Monday, October 29, 2012

Empty Aching Blue

(Pictures of blue skies taken around Philadelphia with my iPhone)

I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought
of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait
till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush,
had paddled off in tiny coracles, till
those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant
skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.

- Kate Clanchy, "Patagonia"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E. B. White

photo via elephantine

Hmph. The dilemma of the Manifest Destiny Hedonist? Perhaps.

For as long as I can recall, I've wanted to save the world. (And write books. And love songs. And be an actress. And a lawyer.  At one point I settled for maybe playing the part of a lawyer on a television show which I deemed a good enough compromise.)

With the hope of saving the world in mind, I spent much of my extra curricular high school career aimed towards this end. I was President of Students for Justice, helped implement and establish a school-wide recycling campaign, wrote letters to Amnesty International to free innocent prisoners, joined Greenpeace and the American Civil Liberties Union, gave a PowerPoint presentation to over 400 people on the plight of the Uganda invisible children and even went to Capital Hill to discuss illegal logging of the Brazilian rainforest with the Brazilian U.S. foreign ambassador and the Pennsylvania Congressman. Then I graduated and went to college where I was thrown into a whole new state, living situation and wrenched from the comforts and familiarity of home and the all-girls school I had called home for nearly 7 years (which is, by the way, the length of a life span for a cell.) I lost all of my bearings and was completely destabilized. Lacking both my family and former all-girl-Catholic-school community as reference points, I felt like I was walking in aimless, meaningless circles in my own heart and head. I felt  uprooted, anchor-less, stripped bare of my once-so-certain beliefs and value systems and scared to death. Not only was I afraid of the newness around me, I was afraid of the newness within me. I was afraid of myself. Who would I become in this new environment where I was a stranger to everyone with no history and no past and where everyone was a stranger to me? More frightening, who could I become? The possibilities were endless and I felt like I had been swallowed whole.

photo via andrewandcarissa

And then I found yoga (big.HUGE.monumental.discovery!), and re-remembered how much I love to walk outside and to be in nature. I discovered how much I love to cook and create, and to know where food comes from. I started to journal, began reading more poetry and esoteric spiritual texts, becoming more honest with both myself and others. I ended up transferring and going to a college in a larger city (which fed my spirit) but that was also closer to home (which fed my soul.) I started to realize that maybe being able to enjoy the world in my own skin was in fact a way to improve the world at the same time. These days, loving oneself from the inside out is one of the most radical decisions one can make.

Who is to say that the earth's plates don't shift a micro-inch every time one girl decides to love every inch of her thighs? Who is to say that enjoying - really enjoying - a square of rich, (fair trade!) dark chocolate made with careful hands isn't going to help cocoa bean farmers in Africa? Who is to say that every time I decide to come back to my yoga mat and rediscover my toes (my toes!) and how to balance my weight evenly on all 10 of them, that the balance of love and hatred, light and darkness in the entire cosmos is not somehow altered? And actually, science can back me up here since according to the butterfly effect, one infinitesimal act such as the fluttering of a butterfly wing in one part of the world can effect something as colossal as the materialization of a hurricane in another part of the world.

Maybe someday down the road I will move to D.C. and try to change the flawed system of politics (by using the flawed system of politics.) But until then, I will try as best as I can not to beat myself up for not being enough, having enough, or doing enough to save the world. I can walk lightly, tread softly, blessing the earth with each breath, bestowing small prayers of gratitude in every moment.  I can remind myself, always of my two favorite quotes:

"There are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground." - 13th century mystic, Jalaluddin Rumi

“Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

photo via andrewandcarissa

Or, I can always re-read "Where Everything Is Music"  (another one by Rumi):

Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Weekend


How about a few fun links to start your weekend off right?


A pretty song

Words of wisdom

The movie I want to see tonight

A meal I want to make

Enjoy (:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grains of Gold

Inevitably when cooler temperatures start to trickle in and the sun's rays begin to pale, my heart grows hungry for a steady dose of golden light.  Anticipation for something -anything be it a vacation, an event, a party, or yes even a movie can get one excited about the future, propelling one forward through one's daily motions with a sense of passion and purpose, a yearning towards that faint glimmer. So it is with me and the most recent film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic 1877 novel Anna Karenina. The film which is set for a limited US release date of November 9 stars powerhouses Kiera Knightly, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald and Aaron-Taylor Johnson with a small appearance by Emma Watson (swoon.)

Directed by the optical master, Joe Wright (think Atonement, Price & Prejudice) and written by the playwright Tom Stoppard (think Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, among others,) the film was originally set to be shot on location in Russia. Due to budgetary restraints, Anna K was created as more of an actual play, with an artifically constructed linear moving set. However, lest you think that this might detract from Wright's talent for using natural landscapes as characters in his films, Kiera Knightly noted that she thought the budgetary "restrictions made him [Wright] incredibly creative, out of necessity." Judging from the film's luciously colorful costumes and set design based on pre-released images, trailers and clips, it seems as though Wright fans will not be disappointed.

Check out the trailer below and let me know, will you see Anna Karenina? P.s. I also added some quotes from the actual novel by Tolstoy. My personal favorite is the very last one.

Anna Karenina Quotes, Leo Tolstoy:

“Sometimes she did not know what she feared, what she desired: whether she feared or desired what had been or what would be, and precisely what she desired, she did not know.”

“It's hard to love a woman and do anything.”

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”

“But I'm glad you'll see me as I am. Above all, I wouldn't want people to think that I want to prove anything. I don't want to prove anything, I just want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself. I have that right, haven't I?”
“She smiled at him, and at her own fears.”

"...the thought occurred to him that the power of working for the general welfare – a power of which he felt himself entirely destitute – was not a virtue but rather a lack of something: not a lack of kindly honesty and noble desires and tastes, but a lack of the power of living, of what is called heart – the aspiration which makes a man choose one out of all the innumerable paths of life that present themselves, and desire that alone.”
“The children themselves repaid her griefs with small joys. These joys were so trifling as to be as imperceptible as grains of gold among the sand, and in moments of depression she saw nothing but the sand; yet there were brighter moments when she felt nothing but joy, saw nothing but the gold.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Favorite Song

I actually can't decide which I like better. The original (above) or the cover for Holy Motors by Doctor L (below.) What do you think ?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Make a Mouth Water

...or, how to make the best lemon custard tart ever. Basically, you just gather all of the ingredients which you most likely have on hand if you are someone like me who happens to be obsessed with lemons and yogurt.

What you'll need: lemons, yogurt, rosemary, flour, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, ice water, a whisk, a pie pan, 2 bowls, and a food processor (or blender) *
* sunflowers not necessary, but certainly recommended

Below are the exact measurements/directions from So Good and Tasty's guest post on Happy Yolks.

For the crust:
1 1/3 cup spelt flour*
3 tablespoons cane sugar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
pinch of salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1-2 tablespoon ice water
for the filling

For the custard:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan and set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until little pea sized bits start to form. Add in the ice water, starting with just 1 tablespoon. Pulse a few more times, then check the dough to see if it holds together when pressed between your fingers. If not, add the 2nd tablespoon. The dough may still seem crumbly, but as long as it holds together when pressed it will be perfect.

 Dump the dough out into the prepared tart pan. Starting from the center, work your way out to the sides by pressing the dough firmly into the pan. Make sure you press it up along the sides evenly. Pierce the bottom with a fork a few times and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before filling.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Place the yogurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk until smooth and everything is evenly combined.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and only slightly jiggles when shaken lightly.

Allow to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Tart can be made the day before and kept covered and chilled in the fridge. 

*If you decide to use whole wheat flour instead of spelt flour, I suggest adding an extra 2 tsp. of butter and 2 tbsp. of ice cold water if the dough is too crumbly - but warning: the dough is very crumbly and this is ok!

Mix. Bake. Slice. Savor.

If You Asked My iPhone, It Would Tell You That...

Halloween oreos are yum (with 5 Boo-rific shapes!)
This is what Alina looks like while learning how to walk...
(she falls down and then lounges in the sun like meant to do it because wouldn't you know that lying in the grass in the sun is much more fun after falling down?)
Moving like Jagger on the dance floor isn't as easy as it sounds
My favorite candy... wrapped in dental floss. Ironic.
In the presidents' room at the Union League there are alot of Dubya's
My paintings of the two lyrical masters were finally framed & hung

Billy Shakespeare's words are as appropriate today as they were in Elizabethan times
Dragonfruit is the most gorgeous color magenta on the inside
I have some really beautiful (inside and out) friends