Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today is like one of those fancy olive oil decanters that hold a plethora of surprises inside - you know, roasted red peppers, basil, garlic, and other preserved goodies. My olive oil is decanting a mixture of aged goods - feelings about my dad, feelings about myself, some great and ancient pain about my grandmother's death. I can't wait to make a sauce from this.
Last night my phone rang....hmmm...312...who is that? Ms. Never-answer-the-phone picked it up and it was my uncle.
His voice has been quieted by a second tumor that has rendered one of his vocal cords paralyzed. He is hoarse, but he yelled over the silence of his throat to speak to me. I felt like a pile of shit right there, rotting in my big dumb ikea chair. I felt like a giant asshole on display at the international asshole show. Number One Jerk in any contest for sure. I hadn't called him....why not? Well, I couldn't stand to go back there. Step wholeheartedly into the pain that I knew was waiting for me. I kept justifying it with sentences like "Everyone is busy trying to get him settled..."
But, he didn't seem to hold anything against me. He chatted about tracking the avian flu; he asked me about school and how I was feeling. He did all the things that my uncle would usually do - making me feel special and important. A feeling that was mostly lost for me when I was little - notable exceptions coming from my uncle and my nana. Why is someone's death always such a selfish batch of emotions for other people? Is it me?
I wanted to yell into the phone that I loved him and that I think so much of him, that I didn't want him to die, that I wished I was there and not here, that I wanted to quit my job and come home to be there for my mom and him; for my little brother and sister. That I wanted to swoop in and scope out all of the stupid tumors that are eating him inside and out.
I wanted to - but I didn't. I told him about my trip to greece and my trip to italy. I told him about my students and tried hard not to cry.

The olive oil is going to taste a bit peppery tonight - my pain feels like pepper - there is the potential to sting and leave sores if rubbed too hard.

The world I am living in is too much a paradox. The death of him, the birth of this new life. The sorrow of my family, the joy of my new work mates. The clarity and certainty of his coming absence and the total confusion and disorganization of the approaching year.

I want to trade. I want to trade this situation for something else. I want him to live and be happy and I can take Atlas' burden or something like that. I will fight the snake at Hera's tree for Hercules - he is the hero - he can save my uncle. Come on. Please.
Pleas mean nothing sometimes. Especially not in death. I have to stop using them in other situations. I have to live more clean.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I have been just crazy for corn these last few days of summer (oh, did I say summer? I actually meant 'autumn'. It was a sweltering 15 degrees here today. I actually saw people wearing fall jackets this morning! Fall Jackets! Crazy. But crazy good for my jogging obsession - nice and cool.
Anyway - back to corn.
Here is a neat little yummy treat that was just about perfect for my post-meal delight. I must admit that the corn was frozen!!! oh my! Frozen corn. But I had to put something in my frezzer - I hadn't used it and I felt sad for such a small little frozen space.

Okay - this is a mostly raw deal, (hah) but the warmed up 'fu and corn give depth to the other flavours - don't skimp on the cilantro.

1/4 jicima
1 red pepper
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 cup of snap peas
2 cups of shredded cabbage
1/4 cup of tofu
1 cup of corn
soy sauce
rice vinegar
flax oil

slice the jicima (peel the root first - yes! It is a root - I just found that out this evening)
slice the pepper - nice and thin - really pretty.
Lay to pepper and the big 'j' on a plate (I did this dish up on a really nice cobalt blue plate)
break up the tofu into a small pot with the corn and a teeeeny tinnnnnny bit of water - simmer until nice and warm.
mix together the soya sauce, vinegar and flax oil - that's your darling dressing.
add the cabbage, peas and sprouts.
I laid the corn and fu all around the outside of the plate and then mixed it all up nice and pretty-like. You could for sure do it all in a large metal bowl - would be better for mixing, but I was starving so I wasn't thinking straight.

I am thinking of running a marathon.
I am thinking that I would be crazy for running a marathon - my knees will be dust and my feet will need some major rubbin'.
I am thinking that I would be crazy for NOT running a marathon - I have legs, I can do a pretty darn good 10km time, and I have loads of gumption (there's a word that needs more air time) - I am sure it can happen.

The next race I am for sure running is the Banff Winterstart 5 miler...get free glow sticks. I am there.

Let's get these saucony's a trainning!!! 1, 2, 3 RUN.
More running = more eating!! yes, yes, yes, yes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The grocery shops in Calgary are for the most part atrocious (and I am not just talking about the prices - hi....can you say 14% inflation - I picked THE best city to start paying off student loans in!) - the grocery shops are....well, nothing compared to:
a) Fortinos
b) the wonderful little markets and fresh foodies stores I became accustom to in Toronto.
We have - COOP - the shop that lets you think you are saving money by letting you buy a 1$ stock in the company and then allows you to show your coop pride by hanging your swipe card on your keys. The produce is shitty and they canned goods are out of this world costly (and limited in selection: "sorry miss I don't think we carry artichoke hearts")
We also have - SAFEWAY - I met many a safeway employee during my shotgun drive out here. They started in and around the Manitoba border. They are 'okay' I suppose. They are trying so hard to be a PCish type store. They have bulk goods in some (small) amounts, and they have at least a smattering of organics/'international' and soya products. However, (again) their produce sucks and they are wickedly expensive (I just sound cheap and cranky don't I?)
The only possibility out here (if you want the big, corporate shopping experience) is Canada's Superstore - see trafalgar and highway five in Oakville. It is a PC store, and the canned goods are a bit cheaper and you can buy underwear, car oil and cabbage all at the same time - however, due to this walmart-style approach I feel overwhelmed and a bit skittish when I pull into my parking spot. But, they have quinoa in bulk so I do what I have to do.
The only non-corporate shopping option is the aforementioned Pacific Place with its TT grocery store...which I am sure is owned by some chinese conglomerate - but it will have to do.
There are no tiny markets to be found, and the farmer markets are so out of the way.

HOWEVER - this weekend will see me arriving at Heritage Park bright and early for the annual produce sale.....I am hoping for loads of fresh berries and lots of corn (TABER STYLE).

I have a yummy dish that is worthy of publishing - Enjoy!
(I think I need to start taking photos of these masterpieces)
Creamy Chicken-peas and Apple Curry
1 cup of basmati rice
1 apple (any ol' variety will do)
2 cups of spinach
1/2 a large spanish onion
2 carrots, peeled and cut up in chunks
1 bulb of garlic
1/2 block of tofu
1 can of chicken peas (or garbonzo beans as they are known in some circles)
curry (season as you like)
black pepper
salt (sea salt)
Olive oil
can of coconut milk

In a large skillet (on medium), pour your o.oil and let it heat up a wee bit.
Add your diced onion and some of your curry - I would also throw in some tumeric at this point
Add your carrots and a bit of water - cover and let those puppies simmer for a bit.
When carrots and onions are tender throw in the rice and a bit more water, stir and let sit for five minutes, adding your garlic after two minutes.
Add the chick peas and tofu; stir in coconut milk and season.
Let this mixture sit on medium heat simmering away for about 15 minutes.
Add some iron with that spinach party and let the dish cook until your rice is tender (I added water on occasion - you can decide how dry/wet you want this curry). could also add some sweet potato and okra....and a can of tomatos (or fresh if you don't live in calgary).

Yummy - serve with vegan nan or pita...or do what I did and have it with some gluten free rice cakers!

Enjoy and be happy.

oh - just to report on what I am reading at the moment.
Finishing David Starkley's (crappy and pompous) biography on my lady queen elizabeth.
Just finished Sarah Dressen's The Meaning of Forever - a teen book that I was screening for my students - really good!
I got a load of really really really cheap books from the library yesterday including a book by Katherine Glovier - I read her Angel's Walk in 1998 and really enjoyed it..made me want to move to Point Au Barrel and take up a job in a munitions factory. The other day the fellow who gave me that book as a gift reminded me that rear view mirrors only show us where we have already been...but what if you like where you have been and enjoy visiting on occasion? Some people are way to fatalistic for moi - have fun!
Well the diagnosis is final: lung cancer with a side order of brain lesions and liver tumors.
He is being treated with a palliative regiment - though, 'regiment' seems the wrong word for anything palliative. I am still feeling the shock in places that I can't manage to still; heart strings are made out of some tough animal skin because the vibrations last long and bounce off all other organs.
All I could do today was go shopping at Pacific Place Mall - way on the other side of town - up and over. I needed to drown this feeling of loss and sadness with something quite opposite - a little bit of consumerism goes a long way. But at least it wasn't filthy consumerism - that comes tomorrow. Food and school supplies; plastic baskets and a fish bell (I will have a picture for you soon I promise).
Let's swim further out from this feeling of 'water dark' because I don't have the vocabulary to discuss the wave that is again preparing itself to swallow my family. Out to sea for too long it has decided to take out our whole village. Nothing of this proportion has been seen since the summer of 2000.

So, swimming further, to safe cool waters of food and walking for hours. No muddy sea weed or rocks to slice the smooth cool pads of my feet. Just water to bounce in and out of my shorts which have ballooned around my big thighs. (My body is magic - big thighs no matter what I do).

What have I eaten?
Well community foods is a great little place, with a yummy (if not expensive and unrevolving repitoire of salad greens, cucumber, mango chutney, chick peas and soups/chillis). I am curious to try the vegan carrot cake - it looks as though I may have a place to run when the weather darkens out in Hamilton.
What else have I eaten? - I have been juicing like crazy - lots of carrot/apple/ginger combos, and eating fresh salads and fruit. Mostly homemade stuff to be honest. And avocados....I have been crazy for those butterish green buggers. Don't know what has gotten into me of late -but I want a million of them most of the time.
Today's meal (which I allowed myself to purchase out of the house, despite my tight budget until my first pay cheque) was rather disappointing.
Pacific Place seemed in my dreams to be a great choice for sushi....but alas, the not-so-japanesse, tupai wearing man wasn't the iron chef I needed him to be (esp. tonight...I had planned on drowning my sorrows in wasabi and rice wine).
The SMALL avocado roll and vegetarian rolls were just that - small. Small in taste, size and aesthetic appeal. The styrofoam take away containers did even less in the fight to save this place in my eyes. Nothing doing - down for the count. Yuck. and more yuck.
The cereal and cherries I enjoyed whilst typing up my unit plans were much more satisfying fare.

Headed to the university today to check out the library - oh oise we complained about our seemingly homely library - we had it wrong...dead wrong (sing the last part of that sentence to the music of joan jett's I love Rock and Roll) this library was A ROOM...just one wee room. Unreal. But their overall digs were much cooler than the hellish structure of windowless u of t. But so are the bathrooms in most Chinese rail stations. Most.

I also have to take the time to give it up to two really cool people.

1. the girl in starbucks who asked me if I wanted my soya milk warmed up before adding it to my chai tea. thanks!

2. KATHY MCKALE - this woman is a really cool principal who chatted with me for about 20 minutes in chapters. She gave me some great ideas, some wonderful resources to hunt down and a really positive affirmation about my career choices.

Well that is about all for me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I feel like a highway that was built in Calgary: full of confusing signs, hectic, filled with lulls and surprise stop lights. Is this the city or the cross canada throughway?
My uncle, a man who stepped up and took on the role of father when there wasn't any lineup for the position, is dying. I saw him a month ago - flitting around his front yard trying to give me the casserole dish that he used to make his bean dish in - those were great beans. This meeting wasn't an example of him breaking with reality - the flitting and offering had purpose - he was in the middle of a garage sale.
I can still feel his hand on my head. I can still hear his words of incrimination as I had been dawdling outside chatting with Terry rather then following him in the house to look at a condo they were thinking of buying. I want that moment back because I think I would like to stay there a little longer.
He is dying.
He is dying of cancer that seems to be as prolific as Stephen King, and almost as detailed - it is everywhere and yet managed to hang out and expand itself undetected.
I still haven't decided how I feel, outside of extreme sadness for him. He has lived a life that was filled with giant sores and losses of parents, dignity, friends, job, health. And now - and now he is being pillaged in a different way - body taken bit by bit, nerve by nerve.
He is young and still in love with redecorating houses and finding new ways to invent spaghetti sauce. He is the son of the mother he never really had, and the child of the sister who, before him, stepped up in the role of parent.
And now she will wail.
And what can I do?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

This is in my backyard.
Okay - so not my literal backyard....but close enough.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

some things to make my missin' some loved ones heart feel a bit better!

I got a place! I love a place! I am a place!

Okay - get ready because I am in love. I am smitten. I am intoxicated. I am fully and whole heartedly (the only way this little vegan ever is about anything she loves) in mad passionate love with Calgary.

I have my first report:

Great people, expensive food, deals on gas (yuck), really f'ed up streets (can we have some names please?), awesome shops, amazinglytastic neighbourhoods (HOW CAN EVERY COMMUNITY WEST OF CENTRE STREET BE SO FANTASTIC?), and a most excellent dog population.

One yucky observation: noooooo CAN recycle but you have to take your sorted goods to a municipal box (not so wonderfully located) and deposit your odds and sods in papers, plastics and glass...poop.

I have a great condo, I have a great little hood (give it up for bankview) and I have already made some yummy friends!!!

Everytime a cow moos a vegan is getting her cowgirl hat....
yes it is so...jimmy stewart I love you.

Went to work today - saw my new perfect....
shite, all this that the other shoe around the corner stomping and gripping about my smile? shoot, darn, oh no! I won't let my anxious tummy stomp out this excitment...onward into soyagood happiness and fluffy tarts made without eggs.

Check out the new hood:

Will have the keys and some photos tomorrow....