Friday, September 20, 2013

Fiction Friday Four

I can’t even recall which shocked me more at the time, Jims not being dead or my dreams being real. I remember the man, though. One tall drink of water with his long denim clad legs, broad shoulders under a worn blue chambray shirt, and wearing, in Montreal of all places, a cowboy hat. Which he totally carried off, as it happens. It suited him somehow.

Seventeen years old, mired in grief and overwhelmed with hormones I thought he’d walked off the cover of some Louis L’Amour novelette. Dead handsome and those legs…I would have paid good money at the time just to watch those legs. Yeah, he was too old for me - by a few hundred years, as it happens – but seventeen was a very in-between age for me: too naïve in some ways, but losing my mother as a child and now Jims, too old as well. So when Mr. Cowboy suggested meeting somewhere quiet I agreed. He said there were some things he needed to explain. Ya think? Damn straight there were.

I slipped away from my family – not hard to do, the three of us left reeling with grief – and took the back stairs out of the hospital and headed for the park that fronted the hospital along its whole length. I never could figure out if that was a good thing or a bad thing. If I was confined to a hospital bed, what would a park be for me: a bit of green peace to break the monotony of grubby off-white walls or a constant reminder of what I was missing? Right now, though, it was a green oasis in the middle of a busy city, somewhere I could listen to what this stranger had to say without risking my own safety by being completely alone. Naïve, maybe: stupid not at all.

So long ago, but I remember everything so clearly. The day had some heat to it, as sometimes happens mid-September. The sun was warm on my face, with a light breeze blowing. Not hard, just enough to tease my wildly messy hair. Tea-coloured hair my dad always said. Wild curls that I never bothered about, preferring to let it float in a halo around my head or – an indication I was being serious – pulled back in a tight braid away from my face. I could hear birds in the trees, and every now and then the sound of leaves falling mingled in with the sound of the remaining leaves stirring on their branches. Traffic sounds too, but muted by the size of the park. I looked up and saw the Cowboy striding towards me (merciful heavens, those legs!): time to find out what the hell was going on. Time over for the calm before the storm.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fiction Friday Three

So, guardians: you’re probably wondering about that. We’re to be found in every corner of the globe, in every walk of like. Keeping these two worlds as they are means we don’t talk about what we do, though, so you’re unlikely to know if you’ve met one or not. I figure your chances are fifty-fifty. I myself don’t know the exact number, and while we are aware of – and use – more doors than the one we guard we don’t even know how many of those there are, or where all of the ones we do know about are hidden.

Being a guardian isn’t something you ask to do. It isn’t an inherited position either, although there have been crews with siblings or cousins working together. I’ve even met a father and son who were on different crews but worked the same ring of doors. That’s how it works: one crew per door, several doors per ring and all the rings together is the Protective Company of Guardians. Hey, I didn’t name the thing; the company’s been around since, well, ever. No one really even knows when it got a name, story goes that there was a time when the gateways were open and well used and there was no need to keep flesh and blood humans out of their world and nightmares from there out of our world. That sure must have been something.

I became a Guardian the day my brother (also a guardian at the time, although I had no idea) decided that things were better on the other side of the gate and that guarding it wasn’t what he wanted in life. He’d guessed I might be guardian material (hey, I had to have one person I could talk to about my “true” dreams without being laughed at, and he was it, alright?) so before he went through the door for the last time he wrote one note for his crew, and a more detailed one for the ring leader. Yes, that’s where that expression comes from. There are a lot of things in this hidden life that aren’t so hidden.

Seventeen years old, grieving for a brother who had just died, a mess in more ways than one and into my life walks a total stranger who - one nine word sentence – turned my world inside-out and upside down.

“Your dreams are real, and your brother isn’t dead”.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fiction Friday Two

I was seventeen when I was asked to be a Guardian. It wasn’t so much of an asking as an explanation of what I was and what I could do about it. My dream life had always been unusual but I didn’t know that until fourth grade, when I got into a bit of trouble about an essay I’d handed in.

Remember those back-to-school papers you always had to write? The “what I did this summer” things that – at least where I went to school – were a staple of the first week back to school. Maybe they thought a week was the longest we could remember what our summer had been like. Huh. Like every kid wasn’t spending the first month of school day-dreaming about the summer we’d just had and the remaining months wishing for the next one to arrive.

I wrote my essay based on a trip to an amusement park that I’d taken. The trip itself was very clear in my mind so I thought might as well use it. It was a bit unusual, in that I went to an amusement park that was set up on floating docks off the lakeshore road out past the village. It was night, and I didn’t go with my family, and the fair itself had some unusual things going on. I was too young to wonder how heavy things like a monstrous Ferris wheel managed to float on a series of attached floats, or why there were circus animals free to wander around. I just knew it was very exciting and I’d had an excellent time.

Turns out that I hadn’t done any such thing. I got a B on the paper, with the comment that we were supposed to write a report on something we’d actually done, not on something we wish we’d done. I was quite hurt; I was certain it had truly happened. So certain, in fact, that I took the wrong bus after school to check it out. Surely there would still be a fair, or at least the giant floating docks that had supported it all.

The bus left the school, with me so anxious I didn’t even think about how I’d get home once I got off at the end of the route, but I got on none-the-less. We reached the bottom of the hill, where the ferry to cross the river is. As the bus waiting at the stop sign I watched the line of cars waiting to get on the little barge, and admired precise piloting of the tug boat that pulls it across the river, quite relieved that it was exactly as it was supposed to be. I wasn’t losing my mind or my memory.

Driving along Lakeshore Drive I watched houses go by, houses that had been there for a hundred years or more: Glen Mary, with its stone walls which I knew hid espaliered pears and apricots, Red Rock House with its red clay tile roof, huge homes with sailboats tied up to family docks, all interspersed with long breaks of stream and forest. I was comforted by the familiar sights (in a small town there isn’t anything that isn’t familiar). My certainty that the fair had been real and my teacher’s insistence that it wasn’t had left me feeling confused and lost.

In time we came to the stop I had planned to get off at. That in itself almost blew everything. It was a farm stop, for just one student a notoriously anti-social girl that never seemed to have any friends, and parents most of us were afraid of. I was an adult before I realized the two things were connected. Point was, the driver asked me where I was going. I mumbled something about homework and went running down the lane to the farmhouse at the end before he really had a chance to question the likelihood of this being true. I waited until the bus was gone before I went back to the road. I got a glare from the girl, but no questions at all. Grieves me now to think I didn’t take the time to get to know her, but that’s a story for another day.

I walked along the road, green rolling farmland and sugar bush to my left, scrub brush and a field of horses to my right bordered at the far end by a line of trees and a fence. As I approached the end of the field I hopped the ditch to say hello to the horses. I think even then I was beginning to know what I would find when I got past the line of trees. Scrambling up the far side of the ditch and going up to the barb wire fence two horses ambled up to meet me. I stroked the soft muzzle of the little pinto who was clearly hoping for a carrot or two. When nothing was forthcoming he gave me a bit of a shove with his head and wandered away. His buddy didn’t even try and the rest stayed where they were, treats clearly not being offered. I figured it was time to move on, when even a horse was willing to give me a move-it-along shove.

So I did. Shuffling along in the dust and gravel I walked the last few yards, waiting for the lake to come into clear view past the line of trees. And the lake did indeed come into view, just…nothing else. It was a lake. A lake that I’d probably been past a million times with my family. No fair, no docks, nothing.

Why hadn’t I thought of that before I’d written my report? I should have known, even then, that fairs don’t appear and disappear overnight. Not to mention I would not have been out in the middle of the night on my own, at a fair on the water with circus animals free to roam amongst the patrons! I had to admit that I had indeed dreamt the whole thing. But it had seemed so real. Even standing there in disappointment I could hear the music from the carousel, see the lights of the Ferris wheel and remember how delicious hot dogs and cotton candy had tasted in the middle of the night; so real, and yet in the end not real at all.

That was the first and last time I talked about what I came to refer to as true dreams. Not because I thought I was the only one that had them (in fact, I assumed everyone dreamt this way until I was much older) but because I continued to have things happen in dreams that seemed real and real life events that seemed very dream-like. I was teased for months about that essay. I had no intention of having anything like that happen again.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I've Bean Day-dreaming.

I moved on from reading the acknowledgements of Bean by Bean and read the table of contents and the introduction.

Reading the table of contents was a first for me, I never do that. If it’s a recipe book and I’m looking for a recipe I’ll use the index. But I figured that anyone who can make the acknowledgements page interesting might have something to say in the table of contents.
The only thing I learned is that a lot of work will have to be done to convince me to try anything in Chapter 4, Cool Beans. For me beans are something that you eat throughout the winter; warm, filling, yummy little packets of protein. As a side, as a main course or as one small part of an overall something wonderful. Fresh green beans, Lima beans, tofu from soy not so much. But we’ll see, I am intending to try as many recipes as possible!

The introduction was fantastic. No, truly. I know not everyone feels this way, when I read the following I was all ready to head out to the community garden and just lay down amongst the bean rows.

“Let us, too, have an eye to the bean. Hold on in the palm of the hand. Discrete, self-contained as an egg, spotted or speckled, dark or light, it’s such a small package holding so much. Inspiration for tonight’s dinner, perhaps a soup or stew? Sure, and no more and no less important than all it contains.

Soften, now, to time, as that bean, soaked in water, would soften. You’ll see more life than seems possible in something so tiny. Eye the future and there, if you allow that bean to sprout, you have the stuff of tomorrow’s salad or stir-fry. Look further: bury that bean in soil, and it sprouts. Emerging from the earth, roots growing down, shoots and leaves growing up, it becomes a bush or a vine climbing a pole, tendrils curled – tenacious, poetic. This is a miracle beans have in common with any other seed, Yet, unique among plant families, beans and their kin generously give back to the soil; they are – it almost defies belief – self-fertilizing.”

Sigh. I have to leave. Time to go walk barefoot in the grass. A demain!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Three To Get Ready.

Before we even get into the meat (ha!) of this juicing post let’s get one thing clear: the word diet here is referring to what one eats, NOT to the “I’m on a diet” definition of the word, ok? Right, let’s move on.

I find myself starting the day with a wee bit of trepidation, for two reasons.

For one, the first three days of a juice fast are supposed to be the hardest. The first two weren’t bad at all, so I’m a bit concerned that today will suddenly be the day that it all falls down.

The other reason is the large variety of opinions out there about juicing. I still think it is a good idea, considering the way (and reasons why) I’m doing it. The objectors seem to be mainly talking about long-term juicing as a quick weight-loss solution or a magic pill for all ills. I would never do this long term. I can see doing three days once a year, and one day a month of all green veggie juice but I do agree that with juice you are missing out on most fibre and all the fat. I don’t think I’m missing all the fibre; there is quite a lot of what one might call texture in the juice that we make. Still, there are things your body can’t do without long term. Your diet needs to be balanced. Your life needs to be balanced!

The people who think it is a good idea (and I’m not talking about the juice for skinny-ness Kim Kardashian’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s out there) all seem to be saying the same things:

Not a good long term weight loss plan.

I’m good there; weight loss is not the driving factor.

Certain minerals and fibre can cause problems juicing long term.

Again, I’m ok. Not doing this long term (I may even reduce it to something less than seven), and we’re being careful with things like extra water, and adding things like bananas for certain minerals etc.

I was talking to my Mister last night, and there are some things I am hoping will happen. Not assuming they will, but they are why I am giving this a try:

One of the doctor’s we read about said a short juice fast would help with “clearing out intestinal debris”. Ick. I mean, yes, that’s a good thing and one I’m somewhat counting on, but still…debris?

A lot of the well-balanced reports talk about boosting your immune system. Not making one into super woman, but boosting. I could do with some of that, three colds in nine months, after years of rare – and mild – colds.

I know from when I cut sugar out of my tea for a year that when I went back to adding sugar I used a miniscule amount compared to what I had been using. It took a pinch to add enough sweetness to make me happy as opposed to the several-spoons-per-mug that I’d become addicted to. I’m hoping that what I crave changes and that the portion size of food I need to feel full is lessened.

Here’s something interesting from my six week one juice a day experiment: when supper time came, it was easier to make healthy choices. The longer I was on the juice for breakfast plan the less I was able to enjoy sweet things, super salty things and fatty things. The few times we went out or ordered in something deep fried and salt laden I didn’t enjoy it the way I used to and had terrible indigestion afterwards. I am betting this will be the case again. My mister has warned me that the banana I get to have today (have keep myself potassium-ed up!) is going to seem unbearable sweet. I suppose, compared to broccoli juice, anything would seem like candy!

The doctors talking about juicing also go on and on about it not being a cure-all for every illness. That’s ok, I don’t have every illness. And whilst I would not complain if it got rid of migraines completely, I would be happy at least fewer and less intense migraines. In fact, hoping that this will improve the headache situation? THAT’S the driving force behind it all. My level of hatred for migraines is all that kept me from a grilled cheese sandwich late last night.

Look out day three, I’m coming at ya!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Juicyfruit, It's Gonna Move You!

This is the first in a series of posts about juicing. It may be a series that you want to skip, actually. But I am desperately digging around trying to find a couple of extra benefits to the whole juicing journey. One of them being it would provide me with posts, which would make the blog less empty looking.

First off, perhaps the why:

I get migraines. I have had them from my early twenties. Recently they started increasing in number again. I looked back over my headache record and realized that when I was juicing once a day as part of a healthy weight loss plan, I had fewer headaches. So I tried a six week once a day juicing trip. And it helped! And then my Mister joined me, so the six weeks extended by about another five. And it was still helping!

And then…I don’t know. I just sort of stopped. I thought we should move juicing to the evening, because it was making me late in the morning. It isn’t as time consuming as you might think, but it still took more time than opening a bottle. So it kinda stopped. And the headaches? They kinda started back at all the time.

Then The Girl recommended the documentary “Sick, Fat and Tired”. Not because she thought we needed it, but it was interesting and there was something about headaches in it. It was indeed interesting; give it a watch if you have some spare time. I’m not in the state he was (lose weight or die) but in the film he drives across the country, and talks to people about this juicing thing he does. Ten days of juicing to “reboot” your system. That’s in quotes not because it isn’t a word – it totally is – but because there is no way to actually reboot your body. Because if there were and I could go back (physically!) to, say, twenty years old I’ve done it already.

What he is really saying is a re-start to healthy eating. He does not recommend juicing for the rest of your life. Ten days, and then eat healthily. My favourite quote (from a different health guru) is pretty simple: eat food, not too much, mainly plants. Not sure how I’d do with mainly plants, but the eat food, not too much that in itself lost me 50 pounds. One of the people he meets on his journey is a woman who tries the ten days to get rid of migraines. It worked for her; I am willing to see if it can work for me.

And on to the how!

I am not doing ten days. I have seven days before the kids come back. I don’t think I could stand making supper and then not eating it! So seven days, with yesterday being my first day.

My Mister is doing is slightly differently. He read up on juicing (we both tend to read and research things) and is going for a slightly altered version. Juicing for three days, then I think two or three days of raw food and then two or three days of whole foods.

Yesterday was interesting. We’d had company on Sunday so I’d eaten a lot of snacky things I don’t normally have: pie, cookies, chocolate and even the not-enjoyed potato chips. Hate it when I eat something because it’s there! Yesterday I had four glasses of juice, one mug of warm lemon water (Mister looked it up, and with just juice you’re not getting fibre, or not much. So you need something else to help…move things along), two mini M&M’s because I forgot and clearing up from the party there were some in a bowl and I ate them. Just before bed I made tea with things from the garden. No headache last night, not especially hungry this morning. I did get up twice in the night for the bathroom though*, compared to rarely or never getting up, so that was irritating.

Today is a work day. Juice and lemon water at the house, and then I took a jar of the remaining juice (including the sort-of-has-some-fibre-foam) with me. Had a cup at 10:30, will have another cup whenever I feel hungry. Or at lunch, just because I’m pretty used to something at 1:00 every day; 10:50 on day two, not dead or ill yet!

While I am not doing this as a weight loss adventure, I did weigh myself last night so I could keep track of any changes. Sadly, I was the one to gain weight from being in a relationship. Thought it was supposed to be guys who put the weight on!

Sorry about the long post. Just thought it would all make more sense if I took the time explain things!

*told you this might be a series you want to skip!

Writing Friends.

As in friends who write, not a statement that I can write the word friends! Here are the permission-given links:

Well. Using the action link thing didn't work. So I will copy and paste, and with any luck you'll still be able to find them:

and then the other:

Bean There.

In the last year I have purchased two bean cookbooks: Bean by Bean and Full of Beans.

I started the first today. Bit of a headache, so just read the acknowledgement a portion, some I only occasionally do. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the read! Now I can't wait to learn more about beans and try some- many!- of the recipes. Will keep you posted if I come across something particularly delicious.