Tag Archive | mindfulness practice

Food

I just can’t get enough of it. And I’m so fortunate to have plenty of it! I am keenly aware that many humans and other animals all over the planet don’t have enough food. There is a twinge of guilt when I consider my bountiful garden, my well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Even when I think of all the food available at our local grocery stores, and farmers’ markets; not to mention what’s available to order online. There is too much food concentrated in too few places and way too much food going to waste in rich countries, rich households, even average supermarkets. I’m grateful that there are numerous non-profits and volunteers in many cities and towns that gather and channel ‘extra’ food to those in need so it doesn’t go to waste.

And taking all that (and more) into consideration, I am grateful every single day, every single meal, for food. I’m grateful to have good food whenever I want it, and to have the time and means to have fun with food, too.

I’m grateful for all my food teachers through my life, starting with the Colonel and the Galloping Gourmet, through Julia Child and Yamuna Devi, to The Great British Baking Show and my dear Amy and all the internet home cooks and chefs like Bello… Bello taught me how to make this super easy lunch wrap with a tortilla and four favorite ingredients. I chose fresh basil, sautéed onions and mushrooms, a Pizzutello tomato, and Havarti and mayo. One slice to the center, four quarters loaded, three folds, then onto the grill.

As if that wasn’t enough great food for one day, Wren and I were invited to a neighbor’s for roasted homegrown chicken and organic local corn this evening, so I made panna cotta, baked some rolls, and grilled a couple of small eggplants with a miso glaze.

In the midst of baking and grilling, I bubbled up a quick raspberry jam to go on top of the panna cotta, which had been chilling all afternoon in the fridge. So simple, so delicious!

The grilled miso-glazed eggplant needed to cook longer, or be pre-steamed, but it tasted good, and was fun to make. I’d read in a similar recipe for zucchini to score the flesh so it could absorb more glaze, which I think was a good idea.

I was grateful for a couple of short rain showers, one before dinner and one after, with a perfect interlude between when we could sit outside, appreciate the cool clean air, admire the clouds, and enjoy the meal, while the little dogs got to know each other better.

Mixed Pickins

Cold coffee, another Instagram recipe from Amy: one cup milk, 2 tsp instant coffee, 1-2 Tbsp sugar, and some ice cubes in a blender; blend til frothy and thick. Oh my, so simple, so delicious! And a quick way to get caffeine on a hot morning!
Jamato heirloom tomatoes, described as ‘pinkish with green shoulders.’ After I read that, I gave these a little squeeze and they were softish, so I picked them. Only to find that they had already split on the far side. I don’t know what’s happening: at least three of my tomato plants, in three different beds, are splitting fruit, and another one is experiencing blossom end rot. I must remember to call in to As the Worm Turns on Tuesday on KVNF and ask the experts what’s going wrong.
I’m grateful that at least the Leutschauer paprikas are thriving and ripening at last!
…and this zucchini literally doubled in size overnight. It’s time to break out the chocolate zucchini cake recipe, zucchini pancakes, and other recipes.
Pizzutello tomatoes are doing great on one plant, and splitting before they ripen on the other. Both plants, one in a tub and one in a raised bed, in different soil blends, are puny compared to the monstrous, endless vines and prolific fruits they produced last year in a different raised bed. I am truly perplexed about tomato health this summer.
This Roma plant is producing lovely striped fruit, but the only references I can find to Romas do not show any stripes. And this is one that’s suffering some blossom end rot. I curbed it on an earlier outbreak on a different plant in the same bed with extra bone&blood meal, as it’s a sign of insufficient calcium uptake by the roots. But here it is again! Oh woe is me! This is the most problematic tomato crop I’ve had in years. I’m grateful I have patience and ingenuity to mitigate the damage, and have access to reams of research and resource.
Little Wren likes her vegetables! She watched me pick these and followed me begging.
A small and challenged harvest this evening, but I’m grateful even for mixed pickins.

Sleeping Bees

I was grateful this morning to wander the woods without incident with my intrepid little companions. I knew there was a recent lion kill not far from the house. I smelled death after we left the gate, and last night I had seen turkey vultures perched in the trees just beyond. This morning there was another one airing its wings due east of the house.

We finally went in search of it this evening. Just before dusk I realized I hadn’t seen Biko at all yesterday or today, so we had to hunt for him. He was tucked into one of his usual spots under a large rabbitbrush down by the pond, which was a relief. We couldn’t find him last night before lightning and thunder drove us inside. I decided we’d brave the wilds too, just so I’d know if the kill was my old doe, who I haven’t seen for a few days either. It was not, but I’ll spare you the photo. It was a large fawn, maybe one of her twins, maybe someone else’s. But the proximity of death and the lion’s habit of returning to a kill for several days afterward might be deterring the old doe from her daily visits.

I was grateful again today for Marc at Montrose Sewing Machine Repair. He’s been my rock through this Pfaff pedal puzzle for the past few weeks. This guy doesn’t even know me, and he’s gone way out of his way to make sure I’m able to work on my tropical drapes. First, he located what he thought was the right part at an online store. Turns out it wasn’t exactly the right part, and for the past week we’ve been trying to troubleshoot how to solve this dilemma. Hours back and forth texting pictures, videos, part numbers, and suggestions. He has extended himself above and beyond what I can imagine anyone else doing, with patience and good cheer.

Today, after concluding that the correct part is apparently no longer being manufactured, we considered some other options. One of them involved me taking apart the old pedal to see if he could maybe fix that. His reply to the above photo was “Aww man, they hardwired it!” Another option he came up with was to buy an old one on eBay. I’ll muddle along with the wrong plug wedged in until he can get and vet the eBay buy, and then see if I can return the bad part to the online store. If not, I’ll make it work, and Marc will have the right part when the next hapless Pfaff maiden needs one. I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers.

I’m grateful today to see the first paprika pepper turning red; and for another harvest of string beans; and for the tiny purple jigsaw peppers.

I diced one this evening and cooked it in an impromptu eggplant casserole. I roasted thinly sliced eggplants and some garlic cloves in the oven, while sautéing onions, a Blot pepper, and a jigsaw pepper in bacon grease. When the onions were caramelized I added some plain tomato sauce from last year’s pantry stash, and cooked it down until it was a thick, deep red. Then I layered eggplant rounds, sauce, and cheese three times, and topped with cheese and buttery breadcrumbs before baking for 25 minutes. Grateful for this Amy-inspired creation. It was delicious!

I was grateful at twilight to spy this adorable bed of sleeping bees. There’s a native species specific to sunflowers, genus Svastra. I’ve photographed one or two at a time in daylight foraging on the native sunflowers, but this surprised me as I returned from the compost bin and noticed a strange texture at the bottom of the center disk. Closer inspection revealed this delightful “bee snuggle.” And now I’m going to take my own little busy bee up to bed and go to sleep, for which I’m also very grateful.

Progress

It’s not the same thing to me as it is for those who adhere to the ‘business-as-usual’ paradigm. I’m grateful for progress in slow time. I’m grateful for a slow but steady weed-eater who munches the mallow, bindweed, and purslane at his own pace day after day all summer long, amazingly keeping it in check throughout the yarden.

I’m grateful for the slow progress of peppers, and all the other plants in the garden. They take their time growing roots and leaves, then slowly bring on blossoms and set fruit, and the fruits ripen incrementally day by day until suddenly there’s a flood of them ready to eat, freeze, can.

I’m grateful to return to a place that I have always felt the joy of flow, in front of a sewing machine with colors and textures at my fingertips. I’m grateful for the lovely Pfaff that my father bought me not long before he died, and for Karen who helped me choose it and make its acquaintance, and for finding time again to relearn its capabilities and my own. I’m grateful that I learned how to use the built-in needle threader!

I’m grateful for the slow progress of the tropical drapes, envisioned as a dream decades ago. I spent years collecting fabrics for them, all cotton, many shades and patterns of greens, a few browns, blues and other colors. I spent months creating the keystone appliqués for each panel… and then I boxed them all up after my mother died and I returned home to a house unlivable that took four months to disinfect. The brick floor was grouted with mouse shit; every flat surface in the house was covered in mouse shit, from the bottoms of the kitchen cabinets to the dresser drawers upstairs. But I digress: that’s another story. Suffice to say I didn’t pull out the drapes or any other creative endeavor for a long time after that, until the stench of Clorox was a distant memory, the brick floor replaced, the dresser burned, and so much more effort expended to reclaim my sacred space.

Even though the new plug falls out if it’s not propped in, I’m grateful for it since I can adapt while I wait for a replacement and still enjoy the hum of needle and thread and the feel of fabric flying through my fingers. I made great progress today zigzagging the swamp and all the vines onto the panel, so tomorrow I can place frogs, lizards, beetles, leaves… and then play with some flower designs and fill in the jungle.

Life careened onward, and every winter I thought I should get back to those drapes for the sunroom. But I never did, until finally this summer life’s demands slowed down a little bit and I looked to Biko for inspiration on how to move through my days: slow and steady, taking a little bite of this, a little bite of that, as I amble through the hours with peace and ease. Finally accepting my own tortoise pace, that’s what I call progress.

Patience

I’m waiting for a lot of things. I’m waiting for these Blot peppers to turn orange and purple instead of chartreuse and purple. I wrote to Baker Creek where I got the seeds to find out how long it takes them to change to their fully ripe color, and was told they will “appear to just sit for several weeks before making their final color change.” I feel like they’ve been sitting like this for more than several weeks. But I’m being patient. I’m waiting for the Sirenevyi sweet peppers also to change from their deep purple to their final ripe deep red, and that seed company rep told me she thinks it’s about three weeks after they color fully purple. But I swear this one pepper has been purple for at least that long. But I’m being patient.

I’m also waiting for Rise Broadband to get its act together and quit constantly dropping internet service here; and waiting for Boost Mobile to get its tower enhancement straightened out so I can get phone service in my house again, which has been out since July 2. I’m waiting for the Division of Vocational Rehab to get me scheduled for an intake session so I can get permanent hearing aids. After trying demos for two weeks, it’s clear to me how much benefit they’ll confer. I’m waiting for an appointment with the only local pulmonologist to try to get my O2 saturation situation figured out. I’ve pursued all these dangling diagnostics diligently as well as the pepper problems in the past few days, and I’m real grateful that I’ve learned to cultivate patience. Even as I wait for solutions, I can enjoy the quiet growth in the garden, the waxing moon rising, crickets singing, reading a good book, a delicious salad, conversations with friends, playing with Wren, a hot shower, and a long nap. It’s not what life throws at or withholds from you, but how you respond to it, that determines your happiness.

I’m grateful for a good salad, and for all the elements in it: bacon, Bad Dog lettuce, homemade bleu cheese dressing, pecans, and the second ripe tomato from the garden. And I’m grateful for all the hands that went into growing the local and non-local ingredients, and the hands that got them here, and when you dig down that turns out to be an awful lot of hands. The pecans alone: who planted the trees, who cultivated the land to plant the trees, who tended the trees, who dug the ditches and laid the irrigation pipes to water the trees, who built the dam to divert the irrigation water; who picked the pecans, who shelled them or built the machines to shell them, who packaged them, who made the plastic bag they were packed in, who drove them from wherever to City Market, who built and maintained the vehicles that delivered them, and the roads or rails those vehicles traveled… anything and everything I have depends on so many other beings. My contentment rests on the labors and the patience of countless others, and for recognizing this interdependence, I am grateful.

Opportunity

I had several opportunities today to be my best self. I took them all, gratefully! Living in solitude, I don’t get a chance every day to do something kind or helpful for someone else. So much of my mindfulness is all in my head. But today was a day full of happy, healthy connections. One of these was a Bonus Boyz Lunch. Yesterday’s savory squash blossoms cooked pretty well: I let them thaw for about an hour, but think it would have been better to fry them straight out of the freezer. I stuffed today’s blossoms with a surprise sweet mix: ricotta, confectioner sugar, and chopped basil. They complimented each other on the plate.

A cheese, bean, and chicken burrito anchored the lunch, with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream; squash blossoms; and beans sautéed with generous sprinklings of two Penzeys spice blends. We didn’t really need dessert, but I tried to make ‘dalgona,’ a whipped coffee that should have turned out like a pudding. It failed miserably, so I poured some into bowls and topped with chocolate ice cream, and they were happy. We were all happy. It was another opportunity, for equanimity, for making the best of a bad situation.

As I write, there is a grasshopper crawling around on the orchid in front of me. She’s a female ready to lay eggs. I just can’t bring myself to kill her, or throw her to Wren, nor can I toss her outside where I’m sure she’ll spawn dozens more. Without the Phoebe families of the past few years, the garden is dangerously deep in grasshoppers. I’ve noticed a dearth of birds of all kinds in recent weeks, and I’m not the only one in the area bemoaning the uncanny silence. Where have all the birds gone? Higher ground? When I use the new Sound ID feature of the wonderful Merlin Bird ID app, I record more overhead jets than bird calls. Mostly I’ve recorded magpies, jays, and the two common hummingbird species. I’m grateful for the opportunity this app gives me to identify and log birds in my pocket computer, and for the few new birds I’ve heard, including the Ash-throated Flycatcher, and the Western Wood Peewee.

Practice

I’m trying a new squash-blossom stuffing: ricotta, sautéed mushrooms, fresh basil, and Penzeys Arizona seasoning. There were four blossoms this morning, and if I’m lucky there will be at least four tomorrow. I stuffed today’s and froze them, hoping to have enough total for three for each of us at Boyz Lunch. They don’t keep well in the fridge for more than a few hours when stuffed with ricotta, the moisture leaks out of the cheese and gets the blossoms too wet. Practice makes perfect. We’ll know more later!

Little One can’t decide quite where she wants to sit.

And practice did finally make perfect, almost. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve baked this sourdough sandwich bread recipe, and the first time the dough has risen above the pan before baking. The first couple of batches were baked in pans too large. I did a little research after the next batch in the right-sized pans still did not rise enough, and as I suspected, rise times are less at this altitude than the recipe calls for. Instead of four hours, I let the mixture rise for two hours before adding the remaining flour, oil, and salt. Then after kneading I let the dough rise for just over an hour instead of another two, before punching it down and splitting into loaf pans. That rise took about the designated time of “at least two more hours or until the dough rises above the top of the loaf pans.” Baking time of 40 minutes was just right–almost. Maybe a few more minutes next time. I’m grateful for the patience and persistence to practice, whether in cooking, baking, mindfulness, meditation, or any other aspect of life.

Change

I think this little girl’s world has changed a lot since spring. I wish I knew more about where she came from and what her life was like before. I’ll probably never know more later, but I’m grateful that she is expanding her horizons, and I’m stretching along with her. She’s only been to the canyon a few times, but now I’m under doctor’s orders to walk there daily again. My habit of doing that changed last fall when Stellar could no longer make it that far, and then he was gone and it was winter, and cold and snowy, and I didn’t want to walk down there alone anyway. We live where lions live, which I’m also grateful for; but I don’t want to be walking alone among them. So Wren and I are girding our loins for the short hike down there daily. Even though she is small, she is alert and will let me know if there’s a big cat on the horizon.

I’m grateful for change. It’s wonderful to know that nothing stays the same. Everything uncomfortable will also go away, even as will everything lovely. I’m grateful that I’ve allowed my tastes to change over the years. When my mother made Bread & Butter pickles every year for the St. Alban’s church bazaar, it was fun to help. I was too young to slice, but I liked packing the sliced cucumbers in ice. One time the Colonel cut his finger slicing them and there was some concern about where the sliver of skin ended up… Maybe that’s why I never liked to eat them. Eew. I loved dill pickles but sugar and onions? Forget it. Now, they’re my favorite kind, but that may be only because I’m making them myself with cucumbers I’ve grown. This recipe I’ve used twice this summer is so simple, so delicious. The pickles are crisp, sweet, and spicy. Sometimes I load up a tiny bowl for a snack mid-afternoon, and sometimes I incorporate them into a meal. Today, I made the most delicious sandwich on a toasted croissant with avocado, Havarti, and pickles, with lots of mayonnaise of course. My love affair with mayo? That’s one thing that will never change.

Pain Relief

On top of or underneath her bed, Wren can sleep anywhere in any position.

I’m grateful that neither my car nor my house ever got egged–until now! And even so, that it wasn’t a malicious act by miscreant youth, but an unfortunate accident. I parked under–just barely under–a tree this morning when I went to see my favorite PT for a little body work. I’m grateful for her, for her kind, nonjudgmental attention to this challenging corpus, and her strong hands and wise mind; and grateful for the pain relief I get for a little while after seeing her. Also, I’m grateful that she lets me bring Wren to our sessions, and that Wren is a pretty good little girl while we’re there, settling eventually onto her bed–after she reassures herself that PT means me no harm. Anyway, we got in the car, and I noticed a yellow streak down the center of the windshield. At first It thought maybe it was sap, but realized that it was egg yolk–and there was a tiny smashed egg at the top. But it was too late, I was already driving home. I resisted the impulse to turn on the windshield wipers, anticipating that that would just make a worse mess. After I got home, I hosed off some of it, then scraped the hardened yolk, then scrubbed the residue with window cleaner. Now I have a shiny clean windshield. I’m grateful that my first thought was compassion for the birds who lost their egg, and that even as I cleaned it off I didn’t resent nature or anyone else for the trouble, just felt bad that a little bird won’t be born.

After returning home, I microwaved a home-frozen burrito and topped it with sour cream, homemade salsa and hot sauce, and avocado. I was grateful for this simple, delicious, nutritious lunch, as I am for every bite of food I have the luxury and luck to enjoy.

Just Being

I’m grateful that my grownup cat Topaz, whose nose has been out of joint since the kitten adventure, and not quite straight even after three months with Wren, finally jumped up on my lap this afternoon for no reason. She kneaded and purred, and curled up for a short visit as I picked weeds out of her thick fur. Wren got a little anxious about it, and came up to inquire; she and Topaz went nose to gentle nose for a few seconds with no tension. It was sweet. We all hung out for awhile in the shade of late afternoon on the east patio, doing nothing, content to just be. I love these peaceful breaks in the day, where I simply pause, take a time out from the busyness of correspondence, work, dishes, practice, anything, just being in open awareness for a few minutes.