Friday, February 27, 2009

Never Too Young for Paul

Last night I happened upon this on PBS.

As my two guitar-playing musicians prepped for beddie-bye, toothbrushes bulging from cheeks, bleery-eyed, and jammie-clad they heard Paul McCartney singing and playing from our television. Good ears, especially for teenagers who were talking a mile a minute, yes, even with toothpaste and brushes polishing their teeth. You know how it goes.

First one daughter, then the other wandered into the room.

"It's Paul!" (The Beatles are favorites around here, on all of our iPods and frequently in the CD player in the car.)

Suddenly bedtime was deemed unnecessary. Listening, watching, and learning took precedence.

And leaning toward the TV to soak it all in.

And smiling.

Cassie has been playing classical guitar for nearly three years now, while Caroline is coming up on her one year anniversary of electric guitar lessons. (You should hear Caroline play the riff for Day Tripper. Amazing.)

Paul found an audience with them. And with me.

Not only did he sing some old - familiar to us - songs to new music ("An old woman in a new dress," he explained prior to singing Lady Madonna) but he sang newer ones as well, such as the delightful English Tea.

He also demonstrated recording the layering of various instrumental and other sounds one upon another until an entire number was complete. Glorious fun! All done in Studio 2 at London's Abbey Road Studios where most of the Beatles' recordings were made.


The girls and I were wishing it didn't end. Such enjoyment.

Worth a peek.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Notes to Self: Freeing Oneself from Toxic Relationships

When you can't accept that a particular relationship has a short shelf life, or is toxic, you're " a dog at the dump, baby - you're just lickin' at an empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you're not careful, that can's gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it...Send them some love and light every time you think about them, and then drop it."

"Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing in my family because I don't resemble them at all."

"You may not come here anymore with your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of thoughts, with your warships of thoughts - all these will be turned away. Likewise, any thoughts that are filled with angry or starving exiles, with malcontents and pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and seditious stowaways - you may not come here anymore, either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be screened carefully, for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is only now beginning to cultivate tranquillity. If you can abide by these new laws, my dear thoughts, then you are welcome in my mind - otherwise, I shall turn you all back toward the sea from whence you came. That is my mission, and it will never end."

"As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you...You might just as well hang it up and kiss God good-bye if you really need to keep blaming somebody else for your own life's limitations."

"I thought of how many people go to their graves unforgiven and unforgiving. I thought of how many people have had siblings or friends or children or lovers disappear from their lives before precious words of clemency or absolution could be passed along. How do the survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business? From that place of meditation, I found the answer - you can finish the business, from within yourself. It's not only possible it's essential."

(excerpts from Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Soul Mate

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake."

~~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
Thanks, Tom. You are mine and I will forever be grateful.

Keep smacking me awake, lover.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Workin' It Out

Pot de Creme au Chocolat.

(The above photo shows it right after I poured it into the dishes. It's still warm.)

Never heard of it until Valentine's Day when Tom and I ordered it during our romantic dinner out.

Now I know how to make it myself.

And Tom says mine's better. (It's so rich it nearly makes my eyes sweat.)

So many things to learn and try in this life!

What fun.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spring and Yet Not

"I think we should say it's spring when the flowers start to push up through the ground and bud on the trees instead of from an equinox date on a calendar, " said Cassie at supper.

"I think it should count when you feel like it's spring," replied Caroline.
And I agree with both girls. While I know that February in western Oregon is known for having Spring Teasers, still, if it LOOKS and FEELS like spring, even though that first warm waft has yet to breeze upon our skin and thrill our senses, it's spring.

I pruned back my bushy herbs - lavender and two types of sage - and did some weeding and sweeping. Tom mowed the lawns - big difference - tidied the yard, and weeded. The girls weeded and hand-tilled our little veggie garden area, cut back the dead zebra grass and carpet-of-snow, and weeded the strawberry patch.

Afterwards, we celebrated with a hot meal which included our last CSA delicata squash, fresh California asparagus, meatloaf, baby red potatoes with butter and basil, and still warm vanilla pudding for dessert. We toasted with cold grape juice in goblets: "To the beginning of spring! We work now to create beauty and food for later. Cheers!"

Dishes washed, showers taken, we gathered together in the living room to watch Much Ado About Nothing.

A very enjoyable family day!

Cheers to you, too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Authentic Life

To live an authentic life, not a warmed-over reproduction of someone else's, aping the moves of the envied.

To write my own life's music - whether loud or quiet - rather than solely parroting the songs of others.

To dare reveal the genuine, uniquely expressed, as opposed to mere conformity meant to impress the shallow who judge the outward, seemingly oblivious to the deep, deep inward.

To climb the mountain of my potential for view and growth instead of for a photo-opportunity that begs attention.

While the posers of the world play King of the Hill, madly shoving and clawing toward dominance on a crumbling, teetering peak using faster, shinier, noisier machines, and gaudy possessions fresh from producers who use the duped to prosper themselves, while these same imitators desperately scratch words on technological walls and pages or on tiny screens clutched like life-support systems in ever-clenching fists, while everyday people swallow the swill of strangers to whom they look for guidance on youth and coolness factors, those few who dare think - think! - find themselves ever on the outskirts, away from the glare, heads shaking in astonishment that fellow human beings consistently turn their attention away from what is real to instead measure success by the amount of material possessions they hoard and how contemporary their toys may be, how splintered their attention can become due to constant fatuous interruptions, and how often their jarring voices can vomit incongruous words into spaces void of reason.

Like the last cup of bath water which quickly swirls down the drain, society's runaway oblivion seems unstoppable.

The pull of the crowd is fierce. It scares me. Because sometimes I am too weary to fight.

But I always return to my mind and my heart.

Today there is a force yanking at my emotions luring me to compete, to compromise.

But I resist. I cloister myself from seduction. Experience, belief, knowledge, understanding restore equilibrium. Posers. They are posers who polish a facade. This is not my aim in life. No.

I find resolution.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Back and forth she hovered, comparing prices on quarts of imitation cream for coffee. This one and that one, vanilla flavored or almond, green labels, red, yellow. This ' good nutrient' added, that 'bad one' left out. So many choices! Finally she settled on one just as her husband wheeled their loaded shopping cart around the corner.

"I found a good deal on this one!"

It was a quart of the food-like substance, ingredient list an inch long of chemicals discovered in a scientist's lab. The price: $2.67. She was quite pleased.

I felt sad for right there on the top shelf, in quiet purple and white cartons, stood quarts of cream. Real cream. One natural ingredient. For 98 cents.

Maybe she was lactose intolerant.

Lemmings. We've become lemmings.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


On Sunday Tom and I visited my parents 100 miles south of here. We found them content, healthy, eager to visit. Wood stove burning at just the right temperature, coffee steaming in the pot, news to share. Pleasant visit.

Heading down the drive-way we spotted six deer, some nestled in the greening grass, some snooping around the barn, some playing with others. Reflective brown eyes, slender bodies blending into the land, twitching ears, graceful, beautiful creatures.

Scenes and experiences of safety and satisfaction are necessary for me. Balance from a too-often chaotic world which alarms and discourages is derived from peacefulness.

Knowledge of my parents' tranquility soothes me, comforts me, carries me through the days. While I know that life's blows come suddenly, I choose to nestle my heart in this knowing today. I'll take it. I'll take it while it's here. I'll give myself over to its gentleness, and let my soul rejoice.


For Cecily - English Muffin Recipe

This morning I rouse myself from wintry laziness to copy this recipe down for Cecily, who is full of summer energy.
ENGLISH MUFFINS, from the More-With-Less Cookbook

Makes 18 muffins

Heat in a saucepan until very warm (130 degrees F/54 C):

1 - 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter

In large mixer bowl, combine:

2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast (or 1 T.)
1 - 1/2 c. flour

With mixer at low speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients. Increase speed and beat 2 minutes, or beat vigorously by hand.

Beat in:

1 egg
1 c. flour

With spoon, add:

2 c. flour, or enough to make stiff dough

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead just until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased [I use oil] large bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 - 1/2 hours. Punch down. Turn onto lightly floured surface; cover with bowl 15 minutes, and let dough rest.

Meanwhile, place cornmeal in a pie plate. Roll dough about 3/8" thick. Cut dough into 3" circles [I use my 3" biscuit/cookie cutter]; reroll scraps to make 18 circles [or thereabouts] in all. Dip both sides of each circle in cornmeal; place circles on cookie sheets. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Brush large skillet with salad oil and heat. When medium hot, put in 6 muffins, cook 8 minutes on each side or until brown. [Okay, here I use my large electric skillet at 350 degrees F/177 C, and it takes from 2-4 min. on each side. They turn a nice golden brown. Because I can cook eight at a time it doesn't take long.) Repeat until all are cooked. To serve, split muffins horizontally with tines of a fork and toast.

[Note: I've added cinnamon during the dry ingredient phase, and raisins in the egg/flour phase for delicious Cinnamon-Raisin muffins. I've also added whole wheat and soaked wheat berries. Use your imagination. Make the muffins you crave!]

Well, that didn't take long.

Now I think I need to make some more. Since my oven croaked on Sunday, this is the perfect thing to bake!


Saturday, February 07, 2009


I succumbed. Invited to Facebook, I joined. Hesitantly, nervously, fear and trepidation.

I made a Profile. Friend options appeared. Eleven 'Friends' right off the bat, even with tight privacy controls and pickiness.

I've Chatted with my sister. I've posted to others' Walls, commented on their Comments, looked at Photos of people I normally don't communicate with - my, have their children grown - time marches on and away. My high school/college past has pretty much stayed there, in the past. With exceptions, of course.

Amazing to me how, naturally marching in-step with time, physical aging has grabbed ahold of these once teenage associates of mine. I shouldn't be amazed. Seriously, I have a mirror. But I remember full heads of hair, round, mischievous eyes, straight, square-shouldered energetic bodies. Who are these old people looking out at me? Gray-haired, bald, 'mom' hairstyles, cookie-cutter middle-aged people who look like....well, parents and grandparents? Which is what they are. Which is what we are. But I don't feel the way these familiar faces look. Shocked me. It's normal. I understand why decades ago my sparsely seen childhood relatives patted me on the head while exclaiming, "Look how tall she is! Why, she was only thiiiis big last time I saw her."

Reality check.

The Facebook connection with a favorite high school friend and a beloved college friend is nice. We've always sent Christmas cards. Efforts to get together have fallen flat for the most part. Time and distance, lifestyle and family. After the initial Facebook "How ya doing? We really should get together!" and quick catching up, well, what does one say?

It's interesting, this Facebook thing.

But this blog, your blogs, there is depth there and conversation, thoughts, dreams, humor, beauty, pain, real sharing. It feels like real life. In getting to know you through blogs I feel I've been invited to easy-chair relax with you in your living rooms, to a degree. I've met some of you face-to-face and felt like I've known you for years. Blogs give me a much-desired sense of slowly simmering community full of surprising tastes and textures, an enriched, intricate belonging. Family.

Facebook feels like fast food, or like watching commercials or those entertainment magazine shows on t.v. - fast, flashing, blabby, shallow, annoying. And random. So random.

Yet, I visit Facebook regularly. Curious, you see. And I am sincerely interested in my 'Friends'.

I'll give it more time.

Who knows what goodies may be shaken out of this tree.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Nearly a year ago I read a book. It changed my life, my family's life. I wrote this. The birth of a new lifestyle, a new blog, and new perspective on food.

Today I dedicated myself to reading the book again. A refresher is in order. While the family and I have stayed true to our new understanding of food there is a certain drooping in enthusiasm. So, look again.

In the spirit of assessment I am reviewing all that has occurred this past almost-year.

First, we have not darkened the door or drive-up window of a fast food establishment since the book arrived in our mailbox. No kidding. The important thing to note is that none of us want to. (Now wait a minute, I think Tom said one day he forgot to take his lunch and accepted an offer from a co-worker to have 2 fast food tacos bought for him. He said they were disgusting and he couldn't finish them, things he had until last February eaten regularly. Good test.)

Second, we've drastically reduced our consumption of processed foods and have begun buying ingredients at the store instead of mixes, pre-made soups or frozen entrees, even potato chips, crackers, cookies, and bakery items. While I'd like to say we've eliminated them I still like the convenience of Prego spaghetti sauce when I'm in a hurry, fresh and dried pasta, canned tomato paste and sauce, and organic boxed stocks when I don't have time to thaw my own. Stuff like that. Oh, and Breyers ice cream now and then, gotta have it.

Third, we consume only hormone-free whole dairy products, no low-fat or no-fat. And we eat organic, grass-fed meat.

While there are many more changes those three are the most dramatic for us. All voluntary, these changes were welcomed at the time and are still so. We plan to live this way until we die, God willing.

Results include the loss of weight, some of us twenty pounds, without really trying. We have more energy to move which helped with the weight loss, I'm sure, not to mention the change to whole foods which taste good and quickly fill us up.

Tom's doctor had been after him for years to take drugs for his cholesterol. I, being nervous about the side-effects of such drugs, had urged Tom to resist by showing him studies and reports about the drugs and about better eating habits. All it took was our corporate understanding and the choosing of delicious, whole, natural food for Tom to find satisfaction in meals and thus forget about the edible food-like substances he'd graze on in-between. His cholesterol is now 'normal', no drugs.

Energy is higher all around, moods are more stable, skin is clearer, enthusiasm abounds, self-confidence replaces introversion, and less time is spent on the computer or playing video games.

Yada, yada, yada.

It's been an interesting year.

I'm going to put all the books that I've been reading lately on the bottom shelf of my night-stand. Michael Pollan's book will be the sole top-of-the-table book until I finish it again.

I've been taking good things for granted.

Need some reminding.

Spring is on the way. And I intend to meet it, greet it, hug it, follow it, and let it work for me even as I enjoy all the burstings of life it shares.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Negativity, thou art everywhere.

And I'm sick of it.

Seems like I have a log jam of everyone else's problems stuffed inside my body.

Feel like a giant, grumpy teddy bear who's stuffing is sticking out.

Out my ears.

Out my eyes.

Out my belly button.

Am I processing too slowly?

Are too many people depending on me instead of themselves?

Am I not saying 'No' enough? Sternly enough? Clearly enough?

Too controlling. Micro-managing.

These are my problems.

I let stuff in. It should bounce off and return to sender.

I'll work on it.

But right now? I want ice cream. Chocolate chip ice cream.

Momentary escape.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday Morning - Page Seventy-Seven

"Only those people whom we know and who create problems for us really provide us with a good opportunity to practice tolerance and patience." ~~ The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom
If you are reading this post, know that the quote does not refer to you. It's about that certain long- distance someone who, try as we may, will not exit our lives nor take any steps to tone down their sniping, grudging, or subterfuge.

Yesterday was a glorious day of sunshine, friends, Super Bowl fun, and evening family relaxation. Early in the morning we decisively - mentally - booted this person from entering our home via our conversation or very thoughts. "Out you go!" Our mindful reprieve freed us to fully give our best to those we love, who bring happiness to our home.

Relaxing though the Sunday be, the week, however, was much different. This quote with its positive wisdom has come at a good time, the beginning of a new week, hopefully void of said negativity or on the other hand, full of opportunities to practice tolerance and patience.

I'm hoping for peace.

Pray for me.