Saturday, May 24, 2008

Silent Retreat Day Two

Note: I am post-dating this to appear on Saturday, the second day of my silent retreat. 08:00-08:30 Yoga o8:30-09:00 Meditation 09:00-10:30 Breakfast/Clean Up 10:30-12:00 Contemplation/Rest 12:00-02:00 Lunch/Clean Up 02:00-02:30 Meditation 03:00-04:00 Yoga 04:00-05:00 Tea Break 05:00-06:00 Free 06:00-08:00 Dinner/Clean Up 08:00-09:00 Contemplation/Rest 09:00-10:00 Bath (with essential oils) 10:00-10:30 Meditation

Friday, May 23, 2008

Silent Retreat

Note: I am post-dating this post so that it will appear on Friday when my Silent Retreat will begin. I will post the rest of my schedule in the same way so that those of you who read this blog will know where I am with my weekend experience. 06:00-07:00 Journaling 07:00-08:30 Dinner/Clean Up 08:30-09:00 Meditation 09:00-10:00 Bath (with essential oils) 10:00-10:30 Meditation

I Know the Difference Between a Rat and a Squirrel

The other day I got up for Snowdoll's sake at a ridiculously early hour. How early? The sun was not yet up! This was when we still had a lead for her.* She suddenly bounded towards the side of the house, close to the air conditioning unit, and I watched horrified as a rat scurried up the side of the house and onto the roof. I then reminded myself that I no longer live in The City and because there is more land around here, rats are not that remarkable. Plus, let's face it--it wasn't exactly a large rat. It was about the size of a pet rat. In other words, not at all like the mutant freaks or ROUS (see The Princess Bride).

Later that day . . .

Me: Snowdoll chased a rat today.
Rob: A rat?
Me: Yes. From behind the a/c unit and up the side of the house onto the roof.
Rob: Are you sure it was a rat?
Me: Yes. I know what a rat looks like.
Rob: It might have been a squirrel.
Me: Listen, I may have grown up in a city but I know the difference between a rat and a squirrel.
Rob: I'm just saying.
Me: We have both rats and squirrels in the city.

A couple of weeks later, Marc has taken the dogs outside and when he comes in he announces that Snowdoll chased a rat.

Marc: Snowdoll chased a rat.
Me: Uh oh.
Marc: Yeah. It came down the side of the house.
Me: It came back down?
Marc: (ignoring what I said) I didn't know rats could go down a wall.
Me: I don't suppose it could have been a squirrel . . .
Marc: No. It was a rat.
Me: Yeah. It's not hard to tell the difference.

Last night, as part of my campaign to watch every dvd we currently own (which I need to explain that our collection has gotten bigger since I made this commitment!!!), we watched Lady and the Tramp. There is a scene in the movie where Lady sees a rat climb up a vine and into the open window of the nursery.

Me: See? I told you rats climb up the side of hourses.
Rob: It climbed up a vine on the side of the house. Not up the side of the house itself.
Me: So?
Rob: So rats can't climb up a wall.
Me: Of course they can! How do you think they get to the second story apartments in Manhattan? It's not like they use the stairs or elevator!

After watching the movie we slapped in the dvd extras and one of the extras is a Disney Dog Trivia Game. Oooooh . . . ahhhhh . . . So Rob and I played and one of the questions was: What animal does Lady chase as it tries to climb into the baby's room? There were four choices. The correct answer was D) a rat. However, one of the incorrect choices was B) a squirrel.

When the question came up Rob and I both, without a pause said, "A squirrel!"

Anyway, for the record, here are two pictures. I know the difference. Do you?

*After years of yelling "No; Romanov come here" he pretty much knows the territory that he is allowed to explore and the areas which are off limits. We had a lead put into the back yard when I had vertigo so I would have a means of tugging him back inside without having to go too far and possibly fall over. We've been using the lead to help Snowdoll know her territory but recently we've been putting her on the leash.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Recipes and Stuff

Beginning tomorrow evening, I will be doing a silent retreat in my own home. Yep. I am going to withdraw into a room and try to ignore everything and everyone. Okay. Not the puppies. I chose this weekend because Rob was supposed to be out of town all weekend. As it turns out, he won’t be leaving until Saturday but he’s okay with what I am doing and is supportive. Marc left this morning for North Carolina. So by Saturday afternoon it will be just me and Joe and the dogs. Marc and Rob will both return late Sunday. And since Monday is Memorial Day, we have a long weekend and can enjoy some relaxing family time on that day off. I’m very excited about this! Also, as part of my collecting recipes that Joe likes, I am offering another couple of recipes. Why am I seemingly favoring Joe and not sharing recipes that Marc and Rei like? Because Marc and Rei are not that difficult to cook for. They have more expansive tastes. Joe is a very fussy eater so when I find something that everyone likes, including Joe, it is a major feat. Sausages with Onion and Bell Peppers This is a no-brainer. Take some Italian sausages and put them in a baking dish. Chop in large chunks one onion and two bell peppers. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil. Bake at 350°F until the sausages are browned. I often serve this with a side of pasta but this can be made into a sandwich, served on some crusty French bread and a little mozzarella cheese shredded and melted on top. Yummmm . . . Easy Manicotti with Cheese (no boil method) 1 package manicotti, uncooked 3-1/12 cups (two 15 oz. containers) part skim ricotta cheese 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 egg, slightly beaten 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 3 cups (28 oz jar) spaghetti sauce DO NOT cook pasta before filling tubes. Heat oven to 350°F. For sauce, stir together spaghetti sauce and 1 cup water; heat to boiling. While sauce is coming to a boil, in large bowl, stir together cheeses, egg, parsley, salt and pepper; spoon into pasta tubes. Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 13x8x2-inch baking dish; arrange filled pasta in single layer over sauce. Pour remaining sauce over pasta; cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (6-8 servings)
Aries Horoscope for week of May 22, 2008 After working for years in various jobs at San Francisco TV station KTVU, Frank Sommerville was promoted to the top of the heap -- lead anchorman of the 10 o'clock news program. He promised that his new power wouldn't make him lazy or complacent. "Nobody will out-curious me," he bragged. I hope you will adopt the same motto for the foreseeable future, Aries. Your world needs you to be intensely inquisitive about what's transpiring. Uncoincidentally, asking lots of smart questions (and even some dumb ones) will also be the best possible thing you can do for your mental health.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sadness and Happiness by Robert Pinsky

I heard Robert Pinksy do a reading at Kennesaw State University, once upon a time. As was my habit, I bought his books of poetry before seeing and meeting him. I usually would read the books immediately after meeting the poet. This time, however, I didn’t read the poems right away and I am still struggling to finish up the collection of Pinsky’s works I have collected as a result.

There is not denying that Pinsky is a great poet and Sadness and Happiness is a testimony to his talent. However, his shifting from the sublime to the salacious often left me feeling like I did when I worked at this one company where I almost always had to take a shower at the end of the day because of the constant leering I experienced. There are only so many times a woman can be “undressed with the eyes” before she needs to cleanse herself from the energy of other people.

This is how I feel after reading Pinsky’s poetry. If Plath leaves me feeling angry, sad, and emotionally drained, Pinksy leaves me feeling disgusted. For instance, I literally cringed when I read:

In Student Council with his red-hot bag:
His picture of a lady on all fours,
A Great Dane on her back, was not for sale
(Discretions of Alcibiades)
How is a woman supposed to feel when reading something like this? And yet, there are also lines like these:

your face at a new angle grows
unfamiliar and blank, love’s face
perhaps, where I chose once to dream
again, but better, those past failures—
(Sadness and Happiness)

It is impossible to completely discount Pinksy’s poetry but, on a subjective level, it is impossible for me to enjoy reading his works.

Library Scene
To P.M.S

Under the ceiling of metal stamped like plaster
And below the ceiling fan, in the brown luster

Someone is reading, in the sleepy room
Alert, her damp cheek balanced on one palm,

With knuckles loosely holding back the pages
Or fingers waiting lightly at their edges.

Her eyes are like the eyes of someone attending
To a fragile work, familiar and demanding—

Some work of delicate surfaces or threads.
Someone is reading the way a rare child reads,

A kind of changeling reading for love of reading,
For love and for the course of something leading

Her child’s intelligent soul through its inflection:
A force, a kind of loving work or action.

Someone is reading in a deepening room
Where something happens, something that will come

To happen again, happening as many times
As she is reading in as many room.

What happens outside that calms like water braiding
Over green stones? The ones of little reading

Or who never read for love, are many places.
They are in the house of power, and many houses

Reading as they do, doing what they do.
Or it happens that they come, at times, to you

Because you are somehow someone that they need:
They come to you and you tell them how you read.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Collection of Beauties by Whitney Otto

Whitney Otto’s A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity takes place not only in the eighties but also in San Francisco, very much after the Summer of Love and Hippy Movement had fallen to the sidelines of the American Experience. Infusing this novel with a spectrum of characters, the hedonism and existential angst of the era is evident in each of the characters exposing the reader to the variations on a theme. Much as Hokusai chose to do many prints of Mt Fuji, Otto’s novel is woven together by theme but not necessarily by content because the chapters work as single units, short stories many of which can stand alone without being a part of the whole. The characters are not only seen as major players in their own lives but also serve as minor characters in other chapters. Seemingly meaningless moments meant to reveal something about one character prove to be pivotal moments in another character’s story. In this way, Otto weaves a sort of tapestry that works with subtle shading to give a dense appreciation of a complex time.

This book lends itself perfectly to a book group with its literary allusions. It would be easy enough to choose one of the many books mentioned, discuss the veiled allusions to various celebrities, and compare and contrast the many characters. And, of course, anyone who was born in the dying embers of the Baby Boom will find something or someone recognizable in the pages of this book. Although not brilliant or necessarily Literature, there is just enough meat here to keep me from complete boredom. A perfect summer beach read.