Friday, July 18, 2014

Less is more - Part 3: Less sleep = more giggles

Stuff that is not funny becomes funny when tired. So unless you are tired or otherwise impaired while reading this, it is likely that this could be a very unfunny post. While away from home, my sleep has been variable with a few late nights thrown in.

One night as I was going to bed after a family BBQ I recalled this exchange between two cousins.
J has a plate full of meat.
H - Would you like some rice or salad?
J - No thanks, I'm cleansing my body.
H - With meat?
J - No, I'm cleansing my body of carbs.

At the time I may have laughed, but as I was lying down to go to bed I just cracked up. Casey was already in bed half asleep when suddenly the sofa bed started to shake. I had a bad case of the giggles and I was trying hard not to make any noise. All I could say was, "It's not funny. " More giggles and then I was just barely able to repeat the dialogue that had come to mind amid giggles and silent laughter. After a few minutes I calmed down. I thought of it again in the morning and had the giggles again. A few days later I tried to tell someone about it and could not get the words out without erupting into another fit of giggles. I know, it's not funny.

Two more potentially unfunny things met with unusually hearty laughter, but this time led by my mom. Here are two riddles told by my daughter.

Q-What's green and has wheels?

A-Grass, I was just kidding about the wheels. 


Q-What's blue and smells like red paint?

A- Blue paint. 

Maybe you smiled, groaned or thought, "I guess you had to be there."

Feel free to leave your favourite groaners below.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Less is More - Part 2: camping

We got away for a short camping trip last week. Camping is very much a less-is-more pursuit. How perfect to have your day be filled with cooking and eating meals, hiking, eating some more, swimming in a mountain lake, cooking and eating some more, making fires, reading, chess, frisbee, and for me a little yoga under the trees. We have been enjoying some summer heat and the cold lake waters, being in the forest, finding some snow in the mountains and time together as a family, mostly working well together and playing.

our home away from home in Moyie Lake Provincial Park, BC

our neighbour

just hanging out
view from my yoga mat

hiking in Fernie

summer snowball fight

from the top of Tamarack Trail from Island Lake Lodge in Fernie, BC
Whether camping, or travelling near or far, I hope you have a chance to enjoy all that comes with travel. A time when all our stuff is pared down, our focus simpler (sometimes) and joy, presence and re-groovenation abound!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Less is More - Part 1: Less = fewer textbooks, more = space

While on holiday in July, I'll be posting smaller pieces on the theme of "less is more". Here is one task finally accomplished. What to do with those old textbooks?

It seems that textbooks are very seldom wanted. They are refused by libraries, used book stores and used book sales. I once found a place that would take them in the states. One professional organizer told me of a textbook burning party she hosted where her husband's textbooks which had been stored for over 20 years were "given back to the universe."

Or you can recycle them. The city of Calgary recommends removing the covers and putting the pages into the blue cart. Only when we did this, our cart wasn't emptied. I think we may have gone over the weight limit. We'll try again, adding fewer books to our cart.

I have to thank Casey for actually carrying out the book recycling.  He did ask me to double check my pile of books. I only saved one.

Casey also made a few hundred squares of paper for Origami using a band saw. He also folded a frog.

I hope you have a chance this summer to put 'less is more' into practice.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Songs that have found me and lodged themselves deep within

Have there been songs that just make you cry? Although not the only criteria which applies, this is what I base my music purchases on. Some songs come randomly while driving around, I hear these songs on CBC that talk directly to my heart and I'm tearing up. It's what I needed to hear at that moment. Often it is the one and only time that I hear that song on the radio. Many songs move me during a live performance. I heard the choir and soloist from the Dr. E. P. Scarlett high school at the Jack Singer Concert Hall this spring and was tearing up at their rendition of Lorde's Royals. Recently at a workshop in May, Kate Potter sang her own song into my heart. I'm glad I was present for that because that one is not available for download to my ipod. A few have come during a yoga class. Thanks Tamara for Nina Simone - Feeling good - lifting us in a warrior flow and the five minute down dog with Ray LaMontagne - Be here now - indeed... and so many others. Those two do not make me cry, but others have. Other songs are deliberately shared. Depending on the day and situation, these songs still make me cry. Many of these songs find their way onto my ipod eventually.

Just a short list...

  • Thanks Lori for this one... "Brave" by Sara Bareilles on Mothers Day, driving home from Kate's workshop - and then I became uncorked. This song marks a moment in time for me. Important conversations followed, trips were planned, a little baggage was dropped. I was supported and supported friends and I feel just a bit braver. I started to write a lot, some of it landing here, some in inboxes, and on many notebooks pages. I guess I am a writer. My daughter also likes this song. She showed me the video a few days later.

  • After recovering from a mysterious never to be explained illness, in fact, as I leave the surgeon's office for the last time, and on my way to meet friends to practice teaching a full length yoga class for the first time, I hear this song. "Mystery" by Bruce Cockburn. I didn't know what the song was at the time because it was part of a recorded concert. I just remembered the line "Infinity always gives me vertigo and fills my heart with grace." Thanks to google, I found the song. It will always remind me of teacher training which was always held on a Friday, because of the line, "I was built on a Friday and you can't fix me, even so I've done okay"

  • Lately in an attempt  to encourage Kate to record her song already, I sent her this - Scare Away the Dark. But that just turned into binge watching passenger videos on youtube for the both of us and not enough sleep. How old am I? Kate has about a dozen new videos in the works for My Yoga Online including the elemental flows that we did at the workshop- Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. No guitar playing, no singing - you might hear a song at a workshop though.

  • Sleep was not in the cards that night. The same night, I was all wound up and energized from hooping with Lori at her epic first hoop goddess circle. With the resulting lack of sleep, I was tired and cranky the next day. I said to myself, 'You've got your crankypants on don't you?' Which brought to mind this song about pants and I changed my tune and became tired and silly instead and that night I slept like a smart person would do. If you sing this song, you cannot be cranky.  It made me consider the question "What are you wearing?"  I decided I did not need to wear crankypants. In fact the next day I made sure to wear the most uncranky, most happy pants I own (that I bought from Sam at Free Aphrodite). It also reminded me that I have a pair of pants to re-groovenate. Again, google came to the rescue. I only knew the first line of the song, "pants are for keeping you warm, that's what their designed to do".  I heard the pants song on CBC when this band was in Calgary and I didn't know who the band was. So the only song I knew by this great band was this song about pants that was written by a parent of toddlers. Poor northern hemisphere toddlers who have to wear clothes. Gratefully I learned that the band was the Wailin Jennys and I learned a few more of the songs by them, and they just happened to be one of Kate's favourite bands.

  • Just one more. Three versions of the Book of Love, not the who wrote the book of love, but another song. I remember hearing that the songwriter, Stephin Merritt, wrote the song sarcastically, but any covers I have heard have been sung sincerely. I like both.

Original by Magnetic Fields:

I just found this one, with Stephin Merritt on Ukulele.

A re-groovenated version - a different take. My favourite so far by Airborne Toxic, dedicated to his grandmother:

Lately, I've found some new music to listen to including Sarah MacLachlanSarah SleanAdam Cohen and Passenger. I want to get some Wailin Jennys. I don't like that I drive around a lot, but I am glad I can listen to music and podcasts during those times. And I am grateful that I can drive around.
(From Adam Cohen's video, Lori, this quote makes me think of you.)

At the first of a series of hoop goddess circles led by Lori Bothwell at LMP studio, I drew a goddess card - Aphrodite.
APHRODITE Inner Goddess "Awaken the goddess within you through dance, self-care, and appreciating your divinity."

 In my meditation she gave me a lantern to nurture and hold my inner fire. It's fun to play WWAD? What would Aphrodite do? I haven't lost my marbles, it's a playful way to consider your patterns and break out of a few. Like choosing the happy pants! Get your beauty rest! Dance and sing and appreciate your own inner light. Tiny steps toward re-groovenating your own self.

"fear is dark but my love is a lantern" - Passenger, from coins in a fountain.

So what are you listening to old or new?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Memorable Sandwiches in my life - and Why do sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them for you?

My kids are done school! No more early mornings, no more sandwich making - for them. I stopped making sandwiches long ago, but occasionally I will make a sandwich. My daughter says, "Your sandwiches taste better than mine, what do you do?" I think it is putting in enough crunch, a little more lettuce than you think would be good and enough spread in the form of butter or mayo. But the essential ingredient is love. That is one of the only rules I follow when cooking or eating. Was it cooked with love?

I woke up thinking about sandwiches and the fact that I remember some people by their sandwiches.
  • Open faced grilled cheese in the toaster oven with homemade corn relish. I don't make these anymore. No toaster oven, and no homemade corn relish. -Brad, who serenaded me, and like his sandwich, it was warm, cheesy, slightly corny and sweet, also sincere and got the job done
  • Toast with cucumber with  mayo salt and pepper - another from Brad - a young love, a serenade, two sandwiches, over like breakfast
  • Butter and potato chips on white bread - Tracy, an English friend described these to me. She said she stopped making these after the looks she got from other teachers in the staff room. I had to try it.
  • Peanut butter and grape jelly on 'French bread' - Casey, before we got married, ate an unusual number of these.
  • Toast with almond butter and grape tomatoes - Lori *my current fave
  • Pita with onions, just the right amount of balsamic vinegar, mayo, lettuce and maybe tomato. Plus a slice of grilled eggplant if available. - Casey and the crazy house of quirky engineering and various other students and partners. I have to admit to crashing here for a few weeks when on practicum for teachers college. The house was beside the corner store with the "window of weight gain samosa". The huge samosas came in brown paper bags that would become oil soaked and translucent, hence the name.
  • Peanut butter and jam - my son Ben eats at least one daily- runs in the family
  • Peanut butter and balsamic vinegar - Ben. I have yet to try this one. I really should after all, I have made him drink a vegetable juice to cure hay fever (kohlrabi, apple, carrot, parsley)- recipe from Swati. I liked it, but he has hated kohlrabi ever since and never ever complains of hay fever symptoms.
  • Peanut butter and bananas on toast - mom
  • Peanut butter with alfalfa sprouts - Mr Dressup
  • All natural peanut butter with a layer of white sugar in the middle - Jackie who I ate lunch with in grade 7
I don't eat a lot of sandwiches. I do love Smoked meat Pete's and a cherry cola. I love that there were once driving directions on their website from the Toronto airport. They are located just a five hour drive away from YYZ, just outside of Montreal. I don't bother trying to have a smoked meat sandwich elsewhere.

I found a cookbook in the library featuring a selection of artwork from the They Draw & Cook website. I was struck by this recipe for a Chocolate and Cheese sandwich. I make one every couple of months for breakfast. I just may have to try the rhubarb strawberry cake recipe.

tomato on almond butter

That was my breakfast. What did you have for breakfast?
What's your favourite sandwich?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Project 48: Reviving the spiral garden - offering to the hares

The closest thing to a pet we have is a hare that hangs out by my spiral garden outside my front window. Sometimes it looks very relaxed, sprawled out completely in the sun. Why not be at ease, with an offering of plants to sample right under your nose. I have lots of plants that seem to grow just fine in the front yard. But whatever I plant in the spiral gets chomped by the hares, especially in the early spring when there is not much to nibble one. They also like the crocuses.

2012 - the first spiral with hens and chicks, with a heart shaped stone at centre
I have tried hens and chicks. Hares seemed uninterested. They did fine in the summer, but were decimated in the spring. Same for golden creeping jenny and chartreuse lamium. There are little bits of these plants that have survived. It's also a dry spot since it is beside a huge spruce tree.

2013 - Hare by the spruce and some thimbleberry, just beside the spiral, staying dry during the flood.

2014 - a rare week of rain. Good for the transplants.

My kids suggest that I plant carrots to see if rabbits really do like carrots. I transplanted some self sewn lettuce, 1 carrot seedling, blazing star seedlings and wild strawberries from the back yard and lots of heartsease, or Johnny-jump-up which is a self seeding annual which has made a home in my garden boxes and back yard gardens. I love the name of that viola tricolor - heartsease. It has many names. Another is Love-in-Idleness. It is the source of the love potion used in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Heartsease or Johnny Jump up

It's a tough love kind of garden in the front yard. I don't water unless a plant is new. I do try to weed out the thistle and dandelions. I have some native plants like the thimbleberry (from Bow Point Nursery) and Canada anemone (from Wild About Flowers) that seem to be doing all right. My bets are on the thimbleberry. Others are very hardy and drought tolerant like the snow in summer and lily of the valley. Many of the plants are described as aggressive spreaders, but so far they seem to be well suited for the space. Calgary is a semi-desert in a chinook zone, so these plants would probably cause headaches in more friendly climates.

Mostly the hares seem to eat the grass and dandelions, some crocus and whatever is in the spiral garden. As long as they stay out of the backyard, I am fine. The little ones do get into the backyard in the spring and I chase the cuties out of my yard and try to eliminate the gaps under the gate where I think they get in from. They move fast and end of startling me as much as I scare them. My kids would vote for them to stay and eat the vegetables, especially the kohlrabi.

Allium and sweet woodruff.

Random bits...
  • Listened to the podcast Everything is Connected on npr TED radio hour. Love the story about re-wilding describing how re-introducing wolves changed the way the river flows in Yellowstone National park and the importance of planting flowers for the bees and how dependent on bees we are for our food production
  • Chives + green garlic + cream cheese = homemade Boursin
  • Have you heard this artist? I am more smitten the more I hear. Hear Passenger live at PinkPop 2013.
  • You can eat lamb's quarters and chickweed.
  • You can now stream videos for free from the library on Hoopla. I started watching one on Kundalini energy and saw another called Today's Special that looks interesting. I'm a sucker for a food film. Son, who is a classically trained western chef takes over the family business - an Indian restaurant. Just like the ebooks, no late fees!
"we’ve got holes in our hearts, yeah we’ve got holes in our lives well we’ve got holes, we’ve got holes but we carry on" - Passenger (Mike Rosenberg)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Project 47: Herbes saleés from chives, garlic thinnings and a few other herbs

My garlic has gotten away from me. I planted a lots of garlic cloves either last fall or maybe the previous year some time. I did not harvest any garlic. I also did not know how far apart the spacing should be so I planted it only a couple inches apart. I have read that 3-4 inches is a good spacing between plants. I definitely have a lot of thinning to do.
Garlic on the left

starting to thin it out
I also have an abundance of chives and want to use more of them. I was puttering in the garden removing the grass growing with my chives. I ended up just digging up a section of chives and grass and then pulling out the grass, harvesting the chives and replanting the root ends. However annoying it is to get grass mixed in with your chives, this really did not need to be done. I was just out in the garden to be out in the garden.

Other things growing in abundance are sage and Greek oregano (I think). I just don't use a lot of sage. I have read about frying up sage leaves to use as a garnish. I will have to try this. And it's supposed to make a good tea when you have a sore throat.

I was inspired to make some herbes saleés with some of my herbs and green garlic. Last Christmas I got a jar of herbes saleés from Meg. Her recipe included just herbs and salt. I have seen recipes that contain carrots, celery and leeks, but I think I'll stick to the herbs alone. The ratio seems to be about 1/4 cup of salt to 1 cup of fresh finely chopped herbs. Some descriptions simply say to layer herbs with salt in a jar until you get to the top and cover with more salt.

My spring blend herbes saleés contains lots of green garlic and chives, and smaller amount of sage and Greek oregano from the garden and a bit of parsley from the market. I used the approximate ratio of four parts fresh chopped herbs to 1 part sea salt and mixed all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mostly it tastes salty with a slight herbal flavour. I'll just keep thinning the garlic in useable amounts and use it instead of garlic cloves. The white parts are very garlicy, but the greens are much milder and kind of grassy.
Spring herbes saleés