MKF Anniversary Tribute, Part 2

Remembering our girl, who we lost one year ago today, when she was only six years old. These are some of our favourite photos from when she was all grown up.

MK at her finest, luxuriating in a sunbeam.

MK with big brother Dude, in the brand new porch enclosure built for her.

Our girl, always full of beans. M. was in serious danger of being pounced on when he took this.

Our lovely lass with our two lovely lads, the best of friends.

MK checking out our boutiful grape harvest from August 2013.

And finally, a more sedate MK posing for M. in a sunbeam, one of her favourite spots to be.

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MKF: An Anniversary Tribute, Part One

Little Miss Kitty, first day home

Sorting through the digital boxes in the virtual attic of an old & cluttered computer may not have the same smells and dust-covered memorabilia to trigger memories the way a real attic has, but it can unleash unexpected floods of emotion all the same.

The following is a transcript of the journal entry I wrote on the very first day we brought Miss Kitty home (click on the link for the full version).

I can’t say why it’s so much easier to write (and ultimately, share) something like this than it is to give the same tribute to the human family members and friends that we’ve lost. Maybe it’s because it’s uncomplicated – no strings or baggage attached, no thorny complications. Maybe it’s because we don’t have to share her with other people, who have their own ideas of who she was, and what she meant to them. She was our girl, plain and simple – and we’ll miss her forever.

MKF – Day One (Original Journal Entry, Full Version)

- T.H.

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Give them bread and hippos

Ah, Valentine’s Day. One of those things that can turn a dark day bright when you’ve got someone to share it with. For our part, M. got a cuddly hippo (adopted through WWF) and a chocolate teddy bear (since devoured), I got a new linen tablecloth and the driveway shovelled (by someone not-me), and we reached the end of the day with all errands successfully run and two magnificent fluffy loaves of fresh-baked Anadama bread ready and waiting to be pounced on the next morning. Not bad for a recovering-from-the-ick day.

Newest family member, Zeus the hippopotamus, gets to have the first nibble.

Patience, it turns out, is the key to many doors – good home-made bread being one of them. Especially when it comes to using the sponge method. Yesterday’s adventures with baked goods saw a re-acquaintance with an old favourite (if you have the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook and haven’t tried the Anadama bread yet, do – it’s worth all the careful measuring, multiple stages and long waits in between). Normally I’m too impatient to make yeast bread, but I’ve been rediscovering the concept of patience lately, and the culinary milieu of Hippo Corner has vastly improved as a result. So it seems there are some advantages to having to constantly experiment and plan in order to stock the house with food that is (a) safe for both of us to eat, (b) nutritious enough for someone with an (involuntary) less-than-normal-calorie-intake, and (3) still yummy enough to inspire immediate consumption. (See what I did there? Take that, list sticklers!)

Fresh from the oven, late Friday evening.

Another check-mark on the plus side, is that making your own food is way cheaper than buying the pre-fab grocery store variety. Today was a pancake morning, followed by an afternoon of soup making, and baking in the evening. Hearty, home-made blended veggie soup with good thick bread to dip in it has been my salvation these last couple of weeks. Feels even better knowing that most of the ingredients involved are organic and locally sourced. Although let’s face it, yumminess and the full-belly factor are serious rivals for top tier where priorities are concerned these days. (Did I mention that the cake experiments have begun? Tonight’s gold medal goes to a mouth-watering and ridiculously easy orange-almond-Kahlua vegan sponge cake.)

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The Benevolent Stranger

Dropped by the store of the same name today, and it got me thinking….

The idea of a benevolent stranger is a compelling one – all the more so for how rare it is these days. The perception of strangers in this media-hyped era of terrorists and school shooters, disappearing kids, abused elders, and the powerful wantonly abusing said power with no attempt at subterfuge, is of someone to be wary of, to keep at a distance – an unknown quantity, capable of anything, at any time. The erroneous assumption that if someone looks and sounds like me they’re safe, while the “other” is something to be feared, makes things far worse. Because as any sane person knows, there’s zero connection between skin colour, language, accent, number of tattoos or place of birth that dictates how a person will act in any given moment.

We are all galaxies and worlds and universes on the inside, the uncountable parts comprising a whole unique in all of time and space. Opaque, to all we’ve not yet met. Which is why universal connectors like art, music, and stories are not frivolous, pointless exercises, but absolutely vital to our understanding of ourselves, and our ability to connect to that idea of “otherness” – not as a frightening, potentially deadly antagonist, but as a benevolent stranger. Something to approach with a due amount of reasonable caution, perhaps, but with mind and heart open to the idea that, at their core, each stranger is more like us than they are unlike us.

We are all human beings on the one and only habitable planet in a solar system much larger than any of us can really grasp, in an unimaginably vast galaxy, with lots and lots of empty space in between. There is only so much room on this crowded Earth, and we can only push each other so far away.

So play a tune, paint a picture, put on a cheesy low-budget community play, teach someone something new, give something away for free – even if it’s just a smile. It might just help tip the balance to bringing us back together again.

- T.H.

(Written Mon. Jan. 26, 2015, at Black Honey on Hunter St.)

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Flat Pack Wrangling

Another thing checked off the long-overdue-to-do list: A new filing cabinet for the music room!

New cabinet, unboxed

Frame construction in progress: tightening the cam locks.

Almost done!

The only thing keeping it from completion at this stage was a stuck runner. So naturally we called Mr. Fixit (aka Grond), and he basically went: look, poke, wiggle, look some more, wiggle some more, all done fixed, in about two seconds. Which is precisely what we figured would happen.

Completed cabinet, in situ.

Ta-da! The finished project, in place and ready to go. Music filing, here we come.

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Granola Girl

Finally started making my own granola, a habit I should have picked up ages ago, given how easy it is (and how insane the mark-up is on store-bought cereal, especially the good quality kind).   We used the recipe in the Candle Cafe cookbook as a jumping off point, but really once you’ve done it once, you can pretty much wing it.  Today’s batch was made with rolled oats, slivered and shaved almonds, raisins, craisins, maple syrup, canola oil, coconut, pumpkin seeds and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Even with three cups of oats as the base it made a surprisingly small amount, so I think I’ll start with a minimum of 5 cups next time.  As an added bonus, it fills the house with much the same aroma as baking oatmeal cookies.  The only disadvantage compared to making cookies and muffins is having to be on hand to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so, so it doesn’t singe.  Absolutely worth it, though.  If I really want to get back to my granola roots (reminiscing on my parents’ Birkenstock and health food co-op days), I should start making my own yogurt too.   Might be a nice goal for the spring, once we’ve attended to the (somewhat neglected) veggie garden.

Home-made granola, first batch of 2015

 

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Happy New Year! (Card Pics by Mark)

Mark’s card design ideas for this year. We ended up going with the first one for our Christmas cards. (All can be clicked on to view full size.) Wishing everyone a 2015 filled with all the things you love best, and at least a few happy surprises along the way!  -T&M

Broken Sphere, original photo by Mark Harrison

Broken Sphere

Big Moon One, original art by Mark Harrison

Big Moon One

Light Speed, original photo by Mark Harrison

Light Speed

Silhouette, original photo by Mark Harrison

Silhouette

String Theory, original photo by Mark Harrison

String Theory

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Allergic to Water

These past few days I’ve been rediscovering the timeless singularity that is Ani DiFranco through the unexpected doorway of her newest album, Allergic to Water. The new tunes led me back to the venerable canon of the 1990’s and I’ve been weaving a path between the two. Listening to the songs that existed on the periphery of my university years through the simultaneously broader and narrower perspective of adulthood has been an interesting experience, to say the least.

The first song below is the title track to the new album. The second one is the classic “Birmingham”, a powerful track from To the Teeth (1999), that to my mind is still relevant today.

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Early Risers vs. Night Owls: A False Dichotomy

Seriously, folks, this is a debate that needs to die and stay dead. The idea that early risers are somehow morally superior, or more valid members of society is ridiculous. The reality, much as I hate the phrase, is that we live in a 24/7 society. All the white collar cubicle workers might be snug in their beds at 4 a.m., but all around the world there are still hospital emergency rooms, factories, 24-hour drug stores, and countless other round-the-clock facilities that need to be staffed by hard-working, dedicated people, who are no less virtuous, or productive, than the farmer who’s up before the crack of dawn, or the coffee-swigging commuter preparing to plunge into early morning rush hour traffic.

If the number of productive hours you put in during one 24-hour period is the same as the next person’s, it doesn’t matter what time you start working and what time you stop. It’s still equally valid, and just as beneficial to society at large. And as with anything else, there are doubtless people who straddle the divide and can function equally well at either end of the spectrum, or who fall somewhere in between the two accepted ‘types’.

On top of all that, as the video below points out (taken, as with all interweb finds, with as big a grain of salt as you prefer), it’s possible that it’s all mostly genetically pre-determined anyhow. Something to think about the next time you want to feel smugly superior over your neighbour, who’s likely working just as hard as you, and going through all the same day-to-day life crap as you are. So please, let’s stop trying to one-up each other with this endless who gets up earlier than whom competition, and get on with living our own lives as best as we can, while appreciating that just because someone next to us does things differently, doesn’t mean it’s better or worse – it’s just different.
/end rant

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Not Quite Ready for Rockets

bagend by Mark A. Harrison

bagend by Mark Harrison

Walking barefoot in the back fields
Beds of soft folded grass hide in forests of thistles
I was missing the purple
(there’s usually more this time of year)
I found it where the hard packed earth gives way to damp
and water squelches between toes
(Must walk more carefully here, step by step, like a dancer)
Golden rod and Queen Anne’s lace, and milkweed not yet ready to burst

Open to the sky, the field stretches in long undulating hills
The mowed patches are scratchy and hard;
the long grass softens closer to the shade

I wish I knew which parts of the plants were edible
the seed pods that look like coriander, but aren’t
They say the roots of the wild carrot are safe;
you may know them by the fans of green that smell like carrots
when you step on them, or rub them between your fingers

There are too many people here, and yet
the number is perfect for the event at hand
(Strangers always stand at a distance,
no matter how close they are)

The hitch-hikers cling to the thin fabric of my over-short dress,
tiny green tag-alongs, bright as fresh moss,
the brightness of limes, that shine more in the imagination
than they do in real life
I will be finding traces of them days from now, will notice
cuts and scratches as an afterthought, and not remember how I got them

Walking in long grass is like the idea of walking among lions, or out into the air:
It only works if you don’t over-think it, if you just let things happen
Most of the time, it’s not true, what people say about belief
but sometimes it almost is

Only yesterday, I was murdering grass with a roaring demon fresh out of hell,
assuaging my conscience (and my future self’s sense of aesthetics)
by leaving islands of peace, tall nodding groves of white,
low lying gardens of fuzzy violet and gold
And yet today I step tip-toe, careful not to crush
the precious food of butterflies, the bedding of faeries,
and all the small gypsies and thieves that roam underfoot

Still more people appear, blue toe-nailed and familiar,
yet even more out of reach
Voices heard since childhood, and yet still not held in confidence,
nor yet sought out when silence may be found instead

The pen is a way of hiding; perhaps more acceptable
than the pages of a book, or worse, a glowing screen;
“Creative urges in action”, we can say, as an excuse;
Grab the moment while you can
A transparent wall of words only I can hear,
the magic of black lines transformed into future memories,
a pre-post-examination of a now that can never be retrieved,
that will always be losing coherence, a moment of truth transformed
second by second into fiction, every image more subtle, or more sharp,
than it was at the time the moment happened

And as always, this thought conjures dragons,
a quintessential embodiment of how
we wish evil would behave in the real world (but doesn’t):
Defeatible by a single arrow, if we can find the right spot,
the vulnerable patch just beneath the wing, behind the left back leg,
where the gold rubbed the scales raw;
If we only had a sacred arrow passed down through generations,
blessed by the collective belief of the ages,
a hundred thousand stories, arguments,
songs, revisions, sermons and lies
(when we start to write lists, it may be time
to put down the pen
and go outside.)

-T.H.
(written on Grondzilla’s birthday weekend, at the farm, August 2014)

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