It’s a miracle that I could make this movie. I carried the anxiety for a very long time, four years. It’s a philosophical book and expensive movie, a scary combination.
~ Ang Lee
…we heard it was snowing in Connecticut, but alas, we were in Georgia…
Our car ride from Virginia to Georgia was long and grueling, but we finally made it to our destination very late Thursday night. It was so wonderful to see Nate & Shea again, and the rest of their multigenerational family: Shea’s mom, Angie, who so generously gave us her room for a few days, and Shea’s sister Sarah and her two little boys, Julius and Dominic. It is a full house, but a big house, and we thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality we were shown. Angie is a fabulous cook and kindly catered to our food quirks!
We brought the little guys some Lego bricks sets as a gift. Dominic adores his Uncle – and the feeling is mutual – so we got a kick out of watching Nate help him build his little Lego helicopter.
Dominic loves bugs and animals and I enjoyed reading his dinosaur book to him. Thankfully it had a pronunciation guide. Little ones have so much energy!!!
On the fifth day of Christmas Nate, Shea, Tim and I drove into Florida and ate lunch at Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean seafood restaurant in Jacksonville – the food was great and the atmosphere was tropical. Then the four of us went to see Life of Pi in 3D – it was the 3rd time for me and the 2nd time for Tim, but not in 3D before. The 3D experience was better than I thought it would be!
After we returned to the house we were treated to a spectacular sunset, Georgia style, which kind of made up for missing our snowstorm…
On the sixth day of Christmas the guys watched football while Shea read her new Nook, a Christmas gift, and I read my old Kindle. Later Tim & I sat up late (late by my standards anyway) into the night with Nate, talking about the movie, interplanetary travel, quantum physics, gun control, and assorted other existential and scientific topics. I am always amazed by these conversations because Nate seems to have gotten his logical side from Tim and his sense of wonder from me in perfectly balanced proportion.
On the seventh day of Christmas we started the long journey home, from southern Georgia to northern Virginia. Lady Zoë was looking for me and let me pet her again, but still was not ready to sit on my lap.
On the eighth day of Christmas we drove from Virginia to Connecticut, resisting the urge to stop by Dima & Larisa’s, but thrilled to find snow still on the ground in Connecticut! Winter is finally here and I hope it plans to stick around for a little while this year. And our Christmas tree was still standing and looking as pretty as when we left – we had been afraid that a week without watering would be the end of her. All in all, it was a wonderful trip!
Starting to catch up with my blogging friends after our Thanksgiving vacation in Virginia. But I must share this – one of the peak moments of the visit this year was getting to see the movie, Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, with my sister-in-law.
About a decade ago, I read the book of the same name, by Yann Martel. It was one of the best stories I have ever read and the movie did not disappoint, not for a moment. For those of us who love spiritual journeys, this is an utterly amazing one! I so identify with Pi’s childhood struggle to understand the universe and the great mystery surrounding us all. And to see his 227-day fight to survive, stranded and almost alone after being shipwrecked, portrayed so vividly on the screen, was breathtaking.
Personally, I don’t think it needs to be seen in 3D, but should definitely be seen on the big HD screen. Tim was sick during much of our visit with his family, so now that he’s feeling better I hope to drag him to see it with me soon. :) Don’t miss this one!
“Two Cats” by Suzanne Valadon
Is owning a cat good for the heart?
Compared with cat owners, people who never had a pet cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack over the 20-year study period. They were also 30% more likely to die of any cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart failure, and chronic heart disease. The results held true even after the researchers took into account other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including age, gender, race, blood pressure, and smoking. The researchers found no such link for people who had a pet dog. The findings were presented here at the American Stroke Association’s (ASA) International Stroke Conference.
~ Charlene Laino
After I happened to hear this fascinating snippet of information on the radio just before the summer solstice, I couldn’t help mentioning it to my husband as we were having a nice dinner out to celebrate the change of seasons. As many of my readers already know, Tim survived a major heart attack almost five years ago, and is likely to have another one sooner or later, which is why this finding is so interesting to us.
We love cats, but we said good-bye to our last one about twelve years ago because I learned I was allergic to them. My sinuses have been 100% better without having them in the house, but I do miss having them underfoot terribly. And Our House has always been our song, and keeping cats has always been part of our dreams together…
Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
‘Cause of you
~ Graham Nash
♫ (Our House) ♫
It’s funny how things happen sometimes. Recently I saw the documentary The White Lions on Nature on PBS, and a friend recommended a book, Mystery of the White Lions, which I devoured. Cats, big and small, have been popping up everywhere lately. Since that dinner in June we have been discussing at great length the pros and cons and feasibility of bringing two cats into our lives again. It’s a big responsibility.
We discussed removing all the old carpet to keep allergens to a minimum. And the probable need to add antihistamines to my regimen of drugs. (Although… I’ve been learning about quantum healing and am thinking it might just work on allergies, too.) Tim even made a secret trip to the vet to check out the financial aspects of routine medical care for a couple of kittens.
One day as we were driving along a cat sauntered across the road in front of us. Tim had to bring the car to a complete stop while the cat stopped too and stood his ground in our lane, staring up at us intently. This made us wonder because most cats scurry and scramble out of the way of an approaching car. After he held our attention for a while he slowly continued on his way across the street. There is a lot of synchronicity at work here!
For now we’ve agreed to wait until the fall to make a decision, but in the meantime thoughts of petting purring kittens and cats keep going through my mind…
Eggplants seem to be a favorite food of ours – so far every recipe tried with eggplants has been a big hit! The other day I used my relatively new food processor to make something besides hummus, Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Cutlets, a recipe found in my new subscription to Vegetarian Times. Another hit!
I had such an intense feeling of satisfaction while preparing it, which is saying something because I am notorious for disliking cooking. This has been a major life-style change here and I now find myself spending hours in the kitchen, happily, churning out healthy food as fast as we can eat it.
Frankly, I am pleasantly surprised by this turn of the tide. Tim is doing better avoiding animal products than I dreamed was possible. Last weekend we ate out at a Lebanese restaurant with vegan and gluten-free choices clearly indicated on the menu, so neither of us had any animal protein at all, yet we came away stuffed to the gills.
There have been a few awkward and uncomfortable moments as those around us adjust to this change. For years I have brought Swedish Meatballs to Dad’s for Christmas and Auntie apparently looks forward to them all year. My poor sister tried to explain to her why I would not be bringing them this year, to prepare her ahead of time for the inevitable disappointment. Auntie was not pleased. In fact, she declared that she didn’t see why I should bother to come if I wasn’t going to bring Swedish Meatballs. Ouch! When I did show up, she spent the evening eyeing me suspiciously. She showered Tim with affection, however. Perhaps she feels sorry for him…
The more I enjoy cooking now, the more I’m understanding what my problem was with cooking before. I disliked intensely handling animal flesh and animal carcasses. Trying to stuff a turkey one year brought me to tears – it’s hard to stuff something you’re trying not to touch. At the time I knew nothing about how animals were being tortured on their way to become our food, and I knew nothing about the link between animal protein and the diseases of affluence. Something about it just revolted me, a case of my intuition alerting me, but I just kept struggling along, managing as best I could, relying mostly on prepared meats, like Swedish Meatballs from IKEA.
There is a dark comedy I love, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, which is also a quirky love story. Wilbur is great at pointing out the endless ironies found in our lives. One of the many scenes that endeared me to him was when he was trying to prepare a goose for Christmas dinner. He just couldn’t cope and finally threw the uncooked goose into the kitchen sink and shouted, “Why does this have to be so disgusting!?!” I knew exactly how he felt.
One thing I love about vegan cooking is that the pots and pans are so easy to clean, even if the food is burned on. And I don’t have to worry about thawing something in the morning for dinner. Our freezer is now full of veggies and I can decide at the last-minute which ones I want to prepare, although we have fresh veggies as much as possible.
Our favorite cookbook remains 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles. We tried a Hearty Lentil & Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas, which was kind of blah, but there are more recipes in that cookbook which look promising. I love slow cookers and we both loved the Slow & Easy White Bean Cassoulet with the Tempeh & Shallot Confit from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.
Tim once came home with scallions when I had asked for shallots, but he is slowly getting more familiar with all these new foods. And I didn’t read a label carefully enough and bought a spice jar of red curry instead of curry. The resulting super spicy Curried Chickpeas & Kale (1,000 Vegetarian Recipes) was too hot for both of us. I made it again with regular curry and loved it, but it was still too hot for Tim.
Some of my readers had requested that I keep you all updated on our progress so I will no doubt write more about our culinary adventure in the months to come. Bon appétit!
Keep me safe and hold me tight
Let the candle burn all night
Tomorrow welcome back the light
It was longest night of the year
We press our faces to the glass
And see our little lives go past
Wave to shadows that we cast
On the longest night of the year
Make a vow when Solstice comes
To find the Light in everyone
Keep the faith and bang the drum
On the longest night of the year
~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (Longest Night of the Year) ♫
We have heard the children say -
Gentle children, whom we love -
Long ago, on Christmas Day,
Came a message from above.
Still, as Christmas-tide comes round,
They remember it again -
Echo still the joyful sound,
‘Peace on earth, good-will to men.’
Thus, forgetting tricks and play
For a moment, Lady dear,
We would wish you, if we may,
Merry Christmas, glad New Year.
~ Lewis Carroll
(From a Fairy to a Child, Christmas, 1887)
Christmas ~ Midwinter ~ Yule
Movement ~ Rebirth ~ Renewal
Three Wishes for Cinderella