Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ladies Glow

More glowing resolutions:

Team Ecuador, from the FIFA Womens' World Cup 2015 webpage
12.  I will see women from around the world glowing as they play World Cup Soccer.  Specifically I will see women from Cameroon, Ecuador, Switzerland and Japan in person from BC Place in downtown Vancouver, although I also intend to watch other matches televised.  These women will be "glowing" in the sense of, "Horses sweat, gentlemen perspire, ladies glow," but perhaps also basking in the glow of victory.

13.  I will glow myself into shape.  Somehow it feels like I am sullying my "fun" resolution to add a serious fitness resolution. None the less, I was recently reminded 1) about how "ladies glow" 2) how unfit I am 3) how important it is not to be unfit 4) that public accountability helps with achieving fitness goals and 5) that I am running a 5K in a month.  I also recalled Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project (which I really enjoyed, and would heartily recommend to some, but not all, of you) and how dividing her big resolution (happiness) into smaller month-long chunks made sense.  So, while I will be pursuing moonlight and candlelight this month, I will be focusing on developing that healthy glow through exercise, and will be publicly posting about my trials and successes here.  Tonight the new fit bit comes out of the package.  Tomorrow I wear it. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Underground Parts Eaten

I did succeed in eating a greater variety of roots (and other underground parts) during roots year than I previously imagined.  I did not open the jar of pickled kachai whole in brine (roots purchased back in acid year), but I did eat all of these.  Asterisks denote items that I cooked with for the first time.  Of these, I think only burdock and black radish were entirely new to me.

Carrots (orange, red, purple and yellow)     Parsnips     Turnips
Daikon     Red Radishes
Black Radishes*
Roots from my cousin's first serious garden, Summer 2014
Rutabagas     Red Beets     Golden Beets
Burdock Root*
Jicama         Celery Root/Celariac*
Horseradish and Wasabi (although I didn't process either myself)

Root Tubers
Sweet Potatoes (orange, white and red)
Purple Sweet Potatoes (or were they true yams?)
True yams (although very little)

Stem Tubers
Potatoes (of many varieties)


Ginger    Galangal*    Turmeric

Onions    Garlic    Shallots    Leeks
Fennel (although arguably above-ground)

I did, thus meet goal #1 from the original list of root resolutions, along with #3, #4, and #14.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Glowing Goat: A Few Prelimary Practical Steps

You may or may not have been bored by the end of root year.  I actually read several root books, listened to some songs classified as roots music and thought quite a bit about the connections between botanical roots and ancestral roots, but since I never managed to describe those activities here, all you know is that I ate a lot of carrots and some more unusual Asian roots.  And I'm not done with roots.  I haven't yet watched Roots (the miniseries) and haven't yet published the definitive (or otherwise) work on root harvest of prairie turnips.  Bored or not, completed or not, it is time to move on to a new theme.
Ethereal "luminosity" seems like such a nice contrast to the earthiness of roots, and "glowing goat" a vivid alliterative image that it makes me want to jump up and get started.  Except how?

How will I investigate luminosity?

1. My son will bring me glowing mail while I am in the shower (this actually happened this morning.  He had a Valentine's glow stick [no, I cannot explain why a three-year-old, or anyone else, would need a special glow stick for Valentine's Day] and decided to start it this morning and deliver it to me as I was showering.  It felt like a sign.)
2. I will see some luminescent creatures (a student, out of the blue, started talking about bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico yesterday.  It felt like a sign).
3. I will read some books about the Moon.
4.  I will eat some moon cakes.
5. I will think and write about the difference, both scientifically and metaphorically, between "luminescent" and "radiant"
6. I will be radiant and I will glow.
7. I will dance in the moonlight.
8. I will prepare some flaming, or glowing, foods.
9. I will play with glow sticks, glow rings, and my sons.
10. I will make shadows in the moonlight.
11. I will photograph glowing things.

Other ideas?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Glowing Goats Begins!

Happy New Year!

From our the ashes of the earth where I am rooted, I turn today to the sky.  Today begins the year of luminosity.
Over the next week I'll be posting things I think I will do this year as I "explore luminosity" but I will start by asking for suggestions.
What do you think I should do in The Year of the Glowing Goat?

[Image from the website of a Finnish Fiber Artist Valovuohi that one finds when one googles "luminous goat". Check out her horned hat and other creations.]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Religious Roots: "We're all Catholics and Atheists Now"

When I think of "my roots" I think of food.  I'm sure my ancestors did things other than eat, but what they passed down to me, be it genetically or environmentally, was a preference for certain foods and a love of food overall.
If pressed, I could come up with some other cultural roots: my people are farmers and gardeners (food again), we are Midwestern Americans who speak with a Rockford dialect (as evidenced by several attempts on the New York Times Quiz*), we take road trips, we are geographically savvy, we value education, we vote, we root for the Cubs, most of us are workaholics with a healthy dose of Protestant Work Ethic and, as such, we are Protestants.

So it was a little shocking when my maternal grandfather, a year or two before he died, commented, "Well, it seems as if the family is half Catholic and half atheists now."  The statement is decidedly inaccurate: there are more Catholics in the family now than in his generation (a few men marrying Catholic women had a great impact on the religious practices of my cousins and nieces), but there are still many church-going Protestants, and there are no avowed atheists.  I didn't argue with him at the time: one doesn't tell one's grandfather that his daughter quit attending church because of disagreements with Newt Gingrich, not God.  And I certainly couldn't describe the scientist, empiricist, skeptic, Jesus-following, it's a good idea to serve the church, views, that are seemingly held by many of us  Who could?  My roots are that we don't talk about religion.

Maybe it was Grandpa's statement that rankled.  Maybe it was contrasting my family (becoming more Catholic) with the Mister's (becoming less).  Maybe it was realizing that my (paternal) Irish Catholic great grandmother, whose son married my Italian Catholic grandmother was actually an Ulster Protestant.  Maybe it's the Pope.  But I have been thinking a lot about Catholicism.  Watching video of my brother's family in full length frog costumes cheering as they stood for hours watching a Rosenmontag parade on Monday felt so foreign.  Days off for Fastnacht/Mardi Gras/Carnival is not something we do.

As my Roots Year officially ended last night, I had Lenten ashes on my forehead for the first time.  Even though I received them from my Presbyterian/United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ church, receiving ashes felt like an out-of-place Catholic thing to do.  My religious roots don't involve Ash Wednesday ashes.  The actual words of the ceremony, however, stunned me with their aptness: "From dust you are made and to dust you shall return."

I know where my roots are.  My roots are in the ground.  And to the ground I shall return.

That's as good a place as any to end roots.  Today we are roots become ashes.  Tomorrow we glow.

*The must recent attempt, in which I picked "crawdad" over "crayfish" (I use them both, as well as "crawfish", in different contexts) and "truck" over "semi" landed me with a Wichita/Kansas City/Overland Park accent!  I speak like a suburban Kansan?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tapioca Root?

We purchased this on a January trip to the Asian grocer, and by the time I remembered to chop it up, it was soft and brown inside.  It was labeled as "Tapioca Root" but looked significantly different than the yuca/manioc/cassava roots for sale at the same store.  The internet tells me that tapioca is from cassava roots, so it is no help in this case.
Are any of you? Can you tell me what this was and, should I encounter and buy another, what I should do with it?

Thursday, February 5, 2015


The chicken soup I made using this galangal (Apinia galanga) rhizome, Tom Kha Gai, following (mostly) the recipe in Diane Morgan's Roots, was really quite fabulous.  A fish curry with similar spicing was also tasty.
Galangal is in the Zingiberaceae, the ginger family, and, as the edible part is a rhizome, it resembles ginger visually (well, about as much as an iris looks like ginger).  The smell and the flavor are not ginger-like,  It does have warmth, but not heat, and has very definite citrus notes.  We will be buying it again.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Love and rodents

One of best surprising, "but wait, there's more" benefits of marriage to The Mister is now being related to My Brother-in-Law and My Sister-in-Law*.

Not only are BiL and SiL good cooks, good conversationalists, good at playing with nephews, and generally people with whom we enjoy spending time, they also are fabulous gift givers.  Case in point: this year's Christmas gift from the Massif Central in France.  Yep, they managed to find groundhog (or at least Alpine Marmot) hot pads.  How do they know me so well?  How did I get so lucky?

The convention of plush marmots including (from left to right): Phil (groundhog, Marmota monax), Marmie (alpine marmot, Marmota marmota who spent the four years we lived in West Virginia stuffed in a vase), the yellow-belly (Marmota flaviventris) and the Vancouver Island (Marmota vancouverensis) staring at the new hot pads in my living room this morning partially compensated for my sadness at not getting it together to throw a groundhog party or send groundhog cards this year.  Driving to the next town to eat sausage and pancakes for a groundhog dinner then made my day.

Celebrate rodents and spring, wherever you may be.
Happy Groundhog Day!

*My Parents-in-Law are also lovely people with whom I like spending time, but I do not consider that a surprising bonus, as I consider "reasonable chance of getting along with in-laws" a valid criterion when considering potential mates.