Sorry for my absence, I guess I'm still feeling tired and I've been busy as well... I'll admit that yesterday I just plum forgot and right now I feel like I'm going to fall asleep at my laptop... Hopefully I'll be more together to recap tomorrow (not that anything particular is going on).
After a bike ride I stopped to fill up my water at the local health food store and grabbed an Alternative Baking Company chocolate chip cookie. It was absolutely perfect - if you've never had one, well, what are you waiting for?!
I'm fairly exhausted today from work (Sundays are my long days) - I drew a bath and soaked in some very hot water that I put some mineral salts in. If nothing else, they have a strange but pleasant smell (the package says they help relieve soreness and some other things).
As I was letting my dogs out I heard the cricket chorus. Still a little weak, but it's certainly getting there. There was also a bird - I'm not sure what kind - a nightingale? It sounded like it might be mimicking other birds... Sometimes it was very pretty, sometimes, not so elegant. It helped me relax all the same - there's some stress in life now, what with it being the end of the semester and some stuff coming up at work...
But now I'm going to go collapse into bed. I hope I dream tonight...
I volunteered to help build a community garden today. I got up early, rode my bike over there, and worked in the sun until about one. It's the first time I've ever put such effort into gardening - a full body effort, I guess; most of my own gardening has been gardening in pots on the balcony. The world's a different place in the earlier hours of the day...
It was surprisingly invigorating rather than draining - I had enough energy to make it through work unimpaired. I feel like I always hear about how the sun is bad for you, but I think there's something refreshing about just being in the sun for hours and hours - I know, I really throw caution to the wind.
I wish I had a plot, but there's already a waiting list for them, plus I'm not sure I could afford the fee (though it affords you a lot of stuff - access to their tools, compost, some other things... You really only need to bring plants!). Just creating, however, and being outside was enough for me, though.
Today's been a productive day - I've been chipping away at school projects and whatnot... It's that time of the semester again.
I think I've entered a sort of Spring Fever - not as in an irrational craziness, but a fever like a dream or fog of the mind, where the unreal and real become confused. I feel more daydreamy and introverted lately, wanting to explore new nooks in my inner life.
I'm also in more of a movie mood. Above is a clip from probably the movie I love the most - secretly, because it hurts when people laugh at the things you love, and a lot of people tend to look down on anime (or maybe I just lack courage) - it's called Spirited Away. It very Shinto, I think, in it's orientation of nature and man's interaction with it, but at the same time Miyazaki has a way of making even very culturally specific things such as Shinto relatable to everyone. This movie always puts me at ease, and I really relate and take to heart the messages and feelings of the movie. It never fails to remind me of myself as a child, and of the dreams of childhood. As a child, I would talk to plants and even a rotting, fallen tree once... I'm not sure that I would say I was an animist as a child; somehow it doesn't seem proper to go back and intellectualize my fairly simple and naive worldview. I just was as I was.
Charity and volunteering are things I think the world needs more of. Yes, despite issues on the efficacy of aid and whatnot - at the end of the day, I think the effort people put forth to make change, and the belief that yes, they can bring positive change to the world, is absolutely invaluable and really, the foundation for any change to take place.
Maybe I'm just blowing it out of proportion, but hearing about the "Majblomman" tradition over at the Lolita blog really warmed my heart - children volunteering to collect aid to help fight child poverty, and what they're selling to raise the money isn't some silly commercialized product or something that can be used as a status symbol - it's a simple paper flower, perfectly whimsical and hard to criticize. The world needs more of this!
I hope everyone had a good Earth Day. I have to admit I didn't do anything unusually "Earth"y today - just checked over my garden, did my usual recycling, just the normal stuff. Although I did decide today to volunteer with a local community garden group that's making a new garden near where I live - I'd like to learn more about this sort of agricultural gardening (I don't want to really say "farming") before I attempt it myself someday.
Hmm, sixty days of recounting the small happinesses of my days. One thing about blogging, or journaling in general, is that you can get a very clear idea of how you've grown, and why. For me anyway, it's easy to forget some of these changes or where they came from. With this, I can always associate certain events or ideas with particular posts, even if I don't mention them.
One positive change I've noticed lately is that I've become more of an agent of action; a doer. Even if they're small, they're still me enacting a philosphy of simple living that appeals to me greatly - I'm not just thinking about and talking about abstracts, I'm successfully integrating a new paradigm into my life.
Today I made yogurt! Well, I guess it won't really be done until tomorrow, but all the same - it's something I've been meaning to do for a while. In fact, the yogurt maker I have was given to me as a high school graduating gift, and I used it all of twice before it became this appliance I just lugged around and would one day get back to. I used some unhomogenized milk and put some of my organic store bought yogurt in as a starter. I've had success with this brand before, so I think it'll turn out well.
While I was making the yogurt, a wonderful thundershower rolled through. I love the smell of the outdoors after the rain, and a raucous thundershower, complete with brief downpours, is definitely a highlight of the warmer weather.
Today I was happy when a coworker brought in a gift for me. A friend of hers handles, well, estates I suppose, and one estate he was given control of belonged to an elderly woman with, apparently, a lot of clothes. So my coworker, thinking of me (how sweet!) is given by her friend the lady's clothes and scarves. She sifted through them, seperated the wheat from the chaff as it were, and brought it in for me in a new tote to boot. I'm happy about this for more than the obvious reason too - I figured I wouldn't be able to get new clothes until December, so this was fortuitous as well as generous. I especially like the scarves - some of them look like scraps of material the lady cut out, so I'll need to sew the hems on some edges, but overall, they're very nice.
A comic I've been following for a little while now, Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life, is a very flaky sort. I mean, it's well done, entertaining, and I felt the story line really draw me in, so I read through all the strips as soon as I stumbled on this comic. And then - what? The flakiness (and I mean this in the best way possible :) ) comes in - generally speaking, the comic doesn't update for months (or half years) at a time. I check it periodically - once or so a month - and I did just today, to see that there were two, yes two new strips.
Not-web-related, I great today. I spent a lot of time outside - a little bit on my balcony, checking over my plants and planting a Thai basil plant (since my basil seeds never sprouted), and more significantly spending a few hours at the dog park. I love that feeling after you've been outside of residual sunshine - there's a heat left on your skin, but you aren't sunburned (at least, I hope not). Makes going to sleep easy.
It was also great because I ran into a friend that I've wanted to get in touch with but had lost a digit to her number. We chatted for a bit and I got her number, she's probably one of the better-liked people that I've met here in my years, so it was nice to bump into her and meet her dogs.
The weather was so nice today that I rode my bike to campus, despite it being a little chilly. The sun, the sky, the plants and bugs, everything was just calling out for me to come play... I couldn't exactly play, but riding my bike with an empty mine, simply appreciating what was going on around me, the colors and shapes, like I used to when I was younger by the pond, was nice. I think I really need to get more away time - when I was younger we lived on top of a hill, and at the bottom was some woods and a pond. I would always go there and just sit.
Some things are starting for me recently, and some things are ending. I guess that's what Spring is all about - dusting things off, discarding what is no longer needed, and most importantly, beginning!
Somtimes I don't feel like I'm really alive, in this world, in objective reality. I exist as a voyeur, with my thoughts wandering around in the fog of my mind, trying to penetrate and reach a clarity, a fresh state of mind where I can really feel. Not just feel as in, say, feelings, but feel a connectedness with the larger world - something I'm finding that I lack and very anxiously want.
While having an active imagination is great, it's no good to feel trapped by your dream world, turning you into a recluse. This may not seem like a "happy" post, but I'm glad I've had these realizations - I'm always trying to improve myself. My big obstacle is myself, I have zero sense of follow through and new habits are hard to break in. But I think with some reflection and dedication, I'll manage to bring about whatever changes I want for my life in order to be the person I want to be.
I've spent today reading, both books and on my blog roll. There's my books for school on Kumari, and books for pleasure, and then the blogs... I love anything that challenges me. Perceptions of the world, of how world views are crafted, of people, events, speculations in more esoteric areas - anything critical that forces you, through the claims they make, to examine your life.
Therioshamanism, which is fairly "out there" wrt spiritual beliefs, is articulate, thorough, and very fascinating (given my pet interest in shamanic practices, asceticism, and esoteric spirituality in general)
Wronging Rights, a biting criticism of popular conceptions of humanitarian crises, the media, and the nature of aid, all while managing to be extremely funny
It's important to read before going to bed, so you can give yourself some dreaming material.
To follow up on the almond cake I made: everyone loved it! It had the consistency of pound cake, but wasn't extremely sweet either, and had a pleasing almond flavor - not too weak or too strong. I served it with whipped cream on the side, which helped to cut through and contrast the denseness of the cake.
Happy Easter everybody! It's going to be an extremely busy day for me, since Easter is a big brunch holiday. I can finally eat sweets though (since I gave up white sugar for Lent), so I'm very excited - my boyfriend already gave me a Reeses, haha. Hopefully before the insanity begins there will be time for some of my coworkers to have some cake with me.
Today was a relaxing, do-nothing sort of day. I did some reading, took a long nap, bought some very pretty marigolds to plant in my hanging planter, played lots of tug-of-war with my dogs... And, unintentionally but appropriately enough, had sushi for dinner (since it's Good Friday, I guess you're supposed to eat fish?).
Tomorrow before work I'm going to make an almond cake, and type up some stuff... But for now, sleep.
A research project for my class has (to my surprise) led me to a personal connection of sorts. I'm doing my project on Kumari, who are believed to be living emanations of the goddess Taleju (more commonly known as Durga). She is a fierce warrior goddess, who was created by the gods as they released their energies upon Shiva's wife Parvati in frustration (the world was being overtaken by a demon that they could not defeat).
Because she came from Parvati, she is considered a more fierce form of her, and she is also considered an aspect of Kali (all three of these being associated as Shiva's consort). Really though, it seems all goddesses are connected as aspects of Devi, that is, the (universal) divine female principle.
The name Durga (according to Wikipedia, ha) means "the inaccesible" or "the invincible." I'm not sure what Taleju means in the Nepalese dialect (which is the concern of my project, as Kumari are a Nepalese phenomena), but the Hindu name is at least telling. Given my predilections - towards stoicism, and towards melancholy and distance, but at the same time with this desire for compassion towards others - I find her an appealing figure. As befitting a fierce warrior goddess, she is unafraid, supremely confident, capable, but always laughing and in good humor (even in the heat of battle). Besides this, she is self-sufficient (the translation of the concept svātantrya) and embodies "fierce compassion."
Really the Wiki stuff doesn't provide the most direct (or perhaps accurate?) impression of Durga. Reading the autobiography of a former royal Kumari, From Goddess to Mortal, she describes how she felt, being the goddess after all - her reactions, her calm demeanor, her sense of duty, compassion, and power. Like this, for example:
Though the same ceremony is repeated every morning, and I no longer pay attention, I never get bored or fidgety, but simply sit there in my stony-faced way. I know that I am a goddess, that this is the way a goddess is treated and this is the way she behaves.
...but I understand that because they will leave an offering on a small pillar in the courtyard, I have a duty to show myself at the window, just as I understand that I have a duty not to smile when I am there.
I know that I will be able to cure him if I want to, though since he is not a child, I am not particularly interested ... There was no question of my not accepting his puja. Though children are the only ones I really care about, I have no hostile feeling towards anyone, not even the irritable priest whom I enjoy tormenting (more like "playing pranks on" in case you were wondering), and am happy enough for him to be cured.
I am not sure at what age I first began to notice feeling different whenever the naga necklace was put on, but wearing it I suddenly felt myself to be in some way apart from and superior to the people around me, and I never felt like talking to anyone. Nor did I ever feel like smiling. It is not actually true that Kumari is forbidden to smile, but once she is dressed up with the naga necklace on, it would never occur to her.
There's something so appealing about this combination of young girls (the Kumari are aged 4-12 generally) and this fierce warrior. It's strangely attractive and fascinating, for me at least because of my own interest in (attatchment to?) childhood but also in becoming a more confident person, and I hope I presented this topic in the full vibrancy and color that I get from it.
I'm back home from my excursion up north to visit my family and friends. Even though it was brief, it was nice to see them again, and just relax at my parent's place - while I've been away, they replaced the old bed in my room with queen size bed... Very grand compared to what I was sleeping on before, and very warm and comfortable... My mom made some (dark) curtains for the room too, so I didn't want to wake up this morning.
My friend and I belatedly exchanged Christmas presents. She got me this funny little keychain and a little flower pressing kit, which was actually very thoughtful of her since lately I've been thinking I should press flowers... I might try pressing some of the flowers I planted, or I might go back out to Maymont and collected flowers from their various gardens once they're all in bloom.
Here's the commercial that was pretty much convinced my friend to get it, since it's so hilarious:
The end of yesterday got surprisingly crowded, so I didn't get a chance to update. I went to a (very interesting) lecture and then drove upstate to visit my family - I ended up watching a Will Ferrel (as George Bush) comedy special with my brother. My parents have a house out in the woods, unfortunately they haven't begun to grow leaves but it's still a very nice atmosphere. My mom made some new curtains for my room, so it's hard to get up in the morning (since it's so dark and my sheets are so warm, haha).
I found a promsing recipe for a starter dough for bread. Wouldn't that be great? To bake your own bread every day or two? It's not exactly like it says ("five minutes a day") but it still looks fairly quick.
I'm really glad it rained today - it made the landscape look positively bursting with color by comparison.The dark brown barks and gray skies really set off the new leaves, making them look neon green along with the delicately tinted flowers. While I was driving back to my apartment, I enjoyed the view of the trees on either side, with their branches arching, in the manner of colors I just described.
Finally, it's skirt-wearing weather! I managed to wear one yesterday, and have been thinking up outfits today with my skirts and new tops. It's funny, I'm really hot or cold with skirts - last year I hardly wore them. I have a feeling this year will be very skirt-intensive.
It's a little cliche, but lately there's definitely been a sort of Vivaldi "Spring" feeling in the air:
1oz vit e oil (as a preservative, if I don't use tamanu oil)
maybe some essential oil, to scent it like either vanilla or almond (or both?)
I'm wondering if I shouldn't include beeswax, since I see that in a lot of recipes... If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
I just spent the last hour or so walking to the local organic market and back. On the way back I stopped at a yard sale and picked up some silk scarves to wear in my hair (finally!) since it's going to need some sort of cover as it grows... It's about 70 degrees and breezy, I wore a skirt for the first time all year I think, it goes down to my knees and I love it when it moves around in the wind.
I'm head over heels for Everyday Minerals. They have a wonderful sampler where you can get five samples (3 foundations, 1 blush/eyeshadow/whatever, 1 concealer) for only the cost of shipping ($3 or so). The pigmentation is great, and it's fairly durable (that is to say, it lasts a good while). I just got my little sampler a few days ago, but I've already picked out more stuff I want... Haha, but I'm going to try and hold back. For me anyway, I figure it's not good to just rush headlong into a big buying spree (even if it's only $3), because, well, it's sort of like gorging on desserts... At the end of it you aren't satisfied, and in fact I tend to be disappointed in myself (especially now, since I'm trying to simplify). All I really want is this particular blush anyway... (I just want to play with colors!)
In other news, I have big plans to bake an almond cake for Easter. I'm not particularly religious, or even Catholic, but despite that I gave up sugar for Lent - mostly in the form of desserts or drinks (sometimes it's hard to cut out totally, there's even sugar in some peanut butters!). I'm so excited, I really think it'll turn out awesome! I'm going to bring it in to work to share with everyone, there's no way my boyfriend and I could eat it by ourselves.
This song has been stuck in my head all day. So has the idea, the concept, of "love." Love isn't just a wonderful and powerful emotion that acts on a person; Love is a state of mind, something a person can do, something a person can give, something a person can be. I don't talk about it much, but for a while now I've had the goal of being a "vessel of Love" (I forget where I first saw that, but it really stuck), and have been pursuing this goal with, well, not much success so far, but enthusiasm. It requires a lot of reflection and introspection - which I'm good at! - and then, determination and action to create the necessary changes and adjustments - which I'm not as good at.
For me anyway, I can't think on this topic of Love without coming to philosophical and cosmological sorts of questions - for example, talking about Love as I am reminds me of a Platonic Form. I wouldn't say I'm a neo-Platonist... I don't know, and if nothing else, maintaining a beginner's mind has proved to open lots of pathways for investigation... The answers, I guess, are already there: all you need is love, for example. Go where your heart, or intuition takes you - since I had and continue to have such a strong reaction and urge towards the "vessel of Love" idea...
So I made my chai tea today! I modified a recipe I found here. I accidentally used a bit too much milk, which weakened the flavor, but otherwise I thought it was good... I think it was a nice, strong brew. Here's roughly how I did it:
1 tsp cardamom, ground
pinch or two of black pepper, ground
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
11 whole cloves
1/8 tsp caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
Place in 4 cups water, bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, cut off water and cover the pot, steep for 10 minutes
1 bag darjeeling tea
Add this to the infusion, then bring water back to a boil, then cut off again, cover again and let steep for 10 minutes
4 tablespoons? honey
1 cup? milk
I didn't actually measure this part out... But I think the honey is about right (that part is really to taste). Stir in the honey first, and make sure it's dissolved before adding the milk. I just poured it straight in, and knew it was too much when I saw the color (too light). Maybe I'll actually measure it next time!
I'd say this makes about two mugs or so. Maybe I should have followed the recipe more fully and used the full amount? But there's only two people here, and my boyfriend didn't like it. Personally I thought it was a great pick-me-up - easy to make, quick, and hot and tasty (good for cloudy, gloomy days that threaten rain). I had mine with a light salad.
Food, very reliably I think, has the ability to instantly take the lucky eater to their happy place. To me, food is not just a transitory, sensual pleasure! It's a pleasure for the mind as well!