Sunday, May 25

A Clean Home and a Packed Suitcase

I would like to take a minute to brag about something. We're leaving tomorrow, and we actually managed to thoroughly clean the apartment first! We dusted, vacuumed, laundered, and scrubbed. We cleaned the big plants, tidied up the porch as much as the aged tulips would let me, and separated out all the perishable food to give to a friend before we go. (I hope they like sweet potatoes.) Along with all the other little preparatory things that needed to happen. I even finally made a helichrysum under-eye ointment that I mentioned previously. I'm so gleeful about the prospect of traveling, with my suitcase packed with my favorite and most versatile clothes. And I'm also looking forward to coming home to this lovely, simple, clean apartment!

I've made a packing list for summer trips, based on the generic one from One Bag. It's a Word document in three columns, so that it all easily fits on one page.

    Clothes
    5-10 shirts

      - 3-4 tank tops
      - 2-6 long sleeves

    3-6 pants

      - 1-3 cool weather (jeans, nice)
      - 1-3 warm weather (capri, linen)
      - 1 rugged

    2 sweaters

      - 1 dark cardigan
      - 1 warm turtleneck sweater (if cold weather is expected, possibly also light jacket)

    7+ pairs socks
    7+ underwear
    1-2 pyjama tops
    1-2 pyjama pants
    1 swimsuit
    1 sarong
    scarves

      - 2-3 small
      - 1-3 large

    3-4 dresses

      - 1-2 very light
      - 1 beachy

    shoes in bags

      - 1 walking sandals
      - 1 covered walking shoes
      - 1 nice shoes


    Bathroom
    toothbrush (in a case)
    toothpaste
    dental floss
    facewash (honey)
    comb
    hairband
    moisturizer (hydrosol spray & oil drops)
    chapstick (shea butter in lip balm container)
    deodorant
    nail clipper
    nail file
    antiseptic ointment
    any medicines currently being taken
    soap/bodywash
    hairwash
    hair-rinse
    menstrual supplies
    painkiller
    pepto bismo
    hangnail clipper
    hairpins
    undereye oil
    any makeup
    ziploc bags for waterproofing?

    On Flight
    all important telephone numbers and other contact information and addresses
    cash
    tickets
    ID, passport, etc
    watch
    chapstick (shea butter in lip balm container)
    ipod & headphones & charger
    laptop? & power cord
    notebooks
    pen
    eye mask
    snacks
    book?
    any makeup

    Extras
    1 umbrella
    digital camera & charger
    vitamins & supplements
    empty duffel back for return trip
    straw hat
    travel kleenex
    gifts

Saturday, May 17

Ready

I will not be posting very regularly for awhile. We're getting ready for our trip to New York and Massachusetts. The tickets are bought, and Gordan and I are leaving in about a week. First we'll head to a conference in North Carolina, and then we'll visit my alma mater and its region, and spend the rest of the time with my parents in the Cape in Massachusetts. After a month, our blended family of Dragana and the kids will join us; Anselmo is coming on his own and his plans aren't made yet. We'll all be there for another month, most of which will be spent in New York City.

A couple of weeks ago, I was all bothered by the interruption, and the thought of all the things I couldn't do. Now those things don't seem so urgent. There will be plenty of time, whenever the time is right. I'm really ready for this trip now. There is something about traveling that is so clarifying and energizing for me. Life is simplified; there are fewer responsibilities, and those responsibilities which you do have are more clear and immediate. It will also be very good to spend some time with my parents and my brother, in a summery atmosphere. I can use some more of all of that in my life.

Even though I may be posting less for awhile, I've got a few posts lined up for the next few days anyway. We'll see if they come out or not!

Monday, May 12

Two Days


Ah, I'm so content right now, after a simple dinner of pasta with olive oil and garlic (and onion and portobello and asparagus) sauce. Gordan did most of the cooking, while I did the dishes before and after, and gave advice.

Earlier he had gone out for a few hours, in which I listened to Abraham and got some clarity and adjustment on a sense of struggle I'd been developing. He came back with a book on nature spirits which I'd never seen before. Soon after that we spotted Dragana and Anselmo walking down the street, thanks to Dragana's orange striped Mexican sweater. We called to them from the porch, and they came up to our apartment. There we sat around the dining table and talked for quite awhile, mostly about magick, as always. As we spoke, one of the flowers of our jasmine plant slowly opened.

After I had finished washing up after dinner, I put on one drop of undiluted rose absolute, and three drops of elemi. Heavenly.

Listening to Abe was so useful. I laughed when the very first track that came on--from one of the cruise recordings, which I thought I had excluded from that playlist as they aren't my favorite format--was about action, non-action, productivity and procrastination. Pretty much exactly the main thing that I was struggling with. Intellectually, the message wasn't a great revelation, but it was a great reminder--pay attention to how you feel, first. And in general just listening to Abe talking on any subject puts me in a much better, much easier and happier frame of mind.

While they were talking I also got a couple reminders on my own. First, a reminder of a message from last night, that came through just as I was falling asleep. I'd been reminded of the time when I was slowly deciding to leave California, where I'd lived and worked with great joy and passion for a year. I'd decided to wait a year and then move to Vancouver and marry Gordan, and yet some events came together which nudged me to do it right away. I thought to myself, back then there were two forces acting on me--one force calling me to stay, one force calling me to Vancouver. What are the forces acting on me now calling me towards? The answer was "Simplicity. A simpler life. Shed all extraneous attachments." (With the last sentence comes a visual of a barnacled outer layer being sloughed off.) And then a little later a reminder of a past message: "Do not put the center of your attention in him, put the center of your attention in yourself." Sometimes I can get caught up in the reflexivity that comes out of always having someone to talk to (and always taking advantage of that).

Sunday was an absolutely lovely day, too. (I really wish I'd get into the habit of taking the camera.) Mother's day almost seemed to be an accidental festival on the Drive, the main street of our neighborhood. It was a fairly sunny day, thanks to the winds. We headed out to brunch, not because it was mother's day, but because Gordan was craving french toast. We ended up spotting Dragana and her daughter Cailleach walking by, on their way to do a little clothes shopping. (Hm, I'm noticing a pattern.) We called them in, and they sat at the table next to us and drank their favorite, shirley temples. We had a really nice conversation about the trip to New York, and my identity crisis, as Gordan called it.

They went on, and when we were finished we went to the florist. I was very amused and said to Gordan that he is probably one of very few men who buy flowers for their ex wives on mother's day. He got her a very pretty posy, and since he wanted to get something for me too I chose a small pot of those lovely lacy pink geraniums that I'd been wanting anyway. Once in the shop they charged us three dollars for the geraniums instead of eight dollars and change, because they said they just wanted to get everything out. Then we went and found Dragana and Cailleach in one of the local used clothing shops, "My Sister's Closet". In the back of that shop there's an area that is more of a typical thrift store, with old books and plates and random things. They had very pretty mugs and teacups, though not quite what I'd want to bring home. Looking through them, I found this beautiful blue painted vase, and I bought it for two fifty.



Walking back in the direction of home, on the sunny side of the street, we were passed by a little parade--about eight people dressed and made up in old fashioned black and white, moving slowly, and pantomiming as if they were dancing, drinking, and playing music. The person in the back had a giant black and white puppet. As we passed the front woman said to me "The pirates have landed! A Ukranian will be calling you." At first I thought I'd misheard. We walked on, and ended up in a lovely little park nearby, which had just been beautifully redone. A neighborhood group was throwing a potluck for everyone, although there were just a few bison burgers left. Gordan, Cailleach, Dragana and I sat around in the sun, chatted, and listened to the accordion that someone was playing in the pleasant cacophany of accoustic guitars. Well, the day continued on like that for a bit longer. Eventually we wandered home, and ate Chinese food while watching "The Shop Around The Corner", a lovely 40s movie set in Hungary--Jimmy Stewart made a slightly more believable Hungarian than you might expect.

Reading and Reference on "Yes"

There's a part of this blog that doesn't get much attention, which some people might find interesting. At the bottom of the right hand bar of links and miscellanea, there's a a grey and white box titled "What I'm Reading". It links to the last seven posts or articles which I've clicked to "share" on my feed reader. If you go here, it'll show you pretty much all the posts I've ever shared. I read quite a few blogs and feeds nowadays. (Aren't "blog" and "feed" both ungainly words compared to the old fashioned "journals" and "magazines"?) I share a small percentage of what I read, the best and most interesting.

Above that, which you're more likely to have noticed, there are a few batches of categorized links. There are two that are worth bringing to everyone's attention: Food Blog Search and Craft Blog Search. As the blurb says on the Craft Blog Search, with these you get to "search the best [food/craft] blogs while eliminating splogs and inactive blogs
that clog the results on most search engines." I don't know what splogs are... but the gist of it is that somebody listed a whole bunch of good food & craft blogs, and made up a search through Google that would search only these sites. That way you can search for a recipe or craft tutorial, and get more refined results than you would through a regular search.

Sunday, May 11

High Fiber Goodness

A high fiber diet is good for many aspects of your health, including the cardiovascular system and diabetes prevention. Bottom line, though, it's good for your colonic health--in other words, anything poop-related, both short term and long term. These problems run in my family, all the way down to colon cancer. Since I'm starting to get far more short term troubles than one should really have at the tender age of almost thirty, it's time to start taking this stuff seriously. I'm very glad that this diet will make my bum happier, and benefit my health in all kinds of ways that I don't even think about.

I had only a vague idea about what foods were high fiber, and in the past few days I've done some reading to be more informed. I wanted to know how to get the biggest bang for my buck, which food groups which were highest in fiber, and in each food group which individual foods were highest in fiber. I've found that on the web, information sometimes conflicts, but a clear overall picture has emerged. Here are the websites I've referred to. And here's the list I'm using for myself, in order of fibrousness:

    - High fiber cold cereals deserve to be in a class of their own. They have the highest fiber content of all other foods, which is a little odd really, and makes me think that I should check their ingredient lists.

    - Beans, lentils, and other legumes (dried or canned--excluding fresh). Either dried or canned has the same benefit as far as fiber is concerned. Fresh legumes, such as peas and green beans, go in the "vegetable" category. Different websites had conflicting information about which specific legumes were highest of all. In any case, it hardly matters; they're all extremely high. Legumes seem to be the regular food group which is highest in fiber, by a wide margin. Lentils have the advantage of being very easy to cook. If you don't already have favorites, then try different kinds of lentils, as they have variations in taste and texture. Along with legumes for full meals, bean dips make great snacks.

    - Whole grains. For the biggest proportion of fiber, use wheat or oat bran. Otherwise, all whole grains are high in fiber. Again, information about specific grains didn't seem to be consistent from one website to another. The easiest thing is to use a diversity of whole grains. Legumes and whole grains together provide all the essential amino acids you need, so as far as protein is concerned there is no need for animal products. Boiled whole grains such as the brown rice, red rice, black rice, wild rice, and quinoa are the easiest to use while cooking. If you buy your bread, it's quite easy to replace bread made with refined flour with %100 whole grain flour, and many special baked goods that require the lightness of refined flour can still be made with a large portion of whole grain flour. It's possible to find both whole grain pasta, and pasta made with a mix of whole and refined grains. Breakfasts can be switched over to oatmeal with nuts and berries, whole grain toast with yummy toppings, or a whole grain cold cereal. Popcorn is a whole grain that is reasonably high in fiber and makes a great snack.

    - Avocados are in a class of their own as well. They're very high in fiber, utterly delicious, easy to eat with just a spoon and a little salt, and they happen to go extremely well with beans and lentils. They're also high in healthy fat and probably have other benefits as well.

    - Spices. These aren't an ideal source of fiber, since we use relatively small amounts of them in our food. But they do have a great deal of fiber in them. And most spices have other medicinal and dietary benefits as well. And of course, they make your food all the more delicious. So feel free to go crazy with the spices.

    - Nuts and seeds. Flaxseeds, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and all other nuts and seeds. These are also high in protein, high in beneficial fat, and filling. Flaxseeds are high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, and sesame seeds are extremely high in calcium. It seems that nut butters are also reasonably high in fiber. Dried coconut is also high in fiber, and I'll toss it into the nut category because it goes so well with nuts.

    - Berries and dried fruit. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries all have quite high proportions of fiber. They're also full of vitamins and nutrients. Dried fruit also has a substantial amount of fiber, especially figs, apricots, and prunes.

    - Vegetables. As you can see, vegetables aren't actually the highest source of fiber of them all. Still they're reasonably high in fiber, very nutritious in other ways, and usually they're utterly delicious. Again, I didn't find that much consistency among my different sources. But from what I gather, peas are impressively full of fiber, and of course they're very easy to cook. Frozen or fresh peas can be easily added to whole rice for extra taste, nutrition, variety, and visual appeal. Brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage (is that a brassica too or am I getting confused?) are high in fiber. So is winter squash, baked potatoes if you eat the skin, sweet potatoes, and yams. While leafy greens and lettuce are often recommended for fiber, other sources said that they didn't actually have much. Either way, we know for sure that they're nutritious and yummy in other ways. In general tougher, more substantial greens probably have more fiber than the light greens; so for instance romaine lettuce apparently has more fiber than most lettuce, and kale probably has the most of them all.

    - Fresh fruit (excluding berries), especially pears, apples, bananas, oranges, and papayas. Often a lot of the fiber actually resides in the fruit's skin or other material such as the dividing inner skins within an orange. (What are those called, again?) Again, fresh fruit such as apples is often described as a primary source for fiber. All my sources seemed to agree that, when it came to the numbers, it is one of the milder sources. Still, fruit are a decent source of fiber, and like vegetables they're nutritious and yummy in many other ways. It's much better to eat a whole fruit than to drink fruit juice, as far as fiber and blood sugar are concerned, although sometimes a good quality fruit juice is an easy way to get a lot of nutrients all at once.


So there we go. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 10

Low Sugar Goodness

Goodness! We've had an exciting week or two around here (I say a little wryly), including some news which shifts our priorities quite a bit. And meanwhile I've had a bunch of health problems crop up (or worsen) all at once, which call for some dietary changes--pronto.

The first change is a low sugar diet, to deal with a yeast overgrowth. Yeast, also called candida, is one of the microorganisms which lives in everyone's bodies, in harmony with the other microorganisms. However when we take antibiotics, they diminish the good bacteria that lives in our digestive system. That leaves an empty space, which is prone to being repopulated by yeast instead of good bacteria. Then, as any baker knows, yeast eat sugar, and its presence in high quantities sets off a population boom, which is the primary cause of rising bread. Since most of us eat a high sugar diet, in the form of both sugars and refined grains, the population boom can happen inside us. Along with the good bacteria, our immune system helps to keep yeast in check. If one's immune system is depressed or overtaxed, that also leaves room for an imbalance.

We have evolved to have only a small amount of yeast in our systems. Yeast just doesn't work in our bodies in high quantities. If you've ever had a yeast infection or thrush, you know how uncomfortable they are. Yeast overgrowth can become a systemic problem, meaning that it can impact the whole body. Like any other systemic problem, this causes a wide variety of symptoms throughout the body that vary per person. In my case, it causes or contributes to anxiety, blood sugar problems, acne, digestive troubles and food sensitivities, a low immune system and joint pain. Likewise, sometimes yeast overgrowth is not the only systemic health problem, but part of a vicious cycle that started with something else, such as a depressed immune system. This vagueness makes candida hard to diagnose accurately. If you have yeast infections or thrush, you know that you have a yeast overgrowth, although it may be external only or internal as well. If you've taken antibiotics in the past few years that resulted in digestive problems, there's a good chance that yeast overgrowth may be an current issue or risk. Since a low sugar diet is also good for your blood sugar, it can be worthwhile to reduce sugar drastically for a few months, and then when you bring it back into your diet, to do so in moderation.

I recently came across Candida Cure Recipes, which overall seems like the most impressive resource on the candida-free diet I've seen so far.

My moderation has been slowly slipping in the last few months. It doesn't help that Gordan will happily get me any treat that I ask for at any hour, as long as he's awake! This was a huge plus in our early days, and it still is when I'm craving something savory. So now I am going back to the grindstone again. I'm starting by cutting out regular sugar and sweeteners, except that for now I'm keeping a small amount of agave nectar in my breakfasts. At this point I rarely get severe sugar cravings--my cravings are usually more like whims, however insistent--so this won't be as difficult as it was last time, when I weaned myself off of sugar by eating vanilla yogurt progressively diluted with plain yogurt. I'm going to continue taking my probiotic supplement. I'm not going to absolutely avoid refined grains, which I didn't need to do last time. However I am eating more whole grains than I was before, which takes us to the next dietary change, to a high fiber diet, which I'll post about tomorrow.

There's a lot that I'm leaving out here, so if you want more information about this, feel free to ask for more details.

Thursday, May 1

Self Portraits Without Mirror

Some drawings from last night...