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Enhanced by Rain, Enhanced by Kindness

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the last day of summer, we finally got some much needed rain, although not enough of it to quench the earth below my feet. Stella and I went for our evening walk in the cool of the evening and I brought my camera to commemorate the beginning of fall and nature's blessings. The evening was fragrant with autumn and enhanced by rain.

This morning's Spark's Healthy Reflections was 'Do You Seek Revenge When Someone Has Wronged You?'

I honestly do not understand revenge. And no, I am neither naive nor protected from violence done to myself or my friends. Revenge does nothing to solve the original wrong; it does not effectively do anything except turn the violation back on you. This detracts from your quality of life rather than builds the inner strength and peace you need to remain effective in managing conflicts on a deeper level.

" To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us and treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether by following it you can find greater happiness." The Dalai Lama

Here's to a kinder world, one human being at a time,


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCSNYDER1 9/26/2010 10:16AM

    I prefer to let karma take care of things that need taking care of.
The world would be a much more beautiful place, like your pictures, if more people thought like you!

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PENNYAN45 9/26/2010 4:40AM

    Thanks for the fall photos ... and for passing along the wise words.


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CATHYGETSFIT 9/25/2010 9:38PM

    LOVE the pictures you took!

I agree! Revenge doesn't do anything but make you the same as the person who did wrong to you. I instead believe in karma. I believe that in the end they will get what they put out. I can / will forgive those who did me wrong but will not seek revenge in order to get back at them. I may not forget what they did to me but I will forgive them.

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    So true, revenge is not in my vocabulary.
I prefer the term "justice" and it will be served by time, deeds, wisdom or by the hands of the gods.
Nice flowers.

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OLDERDANDRT 9/23/2010 11:55AM

    We have some subtle signs of Fall here, but nothing yet as pretty as you have pictured here. It'll be along soon, though. Love your pictures. You are a good photographer! Have you studied photography?
Be well, my friend,

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PATRICIAANN46 9/23/2010 11:32AM

  emoticon for sharing your beautiful photos. Fall is my favorite time of the year and there is nothing like following the dogs in the woods with leaves crunching underfoot.
You are absolutely correct re: revenge.........it is such a waste of time and energy and so much more fulfilling to do something positive.

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MALLEUSMIKE 9/23/2010 9:01AM

  As requested, I read your blog. Very nice images of pre-autumn. As to "revenge", as an Orthodox Christian I agree that revenge is wrong and sinful. Indeed, we could all stand much less of it in the world.

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IFDEEVARUNS2 9/23/2010 8:17AM

    Just read that reflection, and while I may harbor feelings of anger or animosity, it would never occur to me to seek revenge.
Love the pictures, but would have enjoyed pics of Stella amid the scenery....

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MARY1313 9/23/2010 8:04AM

    Wonderful blog and pictures!

I am also one who does not partake of revenge. It just causes me to feel sick to my stomach at the thought of all the anger that would be required to bring revenge on someone. And then I know I would feel so bad and sinking to that level. Nope, I take the high road. I choose to be happy as much as possible and not let rancid anger burn within me. It's a much more peaceful world without it!


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LMB-ESQ 9/23/2010 7:53AM

    A kinder world would sure be a great thing!

Beautiful pics!

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SIRIRADHA 9/23/2010 7:08AM

    Amen! And I'm so glad you took your camera on your walk!

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Music, Muffin Recipe, and Thai Vegetable Curry

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I had great day today! I think any day that is infused with music is a special one, so I really enjoyed our second session of taiko lessons today. The children are having a great time! i'll share this photo with you as it only shows the back of a child's head or an arm on the other side. It gives the feeling of the class without including the identity of the children.

A couple of SP friends have asked for the muffin recipe I made up a couple of days ago. Warning - they are not very sweet. Mike is diabetic and I have stepped away from sugar addiction, so most of the sweet is from fruit.

Chris's Sunny Muffins (makes 12)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and either oil the muffin pan or line with cupcake liners.

2 T. dark brown sugar
1/4 C olive oil
1 egg
1 C milk
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C oatmeal plus 2 T golden flax seeds
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1/4 C died cranberries
1/4 C roasted sunflower seeds
2 T. walnut pieces

Grind the oatmeal and flax seeds into a flour in a food processor or blender
Add to flour, oil, egg, milk, spices, and baking powder. Stir enough to moisten ingredients, then add the fruit, seeds, and nuts. Blend in, then drop by spoonfuls into muffin tins. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes. Cool for 5 or more minutes before serving.

If you like them sweeter, either add sweetener of your choice before baking, or spread with a sugar free jam when done.

Tonight I made a vegetable curry:

Put brown rice on to cook.

Chop 1 small onion and saute in olive oil with 1 T. mustard seeds
When onions are tender, add 1 C Thai yellow curry sauce, 1 C water, and 1 C coconut milk.

Add sweet potato chopped into 1 inch pieces, add to sauce and bring to a low boil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

When they begin to soften, add cauliflower flowerettes. I used the golden cauliflower for color. Cook covered for 5 - 7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

Drain and rinse 1 can of garbanzos. Add to the vegetable mixture and cook uncovered for several minutes until the liquid thickens slightly. Add fresh spinach and cook only long enough to wilt.

Serve with brown rice, and top with fresh cilantro and basil.

Bon Appetite!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUST_TRI_IT 9/26/2010 11:26AM

    OH OH!! !I might just have to have curry tonight!!


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PENNYAN45 9/26/2010 4:39AM

    I am a big muffin fan - and I don't like them sweet. I usually like bran muffins or morning glory muffins best. This recipe has so many healtful ingredients - I especially like the ground flax seeds, the sunflower seeds, the nuts, and whole wheat flour. I've printed it out - and will make some soon.

Thanks for the recipe!


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CATHYGETSFIT 9/25/2010 9:43PM

    Yummy! I will have to write the muffin recipe down and try it. The vegetable curry sounds yummy but I don't think I can get mustard seeds or curry sauce anywhere around here. I'd have to buy them online. Sounds yummy though!

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    I never thought to use sweet potato...interesting. I'll give it a try.

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TISHTOES 9/23/2010 4:50AM

    The muffins sound good. Will have to try it. Not too sweet is fine with me. Can put on marmalade or a crumb topping.

It seems no one is practicing and I am the only one logging my practice time to our team goal. Was glad to see you post some practice time this month too. Hope to see more from you next month.

Thank for sharing!

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MARY1313 9/22/2010 9:21PM

    yum! thanks for sharing you recipe!

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This 'N That

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I am gradually slipping into my work routine, which means I am generally too busy. On the other hand, I am doing a pretty good job this year of NOT overloading myself and of finding the 'me' time I need.

A major adjustment has been waking up at 5:30. I used to do that so naturally, but somehow after staying up late and sleeping until 8 this summer, it was harder to fall into my early morning routine. I am one of those people who really like the early morning, so it isn't a sacrifice... but it has been an adjustment.

Getting a gym membership and beginning my routine at the gym before school started was a good plan. It has been easy and motivating to keep up my workout routine. Now my days look generally like this:

5:30 up, coffee, eat breakfast
go for a hike with Stella
let the chickens out and feed them
feed the cat and parrot
grab lunch and leave for work

6:30 arrive at work
get the materials and classroom ready for the day

7:30 go for a bike ride

8:00 check in with my colleagues, and finish my preps

8:30 - 3:30 I am 'ON' all of the time with my students
tidy up before heading home

4:00 visit with the chickens and collect the eggs
play frisbee or stick with Stella
prepare dinner and the next day's lunch

5:30 dinner with DH

6:30 go to water aerobics or work out at home

8:00 practice

9:00 prepare for bed

Some place in there I find time to check in on SP friends and maybe get to blog. But, honestly, I feel like I use up all of my insightful creativity at work. I wish I could get back to some of my more thoughtful blogs. Maybe on a weekend....

I made some good muffins this evening to go with the vegetable soup I cooked up. I made up the recipe using whole wheat flour, a flour blend I made in my food processor of oatmeal and flaxseeds, fresh apples, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts, milk, oil, egg (thank you chickens), baking powder, and a tiny bit of sugar since the fruit would sweeten them. I thought they were yummy and Mike loved them.

I am trying to work on some nice fingerpicking for the new songs I am working on. It is still a challenge for me to fingerpick and sing at the same time. I can strum away on the guitar and sing, but when I fingerpick, my fingers don't want to cooperate when I sing. It's coming, though. Right now I am working on 'Forever Young' and 'There But For Fortune.'

My main goal when I started SP in Dec. was to regain health and energy, and looking at where I am today compared to last fall, I have made amazing progress. Last fall, I was in intense pain from sciatica, felt sluggish and depressed, and had absolutely no energy left for anything when I got home from work. This fall I feel like I turned the clock back about a decade.

One of my students brought in this awesome walking stick to show the class before she let it go again. Isn't it beautiful?

Have a lovely evening under this radiant full moon!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KJE_3001 9/22/2010 11:27PM

    Sounds like you are finding a good balance between work and play - not an easy thing to do! And that stick bug is beautiful - I think I saw it's cousin a few days ago while I was out walking, and I stopped to watch it for a few moments because it was just too cool!

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MARY1313 9/22/2010 9:19PM

    wow you are doing great and feeling good too. don't worry about those creative blogs, you are still doing them, but now your are spending more time on you and that wonderful!!!!

Love the stick bug!!!!


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IUHRYTR 9/22/2010 5:12AM

    You sure do have full days, don't you. Congratulations on your progress. Hi to Stella. :) -- Lou

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CATHYGETSFIT 9/22/2010 4:29AM

    Wow!! I am impressed Chris!! It sounds like you literally have turned the clock back a decade!! My endocrinologist changed some of my med's not long ago and am finally starting to see some results in weight loss and energy! I no longer feel like I'm 41 going on 51 instead I feel like 41 going on 36. Not a big change but I think that might change soon.

Your muffins sound absolutely heavenly!! If you get chance to write it down or put it in a blog I'd love to have the recipe!

I've never played around with a guitar. I've never had a chance to be around anyone with a guitar. Finger picking and singing though sounds like a really nice creative outlet. I'm sure the finger picking and singing together will come together soon.

I love walking sticks! We call them stick bugs but they are really cool bugs! In July, I saw a really funny bug. It was a tiny little inch worm on the wire fencing in our yard. But the inch worm looked like a dead leaf! I wish I would have taken a pic of it.


P.S. I like the title of your blog! emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/22/2010 4:30:41 AM

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Progress, Goals, and More

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I had been doing very well losing weight since I started SP in December. It was slow, but steady progress. I reached my weight goal in July, but still had my 'spare tire'. I resigned myself to it thinking that between hitting 60 and genetics, it was probably just how I am supposed to be shaped. That was okay, because my real goal was to regain strength and energy, losing the extra pounds I had gained over the last 5 years along the way.

My breakthrough was weight training. I have always done some strength training at home, but haven't used the strength training machines for at least a decade. For the last several weeks, I have been meeting with my personal trainer, reacquainting myself with the gym equipment, and learning my new routine. Once I got started with the weight training, I can really see the difference in my body. The spare tire has been dwindling and I am looking much more toned. Along with this has been a boost in my energy and stamina.

My continued goal is: maintain my weight, and build strength and stamina though weight training and cardio workouts.

Today, one of Mike's friends from when they were in the Seabees together, came into town. We haven't seen him for about 4 years. Joe greeted me with, "Wow! Have you lost weight? The last time I saw you, you looked, well...rounder!" Joe is the first person who has commented on my weight loss, I think because everyone else I am around has seen a gradual change, not a dramatic one.

Today when I went out to see if there were any eggs, there were three hens in the nest box. I have never seen that before; usually they take turns. They all looked content and sisterly. No competition - just enjoying each other's company.

At four eggs a day, we have a bit of a surplus. I give some eggs to my colleagues but they really accumulate on the weekend.

Today, I decided to make a quiche. It was a little high in fat, but it was delicious! I started with a whole wheat crust, and covered the bottom of the shell with fresh baby organic spinach. I cooked 1 strip of pepper bacon, and sauteed some red onion. Those were the next layer. While the bacon was cooking, I blended together 6 eggs, Amish lacy swiss, and gruyere cheese, 1 % milk, and a pinch of salt. I poured this over the spinach, bacon, and onions, and put some little chunks of gruyere around the top, then popped it in the oven for 25 minutes.

I served the quiche up with steamed brussels sprouts and a salad of romaine lettuce, cukes, and fresh snap peas. One of the changes I have made in my diet is serving dinner on lunch plates. It is a great way to manage portion control: there is some psychological benefit to having the plate full when the serving sizes are reduced.

Another adaptation I have made was the purchase of small, personal size casserole dishes. They are perfect for desserts because they make just enough for two. No going back for seconds. We don't have dessert every night, but tonight, after reading the Spark article about apples, I felt inspired to make an apple crisp. This one was made with organic gala apples, some dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts. I made the crisp with oatmeal, sunflower seeds, a tablespoon of dark brown sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Stella was a little miffed that I would post about how warmly cooperative the hens were sharing their nesting box. She routinely shares her meal with our geriatric cat, Tex. Stella likes to pester Tex mercilessly when she is feeling playful, but very generous with him at meal time.

Have a wonderful week, my friends, and remember to share your time and kindness with family, friends, and colleagues. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 9/20/2010 10:38PM

    GREAT that you are under the guidance of a trainer. You've got it going, eh-- a dial-up bed, eggs to order, and a gourmand attitude, you foodie you!

Your photos (and the wonderful simple dinner and cobbler you gifted me with during my visit) confirm: Our tastes are SO resonant!!! (That is, except for the flesh of other animals.)

Please give Stella and Tex some scritches and hugs for me!

Blessed be!

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MEOWMAMA3 9/20/2010 8:02PM

    What a great blog! A little bit of everything wonderful and yummy in your world! Have you tried making crustless mini quiches in muffin tins? That will cut back some of the fat.....I know, the crust is soooooooo good! Bless Tex's heart for putting up with Stella in his bowl! No snout swatting? That's l-o-v-e! emoticon

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    Great blog! Love the photos! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    If you could only come to my house and dress my dinner plate!
You make the food look so good. I cook some great meals but somehoe they look, well, thrown on the plate!
Have a great day.

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MCGS62 9/19/2010 10:15PM

    It is such a good feeling when someone notices that you have lost weight. Keep on going there is no limit to what you can achieve!!

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OLDERDANDRT 9/19/2010 8:35PM

    emoticon emoticon

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0309COOKIE 9/19/2010 8:25PM

    I loved this blog. A little of everything. I enjoyed hearing about your weight training adventures, always love your food experiences, and can never get enough of Stella.

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MARY1313 9/19/2010 8:25PM

    Great blog Chris!!! So glad the weight training is working for you and giving your more strength and stamina. I am working with stretchie bands since I don't have access to a gym.

Your meal looks marvelous!

Love the hens!

Love Stella and Tex even more!

I hope you have a week full of smiles!


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DOR2BFIT 9/19/2010 7:58PM

    Bravo on the weight training break-through.
emoticon emoticon
Also, your dinner looks delicious. emoticon emoticon
What a peaceable kingdom you have there! emoticon emoticon

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AZ_EQUINE 9/19/2010 7:58PM

    That looks yummy! I'll have to try it!
My hens share a nest when they go broody. They hatch the chicks together and the chicks have two mommies to run to when they are frightened. And talk about living in harmony even when the hens bring their chicks out at 2 days old our cats leave them alone! In fact just this morning my Husband observed our 2 week old chicks out in the yard ALONE at day break and the cat walked right between them like they weren't even there! YET the same cat will hide under a tree right among the chickens and wait for a bird to come down for the chicken scratch and, well you don't want to know- The cat gets doves too so it's not like those chicks are too big. I just wish out "generic" (I like that) dog "Dozer" would learn to leave the chickens alone. In the 9 months that we have had him he has killed 11 chickens now. We try to keep them separate but the chickens are free range and sometimes wander into the dogs yard.

Comment edited on: 9/19/2010 7:59:41 PM

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CLEVAGAL 9/19/2010 7:46PM

    A lovely blog Chris, they are always so rich and beautiful! I love the lunch plate idea-I might give it a go tonight! I dont know how Ez will feel about it though ! Ha!
Cleva xxx

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Taiko Residency at Our School

Friday, September 17, 2010

Each year we bring an artist-in-residence to our school. This year, we brought in a taiko musician to teach children the art of taiko (Japanese drums). Eric is a fabulous teacher and everyone had a great time. My first group to have taiko lessons came back to the room from their lessons saying, "That was sooooo AWESOME!" And it was! I got video of the children learning taiko, but I don't really feel comfortable posting videos of them unless their parents already have on You Tube. So this little clip is of Eric during one of his performances at opening assembly.

This will be a really fun residency. The children will perform on Oct. 1 at the end of Eric's time with us.

I wish there were taiko lessons available for adults around here. Wouldn't that be a great way to keep fit?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIRIRADHA 9/23/2010 7:13AM

    I want to go to YOUR school!

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TISHTOES 9/23/2010 4:55AM

    Where is this? (What state?) I am in California. It would be great to investigate having this activity for both children and adults.

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MEOWMAMA3 9/20/2010 8:03PM

    Neato mosquito!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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WATERMELLEN 9/18/2010 8:19PM

    just love this!!

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CLEVAGAL 9/18/2010 2:04AM

    Amazing Chris. You have a fantastic school there! Is it a private school? Waldorf? Or is it something else entirely?

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MARY1313 9/17/2010 10:18PM

    Aw that is great! There is a Japanese owned company here called Diaken and they put on a Japanese festival on every year. the whole thing is free, food, Japanese drums and dancing that they teach us, it is the most well organized festival I have ever been to and it has THOUSANDS go. They give out so many coupons for free food and they also give out thousands of dollars of door prizes! and the first 2,500 to come to the festival get a free hoppi coat! they really do give back to the community and they have immersed us in their culture and we all LOVE it! they also paid entirely for a beautiful Japanese park that we all enjoy!

So glad that your kids are exposed to different cultures, I love that!


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OLDERDANDRT 9/17/2010 8:39PM


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IUHRYTR 9/17/2010 8:34PM

    This was a thrill to watch and hear. I'm sure the students were impressed as I was. -- Lou

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JANEXA 9/17/2010 5:08PM

    Thank you for sharing the video!!

I am Japanese-American, and am blessed to have so many opportunities to learn more about my heritage. I just saw a flyer at my Asian market that posted new taiko classes in my area. The video spurred me on to look further into taking the taiko classes! Thank you!!


P.S. Thank you also for maintaining confidentiality for your students. You just never know these days. emoticon

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DOR2BFIT 9/17/2010 4:45PM

    I can see why the children would be THRILLED by this opportunity! emoticon

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SWTKARSUE 9/17/2010 4:42PM


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