Wednesday, October 31, 2007

itchy and scratchy

i am a very unhappy girl right now because i have a horrible case of poison ivy. i have awful itchy red welts on the back of my thighs, calves, behind my knees, on my arms, chest. . . i have not done anything in the yard in weeks (months?) so i know that it must be from my cat. he's been extra snuggly lately, which is generally irresistible. but i have seen him wading around in patches of poison ivy, and with the recent rainfall, he has probably been dripping with urushiol, the volatile oil in the plant that causes the awful reaction in those that are sensitive to it (that would be ME).

when i'm busy -- walking, cooking, cleaning the house -- i'm less likely to feel so tortured. but as soon as i sit down -- to read, to work, to rest -- i find myself strung out in a frenzy of itchy annoyance.

typing helps. when my hands are typing, they can't be itching.

and so, on to other topics.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

punkin nuffin

samhain being an ideal time for divination, i decided to lay out a tarot spread today. but loki wanted me to read him rather than the cards.

tashi and i carved our pumpkins this afternoon. when i removed the top from mine, i discovered a pumpkin sprout that had been growing within.

a little green surprise.

this is my halloween village. i've been making this scene on my pumpkins for like a decade now.

tashi carved an I into her pumpkin for Iliana, her classmate who was killed in a car accident just before school began.

samhain is a time to remember the dead, to welcome them back into your home.

i volunteered to make muffins for a little halloween party tomorrow in tashi's classroom. i chose a terrific apple muffin recipe but when i pulled them out of the oven they were burnt to a crisp, mostly. at least the bottoms were.

the tops were golden.

i don't dare send my daughter to school with burnt muffins. 4th graders can be very unforgiving.

but i think i'll have one. . .

Monday, October 29, 2007

beautiful book week: barbara mcclintock

the fantastic drawings of danielle by barbara mcclintock is a must have for all artistically inclined children (and adults). it is about a little girl who, no matter how hard she tries, can't help herself from drawing wildly surreal versions of reality. this is in contrast to her father, a photographer, who can't quite comprehend why she won't draw things more realistically.

another fun book in tashi's collection by barbara mcclintock is molly and the magic wishbone. it is about a girl-kitten who is granted one big wish by a fairy godmother.

this author/illustrator has many other titles and her drawings are simply delicious!

animal totems

this afternoon i was reading about samhain in celebrating the great mother and sharing information with tashi. one of the suggested activites for the season is to sit down with your child and help them to find their power animal, either through visualization or divination. tashi liked the idea of pulling a card, so i gathered up the druid animal deck and its companion book and we proceeded to share in the magic.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

weekend wrap

charlottesville's free speech wall

here is what i did over the weekend (i'm suffering from a nasty case of poison ivy right now - acquired from my cat - so i'm trying to distract myself while tashi practices her violin):

1) final farmer's market of the season saturday morning where i picked up green beans, swiss chard, tomatoes, goat cheese and lettuce.

2) at tashi's request we visited the halloween festival in downtown charlottesville on saturday afternoon. parks and rec puts on a free and quite generous festival of games, crafts, moon walks and pumpkins at the pavilion. there were lots of treats.

3) bedknobs and broomsticks at the paramount theater.

bit of ceiling at the paramount

4) dumplings and noodles at marco and luca.

5) grocery store

6) suzanne, kevin, jakob and julian paid us a surprise visit. baby cheeks!

7) sunday morning pancake breakfast with berries

8) tashi has a playdate

9) dan and i go to see across the universe. while it had a pretty high kitsch factor (we often found ourselves cringing when yet another musical number came up), i loved it. there was some incredible choreography and the love of the music runs deep. i think any craft minded person would appreciate the arty set-work and effects. some of it was a bit awkward, perhaps forced. but i still loved it. there was an incredible gospel rendition of let it be that brought me to tears. and the trippy scene on the pranksters bus made me queasy in a sympathetic sort of way. i had no idea it was such a musical, but indeed, it is. a kind of 60's version of grease, but with recycled music. or americana bollywood, if you will. go see for yourself and let me know what you think!

10) dinner of beef noodle curry. it tastes far better than it looks.

wishing you all a cozy samhain, all hallowes, halloween week!

Friday, October 26, 2007

beautiful book week: bohemian

i came upon the year i didn't go to school by giselle potter in a discount bookstore one day and snatched it up immediately. not only was i enamored with the whimsical drawing style, i was totally in love with the story. it is based on the author's true experience as a child, touring in europe with her family puppet theater, the mystic paper beasts. if you read the author's bio (linked to her name above), you'll see that she had some remarkable bohemian parents and a somewhat non-traditional childhood. that a beautiful book makes.

native child

i can actually check something off my to-do list. tashi's halloween costume is done. i found this pre-embroidered native american themed fake suede fabric at joanne's. the best part is that it was 50% off. i basically made a poncho, though i did sew the sides together. Nothing fancy & fitted though. it's a sack, with arm holes. added some fringe and some fur. there you have it.

the headdress was a gift to me from my uncle after he spent years hanging out in the amazon. unfortunately the cats managed to destroy some of it's feathers. there were at least two more long ones.

i just love the hair ties. they were a gift to me from my friend mara, who is also tashi's goddess mother.

we'll tie some bells to her ankles, hand her a basket for collecting corn-candy, and she'll be ready to go. all she needs is tomahawk and then she'll show the white man who's boss.

winter paste

the other day i had an appointment at an herbal clinic to discuss a variety of aches and pains and discomforts i've been experiencing. the verdict is that i have too much dampness in me, and that i have strengthen my blood and eat more warming foods. i came home with a large jar of tincture that i'm taking three times a day. the session also prompted me to dig out an old recipe.

in 1995 i took a life changing class with herbalist kami mcbride called "cultivating the herbal medicine woman within." it was after taking this class that i studied massage, landed a job at an acupuncturist's clinic, stopped medicating when i menstruated, and eventually, after having a my own child, trained to be a doula.

at the clinic the other day the main herbalist opened up a jar of dong quai for me to smell. the strong amazing scent transported me right back to the acupuncture clinic where i once worked. every day i would weigh and package a variety of bulky, aromatic chinese herbs so that patients could go home and brew medicinal teas. i loved having the patients come up to the counter, asking me questions about the herbs, marveling at the roots and berries and barks and cicada shells (yup). i loved the smell, the sound of the scale, the feel of the herbs under my hands as i pressed them into bags. i was calmed by the acupuncturist's soft voice and sense of humor. and i was satisfied with how much he healed people, and how i got to play a small role in that. it was such a great job. i miss it.

when i came home from my appointment i cracked open my old notebook from kami's class. i treasure that notebook. there is such a wealth of information in there, and lots of personal anecdotes relating to my life changing process during the class. i fished out a recipe she passed on to us for a warming morning soup. it's been years since i've bothered to prepare this paste, and it's about time.

warming soup or winter paste or green wonder or whatever name you see fit (paste pictured above)

1/2 cup Miso (any variety)
1/2 cup Tahini
1/4 cup Spirulina flakes or, if using the fine Spirulina powder, 1/8 cup
crushed Garlic and grated Ginger to taste (lots is best!)

Mix it all together
Store in a container in the frig

To prepare:
Boil water and then cool a bit so you don't kill the Miso
Add 1 cup water to 1 tblsp paste and stir

start your day on a warm, nourishing note.

cats are warm too!

p.s. the bundt cake is awesome. moist and apple-cinnamon-nutmeg savory. nourishing to the spirit, but i'm not so sure how nourishing it is to the body!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

bundt in the oven

well, not any more.

this is a basic apple cake recipe from better crocker. it has caramel frosting. it is supposed to be a rectangular cake, but i wanted to use my bundt pan. i hope it's moist and tasty! tashi licked the frosting bowl clean, which is enough for a kid this late on a school night. she'll get a piece of cake in her lunch box tomorrow. dan and i will eat some tonight while watching dreaming lhasa. i'll report back.

speaking of lhasa, a friend and former co-worker invited me last friday to viewing of 10 questions for the dalai lama. do clickety to check out the trailer. it was quite excellent, a great interweaving of politics and history and philosophy and storytelling. i would recommend it to anyone, but especially to those who know very little about the dalai lama and the chinese occupation of his homeland. it was artful and educational, thought provoking and sad. but not so sad that you feel nihilistic at the end. sad in a way that makes you want to change the world.

beautiful book week: nature's children

i got carried away again. here are some more favorites from tashi's collection:

elsa beskow is always a hit. below is children of the forest.

and also by elsa beskow, the flowers' festival

i found this little book, garden folk, in a dusty thrift store bin. it can't be found on amazon, and there is no author mentioned in the book anywhere. it is publication from england, and seems to be an older tale.

at the back of the north wind, written by george macdonald and illustrated by jessie willcox smith, is a classic. dreamy, poetic, quiet, deep, mysterious and alarming. it is a masterpiece, meant to be to be read over and over again.

and i'll end with the story of the root children, by sibylle von olfers. another great tale that flows with the seasons, and keeps one looking between the blades of grass.