Posted in Food, Things I Like

Gadgets and Gizmos and Chicken Soup

I’ve been reading Bringing Home the Dharma in the mornings. It’s my new ritual, this reading in the morning. I have broken my Ultimate Yogi streak and am now contemplating  starting all over again and trying to make it to 108 Days.

I have a hard time when my streaks end. There’s a lot of mourning and self-recrimination. I have my rules and all, but it’s still hard. With the Ultimate Yogi it was a matter of not being able to fit in the hour-plus every day. All of my problems are with time: the desire to do so many things, but then running out of day.

Why is it that some people seem to have, or are able to fit in, so much more into a day than I can?

Time Management. Energy Management. Putting the Big Rocks in first. Battling the Resistance Monster. These are my ever-recurring themes.

Part of the problem is that I tell myself that there are certain conditions that need to be met before I can do other things. Like I need to start cooking in a clean kitchen, so dishes need to be done first. Or I can’t work on writing or computer projects unless my surroundings are neat and orderly. But taking time to pick up and put things where they belong takes time away from the activity that I want to do once the space is free of clutter and chaos. And there is never a lack of clutter and chaos.

And how come it is that once I’ve created order, I have now run out of the time to do the activity that required the order? And on top of that, I have now expended so much energy cleaning, that now my tank is totally empty for creating?

Errrr.

Okay. Switching topics.

G comes home today. Here is what I have been doing in her absence: I have eaten cookies. And the pie she baked (and left). I also ate a bagel with cream cheese. I have had 2 glasses of wine every night. I have been drinking caffeinated coffee. I have also been enjoying my Verismo and my frother.

In the past month or so I have acquired a number of new gadgets: a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer, a Cuisinart (which is not actually “new” it’s just been sitting in a box in the basement because I wasn’t psychologically ready, until now, to deal with learning “blades.”) I have also recently gotten a Verismo and a milk frother. Add this to the VitaMix and the Juicer and I now have no counter space. But, I have a shitload of gadgets.

Just to clarify. I love gadgets, maybe even more than I love the word “gadget” itself. I also love the word “gizmo” and I often have “gadgets” hang out with “gizmo” so that they form a little two-thing gang called “Gadgets and Gizmos” kinda like Bloods and Crips, but friendlier.

The other day I made a homemade chicken noodle soup with a leftover rotisserie chicken. While the chicken was cooking down in a pot of water, I sent 4 huge carrots through the slicer on the Cuisinart, followed by 3 stalks of celery. I then changed out the slicer for the chopper blade and chopped an onion. I minced 4 cloves of garlic in my hand mincer and in the blink of an eye I had saved myself a good half hour’s worth of chopping.

I used the “Heady Garlic” olive oil I got at F. Oliver’s to saute all that veggie wonderfulness, and the resulting soup was so so rich with flavor I wanted to invite the whole neighborhood for lunch. I boiled up a big batch of fillini (which is my fave “soup pasta–egg noodles are gross, I think) and kept them in a separate container and just add them to the individual bowls of soup so they don’t flab out, or muddy the broth with starch.

That’s going to be the “Welcome Home” dinner for G tonight. Maybe I will even stop at Wegman’s  on the way to the airport and get a nice loaf of crusty bread and a little “sumpin'” for dessert.

(Do you know that “desserts” spelled backwards is “stressed?”) Turns out the antidote is contained right inside the poison.)

Excellent.

Posted in Detox, Food

Food Sins

Last night I came home from my wild and crazy Fall Flow class, starving. On the counter stood a warm rotisserie chicken and a bottle of wine at the perfect temperature. Oh god, it was the sight of heaven.

I fixed a plate, poured some wine and settled into the couch for a DVRed episode of The Amazing Race.

Ever since I have come off Clean, I have been super-aware of the effects of food on my mood, my sleep and my energy levels. This past weekend, for example, I indulged in pulled pork on a roll and, of all things, Cheese Balls.

Yeah. You know, cheese balls–those things that come in a jumbo plastic jar that are nothing but salt, preservatives and chemicals? Yeah, I ate those. After the 10th one I felt like I was going to throw up. Seems I no longer have the “palate” for crap I used to.

Cheese balls

The white roll that housed the pulled pork was this tasteless piece of “meh” that didn’t even offer that chewy, doughy, satisfaction of really-bad-for-you carbohydrate. It was just a hunk of processed white flour posing as food.

Last night though, the chicken was tasty and greasy, the wine fruity and satisfying. Alcohol has not been a big player in my life for the past 2 months, so as I sipped this nice Cline Zin (on a Monday, no less) I was aware that even though this probably wasn’t the best thing for me to be drinking, it nourished my soul.

The biggest problem with me and wine is not the wine itself, but how it lowers my resistance to other things. Like chocolate.

After I drained the first glass, I went to the kitchen for “just a splash more” and returned to the couch with my splash, plus a square of Ghiradhelli.

And then another one.

I went to bed and slept the sleep of the dead.

For 2  hours.

Then I was UP.  Chocolate at night. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I looked at the clock at 1:30. Then again at 2:45. Then at 3:30. I adjusted pillows. I started the fan for some white noise. Squinted at the clock again at 4:45. I planned my NaNoWriMo project in my head for awhile then woke with a jolt at 8 AM.

I shuffled to the kitchen and made a big batch of amaranth cereal with apples and dates, and while I ate it I said 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys.

Clean slate.

Recipe for Amaranth cereal:

3 cups almond milk

1 cup amaranth (find this in the bulk food section of Wegmans, near the candy)

1 apple and 5 pitted dates pulsed in the food processor until they are in little pieces.

A good healthy shake of cinnamon.

Put all of these ingredients into a pot and bring to boil. Continue to simmer uncovered until the cereal is of the consistency you like. For me, this takes about 20 minutes. It makes a lot, so save it and heat it with a little almond milk the next day.

Amaranth is an ancient grain with a lot of protein, fiber, lysine and magnesium.  It will absolve you of the sins of cheese balls and chocolate and wine at night. I hope.

Posted in Happiness, Inspiring books, Reading, Solitude, Writing

The Return to Interiority

Even though I get melancholy when the season changes from summer to fall, and even more so when it changes from fall to winter, I have to admit that I really do love the return to interiority.

I just read a piece in Elephant Journal by a woman who went to a retreat at Kripalu and decided that she didn’t want to be alone with her “Self” after all.

That’s not me. Not at all. Me? I need solitude, a strong daily dose of it. When I am too much the “social butterfly” I become lost and scattered and my “self” starts pixelating beyond recognition.

In the Stephen Cope book I am reading now, I underlined this: (he is talking about Robert Frost here.)

“He intuited that he needed a life set close to nature–nature, which had always been his muse. Frost was intuitively aware of an important principle: In the cultivation of dharma, there is nothing more important than understanding what conditions are needed, and relentlessly creating them.” (p.81-2)

This has made me think about what conditions I need, and to try to actively create them. Do you know what conditions make you feel like you are living like your True Self?

As a result of reading this, I have instituted a new morning routine. I now get up a little earlier and make myself a cup of decaf . But instead of sitting down at the computer and checking email and Facebook, which was my usual habit, I now take my cup up to my Space Chair, turn on the little heater, and settle in with my book for an hour.

Winterized Space Chair

I can’t tell you how cozy and delightful this is! It seems like I’ve been whining forever about how I need  more time to read, and here it is. Now, instead of leaving my book to the end of the day, when I am toast, I am reading in the front part of the day, when I am rested, alert and receptive.

After an hour’s read, I go and make myself some amaranth cereal and bring it back up into my cozy lair and start alternately scribbling in my journal and shoveling cereal into my mouth.

When another hour has passed, I am good to go: ready to be physically active and socially engaged.

These may not be all my “conditions” but they are certainly key: solitude, reading, and writing.

Do you know what yours are? Care to share?

Posted in Things I Like, Writing

Homecoming

I put the velvet comforter on the bed the other day and and I’ve been craving gingerbread, and ginger snaps, pumpkin spice lattes, and pot roast.

This weekend we had a fire in the fireplace for the first time. The cat, who has not slept on my bed since I put the cotton comforter on it back in June, has now made my bed hers again.

Lulu loves comfort

In the weeks and months I have not been writing here I have:

  • Done a 2 month cleanse
  • Attended a 5 day program with Yoganand at Kripalu
  • Started doing The Ultimate Yogi cds

Then, the other day, in response to my last post, one of my yoga students gave me a fountain pen. I uncapped it right then and there at my desk in the lounge and scribbled a few “test” words on a Post-It just to try it out, and I fell madly, deeply, hopelessly in love with it. I swear, I could hardly teach my class that night so anxious was I to get my hands on that pen!

It’s a Varsity disposable fountain pen made by Pilot (my fave pen company to begin with) and it writes like a dream. I feel like I have come home again.

I really want to love writing on the keyboard, I do.  I really want to love Scrivener and all the linking and research filing it lets me do, but I can’t seem to get my ideas out of the box there the way I can with fountain pen and paper.

It’s so weird because I am such a geek for electronics and I love all my gizmos. I am lusting for an Iphone 5 (even thought I hate phones and do not need one.) I love my Kindle. I adore my Ipad. My MacBook Pro is showing some signs of age (which makes me a little crazy because it’s not that old) but when it comes to writing, I’m completely old-fashioned: just a fountain pen, and a plain, unlined Moleskine notebook (the 5 x 81/4 size) turned landscape, and a quiet morning in my space chair.

Last week I was so excited because I thought I could have the best of both worlds: Evernote came out with a Moleskine specially designed to be able to store and search your scribblings!

Here’s how it works: You open the Evernote app and click on the camera within the app (it works with Ipad, Iphone, and Itouch w/camera) and take a picture of whatever you’ve written (or sketched) in the special Evernote Moleskine and then it saves your scribbles in the cloud where you can even tag them and search them.

But oh god, it is so clumsy. I found I did not like it at all for what I do and the way I write, but I think it might work for little things, like my daily log, but not for my long morning write.

I am thinking about doing NaNoWriMo again this year. (Do you remember I made a go of that last year? Got it all set up in Scrivener and everything, but then got hopelessly behind in my daily word count and abandoned it at the 10K mark?)

Okay, so this year I am going to take another stab at it and try for 50K words in a month doing it longhand, with fountain pen, in my (regular) Moleskine. I’m nuts, I know, but I am going to attempt a memoir. A spiritual memoir. I know…I know…such a cliched meme of the times, but I am curious about what I might learn about the trajectory of my life by writing down all the “dots” and then attempting to connect them.

This weekend is Homecoming and we are going to have a houseful of softball players doing their ritual, “Telling of the Stories of the Good Ole Days.” They are so sweet, so ridiculous, and they have such a good time, I can’t help but love them, but I will spend most of the weekend hiding from them up here in my room, finishing Stephen Cope’s latest, The Great Work of Your Life.

Today is a beautiful, blue October day. I plan to spend most of the afternoon cleaning up the yard, throwing out frost-bitten plants. Then I think I will make a big batch of my famous macaroni and cheese and eat it in front of the fire tonight.  In honor of homecoming.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

The Pen Is Mightier. The Computer Has No Pulse.

This morning I made a cup of de-caf, took out a pen, found a lightly used Moleskin and started writing. With a pen. On paper.

I wrote a letter to my muse, asking her to come back to me. I told her that I saw her as a kite that had gotten so high in the sky that she was only visible as a little dot in the sky. Even the kite string that attached her to me, disappeared after a while so I wasn’t even sure we we tethered any longer.

 

I told her that she was like a big fish that I had hooked, but couldn’t seem to reel in. She was strongly in control of our destiny, pulling the little boat of me way out into the pathless sea.

 

I’ve been trying for well over a year, to get my muse to go digital. “C’mon Muse,” I write, (actually, I call her Stella). “C’mon Stella,” I scribble, “You know my handwriting is atrocious, and if you say something wonderful, I will only have to transcribe this into Scrivener anyway, so why can’t we learn to relate to each other on the keyboard?”

 

“No,” she says, “I hate the keyboard. The electricity mucks up our vibe. I need your pulse. It activates the ink. Actually, I wish you would go back to your old fountain pen. I really liked that fountain pen. Gel ink? It’s so processed.”

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...
Image of a modern fountain pen writing in cursive script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to draw the line at the fountain pen, I don’t even think I have one anymore, but I am going back to the ink pen and the paper because I need her. I can’t do this alone. When I do have a pen in my hand, and an open notebook, I can feel her getting closer. My brain starts to fire in a different way, my thoughts have a different voice. It’s as if she is in my head,  whispering: “Loosen your grip, Kath, let your eyes go out of focus, let ME write.”

 

I know she’ll come back to me eventually, but only if she sees me holding a pen. It’s killing me that we have to do it like this because typing is so much more efficient: cleaner, faster, and infinitely more edit-able.

 

But I need her.