Monthly Archives: January 2009

Kale with Garlic and Bacon

kale

Made this for lunch today and it was pretty good — I added some red onions while cooking it, and then some feta cheese after it was cooked, and then it was delicious!

I’m looking for other kale recipes, if you know any, since I have a garden full of it right now. My son tried adding some teriyaki sauce to this, and he liked that. But it was a bit too salty that way, he said.

Gardening in SoCal is weird — we also picked lettuce, chard,  a few grape tomatoes, apples, snow peas, and peppers today. Seasons? We just don’t have them like anywhere else… it’s mostly a mediterranean climate , but with so many climate zones it’s just ridiculous. The Western Garden Book list 24 different zones, and I think I have about 7 or 8 of them just in my little yard.

Kale with Garlic and Bacon

Shredding the kale allows you to cook it for a shorter period of time, so it retains an appealingly bright color and is gentler in flavor than if it had been slow-cooked.

Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 50 min
Total Time: 1 hr

ingredients

2 1/2 pounds kale (about 4 bunches), tough stems and center ribs cut off and discarded
10 bacon slices (1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups water

preparation

Stack a few kale leaves and roll lengthwise into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips with a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining leaves.

Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook garlic in remaining fat over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale (pot will be full) and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Add water and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Toss with bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook garlic in remaining fat over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale (pot will be full) and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Add water and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Toss with bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Cooks’ note:

Large kale leaves are easier to cut in the manner described in this recipe. If all you can find are small leaves, just coarsely chop them.

via Kale with Garlic and Bacon Recipe at Epicurious.com.

The Mess That Greenspan Made: Three Sins, One Gift – The Gift

Throughout history, no system of fiat money has endured the test of time. There have been numerous examples, most notably in 18th century France leading up to the French Revolution.

The reason? It is too easy to create fiat money.

Governments create money to solve problems – wars, natural disasters, poverty, re-election. When money can be created “out of thin air” there is seemingly no limit to how much money can be created or how many problems can be solved.

Governments like to solve problems.

The world’s money handlers profit by creating money to lend to businesses and individuals. When money, in the form of credit, can be created “out of thin air”, there is seemingly no limit to the prosperity that can be fostered or the money that can be made.

Money handlers like to make money.

No one has benefited more from today’s fiat money system than governments and the financial industry. Governments have borrowed and spent to please their constituents, and the world’s money handlers have grown wealthy as few can imagine.

Not a Panacea

But, over time, fiat money proves it is not the great panacea that people at first think it is. In the broad sweep of history, its effects, though initially welcomed and embraced as hope for a new era of prosperity, prove fleeting.

Ultimately, despite what the government and the money handlers tell them, people come to realize that their money is losing its value at a quickening pace. It is losing value because too much of it has been created.

The words of the government issuing the money begin to ring hollow and the riches of the money handlers become far too egregious.

This realization comes to different people in different ways.

The poor usually suffer first and most, as they experience difficulty making ends meet. Their money no longer purchases what it once did. The poor have little understanding of history’s broad sweeps, what money is, or what money once was. They know little of storing value.

Those in the middle may have prospered by participating in the speculative games offered up by the money handlers. Throughout history, rising asset prices fueled by the extraordinary creation of money and credit have provided the opportunity for ordinary individuals to obtain great wealth and notoriety.

Eventually, they too come to realize that their money has lost value and the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed can no longer be supported.

But, as in nearly all eras, the money handlers prosper more than all others. Those at the top – the business elite, the bankers, the peddlers of influence – they reap the benefits that fiat money provides, most of them knowing well its dark secrets and sordid past.

At some point in time, with a populace accustomed to ever-increasing prosperity and hope, fiat money fails to deliver.

The seams begin to bulge and the system becomes increasingly strained as ever-increasing amounts of fiat money must be poured into the economy to maintain its momentum.

The public becomes disillusioned, realizing they have been duped into behaving in ways that their forefathers would ridicule. Their profligate ways – lifestyles which don’t square with incomes – give way to the harsh, cold reality that there is no free lunch and there are no easy riches.

They realize the government has mismanaged the nation’s affairs, that the money handlers have once again benefited handsomely, and then there is unrest.

One thing leads to another, and one more fiat money system comes to an end….

Whether intentional or by happenstance, whether inspired by Ayn Rand and an Objectivist self interest, motivated by his early years as a gold bug, or driven by a simple desire to be popular, Alan Greenspan’s actions have resulted in drawing nearer the end of another era of fiat money.

Alan Greenspan’s gift to the world was to squash the hope that Paul Volcker’s actions had augured – to bring nearer that eventuality that can not be avoided, and which should not be put off. For Man is Man – his tools have far outpaced his ability to reason and he is not suited for a world of pure fiat money.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but all signs indicate that the future of fiat money will not be one of enduring value. A generation of relative stability has begat instability.

Eventually, the current system of fiat money will give way to a new system, and this process has been by hastened by Alan Greenspan.

This was Alan Greenspan’s gift.

via The Mess That Greenspan Made: Three Sins, One Gift – The Gift.

Simplicity (repost)


Simple Pleasures, Albert Fennel

“Be aware of Tao.”
Isn’t that simple?
No — let’s reduce more :
“Be Tao.”

Why go through all this rigmarole? Why endlessly examine scriptures and debate obscure actions of long-dead saints and equally dead words? We need to affirm experience over words, individuality over dogma.

After all this study of Tao, there should only be this simple conclusion :

There is only us and Tao.

No, more simple still is to be Tao itself. Then everything that is Tao is us.

Those who follow Tao reduce everything in complexity until they reach the final irreducible conclusion : You are Tao. When you can be that without any contradictions, then you have truly achieved sublime simplicity.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

“Simplicity in conduct, in beliefs, and in environment brings an individual very close to the truth of reality. Individuals who practice simplicity cannot be used because they already have everything they need; they cannot be lied to because a lie merely reveals to them another aspect of reality. An attraction to simplicity is essentially an attraction to freedom – the highest expression of personal power. We are taught to think of freedom as something one has, but it is really the absence of things that brings freedom to the individual and meaning into life. To let go of things – unnecessary desires, superfluous possessions – is to have them. Lao Tzu believed that an individual life contains the whole universe, but when individuals develop fixations about certain parts of life they become narrow and shallow and uncentered. Fixations and desires create a crisis within the mind. As individuals let go of desires, feelings of freedom, security, independence, and power increase accordingly.”

— R.L. Wing, The Tao of Power

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
— Leonardo da Vinci

“Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.”
— Winston Churchill

“Simplicity is the glory of expression”
— Walt Whitman

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
— Charles Dudley Warner

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

“From native simplicity we arrive at more profound simplicity.” — Albert Schweitzer

“Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter. ” — D.H. Mondfleur

“Live simply that others might simply live.” — Elizabeth Seaton

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” –Lin Yutang

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris

“How many things are there which I do not want.” — Socrates

America is a difficult country for anyone trying to simplify their life. We complicate things endlessly and are relentlessly pushed to be more, do more, have more. Our lives become complex webs of work, relationships, and always, more stuff than we can handle.

Be Tao. It seems very simple, to realize one is simply a natural being that is a part of everything else. But our relationship to the real, natural world is so often cut off, our understanding of ourselves is cut off as well. Connecting the two things as one is not an easy or simple task.

Can we achieve the simplicity of knowing we are Tao? Sure. And then we’ll forget, and need to remind ourselves again. The less often we need reminding, the simpler and more fulfilling our lives will become.

Planting a Seed

ben-kwok-c-vectorvault

Seedling — Ben Kwok

An image of a woman desperately waiting for her loved one who never shows up. She’s been waiting so long that she became grounded and will never connect with her soul mate. Sometimes we never fulfill our heart’s desire.

Practice non-action.
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward the bitterness with care.

See significance in the complicated.
Achieve greatness in little things.

In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.
In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds.
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
And thus achieves greatness.

Easy promises make for little trust.
Taking things lightly results in great difficulty.
Because the sage always confronts difficulties,
He never experiences them.

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 63

Time to stop digging up the seedlings and let the new life grow. What seeds are you planting, and are you giving them the space they need, the nourishment they need, the water?

I asked for seeds yesterday at the hardware store, and they had none in yet — but here in San Diego, it is time to start our seedlings. I’ll get them elsewhere today, or use the ones I already have in storage. I’m trying more and more to use what I already have instead of buying something new. In my garden, some seedlings are coming up all by themselves — tomatoes especially. They come up in random places, sometimes they have to be carefully moved. Sometimes there are weed seedlings that have to be dealt with. Are you maintaining your gardens, letting the new life grow, carefully weeding out those weed seeds, those nagging thoughts that are only distracting and not beneficial?

Reward the bitterness with care…

My petty little jealousies and envies must go. My little annoyances and irritations — they need to go, too. Those little seedlings of creativity, those little thoughts of what I might do, could do, those small steps that need to be taken — ah, those have to be nurtured and encouraged, watered and cared for, given the space and time they need to grow now. I can’t keep crushing them, or drowning them, or burying them. Space, sunlight, room, pure water, good nourishment — these are the things I need right now.

I’m seeing lots of these woman/nature/tree images lately — the Wyeth piece, on Leah’s blog, as she creates new artwork, and in other places. Perhaps it is the hint of spring bringing these images up. I have a dryad piece I did a few years ago, haven’t dug it out lately but I might. And other images forming in my mind, too. What will come of them? We’ll see. Do me a favor and please add your links to these kinds of images in the comments if you see them. (They may not post right away as comments sometimes get moderated if there are links in them).

Who knows, maybe somewhere along the way I will fulfill my heart’s desire.

The Space Between

Tracy Chapman got me through a few breakups, but this song in particular pretty much sums up the relationship between me and one of the best friends I lost. I wanted him to write, she wanted him to stay his same cynical self, and she won…

“Leave the pity and the blame for the ones who do not speak”. Indeed.

I’ve developed my own respect and compassion these days. I write my words only for myself and those who care to read them. But, at least I write something. He’s still silent.

Do I write the fiction, or does he? Hmm. Or does it only exist in the space between us now?

Because in my heart, that space doesn’t even exist.

I still wish he would give us the sad, sordid stories he carries around in his head.

Telling Stories

There is fiction in the space between
The lines on your page of memories
Write it down but it doesn’t mean
You’re not just telling stories

There is fiction in the space between
You and reality
You will do and say anything
To make your everyday life
Seem less mundane
There is fiction in the space between
You and me

There’s a science fiction in the space between
You and me
A fabrication of a grand scheme
Where I am the scary monster
I eat the city and as I leave the scene
In my spaceship I am laughing
In your remembrance of your bad dream
There’s no one but you standing

Leave the pity and the blame
For the ones who do not speak
You write the words to get respect and compassion
And for posterity
You write the words and make believe
There is truth in the space between

There is fiction in the space between
You and everybody
Give us all what we need
Give us one more sad sordid story
But in the fiction of the space between
Sometimes a lie is the best thing
Sometimes a lie is the best thing

— Tracy Chapman

A Sacred Space

dsc02153

Jessie’s post on “sacred” today reminded me of this posting from 2007, and how I need to restore the sacred space in my life:

Sarah Susanka – A Sacred Space: Home – Feature Article on Sacred Space, Architecture and Home

Joseph Campbell wrote of the need for such a place. He said, “You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so where you do not know what is in the morning paper. A place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. At first you may think nothing’s happening. But if you have a sacred space and take advantage of it and use it everyday, something will happen”. Such a place does not need to be large. It can be an alcove off a bedroom, an unused corner of the basement, or an attic, as in my own home. Take time to make it beautiful, make it an expression of who you are, whether simple and unadorned, or filled with treasures collected over a lifetime. And make it a pattern of your daily routine to spend time there each day, in meditation, in contemplation, or in creative exploration. We are amazing creatures, every one of us, but we forget so easily, when we don’t take the time to listen to our inner being.

Other posts centering on the word sacred here:

Sanctity

Trickster

Words

I built my hut within where others live,
But there is no noise of carriages and horses.
You ask how this is possible:
When the heart is distant, solitude comes.
I pluck chrysanthemums by the eastern fence
And see the distant southern mountains.
The mountain air is fresh at dusk.
Flying birds return in flocks.
In these things there lies a great truth,
But when I try to express it, I cannot find the words.

Tao Chien

How Now Brown Cow?

cow
Golden Ox Fortune — Ling Teck Mong

January 26th starts the Chinese New Year — A year of the ox beginning auspiciously with an ox inaugurated as our President. Hopefully it will be a good year for my ox son, too! What will the year hold, according to Chinese astrologers?

Chinese New Year 4706 or 2009 in the Western calendar is the Year of the Female Brown Earth Ox — sometimes called the cow or water buffalo….The year of the Ox is associated with domestic trouble that seems to have no solution. The grounded, rational, earth influence of the Ox may bring good fortune to troubled economic times but only with a sustained, well planned effort. The Ox influence brings an aversion to risky credit and quick answers that are not well conceived. The Ox year brings success only through discipline and through hard work. The steady ox is quick to anger when confronted by what seems to be irrational opposition, but the use of reason works well and avoids a charge by the angry bull. There is much danger of war and unrest if diplomacy does not prevail.

The last time the earth Ox was seen as the ruling influence was January 29, 1949 – February 15, 1950. The world suffered a recession in late 1948 and early 1949. The world economy recovered during the year of the ox due to rational decisions and careful planning. By 1951, the recession was over. Many will be searching for a quick solution to the current economic crisis, but the ox favors a well planned, consistent path that will take more time but lay a foundation for long lasting results. The strong earth influence of this year favors a strengthening of the housing market, but risk takers will not find this year favorable. Those who look for long term benefits, have a well thought out plan and are willing to work to see results will find great success.

Baby boomers who were born the last time the brown earth Ox ruled the zodiac celebrate their 60th birthday this year. Those who are influenced by the Ox will have experienced many years of good fortune if the planning, hard work and discipline of the sign were heeded. Those who failed to plan are given a new opportunity this year. If the lessons of the past are integrated, the future brings harmony and good fortune at home and in business.

Projects will generally be successful if done in harmony with the spirit of the Earth Ox. This applies both to the nature and quantity of new projects, as well as to the approach to accomplishing them. That means focusing on just a few, select long-term projects. It also suggests proceeding in a cautious yet determined manner. Avoid taking unnecessary risks and yielding to the temptation to seek short-term gains. Philosophical and intellectual truths are pursued, improvements to mankind are encouraged, and great scientific advances are made. Laws regulating contracts and agreements are likely to be implemented and a desire to compromise will underscore international politics.

The Year of the Earth Ox evokes stability and dependability. The Ox is a practical work animal, while the Earth element is steady and firm. Together, they create a kind of plodding energy that can be exasperating. Still, progress will be made in 2009; it will occur in slow, barely perceptible increments. If you stay patient and keep your nose to the grindstone, you will make the most of this ponderous energy. Oxen place great emphasis on authority and tradition. Therefore, 2009 will lay an especially heavy burden on world leaders. Government officials, CEOs and community organizers will be expected to correct society’s ills. If they slack off, they’ll be thrown by the wayside. Substance is always favored over style in the Year of the Ox.

2009 promises to be a time of financial restraint, too. The Earth element places great emphasis on the material plane. Saving will be more important than spending. Everyone will be tightening their belts — even those who are flush with cash. Businesses that work to keep their clients, present materials in a timely manner and provide excellent customer service will survive, while companies that take an indifferent approach to their clientele will fall to ruin. There’s no room for slackers in an Ox year, especially as far as commerce is concerned.

Practical tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, carpenters and mechanics may do especially well this year, because the Earth Ox prizes foundations. Anyone involved in strengthening and improving foundations is sure to profit in 2009. Teachers, engineers, farmers, nurses, dentists, doctors, politicians and technicians are also in for a good year, as the Earth Ox favors long-term investments in people and structures. Creative professionals may have a lean year in 2009. Actors, journalists, writers, models and dancers will have to work extra hard to find jobs, as such work seems superfluous to the ultra-practical Earth Ox.

Dreaming freely

I dreamed I was getting my high school diploma again — including all kinds of weird symbology in the dream — but the ending was the best. Diploma in hand, knowing everything I know now, strolling into the late afternoon dappled sunshine streaming on me with all my knowledge and with my youth and with no obligations at all — it was a feeling of complete and total freedom. I had a few more dreams after that — it seems I was an amazing photographer who could show people visions with my pictures, and there was also a spider who laid golden and silver eggs, and lots more cool things.

And then of course I woke up to the house and the husband opening the door to let the cat in and walking in on me and shattering my peaceful feeling of happiness. Sigh.

I need to remember that freedom to just be myself when I’m awake, too.