Saturday, December 20, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
"After 30 days of soul-searching and going through various tests of endurance and stamina in often frosty Scorpio, the solar orb is welcoming a new, 30-day time-period in which adventure, exploration, athletics, philosophical discourse and a happy-go-lucky disposition are more the rule than the exception." (Mark Lerner, Astrology.com)
And my birthday coming up, too! Still this maybe explains why I haven't felt like posting anything yang since before Halloween, having been plagued with many deep, dark, frosty Scorpio thoughts and I was especially restless and uneasy during the mid-month full moon. The Scorpio period always makes me feel a little dark and kicks off a roller-coaster of activity that won't really stop until Lent.
There are people who might have trouble with having Scorpio and Lent referenced seriously in the same sentence. But I like to honor and celebrate everything, all that One-ness. So from Halloween, to the Scorpio Wizard's birthday, Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Pearl Harbor Day, a full moon on Dec. 12, the Winter Solstice which is also our wedding anniversary (longest night of the year!) and New Year's Day and then another New Year's Day (Chinese) and MLK Day and the Inauguration the very next day and then all those February things. Well, it makes my head spin. I look forward to Lent to calm down. And then the kolea leave. (I notice I didn't include Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, not really my celebrations, but there they are...certainly part of the same season.)
Marking holidays with that celestial calendar (maybe the kolea have Go to Alaska/Return to Hawaii celebrations)...it may not really mean anything, but it does help us give meaning to the cycles of our lives. In any case, I'm feeling sunny today!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
If only the folks who run our financial institutions, industries, and government had all taken Family Finance, maybe the economy wouldn't be in the mess it is.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
But back to Xian, after our little farewell banquet at XMFR which came to the extraordinary and extravagant $10 US per person (I missed the big formal free farewell vegetarian banquet later that night), we discovered the best ever Starbucks in the world, in the Bell Tower area in Xian. The waitress in XMFR couldn't understand us when we asked for "cha," but the cute Chinese barrista who looked like Jet Li was able to deliver a perfect "caramel macchiatto" without any questions or misunderstanding.
Then we closed the afternoon, my last before flying down to Hong Kong, with a stroll through an alley of fresh seafood and ...other things. A vendor grabbed up a handful of some...squirming...appetizers , grinning, saying "You eat!" "Bu yao, YOU eat," I said. I suppose thumb-sized larvae are a good protein source, but suddenly I had a desire for cabbage! I guess a whole steamed chicken I can handle...I've dispatched and plucked the things. Come to think of it, I've dispatched my share of big cockroaches too, but,"Bu yao...YOU can eat 'em."
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
But the Change I'm thinking about more has to do with going back to places that are burned into my memory, those kind of memories that you can close your eyes and take a deep breath and be there. I don't usually like to revisit places, but there are a few that I have become fond of: Cedar Key and the Shell Mound Wildlife Refuge in Florida; Wudang; Hong Kong; Hana, Maui. I probably won't ever go back to Florida since my Dad died, and I could go to Hana any time I want.
But Wudang -- this opportunity created itself. I didn't intend to go back, but an earthquake changed my plans. Will they still have the silly Buddhist music playing in the speakers embedded in rocks along the trails? Will the street still be under construction, will the hotels be finished (there was one structure last year that was impossible to determine whether was coming down or going up.) I know the mountains will still be there.
And Hong Kong -- I haven't been there since 2001, the last of a string of visits since the mid-'80s. I was there for the handover, so I have seen both sides and I keep in touch with goings on there through blogs. I'm prepared for poor air quality: it's part of the last image in my mind, an incredible red sunset, poignant because I thought I might never be back. And indeed, because of change, it's likely to feel like a different place, even after just 7 years. (China is like that...eternally the same and changing before your eyes, a whirling taiji.)
But the real point of my tour is personal development, measured in how I deal with all those changes in the surroundings, in my body, in my "heart-mind." Heart-mind is a Taoist concept that I didn't quite get last year. Westerners separate heart and mind, that duality thing. But for the Taoist, it is one thing (xin), a blend of both and the center of our being. I hope to work on this in Wudang.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I always feel better when I forgo anything that walks on the same ground as I do, and took the new year and Lent as an excuse to get back on track with the veggies. (Thanksgiving and Christmas had caused me to backslide.) Now, while I might be able to content myself with stir-fried lotus root and a bit of tofu, Dear Wizard (husband) requires more substance in his diet. He says "okay" to a vegetarian regime...as long as I do all the cooking. His ability as a vegetarian cook is limited to ersatz meat products like gardenburgers and soy-based chicken nuggets.
Asian food has wonderful vegetarian approaches, and in addition to the simple Chinese methods I observed in Wudang, I am particularly enchanted with Indian vegetarian cooking A few years ago I went with some friends to the local Hare Krishna restaurant where I had to convince them that the white cubes in the spinach were NOT tofu but cheese, panir. Delighted to find panir, I asked one of the HKs if they sold it or where could I buy it. HK laughed and said,"Make it yourself, it's easy!"
So I acquired a wonderful Indian vegetarian cookbook, "Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking" by Yamuna Devi. Nearly 800 pages of wonderful things to do with vegetables and non-meat products...including milk. So my new hobby has become panir. It IS easy and for me a meditative stress reducer, calmly stirring hot milk until it comes to a boil -- the smell is quite comforting. Then add lemon juice and it magically curdles. Pour into a colander lined with cheesecloth (!), let it drain, wrap the curds up tight in a lump, sit something heavy on it for a couple or three hours, and voila, you have panir. Easy, but you must be patient and gentle. Don't scorch the milk or it will taste like you boiled it with a cigarette butt. Use a heavy-bottomed pan (mine is a large porcelain-clad cast iron Dutch oven that can do a gallon of milk at a time). You need half a cup of lemon juice to curdle the milk--you can use the kind that comes in plastic lemons, as fresh lemons seem to be quite expensive and you'll need to squeeze several if you are doing a large quantity.
Here's the funny part: to use the panir, you can cut it into cubes and then fry them ---in butter! (Well, ghee, which is clarified butter, favored in Indian cooking, but still, the irony.) It makes a nice chewy, meaty addition to your vegetable dish. Sort of like tofu. Search the web. I'm sure you can find a simple recipe.
I like things like this, ancient processes and techniques like growing vegetables, keeping bees, knitting sweaters, that connect you to times before we became all technological and economic and virtual with blogs and cell phones and cars where we listen to audio books. When you understand these things with your own hands, even if you never do them again, you have a greater appreciation for what you buy. Fresh vegetables, local honey, a handknit sweater. Cheese.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Was it intelligence that told me it was soon time to join my freeway commute home? As I drove slowly along the airport underpass, I was cheered to see kolea (Pacific Golden Plovers) here and there in the grassy area off the starboard side. About this time of year, they are gathering energy for their annual commute to Alaska. Kolea are Hawaii's nondescript but charming plucky little territorial (in the sense that they return to the same backyards every year, not in the pre-statehood sense) birds who by the end of April all leave pretty much at once to fly 3000 miles to their breeding grounds, earning incredible frequent flyer credit with no discernible carbon footprint. They cruise at about the same speed I like to average on my commute (50-60 mph). I wonder if they just get in line and go with the flow, as I do on the freeway, observing their neighbors' bad flying habits, the state of their breeding plumage, being surprised by seeing someone they know in the next lane. And somehow they navigate the skies without instruments or calculations, like native Hawaiians navigating the Pacific ocean, going with the flow.
I don't know if this is intelligence, but it certainly gets the birds where they need to go. I couldn't manage it with a calculator, and I got a good score on the test!
Visit http://www.hawaiinaturecenter.org/kolea/biology.html to learn more about these interesting birds.