Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eating Omily: Drunk on Summer

We're halfway through the week, and my back is covered in adhesive allergies!  I'm being tested for sensitivities to common household substances in the ongoing fight to get my eczema back into remission.  Fun fun!  Well, you know what really is fun fun?  Eating!  Omily!  What have I been chowing down on between last Wednesday and today?  I've been holding out on you guys.  While I sat typing away, and moving photos around last Wednesday, on the desk next to me was the beginning of something magical...a quart jar of drunken cherries.  Yes, as good as they sound.  No...better.  Cherry season is depressingly short, and those dark, sweet bing cherries are beyond a shadow of a doubt my favorite fruit, so preserve them I must.  Freezing cherries though, leaves you with a mushy, oxidized shadow of the fruit's formal glory, so this year I tried a different route, and am just thrilled with the results.  Especially over chocolate icecream.  I got this recipe from, Put 'em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for he Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
Start with a pound of sweet cherries.  If you can find 'black gold bings', I'm convinced they are the best cherries under the sun.  Take the stems off, but don't pit them.  Just cut a slit straight down to the pit in each cherry, and put them in a quart jar.  One pound will basically fill the jar.
 Now, add one and a half cups of not-your-best bourbon.  Ahem.  I think someone named JIM would really enjoy this particular booze um, while balancing on a BEAM.  Between the bourbon and the cherries, the jar will already be close to full.
 Put half a cup of brown sugar, and half a cup of water in a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Once it's boiling, turn off the heat, and carefully pour the syrup into the jar.  It'll crackle a bit when the hot syrup hits the bourbon, but no worries.  You may or may not be able to fit every last drop of syrup into the jar.  Don't knock yourself out, ok?  Screw the lid onto the jar nice and tight, and shake it up really good.  Now, don't bother to resist.  Take the lid back off and dip a (clean) finger in for a taste.  Nom.  Resist the urge to drink the whole quart of the stuff and die of alcohol poisoning before its even had a chance to work its magic.  You've got to let it sit for a week, longer is better, so the flavor of the cherries (and the cherry pits!) can mingle with the flavors of the bourbon.  You'll see the liquid get darker, and the cherries get lighter, every day.  Don't hesitate to keep giving it shakes occasionally, to be sure all the cherries are getting equally intoxicated.

Then drizzle cherries and syrup over chocolate icecream, and die happy.  The soaking actually softens the pits enough that you can crap them open (I'm not advocating doing this with your teeth) and eat the soft meat inside.  Don't worry about the cyanide.  You can also mix the syrup with chocolate liqueur for a decadent dessert cocktail, or more bourbon or vermouth for a sweeter take on an Old Fashioned, or Manhattan.


On my Wednesday trip to the Farmer's Market, I also spotted a few more of my Summer favorites: sweet corn!  At a dollar an ear, I passed it by this time, but it'll get down to two, three, even four ears for a dollar as the season goes on, and that's when I stock up so I can eat it with lots of butter, add it to grain pilafs, and dry it for rich, hearty corn chowders after the weather turns.

 That Friday I stopped by my favourite meat vendor, affectionately referred to as my Pork People, and picked up a kielbasa.  Hands down my  favourite member of the sausage family, and, seriously?  You haven't lived till you've tasted Flying Pigs Farm's kielbasa.

I also stopped by the Green Market Education Tent, and was very impressed by the huge map of the tristate area with a dot in place for every farm represented at the market.  If you want to get extra local, you can identify who's just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and who's in central Pennsylvania, or way up in the Finger Lakes.
On Monday I piked up my share and got another "It's Summer!" Surprise: string beans!  The days of peas and strawberries are well and truly behind us now.  There were two Summer squash in my share already, too!  I'm not sure I'm ready for the squash onslaught...I still have shredded squash in my freezer from last year!   Better break out that zucchini bread recipe.  I think I'll also try roasting Summer squash this year, to tame that...squashy flavor, and bring out the smooth butteryness it gets from being thoroughly cooked.

That's all for this week.  We've been busy clearing out our freezer and pantry of Winter stores, in preparation for the canning craziness that is to come.  I'm already spotting kirby cukes here and there, but they aren't cheap enough for pickling yet.  I'm really excited to make tart cherry, and blueberry preserves this year, and I'll be freezing plenty of blueberries, too.  The grocery down the street stocks a brand that's grown and packaged in New Jersey for just $2.50 a pint!  Yesssss...I'll be buying mostly raspberries and blackberries at the Farmer's Market, and peaches, of course.  Yay canning peaches!

The best place to enjoy the weather is where you can enjoy the fruits of the weather, literally!  Get out to the Farmer's Market!

~em

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Six of Swords

Hey everybody, it's Monday again!  Don't get all in a tizzy...Monday is Tarot Day, and who doesn't love that?  Start your week off with a little introspection.  You'll be happy to know that I'm back to making leaps-and-bounds style progress interpreting the whole tarot using my own cobbled-together system.  I'm getting really excited to finish and get all the interpretations professionally laid out and designed into a beautiful zine-style book for your offline-interpreting pleasure.  Stay tuned!

Today's card is the Six of Swords.  When I first bought a tarot deck and started this journey at the tender age of, oh, somewhere around fourteen, I think, the Cups really captured my imagination.  That was only natural: watery, emotional, dreamy cups definitely describe well the mind-set of a young adolescent.  I related so strongly to the Princess of Cups in my goddess tarot, a young figure, drinking deeply from the cup of life....
 It didn't help, of course, that the original tarot book I bought was not, frankly, very good, but I was not a Swords fan at all.  They were dark, and scary.  As the years went by and I started living my dreams instead of being emo about them, the swords moved into the forefront of my psyche.  I was, still am, deeply inspired by their take-no-prisoners, cut-the-bullshit attitude.  Even before my Sword days, though, I liked the Six of Swords card in the goddess tarot.
 It had a dreamy quality all its own, owing at least partially, I'm sure, to the water-heavy nature of the image.  When I feel stuck, and a little hopeless, I look at this card as a reminder that my gifts, and the truths I have earned cannot be taken away from me, and I need only release my old hopes and follow my dreams to firmer ground.  It has a different vibe in the Waite-Smith deck, which is interesting since visually the cards are very similar.

The Six of Swords

6 of Swords

"A man poles a boat toward land in the distance.  Six swords are stuck into the bottom of the boat, and a woman and child sit hunched over near the bow.  In the fives, we watched with a little concern as a fiery-haired man attempted to collect five swords all for himself.  In the six we see he’s found a way to take his hard-earned experience with him.   Fair enough: we can’t see the features of the land he’s heading toward, and he may need it where he’s going, but on the other hand, he’s chosen a precarious place to keep it. 
The man polls the boat in the position of calmer water, suggesting that the wisest course is sometimes to take the path of least resistance.  This is even more true when others are depending on you.  The figures in the boat may be a mother and a child, and they can represent awareness on the part of the querent that our actions inevitably have consequences for others.  Will that precaution, along with traveling heavily armed, be the preparations necessary to make for an easy journey on the final push home?  Time will tell.  We can say, at least, that the swords appear the most prepared, the most focused on the future, of the four suits at this critical juncture.  The high point is an excellent time to gain perspective on the rest of the journey.  Clear-sighted swords know that, more than picking flowers, or throwing a parade for yourself, is the way to ensure success.
In a reading, keep in mind that of course you can take the time to celebrate progress and feel good about what you’ve accomplished, but assuming you’d like to move forward, your energy needs to be channeled toward that end.  Keep your goal in sight, and be prepared for unknowns.  Are you the figures in the front of the boat?  Who are you letting control your future, and why?  Have you given them a good look yet?  You may be in good hands, but regardless, you are ultimately responsible for your fate.  Many a college student has been unable to graduate on time because he or she assumed his or her counselor knew all their requirements and would tell them if they were missing any in the critical last few semesters."

Where are your adventures and dreams taking you?  Have you gotten a good look at that land up ahead yet?  Sensible swords would insist on getting out your spyglass before you land...you can do a reading on the subject of course, the future is notoriously finicky.  Best to suss it out the old-fashioned way, too...

~em

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Time We Create the Future

Do you remember imagining what the future would be like when you were a kid?  Or, you know, it was more like, The Future!  There were The Jetsons, of course, with their folding-up flying cars, and their robot maid, and the face time phones, and all that stuff.  There's one episode I can't shake, even though I wasn't way into the show as a kid, and haven't seen it in years.  I forget if it was Jane (his wife), or Rosie the robot, but one of the two glanced out the window, and saw they were surrounded by smog.  She pushed a button, and their futuristic-flying-saucer house rose up on its stilt legs till it had reached clearer skies.  "That's better!" she said, and the laugh track commenced.  Even as a kid though, I thought it was unbelievably sad.  This was The Future!, and instead of finding a way to vacuum up the smog, we were just climbing higher to a new level we could pollute?  What happened when they got too high up to breathe?
Well, welcome to the future and, funny thing, we don't have flying-saucer houses on stilts, but we are taking a similar approach to our problems

"Oh no!  We've used up most of the oil that's easy to reach and not in the hands of nations with questionable policies!  No problem!  We'll just drill into fragile ecosystems, like the ocean, or protected arctic lands!  Hell, we'll just use the dirtiest, one of the least efficient and most destructive methods of obtaining oil there is to pump oil out of pristine wolf and caribou habitat in  Cananda, and then build a giant pipe line to bring the filthy stuff all the way down to the gulf of Mexico!  No way those things will cause any problems, or only prolong the inevitable, right guys?  Right?"

Uh, sure, right, Rosie.

I think it's time we re-imagine the future.  Not in five years, not in ten, and not when gas prices hit $6.00 a gallon.  Now.  Because the one we're careening madly toward with big, prosperous smiles on our faces sucks.

There was a time when we thought the oil would last us forever.  We thought every person in the world could have a car!  We had the assembly line, and we had oil coming out of our ears down south.  Everyone was happy.  I am convinced it didn't take the smart people among us who were investigating this scenario long to figure out that this was not the case.  So why, more than fifty years later, are we still acting like it is?  Why are we supporting politicians who are willing to lie to us to stay in office another few years, just because they cut gas prices back from $4 a gallon to $3?  Why are we so happy to keep sucking up the lie when it's becoming more and more obvious that oil is NOT the way of the future?

Deep Horizon, anyone?  Animals are still dying in the gulf.  The tourists may be back, but it's not over for them.  It's still seeping oil, two years later, by the way.  Put that in your car and smoke it.

Can you tell this stuff pisses me off?  Because it really does.  The people who just have to have their SUVs because a smaller hybrid car isn't 'safe', or worse, isn't 'cool' really steal all my yoga tranquility very quickly.

I get it: we all moved out to the suburbs.  We live surrounded by other houses and nice backyards, not stores, workplaces, and public transport.  In those conditions, a car is a necessity.  But necessity or not, that way of life is dying.  There is no choice.  Even hybrids take some gas, and even cars that run on hydrogen or electricity alone are using electricity mostly made from fossil fuels.
Let's all agree to stop pretending that the way of life we've gotten comfortable with is not going to change, big time, very soon, and start planning on it.  Start getting excited about it!

Let's make a new Jetsons.  Let's imagine what a comprehensive bus system would look like.  Let's imagine what zoning laws would look like that would allow walking and biking to be a viable way to accomplish what you need to on an average day without the need for any motor whatsoever.  Let's teach our kids how silly and frivolous is is to have two cars to every family, and jobs, school, and groceries ten to twenty miles away.  Let's remember how to stop by the grocery that's close enough to bike to every day for a few things, instead of loading up our car from the mega mart once every week or two.

Oh, I know, we're not out of oil, yet.  But we need oil for a lot of things.  No one's invented an electric tractor yet, as far as I know.  Or did you forget about the most basic level of obtaining food?  Maybe our farmers can go back to plowing by horse.  I'll bet they remember how.  And reducing our farms to a size that makes that practical would go a long way toward solving our food problems, major oil-suckers if ever there were some.  What about the iv bags in hospitals, to say nothing of your milk jug?  Those are made of petroleum products.

I've had way too many people tell me and anyone else who tries to point out this simple truth to 'get real.'  We can't expect people to give up their cars!  We can't expect people to change!

Well, guess what, guys.  The oil will run dry, and we're not the ones who are going to have to 'get real' then.  I suggest you get on that shit now, while the transition can still be a somewhat slow one, instead of a massive crisis.

By that time we may be living in the Jetsons future.  The one where the smog is inescapable, our children put tigers, whales, and dragons in the same category, and we're all sitting around with asthma and cancer wondering why our cars were so important in the first place.  I'm not interested, thanks.

Arists, engineers, scientists, dreamers...the politicians won't help us, and most of our parents won't, either.  We'd better get on this ourselves.  So tell me, what will our future look like?  It's officially time to start building it.

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eating Omily: Celebrate Summer

Happy Summer Solstice!  Are you getting your yoga on in Times Square?  I thought about it, but this yogini doesn't do hot yoga.  Not even 96 degree highs can keep me out of the Farmer's Market, though!  What have I been picking up since last week?

Well, on Friday there was the Jamacain jerk style pork sausage.  Mmmmm, but with quite a kick!  Go for that awesomely herbalicious flavor if you prefer a milder breakfast meat.

On Monday I started my day with leftover polenta pressed into patties, fried in coconut oil, and topped with sunflower seeds and maple syrup.  Oh man, so much better than pancakes or French toast: crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and vegan and gluten free!  Make sure you make your polenta extra thick, and let it sit in the fridge over night to firm up if (who am I kidding, when!) you try this one. 
I also picked up my weekly share.  They're out-doing themselves this year at Central Valley Farm; it was all I could do to squeeze the whole share into my bag!  You should see my exploding refrigerator!*  I bought cherries and strawberries as well.  So delicious!

*No you shouldn't.  It really needs cleaned.

 Subsequently I got to play my favorite farm share inspired game: Hide and Beet.  I know, beets are delicious, roast them to bring out their sweetness!  Except, no, because, they still taste like beets, and I don't like beets.  I've tried roasting, pureeing, boiling, pickling, relishing, you name it!  This year I'm finally getting smart.  Can YOU find the beet in this picture??
What?  That??  Nooooo, that's just an innocent berry smoothie! ;-D  There may or may not also be a bunch of Swiss chard hiding in there.  I plead the fifth!  Bright colors=antioxidants!  No matter what you do with them, sneak some beets in!  I also enjoy them raw and sliced thinly into salads.

Today I tried to beat the heat, but since I didn't make it to the market till 11:30, I pretty much failed.  However, I won big at Local Produce!  The Farmer's Market is celebrating the First Day of Summer even better than the Times Square Yogis.  Look what I found!!

Yes, blueberries, cucumbers, string beans, and PEACHES!  I am so excited to preserve me some peaches.  I might just buy a whole case!  Anyone want to split it with me?  I've got a brandied peaches recipe!

Between the sun, and all that excitement, by the time I made it down to 14th street, I was in serious need of refreshment.  Luckily Red Jacket Orchards has my back!
Seriously, you guys.  Fresh-squeezed apple juice plus lemon juice equals perfect sweet-tart, no sugar added lemon-aid.  Since their juices are unfiltered, they come with a couple grams of fiber, too, which helps to slow down the rush of fruit sugar into your blood stream!  All the same, I wouldn't chug all twelve delicious ounces at once.  It's Summer!  Take your time, and sip!

What delicious foods have you all hot and bothered this week?  Buying peaches yet, or waiting for the price to drop?  If you haven't had your fill of strawberries or cherries yet, get out there!  Cherry season can be as short as two weeks, and strawberry season probably doesn't have that long left.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Six of Cups

It's Monday!  Got big plans this week?  Wondering if you'll get that promotion/ask that cute person out/stick to your get healthier regimen whether that means laying off the fast food at lunch time, or hitting the pause button for twenty minutes of meditation?  Well, good news!  Everything's coming up roses in Omily Tarot Land!  We're on to the six of cups!  As I mentioned last week, the six is the pinnacle of each suite journey.  If you think about your path through the numbers as a mountain climb (and you won't be the first...) the six is when you're standing at the peak.  No, the hard work is not over.  You can't very well stay here the rest of your life.  No one will helicopter your cozy bed up to you.  But, the view's pretty great from here, so you should take a moment to savor it.

Quick explanation, feel free to skip if you've read this oh, twenty-odd times now: The Omily Tarot is where I interpret one card from the Waite-Smith deck a week, focusing on the elemental, and numerical signficances of the cards, as well as the images of the cards themselves.  When I'm all finished, the who kit and caboodle will be professionally designed and printed as a nifty zine for your purchase.  The idea is to give you a working system for tarot interpretation, something that will mesh easily with your own instincts and ideas about the cards, and will theoretically be easy to adapt to any non-traditional decks you favor as well.  So, enjoy!

The Six of Cups
"A beautiful village decorated with cups full of flowers glows the color of gold.   A figure with a spear walks into the background, as in the foreground a boy offers flowers to a little girl.  Emotional, watery cups have a sense of the childlike at best, and the naïve at worst, about them: childhood is the time of life when we ride entirely at the mercy of the wave of our emotions.  An infant’s laughter represents complete abandonment to the joy of the moment, and a two-year-old’s temper tantrum represents the other end of that same spectrum of allowing an emotion to take over.  In this card we see the greatest good of that state: two children surrounded by beauty, moved to give without thought of reward. 
Does this village represent the one we saw in the background in the direction of the spilled cups in the five card?  It could be.  That character may have recognized that the choice he had made was simply not a wise one, and that he was better off starting over.  It could also be another place entirely, one the sorrowful figure dressed in black couldn’t even imagine from his negative point of view.  Contrasting these cards can show us the light and the dark side of Cups energy: when we allow feelings of sadness or loss to wash over us and take over, how can we possibly see the way toward future joy and move toward it? 
If we look at this image from the 6 of staves’ point of view, we see a suggestion to question our motives.  Everyone else in town may be off cheering on, or running out of town, the figure on horseback, but these two children just can’t be bothered either way.  They rejoice in the simple beauty of life, and reach out to those closest.  The departing guard suggests now is a good time to be vulnerable.  Sooner or later, you’re going to have to reveal your weaknesses, and when someone is giving you flowers is as good a time as any.  Whether the childhood of these characters suggests a regression away from maturity, or a rebirth of the simple joy of giving instead of expecting in a relationship is up to you to decide.
In a reading, ask yourself if you’re getting all worked up over nothing.  Is it really that big a deal that your husband forgot to take out the trash again?  Consider again the joy he’s given you, and give it back in kind, without expectation.  Is the stress of your job making you close up, locking out your friends?  Release your fears, send your inner guard on a long break, and let your heart open to love and healing."

The greatest challenge of this card is releasing your expectations for the future.  Don't get grabby.  Maybe these golden days will continue for a while, and maybe a storm is on its way in now.  Worrying about the future will only subtract from your joy in the present.  Encourage yourself to live in the moment today.  In fact, it might be a good day to put your tarot card up, and just enjoy life as it comes as you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do Yoga, Do More

What is yoga?  There's a dynamic definition if ever there was one.  There is such an incredible variety out there of 'yoga classes', from the 'authentic', to the 'pandering to the western mind.'  Oh yeah.  I'll be using a lot of quotation marks today.

What makes us think Mysore Ashtanga is more authentic than Tara Stile's strolex stuff?  Yoga has been evolving for millenia, and yes, importing it to America did seem to hit the fast foward button, which is really freaky for those just getting into yoga's illustrious history, but I'm not a fan of drawing a line in the sand and telling someone else what they're doing is not yoga.

For me, it's more fair to say that someone is not doing ALL of yoga.  They may just be doing the parts of yoga that work for them.  If you'd rather spend hours doing asanas to look banging in a bikini instead of to allow you to sit comfortably in a cross-legged position for hours at a stretch, that's alright, but you are absolutely eschewing what is, arguably, yoga's heart and soul. 

Because, that's the thing: poses, breathing, chanting...these are all means to an end.  The real, nuts-and-bolts practice is meditation.  And meditation might mean sitting still in a cross-legged position for hours on end, but then again it might not.  It might mean inhaling the changing fragrances of the seasons as you walk your dog on a well-worn path through your neighborhood park.  it might mean feeling the texture of every dish and utensil you've eaten off of that day as you wash the dishes in hot, sudsy water.  It might mean breathing through the ache you're putting into your back by bending over a table to wile away another hour working on a large-scale intuitive drawing.

The key to meditation is not sitting, is not being silent, is not keeping yourself from thinking, God[dess] forbid, it is choosing to do one thing at a time: to be in one place at a time, both mentally and physically.

Moment of clarity coming...NOW!  Yes, we in America don't like to sign up for that game too much.  We are a nation of multi-taskers (says the yogini cooking breakfast and updating her blog at the same time).  We feel so good about ourselves, so exhilarated, when we're juggling several tasks simultaneously.  When I have a day I can label as 'productive', it's almost a high.  It feels amazing.

And I think this cultural truth is why we love our yoga along the lines of the strolex brand: Get stronger, leaner, more flexible, AND de-stress, all in one hour, for fifteen bucks!  All you need to add is a 'But wait, there's more!' (Feel elitist around your friends!).  We want more for our time-investment than a teeny-tiny step on a life-long road toward inner peace and true happiness.  We want something more in line with our cultural values, like, um, looking hot and eternally youthful.

So, the yogis who have been with the practice a while, who have given the meditation thing a shot, who have an inkling of all that yoga can be, and do for a person, shake their heads, and click their tongues, and roll their eyes at anyone who signs up for a power-hot-sweat-whatever yoga class.  Well, some of them do, and you can't really blame them.  It's frustrating watching this whole, complex practice be reduced to a perky girl in tight pants at the front of the room encouraging you to tighten your glutes.  But the promblem isn't the perky girl, or the glutes.  Those things are a part of the whole yoga phenomenon.

What I, and many many other yogis invite you to do though, is step outside that box.  Brave everything else yoga has to offer.  Give it a shot, take that first step.  Dare to have an objective moralality!  Dare to do one thing, or nothing, at one time.  Dare to get to know yourself.

Because a funny thing happens when you do.  You might find your yoga blog isn't so much about the alignment of shapes on a mat anymore.  You might find that striking poses in public doesn't seem scary, or embarrassing.  You might catch yourself chanting 'Om' in a moment of fear or anxiety, or stranger yet, maintaining a sense of calm self-possession, and compassion in the face of another's anger.

Yoga isn't a magic cure-all with no risk of injury.  But it does have the power to transform.  What is yoga?  It's the science of happiness.  And what more useful science is there for humanity?  Get strong, get flexible, get sexy, if that's what does it for you.  But then,

get more.

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eating Omily: Cherry Cherry Boom Boom!

As I made my way toward the back end of the Union Square Farmer's Market in search of Race Farm's incredible strawberries, a new row of pint and quart boxes caught my eye: taught, glistening, bouncing cherries!! Queen Anne cherries, the kind that are yellowish-white, and bright red mixed together.  Last year was a tough year for cherries.  They were hard to come by, and with supply so low, the price never got down to a reasonable level.  I'm taking having found them out at the same time as strawberries before the berries start rolling in to be a good sign.  I have big plans for these little lovelies: beyond a doubt one of my favorite fruits of all time!
I hope to get my hands on enough tart cherries to make preserves, and a batch of the bing cherries are going to hang out with brandy, and brown sugar to produce something half beverage, half dessert topping, all irresistible!  Now that they're coming back around, I need to finish up whats left of last year's very few cherries I managed to freeze.

I love the way produce takes its sweet time.  The days may be warm, but any tomato that's not coming out of a green house is still just a gleam in some blossom's eye.  By the time the blue and blackberries start rolling in, the strawberries will be closing up shop for another season.  And by the time the berries start to fade, the peaches will be on their way!  I have big plans for those, too, but I'll try not to get ahead of myself...

Summer and Fall are a fruit lover's paradise, and the season is really getting on a roll, so get out there!

Nom nom nom...

~em

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Six of Staves

I'm officially all caught up from the two weeks of blogging I missed in Fabulous LA and Portland!  Who knows though; maybe you'll keep on getting unexpected Tueday/Thursday blog posts from me.  For today though, I have the Omily Tarot!  And the good news is, we're onto the sixes.  The six is considered the high point of the suit: the most positive manifestation of what that energy is all about, so it will be a good deal more cheerful than the fives were.  And briefly for anyone who's just tuning in: The Omily Tarot is a once-a-week (or so) installment in my blog where I offer my interpretation of a card from the Waite-Smith tarot deck, based on elemental, and numerical significances, as well as the images on the cards themselves.  It's quite fun, and a great way to get a solid introduction to interpreting the tarot in context, instead of how most books do it, which is by long lists of associated words and ideas separated by commas.  Dry, difficult to attach to anything, and not useful at all.  The really good news is that when I finish up my interpreting work, all of these interpretations are going to be professionally laid out and bound into a lovely zine-style book that you can purchase on my website for your perusal and reference.  I'm excited!

So, the Six of Staves
 
6 of Staves

When last we left the staves, a lack of unity, within oneself, or with those around one, was blocking progress. 
In card six, one man rides tall on a high-stepping white horse, a laurel wreath around his head, and another hung on the stave he carries.  It’s safe to say, then, that his passion has proved itself worthwhile and successful.  Has he achieved this high point by learning to cooperate, and accept outside viewpoints?  Maybe.  Do those in the background appear to be marching joyously in the parade or catching up for a major protest? 
If you went for beating everyone over the head until they got the hell out of your way, or ignoring those in great need in order to amass more resources for yourself, anticipate consequences in the none too distant future.  On the other hand, if you pulled yourself up from such poverty with the help of others, you clearly have loyal friends…who are susceptible to jealousy just like the rest of us. 
Advice if you suspect that crowd isn’t here to wish you well?  Look to the man on the horse: his gaze is directed, not forward, toward the next step on his journey, but to the side, toward his foes, or allies as the case may be.  Stay in the present: enjoy this victory, because you earned it, but be prepared for trouble requiring your attention in the future, especially if you haven’t cultivated positive relationships with those around you.  The terrain gets rougher from here, and serious detractors from your success could really bring you down.

This interpretation may sound like a bit of a downer for the high point of the suite, but of course, if all really is well and joyful, what advice do you need other than, "enjoy"?  I can't help but notice the cool look the guy's getting from his noble steed, which always colors my interpretation of this card.  What subtle cues are you starting to pick up on in a card?  If you can't help but think 'nausea' when you see green, for example, instead of 'growth', you, too, will probably be interpreting this card in a less positive way than others.  Don't fight those tendencies.  Always trust your instincts!  Your tarot toolbox is unlike anyone else's, and that's what makes you special, and potent, as a reader.  Go ahead and get on your tarot-reading high horse today!  And tomorrow, get back down, and smooth any feathers you ruffled in the process.

~em

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pony Express Weekend

So at the last possible minute and in the midst of great confusion, the husband and I caught the PATH train to Newark with a friend to meet another friend with a car to drive down to a barrier island half off the coast of Maryland, and half off the coast of Virginia.  We were camping on the Maryland side.  Assateague's claim to fame is wild ponies.  Or to be more correct, two herds of feral ponies, one on the VA side, and one on the MD side.  Legend has it that a Spanish galleon carrying conquistadors and their horses wrecked off the shore, and the horses managed to kick out of their stalls and swim to Assateague.  While horses may or may not have survived a shipwreck by swimming to the barrier island at one point, the equine inhabitants of Assateague are mostly descendents of domesticated horses being kept on the island to avoid mainland fencing regulations and taxes.  Regardless, there they are.
Charming, fat ponies, brown and white paints, for the most part.  The Maryland herd is quasi-domesticated thanks to a steady stream of naive campers who think leaving their food out on their picnic tables, or just put away in a cooler outside of their car, is not a recipe for a Pony Party on their campsite.  They're wild enough to make it a bad idea to walk up to one with intent to ear-scratch, though.
This is not a test.  That pony just opened that red cooler.
This pony was sorely disappointed; nothing but iced tea and deet on our table.

Fun with feral ponies aside, it was a lovely, and all too brief weekend spent with sandy feet, varying degrees of heat stroke, and a feeling of awe at the parade of stars and moon that took place overhead when the sun set.

On Saturday night we stopped by a little Farmer's stand to pick up produce for dinner: sweet strawberries, blueberries...squash...green beans...tomatoes?  I know Maryland is further south than New York, but tomatoes and blueberries?   In June?  Feeling suspicious,  I looked around.  Sure enough, the strawberries bore a sign declaring them local...right next to a basket of lemons and limes.  A cooler displayed flats of berries, and boxes of peaches from California.  That's shitty, man.  If we wanted imports and out-of-seasons, we'd have picked up veggies at the Food Lion along with s'more ingredients.  An all too important reminder that words like 'farm-fresh' don't really mean shit legally speaking, and can be bandied about by anyone with a cash register.  Ask questions; don't assume anything!

And don't put food directly down on the picnic table.


Live Omily,
~em

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Eating Omily: At the Farmer's Market Now!

So, I went to the Farmer's Market on Monday, and had a lovely time, and found so many delicious things!  Like fava beans!!  Did you know that fava beans are real?  Yes, far more than a famous quote from a thriller, fava beans are the ultimate spring veggie: super-seasonal, tender, sweet, delicious, and green, and, at $6.00 a pound before you remove the inedible pods and skins, pricey!  I usually treat myself to these guys once a year.  They're just too expensive for regular eating, but nothing says Spring like fava bean puree slathered on toast!  There are some fava beans there, in the background of this shot.
In the foreground is another favorite spring treat with a lower price tag: English, or shelling, peas!  These are the kind you have to remove from the pods to enjoy, but at $3.75 a pound, they're a sight cheaper than fava beans, and for my money, almost as tastey!  I grabbed a little over a pound of them.

I was quite surprised by what I saw next.  I didn't know these guys ever got to hang out next to fava beans!
Tangy red raspberries!  I passed them over, of course.  I'll be able to get them in pint containers for that price or less once the Summer season gets underway.  When you're eating local, patience is a virtue!   It wasn't such a struggle to turn away from the raspberries, though, because lucky for us berry-lovers, strawberries are a spring fruit, fading from the market by the time the other berries really get rolling.
I mean seriously, who needs over-priced raspberries when you can get a quart of the most incredible sweet, complex, melt-in-your-mouth strawberries you've ever tasted for $6.00??  These guys are absolutely my recommendation of the season.
You can catch them on Mondays, and make sure that you do!  Strawberries will only be around for another couple weeks, less if we get a few more heavy rainstorms.

Next up I stopped by my favorite booth at the Farmer's market: Central Valley Farm.  These guys are around only on Mondays, and can be found right near 16th street, on the right side of the Farmer's Market if you're moving uptown.  I didn't need eggs this week, but I did want to pick up a pound of pasture-raised beef.
I was in luck, though!  Their CSA had officially begun!  It was a light share this week, so they charged $15 instead of the usual $20, but what I got for $15 was still enough to overflow my crisper drawer!
Spring onions, sugar snap peas, asparagus, two bunches of swiss chard, radishes, and kale!  And already I feel like the most overwhelmingly blessed person on the planet.  Does it get any better than a fridge full of fresh veggies??

The best part of having this much green stuff around is that you can plan your meals entirely around vegetables, letting protien and complex carbs play second, or even third, fiddle, to incredible taste and nutrition.  I fixed us up a Pasta Primavera.  That roughly translates to Spring Spaghetti, and consists of long cut pasta, traditionally with peas and asparagus, in a light cream sauce.  I made mine with big handfuls of spinach, lots of garlic, and that whole bunch of asparagus, tossed in a homemade bechamel sauce with wholewheat spaghetti.
Nom.  You can be enjoying this hearty and satisfying dinner, too!  Just cook your pasta according to package directions, and in the meantime, saute your veggies in olive oil and/or butter.  Then, in the same pan, follow my directions here for a basic bechamel sauce.  When the pasta is not quite done, transfer it from the water to the big pan you're cooking the sauce and veggies in, and toss, toss, toss!  Half a pound of pasta will feed two people with leftovers, and when it comes to veggies, add about twice as much as you think would be a good amount, and it should be just right.

What treasures have you found at the Farmer's Market lately?  And what are you doing with them??  Do tell!

~em

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Five of Coins

The five of coins, huh?  Might be a good time to get my shit together!  Why, you may ask??  Because I've still got the Major Arcana to get through interpreting before they're all ready to be put into a professionally designed and produced zine that you'll be able to have for your very own!  Yay!  Anyway...with the fives we've been talking about a 'crisis of spirit': the first big challenge to come your way and knock you off your horse.  What is its nature?  And how will you respond to it?  Staves realizes it can't accomplish the big things it has in mind alone, cups realize that reality is never as rosy as your dreams, and swords, well, swords take advantage of someone else's disillusionment, which is already a sword fail, since that's certainly the opposite of telling it like it is, and in the process, forget to pare down and simplify.  Oopsies!  So what do down to earth, practical pentacles do when it's their turn to slip up?v  Hmm...'oopsies' doesn't begin to cover it.

The Five of Coins

5 of Coins:

"Don’t panic!  Not that I blame you; this card looks as grim as the worst of the swords (or at least nearly so).  The beleaguered couple makes its way forward through the snow, dressed in rags, and with an injury to contend with.  Is this what the four of coins’ miser feared when he clung so tightly to his money?  Maybe his clinginess is what left this couple out in the cold. 
Five coins glow in a stained glass window overhead.  An opportunity for warmth, and potentially another chance at financial success too, but only if these poor souls can lift their eyes above their painful circumstances and see the window in time to turn and go in.  They may be blinded by the snow, frozen water after all: trapped by visions of what they wish their life could be, or the most deadly illusion: that it can never be anything else.  The connection to our emo friend in the five of cups, staring down at the spilled cups to the exclusion of the two still full, is obvious.  Looking at this right after the sword card, I can’t help but wonder if these people would have more friends if they had been slower to take advantage of others when they had the chance, or perhaps as depicted in the staves, they failed to learn to cooperate when they had the upper hand, and are hurting for that skill now that they’ve lost it.
It’s easy to focus on what you haven’t got with the fives as its our first big challenge, but this is an opportunity for growth, and growth leads to better times.  The staves have to choose to help accomplish a goal as part of a team; the coins have to choose to accept help from others.  The cups have to choose to acknowledge what they still have to move forward, and the swords, well, the swords are certainly making some motion, but it looks like it's away from their path instead of toward it.  With the five of coins it's worth remembering: we are never too poor to give, or too rich to receive.
In a reading, this card is often asking us to look at things with an objective eye, and ask ourselves if they’re as bad as all that.  Of course it sucks that your parents are divorcing, but when all is said and done, they’ll be happier, and things will settle back down to normal.  Maybe you’re so pissed about being laid off, you aren’t listening when someone offers you the opportunity for a fresh start elsewhere, or so heart-broken over the end of a relationship, you’ve forgotten all the things about it you didn’t like at the time.  It can also worn of rough times ahead: in terms of your health, your finances, or anything else that's currently on your list of mundane to-dos."

Have you reached a coins-style crisis of spirit with the tarot?  Have you had it up to here with your family telling you you're consorting with the devil?  Or maybe you just don't have the time to lay out a spread and write it up in your tarot journal every day anymore.  Don't give up!  Your next big tarot breakthrough might be just out of sight!  Keep your deck and journal in your totebag, and you may find a spare twenty minutes during your day.  Keep calm, and answer your family's questions (accusasions...) and even if they never come around, you'll be a more patient person for your efforts!


~em

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Public Service Announcement

I'll be the first to tell you that I think this world has a long way to go in terms of gender equality, but in general, there are some battles I feel like we've fought, and won.  The vote, for example, at least in this country.  I also like to think that, at least in terms of overt and conscious thought, we are past blaming the victim for sexual crimes.  Well, I learned the other day that world is way worse off than I thought.

Let's just say, since even if it didn't start this way it quickly degraded into this, that a friend on facebook started a poll concerning a theoretical situation:

Man and woman are making out, woman attempts to touch man's genitals.  Man says he doesn't want to do that.  Woman asks why.  Man chooses not to elaborate.  Woman replies that she DOES want to do that, and goes back to attempting to do that.  Man attempts to physically prevent it from happening, but ultimately doesn't stop her though force, or through leaving the space they are occupying.  Woman performs oral sex on him.  The next day, man is confused.  Was he raped and/or assaulted?  Should he press charges?  He didn't want that to happen, but in the moment he did experience pleasure from the act.

The responses included: laughter, "Wha?", and, from several different people, "He should man up!"  I'm not kidding.  People said this stuff.

As the conversation continued, it became clear that these comments were responses to the suggestion that he may press charges.  People felt that was unnecessary or uncalled for, because he was certainly strong enough to stop her if he really wanted to, or he could have run out of the room.  As one person put it, (paraphrased) "If I pressed charges every time I initially said 'no', but ultimately went through with the act in question, I would be living in court!"

Fair enough.  The question of whether to take the matter to court depends, I think, on whether the person in question is a danger to others.

BUT, people were also suggesting that this man was not a victim, that he was insulting real victims by using the word, and that, yes, he should, 'man up.'

To this I say, WTF?

Let's go back to that story.  I will highlight for you the significant portion.

Man and woman are making out, woman attempts to touch man's genitals.  Man says he doesn't want to do that.  Woman asks why.  Man chooses not to elaborate.  Woman replies that she DOES want to do that, and goes back to attempting to do that.  Man attempts to physically prevent it from happening, but ultimately doesn't stop her though force, or through leaving the space they are occupying.  Woman performs oral sex on him.  The next day, man is confused.  Was he raped and/or assaulted?  Should he press charges?  He didn't want that to happen, but in the moment he did experience pleasure from the act. 

THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THIS IS A CASE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.

It doesn't matter that the victim was physically stronger than the assailant, it doesn't matter that the victim experiences sexual pleasure during the act, and it sure as hell does not matter that the victim was a man and the assailant was a woman.

Is that clear?

It is incredibly sickening and horrifying to me that we should ever ever EVER tell a victim of ANY crime to 'man up.'  Or claim that he's not a 'victim' because...his assailant didn't slam his head into the wall a few times for good measure?  Because...he has a penis?

A man or a woman is not at fault for his or her rape or assault because he or she

a.) was wearing 'provocative' clothing

b.) was alone at night

c.) opted not to fight back for any reason

d.) felt pressured because of the assailant's position in relation to him or her

e.) was drunk out of his or her mind

f.) experienced an orgasm 

g.) was sexually promiscuous prior to the attack

h.) ANY OTHER FECKING REASON YOU CAN MAKE UP

None of those things are illegal!  Not fighting back is not a crime!  Not getting up and leaving is not a crime!  Continuing to attempt sexual contact with a person when that person has said NO, or in fact, when that person has failed to explicitly say YES constitutes a sexual assault.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  

If, the next morning you feel slightly sheepish because you didn't stick to your principles, but otherwise ok, that was probably not an attack.  If, you feel naughty and giggly because you did something that's out of character for you but otherwise ok, that was probably not an attack.  If, you feel confused, conflicted, scared, hurt, numb, disconnected, or a need to initiate a sexual act with this person again not because you're horny, because you want to prove that you wanted it, or for a reason you can't fathom right then, then it probably was an attack, and you can, and should, take steps to process what happened to you so you can handle it in a healthy way, heal, and move on.  That very well may involve pressing charges against your attacker, and if there is reason to suspect your attacker will attack you, or someone else, in the future, then that would be the right thing to do, if you're up to it.

We live in a fecked up culture where we think that men ALWAYS want sex, and any man who doesn't want sex, doesn't want a woman to stick her hand down his fecking pants without his permission, needs to "man up".  That is such bullshit I can hardly stand it.  Everyone of every gender ALWAYS has the right to be in control of any sexual contact happening to his or her body.  Some women enjoy lots of sex with a variety of men.  Some women enjoy that with women, or with both men and women, maybe both at the same time.  The same goes for men.  Some men prefer not to be sexually active, for a day, a week, a month, a lifetime, until they're in stable relationships, until they're engaged, until they're married, until they're legal adults, etc.  The same goes for women.

I want to live in a world where "No" or "Please stop" is enough.  I refuse to accept that you have to fight back to prove that you didn't secretly want it.  Wearing a miniskirt doesn't mean you secretly wanted it. Having a Y chromosome doesn't mean you secretly wanted it.

Get that through your heads, because if I ever hear the phrase 'man up' in a conversation about sexual assault again, I am going to commit some non-sexual assault and battery of my own. 

That is all.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Eating Omily: Snack Time and Shop Time

Fair warning: rhubarb won't be around much longer!  Neither will tender salad greens and spinach, or crisp, sweet sugar snap peas.  Those things all love these chilly, damp days, and Summer is just around the corner!

Of course, I won't be too disappointed once I see those fat, heirloom tomatoes come rolling in!  What was I cooking this week?  Asparagus of course!  I need to start buying that stuff in big bunches if I want to have it around later; that season, too, is on its last legs.  Shelling peas are another seasonal favorite of mine I haven't indulged in enough yet.  That two-week trip at the beginning of May has got me all off kilter seasonally!

I'll keep this post short for today, and report back with pictures of what's in the market in early June in the next couple days, to get us all back on track!

For today, let me offer you this incredibly simple and satisfying recipe for English, or shelling, peas.  I adapted it from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.

Buttered Peas:

Shell your peas, and put the pods aside.  Depending on how much little fibers bother you, you can saute those, or throw them into a green smoothie.  To avoid the fibrous texture all together, simmer them in water, then strain them out for a veggie broth.

Put the peas in a sauce pan with just a little water, not even enough to cover the peas, and turn the heat on to a simmer.  When the water has basically all evaporated, add a pat of butter, and some salt and pepper, and toss.
They look even better with a sheen of butter...
  Trust me, these guys are better than popcorn, and of course, pack a bigger nutritive punch!  That said, there's nothing wrong with fiber-rich, crunch-tastic popcorn!
See?  They're practically the same!
 Speaking of which, quick edit to that recipe: Once your test kernels pop, pour in your popcorn, put the lid back on, and pull the pan off the heat for ten seconds before letting it go to town.  Just trust me.  More popping, less burning!  And be sure you're using a big enough pan: three quarts for 1/3 cup popcorn kernels is great.

So I'll leave you to your snacking, but make it quick!  FYI you guys, there are all kinds of Rain Sales at the Farmer's Market when the weather turns wet!  Grab an umbrella and get out there!!

Nom nom nom...
~em

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Five of Swords

Tarot?  On a Saturday??  Why not?  You have ten minutes, and I have an hour!  We're still in the tricky territory of the fives: our first big upset in a journey that's just halfway over, and we've made it up to the Swords.  Swords are all about thoughts, ideas, words, frank appraisals, and brutal honesty.  They're my kind of suit!  But before we jump in, a quick explanation: The Omily Tarot is where I offer up my interpretation of a tarot card from the Waite-Smith deck, based on elemental and numerical associations, as well as the images on the cards itself.  The posting schedule is once a week, and in the downtime, I'm hard at work interpreting the whole deck according to this system.  When I'm finished, it will be professionally designed into a lovely zine, which you can buy on my website.  Yay!  I'm excited.

The Five of Swords
5 of Swords

"Ironically enough, the sword is the only 5 card that could be construed as happy on some level based on the imagery alone.  The figure on this card smiles as he collects the weapons of his foes, who wander away toward the sea in the background.  Has he won a fair fight with them, or did he trick them out of their weapons?  It doesn’t seem likely he could have won a sword fight balancing three swords in his arms.  He may be using his brains to obtain his victories, and so far, it’s working.  On the other hand, those guys may be victims only of themselves: choosing expansive dreams, represented by the body of water they move toward, over heavy, tough to handle reality, represented by their abandoned swords.  Who hasn’t longed for a break from objective truth?
Maybe one of those guys is the Negative Nancy crying over spilled milk in the five of Cups!  With his head down he’s just waiting to be taken advantage of, after all.  Approaching this card from the 4 of Swords, we start to wander if he didn’t spend too much time isolated from his fellow man, and from his weapon, for his own good.  He seems to have lost perspective on what a sword is for, and what other human beings are for, too.   There’s always such a thing as too much for your own good.  From the perspective of the losers of this fight, taking a break may lead to a minor setback, but as we explored in the last card, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do.
Has our hero taken on more than he can handle?  If those two swords slip he’ll have a nasty wound to contend with.  The swords are often about being objective enough to let go of what you don’t need, and that is the key to the ‘crisis of spirit’ described by the fives. This guy faces the sword challenge: take the easy way out by satisfying his pride and holding onto every trophy as proof of his mental prowess, or recognize that his future success is threatened by the weight he carries, and release his pride and ego in honor of a higher truth? 
In a reading, this may be a time to release some of what you worked for, perhaps as an investment into future growth, or just as a chance to improve your karma by giving back.  Even if you can take it with you, it might not be worth it.  You don’t have to win every argument, or force everyone you know to acknowledge the truth you’ve discovered: let your dad believe what he wants if he’s not listening, and if you want to keep your friend, don’t lord it over him or her when you prove you’re right."

The five of swords may represent a time to be honest with yourself about how you got as far as you got.  A major sword challenge may be just admitting that your success so far was ill-gotten, and perhaps not worth pursuing.   And of course, ask yourself if you're one of the people down by the water, their truth, or their stake in the world around them, abandoned for a world loftier perhaps, but too remote to truly compete with the here and now most of the time.  Sometimes the swords and cups seem to be too at odds to come from the same philosophy, but there are no true contradictions in the tarot, just an acknowledgement that life is complicated enough to hold various truths simultaneously.

~em

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kitten Pose

So, how has the yoga been going?

Making progress toward handstand: I'm hovering for a second before coming back down when kicking up center floor.

I haven't been practicing asana frequently enough to maintain the flexibility I gained a year ago.  Still frustrating...

On the other hand, my spine is getting super twisty, which is fun.

How's meditation been since meditating every day for the month of February?  It's always on the table, but as far as actually sitting down and doing it, that doesn't happen everyday. 

How about you?  Still plugging away?  Taking a Summer break?  Letting the sunshine inspire  you to ramp up?  Don't forget to take advantage of the nice weather to practice asana or meditation outside!  It's so refreshing...

Well, aside from doing a lot of warriors, I've learned a lot about kittens this week.  Today marks the one week anniversary with a pair of black kittens we're fostering through the ASPCA while they gain weight before their neuter surgery.

Wesley and Gunn are, of course, adorable little balls of fuzzy energy.  Oh good Lord...so much energy...they have an uncanny ability to make a mess out of anything, climb anything, escape anything, and make you love them at the same time.

They also eat a lot.  Two cans of kitten food each per day, which is a lot when you don't yet weigh two pounds.  At this second, their favorite game is, "Climbing the Laundry Hamper and Pushing the Stack of Papers Put There to Stop Us From Pushing It off the Bed off the Hamper"  They're supplementing this game with fine rounds of "Chew the Plants" and "Fall off of Things"

They were skittish at first, scooting under furniture at our approach, and needing to be tricked to come out with a string toy, but they've largely settled down now, and have entered the "Kitty Hypnosis" phase, where if I give them a good rubdown, they'll settle down enough to be plopped into my lap, and from there,  continued pets, scratches, and rubs result in a state of semi-consciousness characterized by slowly closing eyes, rumbling purrs, and complete limpness.

I guess what I'm saying is what I already knew: kittens are a lot of fun, but a lot of trouble, too.  I think the husband is already looking forward to their being dropped back off at the ASPCA next Friday.  I've heard that black kittens are the slowest to be adopted, which is sad, because these two are so precious, and I think black cats are gorgeous, the way their features blend so well, they look like the silhouette of a cat, instead of the actual animal, if lit right.  If you're in the market for a sweet little kitty to call your own, Wesley and Gunn are as well behaved as can be expected, thoroughly litter box trained, friendly little kitties who may wind up being left to linger at the shelter past adorable kittenhood if you or someone you know in search of a feline family addition doesn't step up.

Other things I've learned from kittens include:

Stop leaving unfinished projects lying about.  Actually go through that pile of paper, instead of moving it from surface to surface throughout the day.

Go with the flow.  If someone much bigger than you wants a cuddle, well, they're going to get it, so no use making a fuss.

Get lots of exercise.

Get lots of sleep.

Hmmm...maybe I'll make those my Summer goals...

Wish me luck!

Live Omily...kittenly?
~em




P.S. They've since moved onto "Kick Plastic Bags Under the Dresser", another favorite around here.