lemonade

I am in day two of The Master Cleanse, or better known as ‘The Lemonade Diet’, and feeling the familiar discomfort of transitioning into something different.  This change in routine is invigorating and sets a new kind of energy in motion…

The Master Cleanse is simple.  For at least ten days, I will drink only lemonade that is made with fresh squeezed organic lemon juice, grade B pure maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and good quality filtered or spring water.  This is supplemented by herbal teas, including the requisite herbal laxative tea twice a day to maintain elimination of toxins released .  There is a clear protocol laid out for all of this in a book written by Tom Woloshyn, called the Complete Master Cleanse, there is a lot of information on the web, but I have found this book most helpful and complete.  I’ve done this cleanse once already and so I was prepared for the discomfort of the first day, of moving from preparing and eating food to getting my sustenance from the lemonade.  This second day is one of passing from light-headedness and disorientation to a groundedness based in feeling lighter and moving slower.  It is surprisingly easy for me to let go of my beloved relationship to food for the next ten days.  And in doing so, have an opportunity to watch what I do with the new-found time and witness where my mind and emotions go.  I discovered last time that the cleanse wasn’t about ‘food’ for me, I wasn’t hungry at all and I had tremendous energy for physical activity.  And though the colon was cleansed and weight was lost, I knew the experience was really releasing toxic emotional baggage that I needed to let go of.  My daughter did the cleanse a week after me and had a completely different experience.  I have learned that we all have our own experiences with this kind of process and so the biggest challenge now is to go into this ten days with no expectations, understanding that my experience may be completely different this time.

It feels good paring back to keeping just these four essential ingredients stocked (and the few favorites for Ben who I will still be preparing meals for…).  It’s the season for citrus and both Whole Foods and Trader Joes stocks large bags of organic lemons.  I buy 4-5 bags at a time and keep them in a big bowl on my table…

I’ve discovered that Trader Joe’s carries a nice big bottle of Grade B maple syrup for a reasonable price.  I use my room temperature Britta filtered water.   I make one glass of lemonade at a time and have a shaker that I use to shake it until frothy, like a yummy specialty drink at a bar and it always tastes great.  The lemonade is actually really delicious and I am always able to drink as much as I need.

I am happy to be past the first day now, it is always the hardest physically and mentally.  I feel like I have officially entered the retreat that is my life.  Smile.  Will keep you posted….

cup of tea

I am slowing down and preparing for a cleanse.  In these days preceding I also slowly eliminate things like caffeine and sugar and denser foods like dairy, legumes and grains, each day for a week making a ritual out of eating something for the ‘last time’ before the cleanse.  Last night it was pasta.  I was sauteing shallots in olive oil with frozen artichoke hearts and green peas, added a small amount of organic marinara just to flavor the vegetables, and at the end the juice of half a lemon too.  I could have eaten this panful of perfectly seasoned vegetables as it was but at the last minute was led to add some pasta, just a few strands of some thick spaghetti broken in half and cooked al dente, mixed into the sauce and simmered just long enough for it all to become One.  Then sprinkled some fresh chopped parsley on top for contrast and color and oh, so inviting, and a consciously delicious send off to this next two weeks of anticipated abstinence….

This morning I make a cup of tea instead of my usual cup of coffee.  I use organic kukicha twig tea bags and as it is brewing consider the depth of meaning that this particular kind of tea has for me.  I discovered this tea during my first visit to Kripalu (Health and Wellness Center in Lenox MA) in 1995.  It was just a few years post ashram days and the air was thick with the lingering energy of devotion to practices that characterized daily life at the ashram.  The food was strictly vegetarian back then and there were no caffeinated beverages.  Not being fully prepared to go off coffee cold turkey at that point, I was advised by one of the residents to drink the kukicha tea.  It is made from slowly roasted organically grown plants and contains 90% less caffeine than regular brewed coffee. All of my visits to Kripalu since then, and there have been many, are punctuated by the many cups of kukicha tea consumed each day. I add a little honey to the cup now brewing on the counter and take the first sip…

And there I go!  It is an immediate and complete transportation back to Kripalu, to a flow of rest and relaxation, of moving my body to the slow rhythms of yoga, to the hours of peaceful meditation, to the feeling of camaraderie and of being home.  It is a perfect place to ‘be’ as I contemplate a time of cleansing my cells of accumulated waste and unnecessary information.  I think of the steam rising out of this cup as the heat of my resolve and discipline to make space for new growth and feel nourished by this thought as I continue to prepare for the cleanse…

making vegetables

It is the first night of our visit with my parents and my mother has made her famous macaroni and cheese   Dinner will be a simple affair, my father makes ‘hot dogs’ for himself and Ben, and I add a salad and some sautéed broccolini.  It is a wonderful collaborative effort and everyone is happy. There is even homemade cherry pie from ‘Monica’s Pies’ down the road. As we finish eating Ben gets up to call his dad and at the end of the conversation we hear him describing the dinner scene, he says, “Papa made me hot dogs, Nana made me macaroni and cheese, and Mom made me broccoli and vegetables!”  Smile smile.  And there it is in a nutshell and clearly called out; the essence of where we each naturally and comfortably go to in our coming together…

The following night we decide to have the rest of the macaroni & cheese and all my parents have to do is mention ‘roasted vegetables’ and I’m off and running to prepare the meal.  I find parsnips and green beans and baby peppers, beets and carrots and spend time preparing them in varying sizes and shapes and tossing in olive oil.

The carrots and beets go into the 450 degree oven first, and when they are soft, add the parsnips and green beans and when they are close to being done, then add the peppers.  Timing it this way definitely makes for a uniformly cooked tray of vegetables AND a colorful display of shapes and colors….

Okay, so let me also say that no visit to my parents home is complete without my father going out to get salami, provolone cheese and big black olives.  And this is with the refrigerator already being stocked with feta cheese and all beef hot dogs and bologna.  My father has always loved his processed meats, and like saying he will never stop skiing fast, he will never give up eating any kind of meat.  And I have come to be known now in the family for ‘making vegetables’ and I have learned to arrive with some of my own to add to the stock my mother keeps….and understand that my role is to provide the counterpart, the balance, to what traditionally reigns here during our family times together…

So, the next night there are marinated chicken breasts that my father grills outside.  I of course volunteer the companion vegetables, this time baked potatoes with vegetable toppings and a crisp green salad that will receive my father’s perfect oil & vinegar dressing.  I saute collard green ribbons with baby spinach in olive oil, a little water, tamari & fresh squeezed lemon, and fill a separate pan with thick slices of mushrooms, also sautéed in some olive oil.  A ripe avocado is diced and tossed in some lime juice and the last of the pea shoots cut up for garnish.

Everyone makes their own plate, Mom & I keeping it vegetarian, Ben & Dad enjoying thin slices of chicken with their potatoes that have been also lathered with plain yogurt.  The big green salad is placed in the middle of the table that we all share equally.  The line has been drawn tonight between the meat eaters and the vegetarians and where I am aware of how the energy of our differences can lead us into uncomfortable places, the strength of the shared meal and the shared bond is so much stronger and so we flow through yet another round of sustenance around my parent’s round table…..

swim mom

I am walking across the campus of Hobart & William Smith Colleges to go retrieve my car from in front of the house my daughter currently lives in.  Molly has taken her brother Ben to the pool in Bristol gym to share a workout with her and it is the highlight of our brief visit to campus today….

We decided to make the drive two days ago to visit with my parents who live in the area, and as soon as the rather ‘spontaneous’ decision to do so was made, we called Molly to see if we could come to visit with her too. She quickly offered to include Ben in her Monday ritual swim workout when we told her we were coming.  In the two and a half years of her college life, Ben has never really spent time with his sister on campus and I could feel how perfect this opportunity was for them to connect.   But nothing prepared me for the sight of the two of them in the pool together.  They share a lane and are both swimming hard, each conditioned to engage in practice routines drilled into them after years of being on the town swim team they grew up with.  I watch my beautiful daughter’s form gliding through the water, years of practice and competition informing every stroke.  And I watch my son’s determined pace, confident and steady in his progress.  They swim silently past each other, swimming as equals, doing flip turns and alternating strokes and I feel my heart swell with each lap.  I realize I have been sitting in the stands watching each these kids swim for almost 12 years now, the quintessential swim mom. but never together quite this way….

And then the progression of memories begins…and though I never swam competitively in college like I did in high school, it is not lost on me that I am now sitting in my own college pool watching Molly swim in her college pool today.  And this pool is located in the gym building that holds the basketball courts and the spaces that were inhabited by my father when he went to school here and that he still frequents regularly as a long time board member of the Hobart Athletic Association.  Three generations of energy swirling around this building and it feels significant though I don’t have words yet to describe why.  It is the same significance I now feel walking across campus along a familiar route that has become cell memory for me…

I pick up the kids and we go into town to have lunch together, then back to Molly’s room to hang out for a brief time before heading back to my parents house.  Ben is in his glory.  He has been missing his sister and talking about seeing her ‘at college’ and this visit more than satisfies.  And as they stand together for one more picture I take of them together I get a glimmer of what I am feeling.  I see and feel how much like Molly Ben actually is, I see and feel the radiant health and confidence and enthusiasm that they both exude.  I think about how the circle of life, beginning with my father finding his own radiant health and confidence and enthusiasm, found expression here on this campus too.   I see how clearly Ben and Molly each continue to follow in these family footsteps, how important it is to acknowledge and honor both the tradition and the departure from tradition in ways that no one could ever predict and in this realization, my heart opens… in the awe of how life moves in circles and lines and love….

three hot potatoes

I’m having a rare morning where I don’t know what I want to eat.  Normally I start with a diluted glass of cranberry juice with psyllium husks (called the ‘long life cocktail’ by nutritionist Louise Gittleman) followed by a walk if that is in the cards, then a cup of my perfectly hot fresh brewed coffee (smile), and then a little later, some sort of fruit.  But this morning I feel where my body is still out of balance and needing something different.  It needs something elemental, something so integral to the core of who and what I am so as to remind me why I am here.  Something that different.  I search my body memory for what ‘that’ might be, look around the kitchen and with a blank mind and nothing registering, go to sit in front of the fire….

After awhile I go back into the kitchen and finally see the last of the potatoes in a bowl, the small little organic russets I love to bake and eat.  Turn on the oven to 450 and when it is ready, put the washed and pierced little potatoes in to bake.  It  takes only about 20 minutes before they are done, with crunchy crisp skins and completely silky soft insides.  I put two of them in a bowl and add a little butter, salt and pepper, and then without thinking add a third, they are tiny potatoes after all, and wow, there it is, the feeling of COMPLETENESS on every level staring back at me…

I eat them while piping hot and they are actually sweet, like fruit, the butter is hardly necessary, the essence of potato is so clear and strong and nourishing in this moment and I realize that this is exactly what I needed this morning….

I am now thinking of the significance of it being potatoes and of it being ‘three’.  I go to find the new book my dear friend Lee sent to me recently, “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe:  The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, & Science”,  knowing of and honoring my affinity for numbers and sacred geometry.  It is a wonderful book that is organized by devoting one chapter to each of the numbers 1 thru 10.  I automatically open to chapter 3 entitled “Three-Part Harmony”.  ‘3’ is my number, it is the day of the month I was born, it is my life purpose number in numerology, and it is the underlying structure of all I do as a creative, expressive, and synthesizing being in this life.  The very first quote offered is, “The triad is the form of completion of all things”  with the picture of two intersecting circles, the vesica piscis. and the triangle that comes through as an introduction to the triangle being a statement about relationship and balance.  “As the centers of the two circles repel and tug at each other, a reconciling third point occurs naturally above the place where the circles cross and agree.  Thus the ancient mathematical philosophers referred to the Triad as prudence, wisdom, piety, friendship, peace, harmony, unanimity, and marriage.”   I think about the expression, all things come in threes, and that when bad things happen, they happen in threes,  fairy tales with three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears, three blind mice, three musketeers, and so on…and am now completely intrigued and feeling the tug of the line pulling me into the mystery of numbers I so love to play in…

and then come back to here and now with the last bite of potato.  I feel how completely sustaining this food is, connect with all the ways I love eating it, baked, creamed (OMG…my Aunt Betty’s creamed potatoes..to die for),  au gratin, fried, chips, gnocchi, etc…and honor that this most primal form, just simply baked over fire, is absolutely the best of them all…and then move into my day humming the song inside that has been triggered by three hot potatoes….smile smile…

twenty years

I spontaneously skyped Kathy yesterday.  She and I have been best friends for almost 44 years now and for half of that time, she has lived in Sydney Australia.  We both became quilters about the same time and now use our skype time to not only share what needs to be shared, but to be with each other’s work in progress.  Kathy owns a popular quilt shop in Sydney Australia called Material Obsession, has written three books, is a well seasoned and inspiring teacher, and has developed an impressive body of work.  After our conversation yesterday, she decided to ‘spontaneously’ link my blog to her blog (which has a rather substantial following)http://materialobsession.typepad.com and when I noticed how many people were checking out my blog as a result, I ‘spontaneously’ decided to make a new page called Art – Quilts (located at the top on the left just under the header picture) as a pictorial history of my own quiltmaking.  So my offering today is written in images and shapes and colors and lines and represents twenty years of making quilts….