Sunday, March 28, 2010

What if I.....

Starting tomorrow (or sometime in the near future), what if I:

--became vegan?
--joined the Unitarian Univeralist church (or became part of something else uplifting/enlightened)?
--moved to the country (or at least spent time in nature everyday)?
--practiced yoga everyday (exercised and meditated too)?
--wrote everyday?
--stopped playing classical music for 2 years (or any other written music--and focused instead on aural folk music)?
--used the internet just once a week (including checking email)?
--cooked more, baked more, gardened more, crafted more?
--got to know more neighbors?
--got out of the house more?
--joined a homeschooling group (I know, E's too young, but it's something I'll have to think about sooner or later.

I'm feeling like I need radical change for the better. If I did all these things, would I feel different? More connected? I think social media only enhances my feelings of loneliness--it's a poor substitute for real contact.

If I ate better, would my body feel lighter/younger/cleaner? Would I lessen my chances of contracting major diseases? It's just a little upsetting to hear of more young people (and old people, for that matter) getting cancer and having strokes.

If I did more things rather than thought about them, would my brain change? I've been reading that if you practice something daily (writing, meditation, music, crafting, gardening, etc.) it literally changes the structure of your brain. I like the idea of a daily practice.

Just wanting to feel different. Just wanting the world to look a little different.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lemon Cake and Tulips, Among Other Things

Happy Spring!

Or anyway, it feels like Spring. Last Sunday, the 14th,  was the first sunny and warm day in what feels like years. And daylight-savings-time made the day feel even more happy and bright.

Mom was in town, and we all went for an afternoon walk. El. wore his little camo shades, which made him look like a Muppet--a cute sleepy Muppet, and I snapped some pictures of the park, trees, and sky (I'll share later). Then mom and I drove to Minneapolis, to Birchbark books to take part in a bookclub meeting/dinner hosted by Louise Erdrich. It was lovely and surreal to be in her presence (she's taller than I expected--very monumental). She was very gracious and friendly, introducing herself to every table and leading a great discussion of William Trevor's Love and Summer.
The cafe served corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, potato leek soup, savory herb scones, and mint ice-cream atop a brownie. It was a nice way to end the day.

This is a picture of a cake I made for mom's birthday last Wednesday. It was a Martha Stewart recipe for Lemon cake, with lemon curd filling (Joy of Cooking) and stabilized whipped cream frosting with candied lemons and pineapple flowers on top. It turned out really good and dense--not fluffy like a box mix, but really hardy--almost like a pound cake. Amazingly, the layers turned out even--a first for me. The powdered stabilizer, however, that I found in a packet at Lund's, didn't fully dissolve into the frosting, so there were little bits suspended in it. I smoothed it out through a strainer, which solved the problem. This same thing happened when I tried to use gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream. Has anyone had success with this method?

Brother H. sent the flowers--an arrangement of pink and white tulips and some long, magenta orchid-looking flowers. For once I had fresh flowers in the house, which looked so colorful next to the shamrock plant I had bought the day before.

Last Thursday mom and I went to see My Antonia at the Illusion Theater. Other than driving around forever trying to find the darn place (it was on the 8th floor of a historic-looking building) the evening was...wistful. What is it about this novel that I identify so much with? Maybe because it's such a Nebraska story, or that Antonia could have been my great-great-great grandmother, or that the characters share such small yet beautiful moments that stay in your psyche---whatever it is, I couldn't help but weep towards the end when Jim returns to Nebraska to see Antonia for the first time in 20 years.

I felt like the play was well-written, but I couldn't help but wonder why try to tackle this huge, sweeping novel in a period of an hour-and-a-half? Why not write something original that captures the spirit of the book rather than the book itself? Anyway, it was successful, I think--with a minimal set with projections of the prairie (of course) and movable wooden set pieces. I loved the original music. There was a little trio off to the side, and I absolutely loved the woman who played violin and guitar, and then came on stage to play a minor role in her twirly blonde curls and long denim skirt. I thought she was just dressed like that for the spirit of the play--I had no idea she was a character--and I felt like I wanted to be like her.....some sort of urban cowgirl folk musician with blonde curls.....

This last week was really nice--time spent with mom--and some sunny warm days.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mmmm....Girl Scout Cookies....

Wow, I was really productive today.

I fixed dinner: bulgur and tomatoes, sauteed kale with garlic, steamed yams. Then I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, swept the living room floor, cleaned the upstairs bathroom, put dishes away, and made vegan oatmeal cranberry cookies (does this make it sound like I'm a health nut? I guess I forgot to mention the half-dozen Girl Scout cookies I had for dessert).

And now I'm writing. The day is complete. Although I don't feel ready for bed yet, with all the sugar flowing through my veins. I was thinking earlier---I don't want to see Girl Scout cookies go away, but don't you think it's about time the G. Scouts made their own damn cookies? Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a box of Samoas, or Do-Si-Dos? All I can say is trans fats. Maybe it's okay since they only come out once a year, but I'd kinda like to see the G.S. doing away with this cookie-selling image they have. I mean, is that all they do other than stay at cabins and ride horses? Do they even go camping and learn how to build a fire, pitch a tent, and make a hobo dinner with tin-foil like the Boy Scouts do? What do the B.S. have to sell? Why can't they sell cookies too? I always wanted to be a G.S. but do they do anything cool anymore? I have a Girl Scout book from the 20s, and it looks like not only did they learn the domestic arts, but they also learned Semaphore, Morse Code, wild food foraging, tying bandages for different parts of the body, mountain climbing, orienteering, map-making, and tying knots. Those are the skills I wish I had. I wonder if there is a club for adults who want to be G.S.?

Oh yeah, going back to why I was so productive this evening---I'm hosting a mommy meetup tomorrow, so the house has got to look decent. And I wanted to impress them with homemade cookies. Tomorrow morning I'll make scones to add to the snack table. What is it about scones that are so welcoming? Sometimes I think it would be neat to run a B&B, but really, the only part of it I would truly enjoy is the baking for my guests. I'd make kolaches, Swedish tea rings, Icelandic coffee wreaths, butterhorn rolls, and of course scones--candied ginger scones, currant cream scones, oatmeal anise scones....with cute little butter pats in the shape of animals alongside them on a china plate.