That time I met Woody Woodpecker

Not all those who wander are lost.

– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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As I was wandering on Sunday afternoon at the Guelph Arboretum, I met a bird…

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But not just any bird. I named this little guy is named Woody, the Pileated Woodpecker. He was being noisy enough that I had to stop and take notice.  I’m glad I did.  Read more about Woody and his kind here: Pursuit of pileated: Search for shy woodpecker ends in Lower Meadow – Discover Mill Creek

I have to say that one of the coolest things about my wander around was enjoying that sense of true wonder that comes with exploring something for the very first time and having *no* clue what is coming next.  Even though the trails are all tucked in closely between some major roads and near one of Canada’s finest universities, I often forgot completely where I was.

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I also turned this wander into a winter photo walk.  Not only am I trying to learn this manual mode thing on my Nikon D90, I find I also have sooo much to learn about winter photography.  My time began with sunlight but it became overcast before too long.  So, there was a lot of grey and white all around.  And I don’t have oodles knowledge to draw from yet.  Hopefully, a year from now the story (and results) will be different.

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This last one is my favourite, despite my novice abilities.  Right at the end of my outing, there were these crazy bushes with red flowers of some sort all around the parking lot.  No idea what this is, other than colourful and a semi-decent shot.

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The Case of the Overambitious Cook

Sunday evening rolls around and I decide I should cook something for tonight and tomorrow.  After some surfing around, and considering what (I thought) was in the house, I decided on a dangerously multi-stepped plan:

– cornbread
– black bean and ham mixture, to be combined with…
– brown basmati rice

Seems simple, right?  Heh.

Even knowing how tragic my skills are when it comes to cooking brown basmati rice, I bravely forged ahead with yet another technique to attempt.  Let’s just say that, although the methods change, the outcome is horribly consistent.  Maybe I need to try white rice and build my confidence?  I don’t know.  Nonetheless, I’m getting better at recovering from these rice disasters.  One day, I’ll figure this out…

The cornbread was a fun one.  I used a gluten-free recipe concocted by a talented friend of mine, on which I’ve sat on for far too long.  Even though I nearly scorched the whole thing at the end (while I was fighting with my gloppy rice, of course) I’d say this turned out fairly well.  I even successfully “made” my very own buttermilk by adding apple cider vinegar to regular milk.  (1 Tbsp. vinegar per cup of milk – let stand for at least 5 minutes.)

And the plan for the black bean and ham mix up (where I was going to use the rice…), this was the inspiration:

Cuban Ham, Rice and Black Bean Casserole

I had planned to follow it a bit more closely than I ended up doing.  But since there was an unprecedented onion shortage in the house I tweaked.  A lot.  I used what little onion we had, chopped up some celery, carrot, and red pepper to go with it, then used some leftover bacon instead of ham.  I drained an entire can of black beans to add in, and all of this looked and tasted good.  But when the dreaded rice needed help, I tried adding some of it directly to the fried up mix.  Of course _after_ doing so, I found a recommendation to rinse and drain the unfortunate rice to help recover, so I’m hopeful that will help what sits leftover in the fridge now.

Anyway, after the ups and downs and trying to build up this underdeveloped skill set, I had something that was relatively enjoyable and leftovers that will see me into another day with more lessons learned.

But, wow, I gotta get past this rice thing… I love rice too much to be inept at preparing it myself!

Looking through the lens

If you’re already a Flickr-er, or just curious what I’m up to over there, feel free to check this out:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/donnajharris/   So far it’s been me uploading but not organizing photos… just a warning.  The most recently uploaded photos were taken with a Nikon D90.

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The quest for a quick curry

My personal pantry has been expanding for several months now, although I’m not taking advantage of it often enough! But on Sunday night I felt like a curry, and we all needed a meal. And the leftovers would help me with a lunch or two as well.xpanding

After Googling around, based on what I felt like and knew I had on hand, I finally found something to work with:
RECIPE: Easy Coconut Curry

Making a few minor alterations (rice instead of quinoa, and no sweet potato) and with help from Mom we gave it a go. Mom is an excellent sous-chef. She handled the rice cooking — a phobia I absolutely must get over — and chopped vegetables up while I was tending to the sauce. However I don’t think I took the “simmering” instruction to heart and may have missed out on a smoother tasting curry because of it. So there’s something I need to understand better for the next time I’m told to simmer down, literally.

We also had almonds on hand and I found these were an amazing addition. Another time I would be curious to try with the sweet potato (Dad isn’t a fan, so I left it out) and with the quinoa. But it was a simple, fuss-free recipe (especially with Mom’s assistance!) and it met the night’s need.

As for the leftovers, they were also a success.  Especially in this bone chillingly cold weather!  It was yummy comfort food combined with the convenience of not needing to go outside.  A perfect fit.

Of course I’ve got dreams…

There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, ‘How good or how bad am I?’ That’s where courage comes in.

– Erma Bombeck

Never ready? Start doing something anyway!

Have you ever noticed how often we aren’t ready for something?  We’re not ready to see a child to grow up so quickly, or ready for a big exam or presentation.  We’re not ready in time for something and so we arrive late.  (Guilty!)  We’re not ready to make a change we know would be good for us.  It turns out we’re rarely, if ever, ready.  Instead of being like the Eveready battery, it’s as though we’re part of the Neveready brand.

It doesn’t even matter if we have control over whether the change happens or not.  When you think about it, a lot of things are going to happen regardless of our (non-)ready status.  And other things could happen – great things, even – but we decline because we don’t feel ready.   It’s easy to fear the unknown.  (And, whether we name it as fear or not doesn’t change the fact it is, indeed, fear.)

When I use the phrase “not ready”, or the equivalent mindset, I find that it’s usually one of two things: 1) I am literally unprepared for something I should be; or 2) I feel that it is not the right time for something and therefore choose not to ready myself.  There are several components to the first which I won’t dive into today.  But the second, oh yes… Let’s chat for a moment about the second.

We can chat about the moment I realized I didn’t have a good answer to questions like “If not now, when?” or “What am I waiting for?”  Or when I started to recognize my answers to those questions were ridiculously vague or terribly unsatisfactory, if I had an answer at all.  Those moments started something.  Quietly but certainly.

Now I find myself within a new era.  And it’s an era with no end in sight, thankfully.  I un-artistically call it ‘a time for doing’.  Don’t expect to hear much about things unless I’m doing them or I’m done.  And some things I’m doing may only be obvious to me.

So, I’m looking forward to returning to the heart of what I envisioned this blog and website would be about.  Let’s do this.  Whether we’re ready or not!

 

Endometriosis awareness month

I’m not sure where March went, but it’s just about behind us now…. taking both the good and the bad that came with it. I’m looking forward to April. It holds a lot of promise and I don’t want to miss a single moment of that.

One thing that I hoped to so more with, that got sidelined by any number of other things going on in March, was Endometriosis Awareness Month. So in these fleeting moments of March, I’d like to provide a small glimpse of what I live with on a daily basis.

I consider myself really very fortunate. It took a long time to figure out at least some piece of the puzzle for my, admittedly odd, personal health profile. A few doctors later, a few tries with various drug treatments later, and with a great deal of support from family and friends, I have what a great number of women with endometriosis do not have: relative stability of the disease. And I’m blessed to have that.

For now, I get to live above the disease. With a relatively low dose of medication each day, I have a way to live with a minimum of symptoms, a minimum of pain, a minimum of drug-related side-effects, and I have a drug plan that pays for all of it. For now, I enjoy this. I know that when I am off of the meds, things are completely different. I also know that it is possible that the treatment might just stop being effective, or may become too much for my system to metabolize, as long-term options can do. These aren’t examples of me fearing the worst. They are just facts. Facts that help me to appreciate what I have right now and enjoy the season while I’m living it. I might be blessed with a very long season. That would be a wonderful but I don’t take that for granted or any kind of right.

I already have it so much better than lots of women. The thing that is important to understand about endo is that it is a remarkably individual disease. While I believe this is true of many diseases and conditions (and not just the ones I live with), endometriosis effects each person quite differently. Some live with immense, constant pain. Some are unable to find a good doctor (or afford a doctor at all). Some find no help from the medications available and need drastic surgery to “cure” the disease. Some have so much damage done that they have no hope of having a child. Some cannot work or keep a job because they are so negatively impacted. Some have no one to care, support, or understand them…. family, significant others, friends, employers….

One of the strange things about endometriosis that I’ve experienced is that it can be difficult to talk about. Unfortunately, I guess it’s part of societal views where women’s health issues are still not always acceptable to discuss. There is no nationally known foundation or society for endometriosis ….. They exist, but mostly nobody has any clue that they do. Or anything about the disease or the challenges that so many women face because of endometriosis. Mostly in silence.

So there. That’s my contribution. Only a slice of my story, but it’s something I wanted to share this March.