small art 7.1.15

  
    

My cat has suddenly morphed into a fierce huntress, bringing us not one but two bird offerings yesterday (bless her little misguided heart).

As of last 10:01PM last night, I have officially been on a three day long vacation (staycation?).

The humidity levels have thankfully dropped and there is a breeze flowing through the house. I look forward to meeting up with a friend this evening for a full moon gathering.

Onwards…!

in the air tonight

 It’s late (10:11pm) but the night sky is still tinged with light, pinkish-purple clouds crowding the horizon.
Every now and then I see a flash of light that looks like a lightening flash. It may well be one. It’s been hot (unusually hot) this last week, especially, and the air in the house is stifled.

It’s cooler outside than it is inside. I’m sitting out on the back deck contemplating taking a shower, though what I really feel like doing is simply sleeping, which won’t come easy because not only is it hot in my room and the air refuses to move, Gabriel is playing video games and the noise of gun fire and explosions streams all too easily into my room from his with our doors open. Open doors are a must on these hot, stagnant air nights.

I’ve watered the potted herb planters sitting outside on the deck and now the scent of thyme, oregano and lavender mingles in the light breeze. I pray for rain even as I search the sky for thickening clouds. The wind is picking up a bit; maybe my prayer is working a little.

I will be off for three whole days next week and I am hopeful that the weather will cooperate with sunny but not too hot temperatures. I wanted my time off to be fruitful, to catch up on housework and chores and still have time and energy left for a bit of hiking and perhaps an excursion to Granville or a beach. Maybe. If it gets too hot my energy gets sapped before I am able to accomplish much of anything.

I’ve been drinking lots of water, too, which is unusual for me. I’m not normally a huge fan but it’s all that seems to adequately quench my thirst, which seems bottomless.

My intention was to do some journaling this evening but I didn’t get much past eating, cleaning up the dishes and counter, watering plants, catching up on email and online posts and giving the cat some love.

I did work today, so I will cut myself some slack. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

motherhood

IMG_1298
Recently I had the pleasure of a four week excursion into Motherhood via Annapurna Living’s offering. Co-helmed by Carrie-Anne Moss and Natalie Christensen, MOTHER was a gentle and affirming journey throughout.

Motherhood is an adventure. In many ways, when we bear children, we either want to right the wrongs of our own experiences or we perpetuate them unknowingly (or perhaps it is a little of both).

I would have especially loved this course when my son was little and I was the juggler of many, many balls and felt very much alone in the process.

Young children take it out of you. They rely on you for everything and you must continue to do everything else that you did prior in addition to being the rock at the centre of their world. If you yourself have no rock at the centre of yours, you soon become depleted. I know this far too intimately.

I spent a lot of time and energy searching for that rock.
I looked for it outside of myself in relationships (with my husband, with friends and neighbours and colleagues) and through spirituality.

Let me add that I had been seeking religion for many years, looking to become an adherent to something that would resonate true, that I could share with my family. I was continually disappointed and disillusioned throughout this process.

My ex-husband was not interested in any institutionalized religion (nor spirituality, for that matter), and while I had strived to find one that we could participate in as a family, I found that in the end all I had been successful in cultivating was quiet annoyance at best, indifference at worst.

My own interest in what was dismissed as “woo-woo” essentially distanced my son’s interest in even the more commonplace spirituality that many enjoy as a central tenet.

So as I continued the journey on my own, one I had been on since childhood, really, I tried to regiment the rest of my life into submission.

(That failed miserably.)

I had assumed that simply handing out tasks would guarantee their completion. I had assumed that I was at the helm of a ship and by proxy was its captain, completely discounting the fact that there was another person whose buy-in I had to seek, through discussion and agreement (something we continually faltered at).

I had been on the managerial track within a large multinational corporation, aiming to go from an administrative position into lower management.
I wasn’t sure where that would take me, exactly, but I knew I wanted to do something different and that was what I envisioned as being the next step.

I had done all the work.
I had become expert certified in all the software packages we used.
I had started on Six Sigma training.
I had attended the Franklin-Covey “What Matters Most” and “7-Habits” training sessions, wielding a leather-bound and monogramed daytimer as proof of that accomplishment.
I had mined the tools of the Heart Math Institute as they were offered back then.
I had sat through many workshops on work-life balance.
I had confidence in my skills and my intrinsic value.

(Enter year 2000/2001 : all the balls I had been juggling started falling one at time to the ground, with no relief in sight; I had what could only be termed as a massive meltdown.)

This singular event changed me.
It changed how I viewed myself.
It changed how a collective of people (husband, family, employers and coworkers) viewed me.

It changed how I would walk in the world, going forward.
No other event in my life, other than my father’s passing in 1991, had had such a stark and startling effect.

I felt alone and unsupported.

(Perhaps I had always felt that way, throughout the length of my life on this hurtling rock.)

Let it be known that I would have benefitted greatly from a good psychologist at this point. Good ones are hard to find, though, and while I was seen by several not much had been worked through. Most of the breakthroughs occurred through means initiated on my own.

I had been building a self-help library, but going forward it became heavingly larger.
I turned to the expressive arts to work things out.
I started blogging my journey.

Then my mother died, in 2003.

Nothing puts everything into question more than the loss of a parent. My second parent had left the building and if I had felt alone before through the morass that had become my life, I felt it even more keenly then.

There is much I have learned in the many years since then.

A sense of liberation grows as children age. Parenting (particularly single parenting) a young child is enormously difficult, but as they grow into themselves and become more self-sufficient, you can focus less on their physical and logistical needs and more on building a relationship with them. Not to say that that isn’t already an established thread throughout, but one which can be focused upon more deeply.

I was blessed with an easy child. He was, as a young one, loving, kind and relatively even-tempered. I was always able to reach him and we had a deep level of sympathetic understanding. He has grown into a young man with much the same qualities, although for about a three year period I had to hunt and peck in order to find those parts of him. I had to remind him of who he was (in a way that would reach him, and that was at times difficult).

I had to hunt and peck in order to find those parts of myself, too, and at times that was difficult as well.

Most of the training I had undertaken those long years ago is now pretty much obsolete.
Job hunting is a new animal, and I am still unsure how to position myself, and how the game works.
Aside from that, I don’t like games. I never have. I like to come to the table with the truths, as I know them.
(I have been wrong about truths, but my caveat has always been the admission of my own fallibility in that regard.)

I grow in confidence but continue to balk at how to find my place in this changing world.

My strengths lie in areas that are more intrinsic than measurable, and so much of today’s standards are about quantitative skills and measurable accomplishments.
Yet another thing I balk at. I am a whole package, a human being, not a set of charts and lists.

As a woman, a mother, a human, I continue to seek support, as well as find ways in which to offer the same in kind.
The online community is huge and changing, and just as volatile as the real one (perhaps even more so).

There exist little pockets of belonging in the world and I am glad that I am finding them, little by little, bird by bird.

mid-night readings and wakednesses*

  
Yes, I reserve the right to create *new words. :)

I was so very tired tonight. It was a do-not-pass-go and go directly to bed night. I scooped maple walnut ice cream into a cone and had that before retiring (and of course now, at 2:41am, I am a tad hungry) but lunch was had at Nuba today (with a small group of former McT coworkers whom I adore!) and one large meal a day works, sometimes.

I slept soundly from 7-ish to after midnight… then I started reading emails and posts and it was all downhill from there.

Articles.**
Blog posts.
Tears.

(**where have I been and why have I not seen the word “microaggression” before?!)

Two hours later and now fully aware of the grumbling belly and other things.

I was just thinking how busy I have been; so busy that I barely have time to reflect on anything that is not Immediately Important. Makes it hard to plan ahead, if you know what I mean. And also to .. self-reflect, which in turns acts as a sort of growth stunting mechanism.

I am not normally this tired. Not sure what that is about, apart from working the job and a half, other than perhaps cumulative fatigue because some of my excessive Haven binge-watching marathon. That lasted a couple of weeks and ended a week or so ago (but it was good… almost as good – no, definitely better – than my current daily ice cream fixation).

Anyway… it’s mostly quiet outside and inside now (if I ignore the occasional and mild grumbling protests issuing forth from my belly). Cars driving along St. John. Train cars crashing into each other to hook up, their wheels squealing metal on metal as they grind along the tracks.

The quiet is relative, I suppose, but these individual sounds are all the more apparent because they lack competition.

And then there is the inner dialog (in my head). I can hear myself now, feel myself inhabiting this body from the inside, feel myself straining against the edges of it as it leans into the flannel covered mattress, the almost weightless flannel top sheet envelopment.

A fluid awareness of alternately familiar and foreign aspects of myself.

I start planning the morning (intentions of pan searing the marinating short ribs and diced veggies for a crockpot stew). We’ll see if I keep my commitments.

Later, maybe, I’ll sort out the rest of my life, too.

Now I will indulge in an ear worm – the theme from The Highlander – to lull myself to sleep with.

Good night Monsieur Lambert.
Good night Freddie.

daddy’s girl

me & apu“You know you have a dead bug on your desk, right?”
“Yup.”
“Okay, just checking.”

This is somewhat typical of my conversations with my son. The young man. The high school graduate. The one about to quest onward into the rest of his life. The boy with a geographically challenged father-son relationship. The one with a wide, wide, tender heart, trying to come to terms with the world, on his own terms.

Perhaps we are all doing that.

Yet another Father’s Day has come, this one in conjunction with summer solstice. It is somehow fitting that the sun, a symbolically male energy, would be paired with the day celebrating what could essentially be viewed as a man’s accomplishment of siring offspring.

Popping out children into the world isn’t hard. Don’t kid yourself, though – good parenting is, although our individual views of what that entails varies wildly depending upon cultural, socio-economic and philosophical adherences. It’s fascinating, really.

Unwittingly, we pass along to our children the best and worst parts of ourselves; they are formed by both, the cycle perpetuates itself.

The best we can do – at least the best that I can do – is to attempt to be as unobtrusive an influence as possible so that he can, within the safety net of the family home, find his own way.

There are many things I wish.
I wish I would have taught him to be closer to the earth, and more in tune with the natural world.
The unnatural one, too. The one that sits in your belly and helps steer your way.

It’s hard to teach that without sounding woo-woo. Woo-woo was a bad word in our household when our family was still intact, probably mostly because I engaged with it.

Me, with my crystals and my incense burning, trying to find a healing way as much for myself as for others. To them I was just weird, not wyrd, if you know what I mean.

This mirrored much of the dynamic of my childhood. My mother was the one who was the skeptic while my father remained noncommittal.

apu

No opinion was better than a verbal debate with my mother, yet we both read Ouspensky, Rampa, Crowley and Castaneda. He still offered little in the way of commentary, but I felt a sort of silent solidarity with my father.

I’m pretty sure my father was never really shown how to be a father, by way of a proper example, and his early life experiences shaped him (or misshaped him).

The gift my father brought to me, in the end, was that of redemption. I can’t explain what I mean by that without dragging the whole of my family dirty laundry out into the open. Suffice it to say that I believe that my father’s actions, throughout most of my life unto his passing, were a quiet attempt at redemption. I have no doubt that he suffered. Guilt erodes us from the inside.

His passing, when I was 27, punched a hole into our enmeshed little lives. It changed the dynamic and created a vortex for me to exit through. And I did. It was long overdue. I was, however, so very unprepared for what that exit entailed. It has been a long journey. I am still journeying.

Perhaps we all are.

from my kitchen 6.17.15


I am always surprised at how long the days are in the summer. We are approaching the longest day and tonight, at 10:14pm, it was still this bright outside!

We had a late dinner but the warm weather inspired me to create a refreshing dish. I baked some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven, and fixed up a pickled cucumber, garlic and radish salad.

The ingredients for sauce for the chicken:
1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt
2T Dijon mustard
1T honey
3 small cloves of garlic, garlic pressed
2T Club House roasted cumin and mint seasoning
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sumac
glug of extra virgin olive oil
glug of St-Remi French Honey
salt & pepper to taste

I poured it over the chicken prior to popping the dish into the oven and let it bake for 50 minutes at 350F.

The dressing for the salad was the juice of 1 lime, lots of honey and apple cider vinegar, whisked together with a wire whisk. I added a sprinkling of ground white pepper at the end. This is all to taste and the measurements arbitrary.

The veggies were salted in the bowl separately, and I hand tossed them so they would be properly coated prior to starting to make the dressing. Once the dressing was applied and stirred in, it was covered and refrigerated until the rest of the meal was ready.

Watermelon wedges rounded out the rest of the meal.

What have you been cooking?

from my kitchen 6.15.15

 I’ve discovered the most delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As with many things, skimping on quality often results in a less favourable eating experience, so it’s better to cough up a little extra and save the special things for their best use.

I found a gorgeous extra virgin olive oil called Spiritu Santo at The Dirty Apron. I wanted to test out the smaller size before I went for the $21 half litre size and it doesn’t disappoint. Poured into a bowl with some Due Vittorie balsamic vinegar (obtained at Thrifty Food – it was on sale last week for around $16 for 250ml), it was a perfect dipping combo for crusty baguette.

Tonight we are having panko and herb crusted halibut filets, using a combined/adapted recipe from the Thrifty Foods site and the Dirty Apron cookbook.    Since it’s an uncustomarily warm summery day,  I opted to serve it with a bib lettuce salad and the avocado dressing that I made yesterday (from A Simple Feast cookbook by Diana Yen).

My adapted panko and herb coated Halibut recipe:

1. 4 8oz pieces of halibut
2. 1/3 cup (heaped) of shelled pistachio nuts
3. 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
4. 2T minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
5. 3 large basil leaves, minced
6. 1T fresh chives, minced
7. 1tsp smoked paprika
8. grated rind of 1 lime
9. salt & pepper to taste
10. mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 425F.
Grind pistachios into pieces (I used a mortar & pestle but you can use a rolling pin or a kitchen mallet too).
Measure Panko and put into a medium sized bowl.
Mince herbs.
Combine ingredients 2-8 in bowl.
Rinse and pat dry halibut filets.
Lay parchment sheet down in a baking dish.
Coat one side of halibut filets with mayonnaise and lay mayonnaise side down into panko mixture.
Place filets with panko coating down on parchment.
Smear additional mayonnaise on top of filets and top with remaining mixture – press it down on filets.
Bake at 425F for 18-20 minutes.
Enjoy! :)