the sun never says

 
 “The Sun Never Says”  
Persian Poet, Hafiz
 
Even / After all this time, / The sun never says to the earth, / “You owe Me.” / Look at what happens / With a love like that, / It lights the whole sky  
 
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Image courtesy of Carrie Lenz
 

First, a side note:  a developing awareness (with a big emphasis on developing) of my expectations has taught me many things.  They are our allies.  If I have awareness, however slight, of my expectations, I am better able to see through my clouds of daily thoughts.    

In an unburdened state, the sun lights the sky again and again without expectation that the earth will repay it.  

Expectations are surreptitious, reliable, and remind me of fireworks.  They are surreptitious in that they can be the sneakiest, slipperiest sort of beliefs dodging in and out of our subconcious and conscious worlds without our awareness of them. Trying to get ahold of them to have a closer look, as I’ve done in my meditation practice or during moments of mindfulness, is like grabbing for mist.  Reaching your arm out for a handful, it lightly disappears. They are reliable in that they consistently couch and strongly determine our experiences.  Finally, expectations are like fireworks.  It is an exclamation.  It is, this is what I think will or should happen (!) with a bang.  

I have been working with these strong belief systems in my meditation practice and during moments of mindfulness because I want to have an understanding of what emotions are packed in and around them.  As I strain to glimpse their components, I experience their  slippery personalities.  As thoughts do, they moved on by.  I know better.  I know I need to be more patient and let them move as they will.  

The reason for my desire to have a better understanding of the emotions surrounding these beliefs is that I don’t want my experiences determined before I experience them.  So, by lessening the bang (!), the this is what I think will or should happen, it gives my conceptual mind a break and a little more breathing room for a more direct experience of reality in any given moment in which expectations are involved.    

Who will join me? Who wants to acknowledge and become aware of their expectations? If you do, try sitting quietly while noticing your breath. Possibly even a consistent ten minute daily practice will allow some of these lightly moving beliefs to be noticeable. Once they are noticed and acknowledged, we may begin to develop a better understanding about why we act and react as we do.  Then, we put ourselves in the drivers seat to change the expectations, should we choose. 

Maybe then we will feel a little more like the sun does each day when it shines its warmth and light over the earth. It does so without burden or expectation. By choosing to modify unhealthy expectations, such as those that have simply been hanging around because they are part of repetitive thought patterns, maybe we’ll have more room for love.  Just as the sun loves the earth.  

 

 

swimming with vulnerability

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Image courtesy of Abigail Lenz

It sneaks up on me unannounced.  I imagine it to be a swirl of blue color, shades of the ocean, weaving, flowing like a silk scarf moving noiselessly through day and time in and out of rooms as it follows me around the house.  Eventually it catches me and settles in at quite unexpected times.  I imagine it brings a thermos of hot coffee and a snack as if to say, “Hey, I’ll be here for awhile.”  Doggedly I recognize it and turn my attention to other things only to find it waving to me from across the room.  I turn my attention to feeding my dogs and making dinner.  It is still there.  I turn my attention to taking out the trash and recycling.  It is still constantly, slowly moving around me.  The thick consistency of its movement tells me it is not going anywhere. I know this.  

The It, is vulnerability.  Vulnerability looks like the sign in the picture above.  A sign on which all manners of various locations and directions are posted indicating different routes (or journeys) we can take in life.  Note the top arrow in the picture says, “Go Fish.” Yep.  Such is vulnerability.

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Image taken at Shadowood Farm 

I’ve noticed this feeling tends to swoop into my life when one of the following two things happen:

1) When I am grasping for something to be as it was. So, maybe that “something” was a particularly fun weekend spent with my husband or seeing all three of my dogs swim and play at the beach with an incredible amount of free spirit.  Not that these things cannot happen again, they will.  But, vulnerability, for me, tends to blossom out of my desire to stop time.  To grasp, reach, and keep a particular situation as it is all the while knowing this is not the way things work, nor should they.  

2) The second way in which vulnerability leans the most heavily on me is when I am feeling purposeless.  For me, lack of purpose feels like what I am doing does not matter or does not make a difference in the big picture of life.  

When I find myself in one of these two situations, I try to swim in its essence.  Swim in the essence of vulnerability.  It is the equivalent of Rumi coaching us to welcome all of our emotions to the table.  However, I envision myself literally swimming surrounded by the essence of vulnerability.  Surrounded by what vulnerability means to me at its very core.  In other words, I cannot let myself sugar coat how deeply this emotion can cut.  That is only skimming the surface.  

While sitting in meditation, I can let this blue emotion settle around me, engulf me. (By engulfed, I mean I am fully present – or try to be- and aware of this feeling.) Then, and only then, am I able to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get on with life.  If I try to cut corners and, say, welcome it with a wave and a hello, it visits me again relatively quickly.  If I try to turn my attention to other things (I have a lot of experience with this!), as I mentioned, it noiselessly, gently follows me.  It goes without saying, I need a lot of practice, most likely a lifetime of practice with this emotion.  

Meditation can get us through and help us with many things in life.  Vulnerability tends to be one of my more difficult feelings to deal with.  My energy and thoughts are inclined to gather around and stick to this feeling more easily than others.  If you have a particularly difficult emotion, maybe give sitting with it in meditation a try, or pick a less powerful feeling to begin with if you are new to the practice.  Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche teaches meditators to be fully present and aware of these emotions while not identifying with them.  Rather, as these significant feelings come up, we will watch them pass through our field of awareness, as Rinpoche teaches, just like clouds pass through the sky.  

 

where’s the compromise?

The art of compromise can be difficult, especially if we don’t realize that a compromise is needed. Sometimes, though, awareness  that an accommodation or middle ground is necessary can be a touchstone for a day’s meditation.  It can provide an external reference point.  How so? With the recognition that compromise would be a healthy move in a given situation, a framework of adjustment is established.  In other words, a knowledge that hmmm… my way of thinking about this issue may not be the only way to think about it… gives us an opportunity to treat other situations differently than we typically might.  Which, in turn, can be used throughout any given day to experience a different perspective.  

 

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Here’s an example:

My husband and I use natural flea and tick repellents on our dogs and in our home.  Fleas are not an easy thing to deter in South Florida.  Natural remedies involve a lot of vacuuming, washing towels and bedcovers, and using essential oils to deter the little critters. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.   Yet, the fleas still come.  My response? I get stuck in the “I must get rid of these fleas using only natural products because it is the healthiest thing to do for both human and animal” mindset.  This can go on for (ahem) months.  Stuck.  I get stuck.

One night around 2:00 a.m. when our labradoodle was itching loudly waking up both Scott and I, my husband asked me, “Kelly, where’s the compromise?”  There was no emotion in his voice.  Just a simple question.  

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It was an adjustment.  A re-boot.  An external reference point.  My mind immediately developed another frame of reference.  I’ve carried this new frame of reference with me over the past several weeks.  It has become a touchstone.  I began to look for, around, and under those compromises because I don’t want to be stuck.  Or, if I am going to be stuck, I want to recognize it.  Thus far, I’ve learned two things:

1) The greatest compromise may lie within ourselves.  And, 

2) If a lot of emotion is involved in a situation in which middle ground is trying to be reached, a personal agenda may be lurking in the background.  

The first lesson, accepting what is, is an internal job.  Isn’t a big part of compromising a willingness to allow something to be a way other then what it currently is or that we think it should be?  So, maybe inherent in taking the middle road is adjustment and acceptance.  The acceptance within ourselves that we haven’t failed or done something wrong if we think something should be a certain way. Yet, it just isn’t.  I haven’t failed if, try as I might, the natural flea remedies aren’t doing the job.  Adjustment.  Frame of reference.  I live in South Florida. The uber-flea capital of the world.  (Yeah, there is emotion in that exaggerated sentence.)  Silly as it may seem (it does to me, anyway) to use fleas as an example, I think this can be extrapolated to many areas in our lives. I know it can in my life.

The second thing I’ve learned is that I should first examine my reasons for considering (or not considering) a compromise in any situation in life. If strong emotions are involved or attached to the situation, I may be operating from a personal agenda. If I am operating from a personal agenda, emotion may be driving my response rather than reason or facts.  

In other words, maybe taking the middle road is comprised of both compromise and acceptance.  A compromise between parties or situations and an acceptance between parties and within the individual.  Compromise can bring us back to an external reference point, a touchstone, and an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.  

 

meet lucy and practice openness

Three weeks ago openness came to me in the form of a 10 year old 70 pound black labrador retriever named Lucy.   

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Many of you know Scott and I already have two big dogs, Simon and Ollie, pictured below.  Simon is on the right.  Ollie is on the left.  That is a lot of dog.  So, another one?  Yes.    

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Coincidentally or not coincidentally, openness has been something I’ve been struggling with for a few years.  I felt it.  I knew it.  But it is a slippery thing, this openness business.  We set up boundaries to protect ourselves and to control our environments. When I met Lucy, I felt as if I was laying down a sword. It hit me at the gut level.  

Lucy’s owners were no longer able to care for her.  I ran into the situation, well, by accident.  And how did Lucy respond?  She was open to another human caring for her. In a very gentle yet assertive way, she told me she was ready for a new home.  There stood openness staring me in the face.  She has taught me to look at my boundaries, reconsider them, work on them, and challenge myself with turning toward rather than turning away.  

Ok, if some of you are now thinking, “Really, Kelly, really ?  All of this from a chance encounter with a labrador retriever? You are crazy.”  I would understand.  But, let me take you further into how meditation, boundaries, and openness collide.   

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A couple of days into informally fostering her (we’ve now adopted her), I realized the laying down of swords feeds openness.  The openness we cultivate when we whittle away at boundaries that we’ve set over the course of our lives.  When we decide we’ll control our environments a little less and be a little more open.  We cultivate openness through practice and through meditation.   

When I met Lucy, as I mentioned, I had the felt experience of laying down a sword.  I didn’t think about it.  That is simply what I felt.  Isn’t that what a boundary is?  Aren’t boundaries akin to our arsenal of swords we keep at hand to keep life and others in check?  

By practicing meditation, we choose to actively engage in our lives.  We turn toward rather than turning away.  By practicing openness we choose to turn toward.  Boundaries turn us away.  

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Heidi Swanson at www.101cookbooks.com has a fantastic soup on her site posted a few weeks ago. She calls it Immunity Soup.  It is one of the best broths I’ve had in a long time.  Spikes of garlic, ginger and pepper make it sharp while onion, carrot, and celery add mellow notes.  I’d also (and will) use the broth simply as a base for other soups.  It is that good.  

 

 

one conscious breath

Meditation happens the moment we realize our focus has drifted from the present. In that split second realization, when we are in the now, the mind loosens.  It rests.  It shakes off the troubles of the past and worries of the future. 

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As I sit here typing this, my mind moves backward and forward. Back into what I did yesterday and forward into the things I need (want) to accomplish this evening. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions and intention setting, consider tucking a thought into the back of your mind that will trigger a stillness of the mind.  Something that has the possibility of bringing about a quieting and slowing of the jumpiness of the mind.  For me the thought is, “back to the breath, Kelly, back to the breath.”  This brings me out of a swirl of thoughts into a stillness and settledness.  That doesn’t mean that normal thought activity does not carry on soon thereafter.  It does. But, for those moments, resting of the mind can and does happen.  

Weeks 11 through 14 in the garden have found me planting turnips, kohlrabi, darkifor kale, shishito peppers, leeks and a few more lettuces.   Some from starter plants, but mostly from seed.  The leeks did not germinate and needed to be re-seeded, but the others have sent up tiny shoots.  I also filled in among the cells a few more radishes while admiring the frothy tops of carrots planted weeks ago.

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The tomato plants are not faring well with the bacterial blight and what also appears to be a plant- parasitic insect called a root-knot nematode feeding on the roots of at least one of the tomato plants.  The tomato plant where it was feeding had to be removed.  I underplanted two more tomato plants near the two mature ones expecting the mature ones will need to be pulled soon.  Finally, below is a shot of a couple things I brought home, scallions and russian kale.   

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I hope 2014 brings about a chance to experience mindfulness and stillness in your day even if it is in the form of one conscious breath.  That is and would be a beautiful thing.    

beauty and blight

Week nine in our garden has brought beauty and blight.  The beauty is seen in the photo below of the left side of our garden. Plants look healthy, green, and vibrant. Hidden from this photo are the two squash plants I removed that succumbed to fungus. Typical of south Florida gardening especially when heat and humidity hang on into the growing season.  Blight (an airborne bacteria that destroys plants) is beginning to take over the tomato plants so carefully grown from seed.  The photo on the right shows a young tomato plant in the foreground I began with a starter plant in the early weeks of planting.

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Growing season begins around October 1st in this climate zone.  The garden started slowly in the first few weeks while I planted seeds and starter plants.  While there are fungal issues and blight spreading, that does not detract from the many vegetables that are growing well.  Scallions, lettuces, kale photo copy 4, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, beets, and romanesco, to name a few, are growing well.  (Resembling cauliflower, romanesco is an edible flower and part of the cruciferous family.)  

Planted yesterday, the carrot seeds will start to show bright, frothy tops in about four weeks.  The photo on the lower right shows carrots started from seed after five weeks.  

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 Below is a photo of one of our prettiest plants beginning to bear fruit.  

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It is a large, gangly tomato plant standing around six to seven feet tall at its highest point.  We’ll see if it survives the blight.  I suspect it will.  

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If you have vegetables sitting in your crisper and are not sure what to do with them, try sautéing them lightly in olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, maybe a squeeze of lemon and a small pinch of red pepper flakes for heat.  If root vegetables are on hand, try roasting them.  Cutting each vegetable into roughly the same size, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper on a large baking sheet.  Roast until tender in an oven 350 to 400 degrees.  Roasted vegetables can easily be made into a comforting soup.  Blend the roasted veggies with a little broth.  Season to taste.  Make it a meal and garnish with croutons, drizzle with oil.

Any meal preparation can be done with mindfulness, no matter how simple or how complicated.  Try breathing diaphragmatically (deeply into the belly.)  Our breath is a gateway to mindfulness.  

 

a seed to change

While watching squash develop from small starter plants (seen in the immediate foreground of the picture on the left) in my plot at a community garden, I’ve been continually reminded of change and growth on a daily basis.  Change happens as plants grow.  Likewise, change happens as people grow. I’ve also had the good fortune to witness change and growth on a community level. When people come together to support a unifying cause, community is born. Whether it be walking to raise funds for breast cancer, painting a yoga studio, or growing a cover crop to enhance soil in a community garden,  I’ve observed first hand the power in community, interdependence, interconnectedness and change.  For this, I am very grateful.   

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Community is beautifully elastic.  Change and growth within groups bends, swells, grows taller and wider.  Some gatherings of people supporting a cause will eventually, naturally die off like the squash plant after it gives its fruit or the ladies coming together for a morning to walk for breast cancer.  But, isn’t that the beauty of growth and change?  It morphs and wiggles never settling for too much time.  

Meditation helps and teaches the practitioner to embrace, soften around and get stronger with change, growth, interconnectedness and interdependence. Our perspectives or long held beliefs we’ve had about any of these topics may shift or be challenged in a positive way with a consistent meditation practice.  

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This apple oat crisp straight out of Martha Stewart Living mag is a Thanksgiving worthy dessert with the added benefit that no crust is involved.  The recipe below is MSL’s.  I changed it up a bit…an 8 x8 baking dish made the dessert a little thicker.  For the topping my changes were:  coconut oil, melted, instead of butter, coconut palm sugar for its earthiness rather than brown sugar, an increase of 1/4 c. of oats (which I ground) gave the resulting dish a little more topping, and a good sprinkling of cinnamon. For the filling I used only apples, raisins and another good sprinkling of cinnamon.  No sugar. Keep an eye on your dessert as it is baking. Mine took a full 15 minutes less to bake than the MSL recipe.  

In the baking mood and want another idea?  Check out Laura’s Sweet Potato Muffins.  

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Apple Oat Crisp

from Martha Stewart Living, November Issue

Topping 

  • 1 c. old -fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/8 t coarse salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 pounds sweet apples 
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar 
  • 1/4 c. dried cherries
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon 
  1. Topping: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pulse 1/2 c. oats in a food processor until coarsely ground.  Transfer to a bowl and add remaining 1/2 c. oats, brown sugar, salt, and butter.  Stir until combined. 
  2. Filling: Toss together filling ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a 9 inch square baking dish.  Sprinkle with topping.  Cover with parchment lined foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking until apples are tender and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes more.  Let cool slightly before serving. 

 

 

weeding

And so it goes that this past week has found me thinking about weeding and habits of mind. Maybe I should explain.  

changing habits of mind

In my good friend’s yoga studio, YogaFish @ www.yogafishstuart.com, there is a book in the lobby of a compilation of thoughts from wise minds.  A recent excerpt reads, “The key is changing our habits and, in particular, the habits of our mind.”  

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Habits of mind have many similarities with weeds.  Both take hold quickly and grow even faster.  Once the rain begins to water those weeds they’ll run with it leaving us pulling weeds that are knee high.  Similarly, once gossipy neurons kick in and begin their conversations, a habit of mind is born leaving the person (me) wishing they would have stopped themselves before entering the rabbit hole.  Therefore, it was very fitting that: 

1) We had a rainy week in Stuart, FL to water and nurture weeds.

2) My husband and I have many landscaping beds around our house.

3) My mind was prime for some downward spiral, rabbit hole, type thinking.  

Had I been on my game this past week, I would have kept all of this in mind.  I would have remembered the quote knowing full well how habits of mind work.  Had I been of sound mind (or, at least, sounder mind), I could have talked myself out of my what I call downward spiral, rabbit hole type thinking.  The kind that begins with something like:  a) I’ll never get all of these weeds pulled; continues with b) Oh my gosh, the garage is a mess;  and ends with c) I’ll never achieve my dream of having beautiful pictures on this blog.  Notice how many times I used the word, “never” when I describe my rabbit hole thinking in points a, b, and c.   I don’t see the world in absolutes.  Typically I do not use the word “never.”  But, when my mind holds this type of mindset, overall, negative thinking pops up and populates my thoughts.   

Sound silly? Maybe.  But, take many, many steps back with me and apply that mindset that I’ve just described on a much broader scale.  How would that affect the person with the negative gossipy neurons headed in for a job interview or finishing up their rough draft of a novel?  

As we pull weeds out of our landscaping beds, we can also gently weed our minds.  By weeding our minds, I mean we can uproot those thoughts that no longer serve us and those around us. We have the ability to re-route our neuronal pathways. Reframing and training our minds can be done through the work of meditation. It is a practice. 

 

 

what is living?

The author, Joyce Maynard, says she feels most at home at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.  It is there she engages in those activities that define what living is to her.  And, more importantly, I am surmising she has also found a way of being.

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What is living?  Maynard has prompted me to, once again, think about this question.  I’ve rolled this question around in my mind frequently over the past five years or so.  It has rolled in and out of consciousness.  But, this time around the idea of living has collided with me differently.  Why?  For the first time, I believe I am developing the ability to define what living is to me.  Am I a late bloomer?  Very likely.

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The question deserves to be asked at different stages in life.  Maybe during those times when we feel like we are not doing what we want to do with our lives. Or, a need is perceived to make a significant change regardless of how we feel about the way we are currently choosing to live. Or, maybe you feel a small tug to make just a little change in your world.  Yet, you are not sure what that change should be.

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for help when I make decisions throughout life.  So, in any form this question is used, if we ask it of ourselves, intentions begin to cultivate and grow.  Even if an audible answer does not arise (lucky you if one does!)  after we whisper to ourselves, “what does living mean to me?” the mind will take note of whatever the felt experience is.  Try not to need or expect an answer.  If you do get one, it does not have to be or need to be verbal.  In fact, I’ve found I do not get any audible answers or thoughts. I get a feeling. If the question brings up confusion, that is ok.  Let it bring up confusion.  It did for me for many years.  And, I am sure it will again in years to come.

(This is not to say I do not have confusion and anxiety with some areas of my life.  I do.  But, I am saying that some aspects of my life have been smoothed out and have lost their rough edges where confusion and indecisiveness used to reside.  I use myself as an example to, hopefully, create a rough guide for someone else who may want to gain a better understanding around their individual way of being.)

Asking the question, “what is living to me?” is similar to setting an intention at the beginning of a yoga class.  It prompts an energy and begins to sketch a blueprint that establishes a framework.  Yes, it is a blueprint that is in pencil because our lives are constantly in flux.  But, nevertheless, it is your blueprint.  This blueprint and framework will create a spaciousness allowing you to make changes, however large or small.  Some past fears may fall away.  It is your awareness that will take you there and shape your life’s path as time moves on just as Joyce Maynard did when she found Guatemala is where she feels most at home. It has become her way of being.

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A vegan treat, Nava Atlas’ sloppy joes.  Here I’ve posted her recipe verbatim.  But, when I made them I took the technique and subbed ingredients.  One addition I added that I’ll throw out there if you’d like to try, add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and baking cocoa powder. It really brings a depth of flavor to the dish that I enjoyed.  Another thing I enjoyed was chili sauce rather than tomato sauce.   Either way, these are fun to make and are a really good, substantial dinner.  I dressed the bread with sharp dijon mustard, sweet pickle relish, and refreshing red leaf lettuce.

Nava Atlas’ Pinto Bean and Quinoa Sloppy Joes    

Serves: 4 to 6

  • 1/2 cup raw quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 15- to 16-ounce can pinto or red beans,
    drained, rinsed, and coarsely mashed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 medium tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or natural granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more for topping, optional
  • Shredded lettuce, baby spinach leaves, or green sprouts
  • 6 whole grain rolls, English muffins, or mini-pitas

Combine the quinoa with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the bell pepper and sauté until both are golden.

Add the remaining ingredients except the last two, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over medium-low heat, loosely covered, for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the skillet stand off the heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle further and for the quinoa to absorb the tomatoey flavors.

For each serving, spoon some of the filling onto the bottoms of whole-grain rolls and cover with the tops. Or, you can serve these open-faced.

where the butterfly flew

 
 

Black sooty mold covering much of our property on the north side of our house results in anger?  Well, yes.  Or, maybe. Wait a minute, I am not so sure.  But, I am sure that anger wraps itself around a victim and squeezes tightly.  (As it did to me for a few days.) It is the python of human emotions.

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While I was finishing cutting off numerous palm fronds and tree branches sticky with a white, sugary substance (called honeydew) and slick with black sooty mold the rugose spiraling whitefly leaves behind, again I contemplated this anger I had. Really?  Could I really be this angry at a whitefly (even if the South Florida press does call it an insect tsunami) that is feeding on much of our landscaping? At its root, the anger seemed misguided. But, surely there must be somewhere or something to whom, at whom, I can point the finger for this grave injustice.

 

Meanwhile, this anger found me outside cutting back foliage surrounded by the tiny white creature flying about madly as I removed their food source.  Spontaneously, I found myself asking the flies (while swatting them away from my head) if we could find a peaceful way to coexist.  Say, possibly, a bit of a more balanced approach than black soot covering the north side of our property.  Then, just as quickly and without conscious thought, I asked myself if I could find a bit of a more balanced approach when dealing with myself.  Without making this too confusing, in other words, I discovered I was angry at myself.

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As soon as I had made that realization, everything softened.  It all kinda drooped into a deflated acceptance.  As the anger with myself melted, I was no longer angry with mother nature.  Annoyed, perhaps, at still having to deal with this new insect wanting to feed on many of our plants, but the anger that squeezes tightly was gone.

I continued working, yet the work was different.  Yes, I still needed to remove the heavily infested fronds from one plant in particular.  But, I now did so at a slower pace.  I, once again, tuned into what was going on in nature around me.  (While in my angry state, I was just whacking away at fronds not available emotionally to listen to the wind or the birds.) As I was finishing up, a large black and yellow butterfly came to rest on our viburnum hedge an arm’s length from me.  It rested for a beat or two – longer than I’ve witnessed before.  It seemed to be acknowledging my acceptance of anger at myself.  At the same time, I acknowledged the presence of peace.

Here is a summery creamy dressing to use on salads, stir into grains, or as a sandwich spread.
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Creamy Avocado Dressing
Megan Gordon’s recipe


1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Combine all ingredients except for the yogurt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process until smooth.  Add yogurt.  Give it one more whirl or two to combine. Taste and adjust for salt.