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29 April 2009

The Tree of Life

On monday, I added my 38th ring to the tree of life. I celebrated my birthday in total Taurus style, aka in earthly leisure. I took the day off, went for a long jog with the dogs, lathered in luxury during a hot stone massage, went shopping for hours at value village, took in a late movie with my honeys, ate a slice of pizza and finished off the evening sharing my dad's homemade margaritas with friends. It was uneventful, stress-free and I let the day unfold as it wished. I had no expectations and no hard plans (except to make it to my massage on time).

Some years ago, before Warren and I got married, our beautiful friend Deb, took us on a 7 day hiking trip to help her with research for her thesis. We drove for hours and then hiked far in to a forgotten eastern oregon forest. During our trip, we cored so many trees I think we lost count. Deb showed us how to read the ages of the trees by counting the rings on the samples we had just cored. It struck me then that birthdays are the same way. The rings on these trees told the story of their lives. You could tell when the weather and environmental conditions were ideal, those rings were the biggest signaling years the trees thrived and grew rapidly. Other years, the conditions not so great and they struggled just to survive. Those rings were smaller.

Every year, I grow more as a person. As I grow wiser and learn from my mistakes, I celebrate each year by the thanking the spirits for teaching me and giving me the gift of another ring around the tree of life. If I could be cored like a tree, you would see that each of my rings tell the story of each year of my life. Some of my rings would show a year of intense learning and challenges, of extreme spiritual growth. Other rings would display when the planets were in some sort of better alighnment allowing me a year of easy living, not much growth, and not many challenges.

Being 36 and 37 were years that will always stand out for me. I encountered so many obstacles that in the end, as I digress, turned me into a much wiser person. I left a job I hated only to find the best job I've had so far. I said goodbye to two cat friends who left for the spirit world unexpectedly. I became a mom to a rescue dog. I took my relationship with Will's mom to another level. I got my first email from Will. I shed the pounds I forever been talking about losing. And on and on. Everything was a challenge for me at the highest level. I'm prepared now to be 38. And I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy it. So cheers to adding another ring to the tree of life. May we always have a story to tell about each ring that we add together to the tree of life.

Operation Rescue

Sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry,
but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
~Author Unknown

Today was a lazy morning. Warren got up earlier than usual to go to work so I turned off my alarm clock so I wouldn't have to hit snooze over and over. Then I asked Warren to call me at 6:45 to be sure I got up. When he left, I comfortably rolled over and cuddled up with Tahoe. Huckleberry was spooning with me on the other side and Bettis decided he wanted in on the action and layed his 100lbs of Labness right on top of me. There we laid, sleeping lightly, only to awake and peer with love at one another. Every now and then I'd get a lick on the cheek or hear the thumping of a tail when they thought maybe, just maybe, I was going to get out of bed. I'm quite sure I had a silly grin on my face as I looked at these three labbies dog piling all around me.

Suddenly, the love session was abruptly ended as a piercing high pitched yelping filled up and took over the morning silence. I jumped up faster than I'm sure I ever have moved in the morning and looked out the window. The dogs also went directly into stance and the hair stood up on their backs. Tahoe gave a small whimper. The crying scream came again, longer this time. It sounded like a sound I had heard a few times before yet had dismissed for a cat probably hunting a sea gull. I crept out back to take a peek at the yard. Nothing. Not a sound or site anywhere. Unsure of what it had been, I went back inside to start my morning. As I was pouring fountain of life into a mug and just about to take my first sip. the doorbell rang and the dogs sprung to action once again. Barking and barking, telling me that, "momma momma, there's someone at the door, oh my god, there's someone at the door!!!!"
I answered the door to find my neighbor frantically asking me if I had heard that sound just a few minutes earlier. I affirmed and she proceeded to tell me that sound was actually a small little dog in the yard behind ours being kicked and beaten. Her husband had been brushing his teeth upstairs when he heard the yelping and he ran to his bedroom window just in time to see a small white dog flying through the air. He witnessed the person pour a bucket of water on it and kick it some more. Mind you, he wasn't fully dressed yet and said it took him a moment to gain his lucidity back just in time to stop himself from jumping out the second story window half naked to go kick the living patooty out of this guy.

So I hear all this and my mind starts racing. Ok, I have contacts in the dog world. I make up my mind that I am not leaving for work or proceeding with anything today until I know that dog is rescued from that situation. My experience has been that despite their best intentions the police insist their hands are tied in most instances, especially if the dog 'looks fine'. I feared for the worst and was on the phone to all my animal people. Luckily, this time, the police who responded to the situation (someone else, too, had heard it this morning and called it in) were genuinely invested in the incident. It was incredible. When the officer approached the dog, it went stiff and cowered in a corner. The abuse was obvious and the dog looked hurt. One by one the inhabitants of the house were brought out for our neighbor to identify. None of them was the attacker. No matter, the dog was taken from the home and was on it's way to a vet and then to a shelter.

No sooner after had the dog been freed from it's abusive situation, than my phone began to ring and ring and ring. My animal friends were calling me back one after another. There is nothing quite like the network of friends with a common cause. That's why I love Warren, he feels the same unbridled passion for the rights of dogs. Every one of us is a dog lover to the degree that we spend a portion of our lives trying our best to save them all. Armed with all the information I could ever want, I set into action the events that should ensure this dog will never go back there. I filled out animal abuse complaint forms, filed a police report, talked to 3 different shelters to alert them this dog may be coming in and gave them the abusers information (the little I know). The neighbors are doing the same. Because you see, even though there are now animal cruelty laws, the dog sometimes gets lost in the system.

I'm going to do everything I can to follow this little dog and be sure he gets the best care and love. The courts and the new laws will take care of the abusers. My job is not to go over there and kick some booty, because let me tell you, I had to bottle up and swallow my urge to go over there and beat the living crap outta this person. That would be a double standard and I would not be helping the dog or me and my family at all doing that. So I can play the game. I will go through the system doing things the right way yet I will push my way through by jumping the hoops and cutting the red tape as needed.

So although my lazy morning was interrupted by a tragic event, I have once again been reminded of one of my life purposes and was able to put my passion to work. Love is many things, but today, love was saving a dog's life.

26 April 2009

No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap

I remember when we first got Huckleberry, our yellow labbie. When we enrolled her in puppy kindergarten, our trainer reminded all of us new doggie parents to keep in mind while training our new puppies, that dogs have bad days just like humans. I took that advice to heart because our little Huckleberry proved to be our biggest challenge. Even now, 3 1/2 years later, she still has her bad days.

I'd say most of the time, she is a happy dog, very set in her ways, knows what she wants and how to get it and she pretty much rules the roost in most instances. However, she always gives us an early warning sign, foreshadowing the type of day we will have with her. She always picks the most inopportune times. A weekend day, a vacation day, a day we are a bit under the weather.

Early this morning, Warren, who had gotten a sudden case of the cold and flu yesterday, couldn't sleep so he went into the office to sleep on the futon. He closed the door so he could get some much needed rest away from the dogs. Huckleberry would have none of this. Warren is her person and she wanted to be right next to him. She whined and whined until he finally let her in. She curled up beside him, gave a happy grunt and went to sleep. Yet just a few minutes later decided that she wanted to get up and so should everyone else. The whining started again. So she got thrown out of the office - again. Where she proceeded to sit next to me on our bed and whine some more. I took her little face in my hands and pulled her close. I said to her "So is this how it's going to be today? You are going to give no rest for the weary are you?" She looked back up at me and gave me her answer in a grunt and then a whine. Lovely. She had decided she was going to be a pain in the patooshka today.

The two boys are so easy. They are happy with whatever is in store for them that day. If the walk is shorter than usual, the routine changed up a bit, that's ok with them. But Huckleberry will have none of it. She is a routine driven dog and if you vary it in any way, she gets very flustered with us. When it's time to eat she tells us, when it's time for her walk she paces by her hanging leash. If we are in anyway behind schedule, we hear about it.

Today she got her breakfast, a walk, lots of lovin, dog treats, an apple and she's still not satisfied. I'm trying to blog and she's in the next room whining. I've decided to ignore her for the time being. She'll settle in soon to nap next to Warren who's sleeping on the couch. She gets more love and attention than a lot of dogs so I have to remember our trainer's advice. She's having herself a day today and that is just how it's going to be.

22 April 2009


"An object is cut off from it's name, habits, associations.
Detached, it becomes only the thing, in and of itself.
When this disintegration into pure existence is at last acheived,
the object is free to become endlessly anything.
In that year there was an intense visitation of energy.
I left school and went down to the beach to live.
I slept on a roof.
At nite the moon became a woman's face.
I met the Spirit of Music."
- Jim Morrison, Wilderness
When I was 19, I got fed up with it all. Life was boring. It was all the same. The same friends, a full-time job that was going no-where, the same landscape, a roommate from hell... Everything was blah. Not that it was bad, it wasn't. I couldn't bring myself to take more classes at the university. I just felt boxed in. I needed to do something. I need to experience something.
One day I was looking at the job ads in the paper. There was an ad for Nanny's in New York. They were doing interviews that week. I called, got an interview, spoke with a family they thought would fit me, and I got hired.
I announced to my friends and family that I was leaving Idaho for New York in 10 days. I never thought twice. I sold my car, quit my job, moved out of my apartment and emptied my bank account. I partied one last time, had dinner with my family and got on a plane and flew away.
I stayed in New York for two years. I came back home to visit twice and one of my sisters and two friends came to visit me. I was a nanny, took classes at a nearby college, I met 4 other girls (nannies, too) from back West and partied every Thursday nite and Saturday nite. I was introduced to my first lesbian couple who were close friends of the family I worked for, I met other family and friends from Israel and Africa and met guys who grew up having a nanny take care of them. I learned how to shoot oysters with a beer back, drink wine with dinner, feast with the Italians, and fast with the Jewish side of the family. I rode subways, taxis and trains. I drove on the parkways, even into the city. I couldn't believe the diversity that existed outside of my former life. There were people everywhere and noone was the same. Everyone thought something different, liked a different type of music, came from a different part of the world and ate different foods.
I stood out in New York. They say it was because of my blondish hair I had at the time, my so called 'western' accent, and my ability to get into clubs because of my Idaho (where's that!) fake ID. But I didn't notice. I was too busy absorbing the chaos around me. After a couple of years, I felt like it was time to go. I didn't want to become Alice on The Brady Bunch or anything. So I hopped on a plane back to Idaho. But this time, as I landed back home, I was a conissour of life. At least I had begun the journey towards it.
I knew that I had a ways to go to learn and I continue to learn but I had to cut myself off from the safe, the known, and the comfortable to get out of the mold that had held the real me enclosed for so long. I learned to express myself, stand up for who I was instead of trying to be like others. I lost the fear of the unknown and was eager to head on to new challenges. I learned to trust myself and let my spirit guide me.
About a year after I came back from New York, I came accross an old Jim Morrison book of poems. Not being a huge poetry fan, like I can't just sit down and read a book of poetry, I held the book close to me and closed my eyes. I asked the spirits if they would show me a good poem. Then I opened the book. The poem/saying above is the one that I turned to. It has stuck with me every day since. It's true. It's what happened to me. I grew wings.

20 April 2009

Renew thyself

Pretty much every day, we take our 3 dogs for a long walk. We wind up and around through the neighborhood hills and winding paths of Mt Tabor. I jog anytime I hit flat or semi-sloping downward ground. Sometimes it's a job to lug myself up these long hills but each time I reach the top of one, I feel like I've accomplished something again and again. By the time we are on the home stretch, it's pretty much an easy flowing down hill journey. I feel recharged, revitalized and regenerated. I tell myself that it is worth it to do this every day although sometimes I highly doubt my own advice on this subject!

One day when me and the dogs were completing a rather arduous long walk, I passed by a house where there sat a paper-sized picture frame attached to the fence surrounded by leaves and flowers. Inside the frame there is usually poem or a saying. Used to slowing down to read the motivational message, I gave the dogs a tug to pull over so we could check out the new quote. What I read that day, has stayed with me each and every day, and continues to be my motivation, my every breath and my purpose.

‘Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.’
- Thoreau, from Walden

So that was my problem. I was doing things to renew myself but only when I got to the point that I was about to freak out. These things would replenish me for a little while, maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe even a month. But inevitably, I would start to feel like my batteries were running out again. So when I saw this quote, I saw the light. I must do something for myself every day. Yes! Every day! Maybe even more than once a day, depending on how a particular day is going.

There are so many things that I have discovered that can make me feel anew again. I know what makes me feel good inside so I follow my instincts to seek out these things. But now, I don't wait until I'm completely burnt out. I get right on it. And just in case I forget, when I jog by that house, I'll be reminded!

Colin's weekend at Uncle Wu and Aunt Sas' house

Our house isn't all that kid-friendly. In fact, I think we have one kids book, a wig, some cool sunglasses and possibly some apple juice. Nevertheless, Colin entertained himself with our 3 dogs that served as his temporary play toys all weekend long.

Oh Bettis, you are so big but I sure love you!

Tahoe is my daddy's favorite! He tried to convince Aunt Sas and Uncle Wu to let us take him home!

Huckleberry's my buddy. She tried to jump over me when she jumped the gate!

Let's get all the dogs on the bed and have a dog pile!

Luckily, my cousin Ian came over to play with me.

And I went to the park with Aunt Sas, Jenny, Ruby and Trey!

Boy, what a weekend! I passed out in Daddy's arms!

Like Father, Like Son, Like Brother, Like Grandson


The family - that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.

~Dodie Smith

Male bonding. It is such an incredible thing to see, being that I'm a girl and all. When Warren's dad, brother and nephew all came to visit this weekend, 3 generations of guenther males entered our house for an unforgettable weekend of a much anticipated and much needed all boys weekend. Well, almost, I was there to witness it, although much of the time, I tried to stay in the background as much as possible so as not to dilute the experience. There was a lot of gaseousness, lack of showers, McDonalds for breakfast everyday, beer at 3pm, and endless sports talk.

I get to see my sisters a lot, I mean heck, we live within 20min to 3 hours of eachother so we have plenty of time for girl time. And we all lead these incredibly different lives, have a wide range of beliefs, tastes and issues, yet we still accept eachother for who we each are, no matter what. And I can guarantee you that any of us, would drop anything at any time to help one another as needed. It wasn't always that way, but as sands of time fall, we have wised up to the fact that there is no one else in this world that is more like us, than eachother. That's kinda how this weekend ended up being like.

Warren has a younger brother that he absolutely adores yet does not get to see much. They do talk a lot on the phone which helps them keep in touch. Life took them on separate and pretty different paths, too. However, their paths met up this weekend as did their hearts. Time stood still, everyday worries were thrown to the back of the mind and the appreciation of brotherhood was swept to the forefront.

The weekend started out with the brothers heading out to a Blazer play off game. Despite the terrible one-sided calls of the refs and the terrible loss, they cheered their asses off in their red and black jerseys. Near the end of the game, his brother got a call that one of his student's father had just passed away - he was in his early 50's. It was a moment that would mark the weekend for these brothers. It brought their feet down to the ground and put their hearts in motion. As they spent the next day entertaining 4 year old Colin, they frequently chatted about their love of their dad. 'Dad can't die, I mean, he just can't'; as they observed how much slower he walked the mile where they were forced to park their car. These brothers weren't far away from this reality for their mother had been through the fight of her life just 11 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she had survived to keep kicking their butts.

Later in the evening, we sat out in the front yard, in the hot setting sun, intoxicating ourselves with our vices of choice - Doug with Bud Light, Warren with Cactus Cooler, David with Red Bull and Vodka, Colin with Milk, me with Wine. Buckets of stories, past and present, were told that lead to revelations of 'Ahhhh, you do that too?' and 'So that's where we get that'.... And things were shared and talked about that they had not been able to express before. They laughed till they were almost crying when they found out that their freakish way of folding clothes was exactly the same to the very last detail, that both of their wives thought they were insane for folding their clothes this way and, when did they learn to be this anal about folding clothes?! That led of course, to 'Oh man, what are we passing on to our kids, not deliberately, but unseeingly'. What will they pick up that will keep the generations laughing. And back to 'What will we do on nights like this when Dad and Mom aren't here'. The answer was uneasily right in front of all of our faces. We will do what they did, keep the stories alive, keep telling them and re-telling them, but most importantly, keep the bonds of family and brotherhood and sisterhood alive because in 30 years will be sitting here, watching the young yet grown up faces of our kids, nieces and nephews as they hold together the ties of family and re-tell legends that grandpa told, and re-tell stories we told and laugh at new stories, that will be the oral traditions of their kids. They will laugh at how much they are like us. Stories live forever and the cool part is they are embellished with each telling. We are each the stuff that legends are made of. It is up to us to keep those family bonds strong and to pass the stories. Time, location and where we are at the moment will bring on new traditions and re-mixed traditions but included in each and every one of these should be celebrations and stories of the elders because they will spark special memories and leave forever endearing moments in hearts; and create more stories to pass on.

The guys got on their plane this afternoon to fly back to reality. Worries will trouble them from time to time, happiness and sorrow will keep bringing them together; yet they will always have this weekend as another link that was created to hold that family bond tightly together.

15 April 2009

Earthly Edible Delights

In keeping with my goal of eating local and organic to reclaim my love of cooking, I got my first organic produce delivery yesterday from Hood River Organic Farms CSA. I was literally jumping out of my skin waiting for the day to end so I could go pick it up. I had it dropped off at Peoples food coop since it's safer there than sitting at my house, inviting critters and humans alike to partake. As I carried the box back to my car, I could smell the deliciousness. Something smelled freshly baked. The box was sealed with a long piece of packaging tape so I resisted the urge to rip it open until I got home. I drove home carefully, keeping a watchful eye on my box like a proud mama.

When I got home I carried my box into the kitchen and cut the tape. As I pulled the top open the most beautiful sight emerged. Inside, was the most beautiful site I have ever seen. There sat my produce, glowing with the energy that food does when it's carefully hand raised and picked by those who value the land, the dirt and the sun. I started pulling out my earthly delights one by one, admiring each one closely. Sitting on top with no packaging, was the 'baked that morning' fresh loaf of bread. I gently took a piece and tasted it. It was so soft and buttery that I immediately put it out of site so that I would not devour it while I was standing there. Next were crisp green bunched lettuces which looked like arugula and fescu, followed by a large container of sprouted micro greens and edible flowers. As I dug further I found green onions, beets and the cutest little odd shaped fingerling potatoes with the farm-fresh dirt still clinging to their skins, and 8 light green apples grown our very own Columbia Gorge. Inside a huge paper bag were at least 30 mushrooms and one giangtus portabello (Warren left the kitchen when he saw those-he's not too fond of 'shrooms'). Next was a block of organic hard cheese made from the milk of happy, healthy cows and finally, the part I had been waiting for.... I gently reached in to pull out my prize - a half-dozen eggs. These were real eggs - eggs from real chickens. Chickens that had been truly grass-fed and ranged free near the fields of the farm. For their droppings had fertilized the land my vegetables grew from. Like a child opening a gift on easter morning, I raised the lid to look at my eggs. There they were, different colors of light pastels in pale yellows, browns and tans. These eggs in my hands contain 80% less cholesterol and an incredible amount of omega-3's, a mountains worth compared to the miniscule amount in regular factory farmed store bought eggs.

Oh man the things I want to create, Asparagus Morel Bread Pudding, Crisp green salads topped edible flowers and micro sprouted greens, soup with my fresh bread, apple pie.... I delighted in the sight before me. All of this, literally all of this food, had been planted, genuinely cared for, lovingly raised, organically grown, baked and harvested just 45 minutes from my house. Wow, what a display of miraculous beauty.

I looked in my fridge at the rest of the food I had purchased from the grocery store this weekend. I tried to guess where it all came from. I couldn't even begin so I started looking at the titles, labels and addresses. Ok, good, the yogurt was made in both springfield, oregon and in tillamook, oregon but I'm not sure if the cows live there too or what their conditions are. My organic cilantro came from California as did my strawberries. and oh geez, the sin of all sins, my bananas came from overseas. The bread from Ohio, chips from Texas and lunchmeat - hmmm, I better not even go there ....... The ridiculousness of it really is brought home for me now. Bread can be made anywhere, so why shouldn't I get bread made from Portland. And look for bread made from local wheat. I guess when you look at the full spectrum, it makes sense to buy locally. Less gas is used to ship the food, you get the food sooner and fresher, the food is full of not just love, but is packed with more vitamins and minerals and amino acids that are currently lacking in our conventional pesticide ridden fossil fuel driven food society. And just as important, I am helping to support a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). My purchase helps sustain them so they can keep producing healthy food for me and many others in our area.

Plus, for that little box of goodies that will feed us for over a week, I spent less than I would have buying it in a store. Even from our food coop. Luckily, I can get locally produced organic goods at our coop and at many other stores in town, but individually it's very expensive. This is a much better deal for me and the forever child in me gets to experience the excitement of opening a box full of surprises every other week. And much more importantly, the wheels are turnin up there - I'm going to cook my first locally made gourmet meal this week. This means I'm one step closer towards achieving my goal. Every step is the way to our dreams, and this dream is edible!

07 April 2009

Blogging under the influence

When the wine goes in, strange things come out.
~Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, The Piccolomini, 1799

There’s something about drinking wine and writing that sync flawlessly.

Thoughts flow rapidly and typing hands can scarcely keep up.

There’s something about the hushed tranquility of evening hours and writing

that orchestrate harmonious thoughts dying to be fashioned.

There’s something about quiet solitude blended with liquid stimulation

That the words effortlessly come together like a well mixed drink.

Easy in, easy out.

There’s something about the subsequent morning, unsure of what I scribed

That causes my eyes to dart open in alarm.

Did I pull off the prose of a practiced writer

or do I sound like a lush lost in the hazy fog of an alternative state?

There’s something about the perception that my guilt is not significant.

I feel accomplished.

I proclaim, "Open the soul and let it become words.”

For it is only a fever of the mind, an intoxication of the soul.

And one must cater to it.

Glowing with immortal bloom

After long winter days, a couple of early spring sunshiny days can transform dreary into stunningly beautiful. Everything is blooming most recklessly.

Magnolia the Magnificent. Proud resident at my sister Barb's house.

You're Alive! Do Something!

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
-- Aesop (620 BC - 560 BC)

Everyday I try to fully engage myself in my interactions with people. I learned that from my husband, Warren. The simplest exchange can really bring sunshine to somebody's day.

Like lets say that you are in line to buy a coffee. You wait forever dreaming of your rich foamy latte made with Stumptown beans. The person ahead of you is taking forever to decide on their order. Finally, it's your turn. You step up to the counter with a chip on your shoulder. At this point, you have a choice. You can monotonously order, give your money to the cashier, offer up a half-assed thank you and walk away. Come on, you know you do this. I did. But Warren never does. He greets the cashier with a big smile and a hearty good morning. He then comments on something like the cool necklace they are wearing or the butt-rocker shirt back from our younger days the barista is wearing. Or he says this is the coolest song he's heard -what CD are they playing today? Then he orders his drink, all the meanwhile being kind and continuing the conversation. When he leaves the line to wait to pick up his coffee drink, he leaves one person a lot happier than they were just moments before. And you know what? They remember him. The next time he comes in, the acknowledge him right away. This time they chat him up. Then before you know it, we walk into the coffee shop into another long line, they see us come in and they have our drinks ready before we even order.

That's what I'm sayin to ya. You're alive! Act Alive!

So, I see this at work a lot. I come into contact with a lot of people. I'd say most of them are lost in their thoughts or caught up in the day to day drudgery. But I don't allow that when we come into contact. Through smiling, encouraging words, and a sense of humor, I can transform them into happy humans again. I'm not saying that I butter them up, I just try to remember something about them to ask them about. It's more like sincere acknowledgements. Even if I don't have time to chat, I send a high wave in the air along with a smile. I'm telling you it works. The next time they see me, they are a bit more alive. They react. They enjoy it when they run into me.

I never chat too much for I am not a social chatter at work although I am with my friends and family. I'm much too shy for that at work. But my exchanges with people are enough to infect them with a little happiness, enough to make them crack a smile, and enough for them to spread a little of it to the next person. That's all I ask. You're Alive! Do Something! Pull your shoulders back. Hold your head up higher. Smile! Make every moment mean something. Live!

02 April 2009

Grow Your Own

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet van Horne

I always say it's good to live in the present but at this moment in time, I am taking lessons from the past and the present and am busy planning the future. The future of the food we eat and how I will incorporate those foods into homecooked, locally grown, and organic recipes.

Lately I find myself on grocery day going up and down the aisles of Trader Joe's filling my cart with packaged foods (many labeled as organic) that will make mealtimes appear almost instantaniously. I've lost the soul of cooking and I realize now what I am missing - "the song of a stir-fry sizzle, the small talk of clinking measuring sppons, the paining of flavors onto a pizza before it slides into the oven, and the choreography of many people working one kitchen" (in the words of Barbara Kingsolver). There is nothing more satisfying that sharing in the preparation and consumption of a homecooked meal. But there's one thing missing from this and that happens before dinner, way before actually. And that is the growing and harvesting of your dinner ingredients.

So it's becoming clearer to you now, yes? For me to get my love of cooking back, I have to fall back in love with food. And that for me, is going to be growing my own food and preparing meals that are cooked with seasonal ingredients. Here in Portland we are pretty lucky to have endless options to get locally grown, organic food from our food coops and CSA farms. However, how many times have I bought a banana and ever thought maybe I shouldn't support a fruit that is imported from a country being raped of it's forests all so that I can have a pesticide covered exotic. Instead, I should be seeking out what is in season, what has Oregon organically produced at this particular time of year that I can feast on and more importantly that I can spend money on that will go to support our local grower so he/she can produce more next year for me.

Here's my plans. I will spend April through August researching. Learning about what grows in each season. Next fall, I will get a large plot at one of our many community gardens and begin the process of growing my own food. I will use seeds from a company in Eugene (locally, again) that grows their own food, lets it go to seed naturally and then harvests the seeds. Did you know that most seeds (or most produce for that matter) that you buy are sterile? They've been genetically modified to not reproduce. That is a scary thought if your garden was all you had and you couldn't harvest seeds from your produce each year to plant another garden to sustain yourself on. That been said, while I'm in the pre-gardening phase, I am also going to start ordering produce from a local CSA farm. This way, I will only get seasonals and I will have to start experimenting with recipes. For example, pumpkin pie is not made out of canned pumpkin, it really was meant to be made out of a, well, how do I say this, a real pumpkin? YES! But I know I'm not going to get anywhere unless I start practicing because I have never cooked a pumpin, much less made pumpkin pie with a real pumpkin.

My next plans are to go to two all day classes. One is the art of cooking bread. The other, the art of making cheese. Did you know that cheese is incredibly simple to make and that if you are lactose intolerant you can most likely eat your own homemade cheese?

My final plans are to get chickens and turkeys. However, I'm going to have to come up with a well thought out approach to tell my husband about this plan. I brought it up to him once and he said 'WHAT? CHICKENS? NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!'. Of course, this hasn't discourage me, instead it will make me more creative the next time I ask!

I figure as I begin to delve into the art of cooking with seasonal foods, making my own bread and cheese, and tending to my own organic garden, I will naturally fall back in love with cooking. For me, it will now have meaning because I will be able to share my edible masterpieces with those I love. There is nothing like cooking a meal together. Everyone will have a part in the meal and everyone will take something with them, whether it was the time we spent together gossiping over grinding spices and kneading dough, chasing kids and husbands out of the kitchen, or sitting gathered around the table passing food around, tasting this, tasting that, and telling stories inbetween bites. Food brings people together but homegrown, organic seasonal food, brings the body, mind and soul together and makes us fall in love with the soul of cooking once again.