Friday, January 29

Socks

There is little more hilarious than putting your newly clean and matched socks away by trying to throw them into your closet from the other side of the room. Especially when there is an innocent bystander to watch and be annoyed.

Thursday, January 28

An Idea

Be generous with yourself.

Wednesday, January 27

Toilet Tip

In my perusals of books on housecleaning, I came across a good idea--always cover the toilet before you flush. Apparently the minute spray from flushing goes everywhere. And isn't the bathroom where you keep your toothbrushes, etc? This habit has another benefit--when other people in your house also cover the toilet before flushing, it means the toilet seat will always be down. And it seems that toothbrush factoid is a lot more motivating than "But I hate sitting on the cold rim of the toilet by accident!"

Tuesday, January 26

Francophones

Gordan and I are now members of le Centre culturel francophone de Vancouver! Learning and keeping up with languages is tricky. Hopefully this will help my rusty French.

Monday, January 25

How to Floss While Shacked Up

The secret to flossing turns out to be flossing with my partner. My glee and satisfaction at convincing him to floss nightly is so great, that I'm even willing to floss with him. And he's only willing to do it if I am suffering equally.

Sunday, January 24

Short Existential Crisis

After rereading my last post, I'm having an existential crisis because my writing is so... you know.

Before during and after writing it, I'd been thinking about making my blog more autobiographical and more interesting. On the other hand, I don't want to go the confessional route, God forbid. On the third hand, being positive sometimes means being perky and insubstantial. Of course some posts are meant to be quips, but not all...

It's too late in the day to think my way through this tonight, so I'll let the thought marinate in the back of my mind.

Saturday, January 23

Further Adventures in the Life of Our Author





Hurrah! A couple of years after emigrating to Canada, I have finished importing my car. I am so pleased to be able to drive it again. It opens up Vancouver's further mountains and beaches to exploration and adventure. Yesterday--or was it the day before? We bought 52 Best Day Trips From Vancouver; while I wish this book was more visual and thorough, it's a great basic resource. (I'm looking for more photo-heavy, touristy books to fill the same purpose.) So today we headed off to Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver. The drive there and back demonstrated that our navigational skills need some brushing up! And by "our" I mean my husband Gordan's, because my navigational skills are infamous at best. Thank God for iphones, although I guess everybody else has a GPS by now.






Whytecliff Park is spectacularly beautiful, with many little stone stairs winding their way up a cliff on one side, leading to amazing views of the water, and a beach that must be lovely in the summer, and leads into a protected marine sanctuary oved by scuba divers, and a neat peninsula that is great for climbing. The only downside is that it's a bit too small to get any serious exercise with the walks. There may have been more trails at the other side of the parking lot--we decided not to explore. On the way home, we saw a lovely short wide rainbow. In addition to the pictures in this post, I made a photoset on flickr.




Then we stopped at Banyan Books and Aphrodite's Cafe, one of our favorite excursions. I got Builders of the Pacific Coast, which looks like great fun--I love hand built home books on so many levels--and an African finger harp, and a couple of pretty stones that Gordan got for me--a luminous little moonstone, and some black quartz. And then we ate! Aphrodite's Cafe is always nice, but in particular they have the most heavenly salads. I rather regret that I got a chocolate cream pie instead of a blueberry pie, but at least my curiosity is now satisfied.

Afterwards, I came home to a bounty of Mediterranean cookbooks from the library. I am most in love with the vegetarian Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman, but Olives & Oranges and Mediterranean Grains and Greens get honorable mentions. Will there be some of these delicious recipes in our near future? God, I hope so.

Wednesday, January 20

Five and Hundred Ears

You absolutely have to see Lauren's Cartoon. I would embed it if I could figure out how.

Tuesday, January 19

First Basic Collection of Essential Oils

What essential oils should someone start with? When making this list I took a number of factors into account--price, range of scent, emotional or energetic influence, and physical and household uses. I'll briefly cover the uses of these oils, but as they are so multipurpose, you will find a great deal more information with further research. Because essential oils are often a part of the immune system of the plants they come from, they tend to share a number of qualities, though some are more effective than others; for instance, nearly all are antimicrobial. With these four (to seven) oils, you will be able to influence your emotional state in every basic way; soothing and balancing, uplifting and focusing, elevating and grounding, or cleansing and clarifying. The oils can be combined to in order to combine these influences. With time you will probably desire a greater diversity of scents and influences, but these are the most essential and useful of the affordable essential oils.



Lavender is the first oil to buy. It is a workhorse, known as a medicine chest all on its own. The scent is both floral and herbal. Its energetic influence is one of healing balance. It is famous as a scent that brings calm and sleep, but its tonifying influence will energize and nourish someone who is exhausted, burnt out, or unsettled. This peaceful influence also helps to remedy physical complaints that are related to tension or exhaustion. It is a strong disinfectant and anti-inflammatory, and pesticidal as well. Be careful not to use an excessive amount of lavender when you're seeking its soothing qualities, because in heavy doses it is overstimulating. Its influences are nurturing, soothing, and supportive.

Although lavender fragrance is lovely, it can be hard to find lavender essential oils that smell good--many I've gotten have an excessively thin, woody scent, or else a sort of dirty musty quality. I prefer lavender oil from Gaia Garden Herbals. I order one of the bigger bottles, and refill a 5ml bottle.

It is difficult for me to narrow down the choices of citrus oils. Generally speaking, these are the "uppers" of the essential oil world. They are not only stimulating, but they are profoundly uplifting, and excellent for treatment of depression or low energy. The particular influence of different fruits varies quite a bit. Their household and health uses aren't extensive aside from this energetic influence. They can also stimulate appetite, settle nausea, and of course are disinfectant to varying degrees. Be careful with citrus oils on the skin, particularly bergamot; be sure to check safety precautions before you use them in this way. Buy one or more of the following:

    Orange evokes general happiness and comfort. The most quintessential citrus, with the most quintessential influence.

    Lemon calls forth focused energy. It is excellent when you need to work, and compliments other clear woody and herbal oils well.

    Bergamot is a gentle citrus scent, excellent for difficult depression, grief, and similar states. It is very comforting and mild, evoking healing love. It complements other scents very well, and in particular is a great pair with lavender.

    Grapefruit is probably my favorite; it brings forth happiness, much like orange, but its pungency helps to stimulate and focus energy, much like lemon. It has a very joyful, active influence.


Cedar is both the cheapest and most versatile woody scent. It is spiritually elevating, yet grounding and homey. It is an excellent bug repellant, and a lovely scent to have on your clothes. Energetically cedar evokes strength and depth.

Tea tree oil is a famous medicinal and household cleansing oil, due to its impressive disinfectant qualities. Note that it is most effective when diluted. However its herbal scent also has a desirable energetic influence; it provides a sense of clarity and understanding, excellent for clearing the air during difficult times. And of course it is helpful to diffuse tea tree oil whenever you have concern over mold or viruses in the air, so it's an excellent oil for wintertime.

Where to buy? Aside from lavender, I would recommend either Mountain Rose Herbs or Nature's Gift. Both have very informative websites. My favorite basic diffuser is the aromastone. I prefer it over diffusers that use tea lights. Any other simple electric diffuser will do as well, although I think the aromastone is probably the best design. To clean it, simply pour a bit of rubbing alcohol onto it, and wipe it clean with a cloth.

Monday, January 18

Neux Teux Deux

I've come across this web based to do list thingamajig, called Teux Deux. I like it, and it's particularly great for minimalistic to do lists.

My approach is to assign one more or less big task per day. More or less little tasks also proliferate as days come up, but I don't plan those ahead as much.

Sunday, January 17

Moss Table

Someday I'd like to have a moss garden dining table.

Saturday, January 16

Maid of Honor Tarts & Theater

Last week I went to see a delightful local performance of Theatrics at Mansfield Park. In addition to the play, we were all given a maid of honor tart to eat. Oh, man, it was good. I'm writing this now, because I just found the scrap of paper identifying the tarts that I dropped into my purse in order to remember them. I shouldn't really be eating such sugary treats anyway, but if you should, please give them a try! Note: the one I ate had a tiny dab of raspberry jam in the center.

Which brings up the subject of theater, while we're at it. Late winter is an excellent time to see plays, since there isn't much else to do. Have you seen any plays lately? Do you know what's being performed in your area?

Friday, January 15

Self Mastery with Meditation

I love to give advice. Browsing around here and there, I found myself suggesting to two people in difficult straits that they might take up a meditation practice. And then I thought that perhaps, as so often happens, there was a message for me in there as well.

So I decided to start a meditation practice again. It makes it easier that I've been sleeping well; I can drink my green tea in the morning and then sit with an alert mind. Sitting later in the day is a good influence on the evening, but too easy to miss.

While sitting is very simple, there are a few questions that come up.

How long to sit? I'm starting with 20 minutes; five minutes longer than I used to sit.

What about breathing? There's a great deal of information about how to approach breathing while sitting. I find that I have trouble breathing naturally. I suspect it's because my regular posture is not ideal, and I'm not used to breathing while sitting up straight. So I use a breathing exercise. I inhale for two beats, wait for two beats, exhale for two beats, wait for two beats. I use a four syllable mantra to note the beats, but you can just as easily count.

And what about thinking? The classic instruction is that when thoughts arise, the meditator will note "thinking" and let the thoughts go. Another instruction is to observe the thoughts without engaging in them, as a person might watch clouds pass by. I find a lot of thoughts arise and sometimes churn while I'm sitting. I let them go. I take the approach of not being engaged in thoughts, rather than banishing them. It's the same thing that I do when I realize that I'm analyzing fruitlessly, or when I need to stop thinking in order to sleep. If anything it seems that my brain is even more fertile and tricksy while I'm sitting, but I expect that will settle down a bit with time.

And how about the gear? Because, God knows, there's always gear. Well, as silly as it sounds, when it comes to meditation I think there are a few things worth using.

You will want a timer. I highly recommend the E tone "digital zen alarm clock." I think it's valuable to have a pleasant sound end the meditation, rather than an electronic alarm. It also makes an excellent alarm clock. Because these clocks are expensive, I waited years before finally buying one, but now that I have one I think it was absolutely worth it.

And seating? Everyone has their preferences. I have a meditation bench and zabuton cushion underneath, which I bought at a local bookstore. While zafu cushions seem to be more common, I think it feels more natural to sit on a meditation bench if you're not already used to a zafu cushion. Note that I've never ordered anything from the website I just linked to.

Friday, January 1

Like A Particle

like a particle
I'm simply drifting away
waiting to dissolve