Thursday, April 12, 2012

coming to comprehend

Through the morning's
open window
I heard a woman

and I realized
that I
am numb
or rather, bestilled

because what I believe,
those most intrinsic things,
have changed
shifted, solidified

and I stumble alone
in coming to comprehend
that the reality
that each of us clings to
is but a story
that none of us
admits to disbelieving

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

when you've got work: make crackers

Oh hey, happy new year to those i've not seen/heard... Can't believe it's Jan. 11th already, can you?

Tonight I've been struggling to finish some work I promised myself I'd finish today and just can't concentrate any more (in my own defence, it is 10 p.m.!) and am considering making these

Seedy crackers
(modified from twospoons)

90g of seeds: pumpkin and/or sunflower and/or white sesame
60g black sesame seeds

240g wholewheat flour
1 tsp sea salt

2 T honey
3 T oil

+/- 135ml water

Preheat oven to 150C (300F). In a food processor, pulse all the seeds to powder. Add flour, salt, honey and vegetable oil and pulse to evenly distribute the oil and honey throughout. Last, add the water gradually, pulsing until you get a soft, moist dough. Lightly flour a working surface, and roll a tennis ball sized portion of dough out thinly and cut into shapes. Transfer to a lightly greased baking tray. Bake 10 mins, rotate the tray, bake another 10 minutes, until lightly golden.

Of course this would require energy enough to get out my cadillac food processor i bought off my sister's friend for dirt cheap. Which is the same amount of energy as what it would take to do the laundry i promised myself i'd also do today!

Ah, la petite vie...

Friday, December 9, 2011

many passports ago

Found my first passport the other day. At least I think it was my first. Went to Mexico when I was about 18 but don't think I had a passport. Is that possible?

Anyway, this is me when I was... what is it, 25, just before a trip to Jamaica. Funny cuz a really gorgeous (and admittedly sweet-talking) 30-year-old told me today that I look 25 but of course he didn't see this bit of evidence to the contrary.

I looked so innocent... unmarked. And yeah, nowadays my soul is a map. I've traveled so much over the last two decades, I've been thinking lately I should write some details down one day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

been awhile since

... i posted anything work-related. But when I saw the ocean on G's walk this morning, it asked me to share this very compelling Q&A interview with the author of a new book about what's going on in the oceans.

Photo by World Resources Institute.
I try not to talk about these things too much with most of the people I know because it's hard for me to stay calm and find the right words to get through the shields people create for themselves. Because, psychologically, we humans are having trouble dealing with the ecological problems our industrial society has created. It's downright scary, mindboggling, depressing. Better for your mental health not to think too-too much about it, I know. Just because it consumes much of my thoughts and, increasingly, my actions/lifestyle, I want to be clear: I am not judging anyone. Particularly the person (hi, S) with whom I recently discussed my gradual ethical transformation into this eco-hardass! I hope she can stop feeling scared to talk to me about such stuff and she can now attest that I do make, at my little city homestead, a pretty awesome loaf of bread!

Okay, end of enviro-interlude. Thanks for listening.

Addendum: Just got my hydro bill and mainly because of receiving my lamps with CFL bulbs (and probably also do to my deciding to cut down on heating a bit after having been shocked by my October bill), my consumption dropped from 10kwh/day in October, back to what it was at in August: 3kwh/day. Wonder what the corresponding CO2 reduction on that is!

Monday, November 21, 2011

the joys of unfussy

I'm so glad I'm pretty much the unfussiest person I know. Take celery root. It's bizarre looking and is probably ignored by a large percentage of shoppers, but man, I heart the stuff. And in super-easy savoury cakelets? Yes please! (I'm happily thinking of the four leftover ones in the fridge.)

Celery root muffies
Adapted (read: simplified) from Muffin Tin Mania

3 cups grated celery root
2 eggs
¼ cup flour of choice
1 Tbsp capers
1-2 tsp ground coriander, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grate the celery root (takes a strong arm if doing it by hand!). Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Divide mixture among 8 buttered muffin-tin cups (half-fill the empty cups with water: the steam will help make the tops crunchy and the filled ones bake more evenly) and bake for 25 minutes until the tops have turned a golden. Let cool a bit before lifting them out with a rubber spatula.

Friday, November 11, 2011

yes, soup for you

I don't know why I logged in, I'm too tired to blog. But then I saw this recipe I meant to post waiting in drafts and I'm just gonna go for it.

And, as a matter of fact, I think I'll make some this weekend, WITH HOMEMADE BREAD! Because... drumroll please... my stuff got here last Thursday so I have my cookbooks with my awesome no-knead bread recipe and the dutch oven I need to bake it in. Plus I just ordered a lovely huge bag of unbleached flour and a Sugar Pie (heirloom) pumpkin that I could use in place of squash.

Ginger-scented squash and apple soup
(adapted from a couple of places)
  • 1 leek (white only)
  • 1 butternut or some Hubbard (quantity depending on size, some are huge!) squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped (squash and apple should be at a 3 to 1 ratio)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if vegetarian)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • Splash of milk or half and half (optional)
  • A bit of salt, if necessary (my veg stock is salted so I didn't add any)
Boil squash and when half-done, add apple, leek and ginger. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for until squash is soft. Puree veg with some of cooking water, [return to a pot if you used a blender rather than a hand-held thingy] and add broth gradually until you have the thickness of soup you want. Stir in the milk/cream if you want.

Absolutely autumn-licious.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

it was gone before i noticed

Many will roll their eyes at me for complaining about this, but all the mutt walking has left my jeans unattractively baggy. It seems to have happened kind of suddenly, or maybe in my 'emotional distraction' mode, I didn't notice it happening. But anyway, my shipment is set to arrive within the next week or two so hopefully amongst the bulk of my clothing are some pants that will better compliment what I've got left back there.

And how happy I will be to have a fall coat or three to choose from, instead of wearing the one sweater (I purchased from a yard sale) or 5 layers of summer clothing I've been swaddling myself in. Not to mention gloves, more socks, my bathrobe, hiking boots, rain boots, other running shoes, sofa cushions, my comforter, floor lamps, some things to hang on the tiresomely white walls, etc., etc., etc.

Another category of my things I'm so ready to receive is my cook/bakeware and large spice collection. Because another reason I think I'm slimmer than ever is that I've taken the habit of eating more macrobiotic than ever. I only eat out once or twice a week nowadays. No more regular doses of heavy tapas, and not even any take-out or delivery. Since there's no one to compromise with, I pretty much subsist on veggies and whole grains and yummy but nutritious things like the dessert below I whipped up to take along after an invite to my sister's friend's place last week.

Now I'm off to make some peanut butter pumpkin bars and dog cookies.

Caramel pumpkin pudding tarts

adpted from healthfulpursuit
  • 1/4 cup raw (or toasted) buckwheat groats
  • 6 medjool dates (soaked +/-15 minutes)
  • 3 tbsp almonds
  • 6 tbsp raisins, soaked (or 3 tbsp raisins and 3 of candied ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract
Pulse nuts and buckwheat until finely chopped but not powdery. Set aside in a bowl. Pulse dates, raisins, ginger. Combine well and press into tart shapes (makes 4, but pudding makes double that so double base if you wish). You can bake them briefly at 250F to dry them out a bit (20-30 min) but they get very crunchy if you do, which is nice if you have good teeth!

adapted from loveveggiesandyoga
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds, boiled in 3/4 cup water until thickening (then set aside and let cool)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (to taste; can also omit or use maple syrup, stevia, agave, etc.)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, optional
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract, optional
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • a pinch of maca root powder, if you've got some

Prepare the flax gel. When it's cooled somewhat but not totally, add brown sugar and stir well until sugar is dissolving. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, maca. Mix well and then stir in yogurt. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If you've baked the shells you might want to scoop the pudding in an hour or two before serving to soften the crunch a bit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

closeness lost

Overshare warning: more confessions today. So yes, I'm lonely and struggling with big questions about myself. While it is super-extra great to be near all four of my sisters (and nephew as a bonus) for the first time in 23 years, I have no friends here. The one potential, who was also a newcomer and with whom I had an eerie number of things in common, decided to return to her native San Francisco. Not that I've given up. I have begun forcing myself to do things I don't love doing, since I am a bit introverted, like joining activity groups.

But the whole experience has made me face the fact that it's a long while since i made a new true friend, and I continue (oh damn the overseas living) to lament the distance, literal & figurative, between me and most of those few I used to have. And i seem to have forgotten how to forge new friendships. Or maybe I've lost the true desire to do so. I guess I'm having trouble seeing the point as I don't seem to be able to develop the closeness I used to enjoy with various friends.

Have I changed? I think I trust people less than I used to. And frankly, I also find myself finding a lot of people vacuous, unable to converse about important things, or open-up about their emotions. Maybe it's my "high emotional sensitivity" (I've discovered I might be a HSP) that gets in the way? Or has the world changed? Are people too busy, too lazy, or too cyber-connected to feel the need for real intimacy? Intimacy with not just with me, but with real issues, reality, humanity.

Wow, lucky the sun is shining again today or this would seem an even bigger downer. If that's even possible...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

way to move

so, with the pleasantly switched forecast today, G-dog was very anxious to take our afternoon walk and wouldn't stop bugging me as i puttered around doing chores. when we finally hit the seawall (where else would one choose to walk on a sunny late Sunday afternoon?) the only one going faster than us (not counting the runners, rollerbladers & gazillion cyclists) was one super-modelly looking speed-walker, clad in black spandexy outfit & barefoot shoes, the latest trend in sporty Vancouver.

And even she didn't leave us in the dust or anything, she just got ahead of us somehow but then ended up at a very similar pace and therefore never took a long lead.

I was in a groove partly because I had, for a change, decided to grab my iPod (I don't usually wear it walking G as it's harder to communicate with /command her) but also because I was buzzing on the fall sunshine, etc. And the G was being such an angel, it finally confirmed my suspicion that her behaviour when we walk is directly correlated to how close we are from going at her natural pace.

Which apparently would be a touch faster than a supermodel's, if she weren't tied to a leash held by my hand.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday night confessions

So, yes, I've been imbibing. At the moment it's just rose petal nectar water that my sister M bought because she liked the bottle (I'm working on it M, you'll have your damn bottle soon). A strange and virgin cocktail I know but I'm listening to The Heavy so that makes me at least half cool, doesn't it? (Does anyone even say "cool" anymore?)

But I digress. The fact is that I had an urge to blog tonight but it popped into my head that I felt like finally just letting myself go and posting whatever I felt like it without censoring myself as I've always done here and on pinchmi before.

Then I thought of my dark blog and how neglected it is and what's the point of posting there anymore. (So yes, confession number two: I have a secret sad full-of-bad-poetry blog.) And then I realized, hey, I think my dark blog was my first blog! See it wasn't always dark. I started it to chronicle our 'Foreign Life', when we first left Montreal. But then I despaired on unemployment in Ottawa for many winter months and my darkness started to emerge and the few readers I had dropped off. I think two people may still have the URL and, unfortunately for them, I still do occasionally post a poem.

Oh but now I'm remembering that I can't quite call it my first blog as I had a websitey thing with Tripod (anybody remember Tripod? well then maybe you remember Archie and gopher)  before moving to Blogger. But it was more of a writing portfolio thing I think, and technology back then was so much less sophisticated (that's about, what 15, years ago) and man, I think I remember that it had jpgs of photos I shot of clippings from my University newspaper writing career!

Hey but wait, the dark one was not my only "secret" one. I also had another, slightly more widely read, clandestine blog (anybody remember The Poop?) before the nameless one, aka The Ex, got all paranoid and made me delete it because a colleague of mine found out about it and his wife worked at the embassy I was "telling all" on... That one could've been good. As a disgusted taxpayer, I had harboured a secret hope that it would get discovered and popular.

Anyway, there, I've done it, I've let myself rant about whatever popped into my head. Now I'm going to do another thing I had the urge to do and that is to reveal to her adoring fans that Little Ms. Adorable Mutt, is my own special burden sometimes.

Bad things the dog has done (so far) this week
(Well since Tuesday because I can't remember past then, but I'm sure there was plenty of stuff.)

Tuesday: Lucky dog that she is, during the 2+ hours that I walk her daily, I occasionally let her off the leash to play fetch on the beach (her new favourite game). Well on Tuesday, despite the fact that I had been treating her with CHEESE, she ran off, waaaaaaaayyy far down the beach, and even swam out, quite far, further than she's yet swum (she's just learning!), chasing after a seagull or a duck or something. She refused to come back for like 5 minutes and I sort of thought she never would. "Dog, you're still a dog," I told her. "Yes, wet you sort of do look like a polar bear cub, but you're NOT."

Wednesday: With her undeserved luck holding, the next day, she found a really big (drumstick) chicken bone, and promptly snarfed it even though I've told her a zillion times not to eat random bones, especially poultry. Okay so none of the hundreds she's eaten to date have splintered in her throat or impaled her intestines but that doesn't mean that one someday won't.

Thursday: I gave her dinner (Marine Stewardship Council certified Alaskan pollock, toasted millet, and simmered kale) and left her a kong with bread and peanut butter in it and another with a chicken heart in it. And then I left to go eat dinner with my nephew. I was gone about two hours! Got home to find she had, of course, silly me, gotten her big nose (supported by her dirty front paws) onto the kitchen counter and knocked down a plastic glass with a few tablespoons of brazil nut flour in it and a few sheets of leftover flat bread (I forget what it's called and what country it's from, and I can't find it here which is weird because there are so many on this really great list. Wish it had recipes!) Anyway, aside from the fact that a) she didn't need that extra food and b) she broke the plastic glass, I've also told her a zillion times that she is not allowed to take things off the counter!

Okay well, the week is totally not over yet so this list doesn't seem that impressive now but it'll grow for sure. After proofreading this one last time, I'm thinking my dog might be a bit spoiled, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the people that you meet

The secret life guy: Somehow a middle-aged technical writer neighbour of mine ended up confessing that he blog-squerades (has someone invented that word already?) as a 20-something German prison guard living (or was it working?) in London. Curious but too chicken to ask him, since I suspect he had one drink too many the day he told me, I have searched for his blog but am unable to find it.

Mr. '67: Walking a dog can occasionally lead you into conversation with strangers (though, sadly not as many as I'd like, as I am always on the lookout for friend-material). Usually the chit-chat is quite light, "Oh, what kind of dog is that?" kind of thing. But one fellow dog owner who opened up to me straight away was a youthful 72-year-old hippy who confessed that he is pleasantly surprised to be alive. I had mentioned having just moved here and he told me he moved here in 1967 and loved it so much he stayed. He spent his youth "doing very bad things" he said and is now determined to enjoy the life he is shocked to still be rocking (he looked nowhere near 72, hence my choice of "rocking").

Happy hardware man: Several weeks back I popped into a small hardware shop for some necessaries and the very jovial owner kept calling me young girl though he himself looked to be in his early sixties. Needless to say, I loved him and plan to make him my regular hardware stop. 

Silver Benz: (Well, I didn't actually meet this guy I saw yesterday morning but he truly made an impression!) A regularly dressed older guy turned my head around when I realized it was his shiny new Mercedes idling next to the garbage bin he was picking softdrink cans out of with one of those garbage pick-up stick/arm things. I crossed the street and watched as he drove from one bin to the next in a parking lot next to the beach.

Welcome to Vancouver's West End.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

got me a dose of justified paranoia

So another tale of woe (I've had many of late, as I seem to have been struck by some sort of minor hex) that I've not mentioned is my non-justifiably besmirched credit record.

In finally switching banks (had wanted to for some time, for ethical/tarsands reasons but could not do so from overseas), my new credit union branch manager told me that they unfortunately had to limit the activities I would be able to conduct on my account, due to a collection agency being apparently after me! Me, queen of responsibility and thrift! Me who hates to owe anything to anyone and hadn't had any debt to speak of since university!

Needless to say, I was upset. It took numerous phone calls for me to determine that, in fact, the collection agency was after someone named Caroline and not moi, and for an address I have never lived at!  How this got attached to my credit record, none of the involved parties can say. But regardless, Equifax, the credit bureau from hell (holders of the smear!), got me so incredibly frustrated I thought my head would explode, with their horrible contact options, long hold times, ignorant call-centre workers spouting things that just do not make sense, and a complete unavailability of supervisors who one might hope may be better informed/more intelligent.

Oh and by the way, Equifax records your phone call without advising you in advance (the dumbest agent I spoke to let that slip). Which is fine by me, perhaps someone may hear the dumb idiot repeat nonsense over and over, despite my valid debunking every time.

The collection agency was, on the other hand, very helpful and professional. They went out of their way to exonerate me enough to satisfy my credit union.

As for my official credit record, unfortunately the matter still lies in the hands of Equimess. I need to be in a very calm place before I call them back up to find out the status of the correction to my record.

But I digress... Sorry. What I wanted to whinge about was the fact that in the last week, I've started receiving spam in my junk mail folder that is specifically about credit records! There is no privacy in e-world, people, none at all. And it's rather frightening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

i've become a Reply All idiot

Okay, so I don't know what to use as an excuse. Emotional distraction? Bad hayfever that's making me sleepy? Finally-don't-give-enough-of-a-damn syndrome? Twice in the past week  I've Replied All, meaning to delete the sender's address & just copy my close colleagues, and then whoopsie, forgot to delete the sender!

Thankfully in neither case did I disparage the sender. Nonetheless, the mssgs did contain enough ingredients to allow me to be embarrassed, which I am not easily.

Hopefully the trend does not continue, cuz I sorta-kinda really need my job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

an ultimatum?

I just remembered I have a funny post in the 'drafts' folder that I never finished about the quirky people I've met in the eclectic West End, my new 'hood.

I could also talk about Meg, the apple-nutmeg scented bonzai I got, or brag about how happy I am to have furnished my new apt for about $600 (excluding my natural latex bed, which could be a whole other post), or I could rant about the fact that my personal effects are only leaving Spain today and will take another month to get here... but I'm not feeling much like blogging these days, or maybe ever again.

Say something to change my mind, oh silent visitors of mine...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

let summer foods console me

Opening the fridge this evening, to add the leftovers of my dinner of pan-fried young broccoli with garlic and new red potatoes with butter and black pepper, i noticed how full it was but how everything was staying so fresh, particularly the lovely veg I got at the farmer's market on Saturday.

Then I also realized, wow, the overwhelming majority of stuff is not only organic, but local too. You have just got to love summer.

So there is:

  • half a leftover flax/hemp oatmeal pancake
  • dog food components (cooked)
  • a serving left in a pkg of tofu
  • some dregs at the bottom of a hummus container
  • leftover spicy bean mash (from a heirloom local bean mix)
  • toasted amaranth & coconut pudding i made last night
  • a pkg of tempeh
  • nice big pack of fresh spinach linguine (better eat that tomorrow)
  • apricots, figs, 1 peach
  • green, red, yellow peppers
  • beet greens & beets
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • basil
  • a big bag of green beans
  • potatoes
  • a little bit of lettuce
  • 2 flavours of yogurt (the lemon's almost finished)
  • milk
  • eggs
  • 2-3 cheeses
  • miso
  • peanut butter
  • dog cookies

(the freezer has mostly bread, more dog food, and some blackberries I picked in the park this morning and decide to preserve for the dark days of winter).

What's in your fridge today?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

breakfast right off the bush

How refreshing it is to gaze in awe at huge cedar trees in a misty forest and pick wild blackberries just a 15-minute walk away from a busy downtown street. Everytime G and I have walked in Stanley Park this past week, she's had to wait while I reach up into the huge cascading blackberry canes to find the deliciously sour nuggets.

This morning, as most people were heading off to work, the park was quiet and it seems no one had yet come along to find the ripe ones, so I scored myself a huge handful that I savoured as Miz Whitey pulled me along in search of wildlife.

Monday, August 22, 2011

dreaming of soft sleep

So my resolve to buy new only those things that are of hygienic concern (bed & futon sofa mattress) has not been too difficult to maintain. As the photos in my new album show, it's quite easy to quickly decorate in an affordable/live simply, if eclectic, way here in Vancouver.

Antique desk $50, chair $5
Of course my aching body may not agree with the "easy" part as shopping at yard sales (where people set out used/antique things for sale on the front lawn of their houses or apartment buildings) and on craigslist, freecycle and kijiji when you don't have a car means you've got to walk these things home. Well, that is of course "got to" if you're as... uh... frugal/thrifty as I am.

The only item not carried by foot was the futon frame, which I had intended to carry for the 7 blocks home (with the aid of my poor sister M), but it turned out to be just too heavy and we had to call a van taxi. Actually, it might not be that much heavier than my gorgeous limed (solid!) oak 1950s bookcase, for which I paid only $11, but I picked it up the morning after I (alone) walked the bookcase home for 1 km and I had no energy left!

Love my new bookcase & the thing is strong enough
for that monster TV my nephew gave me.
Anyway, my new bed arrives tonight and my muscles are very anxious, because to recover they really do need to sleep on something soft, rather than the deflate-while-you-sleep air bed I've been on for a week.

G-dawg, on the other hand (paw?) is napping quite comfortably in her new antique beef & pork packing crate bed, dreaming of squirrels, no doubt. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

world's brightest office?

So here I am, trying to work, sitting cross-legged on the floor (on a cotton mat provided by my sister E) of my new empty livingroom/office. My monitor is perched on the small box that housed my Mac Mini (hard drive), the keyboard is on my lap and the mouse is set on a soft CD storage book, which is mounted on a Radiohead box set.

I should really try to get as much work done as possible in the next couple of hours because the white drapes that were supplied with the apartment don't do much to filter the sunlight that will soon pound directly in and bounce around the white walls.

The G-dog is fast asleep on the other side of the room, over by the balcony door. Yesterday I ran her around a bit too much I think, considering we were still quite jetlagged. This morning she seemed a bit more herself, enjoying the many squirrels we saw in Stanley Park, which is but a 10 minute walk from our new home.

(Opps, she just woke up to chase a fly, they don't put screens on windows here.) Maybe this evening I'll have a chance to get down to the dog beach and finally introduce her to the ocean.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

local food, bicycles and lemonade stands

Is there anything quite like summer in Montreal? I don't think so...

Though it's a bittersweet temporary homecoming, there are so many simple pleasures that soothe me somewhat.  This morning I bought some fine Quebec cheese, good bread and local strawberries.

This afternoon the sky cleared and I had poutine with pepper sauce for lunch in the company of someone dear to me.

Later in the day I hopped on my new friend, a Bixi (share) bike, and cycled past some kids manning a good old fashioned lemonade stand as I headed towards Mont-Royal for a picnic with other friends, whose 5, 4, 3, 1 year old children I met for the first time.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

finally defined

Not that it matters, as this blog's days are numbered anyway, but I was talking to someone the other day who mentioned reading my blog but couldn't pronounce it. And it made me remember how I chose the name and it was an ironic reminder to have right now really, as some of you might see.

See last summer when we arrived in dear old Spain we used to go walking in the empty fields in and around the town we were staying in. I was struck by all the snails (caracoles) everywhere and I noticed that they had a penchant for climbing things — fences, tall plants, etc — which I had not previously known about snails as I'd always imagined them snailing slimeishly around in the dirt.

Well, I reasoned, it must be because it's so dry here, the sun beats down mercilessly in the summer, with precipitation an extremely rare event. So the snails are thirsty and climb things simply in search of dew to satiate their parched snail souls.

And ta-da, that's when my mind likened us, this 2-legged smug species of ours, to snails. We're all just working our way through life, seeking something to quench us. Somos (we are) but as instinctually driven as these base little creatures.

Yet smart as we think we are, we have no shell to protect us.