

What can I say, apparently that 25th hour contains extra mush.

[Oh and there was writing! Word count ==> 7813]

On the second day of Nano

Nanowrimo the fourth [for me] started yesterday and I am having a blast. 

Word count update -- 4146

So far there has been a train, intimate relationships in the tiny train bathroom, some pill popping and now there is some passing out going on... it's brilliant fun.

It may be November 2nd but it not to late for anyone. Why not write this year?

Shout out to one of my oldest friends on this her birthday. Many happy returns my dear!

October ending randomness

My busy month is winding down. This may have been my busiest October ever. Busier than October 2007 when I was married twice? Yes I think so. 

There were so many wonderful things in October. The Montreal trip. The international labyrinth convention. Teaching my workshop. Challenge ECD. So much stuff changing at work for the better. Birthday celebrations. I always think of October being richly colored and this one certainly was - all wine, copper, gold and that blue October sky.

Right now I am trying to nail down three grain free recipes - pumpkin bars, cheesy squash and apple cake. I am comparing coconut butters and wondering why they can taste so chalky. Planning a little tea party. Doing pre-work for nanowrimo. It starts in a couple of days and it's so much fun [for me]. Oh and I must remember to donate this week and get that halo! The end of October is so sweet.

So much thankfulness to the October that is ending. *bow*






Dinner with the Birds

This past weekend we went out to dinner at the Birdhouse with some friends. It was my writing partner's birthday pick and since we all love Heidi's so much we were eager to try this new venture.

I am inclined to start with the good:
-The decor- clean lines, no fuss, unobstructed windows. I love restaurants in buildings that used to be houses!
-The staff - helpful and responsive.
-The food - My wife's trout was fabulous. The soup [cauliflower/parsnip puree with pear and blue cheese], squash with mushrooms/bacon [veggie side dish] and the salads were big hits also.

Areas needing improvement:
-The decor - no soft furnishings make for very noisy rooms.
-The staff - We had 3 courses and had to wait for silverware to eat both the delivered soup and dessert at the end. My glass of wine was forgotten completely. [well not by me]
-The food - The bread was horrible, it tasted old [even though we all love multi grain bread]. The gnocchi special merely ok. The waffles and creamed chicken were mediocre. Even the desserts - lemon curd and apple crisp were shatteringly average. Since the food was mostly blah everything seemed overpriced.

Other thoughts: Have I ever bothered to comment on staff and decor in a restaurant review before? Usually I go straight to the food... that may more to the point than anything else.

Summing up: Make your reservations at Heidi's instead.


Overheard in the lunch line

As I waited to pay for my turkey, gravy and broccoli I became aware that the cashier was talking politics with the person in front of me. I felt myself start to clench. I have noticed I am always bracing for rejection from people who identify as republican or christian. Sad I know but that is how it is for me right now.

Then the cashier said, 'But I have a lot of gay friends so of course I am not voting for that amendment." The customer warmly agreed with her and the ball of ice in my stomach started to thaw in the safety they had unknowingly created.

After all this time it is still hard to come out over and over again in daily situations and interactions. But 'coming out' does mean something, it does increase our safety and it can feel very unsafe at the same time. I wanted to thank them both for their support but I was overwhelmed by pain and relief. So I thank them now and also their friends who came out to them.

My wife and I got married this month five years ago. They have gone by in a flash. I wonder if we'll have our third wedding here within the next five years?

secret messages in Ontario

Ontario. I never knew how incredibly beautiful you are.

My two days driving through you were a constant delight consisting of lakes, rocks and stunning autumnal trees. I like to drive in general but Ontario made it an unforgettable experience.

Is there a reason why no one ever told me how great it was? Did I miss that information somehow? I am so glad I know about you now.

Also the picnic table signs on the highway that I finally realized meant "there's a rest stop up here" so charming I can hardly stand it. My new favorite restroom metaphor.

Once again Canada makes my heart sing.


what to do with basil flowers

One of the benefits of neglecting the garden all July is that I have 6 more basil plants than I planted. They were seeded from the year before with no effort on my part.  [I have self seeded aster plants all over the garden and I am delighted about this as well]

Most years I have basil in my garden and most years I can't 'keep up' with it. I eat huge amounts of caprese salad and so does my wife but still the basil starts to flower and I snip the flowers off [and off and off] so that it keeps producing until I either make pesto or we have a hard freeze.

I end up with tons of basil flowers snips. I tried them in salads and did not enjoy them. So they kept getting tossed into the compost with some regret. Until I had a brain flash thanks to one of the vendors [Gai Gai Thai] at the Kingfield Farmers Market. Lemon Basil Water!

I take my handful of basil tops/flowers put them into a pitcher with water and let them steep in the sun all day or overnight on my counter. Then I remove the plant matter, pour the water over a glass of ice, add a small spoonful of lemon juice and a few drops of stevia and stir. 

If you are me you drink this while sitting by the waterfall trying to decide what of a million possible things you could do next and it makes the decision making a tiny bit easier.




best friends and birthdays

My best friend is having an eventful 2012. So eventful I don't yet know if she'll have the energy to celebrate her birthday in any of the typical ways. Healing takes a lot of energy even on one's birthday!

But still it is a glorious day. She was born on this day and I am so grateful for that. If she hadn't been incarnated this time around I know I would have spent this entire life feeling like I was missing something. [and that would have sucked!]

So here I am raising my glass of switchel in her direction and writing out my version of this gut healing drink for the hot weather that is due to return.

EB's Switchel

12 oz water
1 tsp apple vinegar
1 tsp honey [or 8 drops of stevia]
1 tsp ginger root [dried and ground]

Combine together and adjust to taste depending if you want more sour, more sweet or more warmth.
Serve over ice and enjoy!

-hopefully while sitting in the yard on another perfect birthday with perfect birthday weather.  

As usual.  xo and big love to all the other virgos with birthdays out there. You know who you are!


when blazing new trails

chocolate chip cookies are helpful mandatory!

So to support my friends who are currently on a grain free journey here is one of my 'go to' grain free recipes. It is based on about a million recipes you can find on the internet. This one has my own tweaks since I enthusiastically use both butter and eggs.

Chocolate Chip Cookies [about 20 cookies but your size may vary]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchement paper

Combine in a bowl--

1.5 cups almond flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t sea salt


Break up dark chocolate [80% or higher cocoa solids] bar to make a 1/2 cup of chunks, set aside.

In another bowl combine--

1 egg
1/4 c butter [you can use coconut oil]
1T vanilla extract
2T coconut nectar [you could use honey or maple syrup]

mix the dry with the wet ingredients
stir in 1/2 c chocolate chunks.

drop balls of dough onto baking sheet, bake for about 8 minutes depending on size.
do not let them get too brown, cool on rack.


Enjoy!

Lughnasadh 2012


This post will go up late but that's fine. Lughnasadh was brilliant in every way. In memory it inspires  many happy smiles.

There is so much depth to this date for me. It's the date my most recent border collie was born. She was so dear.
This is the date a dear one lost her father unexpectedly a couple of years ago. [[ hugs and sighs ]]

This is the year that Lughnasadh showed her sweetest face to me. I played all day. 
I had meet ups with four dear ones and a short time with a fifth. So many different types of love, acceptance, joy, sangha. 

I went off my grain free and low starch eating and indulged in pizza at dinner, fries at lunch and enjoyed a spponful of maple syrup on a buckwheat pancake in the morning! Holiday foods. I tasted a crumb of chocolate cake and made my "ick sugar" face to laughter. 

To quote one friend "Life is magnificent".

I was the celebration all day long. Deep gratitude and welcome to August. I'm glad you are here. xo


I had no idea, I promise


As I said last month post, it's been hot and humid. That hasn't changed, it's still hot and humid all the time. Every 10 days or so it dips below 80 and I realize that days have gone by with me in a complete fog!

Hmmm, is that true? Perhaps not a complete fog. I have been planning all sorts of 'stuff' for my labyrinth workshop. [Online registration is open now for the convention by the way.]  I am looking forward to it. I volunteered with my knitting group through June. I have been writing again and that feels awesome. It's still fun! But so much isn't happening. 

My garden is almost abandoned, I water it to keep it alive and pick blissful cucumbers but sit in it. Weed in it. Not happening right now. Cooking is a thing of the past and my sour cherry crop. Well there wasn't one. I find myself not wanting to move because I don't want to generate any excess heat. 

I am constantly trying to 'manage' the heat and my extreme aversion to it. Yeah, that's not working to well.  So...

Right now I am trying to be gentle with myself. Living with this heat may take some time to figure out. [really? my inner sarcasm peeks out.  hush] Perhaps there are tips or tricks that those who have lived or grew up in really hot places could share? I would love to hear some new ideas because I don't want to be a shut in the rest of the summer.

Strawberry Basil Sorbet



It's hot.

Summer arrived ten days ago but the heat has been here much longer. July starts tomorrow and the heat has settled in like a scratchy, buggy blanket. Since I have not [yet] figured out how to spend all day and night immersed in water I need other ways to deal with the heat. One has involved my ice cream maker and other frozen things. This week after thinking about it for years I have finally gotten around to making sugar free sorbet.

You don't need an ice cream maker for this one since the fruit is already frozen, a decent food processor or blender should work just fine. Whip it up whenever you need to chill, your amounts may vary by your taste and like all my recipes the variations are endless. Any way you make it, if the temp is above 90, it is sure to be wonderful.

Strawberry Basil Sorbet

1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, whole or crushed
1 tablespoon fresh minced basil [trust me]
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup water stevia to taste, if your strawberries are really sweet you may not want it.

Blend the above in a blender or processor until smooth. Do not liquify, keep an eye on it.

Serve and enjoy!

This could be stored in an air tight container in the freezer if for some reason you had leftovers. That doesn't seem likely but it could happen. Perhaps you were full from dinner?

Summer Solstice 2012


Summer Solstice is here and the word I need to use is glorious.

It's been muggy and sticky most of the day, and now it is storming. The wet weather is adding a shine to all.  The cherries are not ripe although everything else is weeks ahead. I'm surprised but not disappointed. The cherries will come. I had the day off work, I had a massage, it's all been lovely. Heck I am even eating rice for dinner. It's a holiday after all and that's a time for treats. I spent a good chunk of the day reveling in sympathetic joy.

All of the above are lovely and I am grateful but glorious? Luminous even? They don't seem to match up exactly. But then the sum of the parts.... can be magical - luminous and glory-full.

There is a shift happening and I am opening my arms to it. Here we go.

Happy solstice [and summer perhaps] to all!

love letter to June


Dear June,  I am so very, very happy to see you. I don't know if I have ever felt this strongly about you before but right now I adore you dearest June.

Some people may say that I am comparing you to May which was an incredibly difficult month to have around and I suppose that's true. It can be hard not to compare. There were sweet things about May in the midst of the horrible. I remember them.

Still one result of the inevitable comparison is I am ready to embrace newness and change right now. I feel an eagerness and a trickle of energy along with normal apprehension.

So leaving May with a consoling pat and heart sigh,  and now sinking into you June. xoxox

First New [old] Rose for 2012



It's been a two hard, hard weeks in a row. This week is approaching normal-- I'm in the garden most days and when my thoughts turn to blogging they don't stray too far from the garden.

This year we invested in two new roses. One of them is quite old in rose history, Reine des Violette.  I was quite nervous about this rose as I planted it in valuable real estate -- my herb garden. [replacing the borage that irritated me so last year] 

I really dislike most pinks, would it be too pink I worried. But this rose turned out to be a plum color that I love and the rose does have that peppery under scent. It is charming, even the name Queen of Violets is charming

It inspires hope in me and that is a coveted and desired quality right now.  

the Butcher's block and catch up



May is zipping by at an alarming rate. [for me] It's the 11th, that seems impossible, but every calendar I check says the same thing.

One of the reasons it seems speedy is there is so much going on, which means tons to blog about with very little time to do it. So I am going to try to do snippets more often and ask you all to be forgiving [even more] of mistakes of all kinds.

Dining out for Life 2012 is over for the year but it was delightful as usual. My yearly quest to find a platinum level donor that uses a reservation system led four of us to the Butcher's Block this year.

The food at the Butcher's Block was delightful. We tried a wide range of dishes and enjoyed them all. Since I was still 'no grain' that evening I didn't have the pasta [or risotto] but our dinner buddies did with relish. 

Some highlights I loved and would have again. The eggplant saporite was rich and the artichokes and fennel in it meant I loved it even more. The chicken marsala was yummy-- the mushrooms and sauce so tasty. I am not a mashed potato fan though, I will try to get a different vegetable next time. The sole al limone was fabulous and a surprise. I wish more restaurants served this fish, it is one of my favorites. 

The weather was mild so we had a lovely 10 mile round trip by bike. This stimulated our appetite beforehand and helped the digestion after and we enjoyed the spectacular views of the river on the Third Street Bridge. You never see them by car. Truly a great evening for a great cause. I look forward to returning.

Coming up for me this weekend?  FriendsPlantSale and Shepherd'sHarvestFestival. I am fortunate to have a personal volunteer shopper at the plant sale so there will be lots of time with my hands in the dirt this weekend. I'll also pick up some fabulous new rovings for my workshops tomorrow. The weather looks good so I'll close for now by wishing you all a fabulous weekend! peace

Happy Beltane 2012!! and labyrinths





The first day of May and I spent part of it cutting grass. The season must be a month ahead -- at least. Surreal and wondrous.

I didn't blog last week but I did make many updates to my workshop information page and spent my time on this labyrinth, a demo for the workshop. 

For this one I moved outside my favorite color pathway, it has a gingham effect which is not typical 'me' but has charm I think.

I am looking forward to teaching this class. It will be fun and has space for becoming what the attendees need most. I love the accessibility of labyrinths as a meditative tool and I also love the making of them. I find making can pull you into a labyrinth in a whole new way. 

I am planning on teaching this workshop two other times in 2012, hopefully once outside this summer, and will update the page with those plans as they settle. If you have questions about the workshop check out my other page or shoot me a message. 

Meanwhile I hope May 1st gives you a flowery kiss of sweetness.

Easy Buckwheat Pancakes


I have always loved buckwheat pancakes and during this grain free experiment I can eat them all the time. These are both easy to make and easy on your tummy,
and adapted from many, many sources. 

Pre work -- start heating your greased pan. Usually just under medium heat.

Dry Ingredients

3/4 c buckwheat flour, heaping
3/4 c almond flour
1/8 c tapioca flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt

Whisk these together. 

Wet Ingredients

1 egg
1 c milk, any kind
2 T oil or melted butter
1 T agave nectar or other sweetener [optional]

Stir, combining the wet with the dry, forming batter.
Use a 1/4 c to measure batter out onto pan.
Flip when the bubbles have stopped popping, 60-90 seconds.

Serve with syrup, fruit, jam, or use for a savory base.

Enjoy  xox

Notes:

Grease pan between pancakes as needed.
Makes about 12 three inch pancakes.
The pan should never smoke.
I am using my cast iron skillet for these. 

that no grain thing


The first week of no grain is coming to an end. I can't tell if my physical issues are from the food adjustment or allergies or some hideous combination of them. Let's call them digestive discomforts, sleep discomforts and muscle discomforts -- and ignore them for the rest of this post.

I searched in vain for an easy grain free pancake recipe I liked this week. One that did not call for a trillion eggs or request me to separate said eggs. Whipping and folding egg whites is more than I want to face in the morning. So I made one up. So far so good. I'll post it as soon as I test it a bit more. Hmm -- Is lack of grain increasing my sarcasm?

I noticed part of me is already so tired of thinking about food all the time. Or it feels like all the time. I will be delighted when the newness of no grain eating wears off and I just do it without having to plot and plan. Forty-six more days of this experiment. I'm not thinking about what may come next.

Ah, I remember this now

My regular medical doctor is great in so many ways. When I had aches in my chest, she eliminated cardiac problems, said she noticed some muscles spasming and recommended that I go to my acupuncturist. Or get a massage. [If you are local and need a new doctor let me know] If I didn't know an acupuncturist she would have whipped out a list of names.

I spoke to her about another issue and she suggested a food sensitivity causing inflammation. I told her I had just checked [again] this winter for sensitivity to wheat, corn and dairy -- no positives.  'So it's probably all grains then, not just wheat', she said cheerfully.

I was silent and thought. I have not been grain free since 2002 - 2004. I was not 100% grain free but I did feel less inflamed. Although I am 90% whole grains currently they could be bothering me. My best friend pointed out that I had a allergy to grass pollens so it makes sense that I could be sensitive to their seeds. It's so logical.

I decided I was up for an experiment and my wife even volunteered to join me. What's two months or so? It's a great time of year to eat veggies and fruit. So we started on Monday.

I am so hungry.

I remember now this happened last time. My body is going through a huge adjustment. Grains help me to feel full and my body is confused right now. I know it will pass but still...

It sucks right now to be grain free.

happy, happy April [so far]

I have noticed that March was light on the blogging. Not sure what to attribute that to --travel perhaps. I do know that I miss it when I am not here. [Here at home and here on the blog!]

It is April and I am in a fabulous mood. Everywhere I turn my attention I notice happy stuff. I want to list some of it here. Actually I want to list it, then print it then eat the list, I love so much right now. Which sounds even crazier now I see it in print. *shrug*

Today I ate lunch outside, by my waterfall which was turned on and it was blissful. Lunch was a tuna and sprout sandwich with sorrel from my herb garden. It wintered over fine. Yummy. I was gifted some raw milk, which is one of my favorite things and have been delighted with every glass. Loving treats.

The pear trees are blooming as are the strawberries. The delphiniums are eight inches high. I can sit on my bench in the herb garden again. The city changed how we recycle garden waste. They now allow containers and I am so glad about that. The friends plant sale listing is out. Yay plants!

My house guests were here for most of the week. All last week I was braced for something to 'go wrong' with travel plans but it didn't! They came, they were awesome and it was wonderful. Of course they couldn't stay forever but I am not dwelling on the leaving part.

The knitting group I envisioned for Ascension Place got started by someone else. Now I can take joyful part in it and not have to organize it. I have been finding the space for my knitting and enjoying it a lot. 

I was feeling some stress again about finding light-weight pants for this summer but I have found someone to make them for me out of linen. It will be so awesome and I am so relieved. I will be able to deal with the heat if it comes.

I could just babble on and on today -- friends, family, spring, plants, animals are all so enjoyable. It's amazing to have this period of delight. Wishing delight to all. Share if you want about something fabulous. xo

Some Art

Woo I am one tired puppy right now. I am back from my California trip and there is so much to catch up on. Not only did Spring arrive full force while I was gone but so many other things are happening. [and they all seem to be happening at once]
So why not show Art, I thought. Here is a piece I finally framed after it languishing in a box for years. It is a needlepoint pattern based on a quilt pattern. I love the geometry of it and it makes me so happy that it is hanging in my haven. Beauty inside and out!

summer and patience

I want to leave myself a note -- on Wednesday the 14th of March, I ate my dinner outside in the herb garden. Also my wife saw the first mosquito on her arm that evening.

It's winter until March 20 but we jumped to summer this week. Temps around 80 for days. Between the heat and DST my ass has been kicked! I am just starting to adjust to the time and weather change.

These are some of the reasons why I have not yet blogged about Patience which I saw last Sunday the 11th. This picture is of the gorgeous, effective set. Truly beautiful. The opera matched the set and is the funniest G&S I have ever seen. The chorus of 'lovesick maidens' in their classical dress -- loved them. All of the leads -- accomplished singers. The music was wonderful. Highly recommended go see it and enjoy. Hopefully it is not completely sold out. Off to dancing, it's going to be a hot night!

Hopefully useful

Some may have noticed that I added a couple of new ways to get updates from this blog. RSS feed and email updates. It's been less than a week and people are using them so I think it's useful. If there are other not too time consuming ways I can make the whole blog more welcoming let me know.

There are so many things I could blog about next. I am thinking an art post. Or should it be a play review first? Decisions will probably be easier after some sleep.

Any way you come to visit you are so welcome here. xo

one more ball picture

I find it hard to get action shots at the ball. If people are moving it will turn out blurry half the time. If I am trying to focus in on one person they will be borne out of frame by the action of the dance just as I snap the place they were.

Here is another group shot of some fun people that dance with me. I capture great sleeve movement in this photo. :) A ball tends to be a very happy place and I feel lucky that I was healthy this year and so could really enjoy it. More fun is planned for this weekend -- dancing and a play. I hope you all have time for fun this weekend as well. xo

So much glitter -- Playford 2012

The theme [midwinter gossamer] for this year's Playford confused many but the end results were wonderful. There were lovely new costumes and everyone looked festive.

The ball always has a program which makes it easy for me to give certain dances a miss which increases my enjoyment. My two friends and I wore our tiaras and they were greatly admired. Although I am not a huckster I could have easily worn a button -- "make your own tiara, ask me how!"It would be fun if a lot of people took me up on it next year. Tiaras everywhere.

My wife made me a gorgeous new gown this year.[not pictured] A slate blue chiffon over a salmon pink silk. She is so talented though she says it may be the last chiffon creation she ever makes, it was extremely difficult to sew. It was truly wonderful though and suited the gossamer theme perfectly.

I only took two months off from dancing last year [November and July] and it seemed to pay off in increased stamina. I made it to the after party for the first time in years and didn't leave until 3 am. Although our host envisioned a 'breakfast at Tiffanys' style party, so many of us changed clothing after the ball we were a casual lot. We certainly had fun though.

The one word I would use to sum up this ball was glitter. I'm guessing it will be several weeks before it is all gone. Sparkly is good though.

whirlwind day

Well -- it's March today. February ended with slushy, soggy, messy snow so it's lovely to have it be March and remember Spring is less that 3 weeks away.

It was a busy full day today, including the dentist, and in the evening I volunteered to teach a few women knitting. This was fun and a challenge. One woman has been practicing for 2 weeks and wanted to learn how to perl and the other two had never picked up needles. It was a bit hard to try to show it all.

When the self talk of the two beginners got really negative I felt at a loss. I didn't want to contradict their feelings. But I also wanted to remind them of reality -- when you are trying to learn a new thing it is hard. That's how new things are, there is no fault. I want to say more about this but I realize I'm too tired. I have been noticing my tiredness pattern lately.

Sigh. Hand on heart and deep bow to all the teachers in my life. And off to bed. xo

32nd Playford -- Theme and Tiaras

This year's theme for the Playford ball is "Midwinter Gossamer". I dance with several close friends and I wasn't alone in asking, "what the hell does that mean?" The graphic on the announcement was fairies which helped a little. However my gown from last year has no gossamer qualities and the internets were not very helpful although I did learn there is a whole line of gossamer backpacking equipment. 

So I mentioned my confusion to my wife and she immediately offered to make me a new gown. Her keen engineer mind readily took on the challenge of making a sheer chiffon overdress in a misty slate color. warning--do not use chiffon unless you like a challenge. We found a silk for the under dress and we were set. My duties consisted of admiring as she worked, running errands and feeling very lucky. The last is not entirely dress related. 

I wondered how to live up to my new dress and use that theme. I ruled out dancing in wings immediately. I considered glitter gel. Then inspiration, why not a tiara?

not easy to photo a tiara
This time the internets came through. I found a great tutorial on the old thread banger site and ideas sparked like light flashing on jewels. Using the basic guide I was able to create something in 3 hours with crystal beads and copper wire. Since it is head band style it is comfortable and stays put even when dancing. Although lightweight I need to acclimate to hours of wearing it, so you will frequently find me wearing it while writing or thinking or washing dishes.

We are in the honeymoon phase but I think this tiara might be changing my life. We spend a lot of time together. I talk about the tiara to friends. In fact I suspect I may be boring people about tiaras. I hope you all can hang in there with me [and the tiara].

Wrapping up and the 32nd Playford Ball -- Dances

IMAD aka the 'marys all day play date' was wonderful. We blogged about it if you have any interest. The report is far from complete but one of us will update about the delightful gallery we visited after 'teatime' and the festive dinner with ten friends at Babani's that evening.

This brings us to the next activity, the annual Playford Ball. Here is a list of the dances this year with my personal star rating, which is, I am sure, wildly different from other dancers' ratings.  Just my opinion.

The Betrayed Lover ***
Longways duple minor improper double progression  1974  6//8 
Devil’s Maggot -* why bother? powder your nose. yes that's a negative star
Longways duple minor 1997 6//8
The Fandango ***
Longways for three couples   1774  6//8
Hambleton’s Round O **** 
Longways triple minor  1713 3//2
In the Bleak MidWinter *
Longways duple minor improper 1997  2//2
In the Fields in Frost and Snow -* snore,  get a beverage
Longways duple minor  1713  2//2
Lady William’s Delight **
Longways duple minor  2002  3//2
Mendocino Redwood *
Longways duple minor  2005  6//8
Nymph Divine  **
Longways duple minor  1728  common
The Pilgrim or Lord Foppington -* time for a nap
Longways duple minor  1721  6//8
Prince William *** 
Longways for three couples  1731  common
Puck’s Deceit *** 
Longways duple minor  1997  common
    Saint Margaret’s Hill  ***** 
Longways for three couples  1718  3//2
    Sleeping in the Attic  ***
Longways duple minor  1996  2//2
Tythe Pig *
Longways duple minor  1691  6//8
Well Hall **** 
Longways duple minor  1686  3//2

This year's dances does not mesh with my taste as well as past years. Six dances out of 17 I could miss without a care. Oh well. It will still be enjoyable.

Not only do we practice the dances in February but there is the work of getting one's costume ready. This year's theme of Midwinter Gossamer has generated a lot of chat.  More details to follow about how we are implementing said theme. Something enjoyably absorbing to all.

Playing with IMAD

The other day I reminded my wife that this Friday is glorious IMAD and my wife asked, "Hey when is it ICAD?" Whenever you and the other C's set it was my reply.

Remember -- we make all this up!  You are free to do the same.  Ten or so years ago we thought it would be great to designate a day of pampering for ourselves. [Mary how long has it been?] Not surprisingly it was great, in fact it was awesome and we have repeated it every year since.

We are not hoarders. We love to share our day with any other mary* out there! And if your name isn't Mary why not create your own joyful, pampering holiday. Pick a day for yourself and explore your world, eat food that others prepare, look at beauty, get a massage, pedicure, talk and laugh. 

IMAD is a play date for Marys. I firmly believe the world could use a little more play. Join us if you can even if it's during a brief pause in your day and choose something joyful, silly, funny or uplifting to experience. Let us know how it goes on the IMAD blog if you want.  Only couple of hours to go --joyous IMAD you all.

*any variation of the name Mary will do

light on sea fairy

I have been playing with feng shui again this month, it inspires me to dump clutter. [Hysterical, the spell check just changed that to "fang" shui]. With the dumping came the typical side effects. One is noticing the stuff that you hate doesn't support 'current you'. It became clear I dislike many of my lamps. So during my day off I hunted for some bargains that fit 'current me'. You might not be able to tell but the wall behind the lamp is apple green. [Which the paint company calls "sea fairy"]

So there is a little more light around my studio tonight from a lamp that seems to fit in just right. Please imagine my relief that the dust on the top of that bookshelf isn't showing in the photo, I hope.

As I enjoyed the new lamp I thought about how much lighter I felt after having a day where absolutely nothing was planned. I had freedom to do pretty much whatever struck me as fun or needed or soothing or spacious. A day free of shoulds. Not that the shoulds didn't try to show up but I had done sneaky prep work.

The night before I journaled my list of shoulds, getting them out on paper and soothing my meanies a bit. I wasn't 'forgetting' stuff after all, I had a list! I also listed possibilities. Some were specific -- 'shop for lamps'. Some were reminders -- "I don't want to cook dinner". It was amazingly helpful. As I exited one thing, like breakfast, I looked at my list and picked another to enter. It was wonderful and led to posting an actual photo sans cursing. I hope it continues.       Light to all who could use some. xo

sweet and frightening information

Frightening--I made cream puffs for my in-laws recently and I pulled out my mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook to do it. I didn't alter it for my 'no sugar' tastes. The recipe for vanilla filling calls for a mere 1/3 cup of sugar. Everyone loved them.

On a whim I looked up the same recipe in Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook. The "same" recipe calls for 2 and a half cups of sugar. Seven times+ more sugar. And more corn starch in order to get all that sugar to firm up and just as much fat by the way. The desserts featured in the newer cookbook are suppose to be healthful, why on earth does it have so much more sugar in it?

A mystery. If you are looking to cut down on sugar older recipes may be your friends.

Sweet--After all these years no sugar I still miss marshmallows or at least the memory of them. But like most candies they are too sweet for me nowadays. Imagine my amazement when I stumbled across this. Marshmallow creme made from rice syrup. This could be dangerous. More dangerous than the ice cream maker. If you have ever tried it please let me know. My curiosity is almost overwhelming.

Wishing all some comforting sweetness. xo

Recognizing Passion

I have been playing with a question recently. What do I feel passionate about? There was resistance in answering that struck me as funny/odd. I felt like I was being too personal [with myself?!] Or perhaps I was expecting too much. [expecting to be human?]

It felt wrapped up in other words like -- Purpose. Gifts. Meaning to Life. Destiny [some of these made me want to hurl a bit]
Mottos, like 'everyone is here for a reason'.  Ugh

Underneath the stuff I greeted fear. No wonder I laughed nervously. 
What if I didn't have any passions?

Or what if I was sneaky about them? [to avoid hurling] Because there is stuff I make a priority. There is stuff I give my time and energy to, that I love. There is stuff about which I am fierce and tender.

So I asked someone I trusted what they thought were my passions. Their answer was helpful. [they didn't laugh] Then I sat for a space from which came words.

I am passionate about writing my stories. I am passionate about mindfulness practice.        I just don't call it that.

missing a wishful goal

I want to update you all on my revision goal. [being done by the end of January] Yeah, that so did not happen.

Perhaps I was not very realistic about the busyness of December? Perhaps I didn't have enough support systems set up? Or it could be that I forgot about some projects that needed finishing this winter when the revision wish came to me. I'm not going to beat myself up about this however I do want to revise my work.

But revising is still so new to me I feel a bit rudderless.

I did make progress getting systems set up. The first part of the revision is working with hard copy. I realized I needed space. My big desk is now cleared off and ready. That got done. Also I found my pump so I can now sit on my ball and be comfortable. This is all helpful.

A bit less helpful -- I have a sweet idea that is just starting to grow this month and it must get some attention. It's a great idea but it will take time away from revising.

How to format my revising wish so that it is doable and filled with ease? I don't know the answer yet.

One idea I had is to set out my papers at the end of the night, so that I am ready in the morning to start revising with ease. I would love to do 15 minutes of revising five days out of seven this week. But perhaps I'll start smaller than that.

Good luck to everyone with their current projects. More about my new sweet idea later. xo

presence--deep listening

It seems fitting I am wrapping up this week with some thoughts on presence. Presence can be viewed as both the start and the foundation of all listening. If you aren't here then you can't take in what you or another are saying.

So presence became a thread running through the entire week. I would pause and remember -- presence. I'm listening and I want my heart to be open. Over and over again a gentle pause followed by remembering. Fortunately I remembered well this week but I could see that during a high stress time this could be more challenging.

I used birds as reminders to be present. The birds are very active in our mild weather so I have been watching and whistling at them. This led to enjoying natural beauty which is a doorway to presence for me. From there I opened to listening.

I enjoyed this week more than I suspected I would, perhaps this was a natural fit for me at this time. I hope you enjoyed something this week as well. xo

allowing -- deep listening

Thursdays was another day with almost no interaction with others. I never left the house due to a cough-y cold. I felt quite wretched at times both physically and emotionally-- I did not want to be sick.

So there was nothing for it but to practice allowing and listening with myself. Allowing my body to speak about it's discomfort without trying to change the subject. Allowing for the blankness of mind. Allowing for the lack of clarity as I tried to attend a work meeting from home.

Around the edges of the sickness I did feel a safety knowing that I could be with it and some ease. Which was quite nice for me but makes rather boring blogging. ah well, this too.

silence -- deep listening

If you celebrated Imbolc on Wednesday I hope it was a lovely one. We have unusually warm temps here with melting snow. It really does feel like we are halfway to spring.

Many of my imbolc hopes and plans got derailed by not feeling well. I had waves of feeling semi-normal but those usually occurred when I wasn't doing much. :) I also spent quite a bit of time with other people and I had guessed previously that my practice on Wednesday was going to centered around presence but when I reviewed my day I realized the main thread had been silence.

It may be that my sore throat made it a bit easier to be silent, to ease into that space. But I was very aware of it. Letting the silence be it's own thing that does not need to be filled. Enjoying the room that gave for the listening. Even when no one was speaking. I think I have a fever so I may not be very coherent so back to silence.

seeing goodness -- deep listening

Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat and a disinclination to talk. By the end of the day I had a killer headache. So while there were plenty of people to talk to over the course of the day it felt uncomfortable to open my mouth and my energy was low.

Once I realized this I knew my practice for the day would be seeing goodness. Sometimes in the beginning of the conversation, sometimes like a light being turned on in the middle of one, I paused and pictured the other person as a whole complete being walking their path. All the answers within them that they would ever need.

When I remembered to see others like this I felt relaxed. I dropped an artificial sense of responsibility. I did not need to tell them something, I could just remember their goodness. The side effect was that I liked people much more, even in the casual encounters in the office.