Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sometimes plants die

Almost a decade ago an older friend gave me a plant as a housewarming gift.  I loved it, but told her that I had better not take it as I had a 'black thumb'.  She gave me a very good piece of advice that today took a larger meaning for me. 
"Sometimes plants die.  It doesn't mean that you are a bad gardener.  It just means that something killed the plant.  An insect, a virus, mold, bad's usually not the gardener's fault." 
I took the plant with trepidation, but was able to keep it alive.  After that I gained more confidence that even under the care of the best gardener, sometimes plants die.  Now I willingly keep houseplants, most of which I propagated myself; I keep a small herb and flower garden as well.  And yes, sometimes plants die.  It's not my fault.  I handle it, not by turning in my garden gloves, but rather tossing the expired plant and it's potting soil into the compost bin.  Later, that plant that died gives new life to other plants. 

Today, while caring for my houseplants I realized something big.  Not only is it true that
'sometimes plants die'
but also
'sometimes plans die'
...and it's not always your fault.  External factors can affect even the best laid plans, even when you do your best and work hard.
Right now it's back to the drawing board for me.  I'm putting some things through the compost and a little while down the road, these experiences will nourish new plans and I'll be stronger for it.

Thanks Ruth.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The best thing I've ever done for my health

I know you think it's the yogasana practice, and yes, that's a close second.  But nutrition is paramount when it comes to health.  Signing up for a CSA year-round is the VERY BEST THING I have ever done for my health.  Eating locally is a hobby and a chore without a regular delivery of fresh produce to either your door or your neighborhood.  There is no local exclusive grocery store that I have found, including New Seasons.  They will all taunt you with veggies and fruit that are 'in season' like strawberries in April...from California.  There are busy times in my life that the farmers' market schedule doesn't jive with my own and what would I eat that week then? 
There is a not-so-subtle nudge to eat fresh fruits and veggies when you have a regularly scheduled influx.  Last night I was on my way home thinking, 'maybe I'll just stop for a pizza'; that idea was instantly shot down by the fact that I have greens in the fridge and I need to eat them by Thursday when the next delivery comes.  So instead I sauteed a huge amount of collards and kale and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
What's for lunch today...and most days this spring a take your own salad of lettuce, pea shoots, spinach, mustard greens, arugula, perhaps some fresh chives, radishes, home pickled beets, homemade dill pickles, and either cheese, egg or beans.  Because if I have a PB&J or go out...the food in the fridge will either go bad or I will not have room for the next shipment.
Yes, forced produce consumption has sustained me in the hardest of times.  I wouldn't do it ALL THE TIME if it weren't for the CSA.  So thank you Philly Winter Harvest for supporting me in Philadelphia, and thank you Hood River Organics for getting me through chiropractic school and my first year of doctoring.
Do something that you'll never regret and join a CSA, I promise your body will thank you and you won't miss the pizza.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The 'perfect yogini' trap

I have a confession to make, lately I have found my self in the 'perfect yogini' trap.  I think this problem stems from too much exposure to yoga 'rules'.  There are a lot of rules out there about when is appropriate to practice, and I with my slightly strange 2nd shift-ish work schedule, have been trying to adhere to:
  • Practice in the morning is best, evening second best but not starting practice past 6:30 pm.
  • Practice on an empty stomach.
  • Don't practice during your period.
  • Don't practice on moon days.
  • Don't practice on Saturdays.
  • Skip supper, go to bed early, to rise early and practice.
I have followed all of those 'don't practice' rules and always plan to practice at the appropriate times, but it just ends up being a rushed surya A and short savasana.  It seems that I have forgotten the number one rule:
and the number 2 rule:
I have grown so attached to 'the rules' that I was half-assing my actual practice!  

Inspirations led me to this understanding:
  • Halley- a friend of mine who has committed to exercising daily, even if that means heading to the gym at 11 pm on a full stomach.
  • Christina from prescribing yoga- she rolls out her mat in the on-call room at midnight.
  • TM, my patient- a beginner yogi in her 50s, she goes to yoga class 2-5x/wk every week since the week before Thanksgiving 2012, it is making EVERYTHING so much better.

After hearing from them, I resolved to ignore the rules, starting TODAY!  I remember back in graduate school I practiced 5-6 days a week at all hours of the day, period or not, and I didn't even know what a moon day was.  I had been known to occasionally roll out my yoga mat in our office a little after lunch.  That was a stressful time of my life and I got through it healthy and happy.  Now that my practice is weak I am weaker and less happy.

Today, I slept through my early alarm yet again and didn't have time to practice, again.  But today, instead of a hasty sun salutation in my pjs, I opted to skip out on morning practice.  I left work early(!), only to get stuck in rush hour that I forgot existed and got home way past 6:30pm.  What did I do?  Changed into a yoga outfit and rolled out the mat.  And do you know what, I felt better about myself and the whole world around me.  I am going back to the days before I even knew about the 'rules' and just knew that practice makes everything in life better, so make it a priority to practice more!

I am sure that these rules work well for many people, they just don't work for me right now.  Sure, I'll likely skip inverting during my period, wait a little before practicing after a big meal, and perhaps even rest on moon days...but the cardinal rule of yoga is to PRACTICE and that is the only rule that I need to adhere to.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The fruits of spring

There is nothing sweeter or more looked forward to than the first strawberry of the season.  I tasted my first while walking my dog earlier this week around the neighborhood.  One neighbor grows strawberries all through her front yard...which I could not resist when I noticed they were red and ripe!

This weekend I headed straight to Sauvie Island Farms and picked up a flat of strawberries and to Kruger's for some rhubarb.

Every year I break out the canner I fall in love with it.  I think that I have missed canning...but come tomato season I get very bitter about it, the only thing that makes me do it is that home canned tomatoes are completely unmatched by their commercial counterparts and you NEED canned tomatoes to survive winter!

So, while I'm still in love with canning, I made a small batch of rhubarb-strawberry jam.  I can never predict how much my recipe will produce, it is anywhere from 4-8 jars depending on the year.  This year the rhubarb-strawberry jam will be extra precious; I only produced 6 half-pints.

In addition I sweet-talked Dan into freezing a gallon of berries, so I am prepped for smoothies!

2013 Preservation Tally:
6 half-pints rhubarb strawberry jam
1 gallon frozen strawberries

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lonely Squash, Part 2

The squash still looms over me from the top of the fridge today.  What to do with it?  The truth is I am not going to eat it, especially when I am typically having spinach salads with radishes and chives.

The food dehydrator is a great tool.  I will puree this squash, spread it out on a plastic sheet and dehydrate it.  Dehydrated squash is a great addition to soups and stews...and it doesn't go bad.

My CSA farm is running low on supplies of stocked up fruits and veggies, as evidenced by the latest box.  I received lots of grain products:  2 loaves of bread, 2 bags of oats.  Greens and grains primarily is the theme.
This works.  A great lunch at this time of year is a sandwich containing hummus and leftover greens from dinner the night before.  Add a home-pickled beet from last fall and you have something truly special.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The lonely squash

When you have been eating primarily local foods for awhile, your meals start to look very seasonal.  Right now I am eating a lot of greens.  Salads any chance I get.  I crave them at this time of year. 
 There is some amount of storage with local eating.  Especially with the winter months.  Squash is a crop that stores well in a closet or on top of your fridge for a long time.  Thankfully, for those of us craving a fresh vegetable in January.
So now I find myself here in late April...the definition of springtime with flowers blooming everywhere and warm weather being fickle...with one lonely acorn squash on the top of my fridge.  I don't crave it, I don't want to waste it.  A nice, organic, perfectly good, squash.
I will eat it today I tell myself, because today is rainy and I want something warm and hearty.  But I've said that many times this past month and a half.
Do you have any leftover winter crops hanging around your house?  Do you have any spring recipes for acorn squash?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The yoga scene fluff

Most of my practice is at home.  I started a home practice out of necessity due to my all consuming schedule as a chiropractic student.  Now that I have time to visit studios...I still stick to keeping to my mat at home.

These days, my yoga practice is about digging deep and facing reality.  It isn't easy.  It isn't pretty.  It isn't hearts, flowers, and butterflies.  I have dabbled in meditation...which is also none of those things.  Meditation is where I face my dark side.  I need to recognize the negative and patience-less part of who I am.  This has been creeping into my yoga practice too. 

Recently, I decided to visit a yoga class in my neighborhood.  It was all peace, love, and happiness.  There was pre-practice chat about how 'lovely and wonderful' meditation is.  Which I kind of thought was complete crap.  Meditation is hard and no one 'loves' it.  There was all sorts of cozy happy talk, which just annoyed that dark side of myself that I've been facing in my practice. 

Perhaps the only place I should be practicing among others is the Mysore studio.  Even if people there are thinking hearts, butterflies, and flowers--they are keeping it to themselves. 

Have you ever been annoyed with the fluffy side of the yoga scene, or faced your darker self in your practice?