December 28, 2010

What I Do

I've always hated the question "What do you do?" It seems like the answer people are looking for is something simple, something they can use to quickly categorize me - administrative assistant, sex educator, retail salesperson - but that's never the answer I want to give. Sometimes I just say "It's complicated..." and wait for their response. Recently I've taken to saying things like "I'm marginally employed" or "I volunteer a lot" or "I am gainfully unemployed." Occasionally I'll start rattling off a list of projects and commitments (personal and otherwise) that I have on my plate at the moment, which usually includes but is not limited to Binghamton Urban Farm Project/VINES, Food Not Bombs, Southern Tier AIDS Program, knitting group, raising chickens in my backyard, and thinking about starting my own business.

I guess this relates to being a "scanner" (mentioned by my mom in this post), a term coined by Barbara Sher, author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was and Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams. I have so many hobbies and interests and projects it often feels impossible to represent myself in a nutshell or elevator spiel. It's also not uncommon for someone to be extremely surprised by some aspect of who I am (former sex-shop employee, former vegan,  farmer, world traveler, hunter, knitter, rock climber, etc.) based on knowing certain other things about me.

This also challenges me when it comes to getting to know new people - not just how to represent myself accurately but also how best to tease out the important stuff about them, which that question "what do you do?" usually fails to bring out. Sometimes I ask about hopes and dreams, but a lot of people are reluctant to talk about those in casual conversation. I've had limited success in asking new acquaintances what they are passionate or excited about. Sometimes I just bring up political or social issues and ask them their views.

I'll write more about some of the specific things I do in future posts, but I imagine this is something I will continue to struggle with.

What about you? Do you have a good way to represent yourself quickly in an elevator or at a party? How do you best get to know others in more than a superficial way?

December 27, 2010

Monday's Inspiration – December 27

A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow. From my own personal experience, it can be a catalyst for enriching your life. -- Ali Edwards
Some people recommend choosing a theme for a new year. I find that inspirational. The theme should be succinct. What is my focus, my intention for the year -- in one word?

For me, the One Word serves, depending on the day and my mood, as a filter, a mantra, or a pep talk. On days when I am floundering or feel overwhelmed by the length of my to-do list, if I reflect on my One Word I choose better, I make sure I add some task – no matter how small -- that connects me with my One Word, with focus and intention.

In past years I’ve done this informally, by myself without sharing the concept or word with others, but without a specific plan, my focus was somewhat haphazard. Sometimes I’d remember to return to my word, sometimes I’d forget about it for weeks or months. In the past I choose active encouraging words – words that to me had flow and movement – like The Year of Vitality, or Creativity, or Exploration. And our sabbatical (June 2008 – May 2009) was titled The Dream Year.

This year I’ve decided I could use some inspiration and encouragement …and have signed up for an online workshop titled One Little Word offered by Ali Edwards (author of the above quote) at Big Picture Scrapbooking. Here’s how Ali describes the class:
I plan to bring my word into my life more consciously and concretely and make it more visible by creating an album to hold my thoughts, challenges and inspirations. You're invited to join me on this journey.
Each month you'll receive an email and an invitation to visit the One Little Word classroom. Inside the classroom, you'll find a gentle reminder message, encouragement to refocus, and a simple creative project to complete related to your word. At the end of the year you'll have an album that celebrates and honors your word - making it that much more concrete and visible in your life.
I’m looking forward to it. And, with some hesitation,  my word for 2011 is Aging.
Perhaps not as active or expansive as my former themes. With Aging I want to consciously explore the changes in my thoughts and feelings, plans and questions about Turning 60.

Hope you join me on this journey…formally or informally.
What’s your One Little Word for 2011?

December 20, 2010

Winter Greens!

My dad and I have been experimenting with extending our growing/eating season for fresh veggies. Most of the information we have used comes from Eliot Coleman's excellent books, including The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses and Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.

A page from Four Season Harvest showing a sketch of a cabbage stalk sprouting in a bucket inside.

This is how it turns out in real life! 

I have a cabbage stalk sprouting in my apartment (I cut the stalk off the cabbage and planted it in a bucket of potting soil), and I have been eating the leaves on sandwiches. There is not much greenery, but it helps satisfy my urge for fresh greens.

Also on the sandwich are Tofu Kan (a local baked marinated tofu which I love), local cheese (Baby Rand from CNY Bounty), hummus (leftover from Food Not Bombs), canned banana peppers (store bought), and our own homegrown carrots. The carrots did amazingly well this year - growing huge, keeping a good flavor, and storing well so far, in both the ground and the fridge.

Monday's Inspiration - Dec 20

Reading online, clicking links, finding sites that aggregate -- that have done the work for me, to find diverse resources that I can peruse for education and entertainment especially online resources that I might not have found by myself.
A waste of time?? Yes, certainly sometime. And I can be a couch-computer-surfer in the same stereotypic way as a TV couch-potato.
But this is fun...
Here are two sites I find interesting.

The tagline is "create, propagate, motivat" and they highlight a Word section that describes itself as
"Weekday distractions, inspirations, and the rediculous," (yes, their intentional change of spelling)


Brain Pickings

Their tagline is "Curating eclectic interestingness from culture's collective brain."

We believe that in order to improve or even fully understand a concept (or product, or idea, or argument), you have to first understand all the little pieces that surround it. Pieces across art, design, music, technology, philosophy, religion, politics, philanthropy, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, anthropology, ecology, you-name-itology. Pieces that make your original concept stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful.

This is Brain Pickings. It’s about tidbits of stuff that inspires, revolutionizes, or simply makes us think. It’s about innovation and authenticity and all those other things that have become fluff phrases but don’t have to be. Mostly, it's about ideas — revolutionary new ideas that no one has seen or thought of before, and old ideas that most have seen, but no one has thought of in this way before. Because the cross-pollination of ideas is what allows us to harness our own creativity by building a fascinating, diverse, relentlessly inspiring library of other people’s.

And, yes, despite the pageantry fluff of it, we do all want to “make the world a better place.”

You can also follow them on facebook...which means you'll get headlines and links in an easy succinct format.


December 13, 2010

Monday's Inspiration - Dec 13

 I am inspired by...reflecting on the past year and thinking about hopes and goals for the new one approaching.
And I like pithy questions or writing prompts to help me.
 In that vein,
have you heard about reverb10?
Via email or their website, there are daily end-of-the-year writing prompts. Simple questions that you can pass on by or stop and muse for awhile.

Here is how they describe themselves...
Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. With Reverb 10 - and the 31 prompts our authors have created for you - you'll have support on your journey.
I especially liked this one posted recently:

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? 
(written by Author: Sam Davidson 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need)

I'm thinking....what about you? Anything come to mind immediately?

December 10, 2010

Local Cheese Showdown!

At Thanksgiving, we had a local cheese showdown - three NY cheeses vs. three Wisconsin cheeses (local to a visiting relative) plus homemade crackers and local apple slices.
 And the winner of the showdown is...
 All of us! (Because we all got to eat a bunch of really delicious cheese.) The crowd favorite was the 15-year-old cheddar (WI). I was a big fan of the aged raw milk cheddar which tasted more like parmigiano (WI) and the baby rand (NY). They were all super tasty though.
We all had a great time!

December 7, 2010

TV and Movie Diet

I just finished a one month TV and movie diet. Originally I was going to do a fast (as in no TV or movies for one month) but that seemed unrealistic, so I set some conditions - it's OK to watch TV or movies with other people (so if it has some sort of social component) or if I am feeling sick. I took advantage of these exceptions a few times, going out to the movies with friends once, and watching a few TV episodes and a movie with friends on 3 or 4 occasions. I also had two days during which I was not feeling well and allowed myself carte blanche to watch whatever junk I wanted.

Overall it felt really good. The idea was not that all TV or movies are bad, just that I tend to get sucked in and watch more than I want to once I get started. Sometimes they are a good way to decompress and when I am watching them I am entertained, but often when they end I feel a little crappy - sometimes headachey, not energetic but also not sleepy, not inspired, and unsure what to do next. Other things I do to decompress - reading, writing, doodling, knitting, going outside, physical activity, dancing, hanging out with friends - engage me more and make me feel better not just during, but at the completion of the activity. I feel like my time was well spent, which is not usually a feeling I have after watching TV or movies. So I wanted to create more of those feelings in my life, and also make more space and time for engaged and potentially creative time.

The other piece of it is that I am a fairly busy person and I wanted to make more time in my life for certain things, especially creative pursuits. While I want to make sure I allow myself time to veg out and decompress when needed, there are several activities that fill that need while still bringing out my creative side.

Overall, I feel like this "diet" was a success. I stayed within my guidelines and felt better about the way I spent my time. I still felt like I was taking care of myself, but had more time for reading, writing, knitting, and other things I enjoy. I intend to continue this diet with occasional exceptions or "treats" and am thinking about imposing some sort of restrictions on my computer/internet usage as well.

My mom does something similar by going "computer-free" one day per week. There are a number of bloggers out there that have similar computer or electronics policies (check out here and here).

Do you impose any restrictions on your technology usage?

December 6, 2010

Monday's Inspiration

I love lists and I like reading about what others find here's today's choice. Written by a man from India - isn't the internet a great connector? And check out the last one on the list -- follow the link -- it IS funny.

What do you find inspiring?
What shakes you out of the winter doldrums?

Life isn't always hunky dory. No matter how good we are at what we do, and how well we plan things out, we do get stuck. That's when we need inspiration - inspiration to move on, to do what we are supposed to do, to start something new, to build what we were trying to build...inspiration to carry on with life.

This article has a number of tips to help you find inspiration. They are written keeping in mind everyone who's stuck at something, doesn't matter what it is, is looking to get inspired. Hope you find some of them useful.

1. Talk to someone you love.

2. Watch a kid play. Watch how he lives in the present, enjoying every moment.

3. Watch a movie.

4. Read a book.

5. Read an inspirational story.

6. Watch a TED video that inspires.

7. Watch a Youtube video that inspires.

8. Recall great moments from past.

9. Think about the things you are good at.

10. Strike up a conversation on Twitter.

11. Connect with someone on Facebook.

12. Join a LinkedIn Group.

13. Browse through Flickr photos that inspire.

14. Check out's Big Picture.

15. Listen to music.

16. Attend a music concert.

17. Get back to that sport you stopped playing.

18. Read an autobiography.

19. Read about the life of your favorite sportstar.

20. Read about successes and failures.

21. Read about underdogs who overcame.

22. Find a date.

23. Get married and start a family.

24. Draw something.

25. Read about something you've never read.

26. Visit a place you've never visited.

27. Learn a language you thought you could never learn.

28. Get some inspirational wallpapers for your computer.

29. Read some inspirational quotes.

30. Take a walk.

31. Go on a long hike with a group of people.

32. Call up your old friends and relatives.

33. Sing out loudly.

34. Join a dance club.

35. Use StumbleUpon.

36. Go out with your camera and click some pictures.

37. Scour through the archives of your favorite websites.

38. Write anything. Don't think, just write as the thoughts come.

39. Meditate in solitude.

40. Spend some time with nature.

41. Break your routine. Do something unexpected.

42. Read poetry.

43. Watch a play.

44. Explore religion.

45. Exercise. Do yoga.

46. Scour through Delicious.

47. Watch the sunrise and sunset.

48. Volunteer for a noble cause.

49. Help someone with a task.

50. Teach and share knowledge.

51. Create a blog on Blogger or Wordpress.

52. Get started with Tumblr or Posterous.

53. Play with your pet.

54. Cook something amazing.

55. Celebrate a festival you've never celebrated.

56. Camp in the woods for a few days.

57. Form a new habit.

58. Quit something you've always been trying to quit.

59. Take part in a marathon.

60. Listen to what people around you have to say.

61. Remember, only Google has the answer to life, the universe and everything. ;)

December 4, 2010

Winter Feast for the Soul - will you be meditating in 2011?

Rebecca and I are women of many projects...we are what Barbara Sher has termed Scanners (a topic we will be writing more about in the coming months).
Both of us also like to look plan projects and at times commit ourselves to challenges and to join larger efforts for inspiration and community. One of our mutual interests is meditation and cultivating a sitting practice.

Last year we wrote about Winter Feast for the Soul       
 which is now an annual 40-day worldwide spiritual/meditation practice.
It is suggested that participants meditate for 40 minutes daily from January 15 - February 23, 2010.
The website is full of related news and resources and during the specified time period they add various free online audios and visuals.

But I know myself...I'd like to return to a meditation practice, just sitting quietly on most days of the week, of the month. I don't want to commit myself to 40 days and 40 minutes.
So I will join in -- peripherally
and use this wonderful program for inspiration.
A reasonable goal for me is 20 minutes on 4 or 5 days a week.

That's one of my goals for the upcoming New Year.
What about you?

What are you doing in the New Year?- Winter Feast for the Soul

  • To create an annual worldwide period of spiritual practice for people of all faiths to come together in prayer and meditation.
  • To support people around the world in finding inner peace in their lives through the creation of a daily spiritual practice.
  • To recognize that every person and every group is entitled to their own unique form of expression of these goals and is encouraged to practice them without discrimination.
  • To work toward a global consciousness of peace.
A Winter Feast for the Soul was born from the inspiration founder Valerie Skonie received through a line from a Rumi poem:
"What nine months does for the embryo,
forty early mornings will do for
your growing awareness."
In its first year in 2008, the event gathered about 150 people in the Wood River Valley and beyond who committed to a 40-day meditation period organized by Skonie, with help from the Light On The Mountains Spiritual Center, in Sun Valley, Idaho. The idea grew beyond her wildest dreams. People in various cities took up the idea. Even the Iranian press wrote about what was happening in Sun Valley. Soon, people from 29 countries had committed to the second annual event in 2009.
The success of the third annual event in 2010 shows participation numbers have more than doubled around the world.
  • We estimate the number of participants doubled over that of the 2009 Feast, reaching totals of about 20,000 people worldwide.
  • Our Children’s Feast for the Soul found its way into countless schools and homes around the world.
  • Our Prison Outreach program found its way to prisoners in state and federal incarceration centers throughout the United States.
  • We expanded our Online Meditation offerings to include:
    • Christian Contemplative Prayer
    • Insight Buddhist Meditation
    • New Thought Meditation
    • Tibetan Buddhist Meditation
    • Universal Interdenominational Meditation
    • Four Minutes of Stillness for Young Children
    • 15 minutes of Stillness for Older Children and Teens.
    The response to the online meditations was overwhelming! A total of nearly 35,000 downloads of these meditations was tabulated during the 2010 Winter Feast and the meditations continue to be used daily since then.
    Listen to the 2010 Winter Feast Mediations Here
  • Our Web Traffic has doubled over that of 2009.
  • Our Daily Inspirational Quotes for the forty-day Feast were translated into Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish by volunteers from around the world.
Charter for Compassion, Dharmata Foundation, Companions for the Silent Journey, Global Coherence Initiative, Oneness Experience, Rising Tide International, Sun Valley Film Festival, Children of the Sun
His Holiness the Dalai Llama, Anam Thubten Rinpoche, Deepak Chopra, the Episcopal Third Order of St. Francis, Scripps Institute of Alternative Medicine, Andrew Harvey, James O’Dea, and Coleman Barks.

November 30, 2010

I love my IPAD but....

I am tech ambivalent...I love my tech toys Apple iPad MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi)

and at times yearn to evolve into The TechnoCrone...
I'd be similar to a number of writers of financial blogs and columns, the ones who tell you how bad off they have been and how they have overcame the obstacles to now have a fortune....I will tell you all the amusing and not-so-amusing anecdotes about troubles loading my cellphone or about when I was a computer newbie and ignorant of keyboard functions and shortcuts and literally retyped a hundred of the same email to students in a class of mine!

But at the moment I am focusing on the downside of our tech toys...the social and environmental realities.
Some of the facts are horrifying. The materials that are used to create our phones and e-readers and the like are made with what is called "rape minerals."

In that light, I suggest you click on this link to read a recent Huffington Post column written by actress-activist Ashley Judd.

November 8, 2010

Inspired by...

the fall foliage, and the interaction between natural and man-made objects.


What inspires you to take your camera out?

Volunteer Work – Around the World

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my chosen activities and the worth of them – to me and to the world. I feel blessed with right livelihood – my work as a psychotherapist allows be to connect and help a variety of people and to continue to learn from my clients. But after turning 60, I became antsy to do “something more.” Simply, to be helping on a larger scale, expanding my world and helping to change it in positive ways. Here’s some of the ways I’ve found to do this.

After reading the very powerful book, Half the Sky my friend Eve was moved to organize a local giving circle. During our first two dynamic meetings, we have declared the goals as  educating others about the oppression of women around the world - sexual discrimination, sex slavery, illiteracy, and lack of health care.

 Our initial outreach will be leading a discussion about the book, Half the SkyHalf the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Vintage), at Greentoad, the wonderful indie bookstore in Oneonta. Join us there on Thursday December 9 at 7 PM. 

And in our desire to financially contribute and fund raise for international programs, we are aligning ourselves with a national organization, Dining for Women.

Recently I also have had the privilege of working directly in an international volunteer program – and, in this age of wonders, without leaving my home.
Through the work of Gail Straub (who Rebecca mentioned in the previous posting),  a wonderful woman activist for world peace and personal empowerment, I was able to apply for a mentor position with the organization World Pulse.

World Pulse sponsors the Voices of the Future (Web 2.0, Citizen Journalism and Empowerment Training Program) program. 

Voices of Our Future is an online training program investing in women's ability to use new technology and media to share their stories and innovative solutions with the world.
Here's the description of the program:

World Pulse and program partners the Press Institute, the OpEd Project, and the Empowerment Institute provide training in web 2.0, citizen journalism and mentoring to empower a new generation of grassroots women leaders to raise their voices, promote their visions for change and become leaders for their communities.
Nearly 600 women from 87 countries applied for the second annual year of Voices of Our Future. It was difficult to select only 30, but we are pleased to announce the 2010 Voices of Our Future Correspondents below. These women have demonstrated the voice, vision and solutions oriented writing that World Pulse seeks to nurture.

Over a five month period, each of the correspondents is paired with a “Editorial Midwife” and a "Mentor" – I am in the latter group. We receive teleconference and written training on how best to connect with the correspondents. And via email and Skype, we will learn more about each other, about our respective countries, and the social and personal challenges that we face. I hope to provide support and encouragement for the young woman I am working with to help her to stay on track with the writing modules and writing assignments that are the base of the program. 

 Readers -- Are you familiar with links? Do you know that if you click on any of the highlighted names above (or these e.g. World Pulse or Greentoad) that your computer will be forwarded to those websites -- for more information? Try it -- you might like it)

I am very excited about these activities. 
I have -- and will continue -- to participate in some local efforts. Two examples:
I did volunteer at the local elementary school for awhile. Although I found it pleasant to read with some of the individual students, I was disappointed that there was no coordination of the program and no connection with other volunteers. 
I am also on a grant committee for the local community foundation -- I enjoy the great meetings -- but they are only twice a year -- and appreciate the many regional programs that they support.

And curious -- what volunteer activities do you think are worth your time and energy? What challenges do you face in choosing or participating? Has that changed over time?

November 6, 2010

Meditation Inspiration - Gail Straub

Constant busyness is a form of violence.
I acknowledge that too much busyness steals my
capacity for compassion toward both myself and others.

Circle of Compassion: Meditations for Caring - For the Self and the World

Overextending myself is sometimes tempting... there is so much important work to be done. What I tend to forget is that when I don't take the time to care for myself, I have less to share with others too. This book is an excellent reminder for me of the importance of always seeking a balance in my life ... between work and personal, activity and quiet, company and solitude, what I do for others and what I do for myself.

October 30, 2010

Defeated by Mini-Vampires

Vampires are in, right? Featured in best-sellers and blockbusters.
But what I consider vampires real-time cousins are also rising to fame.
Initially I thought they were just making the rounds of NYC hotels but I’ve learned that there have been celebrity sightings in a United Nations conference room, Lincoln Center, Chicago schools, a 30 Rock TV show episode, Abercrombie and Fitch,
Bloomingdale's, Bill Clinton’s office, and at least one Victoria’s Secret store. Of course, what I am referring to is...BEDBUGS.

From a recent news report:
New York City's bedbugs have climbed out of bed and marched into landmarks causing fresh anxiety among tourists who are canceling vacations planned for the height of the holiday season.
I am embarrassed to say that I am one of the defeated crowd. Following discussions and ruminations, I just canceled my upcoming trip to NYC. Although I really wanted to meet my brother and sister-in-law (who live in FL) in the city and also because I don't like my anxiety to lead my decisions, I just can’t do it.

After all I have first-hand experience. During the summer when I was 9 years old, I started getting welts all over my body. It took awhile for a correct diagnosis to be made – first the doctors thought I was allergic to sand fleas. They told my mom that I was probably getting bitten at day camp. There was no discussion about my not going to day camp until the bites subsided. I was packed off on the bus daily...and told to spray myself all over with bug repellant – It was me who got repelled. To this day I can’t stand the odor of that spray.

And I didn’t realize that I still hold on to the childhood trauma until a few weeks ago when a close friend casually mentioned the NYC bedbug infestation. When I told her that I had scheduled a trip there she mentioned the online “bedbug registry.” People are reporting hotels where bedbugs have been sighted.

So, when I was a kid, after months of itchy welts, the doctor finally figured out that those were bedbug bites. The stuff of nightmares – those nocturnal parasites, small insects that feed on human blood (yes, vampirish!). Hard to detect, they lurk and linger (they can live for several weeks or months without food or water) and are hard to get rid of....and once you have them you will need an exterminator to get rid of them.

The hotel I was going to stay at was not (yet?) on the bedbug list....but after googling the subject and reading the reports...that these crafty stalking insects are everywhere.
Please don’t come to my door tomorrow night dressed as a BedBug. No telling what treatment you might get.

Would you stay in a NYC hotel – or not? What infestations or epidemics would curb your travel plans?

October 28, 2010

Presto Change-o, Abracadabra

Q: What happens when you swap four roosters (purported to be hens)...

...for four actual hens?

A: A lot less crowing and little bit of tasty magic:

October 18, 2010

What Mothers and Daughters Do

My mom asked me to write a mother-daughter post about something we do together, so I was thinking about what mothers and daughters do together and in particular what this mother and daughter do together.

Here's a partial list:

we support each other

we press each other's buttons and get on each other's nerves

we teach each other things

we disagree about some things and agree about others

we have tea together

we recommend books to each other

we give each other attitude

we laugh together (now a lot more than we used to)

we give sometimes harsh but usually constructive feedback on each other's writing

we shoot guns together!

we argue with each other

we both use pretty vintage hankies and show them off to each other

we love each other

October 13, 2010

Restaurant Review - China Lake

Last Saturday, Dan and I ate at China Lake, our new favorite restaurant in the Binghamton area. China Lake is located at 3215 E. Main St in Endicott. The atmosphere is nothing special and the service can be spotty (best not to wait for menus if it's busy, just grab 'em yourself from next to the register), but the food is definitely worth it! I also like that the food is so good it seems to break down certain normal social barriers... every time we go it seems people are talking to people at the next table - about how good the food is, about their favorite dishes, or the best ordering strategy.
China Lake has two menus -  a longer one with the usual American Chinese classics, and a shorter one-page menu with more traditional Chinese options. We have enjoyed dishes from both menus, but I am partial to the traditional menu and recommend trying dishes you are not familiar with. I also recommend going with a group of people so you can taste several dishes.
Failing that, plan to order more dishes than your party needs and take home the leftovers. This visit, we followed that strategy and ordered four dishes plus an appetizer for the two of us - steamed dumplings, home-style bean curd, three flavored chicken, pork lo mein, and pea shoots (listed on the menu as sweet pea leaf, I believe).
The dumplings were decent but nothing exciting, for an appetizer I recommend the beef scallion pancake. The bean curd was delicious, and just the right texture too, with a good assortment of veggies. Next time I'd skip the lo mein and order something else from the traditional menu. Dan's favorite was the three flavored chicken, which is cooked in small chunks on the bone with a sesame-based sauce flavored with garlic, ginger, basil, and some secret tasty ingredients (the proprietress would not divulge). The pea shoots were my favorite dish - cooked just the right amount and not too strongly flavored so the natural taste of the greens came through. I would be inclined to order these next time if I hadn't committed myself to ordering my way through their entire list of veggie options.
Although if I get enough people to accompany me next time, I can have my pea shoots and eat some other traditional Chinese veggies too. Who'd like to join me?

October 6, 2010

Fall Travels

The first longer-than-a-weekend trip in the Roadtrek since our return from the Dream Year  in June 2009. How I missed it, how much I enjoy it. Drove south via Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. Camping and hiking in Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smokies National Park. No schedules. Being outdoors but sleeping comfortably indoors. A nice mix, an easy pace.
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October 4, 2010

A new addition to the family...

... chickens!

First we had to build the coop...

and the run...
and then the chickens arrived! 

We have 4 Barred Plymouth Rock hens, though one of them has been crowing like a rooster some mornings. They are about 5 months old and have not started laying eggs yet, but hopefully they will soon. We wanted them for the eggs, but they are also quite entertaining. Dan spends hours out there just watching them scratch and peck and then chase each other around over scraps of food. Definitely better than TV.

September 23, 2010

Rural Music

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Now that summer has officially ended, I am reflecting on the local events that mean summer to me.
One summer tradition is The Bainbridge Old Time Band concerts. Only one-hour long, three to four times each summer, outside if the weather is good, and always associated with desserts and church-fundraisers. The season usually begins with a Strawberry Shortcake Special. The concert pictured above happened toward the end of blueberry season...and for $2.50 I got the works. The choices included blueberry cobbler -- which I devoured, blueberry buckle, and a blueberry cake, topped with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, and garnished with a use-serve-yourself helping of blueberry sauce.
The band which has grown in size since the first time I heard them...used to play from the small gazebo at the other end of the now up to 15 players. The evening's program included marches and waltzes and a medley of Scottish tunes sandwiched between the national anthem and God Bless America. Folding chairs, caps of white-haired couples, the band leader is the local maple syrup producer and his mom leads the last tribute song.
There are many other musical offerings in this area -- people raved about the Blues festival this past weekend on the bridge in Binghamton and my family and I enjoyed the line-up at this year's Colorscape, but summer just wouldn't be summer without the Bainbridge Old Time Band.

   What events mean summer to you??

September 22, 2010

Coffee Meets Tea



Alan accompanied me on my morning walk on Sunday...and we stopped for breakfast at Henry's....which we do every few months or so. Always an interesting group of folks...hunters, clients, neighbors, city folk up for the weekend...some reading local newspapers, all eating the diner-esque food and drinking pretty dilute coffee. There are often folks sporting various caps and shirts -- not with designer logos -- but with names of favorite sports teams or hunting slogans or ??

And so while drinking my coffee I met the guy pictured, all proud of his recent participation at a Tea Party rally. His shirt says it all...of course, we disagree on most everything and then again....a few items like "I am not going to take...dependence on foreign oil." Hmmm...even if we agree on that, I am positive that we would vehemently disagree on the means to achieve it!!

And to end on local taste... you've probably seen a "ship in a bottle" before, right? A small model carefully  built and encased in glass. Well, here's the upstate equivalent....a cucumber in a plastic soda bottle. Plant a seed, give it light and moisture, and see what grows. Even if you don't appreciate the aesthetics, you may like the metaphor.

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