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Friday, June 3, 2011

Anam Cara and Moroccan Chicken Stew

Good Morning all:

I just wanted to do a quick post to give you the information on the book, Anam Cara, A Celtic Book of Wisdom by John O'Donohue AND the Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe we recently discussed on our podcast.

(You can find the podcast by the way at: or direct from our website at

We haven't finished it completely, as of yet, so I can't say I wholeheartedly embrace every single droplet it shares.  I CAN say it is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.  I feel flowers grow in my mind when I read it.  Ever had that feeling?  :)  But of course, there's always a balance when taking in new information.  The key is to keep an open heart so you don't close yourself off to truths that may lead you to a more beautiful place, while at the same time, putting on your "mind filter" so that you don't blindly hop on board with any passing wisdom ships that happen to sail past your harbor...if that makes sense.

Now, the Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe I promised to post in the last podcast:

I LOVE this.  It's delicious...IF you're bent toward the more exotic flavors.  WARNING:  Do not serve this at a dinner party if you are serving the non-adventurous palate.  This recipe calls for a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, which is simpler.  However, if you can make you own slow-roasted tomato sauce with olive oil, it's obviously even more wonderful.  One thing I love about this recipe is that you can "mix and match" and really make it your own.  Substitue dried currents for the golden raisins, or serve with quinoa instead of couscous, etc.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Moment that Bugs Me

So, my friend and co-worker and I are walking out of a meeting when she stops suddenly, causing me to almost bump into her, and she lets out a tiny gasp.  "What is it?" I ask excitedly.  (Gasps of any kind are always an exciting aspect of the workday, which is usually bedecked in muted colors and a tendency to be hushed.)  She stands looking down, and my eyes try to follow the intent of her stare.  I see nothing as I look down upon the blackish, brownish speckled-style carpeting, (always a safe bet in the spill-prone, "your momma don't work here" corporate environment.)  But then, my eyes finally adjust like they do when you stare at those pixelated prints you always see at mall kiosks, and the "hidden picture" reveals itself.  It's an unattractive, somewhat threatening-looking bug.  Luckily, it only has SIX legs and not eight..Lord forbid.

"It doesn't look friendly," she says during our shared consternation.  We stare, captive, at the bug creature all manifest in its soft black exoskeleton, "...not friendly at all."  Almost in unison, both of our heeled shoes reflexively twitch...just in case we need to enforce our human dominion over all bug life with a quick stomp. 

Now, had this been last week, a particularly difficult one, the bug of mystery would've long been gone..Yes gone to that place wherever bugs go when their earth suits are rendered useless.  A quick SQUASH by some unfortunate item designated to do this dirty work, and I'd have moved on.  I may have perhaps even been slightly relieved that our world was a little less "creepy-crawly" and resume with my important activities in my air-conditioned, perfectly vacuumed modern world.  I mean let's face it..most of us feel light offense at finding insects in our human spaces.  How the HECK did that thing get in here anyway??  Like somehow, the insect bouncer didn't do his job, whoever he is, and keep this violation from occurring.  And now WE are plagued with this, this...six-legged FREAK!  Who does he think he is, anyway...wearing his skeleton on the outside of his body!?!  ...Ahem... sorry.

But this is THIS week.  And for some reason, I decide to bend down mercifully and investigate the little critter.  Perhaps this day doesn't have to end badly for this little guy..or gal.  (Whoever knows about the gender of bugs...unless it's bees or..ugh..certain spiders "whom will not be named here."  Plus, I just so happen to be holding a business form of some kind that has recently been deemed useless (another pro on the scales of justice for the bug creature.)  My cohort human and I stare at the bug creature for a bit and debate in fragmented conversation that equates to, mercy or death...mercy or death?  Bent down in the hallway, business converging around us, we converse about the fate of this creature until I lay my paper on the carpet as she kicks it onto the paper, flipping it on its back in the process.  Gently, of course. Finally we stand with our upside-down prize precariously perched on the paper, it's leg-lettes in air. 

"Why isn't it kicking around?" my friend asks, while I play balance the bug on the paper
"I dunno..maybe it was on the verge of death anyway."  I feel a sense of sadness and waste.  A small sense, mind you, but a sense nonetheless.  But then, behold.  It twitches!  Hope endures.

I begin walking toward the back door of our office building, a mini-sense of purpose releasing tiny shots of endorphins in my brain while my cohort calls after "Are you taking it outside?" almost like she's asking if we can get ice cream later.  As I walk the fifteen seconds or so it takes to the back door, voices debate in my head.  Thoughts like okay, this is just too much...this is worse then when you made "boats" for the ants from blades of grass when you were a it's not...nothing's worse than that....  But WAIT, maybe it does matter in some small way....Yeah, right, like his little bug family will rejoice.  ...what about karma? ... You don't believe in karma, really..and anyway, is that a proper motivation for saving a life of any kind, anyway?...  No, not really... You're still taking the bug..  Yes, I am. 

I get to the back door, press the security exit button, and WHOOSH ..the great June sun barks in my face like a pit bull, unsteadying me a moment.  It helps that I am wearing all black (naturally), so I'm absorbing the orange wrath while I try to continue focus on my game of balance the bug on the paper while I look around for plant life of some kind.  I work downtown, so trying to find anything green is an expedition in itself.  I look at the bug.  It has stopped twitching.  I stand and stare at it, my back on fire (but I'm hoping the sun highlights my hair a little during these scorching, almost unbearable moments...)  I look around and BEHOLD reprise...a green viney-thingey!   Tiny gasp.  I look down at the bug, and this time, there is a slight movement in one of it's leg-lettes.  JOY!  I teeter in my heels across the parking lot toward the viney-thingey, which clings to the chainlink fence dividing two corporate houses, and tilt my paper gently.  This is an intended to be an obvious invitation to the bug to make a comfortable descent into the viney-thingey, where certainly by now his family has been made aware of his homecoming, and have likely invited a Grasshopper Quartet to provide the musical fanfare of this once MIA insect friend. 

And they all lived happily ever after...

But, let's be honest here.  He doesn't make a gentle descent.  He's on his back, remember?  Leg-lettes in air, right?  In reality, what I've done is create a giant, hellish slide for him to fall off of in the near-vicinity of the viney-thingey. At the point of his fall, he'll have about half a second to flip mid-air, ready his leg-lettes, and try to grasp something green before falling to the fiery pavement.  That's akin to a scary, smiling giant scraping us onto his cutting board "gently" of course..bumbling and rumbling, shaking us like an earthquake, as he walks to a random human neighborhood in Al-Quaeda territory.  Then, at around skyscraper level, tilting his cutting board and booming.."BYE BYE, LITTLE HUMAN!  AREN'T I A NICE GIANT?"  Frightening. 

Well, his heart would've been in the right place.

Hmm.  Another option to consider might be to simply avoid the bug in the hallway.  After all..he/she did manage to break past the barriers of corporate humanity without my help.  Pretty impressive bug.  Maybe he/she was on a secret mission, and the HQ was thru a tiny hole in the corner of the conference room of my office building.  Argh.  I just wanted to be the nice giant. 

Maybe I should've just left the bug alone.  I mean, CLEARLY it's a little nutty to magnify this little bug so much.  (No double entendre intended, but it's convenient and NO I would never do that to a bug creature..except for maybe to one of "those who shall not be named here.") And it's even nuttier to describe in such detail my involvement with it.  But, too late.  I already did... and I have to say, it does a heart giant-sized good to consider the lives of the tiny, the helpless, the seeminly insignificant when there are so many "bigger" things to worry upon. 

Hey, after all Someone does it for me.  :)