Tuesday Evening PotPourri

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

* I am a big fan of “nature cam” sites that bring a close look at nature into our homes. No, it’s not the same experience as being outside, in nature, but it does help us to remember how connected we all are to the All. And these sites do let us see things that we’d never be allowed to see, even if we sat quietly outside for hours, such as eaglets eating, hawks bringing meat to their babies, foxes giving birth to kits. Last Autumn, I was crazy about a site that showed bears in Alaska at a fishing spot, catching salmon. Before that, I was a regular at a site that showed some eaglets hatching outside of Richmond, Virginia, esp. since I saw their parents, from a train window, building their nest before the cam came on. Right now, I keep checking in with this site where a hummingbird is laying eggs. Last Summer, G/Son spotted the first hummingbird I’ve ever seen here, hovering over the white flowers on my Aphrodite hosta. But Landscape Guy gets regular visits from a hummingbird who is, if I do say so, a terrible flirt. What cams do you watch? How do you bring nature into your life? One thing that I really love to notice is the background noises. The eagle cam let you hear the train going by, which is one way that I knew that these parents were the ones I’d seen from my train window. The hummingbird cam is obviously quite close to “civilization.” What background sounds do you hear?

*We’re now almost six weeks into 2013. How are you doing on your Word of the Year, on your goals?

My brilliant friend is well on her way to learning to play poker, using social networking to find others who’ll play with her. Her new year’s goals are always of the “have fun!” variety.

I’m doing surprisingly well at getting lots more greens into my diet. Here’s Margaret Roach, who mostly writes about gardening, but also writes, sometimes, about how to use the food that we grow, suggesting an easy way to up the vegetables in our diet:

I’m making roasted vegetables this weekend, as I do most every week in giant batches. But I suppose there are always questions, such as: peel first, or not, or how hot should the oven be, and what do I dress the vegetables with first?

My favorite vegetable candidates in the cold weather months include parsnips, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, winter squash, onions, heads of garlic, beets (segregate if red-colored to prevent staining of neighbors), Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, broccoli raab. I hate fennel, but it roasts well. So do leeks. (In summer, when I have them, I do peppers, eggplant and summer squash.)

I tried Margaret’s approach this weekend, with fennel, celery, bok choy, garlic, beets, carrots, and baby potatoes. Having them on hand has definitely improved my daily take-to-work salads.

*Another way that I’m working on one of my goals is Fitbit. I’ve named mine Hygeia. I’ve resisted wearing a pedometer for years because they were big, bulky, guaranteed to attract attention. At the same time, I’ve been promising myself for years to get more active on a daily basis and, then, not doing very well. I don’t believe that everything worthwhile can be measured but, turns out, how many steps you take a day can be measured. And Fitbit is tiny, can be worn invisibly (the only time that I’ve worn mine visibly was this weekend with my Circle of Amazing Women), and downloads enough information to make the overachiever in me quite happy.

I find that I’m doing a lot of pacing when waiting for elevators, standing in line at the drugstore, talking on conference calls. I’m also being more serious about my plans to get up four or five times a day and take a 15 minute walk. I can see the results every week.

What one or two things are helping you to meet your goals? How can you recommit here, just five weeks out from Eostara?

* Speaking of overachieving, Thorn Coyle tweeted a link to this post today.

It just worked my last nerve. Here’s a sample:

[The woman being shred apart on the internet has a need to always] be better. To be stronger at what she does. She values what others think of her but what she really cares about is what she thinks of herself. What she thinks is that she needs to be better. To achieve aggressive goals and then to push them further. Usually to push them on before she even arrives; forcing herself to fail inevitably and improve relentlessly.

She must never feel comfortable, she must never sit down. She forms a belief set that ingrains a sense of inadequacy. With that in hand, she has no option but to march forward, to make herself better and stronger. She cannot exist in a world where excellence is a prerequisite and where she is awful and so by grading herself down she drives herself ever forward, becoming ever better.

No, you don’t get to decide what’s “living” for me. Your assumptions about when I feel comfortable are irrelevant and presumptious. Maybe I am most alive when I am pushing myself and working to be even better than I was yesterday. Maybe that’s when I’m in flow, when I’m most comfortable.

I’m not saying that you have to get off on that, but I really am tired of the modern practice of showing up on the internet to insist that someone else is “doing it wrong.” You don’t want to push yourself all the time? Mozel tov. More power to you. I support your right to live the way that you want to live. Good for you if you go home 15 minutes early with just one marshmallow and enjoy the Hel out of that. But the need to shame those of us who find our flow in a different way says more about you than it does about us. /Rant off.

* Margaret Roach roasts parsnips, and I hope to roast some next week when the ones at the Falls Church Farmers’ market look a bit better. Here’s a poem about that prosaic bit of sustenance that lifted many, many, many of our ancestors between Imbolc and Beltane: the parsnip:

Come, Aristotle

~ Maxine Kumin

On April 4, moving
the pea fence to
another row
we unearth forty
perfect parsnips
that had spent
the coldest winter since
the seventies
condemned like leeches,
Aristotle says,
to suck up whatever
sustenance may flow
to them wherever
they are stuck.
Abandoned, overlooked.
Our good luck.

We ate them
in groups of fours
braised with a little brown sugar
(though they were sweet
enough without)
paler than cauliflower
or pearls, inverted fleshy angels
pried from the black gold
of ancient horse manure.
Pure, Aristotle.
Come, philosopher.
Come to the table.

What tides you over between now and Beltane, when pea shoots and asparagus grace our plates?

* If anyone at Pantheacon goes to the session on Columbia, I’d be v grateful for a summary, contact info for the presenters, impressions from the talk!

Picture found here.

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6 responses to “Tuesday Evening PotPourri

  1. Maybe I am most alive when I am pushing myself and working to be even better than I was yesterday.

    I know what you mean by this.

    To achieve aggressive goals and then to push them further. Usually to push them on before she even arrives; forcing herself to fail inevitably and improve relentlessly.

    The linked article is really quite a strange bit of advice. Usually, to achieve goals and then push further, or to improve relentlessly in the face of failure, are cast as good, even heroic things. There is a case to be made that blind dogged work isn’t always the right choice, but simply throwing in “aggressive” to cast aspersions on the friend’s goals doesn’t make that case. Also, the George Bernard Shaw quote later in the piece seems spectacularly misused.

    On another note, I’m always a bit suspicious of advice to slow down and smell the roses, especially coming from obviously successful people. I mean, maybe I’ll take your advice when you’re living on a small income from your part-time job or whatever. (From his little bio at the end of the piece, the author sounds like he stays pretty busy.) Also, I see that kind of advice given to women (e.g. myself!) more often than men. Some people really seem freaked out when they see a woman pushing herself hard, whether it’s in sports or creative/professional pursuits. Perhaps the author is uncomfortable with his friend becoming an example of Shaw’s “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”.

  2. Re. the article by Peter Nixey and your response–Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s [sic] reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

    Of course, Browning was a poet, and Nixey is a “Rails developer and entrepreneur.” A bon entendeur, salut!

    And you write, “But the need to shame those of us who find our flow in a different way says more about you than it does about us.” Indeed. There have always been busybodies and scolds who, apparently not having sufficient business of their own to mind, devote much of their time and energy to expatiating on how other people ought to conduct themselves. The Internet gives this sort of person a wider audience, but it’s still the same old same-old, and it can safely be dismissed. “They say; what say they? Let them say.”

    • Makarios,

      Agree! I get tired of reading posts that are based on how someone else is doing “it” wrong. Tell me what someone is doing right or how you are doing better — so much criticism is projection.

  3. I love that poem! (How can you not love a poem about parsnips?) I’m a turnip, golden beet and sweet potato girl, myself. After a winter of root vegetables though, I’m rather frantic for greens by Imbolc. Fortunately, with raised garden beds, I can get early lettuces seeded soon. And now that we have a good thaw going, the chickweed is madly popping up. That little gem keeps me going for a while.

    There is an eagle-cam on Vancouver Island that I watch. I found it two years ago – it was the first time I’d seen eaglets. I think these cams are brilliant!

  4. I hear you about wanting greens this time of year! I’ve been picking and steaming garlic scapes for a week or so now.

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