Category Archives: Musings & Miscellany

General musings on life, whatever doesn’t fit anywhere else

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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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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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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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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launch1 by Mark Harrison

launch1 by Mark Harrison


Seagulls flying down main street
Why does it seem incongruous today?
Reason would suggest that they’re the same ordinary lake gulls
that buzz our parking lots & pick at our garbage
And yet, today it seems as if there might be
some grand conspiracy, some avian plot
as they dip and dive, casing out the buildings, measuring traffic flow
all in preparation for some secret rebellion, some white-feathered coup.

(The young man who brought me my bureka called me “madam”
Does that mean that today I look my age?
Or is it a cultural transplant of politeness?
Would he say that to a fresh-faced young student
still learning the maze of our one-way streets and hellishly steep hills?)

Meanwhile, mother-of-the-year award recipient
hangs back and smokes, while her child plays in the street

Trying to remember the vagueness of cars at that age
knowing they’re big, and fast, and dangerous
but so easy to forget, as you move from one fascination to the next
today, in this moment, it’s watching the leaves collect in the gutter,
multicoloured fly-weight boats riding the cold currents of November winds,
congregating around the sewer grates.

[Could you read the future in the way the foam striations
adhere to the porcelain curves?
A map of subtle imperfections,
and the rate at which things cool:
liquid, solid; love & friendship;
memory and passion.]

Why is it, that to feel strong
people need to make someone else feel weak?
Imagine what the world would be like
if we could all be strong together.

– T.H.
(11.13.14, @ Dreams of Beans)

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Fantastic series, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.  This one always gets me a little choked up.

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Tilda Swinton is my new official role model. For life and well, pretty much everything. Not all real women have curves. Some of us are born thin and bony and pale and flat-chested, and that’s just the way we are. We may be in the minority on this planet, but we’re just as ‘real’.

tilda-onlyloversleftalive_sm

(Seriously, though, if someone can tell me what secret home planet/dimension Tilda and Tom Hiddleston come from, I’d dearly like to know. I’m sure I’d feel right at home. I suspect the portal to it might be somewhere in Scandinavia.)

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Sadness is a funny thing.  It has an ebb and flow that’s impossible to predict.  I am finding infinite thanks in one thing that is as predictable as the turning of the earth – there will always be new music out there, somewhere.  The planet may be groaning under the weight of seven billion people, but from that vast cosmos, that universe of minds and souls, will always spring new music,  new art.  People will always find new ways to tell their stories, to lay their hearts bare.  One of the things that’s keeping me sane right now.  One of the few addictions in this world that seems to have no down side, except that you can never be truly sated.  But then that’s life, isn’t it.  The moment you stop searching, stop yearning, stop reaching, then all that’s left is stagnancy and static.

Driving home on the day, we saw a young girl smoking, and both of us, independently, could not believe the sheer stupidity of it.  Life is short enough, hard enough, fleeting enough as it is.  How anyone can thoughtlessly risk cutting that thin bright ribbon short on something so utterly pointless, is baffling to me.

I want to devour the world, and I have only this damaged anomaly of a vessel to do it in.  I’ve already wasted a huge amount of these four decades on laters and what-ifs.  I’d be kidding myself if I pretended this will all mean a shining brand new start, a renewed vigour and unswerving dedication to reaching those peaks before the grey sets it.  But I’m going to at least give it a damned good try.  It’s all well and good to say, fuck the world, I’m going to leap into the abyss with eyes wide open, in the surreal dream-zone of the after-dark hours.  Waking to daytime always finds mundane reality has once again taken its stubborn hold, caught you in its dull unrelenting grip.  Finding ways to break free, that’s the tricky part.  But as long as I can close my eyes, and find an infinity of possibility on the inside, maybe the outside might give a little, now and then, leaving a hollow or a crack here and there to squeeze through.

That’s optimism for you – more curse than blessing, but what can you do.  There’s still love in the world, as long as there are lovers in it.  And that’s something.

 

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Because you really are the devil incarnate.

I kind of think I might just love that crazy little troll.  The three amigos managed to pull it off, to my genuine surprise.  They went in a completely different direction for the first two – and then they did it again for the third.  If proper writing is about takings risks, they went there in spades.  Whether it paid off, is ultimately up to the viewer, but at least no one can say it was the same old, same old.

If I learned one thing today, it’s that there’s nothing more satisfying than when music comes together – I mean, I have to keep writing.  I have to keep writing, and get better, because if I manage to surprise someone, anyone, even just once, then it will all have been worth it.

Oh, and that nod to the Empty House (you know the one)… We love you for that too.  It won’t satisfy all those disappointed Moran fans, but it was a nice touch all the same.

(By the way, I wrote that only 68 minutes in to an 86 minute show.  Done now, and it’s still true.  Although the bit *before* the cliffhanger would have actually made a better cliffhanger, to be honest. ‘Til next time…)

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