Thankful at 13 degrees

While shoveling I felt weirdly peaceful knowing I no longer have anything in this cabin worth stealing. The most valuable thing was the security equipment that was stolen… I think this is a great lesson in both how real life is in Alaska sometimes and how freeing minimalism can be.

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170222  Today was a day of days.  I taught 2nd grade all day in Fairbanks, then I threw a bunch of stuff in my car trying to catch every microsecond of light I could for the 2 hour drive ahead of me in snow flurry filled conditions.  I have no idea where to begin the thanksfuls for this day, so I’m just going to begin at the start of my car trip.  Thankful that the library in Fairbanks opts not to fine people for late books, they will simply charge you for it if it’s a month or two past due, and if you bring it back you get your money back. So I didn’t have to detour to the other side of town to return my items due today.  I was also thankful that the flurries subsided around the same time the traffic died down about 1/3rd of the way to my cabin.  I arrived just as the darkness began to overtake the sky and didn’t have to decipher the road or ditches so hard for those tanks we call moose.

I arrived to my cabin in late Feb for the first time since just after Christmas, and I had that knowing feeling when I saw the drive buried in over a foot of snow and a set of tracks from the end of the driveway to the house.  Without walking on them I followed them all around the house, leaving me to wade through foot and a half deep snow and find my back door broken open.  I went in and found the only thing that appeared missing was the game cam that was for tracking intruders…apparently not well hidden enough.  I gathered myself and went back to the car the only spot of warmth around where I could collect my thoughts for a moment and quit moving.  Thankful that the weather was over 10 degrees and the car was still warm now that my jeans were soaked and cold.  This one is so big I can’t even say.  If the weather had been even -20 which is an easy possibility any winter day here, then every thing after this point would be 3 times harder with 4 times more stress factor.  You can’t mess around with your core warmth when you are arriving to a cold cabin.  I was so thankful for my trusty Blaze King stove and kindling that was quick to light.

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Though it would be a few hours before I couldn’t see my breath inside, it went right to work.  Then I changed into my reliable underarmour fleece pants.  Thankful.  Also thankful for the few minutes left of energy in my phone that make a quick call to let someone know my situation before it died and would not charge for a few hours until everything warmed up.  Thankful for the long snow shovel in the shed left by the previous owners so I could carve a parking space for my car in the driveway.  And thankful for years growing up in Minnesota winters so I can competently use a snow shovel.  And thankful for the know how to break up the work.  Stop shoveling, get some bags from the car, haul them to the house.  Check that the wood stove is still keeping fire.  Go back out and shovel some more.

Thankful that Taylor and I had chainsawed and stacked wood over the summer to prepare for winter warmth. Thankful to have the woodstove at all since the back up propane fueled Toyo won’t start.  And so thankful that this summer we moved the power pole got the electricity reactivated so I can turn on lights and see, and even have outdoor light for my shoveling.

While shoveling I felt weirdly peaceful knowing I no longer have anything in this cabin worth stealing.  The most valuable thing was the security equipment that was stolen…   I think this is a great lesson in both how real life is in Alaska sometimes and how freeing minimalism can be.  There were still some totes upturned, and crates rifled through, but I think the thief quickly realized there wasn’t much (s)he could gain from this house except bedding, kitchenware and home repair.  I am also really grateful that the person did not do needless damage to my things.  This is the fourth time my place has been broken into, and I feel like I learn a little bit more every time, and I let go a little bit more every time.  And weirdly have a little more faith in humanity.

(Side note: Today I also realized it’s hard to be creative when your time is consumed by basic need fulfillment.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in action!)

170220 Go Without: Creativity Exercise

Tharp recommends taking a week off from a norm in your life to feed your creative health. It’s like a non food diet, and doesn’t need to last forever, just enough to get the taste of it.

For most of this trial my ongoing experiment over the week has been the Mind Wander project in increasing time duration.  But for this final week I’m trying something different all week.  On page 32 Tharp recommends taking a week off from a norm in your life to feed your creative health.   It’s like a non food diet, and doesn’t need to last forever, just enough to get the taste of it.  This has been one of the hardest challenges of this six week trial so far.  Since I don’t have tons of routines, I decided to eliminate internet time.  I quickly realized there are a number of time sensitive tasks I have that utilize the internet, so I immediately needed to revise.  The revision I created was that I could only go on the internet with a specific purpose, get in, accomplish it and get out.  Monday I failed horribly.  I think I spent almost an hour to two hours of aimless time on the internet.  After that I did pretty good, until Friday again when I was off task for probably about 30 mins.  I like the idea though.  It seems good to have days or times when you just write your list of things to accomplish on the net and then get back to physical reality.  This is definitely not anything I could do forever.  There’s so much good stuff out there on the internet that is good community building and inspiring that I think I would be missing out.

You could take this exercise in a lot of directions though.  Tharp mentions some examples of a week without a watch, mirrors  or newspaper.  All could have very different effects on your reality.

After a week of doing this I think the biggest reward was having more focus and intention with my internet time.  Even when I slipped off track I was more cognizant of what I was doing, because I was self regulating.  Awareness seems to go a long way in terms of helping to curb unwanted behavior, but self-discipline is the big bouncer you need in your club to help awareness weave a path through the crowd.  Without discipline I think awareness could just make you feel bad about yourself.  It did that some for me, but because I did follow through on my commitment often, it wasn’t horrible.  And who knows for some people becoming aware that they don’t like their own behavior and feeling bad about it, might just be the kick in the pants they need to make a change.  Everyone is different.

170221 Observe Others: Creative Exercise

…you could also imagine who these people might be and create characters for them, which seems like a great exercise for people who want to be better writers. Because lets be honest, some of the things people say would be hard to imagine. Having real life examples seems like a great starting point.

Interior Alaska in the winter time is not the easiest place to try to carry out the exercise challenge on page 50 of Tharp’s book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.  She wants you to go out some place in public and write down twenty actions that occur between two people.  Then she says to try the exercise again but this time only write down the things you find interesting.  She says by applying judgement to a situation we become more selective.  Also that looking at what you wrote down and left out in both trials can teach you more about how you see the world.  She says if repeated patterns will emerge, and not the world, but your self will be revealed.

So on Tuesday evening I went to the busiest place I could thing of that might have some action, where I could also have my computer and not seem nosey.  I had to adapt the exercise some because I couldn’t necessarily see all the people around me, but I could hear a number of different groups of people interacting over a span of time.  What you read below is not necessarily sequential, but as many fragments as I could catch of their conversations.  I think it is also including part two in a way because I could only focus on one thing at a time, so I must have naturally had to select the most interesting thing at the moment to attend to.  Tharp says after doing this exercise you could also imagine who these people might be and create characters for them, which seems like a great exercise for people who want to be better writers.  Because lets be honest, some of the things people say would be hard to imagine.  Having real life examples seems like a great starting point.

Ok here’s what I picked up over a few hours:

(Meeting of young mothers)

“I’m not going to tell her we met, she would just feel bad.”

“I feel a weight is lifted.”

“I put in faith prayer and it was the second thing that came up.”

child “No I want to…” Mom: “ok, ten, five?” (Child goes to hide under the chair)

“Mom I’m ready”

“Where’s Andy?  No, no, no…(mom looking under chairs) Yes!”

Other younger child goes under the chair and says “count to three, four” mom starts looking, “no, no, yes!”

Is she on big skis now?

Last time I’m asking you.  We can do it the hard way.  Come’on children lets go out the door.

 

(Group of young college guys: later saw they were playing video games)

Oh my GoD! I have whiplash.

You guys have to stand so Sean isn’t taller than you.  Later guys

We did it!  Whoooo, oh man, so close, why do you do this to me?

It was me, you were attacking me.  Whoa, god dammit, whooa laughter, lets go.  Dammit.  laughter, lets go.. Top ten animated…….   kill him, kill him.

I’m still alive.  I killed you, it was siiiiick.

He thought it was person who.. Who down in whoville.  Oyea, oyea, WOW.  whatwow, ya dare me to?  laughing…  64 character… dr. Mario.  Love him.  So you’re wrong.. why are you playing that?  Get, go away.   (Laughing) I got saved by a cloud.  I’m trying, I’m trying too hard.  ok wait.  it has to happen, once it hits two of them.  …dark mess.  Player four.

you’re dead.  ok I gotta go.  Vanish, vanished.  See you guys later.  Ok.  That damn mask.  Of course they attacked him.  not why.  Fuck. on you, rage, f in rage.

I can’t get a character I don’t know and can’t use for a third time, can I, really?  Hey, be thankful you aren’t sonic.  Yeah go ahead try.  WWE   Rock hawk.  Rock hawk rocks the stage.  I don’t like anyone who’s fast.  You don’t like Sonic even though you’re the one who trained Eric.  Ok. Alright, this is your biggest comeback in the entire world.  We’ve seen a …. reverse, but will we see another one today?  Just do what I do when I have problems…. how embarassing.  (Laughing)  Yeah you just realized.  Jesus Christ.  Right?  Wrong?  oh, no.  I hope I got jilted.  Up the mega coupa.  God I’m hit.  I don’t want to have to make this comeback again.  It’s rated G what did you expect?

He just killed his own son, is he proud?
Yea you did something.  Fricken smash santa claus.  Sh==  fricken lone wolf.  Everybody

 

 

(Guy and girl watching a movie and eating, both eating.)

G: Want me to go get our stuff?  B: Ok (guy continues watching alone)  G: I asked for whip cream B: Ok  G: Here you go. later.  Girl giggles loud, guy’s on phone.    “I’m supposed to be the red ranger” (fighting movie) shields. Girl: “He does say red and later he says he supposed to be blue.  I wonder if when they filmed this they just wore suits and said…”

 

(Group of older women)

“That’s from that book”  My phone will just up and call someone, does your phone do this? Or it will be about to call someone.

I try I try every day.  Hey, you’re there.  Alright we’ll see.

(some leave and one woman calls her child)

“Hi is  this a good time?  ok, good. Those bloody noses. No its just…  This person…. what I’m saying is basically what I’m saying is dad has real strong feelings about so he tells you those suggestions, we can’t help ourselves.  Whatever you feel is gonna work, you have different goals and know what is gonna work.  He’s willing to step back.  You’re always going to be getting a little advice, you just gotta do your own thing, what you know is right.  Caroline had a different dream and she wanted to be in Montana so she did it.  You’re gonnna find your path, and you’ll show us what it is and say see this is working.  You gotta take the things that go along with that life. If that’s the way you’ve found to provide for your self. I think the biggest down side is, when you have a job you get up at 7 and go.  When you are working for yourself you have to have the discipline to sit down and do it.  And a job makes you go, you know?

I’m by myself, I’m by myself.  But. (pause)

It’s just hard for him, it’s the difference between who you are.  It’s hard for him to see things different than him.

right,  right,

Don’t worry about it, take your time and make the right decision.  I’m not worried about it.  In my prayers just pray about it. hope you come out sometime.

(Conversation with child ends and I realize there’s still another woman there with her.  The one who was on the phone says to the other lady:)

Sorry, right at the point where he’s job hunting again.  hope he takes his time and finds something good.  they’re not hard steps.  No. (she leaves with one other older lady)

 

 

 

 

170216 Magnetic Poetry

Internal gifts of moments
stretch through you
from time to forever
to never again.

I will also write out my refrigerator poetry by the pictures, since sometimes I can’t find all the words I want to use.  To learn more about the beginning of this process for me visit the first of my magnetic poetry posts.  For more poetry posts visit Poetry under the Projects tab of this site.

This first one encompasses the first four pictures so I will transcribe it here:

Internal gifts of moments

stretch through you

from time to forever

to never again.

And every minute is a deposit,

a correspondence,

an order to rebel against the faithless swarm

who are beaten and lost.

You are the one

who can remind them

that power lives in moments,

real and imagined.

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This next poem had a few different endings and includes the next three pictures:

vanish

and

appear

amid the stars

in the midnight sky

nearby.

flood me

with the right

soft

search

light

that i may see

my

destiny.

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and the last one for this round is simple:

ask the absurd

supply the response

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170215 More Movement Yogi Style

This is a yoga video that shows using a soft support to ease yoga moves for doing headstands, forward folds and poses on the back. It also shows how to easily get into wall poses

Movement is still the thing I am most hesitant to share and possibly the most self critical creative task I have taken on.  On Wednesday I did a variety of filming, some yoga and some dance.  I think the yoga is less scary to share because it’s slower paced.  Even though I may not have it all down, I figure that’s relatable for other people out there.  At least I’m doing it.  When it comes to dancing though I’m not sure if I’m just being repetitive, so I will probably have to be more confident that a dance video is good before I share.  For now I will just cross my fingers and keep practicing and taping sometimes.

So the only video I’m sharing for this session (out of the 6+ sessions I taped) is yoga focused.  This is a yoga video that shows using a soft support to ease yoga moves for doing headstands, forward folds and poses on the back.  It also shows how to easily get into wall poses.  This is my first time adding in some music dubbed over that was offered on You Tube, so it’s just in the beginning.  I have to learn if I can add in more clips if the first isn’t long enough to last for the whole film.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Personally I was happy to drain the juices off and make a little cherry juice/ fireball cocktail to drink while I was baking.

I have never made cupcakes before… which I decided after having made these is a true shame.  Cupcakes are so awesome and that paper cup is such a perfect vessel to get the chocolatey goodness to school or work without a mess.

We luckily still have some cherries in the freezer from our picking spree in Montana this fall, and I pulled out a bag to make a cherry pie.  But I also wanted to make an easy treat to share with our neighbors who helped dislodge my car from the snowbank the other morning!  So with the left over cherries I decided to make some cherry chocolate cupcakes.  My mom has a recipe I used last time I tried to make cherry chocolate cake, but we weren’t thrilled with the results. So this time I decided to try another recipe I like and just give it a cherry/ chocolate chip twist and see what would happen.  I also happened to have bought the cutest cupcake paper cups at the craft store (which is so unlike me that if my friends read this they will probably think I’ve been abducted).  So I decided CUPCAKES!

I didn’t want the cherries to burn, so I poured each cup half full of batter, threw in 2-4 pitted cherries and a few choc. chips. Then I put in more batter to fill the cup 3/4th fill and added a few more chocolate chips on top.

They are disappearing fast, but here’s how I made them:

Quick Chocolate Cake:

Mix dry ingredients:

3 C flour       2t baking soda       1 t salt     1C sugar     1C brown sugar    1/2C cocoa powder

Add:

1t vanilla     3/4C coconut oil      2C cold water

blend well and then see above (below the pictures) to add cherries and chocolate chips into the batter in muffin cups to prevent burning.  I was using frozen cherries, so I drained off all the juices after they thawed, and again after pitting.  I’m not sure how differently this recipe would behave if you tried to use all the juices as well.  Personally I was happy to drain the juices off and make a little cherry juice/ fireball cocktail to drink while I was baking.

Voila, enjoy!

 

 

170213 Twenty Questions: Creative Exercise

She talks about da Vinci and his ability to observe and question so many aspects of his current issue of interest.

On page 176 of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Tharp encourages people to be thorough.  She talks about da Vinci and his ability to observe and question so many aspects of his current issue of interest.  Tharp invites us to write down twenty questions that we have about a topic before beginning an investigation.  She says whether you are preparing for anything…from a drawing or to a film and more forming questions can help you to cultivate a sense of purpose and understanding.  I think it can also maybe help me to engage with my own mind about what it wants, or to challenge me to think more deeply.

The first challenge I see is to decide what I am interested in writing twenty questions about.  I feel there needs to be some sort of exercise to get me to a place where I’m ready for this exercise.  Since that is not provided I will have to try to sort this out myself…So at this point you may want to scroll down a ways to where I’m over this hump, move on to a different post or join my pain as I contemplate some possible topics:

Possible topics…  book I want to write about (sleep, water, two worlds)

spin dance study… ok that was easier than I thought, I am actually really interested in both those avenues and that took me less than 5 minutes to think up.

I will choose the Book for twenty questions to get me started into the creative process

  1. What will you name the sleep side?
  2. How will you identify the villains?
  3. What have they done that is so heinous?
  4. Will there be elements that braid the two worlds together?
  5. What can pass through the layer? Why?
  6. Is there a limit on extra senses for the sleep world?
  7. Is each person the only one with that ability or can it be held by multiple people or are some traits singular and others more mundane and wide spread?
  8. How can sleep be stolen?  Water?
  9. How can this be made more relevant and relatable to today’s world?
  10. Is there are more important factor that should be addressed instead?
  11. What is the main goal of the protagonists?
  12. What is the main goal of the antagonists?
  13. Is there a middle ground?
  14. Do we at times get to see things from both perspectives?
  15. Do we get personal with both sides?
  16. What kinds of messages should be sent?
  17. How soon are duel personalities revealed..if ever?
  18. Which characters are aware of their flip side presence?
  19. How do I make sure it isn’t cheesy?
  20. HOw do I make it realistic?

In a way I like this idea of presenting questions, but then in a way it is overwhelming too.  As I pile up the questions before me that need to be answered I feel further from my goal because I see more to do.  I guess it is also a starting point and I can try to tackle something once it has been named.  Perhaps on another day I can use my creative time to start to design possible solutions to some of these questions. This exercise took me 20-40 minutes.

Pesto Mozzarella Eggplant Fold-overs Recipe

These are so easy (10 minutes start to table) and cheap to make, yet so tasty everyone will want more.  This is a great treat to make as an appetizer/starter dish or a main meal.  Also works great as an easy vegetarian dish.  But not vegan.

You Need:

Lg Eggplant- thin sliced lengthwise (1/2 of one eggplant fed 2 people dinner, but we weren’t starving)

olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt

Cookie pan (prefer with raised edge) covered in foil

Oven with broil setting

Tomatoes- thin sliced

Smoked Mozzarella cheese (or Mozz with liquid smoke)- shredded or sliced

pesto or basil

( I cut up half an eggplant for a first round and we were so full after one pan that we saved the other half an eggplant to cook a few nights later. Delicious both times.)

How to:

Turn on oven to broil.

Slice a large eggplant lengthwise with a good knife so each slice is uniform width about 1/4 in. or less.

Cover 1-3 baking sheets with foil, dependent on how many you want done at a time. each pan will hold about 3 large or 4 small. Lay eggplant strips on foil til sheet filled, do not overlap.  Then grind some salt lightly onto each piece, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic oil and rub into surface til some is all over.  Flip the strips over and do the same on the other side. Put in the oven on a med. high shelf.

Broil flat until eggplant starts to look translucent. (7-10 min, keep an eye on them)

I usually shred my mozz and slice toms while the eggplant is broiling. Easy to do in those 7-10 minutes and then also easy to keep an eye on the eggplant cooking progression if this is your first rodeo.

Then remove from oven, add a spread of  pesto, mozzarella and thin sliced tomato to middle third of eggplant. (You could easily play with this combo by changing up the cheese or veggie rolled inside).  Then fold the sides up over the filling and stick with a toothpick to hold them closed.  Or you can flip the whole thing over once it’s folded to have gravity hold the flaps under.

Sometimes I just call it good and let the heat of the eggplant melt the cheese if the strips are already very translucent.  If the strips are still whitish in patches I put them back in for a minute or two.

Viola.  Enjoy.

** later….Remove foil from pan, clean up complete.

170131 Homemade Pizza Recipe

I melted cream cheese as a white sauce on the hot dough that had been in for a bit.

 

 

PIZZA RECIPES

(On the Left and bottom right) Taylor’s Pizza:

Goat cheese on half, Cottage Cheese on half

Then on half the goat cheese side and half the Cott. Cheese side

he added summer sausage meat cut up,

and on the other halves of each he added cooked ground beef.

Then Carmelized Onions and after the pizza came out of the oven Spinach

My Pizza (top right)

I melted cream cheese as a white sauce on the hot dough that had been in for a bit.

Then on one half I added avocado, spinach and shredded cheddar

on the other half I added a mix of carmelized onions and mushrooms and atop that shredded Citrus Lime Parmesan Cheese.  (Later this was voted best, but they were all so darn fantastic I’m glad we were sharing.)

Inspiration: Today the Great Alaska Pizza Company had a $5 medium pizza for Customer Appreciation day.  Taylor waited 15 minutes in line, but when they said it would be another 15, he decided life was too short and headed home.  A week ago we got a big bag of Bread flour and a container of yeast, so I guess today is the day, we start making pizzas.  My brother is a great pizza maker and sent me his secret crust recipe, but I was working and Taylor was chef of the night so he found a recipe online that would be ready in 30mins.  Ok, game on.

He called me down when it was time to stretch out my very own pizza crust.  I was pretty excited, it stirred up memories of make your own pizza nights from birthday slumber parties of my youth.  He used the round glass pie pan for his and I went with the Mirro baking pan cover.  Because we had no corn meal for the underside of the crust we just improvised with quinoa… but probably in the future will use nothing, it seemed fine without it.  Then I let gravity do the work stretching out my dough, I just turned and turned it, then laid it out and extended a bit further on the pan.

 

 

 

170209 Yoga and Centrifugal Dancing

I have been spinning as part of my dance practice since about 2003. It came to me by chance, and I find it to be different than other things in my life for the kind of presence it requires.

For my Capstone I am trying to document all of the sorts of creative endeavors I try during this time.

First I will share a bit of my yoga practice here.  This is an unlisted post on You Tube so this is currently the only link to access it.

It was filmed to the musician Greg Brown’s song Rain and Snow.

Then if you skip to minute 2.56 of this video you can see a fun little bit of my spin style dancing.  Before that I’m just sitting in warm up and toe tapping so it’s worth skipping that portion.  I should have clipped it, but still need to get the updated iMovie I need on this computer.  Sorry. The music in this film is Greg Brown’s Where Are You Going When You’re Gone?

I hope these links work, feel free to let me know if they don’t.

The dancing and yoga has been the most intense to try to show.  Filming set up and making space is one thing and then sorting through the film taken and trying to select some worth showing at this stage has been hard.  Then just my small computer storage space and remote location make uploading to You Tube extremely time consuming….. but here is a sample of some of my yoga and dance time.  This Thursday I did yoga and dance for over an hour and tried to film best I could.  I have been spinning as part of my dance practice since about 2003.  It came to me by chance, and I find it to be different than other things in my life for the kind of presence it requires.  I can see I am quite out of practice, but it’s important for me to be open and accepting of my current state.  I need to understand that I will probably only get better if I buckle down and practice, so there is no need to be ashamed that I have let it go to a large degree.