I don't get to see my sweet girl all that often. When I do, it's cause for non-lady-like yelps of pleasure and general celebration. It's never quiet. After the initial joy-filled greetings, the subsequent visit almost always features (and prominently) a spectacular selection of desserts, presents and kind words. I've mentioned to you how much I like this woman. I love her and I like her - if you catch the distinction.
While she and her family blessed us with their easy company, we went to Fort Langley and shopped for antiques, went for an absolutely fabulous tapas dinner where we must have sampled close to 15 different dishes (my favorite of which was, I think, the Ahi Tuna), drove into Steveston where we were trapped - parked - on the freeway due to a multi-vehicle accident in the tunnel and finally arrived to hear from local vendors that "they'd never in their lives seen it as busy as it was this day." Though we had to keep close tabs on our respective children, we had a windy, wonderful time. We watched hundreds of people line up for fresh seafood and feasted our eyes on some really unique sights, captured in very small part by the photos you see here today. I wish so much that I felt comfortable posting some pictures of the six kids, as the joy they clearly derived from one another's companionship was both obvious and touching. I love their love for one another. And I love my sister.
As a young teen, I used to babysit for two cousins. While I don't remember much about our time together (other than the fact that I lorded my authority over their bewildered selves with much aplomb and very little humility), I do remember that my Aunt had the most spectacularly outfitted pantry I'd ever before laid eyes upon.
I lusted after that pantry. I admired the rows of capers and anchovies. She had multiples of items I'd never even heard of. She seemed, as I gazed at the riches displayed on those basement, plywood shelves, to be the most cosmopolitan person I'd ever known. There were three dijon mustards, waiting expectantly to grace my Aunt's elegant table. Two jars of pickled artichokes lurked, but lurked neatly as they awaited their turn to be promoted to the status of kitchen artichokes. I'll never forget those perfectly arranged shelves and the bounty - the mysterious, abundant bounty! - they held in that secret basement pantry under the stairs. The very idea of being so erudite so as to have items such as these was only outdone in my adolescent mind by the fact that there were multiple versions of the same thing, lying in wait to satisfy and grandly fulfill that inevitable moment of o, I'm in the middle of this recipe and I hadn't realized that I'd run out of jarred, roasted red peppers and were it not for my organized foresight and the fact that I have three more jars of said product just waiting for me and moments like these, I'd be in a real pickle right now. O I admired that sophisticated woman and her myriad jars. Her pantry came, in later years, to represent wealth, abundance and general well-being in my mind. You see, I'm a collector.
I collect antique silverware. China tea cups. Books of all kinds, though my most recent challenge is to build a hard-back Agatha collection. I collect birds. And mis-matched china of all kinds. O and old linen table napkins.
When I add to one of my collections, I feel a stab of satisfaction. I feel well-provided for. And funnily enough, for fortunately I and my fellow Earth dwellers (for the most part, anyway) have evolved well beyond this hunter/gatherer mindset, I feel a primal surge of all is well and I'm safe. The sabre-tooth is currently elsewhere.
I post this, even if only for my sisters. They will love it and so might you. The recipe serves four and is the equivalent of 3 weight watchers points per serving. It rocks my socks, though I add lots of extra hot sauce to mine just before serving. I could see cilantro enhancing things too.
2 cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 T soy sauce
1/8 t red pepper flakes (I added much more)
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 t rice vinegar
2 T cornstarch
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 package firm low-fat tofu, cut into small cubes and drained well
2 T finely grated ginger
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 t toasted sesame oil
In a large pot, combine the broth, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms; reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 T of the vinegar and the cornstarch. Add to the pot; simmer, stirring, until the soup is thickened, about 1 minute.
Add the egg through a slotted spoon, and stir to form ribbons. Stir in the tofu. remove from the heat; let stand, covered, for 1 minute. Add the ginger and the sesame oil. Taste and add the remaining tablespoon of vinegar, if desired. Serve sprinkled with the scallions.
Have you seen this? It's a rare thing for me to go see a movie before I've read the book, but when I first saw this book be published, I felt an odd reticence about me as I toyed with the idea of reading it. It didn't strike me as being 'my thing,' and I felt vaguely repelled by it. I'm still not sure what informed my intuition at that time - or even if I trust my intuition all that much - but as I watched the movie (alongside some varied, excellent and lovely female companionship, which definitely redeemed the experience for me), I realized anew that this just wasn't my thing.
I've never been a huge Julia Roberts fan, though I can stomach her, a claim to fame my husband can't confidently make for himself. For me, the actress and my level of enchantment with her wasn't the problem. I think that the main character's - Elizabeth Gilbert's - journey to 'find herself' seemed futile and empty. My mother-in-law always used to say, "wherever you go, there you are," and I believe it to be true. I think that real enlightenment comes not from running away from life and it's accompanying problems, even in the name of mind expanding exotic travel, but from facing them and deriving strength from slowly growing courage borne of that act of standing up, shoulders back, staring them down and realizing that even this may not 'solve' anything, but that maybe that's ok. Strength can sometimes come by degrees - inch by inch - almost imperceptively until the gift of retrospect shows us how far we've come.
I've always felt saddened and discouraged at the Eat, Pray, Love notion that God is within me and that I am in some little understood sense, God. I need for my Creator to be significantly better than that. To see better, I need to look outside myself. Maybe I'm just more icky than your average professer of these beliefs, but I need a greater Hope. A stronger, more loyal Love.
I've chatted with several of my real-life friends, and I want to share another favorite new thing with my cyber buddies as well. Go quick from here and google these words (if you're a lucky British Columbian, that is): LadyBug Organics.
These people have changed my life in a beautiful way. Every Friday, they deliver - right to my doorstep - a big box full of a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. It's a surprise everytime and we've never eaten more healthfully in our lives. I'm also known as El-Cheapo and so it kills me to have anything rot and go to waste, which in this case, is a real advantage to me and to us. I spend an inordinate amount of time prepping it all that first day it arrives and we proceed to spend the week eating all manner of interesting, often unusual, organic vegetables.
We've never before eaten more swiss chard. We've discovered that we love it! When it's sauteed with a splash of olive oil, some feta cheese and some dried cranberries, it takes on a beautiful earthly flavor that only needs a bit of salt and pepper to make it spectacular. Who knew?!
When you call to sign up (and I highly recommend that you do), mention my name. It's not like this blog is so well known that I can procure for you a discount, but you will be getting me a $5 credit, which I will appreciate so very much. Happy late Summer.
You remember how I fancy myself a Victorian and all? There's really no 'all' component to it. Just mainly the Victorian. And the closed closet door is long since blasted wide open. For a part of our Salt Spring Island experience, we meandered our way over to Victoria, BC so as to assuage the fervent inactivity-induced desperation that my JoyBoy felt overtaking him, bit by bit, day by desperate day. The ferry ride took only 35 minutes.
We spent a long time shopping along Government street, which was a home-run for me and my girls, if only for the fact that we recognize the name from Monopoly. I love history. I love documentation. I love ancient streets tracking their long-familiarness via their age-old appearance on the Monopoly board. Of course, it goes without saying that we insist upon the Canadian version.
Each of the six of us really and thoroughly enjoys shopping (so long as it's not clothes shopping, I hasten to add. Trying on clothes makes me feel exhausted and grouchy almost immediately.). The all-important catch is that we separate into gender teams. The boys' shopping pace makes the girls feel disoriented and cranky. The girls' shopping speed - or lack thereof - makes the boys impatient, frustrated and longing for Hot Wheels. When we meet up to compare notes, the girls will have slowly picked their way through one store to every three that the boys have dashed in and out of.
We then made our way to an important historical landmark that JoyBoy and I have been to at least two other times - Craigdarroch Castle. It's the only time that the kids have seen it while being fully sentient and not stroller dependent for personal transport. I love it there so much. The local historical society is restoring the Dunsmuir family home to it's former glory, and is largely done, though there are still a few rooms left to go. It's utterly spectacular and I can't recommend highly enough that you make a point to go see it the next time you find yourself in Victoria, BC. To feast your eyes on the woodwork alone, you owe it to yourself.
When I surround myself with historica, I feel a reverenced sense of the rootedness of humanity. I imagine the previous lives that were lived on these spots. I appreciate the solomn, ancient beauty of the structures around me and note the differences of our building habits of today. I love that people of yesterday didn't hesitate to undertake building projects that they may well not see to completion in their lifetimes. We don't have much in this line in Canada and so for this and many other reasons I love Victoria.
Oh that I may remember these days forever.
Here's the brand-new blog of one of my very Fave's. I love her. Her animation spills out all over the place as she talks. She's smart and she's vibrant. She's creative and she loves Jesus. She's always passionately describing some book or other to me that I invariably find myself checking out from the library. And, what's more (no pressure at all, LP!), she and I are doing our first half-marathon together next year!! Check her out! You can find her here: http://passionateeclectic.blogspot.com/
We're on week two of our summer vacation this year. This second week finds us in granola-land, or Salt Spring Island as it's more commonly known. The natural beauty accosting us from all angles is striking. We've spent many hours beachcombing and displaying our ocean life newbiness each time one of us discovers some new creature or other. We hoot and we holler and we are dazzled with one another's creature spotting proficiency. There are sea stars almost to the point of the mundane here. There are enormous crabs which, if it weren't for my ignorance in the art of cooking them, I'd be feasting upon over and over again, so that my belly would be protruding well past the safe zone (Instead, I content myself with the frozen version, safely prepared and ready for my gluttenous seafood heart.). There are otters and moon jelly fish as far as the eye can see. And eagles.
It'll be great to get home again, though. I'm an introvert deep inside my extroverted heart and I love to cocoon in my warm, safe nest. Living out of suitcases, while delicious at first, comes to feel old to me after a short time. Living inside someone else's home feels foreign and wrong after the initial excitement of running through all the rooms, checking each nook and cranny for little finds. One cool side note there, though, is that the owner of this beach house is a Hollywood guy who's won awards for cinematography. I know this because he's got awards up on the walls here.
Yesterday, we climbed aboard a 40 foot sailboat and cruised all though the Gulf Islands, gaping all the while. Or at least we gaped while not smack dab in the middle of the moments when I was almost desperately stressed out, trying to spot all four of my kids at the same time, so as to ensure that they were indeed, still on the boat, much to my husband's other-than-enchantment. Low maintenance I've never professed to be. It'll be so good to be home, nestled safely within the bleached folds of my clean sheets.