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I'm running still. It's good. My body likes it. It does seem to take years to build this level of... comfort? ...even if those years are intermittent. That's reassuring. I never thought I'd be able to run this well (slowly, continuously, for half an hour without it being even very difficult).

I'm passing classes in school, hitting my target grades on average (90 or above I'm misusing my time, 70-80 is about right). This contempt for the knowledge offered me is not coming easy, but school's contempt for my time and individuality is fuel enough to keep me in balance. Note that my professors are not, for the most part, to blame. It's simply that the terrible edifice of higher education is designed to suck people in, grind them up, and spit them out cheaply and efficiently.

I guess I have one more term left.

I've been cidering this fall, and it's very good for me. I'm hoping to get persimmon wine up too. Anything I put up this year will hopefully be done for my housewarming.

I have feelings towards my property that maybe other people have towards being married? I mean, I've felt these warm/expectant/partner/solid/trust/love/dependable feelings before for people, but never for long enough that I could continue to feel them on the lead-up to entering into a contract about them. But my land, in the future? Yes. And the delay doesn't make me doubt them, it makes me merely gently impatient (sometimes less than gently) for When The Time Is Right.

Relationship-wise I am definitely overextended. I'm waiting. I don't trust anyone really to follow me to Fort; I love the people in my life now; I'm sort of holding the space precariously to see who shows up there, who keeps up with the distance, who will remain in my life. I guess it's defaulting to letting other folks make choices instead of making them myself. That's a thought.

I'm pretty excited about my job next May. It looks like I'll be doing more complex, challenging, higher-level work than I originally expected, working directly with someone overseeing a systems change. I mean, it might not be so much working directly with ecosystems, but... well, we'll see. I'm impatient to start that too. I want to see what it's like. I should start poking a budget for that time, and I'm planning to talk to a financial adviser. Sounds so grown-up, no?

The last couple years a lot of the richness of my life came from my work and my involvement in life systems. Now there's some relationship richness, sometimes the dirty messy kind, and also there will be the outdoors. I wonder how those will balance?
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So, my plan did not involve canning or brewing up here. I brought my bow, I was going to practice, and I was going to work a lot.

Well, I'm working a lot.

There is such abundance of foraging foods here, though; I guess that's what you get when you're not really in a city. There are so many dandelions and spruce buds everywhere that I've got supplies to do a small batch of dandelion jelly, one of pickled dandelion buds, and one of spruce tip syrup or jelly (likely the former). The Amelanchier alnifolia is in full bloom, promising a great crop in the summer. I suspect I'll do something about that too. I'll need to haul everything back down to Vancouver when I'm done here, but it's good for my soul to make these things.

I'm also cooking meals a lot. I have a lovely source of local beef, there are lots of greens growing around, I'm stocked up on flour and butter and bacon and potatoes. I've been making myself the kind of traditional meals that have different parts: a meat component, a starch component, a veggie component. I've never really eaten that way before, since so much of what I make has been single-pot foods like stews or soups or casseroles. I think the grill helps with this, since I can grill my meat and bannock or potatoes, and then just make veggies to go on the side.

This was my first full week of bush work at work. That is, every day (it was a short week because of the long weekend, so just four days in a row) I put on heavy spiked caulk boots, headscarf, vest full of equipment, and hard hat and walked multiple kilometers in straight lines through a mix of underbrush, standing, and fallen trees. I am covered in sweat after the first ten minutes, which continues until I get back to the truck. The moose tracks never really went in the direction I was going. The work when we got to the plots was not particularly hard, though it too involved some climbing, but getting there is one of the more trenuous things I've done. There are tangles of trees that go on for great distances, so I need to walk on logs (thus the spiked boots) which is nice, or climb over them crosswise through spiky dead branches which is not so nice. There are swamps or thick underbrush areas that require high-kneed steps and have considerably more drag than walking through water. There are puddles of ephemeral orchids and green things unfurling and soon there will be flowers. Everything smells like pine and fir and spruce. There are so many bugs: flies that bomb past but can't get at me because I'm entirely covered except for my face, mosquitoes that make it hard to concentrate and stay away from my sprayed clothing so I just have to worry about them on my wrists and face, and these awful terrible bugs that fly straight into the eyes and stay there until they're pulled out. I imagine, awfully, that they are laying eggs. Believe me, it's a lot harder to walk on a log three to six feet up with no handholds when there are things shooting into your eyes. I don't walk on logs higher than that, or the really narrow ones, though I suspect that will come with time.

I am covered in bruises from the waist down, where I hit short sharp branch stubs while climbing over trees. I am full of thorn scratches. I have bug bites on my hands and to a lesser extent on my feet from when I take my boots off for the way home. I am tired a lot as I build strength. Last night, Friday night, I came home and showered and the feeling of being clean was astonishing. I am, however, very happy. I'm reminded that in order for my life to feel meaningful and fulfilling I don't need to necessarily do any particular moral thing, I just need to be outside for three to seven hours doing heavy work four days a week. I really miss people. I really miss physical contact. There are plenty of things I'd like to be doing but all I have time for is cooking, eating, sleeping, and working. But, I am happy.

I also have a feeling I haven't had much before: I feel completely unsexualized, but at the same time very pretty. I'm not sure how to describe this. No one is looking at me. I am covered head to tow in shapeless garments with equipment strapped over. Even my hair and throat are covered. My form, including the tan on my face, is a direct expression of the function I am fulfilling and is completely secondary to it. I do not view myself through the lens of desirability, do not think of it. When I look in the mirror I see myself happy, I am nearly always smiling (I pretty much only look in a mirror in the truck as I'm leaving the field and right after work to see how much dirt I need to scrape off each day), and I feel like a part of the outdoors I've been working in. That is beautiful. I really do feel like I'm outside the trap of sexiness.

I am not entirely outside the trap of surface though. I am meeting strangers all the time. I am careful what I say to them, especially in regards to poly etc. There are office politics. I do not feel completely comfy with anyone, and I am not sure I should. I am not always sure how to act. So though I am more comfortable with myself, I am also more watchful. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy the company of people up here, it just means I am always thinking, a little bit, about how I should be behaving.

It's hard and frustrating to be learning a whole new set of skills. I've been landscaping for a long time; I haven't had to learn a whole job from the ground up for a long time. I am literally learning from walking on up with this one. It's been thee weeks (admittedly only one and a bit in the field) and I feel like I should be competent. I am not. I want to feel productive and useful. Sometimes I'm not the one responsible for a lack of productivity -- a new GPS and software system mandated by the ministry for what I do is responsible for at least a week and a half of downtime as it gets implemented, other people forget to charge their equipment, etc -- but I like the feeling of making good progress and I'm not doing that right now.

It is beautiful here. I miss Dave. I get to eat outside. The earth is generous. So many feelings. Now, though, I will go make chimichurri sauce and pick dandelion flowers and stop thinking about it and just enjoy.
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I use the word fat in here. It kinda triggers even me. I do this deliberately to try and break down my unpleasant stereotypes. Tread lovingly with yourself here.

This is the tail-end of the marathon-three-days I spend at work/school. I should be at school this second, half an hour into class, but I dropped my bike off and they're keeping her for a week, which kind of broke my stride, and I'm sitting down and that feels amazing, and since about noon today I've really been wanting to write something.

I've been poly for a long time, and I've learned to erase some cultural norms from my psyche and to set aside others in order to do that. I know I'll likely always feel weird sneaky traces of poly guilt, for instance, which results in my believing that any given person is better off partnered to a monogamous person than to myself. This just sits there deep-down, despite my knowing that I am better off partnered to people who have other things going on in their lives (whether those other things are people or different passions) and despite being genuinely happy for my partner's pleasure when they're in a safe happy situation with another person.

I've also been skinny all my life. I don't feel skinny nowadays, I feel "normal" and sometimes jiggly and weird, but during adolescence and through my early twenties I was this same height, 5'8" or 5'9"ish, and 110 lbs, 120 max. That's really pretty skinny. In the last bunch of years I've gained both buoyancy and muscle to the tune of 20 or 30 lbs, topping out at my maximum weight when I'm in very good shape and literally sheathed in inches of muscle, getting softer and wider and dropping weight when I'm in poorer shape. And till a couple years ago I've always slept with tall skinny computer geeks with ponytails, basically.

This is a tangental way of approaching the idea that I've never had to deconstruct my ideas about fatness, though I have had to pull apart other received information like that about relationships. I've been the butt of hostility in the past ("skinny bitch" and "beanpole") but those days are over too.

Oof. This is hard to write. I'm not proud of this.

So, not thinking of this, and then diving into a really intensely hot sexual relationship with Angus (who has tended to carry 'a couple extra pounds' since I've known him) and then with Michael (who is more than twice my weight) I managed to be a total dickwad.

I have to be brief because this hurts to write. Think about this situation:

I meet Michael. We start sleeping together. I find him very hot, the way he thinks, the way we interact, but also his body itself, just the way his thighs feel and the line from his shoulder to his hip and his hands and the texture of his skin and the everythingness of him. And I keep saying to myself, not mindfully at all but in bemused wonder: I never would have expected to feel this way about you. I would say, in with that same bemusement, you are so fucking hot. And I didn't think about it.

And I would forward all this stuff about overeating and the obesity epidemic and whatnot because I'm pretty involved in food activism. Aaaaaand... finally the incongruity hit me. I poked at this in my head for a couple weeks, like a sore tooth, and realised what was going on. I was saying I never would have expected you to be hot because you're fat.

Except it wasn't graceful like this. After all this subtext, after accepting all these unspoken and unconscious endings to my sentences and not walking out on me, Michael had to endure a conversation where I basically said, "I don't know how to reconcile your body type with me thinking you're hot, any pointers?" and it hurt him pretty bad because, face it, it was maybe one of the jerkiest things I've done in my long career of being a dick.

So he was hurt and got quiet and I took it away and thought about it some more. And after a bit I stopped using the subtext. It stopped being woah, I'm shocked that you could be hot and started being just, you're hot. That made me happy, but I wasn't really sure what was going on in my head. Then today someone made a post on facebook and I grasped something more consciously.

It's true that carrying a lot of weight is a health risk.

It's true that stressing over things is a health risk.

It's true that working a desk job is a health risk.

Driving in a car is pretty goddamn dangerous, actually.

Smoking, drinking from plastic bottles, all sorts of things: health risks. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. Then heart disease, in which weight is definitely implicated. But, you know, people die, and statistics are statistics. No one actually chooses a mate by running a statistical analysis of everyone in the room and taking the person most likely to live a long time or we'd all want to date Japanese schoolgirls... oh, wait.

So the next argument, and one dear to the food movement, is that fat people are socially irresponsible because they do something which makes them unhealthy and thus a burden on health care and the rest of society, etc. The usual rebuttal to this is: we've all got our vices, so if you conflate attractiveness with health with skinniness, then also conflate attractiveness with health with nonsmoking AND not driving on dangerous roads AND not drinking to excess AND to not getting sunburns AND to using only glass containers and organic food AND teflon pans AND etc etc or you're a hypocrite.

But I've realised that it's much simpler than that for me, suddenly.

I find some people, and some bodies, maddeningly earthshatteringly attractive. I find some people and some bodies very much not. I don't control and can't anticipate this attraction; it's a gift when it's put in my hands.

And, separately, I worry about the economics of health: health care; the high cost of good veggies; eating well; desk jobs; yes, high fructose corn syrup and the subsidy pressure from the agroindustrial machine to maintain a steady cheap supply of that rather than fresh fruit and veggies and by the way more veggies would mean more farmers instead of more jobs where people sit down and that's socially unacceptable; and in the same category a lack of biking infrastructure and pesticides and the lack of self-worth driven by our lack of worthwhile projects to break our teeth on and thus teach us how to be effective in the world and how that leads people to do stupid self-harm or self-risk to fit in; a poor definition of health overall; no actual value placed on a culture where people can share knowledge about how to live well or have socially-sanctioned conversations about same; epidemic depression, the list goes on and on and on.

These two things, what we find attractive and what we approve of morally, are rarely connected and in fact often backwards-wired as per the girls-like-bad-boys stereotype. So it's really not cool what we do: we project all the guilt for our broken food culture and food system onto the people who bear the most visually obvious symptoms of it, then we use the threat of sexual and romantic rejection, which really drives to the core of our happiness as humans, to try and get them, any them that's not us, to make it go away. And we dangle romantic acceptance and sexual fulfillment as the carrots gained for successfully putting that societal skeleton back in the closet where we don't have to look at it. But, that's getting a little meta. My real point is merely the separation.

So there's how I was a dickwad with my projected shit and my inability to treat a human like, you know, a person instead of as a social issue. And that's why I try to be mindful about it now. And it's kinda incoherent because I've had a long week, but I really really needed to get this out. And I'd really like people to respond to it if they have something to say, gently if possible, because I need to hear the voices of my friends on this.
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Last night was rough. The day was good, but bleakness hit me aroundabout 11:30pm; it was a clear indication that I should sleep and, after a little flailing, I did.

In the morning I woke up and everything was fine. Good, in fact.

Yesterday I went foraging with a friend. We picked up chickweed, dandelions, nettles, and cress. Those are now soaking on my counter, ready for salad and for processing into soup and greens to freeze for future soups. I got some lovely new crop haigamai rice, which is milled to have the germ but not the hull layer to the seed. It's in the rice cooker right now, and I can't wait to try it just like I can't wait for my dandelion/chickweed/basalmic/olive oil/salt/tomato salad that I'll have with the onigiri I make from it. It is absolutely possible to eat well on very little money.

Crappy rice should be outlawed anyhow. Few people have any idea just how good this stuff can be through simple lack of exposure.

Anyhow. Today will be more foraging, doing some garden prep, some Latin (finally) and a few things like that. It'll be my last mostly-unstructured day in awhile. I may actually go in to work, depending on what the weather and my time does. I can sure use the money.

Yesterday they forecast rain and it was another marvellous stolen day of sunshine. Now it's the kind of high bright gloom that only happens in spring and summer: still light but the light is grey. My home feels like a bowl, the air within full of music and the smell of cooking rice.

I may worry more another time, but not right now. Not right now.

Mmmmmh

Mar. 4th, 2011 06:00 pm
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I am making an amazing bean soup. It's made with the remains of the ginormous roast I made and some beans and veggies and cocoa and chipotles and cumin and all those things. I have several gallons of it. It may be time to invest in a deep freeze; my fridge freezer is full of raw meat. It'd be awfully nice to have a supply of ready-made meals and now that I'm beginning to have enough containers, and to be busy and broke enough not to cook at home or eat out much, I think that might actually be good for something other than raw ingredients.

I had more stuff to say but my house smells like soup. It's distracting.

Oh right, started bleeding today. Harness those cooking hormones!

Oh Yeah...

Dec. 24th, 2010 09:06 pm
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...and Christmas is cooking season for me, so I'm cooking.

I got a smoked turkey so I didn't have to cook.

It's unopened in the fridge, because I went to sunrise, dropped an average of $0.30/lb for, you know, 20 lbs of potatoes, 10lbs of squash, 10 lbs of apples, a bunch of onions, some cabbage, and several rutabagas. I've got 4.5L of curry squash soup made, 8cups of wild rice/maple/miso/orange/garlic stuffing for the roast squash made, and the apples sitting by the slow-cooker to be made into applesauce for latkes tomorrow. Oh, and vichysoisse stuff set aside. That's the vegan portion.

Then I'm going to do a gallon or two of rutabaga/potato/cabbage/sausage mash which, like the soup, can be frozen for future meals and/or bartered. The stuffed squash is for Christmas eve potluck & turkey deep-fry. I may or may not do up another meat pasta/potato sauce for the freezer (tonight I did lamb-mushroom, which was lovely).

I'm starting to feel like it's a real Christmas. I'm hoping I'll be inspired for my own potluck on Thursday.

A friend just taunted me with a vegan, buckwheat-based cabbage-roll recipe. I WANT that.

I definitely don't feel restricted by gluten-free right now. It's effortless at this point, as are the removal of dairy and eggs.
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Well, here we are in the dark time of the month. My mood has a tendency, when I'm not really on top of self-care, to thunk like a lead weight and I'll be damned if I always have the energy to lift it up again. I can do things because they make me productive, but I can't do things to take care of myself.

One thing I've been having trouble with lately is food. I have trouble cooking for myself. That type of self-nurturing works poorly. Don't get me wrong, I'll cook-- but then I won't eat the food, I'll give it to someone or put it in a container and rush off intending to eat it later. If I have food, I'll do things rather than eat it. I've been relatively good over the past couple days, but last week I was really bad with it.

At this point my body's waving flags. Instead of giving me hunger-feelings, which I ignore, or stomach pains, which again I disregard, if I miss a mealtime by two or more hours I start to feel lightheaded and nauseous.

One of my solutions to my eating thing has been to line up people to eat with. I will eat socially. I will also cook and eat for myself when I'm relaxed and have the luxury of time to shop for fresh foods and cook something fun and interesting, or if I can afford to eat out, so if I can hit a produce store on the way home I'm usually good. Problem is, those tend to close before I can get to them, and I'm pretty tired after a day at work/class.

I've been meaning to check out local CSAs. Those seem like they'd be inspiring. There's one through school that's super reasonably priced but only happens once every two weeks and not at a time I can easily get there (not designed for night students, that's for sure). There are some urban ones that seem exciting, and I'm sure there are winter ones around.

Even aside from food, though, I'm aware enough this time around to know just how out of whack everything is. There are spells of pretty intense paranoia, usually just momentary, and that sense that I can't accomplish anything or that nothing I do means anything or serves any purpose. There's floating anger and irritation. There's ...agoraphobia? the strong desire not to leave extremely familiar areas.

I hate that this happens to me. The winter isn't helping-- my skin is dry and uncomfy, I'm allergic to things touching my skin (oh, cold and pressure, how I hate thee), and I've fun out of vitamin D. Need to get on that one.

On the other hand, the people around me are sweet and patient, things are going well at home, school is trucking along, and I have a freezerful of meat for the month.
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I spent an hour at a friend's house writing. It's supposed to be conversational-level, playing with voice. I don't feel like I did a great job but it's supposed to be all surface and no content. If pressed I would call it an overview. Here it is, unedited:


Everyone eats, therefore everyone needs the means to eat. All modern issues touch on agriculture and food culture; likewise food issues impact each of us directly. Some of these impacts are terrible.

A huge percentage of the world's population has neither enough food nor the expectation of enough food in the future. Likewise a huge percentage of the world's population is harmed by the food they do eat, either through malnutrition and diseases conventionally associated with starvation or through diabetes, heart disease, and the other ills of the affluent world.
We don't value food. We would rather buy more food more cheaply than pay for quality food. We would rather buy more food more cheaply than pay for skilled people to be secure in agriculture as a legitimate occupation. We would rather buy more food more cheaply than pay to reduce that food's negative impact on our environment.

Our lack of attention to the food we eat and its means of production is our own undoing. Without a social culture which supports healthy eating we are lost in the bright maze of supermarket convenience foods, at the mercy of advertising and of manufactured products designed to pull levers of desire forged in the very different circumstances of our evolution. We have forgotten how to fit cooking into our lives and so the ingredients in our premade foods are determined by a company's bottom line.

The agricultural system from which we get most of our food is a flailing, headless beast. Subsidies for corn and soybeans in the West trickle down to encourage feedlot beef, cheese, and caged chicken in our diet, yet our own nutritional data tells us that a varied diet is optimal for our health. We claim to support food security in poorer countries but use conditions attached to loans to bludgeon them into accepting our cut-rate food at the expense of their own agricultural systems. Monocultures march across the land, strip-mining nutrients from the soil, releasing carbon into the atmosphere, and destroying wild lands and aquatic systems alike.

These issues are diverse and entangled, but it's because of that entanglement that solutions are so plentiful. If we wish to leave our food to experts as we do with so much else in our lives, then we must make sure those experts are indeed expert: instead of letting the cultural stereotype of the dumb farmer turn our bright minds elsewhere, we need to encourage our farmers to be ecologists, nutritionists, and problem-solvers who think outside the conventional corn row. Instead of industrialising cooking so that, as the founder of MacDonalds famously said, “even monkeys can do it” we need to return joy and creativity to cooking both in the home and in the people we pay to feed us.

We do this by valuing food.

We need to value food culturally: we need to appreciate good food and the people who provide it each and every time we eat. Our cooks and our farmers nourish us. They deserve enough of our respect that we're at least as willing to support them with our praise and our money as we are movie stars and video game designers.

When we respect our food and our farmers we eat better. We take joy in the myriad flavours and textures available; we appreciate freshness as well as exotic flavours. We begin to grow our own food, or appreciate the people who do. Food systems become more local and agriculture more diverse; our food supply then becomes more secure because our eggs are in so many different baskets.

When people who grow food become glamorous, or at least not culturally stigmatised, we pay them a living wage instead of demanding that they work a day job to subsidise the agricultural work they do. When they are making a comfortable wage they are free to experiment with new foods or with better ways of growing food. When they are not straightjacketed by subsidies only for certain crops they can work with ecosystems as a whole. They have the time and mental energy to learn from their land. They have the luxury of keeping their livestock in humane conditions.

When we value our food and our farmers we treat agriculture as a cutting-edge science. We subsize education and research on the topic, not leaving scholarships and research money to come from corporate entities with specialised vested interests.

When we begin to learn how good food affects us, we engage on the topic, not only culturally but also politically. We support everyone's right to food, to good food, and to safe food. We favour systems which allow us to easily eat well and fight against the huge weight of the destructive agro-industrial system around us.

And when it comes right down to it, that fight is both easy and pleasurable. All we need to do is engage ourselves is to have something really good to eat, ideally with a friend.

More good food will follow.
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Last two nights in a row I've had about four hours of sleep. Today was the first 'real' day of the new class I'm taking; I've been scared of it. It's not common for me to doubt my ability at something, but this is surveying and it's spatial and detail-oriented, neither of which are my strong suits. It's a mostly-outdoor class with writing in duckbooks and it was supposed to rain today too.

I was not expecting it to be a good day.

I was nearly late to class, didn't do the food stuff I should have, and was put in a group with people I didn't know.

It turned out to be a wonderful day. Class was fun, interesting, challenging-- and everything made sense (I love botany but try to find the rhyme or reason behind latin or common names and you'll see what I mean. The guys I was working with were sharp but not annoying about it, it only rained for a little while and there was even some sun at one point, things went quickly and we got out of class early with our assignments done.

On the way home I was super hungry and stopped at Donald's Market; it's our local produce-plus store. Never shop when you're hungry, right?

It turned from being a besting-new-challenges day into a food porn day. The roma tomatoes were cheap and had that almost-but-not-quite-overripe time-to-make-sauce smell to them. I got tons. To go with them I got hot peppers, green peppers, and red peppers, a japanese eggplant (cause who needs the bitter, and they tend to be more local)(solanaceae for the win, by the way), zucchini, cilantro, watercress, sui choi (aka Napa cabbage), kholrabi, and I topped up my canned pickled things supply. There may have been some plums and maybe even something else in there.

So, eggplant and half the tomatoes are long slow roasting in the oven now for sauce. Some of the hot peppers, the cilantro, the rest of the tomatoes, all the bell peppers, all the cilantro, a little cabbage, and some smoked tofu are all sauced, they cooked for maybe two hours and now a bowl of that sauce on corn pasta is sitting beside me.

I've been thinking about pasta sauces lately. On the one hand there's the touch-of-thin-sauce-on-pasta philosophy, and that works great if you want a lot of grain or if you have fantastic pasta. When you get a sufficiently thick sauce, though, there's a continuum from stew-with-some-noodles-in-it to a-bit-of-stuff-mixed-in-with-pasta. I used to be a very pasta-primary person, but the more I make super chunky stewy sauces the more I figure-- why not top the balance? More veggies than grain isn't a bad thing no matter what the food pyramid says (we could go there, talk about lobbyists and 'necessary dairy' but really...) and it sure can be tasty.

The tomatoes and eggplant in the oven smell incredible. They're intensifying and richening in amazing ways. They too will be sauced for pasta, I think (or for quinoa, or amaranth, or rice, or combined with some lentils).

Watercress potato cabbage soup hasn't even begun prep yet.

It's a good day.
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First let's talk about the corned beef hash. You know, I really like good corned beef. There's a guy around here who makes it in his garage, and I need to hook up with him. I'm not talking about that kind of hash.

I'm talking about hash made from the stuff in the red and blue can, distilled essence of slash-and-burn Brazilian rainforest, the pink untextured stuff that's slightly less aesthetically appealing than decent-quality canned dog food. Ya with me so far? I love that stuff. There's no way I would ever in a million years buy it, nor would I accept any of it from someone who would replace the can by buying it at a store, or who would buy the can for me. Not gonna happen.

Well, a friend of mine was gifted the stuff by his father, had no idea what it was, ands then his father left for Florida never to gift it again. I'm in posession of the stuff. So I come home from class to make myself corned beef hash which, in a head-on collision of yuppie-foodie values, contains that corned beef and organic purple potatoes.

It's got me thinking, perhaps my next fall dish will be hash. I have a really solid collection of sausage from a source I trust, and also some beef and lamb. I'm getting a little tired of frying it with sauerkraut (at least until I can make some of my own sauerkraut, the storebought stuff is mild and expensive) but frying it with potatoes and maybe rutabaga and peppers seems ideal.

While I'm thinking seasonal, it would be so helpful if I could find a way to put up maybe a hundred liters of applesauce for the winter. Now, it ain't gonna happen, but if I had a good source for cheap apple seconds I could make inroads. Does applesauce freeze okay or would I need to can it?

Now school: tonight's class was so packed with information that it felt like a pickup truck loaded by Dr Seuss, a tower of knowledge teetering all over the place and poorly organized. That's fun.

Even more fun is that I GOT TO USE A STEREOSCOPE. Now, it's been pointed out to me that the viewmaster I had as a kid was a stereoscope. That's awesome. Even more awesome would be a kid's toy that let you put two pieces of paper under it and draw until you figured out how to make something pop into 3d.

Because, for those of you who don't know, a stereoscope is a tool made from two mirrors that takes two photographs of almost the same area and USES THE BRAIN'S INTERNAL EVOLVED BINOCULAR VISION RESOLUTION SOFTWARE TO MAKE THOSE TWO FLAT PICTURES INTO A THREE-DIMENSIONAL IMAGE. And it works. And it's amazing-- it's an incredibly smart thing to do-- there's no software or math or data extrapolation needed aside from what your brain already does when processing an image from both eyes at once. It means that you use your brain's preexisting structures to make sense of a whole fuckload of data, as they were meant to be used-- the same information presented in any other way, say on a contour line drawing or something, is very difficult to get the hand of. This makes it intuitive, and allows the huge amount of info in a photograph to be even more easily absorbed. You can pick out clearcuts, types of trees, heights of buildings-- from a photograph. Amazing. It's right up there with the 5-cent can return as the smartest thing ever.

And further, from deep in the haze of second ovulation or whatever it is, people in my class are starting to look... interesting. Like the boy from South Africa who is pretty smart and his skin is a pretty colour who was my lab partner.

Life is pretty damn good. Now if only I had a little more time.. oh wait! I'll get a free Thursday evening once in awhile too. Ha!
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I am roasting a chicken right now. It's just starting to smell fabulous. I'm proud of myself; it's hard for me to make the time to actually cook a thing like that a day or two after I pull it out of the freezer; I usually end up booked up. I will reward myself with... a roast chicken.

I was out on my bike tonight-- in the dark, in the rain. It may be my favourite time to bike, or maybe the most recent time I've biked is always my favourite time, barring rush hour. A good bike feels like an extension of your body-- moving is like using the blade of your hand to push aside water when swimming, something so intuitive that it doesn't feel like it was ever taught. Walking doesn't feel intuitive after biking.

I love watching the steam of my breath drift through the beam of my headlight when I'm stopped, a second after I exhale.

There are some cute pink squeaky baby rats here. After a luckily-not-serious adventure last night, I have my girl Lady Luck with her four babies and she's also nursing four out of her eleven grandbabies. Her daughter's got the other seven. She's a trooper. It's good to have cute squeaky things around again, I had missed them and they will be lovely.

I also spent a good few hours this weekend chatting with mom about food security and advising her on the necessity of mulch for her community garden. It also occurred to me that an urban CSA which was part- or wholly-subsidized by the city, for low-income folks, would be an incredibly good and supportive idea on a lot of levels. This occurs to me partly because of this very exciting link.

I'm feeling inspired to start writing about ecology and permaculture again. Ideas are slotting into useful places, cross-connections are lighting up in my brain. I don't know where it comes from, maybe just the higher energy level associated with keeping myself running and on all the time, but it's cool.

I'm also excited about Angus going back to school. I think he's scared, obviously, but already feeling more hopeful about his future. There is nothing but good in that. I've been thinking about doing short recipe videos for youtube with him. It'd be a fun activity, he's plenty charismatic and pretty, and this laptop and my camera both have recording capability-- my camera takes gorgeous videos, actually, in HD.

Now I'm tired, I didn't sleep much at all this weekend, and my chicken is smelling better and better. I'm hoping it will ward against the tickle in my throat, and the remains will go into a soup that I will find time to make. It's stuffed with beer and bay leaves.

Well, there we go. Be well.
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Today is off to a fantastic start. My kitchen is clean and excavated, fully functional this week for the first time since we moved in (and I mean fully functional, not just the 'useable' state it was in before). I've eaten a lovely breakfast of fried sauerkraut, sausage, and carrots (two things: one, this is one of the best breakfasts-- caramelise the carrots a bit, brown the sausage, just warm the sauerkraut; two, Angus' mandolin makes thinslicin carrots magical. Everyone should have one. You can buy them for $15, no excuses). I am now eating a lovely dessert to my breakfast-- this is s'mores with a side of almond milk and hippie coffee (sanka, but I'm not picky, I just want something dark and bitter to drink-- I prefer dandelion coffee but never see it around).

I'm rereading The Once and Future King by TH White, which every english-speaker should read. It's a great book to read with kids because everyone gets something out of it, and they will be rereading it for the rest of their lives-- it's funny, silly, adventurous, but also deeply satirical and gentle and joyful and playful and tender and magical and as far from cynicism as you can get. It may be the only fiction I'd recommend as universally enjoyable.

I'm ambitious about this fall. I love sauerkraut, I am going to try to make up a five gallon bath during PAX. The mandolin will help. This will take a LOT of cabbage, maybe 40lbs or so, and some sort of foodsafe container of the right size. Also some salt.

Maybe I should lay aside some ginger beer then too.

It's so nice to have my house comfy again! I wouldn't even have dreamed of this a couple of weeks ago. I love cooking but sharing a kitchen with someone who cooks especially explosively when both of us get really busy and he eats at home almost everyday provides some challenges.

Other pleasant things in my future are kitting out my bike and riding it (I need to figure out if I want panniers, a folding box, both? and what sort of little handlebar bag or underseat bag I want to keep my tools in, also figure out hydration-- I kind of want a coffee mug holder on the thing, though I'm sure that'll make everyone's heart stop or something. There doesn't seem to be a waterproof pannier option at mec, which means I'm probably looking at a bit of an investment... and then there'll be rain gear all too soon... unless I change at school, which isn't a problem, and I wonder if I'd have access to BCIT's downtown facilities? I could shower there easily enough)

I've been enrolled in my courses, which is a little scary. I've got an applied math, an earth science, ecology, field safety, geology, map & aerial photo interpretation, field survey, sustainable resource management, and a technical commnications course. The latter is an online course, likely because they couldn't fit it into the schedule otherwise. That's a lot of stuff, I'm incredibly curious to see what of it I already know, I expect it'll be up-to-date but will keep an eye on that-- and I'm really looking forward to actually learning stuff.

Enough of this-- my day awaits.
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I've been neglecting this in favour of my written journal this week, especially last night when I sat down and wrote for an hour in my brand new paper book because, well, it was new. I went to dinner after that and my friend asked me, "what do you write about?" I gave him the list: the way the book smelled, the way I ended the last journal (with a half-finished paragraph and a pen that ran out of ink, which seemed inappropriate), the difficulty of starting this new journal vs the last one, the biomechanics of writing, how to carry a pen with the new book when it has no spiral binding to slip it into, then I begin to write about the topics I should cover... By this time he's laughing at how meta the list is.

And here I'm writing about talking about writing about writing.

I woke up this morning at 7:30, having decided last night I just wasn't going to freeschool this weekend. After a morning twitter scan I went back to sleep and had an apocalyptic action-romance dream starring an author I've never met or read, but know only through his tweets. The dream was a perfect two hours, had a lot of flooding and engaging camera work and emotional punch, and ended on a happy note.

I immediately got up and came here into the livingroom to write to you, livejournal, because I miss you. I definitely type more quickly than I handwrite, which perhaps might be remedied by several years of practice but which is a legacy of MUSHing with four character windows open or whatever for so long. I can generally type faster than I can think; I can handwrite about as fast as I can think.

My life is pretty good right now. I have this huge expanse of time, through August, unfurled in front of me like an empty banner and I have a paintbrush in my hand. I have work, but I don't have plans, and August is my favourite month. I mean, sure-- there's a Leo party one day, a West Wing marathon with the Writer one weekend, and a wedding-- but that I think is everything I have written down for the month. The usual suspects will fill some of the time; there's monthly Korean movie night, weekly movie night at Andrew's place which I often attend, if the Writer is doing Ramadan I think I have some business with him right about the beginning of that; I have some stuff going on on the 13th involving a movie and maybe a party. Still, I feel like I've been let loose in a playground. I have the incredible luxury of seeing people I don't normally have time to see (some of whom I feel pretty guilty about not seeing for awhile) and just doing... things. Walking down to the park and swinging on the swings is an option; going to the beach is an option; just walking in a direction or sitting in a coffee shop is an option. Taking myself out to dinner is also an option.

I can spend late evenings at work if I want, watering plants as the sun is going down around me. It's a mellow time to work, and quite lovely.

There are some flies in the ointment to set against this, of course. Now that I'm not running full steam through everything I see that I probably shouldn't spend the money and time on PAX the weekend before I start school. I know someone who wants a ticket, so this is probably okay with everyone else, and it avoids-- I'll be honest-- one of those stupid awkward poly situations which always stresses me out.

The roofers threw boards on my tomato plants, which together with the weather means maybe no crop this year.

School is really rather expensive, and so although I'm making more money than I've ever made in my life it's not disposable income-- but that always happens to me, whether it's with rats or gardening or feeding people or whatever.

My house is an incredible pigsty because I have been so busy. I expect this weekend will help remedy that.

In the last couple of weeks I've picked up the very good habit of starting every morning with a smoothie-- usually banana and some kind of milk (almond or soy) with some flax thrown in for texture. Even if I end up eating a second breakfast, having that first thing makes the whole day go more smoothly. I'm learning not to make the smoothie with blueberries (they curdle the soy milk into soft tofu) and thinking about experimenting with a grapefruit and some sort of sweet juice base. I'm considering getting some of Brendan Brazier's vegan smoothie powder to throw in there too-- I lived off it for breakfast one year and it works --but until next paycheck the answer is a definite no.

I'm really really getting better at being aware when I need care-- either self-care or when I need to ask someone to do something nice for me. Sometimes I don't do those things, but the secret is that you don't have to do -everything- if you make it a practice of generally taking care of yourself-- the base level is high enough that it doesn't bring ya down not to do one thing. Life becomes less a seething mass of need and more a matter of this or that. I expect there will be periods where I backslide, as there have been in the past, but this is not one of those.

For now I feel I am the recipient of extraordinary good fortune: I have a lovely home, very good friends, I come home to someone who loves me, I eat well, my garden is lovely if a little flattened, my job engages me, my bosses are excellent, my innamorato is thoroughly engaging, the weather is fine, there are good prospects on the horizon both near and far... I have made this life with my own hands, and I have also been blessed with it. I will set myself to enjoying it for awhile.
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First, the ambiance. As always, put it on and listen but forget the video:


Second, the post:

Look at this! Two posts in a row. I'm not sure how long I'll hold out for, my right wrist is tweaking a bit (did I mention yesterday I did six hours of hedging with a heavy vibrating powertool and I tend to take most of the weight on my right wrist, being right-handed?) but here I am with the luxury of time, a glass of boyfriend-squeezed vanilla lemonade (one step up from "fresh lemonade" I can tell you!), an internet keyboard device, and a bit of a nap under my belt.

There are a couple things I had been intending to write about which my nap toned down a little-- also some paper journalling and first dinner with a friend of mine who let me talk away about it helped me to get most of my thoughts in order. Basically (no seriously, don't laugh!) I seem to be back in the real poly pool, and I'm having some feelings about that, namely, stark terror and nauseating guilt. I am only being a tiny bit tongue-in-cheek here. It was my original intent to go on at greater length about these feelings, and to justify them a bit, and to contrast them with how I feel about monogamy and 'sorta open' relationships. Then I could go on and discuss primary relationships vs anything else, and how that's been for me, and how all poly has been for me, etc. However-- I have done a lot of this before, here in this journal, and I'm not really feeling it. Suffice it to say that there's some internal conflict there, and move on.

I am thinking very seriously about throwing my livejournal a tenth anniversary party when I get to that point. I'm not sure what that looks like-- if it looks like a day of blogging, if it looks like me having a party centered around word-games and writing, if it looks like... well, anything. It's just sorta exciting to me to think about that happening. Ten years of written personal history means a lot to me. It's the way I remember, and so it means my memory extends back a whole decade.

Earlier I also intended to write about love. I was feeling particularly lyrical; love is a lot of things to me, and there's a lot of it in my life right now. That deserves recognition and tribute above all other things. It also deserves description, it deserves to be committed to this written memory, it deserves that I give it my best behaviour and every ounce of strength I have in me. It is an occasion to be risen to. None of that is anything new, but that doesn't make it unremarkable.

What is this, a piece of writing about things I'm not writing about? I guess so. I'm not very deep in my head right now; that nap after so many consecutive days of so little sleep left me stuck in my body like a heavy warm blanket. I can't crawl up into my head easily. This is not necessarily bad.

What I really should write about is my relationship to food of late. Food is one of my hedonistic vices, like sex, napping, sunshine, blankets, language, snuggling; well, name anything I do really. Thing is, I do those things for fun/connective reasons, to be inside myself better, and most of them I can just leave at that. Food, though-- I need to eat, and I need to eat frequently. I need to eat when I'm pushing my body hard. I need to eat when I don't have time to switch my brain over to pleasure mode. I need to eat when there's no food around up to my admittedly high standards. More and more lately, when I need to eat-- I just don't go to the trouble, and that's a problem. Add that to the fact that when I'm somewhere stressy I can't eat in that location-- it would be making myself vulnerable there, opening myself to experience instead of locking it down in my head --and things get really funny. When I have a ton of cash to throw around I buy food wherever I am whenever the mood strikes me, and that's usually enough. When I don't have the money to throw around, though... I just don't eat enough.

That seems to work out okay when combined with not sleeping enough, but I can feel my brain leaking out my ears when I ride that edge too closely. I can do things but I can't think. I will definitely have to figure this out before low cash/high stress/high thinky school kicks in.

What I really want to write about is sex, but I'm not sure I can. It used to be I'd write a lot about that kind of thing and very openly, and if someone was uncomfortable with some level of detail of their sex life being revealed online, well, they could stop fucking me. I've got a lot more respect for people's sensibilities now, and perhaps the details aren't as important to me as they once were. I keep learning things about myself, though, and rediscovering things that had temporarily drifted out of mind. It's neat how many very different ways the same themes surface.

This kind of feels like a failed entry-- I won't write about this, this, or this --so perhaps I'd better quit while I'm ahead. It's been calming to write it despite the terrible knot forming in my right shoulder (you try holding a hedger up for six hours then your arms out the next day!) and if I get into rats or todo lists that will be obliterated.

Oh, except-- the first full weekend in August I have scheduled, written down and calendared, to lie around eating proscutto and melon (and maybe artichokes etc) and watching West Wing and DOING nothing. I am so fucking excited.

My Temple

Jul. 9th, 2010 08:18 am
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I've been eating better again, now that I have no money. It helps too that I've got over my shyness about cooking for the people with whom I've been spending a lot of time-- with Angus cooking together was part of our courtship, but Andrew and the Writer had a strong tendency towards eating out, and frequently at places that push salt-sugar-fast food buttons. It's not always easy to compete with that sort of thing, and my brand of cooking doesn't go there much.

But, better now. It lets me play with wheat flour and eggs, too.

For some reason, even though I don't cook for them much, it's freed up cooking in all of my life. I come home plotting my adobo-rice-mango-avocado-black bean dish (and it was very good) and wake up contemplating an eggplant-beef soft taco filling. I've been doing the soy/almond milk/flax/banana/etc fruit breakfast (usually with an assist, cause that's not quite enough for me) and just generally getting back to things I make. For awhile I had a "two vegan meals per day-third is anything goes" and that worked pretty well, but when I'm making the food myself I relax that sometimes and it's all good. My overall energy level is high enough again that I notice when the meat meal slows me down-- as it inevitably does.

It's a good thing I'm not doing heavy labour anymore.

Other than that I've been getting sun, keeping reasonably busy, not sleeping quite enough but sleeping relaxed enough to get out of bed slowly in the morning (this feels decadent, luxurious, and usually makes me impatient). My mood swings have been giving me whiplash, but I think I settled that issue down too; I may have been drawn into the trap of believing that because my mood can be caused by factors other than life situation, that it _has to be_. I pay tuition, resolve the interpersonal thing that was bugging me, and it's all okay again.

I'm very much looking forward to my next three weekends-- my next four weekends! This weekend is Wreck Beach Butoh (look it up!), company from Vancouver Island, my first church experience, and some world cup chaos with my posse. Next is a party in the states with some people I haven't seen in way too long-- it includes an extra special awesome thing for Angus which I get to tease him about, and there's nothing that isn't improved by his dimples anyhow. After that is the Mission Folk Fest, my yearly event. And then there's UBC freeschool where at least I'm not going out of town, which I won't teach anything at because I'm too chicken and don't have time to put anything together, but I really _should_. And my new rats will be coming home from quarantine in there, and coming to live with me.

How can you not look forward to a month like that?

On the other hand, it's busy. I will need to schedule a day or two off in there to survive, I think. I'll be dead broke up till the weekend of the folk fest, and tight after that (unless next week is as crazy busy as this one at work). I will need to crowbar in the people I like to see regularly, and perhaps relearn the art of the phone conversation. I am pleased with my current work-lunch-meeting thing I do now.

My tomatoes are finally acting like the huge thuggish plants they're supposed to be. Green fruit _soon_ is in order, though. Needs to ripen before august ends, dammit!

Anyhow, need to get off to work.
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I woke up, journalled for an hour on paper, Angus is making hash browns and I'm making a smokie from that meat thing I have, and I opened up lj to this poem:

Girl on a Tractor

I knew the names of all the cows before
I knew my alphabet, but no matter the
subject; I had mastery of it, and when
it came time to help in the fields, I
learned to drive a tractor at just the right
speed, so that two men, walking
on either side of the moving wagon
could each lift a bale, walk towards
the steadily arriving platform and
simultaneously hoist the hay onto
the rack, walk to the next bale, lift,
turn, and find me there, exactly where
I should be, my hand on the throttle,
carefully measuring out the pace.

Joyce Sutphen

I was going to go to the farmer's market today, but instead here I am at home still-- it's okay, I don't have any money anyhow. I'd like to get up to Juggler's and pick the raspberries he offered me at some point, and I'd love to get down to trade with Sara for some flour (she was part of the grain CSA last year and has lots) since I didn't get to the "flour peddler" guy who grinds it on his bike grinder at the market.

I invited Juggler to lunch yesterday and it was awesome. Again talking apocalyptic scenarios (this is what replaces TV and video games in my conversational repertoire) I was mentioning that I think Africa will be better placed in a sudden collapse than we will, because the skills that they are having drilled into them in the hardest possible way about sustainability and land management will be more entrenched there than here (they have already had their apocalypse in many places, or are having it now); the relocalization movement is helping here, but we aren't there yet. And I mentioned grain-- 10 years ago there was no one within 250 miles who knew how to grow grain in our climate; now there is some local. Sure, it's one or two guys, but the skill exists where it had been lost for so many years. And I mentioned the flour peddler, and that he knows how to make the device that does it _right there_ and that is a measurable achievement.

Juggler said, "no he doesn't!" with emphasis-- and I asked him if he'd ever watched "The Gods Must Be Crazy." That's foundational to my idea of permaculture and apocalypse-- that we have relics, rescources, byproducts that will be intensely useful for many generations of people who do not have the manufacturing ability to create them.

Or, you know, maybe we'll adapt and it will not all go down in that way, manufacturing will shift rather than stall, things will change in ways I can't imagine. But this is my game.

I love talking to people who contradict me, and I love talking to people who will play this game with me. The Chrises are both good at it.

Food. Mmm.

!!!!!!!!!

Jun. 8th, 2010 05:38 pm
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UBC Farm stuff, from their mailing list:

1) Bulk spinach sales - pre-order now!

With all the rain and then sun we've had recently, the UBC Farm is experiencing a spinach explosion! We have some amazingly-tasty spinach that we'd like to share with you at wholesale rates so that it doesn't go to waste. Spinach usually flies off the shelves at the market, so this is a great opportunity to get your hands on a popular item. The leaves are quite large, and are incredibly sweet and flavourful. Much higher quality than what you can find in the store right now.

Though it seems a long ways off, this is a great chance to start stocking up and freezing produce for winter. Spinach can easily be frozen for future use. It will also shrink down quite a bit in the blanching process. Here is a simple guide with photos to help you through the process.

Spinach is available to pre-order in the following quantities:

5 lbs @ $2.50/lb
10 lbs @ $2.00/lb
20 lbs @ $1.50/lb

It can be picked up this week between 5 and 6pm Friday evening, or during our first market from 9am-1pm this Saturday.

To order, please e-mail Amy at amy.frye@ubc.ca by 5pm on Thursday and indicate the quantity you'd like to order and when you will pick it up (Friday or Saturday). Please bring your own container to take home your spinach in - 5 lbs will fill a couple of grocery bags; larger quantities you could put in a clean garbage bag or tote. Cash only, exact change preferable if you are picking up Friday.
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This is more Rachel McKibbens, just a piece of one of her things:

IV.

on our wedding day,
when I tell you "I do,"

it's because I do.

it's because you understand
how ten-thousand dollar apologies
still keep fathers worthless,

it's because my ribcage expands
every time I think of you,

it's for all the things
you see in me

and pretend
not to notice.


This is an update:

Work finished, in the rain, about noon today. If you want, you can do an experiment. Find a coffee table or something that comes up to just over your knee. Lean over so you can reach that height, the surface of the coffee table, between three and five feet away from you. Hold that pose.

For eight hours.

Several days in a row.

Keep those fingers out. Keep bent over like that.

Now get some cold rain to fall on those muscles for three hours.

Straighten up.

Yeah. There it is. Except my end is less boring, there's a lot of weird stuff that goes into it, including the skill of planting plants (which I didn't do that much) which is a soothing/boring similar-but-not-exactly-repetitive motion, the skill of breaking up rootballs and untangling plants (including 432 lysimachia plugs and several thousand impatiens planted 3/pot), the meditative exercise of spacing plants evenly but 'random looking', and most important, the creative/frantic what-goes-where design moment. Here's the thing: when you are creating the design for the bed, you have one big missing thing. It is either the knowledge of what exactly the plants will look like and what they will be (because you are pre-ordering a zillion plants from a wholesale nursery and they haven't been grown yet and there may be colour variation, crop failure, etc), or any flexibility in what you're getting (because you've gone in and got what they have in the numbers you need, and gotta make do with that). We were in situation number one-- where we were gonna mix some hot colours and reds, but the plants we got were soft rose-pinks and whites.

We did what we could with what we had.

The beds will either look stunning and avante-garde, really weird, or most likely both.

Now a normalish work shift can begin, though. Wednesday my boss is giving me the candy-cherry-on-top treat of going out to the greenhouse facility with him. Can't wait to see it.

Now I'm on a cooking binge. I made a massive amount of pasta/quinoa sauce tonight and some rhubarb/apple dessert. Tomorrow I'm making some pea soup for the photographer friend of mine I mentioned in a previous post, as a housewarmingy gift and cause those damn people don't cook enough and eat crap all the time. I figure spending $20 and making a potful of something isn't a bad investment. I'm currently ambivalent about making the stock from scratch-- I think I'll do it though.

For future reference: chickpeas, mexican-y spices, and nightshade-based things DO go all together. They DO. Unlikely as it seems, it worked. Remember that.

I had a nap this afternoon. I am tired again. Perhaps sleep is in order.
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Today started out with a bed that I'd just planted last week being flooded by the maintenance guys who were supposed to fix the sprinklers at the hotel. All the new bedding plants floated to the edges, everything was a mess. Instead of doing starting my big project immediately, therefore, I started work an hour early and didn't get to what I was supposed to do today until 11 or so, eyeing the 'high winds and thundershowers in the afternoon' forecast warily all the while.

It was one of those days where I was too busy to think, too busy to track time, I was a good girl and took breaks because I know you gotta if you don't want to crash a couple hours into the afternoon but couldn't actually sit down and eat a solid lunch till 2 cause I was too worried about getting things done.

Throughout the afternoon it got hotter and more oppressive. The rain was coming, it felt like thunder was coming, but it wouldn't break. The air was dead calm even on the 8th floor with nothing between me and the ocean, which is unheard of. Weather that behaves is something to be thankful for -- it let me get a lot more done than I'd hoped -- but when the mist came down over North and West Van, and then the air cooled a little and the first splatters of water started to appear, I was very happy. We never get lead-up to rain like that here, and it was warm. The wind came up like crazy in short gusts, blowing over patio umbrellas and streaming my equipment across the deck. It took another half-hour for rain to start falling, it would have been soft if it hadn't been sideways -- and I was working fast enough that the water was drying basically before I noticed it. When I hit the end of a really physical shift and tip into overtime, or even if I'm doing really heavy work period, my reserves kick in. I've been caring for myself lately, good food, lots of touch, and a fair bit of sleep -- and I had a lot of reserve. You could have used me to heat the convention centre I was working above.

Then I got to do the excitingly symbolic part of my joy, which will only happen more often as summer comes. I got to water plants. In the rain. While water streams down stormdrains around me. Cause people need glass awnings with plants under them. YAY WELL-DESIGNED SYSTEMS!

Picked up a couple bags of sunshine mix with mom afterwards, gave her some bulbs ganked from work in exchange (three garbage bags full! Wasteful industry, this) and came home to poke around the internet, snuggle, and make myself dinner. Tonight I made lamb & mushroom 'souvlaki' (cooked in a wok, greek spiced, super yummy) eaten on corn tortillas (someday I'll get tired of those things), rhubarb and raspberry jam on more corn tortillas, extra dark maple syrup in unsweetened soy milk, and... I'm still hungry and I think I need to cap myself on tortillas, so who knows what I'll have next. If I had bananas I would totally fry them.
.
Had some funny okcupid experiences. One boor, one about whom I am cautious, one who seems neat but do I look like I have time? For the record, arguing with me about how much free time I have is a poor tactic on an online dating site. So is asking to get together and see if we have issues. Seriously, folks.

Oh. And I made this. You will either think it is pointless, artsy, or something; or you will understand that this was strong enough for me to stop work and give it to you. This, in a nutshell, is the landscaping industry. That is, this is my work, and I think in symbols:



(Also turn the volume on, I love that sound)
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There are a lot of things I could be writing about, and this would be a post on starting a menu for the housewarming except that I've been... inspired, I guess. I've had some recent experiences, and read a poem on greatpoets this morning, and I feel called to perhaps echo a post I made quite some time ago but don't want to dig out right now.

Lately-- last couple of years, last couple of months --I've been playing with and learning about my body's capability for lust. It's not something I come to easily, so to speak, because in my experience lust involves slipping the body off its leash, or perhaps letting it pull the rest of me along. Lust is a pull entirely physical, a sexual demand, and let's face it: for me sex is bound up in some pretty strange stuff. For me to surrender to my lust enough to even know what precisely I want, let alone to know how to get it, I have to feel really safe. I don't mean safe as in soft-blankets padded-room safe; I mean I need to feel like if there are other people involved they won't freak out, they won't be broken, and they can handle what comes up or call a stop to it if they can't handle it.

I wonder if that hasn't been part of my ongoing attraction to people who are jerks, who keep me at arm's length, who have egos beside which I am a mere shadow, who are emotionally distant or unavailable... at least at first, or at least until I become so trustworthy and available and giving that they let down their defenses. Hm. I wonder if that explains some of my rotating-door syndrome? We already know I like breaking through shells. There are beautiful things inside. I suppose, though, that in a lot of way those shells make me feel safer.

Now I feel like a jerk, but I will persevere (I typoed that as 'perseverse' which is awesome) because I really wanted to nail this desire thing.

Lust is about me. It's about what my body wants, what I want. It's active, it's about an end.

Desire is about another person. It's about immersing myself in them, surrounding myself, it's about experiencing them as deeply and fully as possible. It's a loss of self, if you like, submersion in the other. A conversation can slake desire; you know those long winding conversations that lead down deep surprising paths and cement immovable intimacies in your soul and then leave you in a quiet safe place together as if two worlds hadn't just shifted? Touch does it; taste, sight, no other person can stand in, can satisfy that specific craving that is desire for another.

Now most of my experiences involve some aspect of both of these, and I would write more about it, but I'm a little shaken by my jerk epiphany up there and I can't concentrate. Furthermore Angus is having his second bad day in a row, and although he's not in the room I can feel the pain radiating from him. He's rarely cried openly and loudly outright when he hurts in the last several months; things have been perhaps not so bad too. He's not crying now. Still, you become attuned to a person and that little catch of breath, the smell of their body, the way their eyes move, the type of sounds that come through the wall when they shift position-- it's really hard for him right now.

It's really hard for me, generally. Going into this I was so idealistic, naive, I had never done this. The things I thought would be hard (there, it's eased up, he just came past and smiled at me) like him being in pain-- well, when he's hurting really badly I can deal with that. He wants to be held or left alone or go out and smoke, it's something I can do.

It's harder not being able to do things together sometimes.

It's hardest not being able to read whether he's unhappy with me or just hurting. I often read his signals-- hunching away, or a clenched jaw-- as his being angry or feeling beat down because of something I've done or some interaction we've had. If I ask him-- hey, what's up-- sometimes that helps clarify, but the truth is that I spend a lot of time with someone my gut and my subconscious read as displeased with me a fair chunk of the time. It comes and goes in waves. It's not bad lately.

Also hard is some stuff where some of our stuff interacts in such a way that it's difficult to sleep closely cuddled together. He night sweats when he's really sick; when he's really sick especially, my dermatographia/whatever it is totally freaks out when I come into contact with that sweat, even through an allergy pill or two.

And I never knew just how much time being sick took. I'm a really busy person, and I schedule and plan things to within an inch of my life. I try to schedule and plan other people in as part of this, so I know how I can and cannot rely on them. Angus has a huge swinging block of ;he may feel great and be productive, he may be sick and stuck in the bathroom all day' in which case I need to take up some slack. Don't get me wrong, he pushes through more than I could -- he's had practice -- but sometimes he can't. And sometimes he doesn't engage the discipline to do things when he's well-- perhaps because he spends so much time pushing himself when he's sick?

I dunno. This has been totally hijacked. As if to disprove any points I've made, he's doing dishes and smiling and being loving now. Maybe that is the point, though: the thing is unpredictable. Neither of us know whether he will be worse or better in an hour, a day, a year, in ten years or forty.

I can't cure him. I can't even make him go to doctors, try new treatments, go for different tests when the last set comes back negative. I can't make him take pills on time. All of that is his, with me waving a pom pom in the back when I can and calling out in a thin voice from the distance.

And in this context desire is a strange beast. His body is becoming his enemy, if it isn't already. There is always some degree of pain, more or less. There are areas-- stomach, ass --to be avoided except by the gentlest occasional touch, perhaps forever, when my hands wish to taste the skin there. And when desire for him surges up-- him, him, only him-- he might well be buried, not only absent from his body but left emotionally tattered by just coping.

I suppose everyone has complications like this to some degree or other: I come home, I cannot take my head out of work, I'm short and snappish and go straight to the computer and stare through it for an hour. I am working this weekend and volunteering next and out of the country the one after and have no days off in-between. I have not had time to sleep and am floating in a haze all week, somewhere else entirely. I suppose everyone has barriers.

I didn't grow up with a normal family, with a normal relationship between my parents, and I seldom went to see how other peoples' families interacted. There was always a locked door between mom and dad when they were in the house for six months of the marriage once and I didn't even notice. I don't know what's normal; I don't know what's acceptable; I don't know what's tolerable. I know mileage varies per person anyhow.

I don't know where I'm going with this. Something about my Writer, though, about how those barriers are different, clearer, not entangled up with coming home from work and emotional support and the whimsy of an unpredictable illness. Something about how when I bury my face in his hair the world recedes, and how that has stayed simple so far, and how I always go looking for complications and so I drag my guilt behind me like a bloody mangled piece of my own soul sometimes, and other times I can leave it alone.

It's late. I'm tired. Someone made me dinner and did the dishes and I'm doing something that sounds a lot like complaining. I need to sleep, I need rest so badly. I need to surrender up my ability to affect the world for eight hours or so-- more than four or five, at least. I need to let bed happen to me.

Ha. Talk about rambling. Talk about incoherent. It's definitely bedtime. Be well, y'all, and remember I'm not really unhappy-- I just need to rest, and then engage with the lovely challenge of coming up with five or six or seven tasty vegan wheat-free dishes for my housewarming that can feed a horde, that will be cheap, that will be super tasty, that don't need a table to eat at, and that won't use up all the dishes in the house to feed people. I fully expect to have a brilliant stroke of genius about a way to serve quinoa tabouleh salad, to plagarize mimi's bean dip, to come up with a brilliant riff on pizza, to go through some sort of inspired root veggie thing, to do marinated mushrooms come hell or high water, to do something involving our lovely-textured friend the avacado and maybe his sidekick the mango (sushi? booooring...?) and to do something involving risotto and/or that amazing wild-rice-pecan-maple-orange-stuffed squash I did at Avi's thanksgiving. I wonder if I can figure out a tofu recipe that actually tastes like heaven?

I can *so* do this.

And then there'll be desserts. I wonder how I can serve fried bananas in a non-messy way. Corn tortillas? Hmmm. And some kind of sugar cookie. And... and... and...

This post is gonna have the weirdest tags ever.

Y'know, I really like cooking for people.

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