if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tonight is a patience exersize...


Its been some time since my last entry. Ive done another swim, this time a harbor crossing on a stormy Auckland Sunday afternoon. Ive decided to go back to school through Evergreen State's Independent learning contract system. I have a focus of writing, swimming and fiber arts. I am planning to compare and contrast the experiance of learning through mentorship (from a close teacher) and from teaching others. To do this I will work with a mentor on things relating to writing, as well as some local coursework, possibly freelance journalism, and or more certainly children's writing. Im still making some decisions.I have a sponser in Olympia, a woman who specializes in writing. I am piecing the program together now for a January start. Its odd, since I have decided to study writing I havent written much. Ill get there, I hope. Over and over again getting all the way to the page.








Tonight we went to our second community dinner. It was a holiday dinner for low income peoples here in the Glen Innes area. Glen Innes has a large population of Polynesians. By Polynesians I mean Pacific Islanders from Cook Islands, Samoans, Tongans and Mauri folks. I sigh as I report that the eaters are mostly dark colored and the feeders are white. I feel a little counterfiet there, being pretty priveledged, blessed with slick American tastes and opertunism. Ouch did I say that? ...








There was a dinner of Roasted potatoes, (yum, peeled and everything) peas with a waxy "stay away ftom me" look to them, (the ubiquitous) roasted pumpkin chunks, nice despite my aversion to cooked orange vegetables. The meat of the meal, (My official sorry to Cate with a C Mckee for the meat report) was carved roasted chicken and ruby hams, also sliced at the front of the large room at the community center. There was pavlova with ice cream and fresh strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. The group of folks are warmer now that weve been there 2 times. A friend that Jordan met through a supplimental education program invited us. Santa finished off the meal and had gifts for the children, even knew their names.




Ive always been a bit of a scrooge and now with Christmas falling in the middle of summer, Im even more ambivilent. Desmond already found his drum set. I feel like letting the holidays slip by unnoticed. Maybe Ill buy a goat for a woman with lots of kids in Botswanna or something.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ocean Swimming In New Zealand!









One nice thing about living in Auckland or any sizable city is that there are more people who share your interests. Take open water swimming, for example. for years I swam in Argyle lagoon on San Juan Island, while I didn't swim daily in the winter I definitely put in miles there in all of the seasons. I can count the friends and family that joined me on my digits without resorting to my toes. Ben White was a lagoon swimmer, he had read some article about cold water speeding up brain injury recovery and decided it must be good for the brain in general. I remember one very stormy Thanksgiving swim with Ben when the waves were so big and jolly we couldn't help but laugh out loud while rising and falling in the confused surf of the lagoon. It wasn't sure where it was going but it was moving and we were along for the ride. I remember Denise Steinbruck was brave and had a swim with me one time, Thank You Denise. One time I took my daughter Nina's whole slumber party out for what my family always called a chocolate dip (evening outdoor swim). We swam all the way across that lagoon at dusk. I was counting little bobbing heads constantly. I felt like a mother seal. We all made it, and headed home for something hot and chocolate. For the most part, though, I was on my own when I swam. Neighbors would politely note if they learned my swimming identity "Oh, that is YOU down there. I was wondering...." Inside they were probably saying: you crazy thing, I'm keepin an eye on you! I was the freak who swam in the sea unseasonally. Herein Auckland there is a whole community of us! There is a three kilometer swim that over a thousand swim anually.

I read a wonderful book called Swimming To Antarctica by Lynn Cox. She swam across the English Channel, from the north to south island in New Zealand, across the Bering Straights (during the dying throes of the cold war... if you asked me, she ended it with her amassadorial strokes) and other amazing stretches of water. I was inspired by it. I wrote to her and she gave me permission to read her book, or excerpts thereof, on the public television station. I never did, though.




I recently swam in my first open water race. It was short- 1.4 km, but I did it- and so did 269 other people! I loved it. I didn't sign up without hesitation though and I kept coaching myself that I didn't have to go, even though I had paid my 20 dollars. I eventually shared the plan with my husband and that made turning back less likely, or less easy. I had a strange behavior the day before the race. I started drinking a beer at about 2:00 in the afternoon (this is unusual). I was just going to have one before I went to test the water, which is down the street. Before I could leave, I got a phone call from the States and I talked for 45 minutes and drank another one or two. Well then, drinking beer became much more interesting than swimming and after even more beer and an enormous dinner and went to bed early. I sensed inner sabotage, I didn't want to swim, anyway. The racers were to assemble at 7:45 am the next day. Was I crazy? Not Sure. I woke up early, as any real baker does, hangover or no. I flip flopped back and forth as to whether I should, could, wanted to go. I remembered a friend's email recently who was telling me she ran a half marathon after a late night of red wining. She actually said she thought it helped her "push through" I wrote her a quick email and pulled the kids out of bed. Jordan fed them (I was working on the carbs Id drunk the night before) Lillian wore a swimsuit for solidarity. I pleasantly chimed that we were probably too late to assemble and would be turned away. Jordan said to think positively, I said I was thinking positively. We made it there. The start point was in Herne Bay, a very posh part of Auckland. The weather was spectacular, there were lots of serious looking swimmers and lots of wetsuits. I don't have a wetsuit and I don't think I need one, certainly not for a half hour swim. About 10% of the swimmers agreed with my thinking and went in swim togs (as they say here). I think being late was fine, less time to feel intimidated or frumpy in my vintage wool coat. I was an "unaffiliated swimmer" and therefore wore an orange swim cap and was in the third and final heat of swimmers. I heard conversations that told me there were organized trainings and practice swims. I headed down to the take off point and waded in and I found myself saying "what the heck am I doing?!" The foghorn interrupted my quandary and I was off with a whole swarm of swimmers. (You can see the beginning of the race in the video clip below this text, including my loping son and my cheerleading daughter.) The first 20 strokes were pretty irritating with limbs splashing and kicking. Half way out to the buoy marking the "path"I was fine. I decided if I finished I was a winner. Desmond on the other hand, in his five year old thinking, was worried I wouldn't win. Hah!
The swim itself was nice. The water was pale and green like jade. The water temperature was about 16 C or 65 F-pleasant. There were slow moving coast guard boats and sleek kayaks keeping an eye on us. If you had a problem you could just raise your hand and someone would paddle over to you and help you. Hopefully your problem isn't: A shark just ate my hand, then you'd really be in trouble. I noticed that the person telling swimmers "Turn Here to shore, you just passed the buoy" was pretty busy, even though the orange barrel shaped buoy was big, lots of us did not see it and almost went on our own longer swim. I was elated to learn that I was almost done and swam stronger at the end than I had the whole swim. I climbed out of the water looking for my loving family with flower lei and kisses, where were they? Oh well, I`ll revel in the moment myself. There is that great feeling that comes after doing something outside your comfort zone. I walked up to the street and headed over to the park where there would be hot and cold drinks, hot dogs, trophies and prizes. By the way, I later learned Id finished 170th, which to me translates to 'not last'. My family parked right in front of me while I was walking and they hadn't seen me. "Look, I made it!" I pulled on a shirt and we walked to the park. There was a great playground there and lots of happy swimmers. I noticed that swimmers, as a rule are a mellow bunch, not much bravado or elitism that I could see. Each of my family ate two hot dogs a piece, making the $20.00 registration fee even more of a bargain. I learned of the next swim, the Chelsea sugar swim 2.4 km. I registered today, but I don't have to go...






video

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I just realized that I left out a pretty crucial step in the earlier galette post Ill update it.

I am going to have to stop buying watercress on the street. Here in New Zealand watercress is a ubiquitous food. It's not just a trendy food found in small amounts for lots of money like in the U. S. It is a standard component of something called boil-up that is a Polynesian meal (more on this later) but is also grows all over the place. Consequently, there are interesting older ladies selling it, from their yards, at the corner Saturady market and in the local butcher shop. I always fall in love with the sweet older ladies. They sell a huge bunch for a dollar or so. I think "Gee, I should really get some and have nice little cress sandwiches or a delicious bed for my fancy lamb strip or fish". The truth is that it ends up liquifying in the pruduce drawer. Ill still love the geriatric gardeners, I may still part with the dollar, I just dont want the guilt of the neglected watercress eying me when I open the fridge.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dish and That.... Galette fillings











First Some photo's as promised to Grandma Pat! A recent one of Lillian and the one she loved of Desmond in Tahiti.












Now onto our Pastry Fillers!



Last post has the crust or pastry and this one is for the fillings. First of all , the galettes being such a versatile thing, you need to decide upon if you want sweet and or savory, (you can use the same crust for both) and what size you want it/ them to be. Baking paper or parchment is a good idea for lining the pan so that you can easily move them. I reuse my baking paper over and over, so it isn't so decadent, really. You can use the parchment paper to wrap up a galette that you are giving to someone or smartly taking to work for your mid session snack. Anyway ... back to baking! Just buy the paper, damn it! We'll use it eventually, especially if I get loose and decide to share the white chocolate whisper cake recipe with you. Its the legend of many a wedding. "did you taste the wedding cake? its actually GOOD!". Uh Oh! Now I'm really off.






Why do people have such low expectations for wedding cakes? It's the queen of ritualistic baked goods! It's a once in a lifetime event (naively and hopefully speaking)! Why must the cake so often be sawdusty and overly sweet. That is not a good affirmation, metaphor of, a loving couples road onward.


He yawned and said " Well at first it was fine, maybe we were a little overly sweet to each other, then we just dried out and now we don't even finish the piece." He should have planned the cake better! He should have tested the laws of cake appreciation to asses true compatibility!

Does it really need to be so straight and hard with sugary reinforced precision? Is it a dessert or a building? What about lofty and soft? What about the Zing of a barely sweetened raspberry?




When I have a consultation with folks who are looking for me to bake a wedding cake for them, I always try to determine what school of thought they are from. If they start out with some resplendent account of a cake that was really delicious and show a sign of appreciation of the qualities of taste and texture and balance that can make a cake truly lovely, then it will be a promising partnership if they bring photos from bridal magazines or mention Albertson's or Costco better break it off, now. I use terms like "simply elegant" and "adorned with fresh flowers" as my pledge and disclaimer as to the level of sugar acrobatics I will perform. Speaking of performance Let's galette now.












Galette fillings






Sweet






Breakfast danish style cream cheese and tart fruit filling.

Good for both breakfast and dessert


Blend softened cream cheese -4 parts, sugar -1 part, flour 1/4 part a dash of good vanilla, 1 egg for each 6 oz or 175 grams of cream cheese. Too much math? OK






1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2tbs flour
1tsp vanilla
1 egg


Blend all ingredients






I use this with fresh fruit or lightly cooked fruit filling. My favorites are raspberries stirred up with a little sugar and a scant amount of flour and shown to the flame just enough to coalesce into a bright red sauce with the sugar and flour absorbed but the berries not really cooked, it turns a duller color and the flavor isn't nearly as snappy if you cook it thouroughly. Strawberry and rhubarb prepared similarly works. I'm in the Southern hemisphere, I have springtime ideas, now. Orange and cranberries are a nice combination with the cream cheese, especially if you add some orange zest into the pastry crust. Apples are good, but you have to partially cook them first, or they'll have to much crunch. Apricot puree is tasty and beautiful swirled around the danish cheese mixture. Frozen blueberries can go in whole on top of the cheese filling as can canned cherries. One decadent filling I once made was a little orange juice concentrate (the organic one is orangier, both in color and taste) a little orange zest in the cream cheese part and chunks of bittersweet chocolate or leftover ganache (a simple truffle filling/ chocolate glaze that is illegal under secret culinary law to waste.)






Its bad when the secret culinary police come by to get ya. They storm in while your entertaining that new vegetarian love interest and bust you for the stupid chicken stock you used or the fact that you didn't fillet the tomatoes and barbarically added the tomato wall with the skin still on. Where are those guys when your husband uses only three cups of water to boil the pasta?... Or when your friend destroys the expensive steaks with twice the cooking time they need? Or when your well meaning and frugal boss insists that real chocolate and vanilla are too extravagant. That's when the culinary police need to be there! Do culinary police go for donuts? I want to know where! Those would be the perfect non offending donuts, no trans fats, no mixes, real filling. Do I need to get a life?? I have one, thank you. I just cant hold steady to galette filling.












Just Fruit





You can make the galettes a traditional pie filling approach, you just have to be careful with the moisture content. If you use a fruit with a lot of moisture like peaches, apricots, cherries and plums and even pears or apples you need to add extra flour, cornstarch or breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid so it doesn't sink into an uncontrolled slough. Rhubarb galettes work, while berry galettes arent a good idea because of all that moisture and lack of structure (lots of small bits). I like to make apple galettes with a little lemon juice and currants and torn stale bread, sort of strudel tasting. Its a good idea to roll the pastry thicker on the fruit only fillings, since it will need to be a bit stronger to hold the cooking fruit in.












Savory






Savory galettes are a great option if you don't have much on hand and have to make something delicious and attractive. Leftover meats like ham, salmon, crab, and sausage or smoked fish are excellent components, while added to a filler like cooked potato or artichoke heart chunks or torn stale bread and flavorful additions like sharp cheddar, gruyere cheese, green onions, capers, green peppercorns-crushed, roasted bell peppers or capsicums, shallots finely chopped. I really revel in a crab and Tillamook cheddar with green onions galette. Its rich, so serve it with a nice near naked salad. Asparagus or broccoli with ham and Swiss is really good, too. Chicken mushroom or chicken pot pie can be galette style as can ratatouille or eggplant parm'.






Really, the sky is the limit. Sometimes galettes made from leftover dinner outshine the first meal. You just need a filling that holds together pretty well to scoop or form with your hands. let it cool if you made out of hot ingredients so the pastry doesn't "melt" when you are tucking it up around the sides.



Putting it all together : Oven 375 degrees F


Ill give instructions for individual galettes which turn out to be a few inches across. If you make a larger one for more portions, just use a larger ball of dough use the same proceedure. If you have refridegerated the pastry for more than an hour, pull it out to warm up to a workable firmness for an hour or so, (time varies, depending on the size of dough balls and the ambient temperature in your kitchen.) Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, suitable for rolling out. Roll the dough out into a circle (don't be too precise, they are supposed to be rustic looking). Roll out to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch or 3 mm thick, a little thicker if your making a mostly fruit based filling. If you are making individual sized galettes they will roll out to about 7 inches or 10 cm across. Place it to the side dust lightly with flour and roll out the rest. As a I mentioned earlier, it is advisable to use baking paper to line your pan. Place the galette dough circles on the pan/paper next to each other. Place the filling in the center of the circle. If it is the cream cheese and fruit type spoon the cream cheese first, about 1+1/2 tbs on each one then follow around with the fruit spooning sauce or filling (1-2 tbs) or just dropping berries or cherries onto the filling. Now take an edge and tenderly fold it up onto the filling and take the next section of edge and fold that up and continue until all the sides have been curled up around the filling, making a little tart that looks like a drawstring satchel that is laying flat, slightly open. If you are using a savory filling or fruit only use the same process but you use more filling, heap up a half a cup or so on the circles before folding up the sides. Scoot them over and make room for more on the sheet pan, the Danish don't spread out much and the fruit ones do just a little.
Brush the sides with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with sugar (for dessert galettes) and bake in a 375 degree F or 160 degree C oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Now please enjoy your galettes.
By the way, Id like to thank Friday Harbor`s own Dick Brass for inventing the spell check.





















































Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recipe for Galettes

As I promised I am publishing a recipe.
This one is for a simple pastry called a galette. Galette is a general term used in French to designate different types of round and flat crusty cakes. (thank you, Wikepedia)There is a savory variation of a buckwheat crepe often filled with Gruyere and ham or other savory morsels left over from last night's exquisite French feast. Those particular galettes taste the best when you eat them in your soft clingy movie star nightgown at about 11:30 am after you finally wake up.
But if you dont have Feasts of French or slink around in nighties, it really doesnt matter because these are about the most versitile of things that ever wanted to be made. If you are enjoying a bumper crop of Apricots, use them, if you have a little ganache left from a cake, save it for an accent in your next galette, the sky's the limit in what you can put in them.

They have a crust
Ill give you the recipe I have for a short crust or pastry that Chef /Wizard Jodi Calhoun got from her mother. It is rich and delicate and really easy to remember. It is a "4-2-1 and a pinch" formula.

Here is a basic recipe for galette dough using the formula

2 cups flour
Pastry or just white flour is fine, better not use whole wheat flour.
1 pinch of salt. I would estimate that a pinch is about a 1/2 teaspoon
1 cup cold butter
The better the butter, the better the batter, unsalted or salted are both ok, just adjust the salt that you add accordingly.
About 1/2 cup cold water (I use homemade)
Optional pinches are generous pinch of sugar (helps to brown the galettes) orange or lemon zest for flavor.

Proceedure
put flour in a dry bowl a little bigger than you think youll need, add salt, and optional sugar and or zest, stir well. You can use a food processor for this, just use the bowl of the machine as your bowl. Chop the butter, handling it as little as possible, into small lego-ish cubes and add to the flour mixture. "Cut" the butter in with a couple of knives, a pastry blender or pulse in the processor until thare are no noticable hunks of butter and the whole thing has the coarser texture of cornmeal. Trickle the water into the mixture while tossing with a fork, a little at a time or pour in a slow stream into the spinning processor. Did you learn this years ago? sorry, Im just being thorough for the newcomer pastry enthusiast. By some mystery of nature, it sometimes doesnt need all the water, while other times the flour is thirstier and it does take it all. When a pinch of the mixture holds together in what looks like pie dough, its got enough water. Nobody ever said cooking was an exact science, did they? Well... actually it is, but that's a big topic. One you could discuss with Scientist/ Husband Jordan. Later. Over Galettes!

Now portion the dough, (again, minimal handling for a tender crust) If you want cute little galettes for individual portions then shape the dough loosely into walnut ot apricot size, if you want a larger galette that you can slice into wedges then roll orange sized balls. Chill (or freeze) for a little while (like an hour) or a long while (up to a week as long as its well wrapped) I like having a few balls of it on hand for when someone pops in for coffee or I want an easy dessert.

Egads, its late! more tomorrow.
Fillings in fact.
Goodnight.

Friday, October 26, 2007

On second thought, let's throw them out!

Attention! Political content here. Tomorrow I promise Ill put a great new recipe here if youl hear me out. Thank you. I have given some thought and considered feedback from my last blog entry. I was hinting around at a tax revolt to stand up to the governments aggressive military actions. I now realize that if the heads of state were "deprived" of revenue for the war endevors they are so bent on they will raid some other coffers to continue. It seems that the voiceless are the ones to suffer when money is shifted by the Bush administration. I wont condone something that will take food out of an already hungry or sick or old hand.
It is, however legal to impeach a president (and vice president), and there are plenty of legal grounds to support it, now. Its an idea that is growing. It has got the iceberg shape.

Why not be on the cutting edge and be one of the ones people thank god for later.

Saturday Oct 27th is loaded with the idea, join in or devise your own action. The system needs to change and its metamorphesis will be full of twists and turns, you dont need to know the details now, you just need to support the swell of people risking change.
I say: It's never to late to overthrow an outmoded, greedy, corrupt leader (but get the assistant, too, he's at least as dangerous!)

Tax revolt is sweet, but impeachment is devine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What are we to do???








I am going to get a little radical here.
I know that a handful of people I know, some I love, will not agree with me over the content of this entry. I cannot sit silent though, so here it goes. I live in the South Pacific, have small children and work full time. Its easy to not hear the news and to forget that there are terrifying wars raging, some of them waged and justified by my own country, the United States. Even with my blissful isolation from such happenings, the word slips into my ears. I hear Dick Cheney proposing an attack of Iran, I hear quotes of speeches by George Bush claiming and projecting the threat of Iran's Nuclear capacity. I agree, in fact, all countries who have them are posing a threat to life, me, my kids, my lovely natural landscape, my irritating parasites, the whole ball of wax. Even if they only have them to "threaten towards peace", even if the countries claim to "hope to never need them", those weapons are damn dangerous.

Now, I am of the school of thought that we humans are evolving to survive. I think that is how war came to be, a mechanism of survival. Now, as the mechanism to survive has become the threat to survival, we (the thinking adaptable humans) can toss the outdated behaviors of survival away and pick up ones that will actually work.
Now if you are sure that (1) Jesus is coming and (2) I must just be a humanist who hasn't yet been saved, then, WAIT!, I think Jesus would like my idea, too. It involves taking care of ourselves, each other, and our home. The biggest parasite is the insatiable greed that sells and feeds from fear. "Don't risk trusting" is what those greedy buggers say! Buy a security system, an insurance policy, buy a new shiny set of mini nukes.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are paying for these measures to protect the wealth of a few. The few clinging to the energy structures (literal and theoretical) of our recent past and present. If we could spend the dollars we inefficiently blunder on ill-conceived warfare, on energy systems to progress further than the supply of fossil fuels, if we could inspire our scientific minds with wholesome and worthy problem solving without the incentive of military application or ROTC obligations, then we might be able to survive this chapter here on earth.

Now, as Turkey is stepping up aggressively into the war zone, and Condoleezza Rice digs in to hold off the dogs on her leash, as Russia plays its pro-Iran cards--lets think. Let us "ordinary folks" think about this. We may be asked to condone and pay for an air strike, the military attack, of another country, Iran. Its a big country in a region where there is great polarization, mostly based on religious orientation. Is your God really into that? Remove the spin, the language you get fed about "the Region" and know that these are people we're talking about, with homes, meager and grand, with children and traditions and stories told.

If you are like me, and I bet you are (since I don't know too many people who read this blog who are right wingnuts.), then you feel exasperated by the news and the threats looming. Many of us (record numbers, actually) went into the streets before the invasion of Iraq. Although it was comforting to see that our wishes and opinions were not isolated, it didn't seem to matter very much that we showed up to demonstrate. It seems we were speaking a different language than those making the grave decisions we cared about. So lets not make that mistake again! Lets speak the language to be heard. If its money and power that these bad-boys like, lets see where our money and power as citizens is held. Our consumer dollars are key, we could do a spending modification or "brown out" or how about our tax dollars? If, according to some surveys (who?- good question) over 70% of people are dissatisfied by George Bush and his clan, then there must be a certain one or two percent, at least, willing to express themselves in a tax revolt. If even just 1% refused to pay taxes, citing mismanagement of tax monies, then that would be 2-3 million people to bust and prosecute. I'm thinking that would be quite an impossible task for any government. I'm thinking that would be mighty threatening to a government.

Maybe we could cut our energy consumption in half! It would require all kinds of efforts from the hitchhiking variety to the municipal-code variety, from the exotic way we reward ourselves to fast-track shifting gears. Could you live without that cup of coffee, have farmers market tea instead? What would the payoffs for doing this sort of action be?
If we took back our power as consumers and didn't buy cheap stuff from insistent advertisers, filling the bins with shiny waste, would we feel any better? My guess is that we are so overdue for doing the right thing that when we start doing it it will feel great and I mean collectively feel great!

Let's get a grip.

You first!

Just kidding.

I'll go first if your too scared.

You're there aren't you?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

View from Home

I am on a visit from New Zealand to the West coast of the United States. Tonight , in fact I am insomnia tic at the Pension Nichols in Seattle. My lovely and complex son, Desmond has accompanied me on this journey, although he is with his Grandmother Linda in a seaside cottage back on San Juan Island. Grandma Linda is a gem of a woman who has lots of soft spots in her heart and one especially for Desmond. Desmond was her first Grandchild and their birthdays are exactly 6 months apart, making them something of fitting puzzle pieces, I suspect. It was a tender moment (there are many lately) when I said goodbye to him today and got on the ferry with Nina to explore the city of Seattle. We have spent plenty of time here but this is the first time we are looking at it with the eyes to choose a home and a school for Nina (and her Beau, Larry.)

The tables are curiously turned as Nina has more money in her savings account then I do and has a great curiosity for the foods in the city today. For years I have dragged Nina into the restaurant of my choice and even if she had a lackluster appetite or lack of interest in whatever foreign cuisine or trendy scene she would pick something and give it a go. Tonight, when I could have settled for a cup of tea she was hungry. We had Nepalese appetizers and curries (her's- Goan coconut shrimp and mine Spicy Tibetan vegetable. It wasn't really very long before Nina confessed she was still hungry and we then had a lovely set of salads at the cozy Cafe' Campagne, mine- tiny tender little solid green beans with some lemony herby treatment and her's- beets and hazelnuts and real rouqufourt and silky butter lettuce(by the way, excuse my spelling) Then is when we should have stopped. We DIDNT though, we had dessert! OK, just to be thorough, Ill tell ya, it was Hazelnut creme brulee and Tart Tatin, two Katrina desserts. Tea tomorrow.


I wrote my Husband an email tonight and I noticed that he did not immediately write back. Why isn't that guy waiting for my words and eagerly responding? Its been almost 5 hours now!

Speaking of husband things, let me tell you. If your husband where to pick up your family and move them away to a country where either they don't get your jokes or they have been trained not to laugh at them and he was immerse himself in study and all the bizarre dysfunction of a failing commune while the children began displaying some pretty odd coping mechanisms you might just get a little nutso! NOT that thats whats happening here, I NEVER said that!

Im going to see if I can put some photo's of those kids on this blog and turn in since its 2:00 !

Thursday, September 13, 2007

long list

I am in this common dilemma of feeling the urge to write a blog entry but not knowing where to begin! Sometimes I feel that thwere isn’t enough time to enjoy this amazing world and all its twists,turns and surprises and to also write of it. Does anyone else have that problem? I have these great reflective narratives after something interesting happens but Im not perched with pen or keyboard, Im usually holding some darling’s hand, swimming a lap, doing a dish or finally turning in for the night. Then I have a build up of interesting things vying for a moment of consideration, some time to be crafted into something that translates. Im going to remedy the situation by making a list so that I can either refer back to it when I want to write about something or just let that list rest and let a new one collect. Here we go.

Some things I found interesting lately:
1)My swim today. I was going to use the swim to ``make a good decision about the future`` I kept coaching myself and playing out the various options and choices I have in front of me. Nothing was coming, though. I thought maybe I was too fixated with counting my laps (often, I divide my swim into sets of laps) Then I switched into “ I don’t care how many laps Ive swum’ mode. Then the insights came a flowing! Sometimes quantify the accomplishments gets in the way of making them.

2) meeting my Aquastell family
I was born on Feb 5 1962 this was, astrologically a unique time. The sun, moon, and six planets were all in the sign of Aquarius. This is a great chance to check and see if astrology has any credence. There is a website developed by the children of this freak configuration and I found it recently. As a person interested in Astrology for some time I was quite relieved to find it. As it turns out this group folks who were born during this stellium are quite interesting. The lives of the group have not been easy or glamorous, but the thrust of the ideals are sure interesting. I felt like Id found family. I eventually realised that there were many members, but few revisiting folks. I still go to the Aquastell website from time to time to see if my stellar siblings have discovered something that Ive overlooked with my parenting/ immigrant/ human existence has distracted me from.
3) Parenting from afar.
I love My Nina and I get bits and pieces from her. Once your child is of legal age , then you must get with the idea that you are cooperating, not controlling.
4) The struggles of immigration
More on this later

5) the things that own you and the things that you own
Just let them go, there are plenty of lovely things everywhere!

Dear Laura Bush

here is something I wrote a while back:


Dear Laura Bush,
Dear Laura,
I am also a mother. I have three children. I am not a religious person, however I consider myself generous and compassionate. I am concerned about by childrens future. I dont believe in Armageddon as a pre-determined reality and I hope that humans still have a say as to the direction we take as a race. I would happily reduce my "standard of living" for the good of the whole, by this I mean the whole of humanity, despite race or nationality and the whole planet with all its wonderful diverse life. I can assume that you yeild more influence over future events than I and I appeal to you to think of a world where fear is not the governing emotion and people have their needs met. I specifically do not want to explain to my young children why anyone would choose to use such antics as nuclear warfare. If you can influence the strategy of the upcoming months, as a mother and a generous and compassionate woman, yourself, please help us use our words, and take our turns listening and find the least destructive way to deal with those who disagree with our stand. Thank you very much, Kate Stone

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Floodgates Open


Yesterday I had a very healthy airing of things that have been on my mind and weighing heavily on me. One day ill be able to disclose the nature of this. I feel better and other ideas and concerns have room to be addressed. One such thing is looking into investing in a home, while we're here. Hopefully Ill be back to my twice a week blogging, in no time

Here is a photo of Addie and Ollie from this summer at Anahata.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007



This is the contemplation space I made in a "Fine threads" workshop I took this summer


Peace on Earth


I am sorry I gloated about summer last February. Im getting paid back. While northern hemisherians are finding comfortable shade, neighborhood ponds to dip in, sipping whatever refreshing cool tonic, sleeping outside and gardening I am wondering if the electricity will go out and if the windows can handle the wind. Jordan, who just traded me the favor of going to the store for some mint slice cookies or (or maybe even and) butternut crunch biscuits for hanging up the laundry is begging a different assignment. He is asking if he can concoct our sweet treat instead of drive, possibly on two wheels to the pac n save. I negotiated no bake horse treat cookies for my baby birds and myself, and my foghorn leghorn man, too. Brrrr.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Well,

This week I have just one day off and it's today. I need to get all my non work pursuits addressed. Yesterday I worked as a temp for a cafe called Sebastion's boutique cafe and catering. It was fine but I wish that people who hired temps would think it through a little to get the maximum benefit from their expenditure. Its daunting to go into a completely foriegn kitchen and be in charge of it all, without knowing the ethos or angle of the place. I did fine, though. I made lots of eggs Benedict and sandwiches for the front case. The darn range was a problematic to light and the other staff wasn't really directed in a team thinking manner. They used blackware there, nice pans without a "nonstick" finish. It reminded me of the struggle involved with owning a restaurant. The days that, despite your efforts and complete devotion you dont break even. I think Im going to get a digital camera today. There will certainly be evidence on this blog when I do, you'll see.
Jordan seems to be in a work related funk. If I knew have to spell "onwe" thats the word I would use. I think he'll be fine. He needs more time to focus on it, Im thinking. We were having Lillian go to daycare for a couple of weeks but her dissatisfaction and our cost didnt add up. I wish we could find the eqivilent Kimmies daycare here. I really appreciate her, especially from here, without her.

Ours neighbors, who are very nice, have a young pit bull terrier. his name is Qaddafi. He is a lovely pancake gold color. I try and give him kind words and the occasional scrap so that he considers me (and hopefully my kids) his friend. He has doubled in size in the 2 months weve been here. We had wild company last night. Dmitri and Carlos from Brazil came over and brought lots of red wine. I havent been drinking lately. Im on a mission to get to my pre Nina weight. This is boring, Im stopping.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

from a mom to a daughter, quote from a letter to Nina.

I got inspired by this fortune I got, it said that the empty bucket does not make any noise and the full bucket does not make any noise but the half full-half empty bucket makes noise. I didn't like that fortune at first, but after resonating with it and finding it again in my dresser drawer, I decided that "noise" was a good thing and that we can't wait until we are perfectly ready to share our polished successful selves, we are ready now!!! Isn't that great! We are more interesting as our imperfect-well meaning-work in progress selves!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Trade Me Friends

In New Zealand the equivalent of ebay online auction is called Trademe. I was fascinated by ebay and did quite a bit of recreational shopping and even some business on that site. Of course, being new immigrants here and having young children we have some holes to fill in the material possession category. To my partner Jordan, the self appointed minimalist guru of our house, this spaciousness was fine. I, on the other hand wanted a chair worthy of my welcoming tired bakers bones and my considerably more discerning eye. I have had a dozen or so transactions on the net using Trademe. I have had a high percentage of interesting encounters from these purchases.





The first I can remember is the German washer we bought for just 120.00. We were just about to fly the nest of the commune we lived at initially for 6 months on arrival in Auckland. Jordan went to pick it up and called to ask if we wanted to also buy a queen Rimu (native hardwood) bed and a tidy near new fridge (a rental doesn't usually come with one here) I said sure, if you like them, go for it. We went to meet the man and pick up the bed and happened to get the car in a very precarious perch, just driving off the drive and suspending our van on the edge hovering over a considerable decline with a nice house close by, downhill. Jordan was wrapped up in the problem and I had to get pretty loud to get him to take note of the slipping tire and the situations potential. By the time I made my noise, a house painter (who's father actually owned both of the residences- the one we were visiting and the one we were threatening to roll our van into) He quickly got some boards to stack and elevate to reach the rear wheel. The bottom of the van was touching the cement, but I was sure how much weight was resting on it and if it could still be on the move. We got a couple of jacks and more boards and finally got the car back on the driveway. Profuse gratitude was expressed and we finally got on our way to our new house with our new stuff. Another memorable transaction was for the purchase of a collection of odd items including a yogurt maker, bathroom scale. wine rack, bread box rolling desk looking thing. I cant remember how I got directed to the odd lot of household items, but the $4.00 'buy it now' price seemed practically humorous and the location was close by. I bought the lot and wrote an email to Svetlana to arrange pick up. On a dreary fall nigh, my entire clan ventured to her house. She was a tender and charming older woman with a lovely Russian accent. She insisted I call her Lana and I asked her about using the yogurt maker ( that and I bathroom scale were the only things I could recollect of the lot) She found that I'd forgotten what I'd bought hilarious! She told me she makes cottage cheese now (HOW?) and didn't need the yogurt maker at all anymore. She helped me to the car even though it was raining pretty good, I think is was mention of the family there that drew her, really. She took one look at Desmond and was ready to engage him. Desmond had recently spent a few days with the Cat in the Hat movie. Now, in my day, that was a wholesome affair, The Cat in the Hat... other than the unnerving fact that the cat and kids were probably going to get busted in some mischeif, it was good and clean fun. Well, in the Mike Myers movie there is enough adult innuendo to make a Suess roll in his grave. One such grown up joke is when the cat calls his grubby garden tool a "dirty ho' " repeatedly, with plenty of emphasis. Welllll , Desmond decided to recycle that joke in real life and started calling Lana a "dirty Ho". "You dirty ho' !" he would gruffly rant and she would say "what is he saying?" and give him an affectionate but assertive tickle and he would jyrate wildly and bump his head on the dashboard. This went on two or three times. I was, of course, aghast and tried to get Desmond to apologize , and then to stop that! He was on a roll with the tickling-head bumping -" Dirty Ho" game he had going. I finally had to resolve that neither of them really knew what he was saying and they were having a purely harmonious encounter, so I left it alone and had a chuckle, myself. Seeing a computer cable in our car,she asked if we were computer people. She had developed a method of rapid language english lessons and wanted to get it into digital medium. Jordan sort of dodged that bullet and we said our goodbyes and thank yous. She complemented us on our fine company and said it would be alright to come back and see her, she mentioned some of her interests to lure us, the only one I can remember is extra terrestrial life. We left there with an odd lot of grins.
We got some wonderful footage of Mauri dance when a woman and her daughter came by our house to deliver some kitchen wares Id' hi-bid' on. The lush dark featured daughter of about 9 or so mentioned she was on her way to traditional Mauri dance lessons. this piqued our interest and we asked her if we could get that on videotape, she shrugged and smiled and next thing you know,Jordan got the camera going. The footage is heartwarming to watch, not only the dancer's earnest storytelling, but her mother's pride beside her. One trademe purchase was a fiasco! We went all the way by ferry boat to the tune of $58.00 (walk on) to Waiheke island to pick up some new Birkenstock sandals for Jordan. It was a comedy of errors as we navigated our way through the limited public transportation, bolted off the bus when it was in the town, thinking we didn't have enough cash, only to realise we did, but the bus only came hourly, so we walked with the kids on our backs too far and ended up at a park while Jordan made the final leg of the trek alone, only to discover that the shoes were Narrow and didn't fit. He rejected them and got the money back. The seller, an absolutely cottled Swiss masseuse, was quite perturbed and gave us our only negative feedback on the transaction, oh well, you cant win them all!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday at the Storylines Children's Book Festival

Today did the nicest job of redeeming a funk of a weekend. I was about to continue to work on my body imprint Ive got going in my new bed. Ive been putting in lots of reclining hours in the last week, trying to get over this virus. The family had planned to go to a Children's Festival at the Aotea center downtown all week, although, I had just convinced Jordan he could go without me. The kids were getting the classic symptoms of cabin fever. The frequency of the shouting and bothering outbursts was getting to what I consider critical mass, soon everyone would be roaring like the four winds.
My delightful pal Amanda text ed me, to check on our tentative plan to sneak off for coffee as part of the day. That gesture pulled me back from the plan of slothful pondering of the rain and the phenomenon of wakefulness when you really want to sleep and all the distractions are gone. Sometimes relaxing is just too much pressure for a gobot like myself. I buoyed up, had a little coffee, hacked and sputtered in an attempt to quiet the rattle in my chest, put on non work, non pajama clothes and things were on the up! Now any parent of young ones knows that getting yourself ready is easy, getting children lined up can be a little trickier. Desmond was motivated to clothe himself by the "costume" appeal. Luckily, the superhero boy costume (with a red and blue "H" to avoid trademark infringement) was clean and locatable. Jordan even got him to take it all off and put a layer on underneath. By this time I was working on Lillian's inertia. I thought the leopard suit would do the trick. Lillian has her own mysterious standards, though, and that would not do at all. She settled on a lovely floral skirt, acquired last week in our first hand me down bag here, its actually stylish, floral shirt and of course, floral socks. I used the "choose a coat from these two" trick to get her into outerwear warm enough for the Auckland drizzle.



We headed off, had our routine parking argument and finally dispatched ourselves to the center where children with balloons, painted faces and general calm and contentment were ambling out of the complex. Amanda found us just outside, we all stepped into the arena of music, storytelling, non fiction rooms, beloved authors, devoted readers, crafts tables, booksellers, face painters, pirate-mermaid teams, handmade wonderful braille books, there was even an exhibit of Jane and the Dragon, an up to the techno minute animated children's show by Weta, a P. Jackson project. (By the way a weta is a very big New Zealand bug. When you meet one it seems like a larger animal than an insect, about the size of a chocolate eclair with a grasshopper head and extra long feelers-quite authoritative: ewe! If I could design a superhero, it would be bughandler-man, he would manifest whenever need arises. I inherited my bug squeamishness. If you don't believe me you should check out my mother's Vacuum cleaner bag)
Back to the festival....
There were such wonderful storytellers, It made me want to become one. I think the event pleased us all in some way. Jordan had a rough time after I left to have a girl visit, though. I think he experienced the vanishing child panic for the first time.
Amanda is a good friend. Our relationship is young, but even from the start we could see eye to eye and are both good visionaries. She has a business called Rocket online and she is very professional in her demeanor. I'm not sure what she actually does for folks. I think it has more to do with online than rockets, though. We went to Borders and sat in the modern and comfortable coffee shop there. It felt urbane. I had a sinful and soothing chocolate mint bomb, which was made with ice and slid with relief down my irritated throat. We caught up and laughed some, which I think is so important. Jordan showed up some time later and dropped the kids with us and went off in search of a sizable blank grid lab journal. He spent lots of time, actually looking in three different places for what he wants to keep his Scientific calculations and insights in. When we got home I went on Amazon and found plenty, but they wont ship them here. They ship books that are filled in with writing, though, Huh? If anyone reading this loves Jordan dearly and wants to put a smile on his face they could by acquiring one or two of those. Its funny the things you cant get here, like Masa Harina and microwave popcorn without all the chemicals and salt and Weleda shampoo. Best foods Mayonnaise costs a fortune here and Gas prices are not through the roof. Different.

I sometimes feel safer here in New Zealand, from some of the big nasty things like nuclear energy and big power bloated defence departments, but really the core dilemma of us consuming more than the planet can give is just as recklessly out of control here as it is in the US. What is it with us humans, anyway- needing more and better and to look better and have better stuff. Its a lot to maintain, the appearance of looking successful, it could steal a lot of your precious time on earth right out from under ya. I was reading in James Bryner's blog about his reflections of not working (and not having a TV) and his observations and experience of how the world opened itself up to so many opportunities that we usually cant be bothered with considering because we have our schedules.. What if you never caught a glimpse of that spaciousness??
I'm so far off the track, I'm putting the whole train set away and going to bed now. More later. Good dreams and blessings to you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wild Wheat Work


Today is a workday. I am home, though, after half a day. I have that throaty warning of impending sickness. Its also a legal holiday today ,The Queen's Birthday. In New Zealand everyone who works on a legal holiday gets time and a half pay and a free day of holiday pay later when they take a holiday or quit the job. It's a shame I didn't finish out the day there, but money isn't everything. Sometimes an ounce of prevention, some salt water gargling, loading liquids and a little leisure in the horizontal mode is worth a pound of cure. For you metric people, that's about 28 grams=450 grams. Its a pretty good deal, huh?

Ill take this opportunity to reflect on work. I work at Wild Wheat and have for about a month. Wild Wheat is an Artisan Bakery. Now that word 'Artisan' is batted around liberally these days. Wild Wheat actually lives up to the definition of the term, though. Andrew Fearnside is the creator of the Wild Wheat empire, which consists of a new factory in Pakuranga, Auckland, retail shops at the factory and in stylish Mt. Eden and a fleet of 4 vans to deliver to the upwards of 200 wholesale customers. It is due to one such van that I am working at Wild Wheat each weekday morning at 5:00 am.

Jordan and I were crawling on the motorway moving a load over to our new neighborhood (which is already our old neighborhood, now) when I saw a Wild Wheat van. I noted the locale of the factory, close to our new home and whipped out my cell phone and dialed the number. I got a call back from Andrew and agreed to come and check out the routine one morning. I printed a resume and got an appointment. I was romancing some other jobs at the time, and (of course) the dormant C.V.s started doing their thing and I had three options to choose from. One was another Artisan Bakery that is much larger and questionably artisan, considering the new automated operations being installed. They spent a lot on the machines, I guess, because they didn't have much at all to pay me. The man who contacted me said he liked my CV but the phrase "pay commensurate with experience" clued him in that I wasn't going to work for the immigrant entry wages he had to offer. He said "We hire lots of immigrants, just not from countries like yours" I guess if I was from eastern Europe or South America I'd be more hungry. Us yanks are really quite spoiled. People, especially New Zealanders who haven't yet roamed the planet can't fathom why I would come to New Zealand from the United States. It is always an interesting meander to tell them of my motivation to get away from the money worship culture and the indecently corrupt leadership in the states. In the US there seems to be more of a drive to make it to the top, while people in New Zealand are happy to be middle class and be content with the vocational role and get on to other things like hobbies and family and such. Some say NZ is just 10-15 years behind the US but I think that's oversimplification of things. It also doesn't give New Zealand credit for its unique resourcefulness and civility... behind- My ass! Hey, that's kind of funny.



Anyway, The last job offer which according to Murphy's law, was just on time, was a Chef position at the Hotel Du Vin. Now the Hotel Du Vin is lovely. it is like stepping into another time and place. Hidden in the Bombay hills, south of Auckland, it was just a little too far away to live where we just painstakingly moved. The position, which paid a lot better, was more managerial than creative, though. I had to revisit my memories of staff management and
those memories had no luster. At all. The head chef also didn't follow through on his time line for communicating, and then finally, there was the confirming of the other chef's departure... OK that helps me make the decision. I told Andrew and Wild Wheat yes after keeping them dangling almost a week while waiting for the news from the Hotel. I think it would be lots more fun to enjoy the Hotel Du Vin as a guest, anyway. It has luxurious spa offerings and a swimming pool and glorious vineyards and heritagy stuff all around like old wine barrels and curvy manicured shrubs.



The staff at Wild Wheat consists of two crews. The daytime crew is a nice cooperative group. there is John, who is a small framed solid guy, a New Zealand born VietNamese
man in his late 20's. John is a pastry chef who is very deliberate and somewhat quiet, especially at first. I remember thinking from a mousy new employee view it felt like he was looking at me thinking "what do we need you for , anyway?" That doesnt seem to be the case,though. One day on about week two he came outside when I was having my break and gave me his impression of the job, asked me how I was doing and offered some pretty helpful insights, like how to handle bitchy or hysterical customers and gave me confidence with remembering the details of one facet of the job at a time, specifically the morning bake, the first job I would be left on my own to do. Morning Bake... a little exercise in chasing puglia dough into cordas and "cigars", rolls and loaves, then doughnuts in and out of the fryer into their sugary suits and restaurant sourdough rolls into the big walkin rack oven put the other pre formed loaves in the proverif they are sluggish- unless they were out already or its really warm or... then out with the tray of little pies, New Zealand's trademark, filled with seasoned meat and vegetable combinations, take out the clumsy old racks and reinstall them on the smaller knobs (careful, they are hotter than ...the dickens) then put in the apple pastries with the piped custard and dainty apple slices and the tart shells to bake blind with parchment lining and rice atop. Now go fill those donuts with that yummy homemade apple filling with nothing but apples and butter and a splash of lemon in it and the black cherry and custard fillings. Answer the phone, try and decipher the name of the trendy (un-namelike) cafe through the heavy accent, placate, record message. Divide the ciabatta, Turkish breads and slabs, buns and focaccia, check the other things, Kingslander likes them big, Queens Ferry takes sesame on them. Now put in the second rack oven goods, be careful with the computer settings! Now go back and carefully remove the rice from the tart shells, bake a little more empty, then pour in the sunny lemon and lime tart filling in them, as full as you can but not over the side, please! Remember to turn down the fan in that convection oven or the sunny lemon will be dotted with oven debris (which is of course naturally occurring and harmless-but ugly) Better glaze those apple thingies while your thinking about it. Oh look,it's just about time to turn on the deck ovens, lets see, there are the temperature settings, the four deck element settings and the vent setting. One combination for the Italian slipper bread, lower but still pretty darned hot, and higher for the Turkish Pides which are about a yard long and raked into shape on the extremely hot oven floor, by hand. Master that peel, convert right handed directions to left handed actions. Scooting the long soft lengths of dough off the boards onto the deck is a real adrenaline pumper. Now, take the dangling carrot of a cup of coffee offered by some kind soul, your doing fine!

I got permission to print this recipe from Andrew, lucky for you! This is one of the many things that John has shown me at work.

Wild Wheat's Citrus Tart.
Two small pre cooked tart shells 20-25 cm diameter or 9 or 10 inches. The crimped shallow tart pans that have a flat removable bottom is what we use at Wild Wheat.
Sweet tart dough is very similar to pie pastry dough, it usually has a little sugar and some vanilla or lemon zest. Sometimes I even put in some finely chopped or even chunky nuts, you choose. Bake the tart shell "blind" which is to say that you fake it out with a faux filling (you can use rice or beans or even rocks from your beach walk) that holds it's shape while it becomes rigid in the oven, thus not sliding down the sides from the heat. Use baking or parchment paper to separate the weight fill so you can remove it easily.

Filling:

275 grams castor or fine sugar
7 eggs
3 lemons (juice of)
1 lime (juice of)
175 grams cream, heavy

Filling procedure:
beat eggs and sugar, add juices then finally add cream.
Pour in the 2 pre cooked tart shells and bake in a 350 degree oven 140 to the centigrade crowd
until set, doesn't jiggle anymore possibly something like 15-22 minutes depending on your oven's character.
Cool thoroughly and sift a thin layer of powdered sugar or icing sugar on the top and brown aggressively with a torch, yes a torch. If you don't have a torch, its very good without the caramelized sugar, just skip the dusting of sugar altogether.
Let me know if my instructions are handy enough. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Yes he always is that fuzzy


I'm dedicating this blog entry to The Father Husband of our house, Jordan. He is my faithful companion and currently house dad for the two rascals we call children. I'm getting used to the kids calling me Dad out of habit. Jordan said that used to happen when he was gone all day to work when the tables were turned and I was the primary caregiver.
Jordan is adjusting to the role better than I ever did, actually. He never goes running out of the house exasperated when I come home. These days, Jordan is in the habit of trawling the children about town in the bike cart (which I must say has him extra svelte and sleek.) The cart is not a common device here and they are something of celebrities as they rickshaw to and from Kindergarten, about 5 kilometers per day. The kids at the kindergarten also eat up Jordan's good humor and earnest interest in them. Apparently, a teacher there asked if he was interested in teaching kindie. Now a person, say a spouse, could get a little exhausted trying to compete with such sincere popularity, after all, I have only day old bread to show for my contribution since I'm deep in the bread making business during all the kindergarten hours. Oh but it isn't any ordinary bread, but this is Jordan`s post, Ill rave about the artisan bread later. The kids sometimes don't have shoes or they enjoy their own unscheduled pajama day, but they are happy. They get thoughtful and accurate (yikes ) answers to their questions. They dine on a well practiced oatmeal regimen. He does all this and still has time for that silly old PhD in Astro Physics.
Jordan a true science devotee, scatters the strangest notes here and there with odd symbols on them. They aren't letters. They aren't numbers. But they mean something! They even mean something very very far away where earthly things like green beans and stock certificates are insignificant ideas. There are only a few people who can look at those Greekish figures and say: "Ah yes, your on the right track here, your calculation needs some refinement, though" or they may say, "By Gum, you've got it! Now we can seek to prove the coefficient!" Halli-looya! This is a call for celebration, lets make some tea! Jordan has fellowship with one such person-his advisor, Sergei Gulyaev, weekly.
Those physicists are a strange breed. Thank god there is a good dose of hedonism in my scientist. When things get a little too teeny tiny to understand or to mind bogglingly large for me way back here on earth, I can usually lure him back by some treat I can concoct or perform. Recently its been the chocolate almond croissants Ive been getting from work. Other enticements that work are any sort of back rub or scratch, reading aloud, a good movie or a hike or bike ride in a beautiful natural place. I'm sure some relative of mine will read this and doesn't want to hear about the erotic frolic it takes to bring the star studying stud around. Just use your imagination, here. Just make sure it's flattering, please.
Have I gone too far? Does a blogger get to go for it? If you don't give a darn what I do in my hemisphere with my husband, I don't mind. Its rare anyway. Having Desmond and Lillian around are very efficient reminders of what wonders can come from getting a little carried away. Desmond has a special rapport with his Dad, yet in the evening he usually comes smooching over to me to be put to bed. I would have to say that he has the more emotional sensational temperament that I have and Lillian has inherited Jordan's more stoic and contemplative nature. Its nice that they are so different. The whole family has a lavish dose of gregarious-ness and sometimes it's hard to get round the block for the conversations springing up from the unexpected manhole.
One thing about being married is that you get to see and live with the extremes and paradoxes of another person. Take just the physical presentation. Sometimes Jordan has the most sexy or graceful curve to his face or the glossiest jet black hair that sweeps perfectly just there. His arms are strong and his smile keen, his mischief- irresistible. Then there are the times he has that rakish caveman thing going on or he looks a little like the troll, unbathed under that bridge, hair hanging in shiny strings. I'm sure anyone-everyone, has these extremes. Heck I have my Medusa moments, and my peachy sunlit eyes. When your married you get to see them, and accept them. That's pretty nice, actually.

Another catch up from a while back...

Time for a bloggin,

At this time of 4:12 pm on Friday April 13 I find myself passenger on the north bound motorway heading back to Anahata Community. Strangely naïve, we headed from our new rental home in Point England in the south eastern urban area up to the North Shore at commute time. Its been a hectic and emotionally challenging day. We had our first night in our Normal little house by the Tamaki river-bay. Leaving Anahata, the community where we lived for almost 6 months. Anahata is on 18 acres about 15 km north of Auckland, New Zealand. We landed there after an extensive 4 month tour of both Islands of New Zealand. We had ran out of money and the desire to roam about.
The experience of living ‘in community’ taught my husband and I some very valuable things. The first that comes to mind today is the favourable aspect of the efficiency and “buying power” of group coordinated living. The hard part at Anahata was the wide difference of ambitions, energy output, personal standards and preferences. For example: while almost everyone likes a nice clean, organized and well stocked kitchen, not everyone is willing to put energy into creating and maintaining it. There are meldings of delightful insights, humor, emphatic dogmas and lots of history constantly surging forward and receding like an organism’s grooving undulation. As an extremely controversial (read- scandalous) operation Centerpoint, (the predecessor community of Anahata’s aging site) had a guru/ followers structure going. As a radical response after some sex and drug violations and indictments the next group swung widely the other way and made all of the group decisions by consensus. This arduous method was just too much for the mish mash or to be nicer, miss match of 20 people who lived there. When new ideas or changes were proposed, they needed unanimous approval as defined in the Anahata’s constitution (which I saw observed as a fair-weather document). Needless to say, any opposition could stall them out (even unfounded, hysterical, convoluted or otherwise biased by historical differences between members) could stall them out. The response to this was frustrated obedience, but more likely, various shades of disregarding the rules. When a critical mass of folks in a community do what serves or betters themselves rather than the group plan it really catches on and let the lawless rumpus begin! This was certainly not in the manner of the power drunk lords of Centerpoint, but notably irritating nonetheless. I tallied up my hours of volunteer effort to keep things flowing humanely and deliciously at Anahata and it was an embarrassing martyrly number in the low 20s per week. Anyway, that chapter is closing now. The only dishes Ill be scoffing at are my own. Food I buy for tomorrow’s dinner will not be consumed in an early morning feed with eyes at half mast, dishes left to further mock the miserly cook/shopper. Yes, the transition from Community to private home has its advantages.

It would not be fair of me to fail to mention some of the positive sides of the commune coin. There are moments of spontaneous harmony and levity that coalesce in community living. I have a few that come to mind in reflection on living at Anahata. The day when a coincidental group of us headed down to the walnut trees to collect some nuts is a fond memory. It was a lovely autumn day as seven or so of us wandered down the driveway in offhanded conversation. I felt the hunter-gatherer anticipation rising in me. When we got to the trees, which were at least 25 years old, we began to pick up the nuts that had fallen on large sheets of cloth David had laid down to make the task easier. Not long after the gathering began the lovely and soulful sounds of a bagpipe started up from only a short distance away in a neighbouring park. It was the perfect soundtrack to the impromtu party we were having. There were theories about which nuts to take and which might not be good due to having been on the wet ground around or under the cloths. I tried to conform to the strategies, being a good Aquarian, but soon there were contradictions and any manner and all the nuts were going in the baskets. Such is the way in community. Everyone has an idea that they think is right, even if they are in a quiet war with someone undoing it for their own better way they will keep going with it. I think these contradictory methods get addressed more in a marriage or as roommates, because of the proximity and the small number of people there could be to clarify with. In a community you could really go crazy if you had an eye for efficiency, safety, cleanliness, aesthetics or whatever and you wanted others to see it the same way. I guess that is unless you are the Guru of the operation, in that case, you’d be set!

One other nice thing that happened at Anahata is that I made friends with a Chinese friend’s mother. She came from China for what we thought was to be a short visit and stayed for months. I eventually learned that she was recouperating from breast cancer surgery in the company of her daughter, Tong. Her name is Dao Jung. For a long time I grossly mispronounced her name as Doa Ching- CHING, like a hungry cash register. She never flinched or asked her daughter to clarify her name for me. Now that I think of it, she calls me “Katy” which is a name that people give me, usually to my dismay. It never bothered me that she called me that, either. She adored my little ones and doted on them with hugs and gifts. One night having accepted an invitation to the cocktail realms of Josef’s hut, Jordan and I had left the kids with a video in the library for a short visit up the hill. After a few minutes I got that mother’s intuition nagging at me to check on them. I dashed down the hill to find Lillian inching into a steamy hot bath someone had filling in the bathroom outside our rooms. I turned the water off, collected Lillian and her clothes and decided to search for the person who had been drawing the bath to tell them it was full and I had turned it off. I found Dao Jung and mimed the incident to her. She didn’t have a clue, turns out, since she didn’t even know there was a bathtub at the time. I wonder what she thought I was saying with my gestures. Our communications got much better after that. She taught me to make Chinese dumplings, which are actually quite simple to do. Together, we often became a cooking team. Her diet was quite healthy and very different than the other European diets around her. She ate a rice based breakfast each morning, usually with fresh vegetables and some highly seasoned meats. Spice was a routine element and I’ve come to enjoy the fiery toasted chili and peanuts in oil condiment she favors at almost every meal. As her vocation, Dao Jung was a physician in China, trained under the Communist regime. Lots of people never tried to communicate with Dao Jung since she spoke very little English. What a caring warm soul they missed out on. Once I gave her some green beans Id grown in the garden. I knew she would appreciate the beans for the vegetable they were but also the home grown aspect. I put them on the shelf belonging to Dao Jung and Tong. The shelf was a real museum to a foodie like me, plenty of new ideas and oddities to note. Later that night, I found a lovely dish of Chinese style green beans with some sort of unfamiliar meat, possibly pork belly. It was just delicious. For those of you gasping at the idea of pork belly, RELAX- you’ve probably had it many times, salted and cured or smoked as bacon. Dao Jung also began a steady flow of garments for me over time. Most of them just weren’t ‘me’ but I didn’t have the heart to tell her. I even strategically wore them sometimes in the morning when I was likely to see her. My politeness training can be a little ridicules, I admit. I miss Dao Jung looking from a few days out of the community. Ill have to give her a call and put on one of those silly vests she gave me for a visit.