Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life is Miraculous!

This inspirational video brought true tears to my eyes. This man's story exemplifies the power contained within each of us to change and become that which we choose to be. Arthur's transformation is a shining example of the body's immense capacity to heal given time, attention, and care. It a testament to the miracle of life. Congratulations, Arthur, for all that you have accomplished!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Warm Winter Soup

Our friend Nick recently gave my husband two enormous chunks of King Salmon that he caught somewhere on Lake Michigan. Not knowing what else to do with an excess of salmon, I decided that it was high time I experimented with making fish chowder. It was so tasty that I am sharing it here. My recipe is based on , but mine is dairy free. I served the chowder with collard greens cooked in an Americraft waterless pot and brown rice. I hope you enjoy it!

Salmon Chowder
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium-large clove garlic, minced or crushed
4 small potatoes or 2 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 medium or 1 large carrot, chopped into 1/3 inch pieces
1 cup vegetable broth, low sodium (I used Pacific Natural Foods, Organic)
1 - 1 1/2 cups filtered water
sea salt to taste, approximately 1/4 teaspoon
ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 1/2 cups cooked salmon, chunks or 1 16 oz can of salmon
(1 tsp. olive oil and 1 T. lemon juice are needed to cook salmon)
3 T. flour (use rice, sorghum, or buckwheat flour to make it gluten free)
Freshly chopped scallions (optional garnish)

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in 2 inch deep saute pan on medium heat. Saute onion, celery and garlic until onions are tender. Add potatoes and carrots, cook 1-2 minutes, mixing well. Add broth, water, salt, pepper, and dill. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer approximately 15 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are soft.

If using fresh salmon, rinse thoroughly. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in saute pan on medium heat. When hot, add salmon, skin down, and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Add water to cover bottom of pan, cover. Cook 10 minutes, add 1 T. lemon juice. When cooked through, remove skin and check for bones; break into chunks and add to broth.

Cook broth with salmon approximately 5 minutes, whisk small amounts of flour into soup to thicken broth. Allow to simmer, covered, another 2-5 minutes. Serve with freshly chopped scallions.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Summer: redirected.

I am at my childhood home in Pennsylvania for what may be the rest of the summer. My mother broke her hip about a month ago and returned from the rehabilitation center a week ago last Friday. My parents, who live on 30 acres, have 2 horses, a dog and 4 cats, asked me to return home to help them as my mother continues her recovery. What does this mean for me? It means my fledgling plans in Duluth have been put on hold until September: my first summer in Duluth postponed until next summer in Duluth, my craft fair slot forfeited, radio station internship shelved, and Ageless Grace classes un-scheduled. It means I will be living far away from my husband and very attached feline, Haley, for longer than I have every been separated from them before. It means that my summer has been redirected from focusing on myself to focusing on my parents.

I could look at this experience as a burden. I could lament leaving my husband for an extended time and delaying everything I've started in my new home city. Instead, I've chosen to view this redirection as a blessed gift of time: Time to give back to my parents who have done so much for me throughout my life; Time to enjoy sharing their everyday lives without the frenetic excitement and inevitable exhaustion that large family gatherings induce over the holidays; and time to appreciate the gift inherent in shifting my focus from me to those I dearly love for longer than just a phone call.
When I return to Duluth in September, the days will be shorter and colder and darker. I will begin again, in a new season, to explore this rich city as Summer marches into Fall and to build relationships as I find my place in the Northwoods as a teacher and artist. Until then, I look forward to unwrapping this blessed and rich gift of time with my parents as I experience my redirected Summer with great gratitude.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are your possessions "stuff" or "crap"??

Here is a wonderful article worth the few moments it will take to read it: It is all about unloading all of that "stuff" that you have, but no longer use, yet continue to store, stare at, and, occasionally - curse - when you have to clean around it or it falls out of the closet for the millionth seeming time or you realize once more that it is broken - has been for some time - and yet, it is, still, unbelievably, still sitting there taking up much needed space.

A few years ago, my father-in-law and my husband and I were having a conversation about "stuff" vs. "crap." It occurred to me at that moment that "'Crap' is what you call it when it is no longer 'stuff.'" That is, when you no longer have a need for it, that once beloved item turns immediately into "crap." This article, written by Christy Diane Farr on, agrees.

Having moved TWICE in one year, April 2011 and March 2012, my husband and I have become somewhat skilled (still work to do on my part) at parting with, donating, throwing away - eegads! - and regifting, with insight and care (books mostly fall into this category, as my family can tell you). This skill has developed for 2 important reasons: 1) we have moved into smaller spaces than we once occupied, with less storage space and less floor space (Yes, for those who know me, our Charlestown, MA apartment was the smallest place we've inhabited in 8 years of marriage, but the dirty little secret is that we had "stuff" stored at 3 different places in NH to make that happen, including a car! Much thanks to our wonderful and forgiving friends - you know who you are - for helping to make that happen.)

When we moved to MI in April 2011 we collected all those lovely stored items from NH and had to make some hard decisions to fit what we most desired into the moving truck. Fortunately, Charlestown, MA is a wonderful place to put what we had deemed "crap" for FREE and passersby looked at it with glee and as they reached down to pick it up and carry it home it instantaneously turned right back into "stuff." Amazing!

After 6 moves in 9 years of marriage, my husband and I believe strongly in the concept of "circulation." If we are not using X - whatever X may be at the moment - then it is not fulfilling its purpose on Earth and must go out into the world to circulate once more. This philosophy, of course, is a work in progress. I still have a guest room with too many boxes in it for my liking and no home for all those items. This article is inspiring and helpful while I continue to contemplate whether the items in those boxes are still "stuff" or have fermented from non-use into "crap." Who wants to visit so I am forced to decide??

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Curse Turned Blessing: I am walking once more.

I love walking. I love the first breath of outside air after leaving the house. I love feeling the squishy-firm contour of my sneaker's arch where it meets my foot as I take my first steps. I love the excitement of seeing new things: a bird's nest; a new dog; a flower in bloom. I love hearing the thump, thump, thump of my feet against Summer's pavement, the swish, swish as they push through Fall's dried leaves, and the crunch of Winter's crushed snow and ice. I love the rhythmic sensation of arms swaying in alignment with legs; muscles contracting and relaxing with each stride; and thoughts meandering without cause. I love that when no other mode of transportation exists, my feet will lovingly take me where I want and need to go.

Over the past 10 months, no longer surrounded by sirens, buses, and crowded city streets, I discovered the freedom and joy of bike riding. With two wheels and some pedal power, my heart rate soared as I sped down flat, open, small-town streets. I felt as if I was flying as the wind whizzed past my ears, and I returned home with leaden legs and a feeling of freedom and triumph. I love the ability to get on my bike and go - no key to keep track of; no gas tank to fill; no parking space to fit into; just me and my bike. Free. I especially loved the quickness and ease of riding my bike when I started teaching classes across town this Fall. With the car parked 5 miles away at my husband's job, my bike became a necessary mode of transport. In a short 15 minutes I was there, warmed up, and ready to go.

Recently, after my bike lost a very small, very integral part that left it powerless to transport me anywhere I took to walking as my only form of transportation to get me to class. During the past month I have progressed through a range of emotions stemming from that small, missing part that immobilized my bike and stole its speed and convenient transportation from me. At first, "gratitude" bathed my emotional landscape: for my two good feet, warm clothes, and the exercise opportunity walking 27 minutes one way gave me. Next, "annoyed" came to play: with my bike broken, I had to leave the house 15-20 minutes earlier to arrive on time; I arrived late, more than once. Around week 3, "aggravated" appeared because walking an hour to teach a half an hour class seemed ridiculous. "Anger" quickly followed: with no replacement part in sight, my transportation hardship obviously was not important enough to my husband to warrant spending money on an entirely new bike part when only one small piece of the original was missing.

And then, as I was walking home from class one more time, it dawned on me - I was walking. Rhythmically and methodically placing one foot in front of the other I realized that my bike did not break to annoy and frustrate me or to cause marital tension and late arrivals. It broke, blessedly stopped working, exactly when I needed to rediscover the joy of walking. My bike breaking was a blessing, a beautiful blessing. With that mind altering realization I stopped cursing my bike, and my husband, and started walking again for the pure pleasure of it. Full circle, I returned to "gratitude" for the invaluable gift that missing part has given me and I look forward to the day that my bike is mobile, once more.