Beauty in the Ordinary

This is not about being brilliant, or extraordinary, it's not about wanting to be famous, or making headlines, or trying to impress...this about sharing a 'gift' each day with the world...to lift the spirit of people when they read this blog, to show them the beauty in the ordinary.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Raold Dahl

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kombucha!




This is my latest project at
303 Little House

Kombucha Tea!

This is an ancient Chinese 'miracle-drink'.
It is made from a mixture of green tea, black tea and sugar, which is
metabolised by the Kombucha 'mushroom'.
The mushroom is not really a mushroom, but is a flat pancake-like culture
of yeast and bacteria. It is given the name 'mushroom', because of its shape and
colour of the sac that grows at the top of the tea as it ferments.


This sac is called a scoby, (symbiotic,colony of bacteria and yeast).
Sound delicious yet!
Chinese legend says that the benefits of the Kombucha Tea only work
if the new baby mushroom that is created during fermentation is
passed on, free of charge, to someone you know.
Happy to say, my 'new baby' was a gift from my beautiful daughter.

After steeping for 7 days, the yeast breaks down the sugar and combines with the
tea to produce powerful antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
During this fermentation process the scoby also produces 'a baby mushroom' on
its surface - traditionally these new scoby's are then passed along to others who
then make their own cultures.

This super-potent concoction increases metabolism, eliminates toxins, reduces
cholesterol, fights the effects of aging, fights diabetes, and supports the immune system'
It also encourages healthy skin and hair, aids digestive and intestinal disorders
and it said to promise to ease the pain for arthritis sufferers.

Kombucha tea introduces lactic acid-producing bacteria called probiotics, similar to
acidophilus bacteria found in live yoghurt, which encourages healthy intestinal flora.

This healthy tea also contains organic acids, vitamins and enzymes. It provides a range
of vitamins, including B1, B2, B6 and B12.
It also contains vitamin C, a great detoxifier and immune booster.


If Kombucha Tea if for you here is the recipe.

What you will need

I baby scoby
I sterilized large glass jar
wooden spoon (not metal)
Square of cotton cloth to cover jar top
(do not use muslin or cheese cloth, these fabrics are too porous)
Elastic band to secure
For locations in cooler climates - a seed heating pad
1 gallon jug of distilled water
Five black or green tea bags
(do not use herbal tea or Earl Grey)
1 1/2 cups of white sugar

What you will do

In a large clean saucepan pour in about 3/4 of the distilled water
(place the rest of the distilled water in the freezer)
bring to boil then add the tea bags and sugar
Stirring the tea with the wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar
Steep the tea and sugar for 20 mins

After 20 minutes add the rest of the distilled water from the freezer
Pour the tea into the sterilized glass jar
Take the baby scoby and place in the glass jar
Add to the glass jar the tea that the baby scoby came with
Cover the jar with the cotton cloth and secure with elastic band
Place the jar on the seed heating pad in a dark cupboard
Leave for 7 days



After 7 days pour the tea into clean bottles

Make a another batch of tea and add to your glass jar
The surprise is that this tea tastes somewhere between a glass of ginger ale
and champagne!

Enjoy your Kombucha tea

Be healthy and happy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS

Once again Razmataz
has thrown down the photographic gauntlet with the challenge of capturing
Architectural Elements

I don't profess to know anything about this, so
forgive me if I have it wrong.  
I did have a lovely time, out with my camera taking photographs willy-nilly though!

Niagara-on-the-Lake is the original capital of Upper Canada and, as such
has a very influential Historical Society (sometimes affectionately known by locals as the Hysterical Society).  We have a lot of protected buildings and a lot of building restrictions.  Let me take you on a tour of my little town and some of it's buildings.

This house is the old Lord Mayor's Residence (and my next door neighbour),


it's going through a total renovation at the moment, inside and out.



Across the road is a building, on a huge piece of property that has been sitting like this


for a couple of years now.  Rumour has it that the builder/developer got into a brouhaha with the local council over a portion of the house he took down without permission
and they pulled the plug on further work.  It's a shame, because this is one of the first properties you see when you drive into town. 

The Prince of Wales Hotel is one of the big features here,


It has some pretty outdoor lighting and glass porticos




and lovely detailing over the windows.


A portion of the rooms are made up of little houses next to the main building.



Trisha Romance, a local artist has her gallery here in town.


We have three theatres...here are two of them:

The Royal George


and The Courthouse


The Old Apothecary is now a museum


We have some beautiful big houses


and some equally beautiful small ones.



The day V. arrived last year to visit with me, four stores burned down in town
(not that it was her fault!)
This is the rendering of what they intend to build 



in this space.


There's a beautiful restoration going on which, rumour has it,
(again!) is being conducted by a famous Toronto TV news 
broadcaster.







It was a little difficult to get a good shot of the house for all 
the construction trucks and port-o-lets!

There is one house in town I don't get,



V. and I were so fascinated by the big chimney-looking thing, that we stopped in
one day and asked the owner/builder what it was.
We speculated on a chimney for a stone pizza oven, or a kiln


but he said it was just an Architectural Element!



(At least it has some interesting-looking doors.)

Thanks Chania, once again, for hosting.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

IMAGINAL

If I'm honest, (and when am I not!)...the best part of this book I am reading
is the part about the Imaginal.

Bourgeault proposes that as oppose to imaginary,
the Imaginal is actually a place.

When MM saw the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday and was directed to go and spread the good news, (the apostle to the apostles), Bourgeault suggests this was not a vision, but a real meeting on another plane.

It's why I have always loved the author
John O'Donohue (thank you V.).  He explains Ireland and Irish lore as inclusive of 
an underworld as a real place.



Right after our Mum died, I only dreamed of her once, she and I sat on a flight of stairs and she looked me right in the face and said "I can't find Daddy".  
This neither distressed nor surprised me (she and my father had a volatile relationship and I wouldn't put it passed Dad to hide from her).  I've never thought this was a dream or an illusion, but always felt this was part of Mum's exit from this life.

I'm not sure after reading Willow's post on her haunted manor
I wouldn't be highly motivated to move, but I am very strongly attracted to the notion of 
alternate planes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CHRISTIANITY



I'm reading this book at the moment.

It's a bit of a tough slog, but at the same time fascinating.
I don't like that information has been hidden and misconstrued
and that religion has been 'mis-shapen'.

Bourgeault says "If we can just cut through two millennia of doctrine and dogma to the living heart of Jesus’ teaching, we find here relational health, an astonishing vision of love as a transformational path, and profoundly empowering models of women and women-and-men-working-together in spiritual leadership roles. To reclaim Mary Magdalene is to reclaim Christianity. Without her, our understanding of what Jesus was really teaching is incomplete — in fact, it is significantly distorted."

She proposes that if religion had allowed the idea of Jesus dying not 'alone and rejected, but with one who stood by him and did not leave' that the emotional timbre of the day might be different;  that our feelings about Church might be different;  that the role of women in the Church would certainly be different; and more importantly, that our attitude to redemptive love would be different.

Here's one example of how said information has been manipulated:  In the story of the woman with the alabaster jar, who suddenly bursts into the dining room and starts anointing Jesus' head or feet (depends which gospel you read) and is staunchly defended by Jesus against reprimands for such an atrocious waste of precious perfume, has historically been attributed to Mary Magdalene.

However, did you know that, (according to Bourgeault), 'Not a single one of the scriptures themselves identifies this woman as Mary Magdalene."

Here's how Bourgeault describes the sort of word-association that brought MM into the frame:

1.  The seven demons cast out of Mary Magdalene imply that she was a sinner.

2.  Since the woman in this anointing incident was a sinner, and Mary Magdalene was also a sinner, they must be the same person.

3.  Given the effusiveness of her personality and Simon the Pharisee's comment about "what kind of woman this is," her sin must be lust.

4.  Since this woman is also identified as Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany must be the same person.

Then Pope Gregory the Great sealed her fate in a sermon he preached in 594 which defined the Catholic Church's official position on MM for nearly 1400 years.  (It wasn't until 1969 that the teaching she was a prostitute was finally repealed.)

"She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven demons were ejected according to Mark, and what did these seven demons signify if not all the vices?...It is clear, brothers, that this woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts.  What she therefore displayed more scandalously, she was now offering to God in a more praiseworthy manner."

 Bourgeault again..."I offer this book as an alternative to throwing out the baby with the bathwater, by showing how all these oppressive aspects of institutional Christianity are DISTORTIONS of the original message, not intrinsic to it. "

 “Christianity isn’t a failure; it just hasn’t been tried yet.” 
G.K. Chesterton

Monday, October 25, 2010

from my window




I'm lying here on the sofa

looking out the window
rain
grey skies

I'm lying here on the sofa
looking out the window.
The car arrives again.
It parks outside my house.

She steps outside.
Her with short grey hair, jeans, puffy jacket.
Her car is full, suitcases, bags, and now a mattress is tossed on top.

She takes a dog from the back seat.
She leads him to the neighbours house and leaves him there.
Comes back to her car, gets inside and drives away.


I don't know who she is, but I think she is living in her car.
Perhaps she is homeless.
Perhaps not.

She comes and goes.
She drops off her dog.
She picks him up.

I see her wrapping ice packs in plastic bags.
Perhaps to keep her milk cold.
Perhaps not.

Strange what you see when you lie on your couch looking out the window.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


posted this video on Friday.
I could have just put up a link to her blog, but I know what a lazy bunch you all can be, so I've made it super-easy for you to watch this...and as she says...get out your hankies.

I know this pup is clever because:
a:  she is a cancer, and 
b:  she is Canadian (well she lives in Canada)
just like me! and 
c:  this is so beautiful and tender and just lovely...

Pebbles


Do you have a ten-year plan, a five-year plan, or like Oriah do you just look for the small pebbles to point your way?


The Invitation

I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,

from the book The Invitation


Today, I'm opting for the small, white pebbles.

Friday, October 22, 2010

RED!


photo challenge this week is 

RED

this colour makes me think

IN CAPITALS.

It is so demanding of your attention.


This is my favourite painting, by Georgy Kurasov, a russian neo-constructivist.

I find it VERY RED.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A day in Emergency...


Daughter on the right, Jessica, ended up in emergency yesterday to have her arm, that she broke last Friday, reset and put in a cast.  A tedious, painful experience.  Thankfully, she is fast asleep upstairs and beginning the healing process.Others we saw yesterday are not.  

A day in emergency can turn into a surreal experience.  I'm not sure whether to bless the medical system or despair of it.

As we sat in the first hospital's emergency department (we had to go to two to find an orthopedic specialist who could set her arm), there were two twenty-something aged men obviously high, even to my naive eyes, both complaining of vague back pain.  All the while there (and it was over two and a half hours) they were up and down, back and forth, ducking under and over temporary barriers in the waiting room without a wince or grimace.  Neither bothered to hide that there was nothing physically wrong with them, well their backs anyway.
As Jess and I sat waiting for her paperwork before moving on to hospital #2, one of the young men came running out of an examining room, waiving a prescription and announced to everyone in the waiting room, "this hospital is AWESOME...ativan man, ativan".

Fast-forward five hours, well slow-forward actually, and now I am sitting in the radiology department waiting for Jessica to have her post-reduction x-ray, next to a man whose eighty-year-old Mum is in having her x-rays taken.  We can hear the gentle crying of his mother as the technicians turn her this way and that.  This man is teary too as he explains to me that his Mum's bones are so fragile, every tiny movement is excruciating for her.  "I keep trying to tell them that they have to go slowly and be gentle with her, but they won't listen, they have no time, they don't know her." 

And herein lies the crux of the problem.  Staff have no time to simply observe the all-too-obvious grab for cheap drugs with the first young-man, and no time to properly tend to the needs of Anna as she is subjected to painful x-ray after x-ray. 

I'm grateful Jessica's arm is now cast and she can heal, but again the specialist, the only one on call in what was an over-taxed hospital, didn't have the time to read her chart properly or ask her the correct questions and ended up re-setting the bone without anesthetic, and so the poor girl had her arm broken twice in the space of four days.

I hope this doesn't sound too judgemental, every health professional we met yesterday was helpful and caring, but without exception distracted and over-extended.  I genuinely believe the system is horribly broken and don't have a clue as to how to fix it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the ABC's of Life







A...accept differences

B...be kind
C...count your blessings










D...dream
E...express thanks
F...forgive
G...give freely
H...harm no one
I...imagine more
J...jettison anger
K...keep confidences
L...love truly
M...master something
N...nurture hope
O...open your mind
P...pack lightly
Q...quell rumours
R...reciprocate
S...seek wisdom
T...touch hearts
U...understand
V...value truth
W...win graciously
X...xeriscape
Y...yearn for peace
and
Z...zealously support a worthy cause.

I recently found these ABC's of life written in the home of a dear friend, and thought how wonderful it would be for our children to learn the alphabet through our daily actions of these words.

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