The Royal Wedding Entry That You Knew I Was Going to Write

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy. Not Harry and Meghan, but you get the idea.

Yes, I was up at 5:30 AM with my tea. (I’m usually up by 6 give or take, so no big deal.) And tissues. I get a little weepy at weddings. (Sometimes a lot weepy, like at my brother’s. Slamming back three apricot sours to numb the agony of a recent breakup while suiting up for bridesmaid duty didn’t help. But that’s a story for another time.)  I dabbed my eyes quietly (neither Hubby or Oakley were up) as I watched the magic, the romance unfold.

After a week of the ongoing constitutional crisis here in the US highlighted with threats to the social safety net and ending with two school shootings on the same day, we needed Bishop Michael Curry to remind everyone of the healing power of love to change the world for the better through his words and the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We needed the quiet dignity of a mother who moved mountains by fiercely loving her daughter into a woman of strength, intelligence, elegance, and grace. Meghan’s second major at Northwestern University was international studies. Remember that.

We needed the living timeline of the British royals to see how far the world has come, yet has along way to go.

We needed to see a warrior duchess* and her brave, bold, handsome prince join hearts and hands to advance humanitarian efforts around the world. Their selection of “Stand By Me” took on an added layer of meaning in that light.

Of course there were critics castigating them for spending that much on a wedding in the face of today’s plagues on society. The wedding and receptions were paid for by the Windsors. Meghan paid for her own dress. The balance of the cost was for security, and that came in at around $43 million. That’s rather staggering in total, but if you divide it by  the population of the UK (66,529,896), it comes out to less than a dollar a person. Considering that the Queen and company are a huge attraction, the tourists will get it paid for shortly.

Two days later, I’m back in the groove of tweeting on social issues, doing what I can to promote Lauren Underwood for my next congress rep (I gave up on Randy Hultgren. His apathy towards constituents and rude staffers is legion. I’d rather put my energies on Ms. Underwood). I turn over Bishop Curry’s words in my mind, hoping that love coupled with a healthy dose of action will somehow pull us out of this mess.

I wish Meghan and Harry all the best and then some, but if I had one piece of advice to give them as they go about their lives, I would remind them that they are two fantastic humans, not pizza, not tacos. Not everyone is going to like or approve of their causes. Not everyone is going to support their efforts.

May they stand by one another on this journey, and may all that is good go with them.

*Meghan will be known as HRH the Duchess of Sussex, not Princess, due to not being a royal or noble by birth and her US citizenship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T-16 and Counting

I’m much more of a New Year’s person than a Christmas person, so I count the days until then. Not wishing them away by any means, just counting them.

Today started wet and dreary. Oakley followed me upstairs and went back to bed while I took my shower. He has play group this afternoon, so I’m not concerned over the lack of walking. I filled his treat ball with teeny tiny turkey treats. We both are happy. He gets some noms; I find it amusing to watch him bat the ball with his nose and paws to release the freeze-dried chunks of turkey. We ride for Ms. Lanette’s at 11:45.

While he weaves around the coffee table in pursuit of the ball, I’m countering the chill with a pot of rustic pear and apple sauce. “Rustic” is code for chunky and unpeeled. I had a bag of pears on the brink, so I salvaged most of them and put them into the pot with a couple of apples. Dash of salt. Sprinkle of cinnamon. We wait for them to break down. Shouldn’t be too long.

Christmas will be nice. On the day itself I’ll be joining friends for chili and trimmings. Two days later will be the gathering of the clan.

And then we have New Year’s. We had so many releases this year, including Hubby’s leap into retirement. It will be good to get there, to see who and what await. One of my friends and I will be meeting on January 1 to create vision boards for 2016–the kind that you look to for goal setting and clarification, not the ones you stare at in vain hopes of having your desires drop from the sky.

The pear-apple sauce smells lovely, a bit like the scent of childhood holiday memories and the way that advertisers want you to think Christmas smells. Oakley is saving his energy for an afternoon of play with his friends, snoring away next to me.

The New Year is coming, and will arrive when it gets here. In the meantime, this is a pretty nice place to be.

 

Choosing Peace

Some years ago, I did the lessons in A Course in Miracles. It’s a year long spiritual self-study course with daily exercises.  The lessons: 1. love and fear are the two basic emotions and 2. only love is real. The rest is an illusion, and it’s up to you to see the love and the peace beyond it.

One of the exercises was an affirmation that I’ve been using a lot these days: I can see peace instead of this. Chanting it to myself keeps me saner than I might be otherwise in the face of world and local events.

At noon, I just wanted to check the weather. I turned the TV on, and turned it off again as quickly when the music in the key of urgency alerted viewers to breaking news about the latest high school lock down. I think I’ll stick with weather.gov  and the NPR and BBC websites for news instead of sitting through twenty to thirty minutes of disasters, acts of violence, and celebrity misbehavior.

Excuse me…we interrupt this entry to bring you Vivaldi’s Lute Concerto in D. Please chill for the next six minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5sbgMv6db4

Now, let us return to our regularly scheduled blog entry. Thank you.

It’s been rainy today. Oakley’s snores fill the spaces between the rattle of raindrops on the windows. Oakley wants peace, too.  This past summer, he did his part by reaching out to Sonny the cat:11792155_1047020835315903_4900873125049669005_o.jpg

photo courtesy Lanette Yingling,  Mid-Day Play Pet Services

I’m doing mine by making choices to create inner peace with gentle music, meditation and prayer, and using the above-mentioned affirmation. And limiting social media time. I can’t do much personally about world conflict, and can’t do much about strife on FaceBook, but I can and will create tranquility in my home through the use of music, candles, and incense.

Maybe it won’t make much of an impact on the world at large, but we can provide refuge for ourselves and all who enter here.

 

 

Sunday Programme Thoughts

What is it about Sunday and TV from the UK? I watched the Fry and Laurie adaptation of “Jeeves and Wooster” on Sunday some years ago, and “Last of the Summer Wine” and most people’s gateway drug to British TV, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

I get urges to watch shows about Queen Elizabeth and her family on Sunday nights. Much of the time I’m watching my beloved “International Mystery” on MHz, but when possible or when the mystery in question is too gory for my taste, some tidbit for royal watchers provides the cherry on the weekend’s icing. Or a show about one of the great manor houses of nobility. This week’s fix will have to be delayed until Thursday when a new show about the rivalry between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana will premier.

My darling Netflix is kind enough to provide options during dry seasons on PBS. I finally was able to watch “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” in its entirety earlier this year. It was produced in the late ’60’s when I was in first grade and, well, you know about that pesky bedtime issue.

“Downton Abbey” came late to me. Pleasant to see that it was worthy of the hype it’s generated. I watched on a Tuesday, stumbling into the kitchen with Daisy and Mrs. Patmore and company on a night when the mystery of evening on the other channel opened with a suspect using a chainsaw to carve up a victim. I changed the channel as fast as I could, and watched the genteel world unfold before me. (Note: I’m up to the point in season two where Matthew and Mary are trying to conceive, and Ethel is putting her life back together, and they’re all stumbling in the aftermath of Sybil’s–oh, if you’ve not watched it, I won’t spoil that for you.)

So with evening tea in hand, I shall take my place on the sofa, noble companion at my side, and step through the TV into a kinder, gentler world even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Monday Potpourri

Oakley scared me this morning. He left food in his bowl, which doesn’t happen very often. Then I realized that I had committed the unforgivable transgression of incorrectly layering the egg, pumpkin, and goat kefir in the bowl before mashing them together. An additional dollop of goat sauce (what it’s called around here) earned my way back into his favor. 

Drinking green jasmine tea. It’s one of the few greens that I enjoy, as is gunpowder green. Gunpowder green has roasted notes and the wow factor of unfurling itself into the full leaves when the water hits it. Very cool to watch. 

Hubby came home, so I’ve been cooking. Scrambled eggs yesterday; almond and coconut flour muffins this morning. Turkey cutlets with rosemary, but do I want to do a rosemary and mushroom or orange sauce? After three weeks of cooking for himself, he really appreciates my culinary efforts and likely doesn’t care.  I’m leaning towards the orange sauce. I have some oranges that need to be used up.

On this day in 1536, Anne Boleyn was beheaded. A note of Tudor nerdiness for the day. Other than wearing black and watching the episode of “The Tudors” where she meets her fate, nothing planned. 

So we go on to this week.

 

 

 

 

What’s Bringing You Joy Today?

Some years ago, I was in a journal group with about seven other women. One’s standard greeting involved a hug and the inquiry “What’s bringing you joy today?”

I’m choosing to focus on that. Struggling at times, but choosing to focus on joy, schlocky as it may sound.

Last night, a Facebook PM brought bad news about M, a classmate I’ve not been in touch with since graduation. Yet another cancer diagnosis, which grows very old, indeed. Today, Hubby is in a heated conversation with a coworker. I have Folk Alley cranked pretty high, and he’s still getting through. 

Still, there is joy in here. I’m working on staying in the moment, and having success today. Oakley is assisting me as I write this post. I just had a cup of lemongrass-coconut-vanilla green tea. Lunch will be delicious, I’m sure. We had a good walk this morning. It’s still early, so more joy is on the way.

I wish and hope the same for M. I have no way of getting in touch with her, and not being able to send cookies or drop off a casserole frustrates me to no end.  Her life turned out very differently from mine, leading her to an isolated community in the Colorado high country with her husband and seven children. She became involved with a religion that I frankly do not get while we were in college. I hope that she’s finding comfort and meaning in her faith and support from her church as this journey unfolds. 

Most of all, I wish her joy. 

Bringing Out the Low-Glycemic/Gluten Free Heavy Artillery

This morning’s walk was one of the most gawd-awful ones taken in my dog ownership career. Oakley and I went to the forest preserve located on the major east-west road by the house. Not such a good idea when one wonders if the neighbors’ cows will fly through the yard. 

In advance of an approaching system, the wind had kicked up to an alleged 22 miles per hour with gusts up to 35. More like sustained 35 and gusts of Katrina level. The road runs through several open fields, and snow had blown over it, made it look and feel like a blizzard. Still, I thought, we both need to walk, so off we went.

I didn’t know which circle of hell awaited us until we arrived in the parking lot. The trail was half-snowed in, and tricky to walk on in cross trainers, especially when Oakley kept trying to protect me from the wind by sitting and planting himself or cutting in front of me to stop us from walking into it. For a few moments, I wondered how I’d ended up on the beach near campus in Marquette, Michigan. The 50 mph headwinds that blast from Canada and gather steam over Lake Superior feel very much like the ones that numbed me into survival mode today, the ones that I deliberately ran into screaming my head off when the stress of school weighed me down and I wanted to shut down my mind for a few moments for the sake of clarity. 

After reassuring Oaks that I had it and that I knew what we were doing, sort of, in a gooey tone, my survival instincts took us back to the car and picked our way home with out incident. Hubby was on a break, and made me tea to help me thaw out. The smokiness of lapsang souchong makes everything seem warmer. I made soup for him after my brain’s higher functions melted.

This weather calls for some serious comfort food. I went shopping yesterday, so save for a couple of incidentals, we are set for this round of growth experiences. I found a recipe for shepherd’s pie with cauliflower standing in for the potatoes. That will be for dinner tonight. 

This is a good time to experiment with low glycemic variations on dishes that ward off the cold. I’ve seen ones that use sweet potato as a substitute for higher glycemic ingredients (sweet potato lasagne fascinates and repels me simultaneously), but the ones  starring cauliflower resonate with me in a more positive way. Likely because of the color and texture, and they lack the note of desperation sung by sweet potatoes in savory applications. They go well with Indian and Thai curries as a stand in for rice, but I can’t imagine it as a substitute for pasta. 

Pasta or no, we need comfort on days like this. So alternative comforts, combined with good music and something on Netflix tonight we shall have.

     

A Trieste on Imported Foods

At this writing, I have a jar of rose petal jam in the fridge. It comes from Poland. The ingredients: rose petals, sugar, water, and pectin. Nothing else. Wondering if Queen Elizabeth II feels as regal as I do when I see it on the shelf, but no qualms about what’s in it. 

While there are some places I won’t buy imports from due to detrimental trade agreements, a work culture based on human rights abuses, or blatant lack of regulations, there are just times when the product just works better than its counterparts from the US. 

As I mentioned above, jam. Most US companies use HFCS in theirs. The imports from Europe use good ol’ sugar as a sweetener. I like EcoFarm from Poland and Bonne Maman from France.

From India comes some premade meals sold under various labels and available at Trader Joe’s and Caputo’s. The ones I get come in a vacuum pack, and have a limited ingredient list, usually just a legume, tomatoes, maybe another veg, and some cream in some cases. And salt.  

Tea? I get Trader Joe’s Irish breakfast blend or Tetley’s British blend. If I can get to an Indian or Middle Eastern store, I get Lipton Yellow Label. The latter is widely available in Europe, but can be tough to find in the US. Oh, but it’s worth it–it bears no resemblance to the Lipton tea that you grew up with.

I’ve never found fish sauce, Thai curry paste, or some of the other typical Southeast Asian condiments that were made in the US. So I double check to make sure they come from places that fit my criteria for food production standards.

Most importantly, make sure it wasn’t made in China. With that in mind, venture forth boldly.

 

 

 

 

 

Tea: The Concise History

Ok, you caught me. I’m a royal watcher. 

I have an extra browser window open to BBC’s website to watch events unfolding in London. The Duchess of Cambridge was trundled off to the hospital at about midnight my time (now about 10:45 as I tap the keys). My guess is that she’s at the stage of labor where Prince William needs to stay close enough to hold her hand but far enough away to prevent her from doing any damage. 

So while we wait, let us contemplate that most British of institutions, tea. Not the green stuff, not herbal infusions, but real deal black tea.  Steeped for five minutes and served with a splash of milk. Or cold infused. But it has to be real tea. 

Tea was discovered many years ago in China when leaves fell into a wise person’s cup as he meditated. He found the resulting infusion delicious, and the beverage’s popularity spread through Asia. 

Dutch traders brought tea from Indonesia in the mid-1600’s, not too long before coffee arrived through Austria courtesy of the Turks. Tea made its way up to what we now know as the UK and took hold as the beverage of choice. It was perceived as a more wholesome alternative to coffee thanks to men who went to coffee houses which were fronts for brothels. They returned home without the energy or desire to perform their husbandly duties and blamed it on the coffee. The wives accepted the explanation without question, at least verbally, and banned coffee from their homes.

Tea the late afternoon ritual was started by another duchess in the 1800’s. At the time, dinner wasn’t served until eight or nine at night. She needed a little something about 4:30, 5:ish and requested a pot of tea and a little bread and butter. The cookies, cakes, and finger sandwiches were added over time.

Today, tea is the most widely drunk beverage in the world. Not surprising. Its effects are more subtle than coffee’s thanks to the lower caffeine content. Coffee’s roasting process also causes the formation of alkyd compounds that can impact moods the way caffeine can. Tea offers more comfort. The catch phrase “A cup of tea will fix anything” rings true, at least for one hypersensitive food blogger I can name.

So while the world waits, we raise our mugs, our fine china cups, and our pots to you, Your Grace and Your Highness. Blessings to the three of you as the journey begins.