...a way of seeing beyond inner and outer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From accidental impasto to surprisingly pretty

I wonder if the experiences we least understand are the ones that we need to happen the most. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Family potato salad

     A few Sunday's ago, the local part of my weird, extended, quasi-manufactured family got together at our place for dinner. In any group of people kluged together by birth, marriage or rush hour there is inevitably going to be drama, and  there's never going to be a time when someone isn't annoyed with someone else, but we're able, for short bursts of time, to get over our small selves.  It's worth it. I really like us when in moments like that.
    This was the first time we'd all been together since the shock and awe that didn't and wasn't  took place and the first time, my best friend, aka, wife-in-law, aka my husband's ex-wife came to our house with her husband so you can understand that I was a little concerned that 1) there would be attitude or 2) there would be no one there.... and I made a mountain of food anyway.      
     That what we do in Texas.
     "These people may leave mad, but they ain't leavin' hungry, damnit"
     Fortunately, everyone involved made a fragile peace. It might have been all the wine, although that can turn ugly so I like to think we just let it go, whatever form "it" happened to take in each of our own mental miasmas. Unfortunately, only a small hill's worth of the mountain was consumed.  I sent home as many leftovers as they'd take, but J and I  ate the rest for several days.  It wasn't that tough and when I sat down to eat the last of the potato salad for breakfast the other day, yes it's that good, I decided I'd share the recipe.
     It's not that generous of me because it's my sister-in-law's recipe and I asked her if I could share it. She hasn't said no yet and that was a week or so ago. I figure if she was appalled, I'd have heard about it by now.  I keep it on my email account in a file folder labeled "Life Stuff I might Need".  It has far more crunchy, high fiber vegetables than it does potatoes and therefore I feel less guilty about eating it. I also take wild license with the recipe, adding radishes, olives,  jalapeños ( oh mama ) or whatever else strikes me as appealing in the moment, but here's the original recipe. After coming back through to edit, it strikes me that this simple tumbling of dismembered vegetables is a lot like family.  Disjointed parts making a colorful whole.

Kitty's Potato Salad
  • 5 lb. potatoes, boiled in their skins (VERY important - does something incredible to the taste).
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 or 3 ribs celery, depending on preference.
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 medium tomato
  • salt, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika to taste.
  • yellow mustard
  • mayonnaise
Peel the potatoes (lots of fun!) and cut everything up.  Mix in 1 or 2 tbsp. mustard, enough mayonnaise to make it all stick together (about 3/4 cup or so) and add the spices. Sprinkle more paprika on top for color.  Voila!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A case of mistaken identity.

     Monday morning, I realize everyone could use a hug, even the people who make my blood boil, or rather , especially the people who make my blood boil, because they're teachers, and teachers should get hugs, not to mention pay raises, but that's another story. Saturday morning was a whooooole lot of different.
     I went for my weekend wine tasting, met some lovely new friends, visited with some old friends, drank some amazing Malbecs, another Cava, a typically light fruity Riesling, planned a girl brunch for next Saturday with Miyuki, Kristy,  the wife-in-law, ate some great cheese, in all I had five hours of really fun stuff going on, and all I could think about for the rest of the weekend was the guy who told me he'd gone to Japan to find a submissive and obedient wife.  He was serious.
"You look vaguely familiar"
     The Monday morning person, you know, the enlightened one, knows I should have said smiled and said, "You deserve your equal.". The Saturday wine taster, laughed in the derisive way only an angry woman can, and asked him, "How'd that work out for yah, big guy?".  I was livid and sarcastic in the extreme, my rapier wit salted and I was off  to do some macro whittling on the guy's self esteem. The specifics would only work you up and/or make me look bad, because I was hateful. Truly and repeatedly.
      (Sample:  My reply to his comment,
      "She", the obedient submissive wife, "decided", yes he said decided, "to die of cancer."
     "Well,damn, that had to mess up your day."
       Yes. Chock Full o' Hate. Almost as much as he seemed to have for women, huh?)
     It's also off topic, which is that I got mad in the first place and started shredding him because I felt threatened. Had I immediately remembered what I am, I might still have laughed, but it would have been one of amusement that he felt threatened by women or amazement that he'd forgotten what he was. The rest of the conversation was just louder and louder instruction for me to see past the surface to the fearful and insecure boy in need of a reminder that dominating another human being wasn't going to make him feel any better about himself.  Love is the only thing with that kind of power. Now if I could only remember to use it.  I wonder if there's a smart phone app for that?

Saturday, October 23, 2010


A gift Cava to prime the pump.
For more than a few Saturdays, maybe a bundle of them, the memory fades in a delightful bacchanalian muddle, I've been going to an almost free wine tasting with my wife in law. It's not too shabby as rituals goes.   This is me hoping your Saturday is as good as it should be...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Puddle dancing.

To those of you not in arid places, 
this won't mean much, 
but it's been raining.
Cue the water music, inner child style,
and because we can, in Italian.

You can take the girl out of Texas...

...but some things go bone deep.  I'm always gonna drink out of the garden hose,  always going to like being outside on the porch during a thunderstorm  and I'm always gonna listen to Willie Nelson.   Can't wait to go home.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some things never change...

Three months

Three years...

Communion: the act of sharing, or holding in common; participation.

Friday, when I was in one of my favorite neighborhoods on a chocolate hunt, I noticed what I thought was a small plaza with unmatched hand painted tile and walked over to investigate.   At the time, I also thought I was closer to the library than I was and so I assumed they'd been done as some sort of children's summer art project until I looked closer, or more accurately, until I actually looked at them. 
It was a bus stop, not a plaza. The tiles had been painted by the families that lived in the area and contributed to add to the communal area. Each family that participated left creative breadcrumbs and a piece of themselves, some of them even noting which of the "flower" streets they called home.  They made me smile, reminded me what have to give, and how small things can change how we see ourselves.

Check out
all the other players ofRuby Tuesday

Monday, October 18, 2010

"How to stop feeling like #%^!" -101

Recently, there have been a few days that I considered unblogable, because if I don't want to hear me whine, why in the world would you. On the other hand getting out of an unblogable week and being happy on the other side, if not during, might be considered blogable.
Step 1:   Accept that you're having a crappy week and start paying attention to something else, or rather, everything else.
Step 2:   Have an open in case of crappy week document that lists things you enjoy doing, because in the middle of the crappy week, you're going to forget that you ever liked anything at all.
Step 3:  Tell the part of yourself that's having the crappy week, even if it's 99.999% of yourself, to pretend that it's passed and start acting like it's passed, even if it hasn't. And chances are pretty good it hasn't, but it will.
Step 4: Don't underestimate the power of beautiful. Start looking for it. It's found in the oddest place

The nature of human existence is that something is going to come flying out at you in the direction of your peace of mind, and when it does, it could be the precursor for a week where you have a panic attack while at work that makes you to think hiding in the back of the closet has merit as a life coping mechansim.  Plastic ketchup bottles are not meant to explode when they hit the floor, but from personal experience I can tell you if they do, you might want to consider it the universe's early warning system.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lollypops with superpowers.

Corona Del Mar is an unabashedly quaint seaside village between Los Angeles and San Diego, California. I plan on living there, on Poppy Avenue, as soon as possible because I love the street name, and because it's three blocks from one of the area's highlights, the See's Candy Shop that's been on the corner of the Pacific Coast Highway and Narcissus Avenue since the 1940s. 
A few months ago I would rather have died than "waddled" into the place. These days I go every few weeks to pick up the most amazing lollypops and, until yesterday, three chocolates.  After eating all three, the two I bought and the free one they GIVE AWAY .oh. my. goodness....oh.. my..goodness.. um.. yes.. so three chocolates.  Too many..  One too many at least, and since I've found what I love is really and truly the marzipan in dark chocolate, why buy another when I know they're going to GIVE AWAY another..why bother? Two is plenty, though to be honest, I'd intended to give the third to my husband. Sadly, he has no sweet tooth and I have no desire to spread my chocolate consumption out over several days.  That's a project for the future, I suppose.
Yesterday, when I was in the shop getting my box of 80-calorie-last-a-long-time-make-the-sweet-tooth-go-back-to-sleep-and-stay-there-lollypops-with-superpowers, there was a thin woman in a lab coat ahead of me in line.  Now this isn't terrifically interesting except that she, and all the other thin women in the shop prove my original thesis.  She had in her beautifully manicured hand a small stack of quarters that came to $1.75. I know this because she placed them on the glass counter top and asked the chocolate clerk ( what a job..oy)  for $1.75 worth of dark chocolate covered raisins, which she was given and which she opened on the way out of the store.
This morning I put the lollypops by my front door for all to see and any to take then took my 
dog on a long walk to work off that last chocolate, the one they GAVE AWAY...*swoon..the one that inspired me to share.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I know just how the chickpea felt...

I've spent the past couple days?/weeks? simmering in digital juices, aka working for money.  I'm a computer geek along the lines of a fireman so most of the time, I sit around the "firehouse" waiting and watching until an alarm goes off at which time, I turn into a crazy woman. Crazy might be too strong of a word, though probably not, because when you spend days looking at things  like database patches ( long  story ) and Linux printer drivers for an ERP point of sale systems ( longer story ) you do slog back into the firehouse feeling a little cooked. 
I have not, however, cooked in a literal sense because at the end of the day, I lack the braincells to operate all those complex stove dials and microwave buttons.  Voice command and robots can't come fast enough for me.  Even so we've managed to eat with care and I'm now out of my fat clothes and into my next to fat clothes ( am I the only one that has ten different sizes in their closet?  yes? ....dang ). VegtheMan is still not eating meat. He's actually lost ten lbs and my lord that boy eats. I've been stunned and the amount of chow he goes through and at how little our grocery bill has changed.   
We've cleaned out the freezer of beans, soups etc.  VtM has become best friends with the rice steamer and we have been doing a lot of vegetarian take out, veggie burgers, cereal ( soy or almond milk for me.. the cow stuff smells like feet which makes great cheese, but is just seriously wrong on granola ), and  falafel!  
VtM found these in one of this recon missions to the megalogiganticus mart of largness and too muchness aka Costco. 

Falafel Pita
  • Store bought falafel ( whole foods sells a mix, and you can find it pre-cooked in the frozen food section of many grocery stores ) or use this recipe from Epicurious.com, which comes from Joan Nathan's The Food of Israel Today, and I have used when there were no database fires burning my head to crispy brain bits.
  • Whole Wheat or good quality pita bread. Ingredients make the difference. There's simply no escaping the power of good stuff.
  • cherry tomatoes cut in half. You can use larger tomatoes and I would if I grew my own, but I can't do grainy 'maters
  • shredded lettuce
  • very thinly sliced cucumber
  • very thinly sliced onion
  • tahini sauce
    • 1/2 cup tahini ( The sesame seed's answer to peanut butter. It's found either in the ethnic food section or sometimes with the peanut butter )
    • 1/2 cup greek yogurt* 
    • 1 large clove garlic crushed
    • the juice of one lemon
    • Mix everything in a bowl  * if you use non-fat yogurt, you'll need to add 1/2 cup of water and another lemon to thin the sauce
Heat falafel. Heat and split pita bread to make a pocket. Place as many falafel as you like into the pocket (I use 1 because I cut the top off the pita and leave the bigger portion for the bigger human who uses 3 ) layer the vegetables as preferred and drizzle with sauce.  Eat. Go sit and stare at the wall.. or better yet, read this, but the word s.e.x.u.a.l is used so if that bothers you, you might want to pass:

Chickpea to Cook
A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it's being boiled.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

"Don't you try to jump out.
You think I'm torturing you.
I'm giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this."

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,
"Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can't do this by myself.

I'm like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn't pay attention
to his driver. You're my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking."

The cook says,
"I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher."


Tuesday, October 5, 2010


..I am this close to turning in my PETA membership and buying a baguette.

Monday, October 4, 2010

If I have to be on fire...


and this
are way more fun than these.


Therapy, table for one.


I'm sure there are people who never get "stuck".   I am very happy for those people. I am not one of those people, and to tell you the truth, I'm  not really happy for them. I envy them, because they're probably the same people that like to exercise.     
A few mornings ago, I woke up stuck.  I did not want to accomplish anything  and unless I'm the only one that's figured this out, you all know you can get through your day with a lot of movement and no sense of progress, so over time, I have developed a method for getting my own dang self unstuck, but it's not pretty. and it's more than a little weird, but I don't reeeally care, because it works and I'd rather be weird than take a pill. It get's weird from here.
There are 11 of us in here....
 I have a document entitled "Conversations" where I talk to myself.  This is an excerpt from that morning's entry:  

Me again.
I love me again..
Yeah yeah.. me not there again.
So where are you?
In a box and not deep enough but deeper than I should be.  It’s closet time.. nah nah nah nah.. closet time…can’t see that…  for those of you playing at home, this is how I describe the feeling of wanting to spend the day in the bottom of the closet with a book and a flashlight.
Funny.. not exactly your best work, but I see your point.
Yeah, well everyone is a critic.
I have no criticisms.
Whatever.. so here I am…
Where is here?
Just… blah  I’m uninterested in everything. I don’t feel “depressed” per say, just not interested. 
Where does that come from?
I don't answer myself... which stays as a blank line in the document. I'm very orderly about my insanity.
Yeah.. see.. you’re going to have to want for it to shift.
I’m here aren’t I?
Are you here to have an audience for your wallowing or are you here to break free and move back into joy?
There we go….
What are you angry about?
Well, if I start pointing at other people, I know it’s just a deflection, and to tell you the truth, at least I recognize the only reason that I’m “angry” at other people is because I want to be left alone and allowed to wallow.
Progress has happened.
Well, I don’t feel any better
No, but you feel.    That’s a start

It's at this point that I stop and come here, because it occurs to me that I can't be the only person who experiences these moments of being stuck in a mind set I dislike and unable to shake it and if I am, then I think you'll all find it amusing, or call someone and get me help.  So now, as the stuck progresses, mental wheels spinning, psychiatric mud flying, I go back to my internal conversation, where I give myself the assignment to look it, whatever it is, between the eyes.  I'm not moving past this any other way.

It’s not like I think there’s any thing wrong it’s just that I’m not in joy.  How do I change that?   There’s no one “out there” that’s making this happen. I am.. and I want to change it. 
Being. If this is a day of sadness, let it be a day of sadness. If it’s a day of loss then let it be…
But I don’t want to stay here..
Then you must let it be until it runs its course.
That makes no sense. That's sitting down and waiting in the crapper.  (  and this is the cleaned up version therapy for one is just as intense as therapy for two) I don’t see you as an "angel of light" right now. 
My law is being what I am, the same law I’m asking you to fall into because you know what you are.
I am not You
Aren’t you?  What do you think you are?  All you are is Me. Isn’t that what you seek to remember so you can Be.
Yes..this scares me.  and quite frankly, as I think about posting this, it embarrasses me too.  
What is the only thing that produces fear?
My ego telling me “what’s real"
What does ego tell you is real?
That I am separate, alienated, not whole. It's them against me. That I am not enough …no, it’s telling me that you are not enough. 
Am I enough?
Then you don’t need to do anything.  You need to Be…

At this point, I'm getting there. I feel the thaw happening, the "letting" go.. and yes, I probably shouldn't have posted this, but semper veritas.

Okay, so are you done?
Yes yes..  sort of.. no…I'm nothing if not indecisive.
Deflecting or pushing your ego out isn’t going to do it.  You have to face it. Period. There ain’t no short cut to paradise.  And there’s really no such thing as “sucking it up.. “ there’s only pushing it down.  That doesn’t make it go away. It just keeps it/and you stuck there.
Okay well here’s the deal.. I resent the drive to be the best, be good, be better, be amazing
lol… what the hell??.. can’t I just do something that brings me joy because it brings me joy why do I have to turn EVERY single thing into…  oh..
Yes.."oh" .What do you Be lieve right now?

It’s at this point I go look up the word believe.  Here’s what I found.  Believing and loving are closely allied. Late Old English belēfan took the place of an earlier gelēfan ‘believe’ (with the associative prefix ge-), which can be traced back to a prehistoric West and North Germanic *galaubjan (source also of German glauben ‘believe’). This meant ‘hold dear, love, and hence ‘trust in, believe’, and it was formed on a base, *laub-, which also produced, by various routes, English love, lief ‘dear’.
I still say, joy, love is the only way. Total, all encompassing nonexclusive loving with abandon. That's not a tic on a to do list. It's a continual state of being in love, with my self, with everyone around me, with every thing that presents itself whether it's in the form of "get some" or of "learn some".

lagniappe:  All these t-shirts and much more hilarity can be yours at thinkgeek.com.  more fun than being a geek should be.

Go forth and unlearn something...

For years, I tried to garden, with limited success.  I finally gave up and developed a green thumb.  Now I can't kill a plant to save my life.  In fact, they have  a way of reproducing when I'm not looking.   They're pod plantples...   They've also taught me something about knowledge.  It has limited usefulness when compared to throwing yourself all in to the direction of intent and allowing.

I started my original blog to see where I was lead.  This is where I was lead.  If you have a blog you know you tend to it like a small garden. You watch it, see how certain things are doing, wonder what you could add and what might work in that little corner over there where nothing seems to thrive, but ultimately, I think that's busy work.  The real "work" happens when you forget what you think you know and play in the dirt, so to speak.

These babies and a family dinner party next Sunday have inspired me to give my patio a makeover.  Inspiration is just another way of playing follow the leader, and in this case the leaders want to be repotted.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"I don't care much about music. What I like is sounds." Dizzy Gillespie

Amen. Here's to sound, a lot of sound.  Smile... It's all so far beyond good.

Take help where you find it.

A solid support group can make a huge difference in whether you reach challenging goals or not.    It's easier to walk away from destructive behavior once you know you've already proven it won't make you feel any better to repeat the same patterns and you have such whole hearted offers of assistance.  
"You want those linen slacks, I want the other half of that veggie burger.
Help me help you."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What is it you think you're exercising there, hon?

Physic is harsh, dude.    We are biological machines so if input>output, then storage happens and it's not the Martha Stewart craft section just for storage kind of storage either.  It's the muffin top, cankle, bulging bits kind of storage.  No die cuts, no stickers and no pretty boxes.   

There are people who like exercise. I don't know any, but I know there must me.    I Wii.   Using the Wii is a lot like crochetting a hoopskirt for a doll top so you can hide the tp.  It hides the obvious in the sometimes hideous. (... downward dog, people..  just saying.. )  and it's fun.  Silly fun.  Aaaaaaaaand I still wouldn't do it if I didn't have a ritual that changes exercise into a physical meditation, an "exercise" in how to wallow in how much fun it is to be me, when I let it.   

My home gym:

  • Sandalwood oil, just a dab.  I'd rather smell like santalum album than not, given the alternative "ripeness" of a decent workout session.   
  • Incense.  I'd rather the air smell like santalum album  as well.   I set it in a pot plant outside my living room door and I apologize to any of the people in the area who don't like smelling very nice incense wafting through the open air.    Consider me your teacher in the art of letting go, again.   I live to serve.
  • Cold water.  Yes. I could just pour a larger glass.  That may hydrate my cells, but it doesn't do nearly as much for my joy factor as  so quirky mismatched glass things in pleasing arrangements.
  • My notebook, so I can write things down that need to be done that day as they come to me.
  • My reminder book for those inspirational moments that happen and you know you've been given a gift.  I need those because at some point, I'll inevitably think being me isn't so much fun and will need to be gently shoved awake because I'm napping.  Example: "What is it you think you're exercising there, hon?" A thought that occurred to me when I was internally whining about exercise and realized I should be thinking of it as a physical meditation. I wrote it down for the next time I didn't want to Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
  • The Wii controller.  It's there, just hidden behind all the things that are actually important.   

I mean to tell you, if exercise helps you burn calories, I'm on fiyah! by the time I finish.  That does NOT mean it can't be fun.    I have to borrow a picture and link to a post, and if you have any sense at all you'll become a follower of this girl's blog, because you'll be really sorry you didn't when she takes over the world.  While I don't do this, I certainly feel like could:
Ms Izzy Rose Toes

Friday, October 1, 2010

Muscadine vines...and cork floors, or vice versa

Yes please.
I save wine cork.  I started doing it because of one bottle in particular, a bottle of 2001 Cakebread Chardonnay, a bottle I did not ever want to forget.   Now I couldn't tell you which cork it is. I have hundreds of them and no clue what to do with them.  I'm looking at a few possible projects that range from wreathes to trivets, but they're not movin' me overly much. I could live with this shower and I'd have to drink more wine to make it happen, so I'm not seein' the down side of that.

I enjoy wine. I follow one wine blog and hope that my vast following (me laughing )will create a grass roots pressure on Kathy to drink more, and blog about it. I make up for my lack of wine blog enthusiasm by drinking the fruit of the wine often and with much devotion. An appreciation for the fruit of the vine must be a family trait.

Ben's boggy bottom... I'll assume forgiveness.
One brother is equal parts poet and hell raiser. The other is equal parts poet and white knight. I haven't spent a lot (any) time with them in recent years so that's a guess, but I bet it's pretty close to the middle of the mark.  The poet in them both wants to grow grapes and make wine.  The hell raiser is the man child who's got the gizzard to grow them in the acidic soil of East Texas, a place not exactly known for it's hospitable pH, to say nothing of the terrible terroir, and the white knight is giving it a go, feet first, head on, swords swingin'.  I love that about them.   I also love that particular piece of earth and the wild muscadine  vines that wind through the boggy thickets down by Little Cypress.   Those vines are like the family that has lived there for four generations now. Formidable. Enduring. Still hangin' tough in the trees, no matter how many or how often they've been pulled down . If anyone could coax something potable out of that dirt, it would be someone like them.  My cousins. Our land. Thank you Musser and Papa... prickly visionaries, those two.

Bovines a la Saddle Tree.
Photo by Ben W. oenophile cowboy

I was looking for a 2005 Old Ghost Zinfandel and found it using this I thought you might like to know about it. It's google for wine.  I like that.

Shift happens.

Turns out, popular opinion says you should be concerned if you start telling yourself to shut up.  I'm not sure I agree, primarily, because I know the kinds of things that I say to myself.  In fact, I think I should probably tell myself to shut up more often.   More precisely, I think I should tell the part of myself that's afraid, and thus angry and alienated to shut up and follow the part of my innate nature that is good and loving.   The tiniest shifts in perception are often the ones that make all the difference, not that it's a tiny thing to think of yourself as you were created, loving and whole.  It's a very large thing, but we're still only the blink of an eye from waking up to our own nature and thus the nature of everything.  We are everything,  thus, "we" has no antonym.. there is no "them".  That's the lie, and the end of my reminder to myself.  Thank you for either enduring, or skimming past it...

I'll now make the point that tiny shift in perceptions are everything with a physical demonstration, not of my own making. It's the creation of Michelle Brand, an environmental artist whose fabulous battle cry is "100% granola free"

What you're looking at in these pictures started out this way, and would have stayed that way unless someone had a slight shift in perception.

Someone has probably figured out what to do with the top part of the bottle, and if not, they're probably working on it right now. As for myself, I still haven't figured out to do with the hundreds of wine corks I've been saving but that light fixture is aaaaalmost enough to make me re-think my own answer to plastic water bottles.