Friday, July 15, 2016

Journal ~ Dandelions

It's ironic that I'm reading more since I've been taking classes to complete the A.A. in accounting. Better late, than never. Now that our living situation is different, after work I go to the library almost everyday to study. Usually I only take one class per quarter because it's all that I have the energy or focus for; however, I'm getting close and have decided that I will take two courses next quarter begins. Summer session is almost done and I finally get a small break before the Fall quarter. At this point, I feel like I'm doing this A.A. degree more for myself than anything. I'm viewing it as a small attempt to provide a cushion if I should find myself somewhere else, and it's also a challenge that I can afford to take-and must take.

I remember blowing on dandelions when I was a kid; I don't remember thinking of them as clocks. Today, my daily calendar has a close up photo of a bunch of dandelions with the caption, "Dandelion clocks await a child's puff of breath." Today this is really special to me because, amongst other books and audios, I'm listening to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. I'm also wanting to revisit The Illustrated Man.

When I see the dandelions this morning, I see Ray Bradbury. I see Clarisse holding the dandelion up to Montag's chin. And I remember that when I was in a writer's group for a very brief moment, one of the writers told me that I should read Dandelion Wine after having read one of my snippets.

I don't have a strong tie to my own childhood and the dandelion, but after returning to Bradbury, and the dandelion that turns up in his other stories, I feel a real resonance and connection to him. So now when I see dandelions, I see him and I'm reminded of childhood-the childhood that I know he speaks about but haven't yet read in Dandelion Wine. I think of what a remarkable person that I imagine he was, and of course, a great writer and storyteller. I appreciate how open he is about sharing where the seeds of his stories began.

I knew that if I didn't come to the page, in this moment, that this moment would fly away just as the seeds of a dandelion, and that sometimes you just have to stop what you're doing and GO. To be in the moment, lest it fly away, blow into the wind.

(Originally posted today at my wordpress journal blog)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Journal ~ Calendars, Art, & Writing

I seem to have a slight addiction to page-a-day calendars, calendars in general, and of being surrounded by beauty–beauty in the way that this eye beholds it, anyway.
And so, I found myself on Amazon, searching for yet another calendar, even though I had already purchased two at a discount. I am happy with both, but I needed something more. I needed something visually beautiful to greet me every morning at my work space. I decided to go with the flowers again. A flower a day that could be in the form of a bouquet, a single close up, or flowering plants in their natural element.

While I was at it, I came across a wall calendar of glass art (I needed another to compliment the one I already have). I recognized this stunning art. The name looked familiar: CHIHULY. And then I was taken back to our visit to Las Vegas this past October and being inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino to look at the autumn botanical garden display. When we walked into the lobby, we were greeted with the beautiful creation of Chihuly's glass art. The interaction of the vibrant colors, shapes, and light was magnificent.
Amazon kindly brought to my attention that I might like to also purchase the Chihuly 2016 weekly planner. I usually pass on these temptations, then I thought about how nice it would be to see a different work of his art up close every week, and I also thought maybe I can use the weekly calendar to write a little something each day, a mini journal of my thoughts to highlight the day. It would force me to get to the page and re-develop a routine, keep the fire going–and it's been great. I've only had the calendar a few days, but every morning that I see the calendar, I'm drawn into the pages by the pure beauty of its cover; somehow, it makes me want to reach for my pen and such an un-intimidating amount of space for each day; there are no excuses.
I love it and am happy with all of my new calendars; although, I do admit, that I may buy just one more page-a-day calendar to satisfy my funny bone.
[Originally posted on my Wordpress journal blog where I do most of my blogging these days. I wish there was an easy way to post in both places at once.]
Both photos snapped using my iPhone.

Friday, November 13, 2015

On the brink of Fall ~ A Day in September, A Tree, and Childhood Memory

I sit here at the laundry mat, propped up on one of the swivel chairs, looking out the window, homework spread out, diligently writing out the questions that I will later fill in the answers for. Music plays in the background, I have caffeinated myself with a decaf mocha and though it has less caffeine, it still packs just the right amount of zing.
A group of pigeons…the movement in the tree brought my gaze back outside. I look out at the hills, the variety of tree species, one beginning to show its autumn foliage. And I think to myself how much I love trees, how amazing they are, how vacant I would feel without them. I think of my childhood pine tree that I used to climb and sit comfortably atop its large trunk-like branches; that tree is still there, and its also inside my heart. And the beautiful palm tree that shot up so tall, the large palm branches that jetted out; and the large umbrella-like tree that offered shade and a place to read.
The pigeon settles himself on a branch, his gray tones stand out against green and splashes of red. There one moment, gone the next.
It’s a busy laundry day…I see a mother walk by with two toddlers–a little girl entertained with a wad of newspaper, she walks by on her tippy toes, peering in, giggles.
Amongst the chores, the homework, a peaceful start to the morning–the mountains and trees a welcome backdrop.

(Photo was actually taken at sunset yesterday, November 12, 2015)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse ~ Moon-Gazers

Moon child that I am, I hadn’t planned on watching the lunar eclipse last night. Hubby mentioned that we should go to the reservoir and try to see it; although, they have a curfew for entering when it gets dark. Then he said, let’s just stay home. Then I said, no, let’s go, let’s give it a shot. So, we were on our way to the reservoir to scope things out. I mentioned that maybe we should go the back way and try the hill. It was a high area. Instead we headed to our original destination, all the while hubby is declaring that we should go further and that we probably we’re going to be able to see it. We were getting the lunar and solar eclipse mixed up. We only needed to see the moon. There were a few clouds hovering. We also weren’t yet sure which direction the moon was going to rise. We sort of tried to look up bits and pieces of information on our trusty iPhones, but just plodded along. It was an adventure–in search of the moon that would promise to dazzle us with it’s reddish-orange hue and large round body. Apparently it was also a super moon night!
When we arrived at the reservoir, we asked a few people that we saw and thought were up to the same thing, if they thought we could see the lunar eclipse from here. A couple said that perhaps not. They pointed in the direction that it would rise, where there were lovely pine trees blocking the way. We mentioned the hill to them and how that’s where we were headed. Off we went.
There were a lot more cars parked there from when we passed by earlier. We took our spot in the line-up. As we walked a bit up the hill and found a spot and made ourselves comfortable, we caught sight of a patch of clouds illuminated with the soft pinkish-red of dusk.
Now we would wait with the many other moon-gazers. We waited for a while, but it was nice to sit there looking out, looking up, waiting for the moon to make its appearance, to rise above the clouds, and up over beautiful Mt. Diablo. I soaked in the night air, the rustling of the wheat grass. I felt my bottom planted firmly upon the earth below me. I watched as night settled in and the stars came out, and then we saw the very top of the moon beginning to show itself, as though stepping out of its robe, baring itself, rising up to reveal it’s light, reflected from the alignment of its self, the earth, and the sun.
It was nice to be amongst others that were enchanted, curious, moon-gazers. When we got home, there was the moon in full sight, as if it were above our abode. I turned to hubby and said, “we didn’t even have to leave the house.”
But, I’m glad we did.
(photo taken with iPhone)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Journal ~ An Orange Butterfly, Sunflowers, & Geology Class

As I walked back from lunch, waiting at the stop light, an orange butterfly flew past me, made a loop back; as I watched this gentle creature breeze by, I became lighter; I felt a flutter inside of me as I soaked in the sun; the light changing from red to green, my gait reflected the lightness of butterfly wings.

Yesterday was the first day of my night course. I needed a science course and an introductory geology course fit into my schedule. I would have preferred an online class. There was one being offered, but it started later in the semester, which would mean a condensed workload, and when I read reviews for that teacher, it didn't sound like it would be a pleasant experience, so I chose to stick with the full term, sitting in class for three hours each night. I've had to give myself pep talks and asked hubby to do the same if he saw me wanting to quit. I only need this one class; that is incentive enough.

On my way to school, I drove past the field of sunflowers; and though it wasn't windy, I imagined them bobbing their happy heads; I wanted to be in the field, join those sunflowers and fill my soul with their glee.

When I had previewed the textbook before class, the topics themselves were of interest to me. I love the earth, so why was I apprehensive about the class? I had also found the instructor's website and had a sneak peek at his approach and grading. My apprehension increased slightly, but I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could do it. I would have to learn the vocabulary and get used to viewing the earth in a scientific way.

I have to say that when I got to class, once the instructor started setting up, I felt a little more at ease. He said hello to a few familiar students from his past classes and a general hello to all of us sitting there, as we waited for the clock to strike 6 o'clock.

Some interesting tidbits that I noted:

-Although this course is going to be very difficult, which he emphasized, I think I'm going to be fine. I will put the work in that I need in order to succeed.

-We won't be writing essays. We have homework questions every week. When someone asked, the instructor replied that no, he does not want complete sentences. He prefers bullet points.

-Email works best. Even better, if we ask yes or no questions and put them in the subject line, so he can respond quickly. A tip: The shorter emails will likely be answered first.

-He does, in fact, believe there are stupid question, so he had a slide with those questions pertaining to some class logistics, and said he wanted to get them out of the way so as not to embarrass anyone. I gave a chuckle. I disagree, but he has a sense of humor; and I surely love that in a human, and especially in a teacher.

-He has a passion for his subject. He has a day job in his field, so he teaches part-time. He tells us he's passionate. More importantly, it shows.

-Ironically, as a person who studies earthquakes, he did not feel the most recent one we had a few days ago.

Even though I only need this one class for the goal at hand, I will still continue to take classes here and there. I'm really looking forward to what we're going to learn in class. I like the teacher's approach, he's entertaining, knowledgable, passionate.

Maybe since I've mostly been taking online classes with the exception of a live class last semester, most of the classes have been English courses or a business and/or accounting course here and there. But something that stood out yesterday was that we do a lot of "unpacking" of terms. My philosophy instructor from last semester also used this term when we came to concepts that, well, we needed to unpack. It's probably something that I'm only picking up on now because of the nature of both of these courses.

100 degree days are behind us for now. I can't believe how much cooler it is now. Walking back to my car after class, I was surprised at how mild the weather was. The nice thing about taking a night class is that I'll see the moon each night after class. By the time I'm home from work, I'm inside for the remainder of the day, and I miss out on the lovely moon, moon child that I am. Last night it was a crescent moon, seemingly hanging from a low branch in the sky.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Entry Point ~ The Spark of the Spinning Wheel

I feel like I'm on a roulette wheel with my thoughts and writing. The ball spins and spins, like my mind, creating possibilities, memories, recalling memories, creating new memories, recording observations, but with this wheel, the numbers become placeholders for words and thoughts; each one an entry point into a place of exploration. Only, these many spinning possibilities keep spinning; the wheel becomes stuck with possibilities.

This morning, as the wheel turned, a book was my entry point. Just reading a couple of pages was enough for that slight shift, just enough to awaken a sort of luck to awaken my writing muscles a little bit further, flexing them in a way that sent a message that you will write these two words down and make a sketch and you will come back to this later and you will post this to your blog journal.

Entry point. Those two little words led me to a roulette wheel and what I was actually reading had nothing to do with anything, but something in that particular moment in time clicked.

And now many hours later, as I enjoy my lunch break, taking spoonfuls of delicious food, then returning to my notebook to continue with the morning spark, I am on that wheel; my entry point is right there–right here; always there.

Writing is good for the soul.

Writing and posting to my blog journal is good for my soul.

Even when something ails me, I need to push through it. Pushing through can only bring my body's equilibrium back to a place of balance. These things I know, yet countless times, the words stay in a certain limbo, like the bouncing ball that can't find its place, slips into the slot and out again, finally settling on a random place on the wheel.

And is it really so random?

Wasn't it supposed to happen at this exact time and place? Or perhaps it had enough time commingling, jetting this way and that–when, the moment you look away, there it appears: A sense of order, of opening and closing–a pulse of life that cannot be contained, a sense of spinning, that spins and spins and spins until it can spin no more and must find a place to land, but only when the self disappears into the background.

And then before your eyes, it slips into the lucky number, the words fall into place, the entry point of many open up and you walk right in, tentative at first, then you reach the end; and you know the wheel will be there, always there when you're ready, only you won't know when you're ready, but something deep inside of you that is outside of yourself will know and you will be there to answer.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sunday in the Kitchen: Posole & Banana Bread

I love the colors of the M&Ms in this banana bread.
I thought I’d start this post with dessert. I didn’t take a picture when the bread was done, so while I was at work snacking, I snapped a photo before it was all gone. This recipe was really good. I followed it exactly, except I used creamy peanut butter instead of chunky because it’s what I had on hand.
This all came about because there were were two almost black bananas aching to be turned into something sweet and delicious. On our walk, Hubby kept asking me where I hid his bag of M&Ms, but I wouldn’t tell. Then a lightbulb went off, and he also made the suggestion when I said I was thinking of making banana bread. I didn’t tell him what I had in mind. I wanted to surprise him. I searched online for a recipe for banana bread with M&Ms and came across this one. It’s a keeper and I can’t wait to make it again.
Sunday started off to be a good cooking week. I may have felt inspiration from the jambalaya and fried fish that my mother-in-law cooked during the week and invited us over to enjoy. She asked if we wanted refried or regular beans with our meal. We opted for refried. It was, as she said, a sinful meal, and we may as well go all the way. Almost everything was fried or had large amounts of delicious fat!
I had not planned to spend as much time in the kitchen on Sunday as I did. I thought I’d get in and out. I knew that I wanted to prepare posole, a Mexican stew that I grew up eating at my grandmother’s home. I searched the internet for recipes and found a variation by Rachel Ray that sounded promising. I’m used to eating red posole, but I went with a green this time.

I was specifically looking for a recipe that used pork tenderloin for a healthier version. I was happy to find Rachel Ray’s recipe. I also looked at a red recipe. I ended up using most of the ingredients in Ray’s recipe. But not the honey, and I only used two cans of chicken stock and enough water to my tastes. I used the 4 poblano chiles, which I blackened on the stovetop. I also used about 3/4 cup of chiles Japones (Japanese chiles). They are small red chiles and added some heat. I followed the preparation of the red chiles from the second recipe and set the sauce aside to add to the mix when I got everything in the pot.  I also decided to make the green chile separately rather than cooking everything in the pot, then pureeing part of it. I didn’t strain. I cut the husked tomatillos into quarters and put them into enough water to barely cover them and simmered them for a bit, these went into the blender with their water and the poblano chiles, garlic, and salt. I set this aside, along with the red chile, until I had cooked the pork and veggies and then brought everything together into the pot to simmer. I didn’t do the nacho surprise…maybe next time if I need a change.
We topped our stew with shredded cabbage and lime juice. We also had an avocado on the side. This was a delicious posole that I will definitely add to my repertoire of recipes. There was enough flavor from the chiles and other ingredients without needing those extra cans of stock; and the heat was great.
That was Sunday. The momentum continues!
And I might add to the quote and say that, “All true love is grounded in esteem and good food.”