Thursday, August 27, 2009

On a stick...

The Minnesota State Fair used to be just about irritation for me because of the increased traffic in our neighborhood. Going with the boys these past two years has completely changed my mind. The trick is to go early in the day on a weekday before it gets too crowded. All of the walking mitigates the effects of the sugar on the kids from all the cotton candy and Sweet Martha's cookies (mmm...with ice cold milk!). I'm also hoping that the walking will cancel out the cheese curds and the barbeque. I successfully managed to broker an agreement whereas Ellis rode a "scary" ride with Nate in exchange for going on the Skyride, and Charlie was happy as a clam for almost 3 hours with all the interesting things to eat and see. What's not to love about a great day out with my boys?

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A few years ago, when I first ate at my favorite local restaurant, Corner Table, I described the experience I had there as having a "foodgasm." The effectiveness of our garden this season in growing that amazing red fruit has led to weeks of a special subset of the foodgasm - the tomatogasm. Eating bowls of cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine, caprese salad with our fresh basil, pasta sauce, and salsas, oh my! Here's my favorite recipe, which is my variation of Rick Bayless's lazy man's salsa as seen on pbs a few weeks ago:
The Sensual Woman's Salsa:
Grill tomatoes, red onion, garlic and jalapeno peppers until they start to blacken
Puree grilled veggies in a blender of food processor
Pulse with lime juice, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper
It's even better when it sits for a day or two in the refrigerator while all the flavors blend.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


My life does not have a lot of silence, stillness, or solitude despite the fact that these are three things that I love very much. I work with an energetic group of over-achieving feminists and the office is always hectic with the fight against injustice and the loud and vocal humor it takes to cut the heaviness of our work. I seldom have time alone in my house and few hours where there isn't some boy, little or big, sidled up against me or jumping, wrestling, or talking at top volume about some VERY IMPORTANT game or movie reference. If I am to have those important "s words" in my life, I have to actively seek them out and make them a priority. Clearly I haven't been doing enough of that lately because during the moments I have taken I find I have a bumpy transition from the hum that is emitted from the machine that is my life. It reminds me of the days when I lived in New York City and would occasionally visit my former in-laws on their rural Wisconsin farm land. It would take days for my ears to adjust to silence and for my body to relax from constant movement.

This morning, I went into the silence. It started with a drive to Como Lake with the idea that I'd get a little exercise by walking the path around the lake. I brought my iPod, but when I got there, on this clear cool late summer morning, I decided that I needed to tune in with all my senses to what was going on around me. After the 1.6 mile walk, I needed a little more, so I headed over the the Harriet Alexander Nature Center. I did something I almost never do on the drive over. I turned off the radio and opened the windows. I listened to the sounds of my car, the pavement, the light wind outside. I was the only person there when I got to Harriet Alexander. This was a contrast to Como, where the sounds of the conversations of my fellow walkers and the sounds of the traffic around the lake competed with the sounds of nature. I hiked around a little bit, listening to my footsteps, snapping twigs, rustling animals, and calling birds. I went into the marsh, and at one point, sat down on the board walk and let the whole experience of being there in that moment wash over me. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin as well as the coolness of the air. I heard the frogs, the crickets, the birds, and, more off in the distance, the traffic. I looked at the vibrant lime green of the algae and the bright purple of the fireweed. For just that moment, I was aware of the singularity of my life, of my specific place in the web, of silence and stillness and solitude and how I need those things as much as any other nourishment.

So I'm making a commitment to give myself the gift of quiet at least once a week (more if I can get it). I'm committing to find time to be alone and still and to fully inhabit those moments. I'm hoping that the moments will begin to radiate outward into the rest of my life so that I can retain equanimity wherever I am and whatever I am doing.

Butterfly and Bee

I spent some time among the prolific fireweed at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center. This remarkable monarch stayed in close proximity to me for almost a minute allowing me to photograph her up close. I love that she's lost a piece of her wing. I'm not sure why she gave me the gift of trust. Perhaps because she's nearing the end of her life.

The bees were harder to capture because they had a job to do and no time for a silly woman with a camera. I worry a lot about the news of bees disappearing and the impact that will have on our ability to grow fruits and vegetables. So when I see bees at work, I try to send a lot of positive energy their way for their survival as a species.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Days With Children

Things for a fun sunny summer day:
  1. Wading pool
  2. Hose
  3. Buckets
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Naked baby
  6. Bad tomatoes for throwing and dunking

Things for a fun rainy day:

  1. A six-year-old with a great idea
  2. Waterproof shoes
  3. Raincoats
  4. Puddles