tideAs the ups and downs of life are measured, I begin to think of them less as ups and downs and more like ocean waves, ins and outs; perhaps it is because I was lucky to emigrate from Alberta to the west coast at a formative age. Sometimes when the tide is way out, instead of appreciating the stretches of sand, the driftwood, the barnacles, the hermit crabs and such, I focus on the wrong things. But not so often… I know it’s a choice. Somehow, somewhere within, through luck, philosophy, good reading or good breeding, I can and do focus on the positive. A woman I recently met, having experienced just too much stress, remarked on my attitude and all I could do was give her a hug; was that an instinctual attempt to transfer some of this positive energy?

My mother thinks my sister is the lucky one. She has succeeded financially, has an abundance of health and healthy offspring, winters in Arizona and will settle next week in BC on waterfront property in Victoria. But I am lucky, I experience true joy almost daily. Last night I was moved to tears by the sweet, pure delightful voice of AMYlubikAmy Anne Lubik. It is hard to describe that feeling. Had I died that moment, it would have been just fine. In that warm, soft voice was definitely angels’ song. Not a lot of music nor a lot of art has this profound an effect on me, yet how lucky I am to actually know someone who breaks frequently into song AND can do this with her voice. I told Amy about a piece of art by Csaba Markus that had the same effect on me. My inner dog began guarding the piece; I didn’t like it when people looked at it in the wrong manner. I was offended when people, clearly wealthy enough to buy it, would remark that it would match their sofa. Were they interfering with this inner joy that I was lucky enough to feel…

And last night, after thinking Amy’s voice would sustain me for so long, dear friend and champion of change, Rick Glumac, played his guitar and sang a song he had written just for our Greendrinks, evoking another type of pure pleasure, laughter. We all laughed at his straight-faced genius talent. How lucky to not just be there, but to be able to call Rick a friend; to know him, to encourage him, to stand with him, to be wowed by him – constantly. And while we celebrated the talents of all our GREENDRINKERS, we saw comments from the ever-talented Graham Girard, from across the country, whose brain I had the luck to watch at work as we founded and refined the original Tri-City Green Council.

Lucky indeed, not to have lost so many friends and dear ones, but to have had the privilege to know them, to write about them and for them…who knew the bit of writing talent identified in my youth would lead to a large collection of eulogies…will I publish a book of them…one day? Each person known and lost is etched in my being. I am lucky because I know I have more than inhaled some of their molecules. I AM some of their shared experiences…some of that ocean tide.

I have the good luck of being someone who can help others. I am grateful for that. In an email I received this morning, friend Simona writes, “Thanks Elaine. You are exactly what I need when I’m hurt and also when I’m happy.” Does life get better than this?

And last night, the all too amazing young Sara Norman brought her mother, poet Renee Norman to Greendrinks, and she wowed us all with her poetry about motherhood. And while she watched and listened to others at the microphone, she fondly twirled bits of Sara’s hair.

Last night was very special for me, euphoric in simplicity. Amy was so right, we need to take some time to just enjoy, especially those of us passionately trying to make the world a better place. I was so lucky to be there.

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BAD EV DAY

Posted: July 24, 2014 in 1
Tags:

Ostensibly a trip to Whistler shouldn’t be too difficult as an all-electric journey, especially while embracing the ideology of “the journey is as important as the destination”. Like slow food, slow travel is a way to embrace awareness of one’s surroundinEV3kmleftgs and savour them. Besides, going all-electric with transportation is a commitment to this, and so with artist, film-maker and media man Jay Peachy, we journeyed on in our quest to enjoy and learn all about EV travel.

Hitting more snags than we imagined was definitely part of the learning curve. Not reaching the destination in a day, a mere 150 km, was a total surprise. Failing to charge at more than 50% of the chargers where we stopped was a concept that was not on our radar at the outset of the journey, but definitely it is something to plan for. I am so glad I have a VOLT with its own backup gasoline onboard charger so inconvenience didn’t become disaster.

Everywhere we stopped people were curious about both the vehicle and the charging stations. Their curiousity often overlooked the fact that we were soaked from rainEVintherain and unsuccessful in our attempts to connect the vehicle. Ever the early adopter and educator, had I not felt cold, miserable and defeated, I would have welcomed each and every one of these interested humans, hoping to welcome them to what should be the no petro, low GHG wave of the future of transportation.

As it stands, this morning I am headed to the dealership to find out why the little onboard gas-powered generator is misbehaving. I probably should have posted about my good EV day first, the one where we successfully got to the Peace Arch border for the Protect Wild Salmon Rally and back without using anything but battery, and where we encountered not a single snag.WILDSALMONsign

Honouring, that’s a short title. It’s a simple process, too.

My friend, Taewon, lost his first friend this summer. Tae is a warm, friendly guy, I liked him the moment we met. He’s a young man who has made some serious decisions about his life, forging forward, taking risks, putting himself  “out there”. For a sensitive person, for an immigrant, for a person with mobility challenges, I admire his attitude all the more. new-handicap-sign_sq-b776123d4caffce16afc752c82caf50c6309eb02-s3-c85

The friend who died was especially close to Taewon, as I understand, because this was the first person to really see Taewon as a regular guy; he didn’t notice disability. He looked him in the eye, talked to him like he talked to everyone, included him in everything. And being regular, being just one of the gang is really the aspiration of almost everyone, with or without a disability.  Losing this someone who epitomized the word “friend” was seemingly too much to bear.

As the weeks went on and the grieving continued, I told Taewon about my way of handling those who have passed on in my life, and they are myriad. I honour them.

I honour them by embedding their names in my passwords, some of them are thought of several times a day as I type and retype their names. It’s private, it’s personal, it’s tiny… but a tribute nonetheless. Each person (and DOG) also has a specific memory or association. For example, in the BLOGPOST previous to this one, my recipe for RICE SALAD has a tribute to Gevin who first sent me Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I use it a lot. I buy it for others and give it as a gift. I tell people the “Story of Gevin” and how he came to mail me a box of goodies from Louisiana. I think of Gev when I cook. His memory is wholly embedded in my kitchen.  Larry is Single Malt Scotch. Mark is Chess….on and on it goes.

I explained this to Tae. Despite his wounded state, his comprehension was immediate. He smiled through misty eyes. “Beer,” he said. “I will remember him every time I have a beer because we drank beer together at SFU.”

“Perfect,” said I.

As the weeks passed, he still mentioned his friend a few times during our conversations. The panic was gone. He told me about the planned memorial, but gradually the focus of the conversations shifted away from his loss. Honour beer seems to be working.

I teased Tae by telling him I would honour him with a BLOGPOST. “I’m not dead yet!” He flashed me the grin that everyone is always pleased to see on the murderball court….but that’s another story.

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I brought this rice salad down to Mossom Creek Hatchery for the hungry volunteers to eatsaladuseit last week. Patty and her kids, Miranda and Griff, have been volunteering at Mossom Creek Hatchery for many, many years. Miranda’s initial film inspiration came from her work at Mossom so I was happy to provide a dish that appealed to her vegetarian palate. I actually decided to make the Rice Salad as an alternative to the Quinoa Salad that has become my standard for potluck gatherings.

Many years ago my friend, Lynn Hardy, made a rice salad that was delicious and economical. Since then, I think this version emerged as a fusion of a memory of Lynn’s delicious salad, a tribute to my friend Gevin who introduced me to Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, and of course all the Korean ingredients in my kitchen.

Voilà.

Cook:

2 CUPS Korean RICE (sometimes called YELLOW or SWEET RICE)salad4ingred

In 3 CUPS unsalted WATER (I use a rice cooker)

Let cool in large glass bowl

Combine cooled rice with:

2 bunches chopped green onions (finely chopped)

1 ½ or 1 very large long English Cucumber chopped bite size

1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped fine) we use kitchen shears

1 drained can chick peas or grated cheddar cheese (optional – for protein)

1/3 cup olive oil oil

1/4 cup brown rice vinegar heated w. 1 T. sugar until dissolved (or use sushi vinegar )

1 T sesame oil

(optional: chopped red/yellow peppers, grape tomatoes – be creative)

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and pepper to taste

MIX gently

Sprinkle with smoked paprika & garnish with basil leaves as shown

Serve promptly

Store tightly covered and eat soon after preparation. This rice, like sticky rice, dries out quickly. To serve next day add a little more oil and vinegar and stir well.

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Yesterday I wheeled in the Port Moody Centennial parade from City Hall to Rocky Point Park (and back again). Our group, Mossom Creek Hatchery together with Noons Creek Hatchery joined displayed our our colourful fish to draw attention to the salmon and the streams. It would have been impossible for me to walk as I am too slow on my feet. I would not have been able to keep up the pace so I decided to join in and use my manual wheelchair. I am still, despite my sporadic use of it, in my opinion, fairly fast in my chair. Not sure of the hills and obstacles, I asked my amazing friend, Ruth Foster, to walk with me in case I should need a helping hand.

Asked if Rick Hansen is my inspiration to use my manual chair so independently, I have to answer honestly, “No!” Of course Rick is in inspirational guy. Personally I am inspired by Paul Gauthier, the man who kept me from being sent to a nursing home for the crime of being disabled; by Paul Caune, who fights with every mechanical breath to make sure that no one with a disability will ever be in that position; and Adam Frost and young Jessica Kruger, who managed to obtain me a sports wheelchair in weeks when a year of grant applications at G.F. Strong failed.

My hope is to continue to change the world in any way I can by helping others, through environmental stewardship, by advocating for people with disabilities, by working through government – one meme at a time. I am grateful for the opportunity.

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I am fortunate to have several groups of friends that take the time to celebrate each other’s birthdays. My dear friend, Ally, is one who often does the cooking and entertaining. She is a warm and thoughtful host as well as an artistic chef. As she is fond of experimenting, she designed this cake for our friend, Frieda. Easy to make, delicious, moist, and not too heavy or rich, this one is a definite winner. When reproducing it, the only thing I did differently was soak the poppy seeds overnight in the lemon juice, in the belief that slightly swollen, they wouldn’t stick to my teeth. Research about soaking provides two different answers: either they become more digestible or the soaking helps to extract the opium. I must confess I sleep very well after eating this cake…hmmm…

Poppy Seed Angel Food

Ally writes: (I am so in love with poppy-seed I really do think of it as "food for angels" rather than mere cake
so I left off the word 'cake'). This is embarrassingly easy to make. Unless of course you are one of those
"I make everything from scratch" people and don't use the angel food cake mix.
The recipe:

cake1 package of angel food cake mix
1 1/8 cup water
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
2 to 3 tsp grated lemon rind and 1 tsp for garnishing cake later
Mix according to package directions. Lastly, g-e-n-t-l-y stir in:

3/4 to 1 cup of poppy-seed

lemon curd - set aside for topping
Cake+
Bake according to package directions, which for
Duncan Hines was 350 degrees for 38 to 48 minutes. I found
38 minutes to be perfect so do check early. After the cake had cooled by
hanging upside down on a bottle as directed, I spread just the thinnest layer
of lemon curd on the top and down the tube of the cake (to keep it moist). This
is probably an unnecessary step but I wasn't sure when the cake was going to be
eaten. Lastly, I sprinkled about a teaspoonful of grated lemon rind on top to add
a little colour. Enjoy.
P.S. If you are not fond of this does it mean you are not an angel?

I am truly lucky. I have a job, again. My new position allows me to help people who are experiencing frustration with bureaucracy. Because I have been a person who has experienced so much of this type of difficulty myself, when I say, “I understand,” the words, I trust, never sound hollow. Sometimes I, too, have been very desperate – trying to find educational help for a relative; navigating the mental health system with a friend at his lowest; a life and death situation medically; a financial crunch as a young widow with two small children to support; victimized by a supposed “support” system for people with disabilities; suffered abuse as a disabled person in a medical institution…

Many times people have nowhere to turn or have run out of people to turn to because their emotions run high. How fortunate I am to have some training (thank you Selma Wasserman) and skills to assist people in a calm, soothing, rational manner. When people feel heard, they feel trust. With trust they can often move forward through difficulties with more strength. Empathetic responses can be learned. With practice they come naturally. Because the true passion for social justice comes both from my upbringing and my DNA, these learned responses are most fitting with my own character when crisis is in the voice of another human being.

I also find myself as advisor to friends and family. It is these same calm yet rational listening skills that are so helpful. I set firm limits on my time, but do so with kindness and care. No one, I hope, ever feels shut out by the limits. On the contrary, it is my hope that the limits keep me from being overburdened, yet also empower the individual to find some applicable options and take actions from our interactions.

BackgroundPearls3_1I write this after an interaction with a colleague for whom I have great admiration and respect. He is dealing with a person who has a particularly difficult personality. We had several conversations yesterday – some at work. I had to limit the time we spoke and yet my friend was very anxious to debrief with me and find some solutions to this terrible problem. I also found an email when I arrived home. Eliminating names, this is the gist of the content – I wanted to capture the pearls of my words, just in case they come in handy again!

“Don’t worry about the difficult person. He is not worth the stress. Stress is bad for your health. You need to stay healthy for your family.

This difficult person is poison to you. Don’t drink in his words. Poison is safe in a bottle – to be observed but never ingested.

My friend, there is always something good from every experience. Think of this is an opportunity. Every problem is just an opportunity in disguise. It is finding the opportunity that is sometimes the puzzle.

Enjoy life’s beauty.  Life is short.”

This morning he found his solution. Embedded in his email to me were some of these pearls.

Helping others is gratifying. We both gained happiness from our interaction.