Tag Archives: rules

The Bean Rules

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Whenever someone sent me a text message to ask me what I was doing in the last two weeks when we were on holidays, my answer was pretty much always “beans”.  My sister is a slave driver.  And she has a lot of beans.  Remind me next time I decide to go visit her to try a different time of year, would you?

I didn’t have to go out to the garden to pick anything, though.  She and my brother-in-law did all the picking.  My grandchildren were thrilled to help with that sporadically too, although they’d never make any money at it since most of what they picked they also promptly ate.  Peas and cherry tomatoes were a big hit.  Cucumbers.  Giant zucchini.  Almost makes me want to get back into gardening.  Ha.  No it doesn’t.

But anyway, back to the beans.  There were green ones and yellow ones in buckets and bowls, delicious at every meal, but what do you do with the overflow?  I’m glad you asked.  It’s a complicated process.  There are rules.

The beans have to be sorted, putting all the straight ones in one bowl and all the crooked ones in another.  I thought they were kidding at first too.  But nope.  The crooked ones need the tops and bottoms cut off, and then they can be cut in half if they’re short and in thirds if they’re long.  They have to be washed.  Then they are blanched in boiling water, dumped into cold water to cool, and then drained and packed into plastic bags for freezing.  But wait!  Don’t seal the bags until you’ve poured in a cup or so of the water they were boiled in.  This gives them more flavour.  No one wants a bean that tastes like cardboard.  I found out the hard way that these bags are tippy, and if they fall over, all that precious juice flows across the counter.  Some cold day this winter when they cook up that bag of beans they will know who to blame for their tastelessness.  (Sorry).

The straight beans are destined for greatness.  If you have never had a dill bean in your Caesar, you have no idea what you’re missing.  The tops and bottoms are left on these.  They are also washed and blanched and popped into cold water to cool.  Then the real fun begins.  The beans have to be right side up. (Apparently it makes them easier to pull out of the jar later.) They must be painstakingly packed into sterilized mason jars containing a clove of garlic and some dill weed.  The beans have to remain straight, and the jar has to be full.  The whole time I was helping with this job I was trying to think of an easier way to do it.  Like buying some dill beans from a store, for instance.  If you use the flat side of a knife you can pack the beans in even tighter.  It’s practically an art.  I had no idea.

Finally, a mixture of bean water and vinegar is poured into each jar and they’re sealed. Something else I learned – when you open up a jar of these to put them on a vegetable tray, half of them will disappear before dinner.  I don’t know if this is also a rule, but I’ve seen it happen more than once.

My sister doesn’t even like dill, or dill pickled anything, but every summer she does this labor of love for the rest of the family who do.  Ever since I came home I’ve been toying with the idea of going to a farmers market, buying some yellow beans (do you suppose they’d be willing to sort out all the straight ones for me?) and doing up a jar or two.  But then I think it must be the heat making me think this way, and really, that’s a lot of Caesars to get through.  Plus I hate rules.

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Action Without Action

Lao Tzu, traditionally the author of the Tao T...
Lao Tzu, traditionally the author of the Tao Te Ching (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prompts for the Promptless:  Wu Wei

Wu wei, or non-doing, is a Taoist practice involving letting one’s action follow the simple and spontaneous course of nature rather than interfering with the harmonious working of universal law by imposing arbitrary and artificial forms.  In other words, it is the action of non-action.

“As the planets revolve around the sun, they “do” this revolving, but without “doing” it. As trees grow, they simply grow without trying to grow. Thus knowing how and when to act is not knowledge in the sense that one would think, “now I should do this,” but rather just doing it, doing the natural thing. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Laozi, the attainment of this natural way of behaving.” – Wikipedia

I don’t know about your world, but mine is full of workaholics who have forgotten how to relax.  They get anxious and restless if they’re not doing something.  When they have problems they try to fix them by getting to their root to make the changes that will resolve them.  Sometimes there is no solution, and that makes them crazy.

They want rules and guidelines and proper methods of doing things and strict adherence to the rules.  They probably wrote a book of rules that tells us how to follow the rules.  They feel perfectly justified in throwing a fit when someone else has a different stupid rule that doesn’t agree with their much superior ones.  They rarely take the time to consider how they actually feel about anything because they’re just too busy doing what they think they’re supposed to be doing and they’ve got deadlines to meet and a schedule to keep and fun is something they’ve put on hold.

These people believe that everyone exists as a separate being, full of power and might, and thus able to exercise wilful control over everything that happens to them.  The strong survive, and the winner takes all.  I suppose they believe this is normal, natural behaviour.  They may say they are looking for peace and harmony and balance, but their forceful and unnatural methods aren’t working out so well.

Wu wei refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the cycles of the natural world we are a part of, where we are connected to every other living thing.  It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease, so that without even trying we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situation arises.  It doesn’t mean wandering around aimlessly, or being lazy or passive or inert (although that sounds pretty good to me too.)  It means listening to the intelligence of our bodies and our emotions as well as our brains, not swimming against the current or going against the grain.  It means being spontaneous and natural and doing things simply because we feel like doing them and because they feel right.  It means being kind and helpful and loving until we don’t remember how to be any other way.

There will always be problems to solve and issues to deal with and conflicts to resolve.  I think I’ve been practicing some version of Wu wei without even knowing it,  because I’ve always found the best thing to do initially when faced with a problem is nothing.  Leave things alone.  Let the natural process take its course. Unless it’s an urgent life or death situation, in which case I guess I could probably drum up the ambition to dial 911.  Thinking

But if I’m confused and stressed about a nagging problem and don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything.  I wait, I watch, I see what happens next.  This doesn’t mean the problem is ignored or that I’m pretending I’m not aware of it,  it means I’m giving the situation a time out until I can think more clearly about it and make a decision I can act on and not regret, without making things worse in the meantime.   Many problems can be solved by time alone.  Lots of times things will fall into place on their own.

So slow down.  Be patient.  Relax.  A little non action may be good for the soul.  Sit still awhile, and just be.

Sunday Morning, Praise the Dawning

My morning has been spent catching up on stuff.  I don’t feel like being any more specific than that because it’s Sunday morning and Sundays are made for being vague and brain-dead.  It’s a new rule I made up just now.  My best rules are spur of the moment nonsense meant to rationalize whatever I’m up to.  Or not up to.  So feel free to borrow them, break them, forget them, or adhere to them strictly.  I’m pretty open on that.

Yesterday morning I drove W to the airport (five o’clock in the morning…here am I…driving out to the airport, wishing I could fly….) (apologies to Leann Rimes and the song Blue). I have discovered that making up my own song lyrics is a great way to stay awake while driving.  But only when there’s no passengers involved in the creative process.

W is off to Ontario once again, this time on a rather sad mission, to wrap up his responsibilities for his brother who left this world quietly on January 3rd.   He fought the good fight, but it was a long and tiring one and I’m sad but thankful he was able to give it up at last. I truly believe he is in a better place now.

We were talking on the way out there about how you get to an age where the people you know and love start leaving this world on a rather regular basis.  I guess we’ve reached that age.  I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring, but I remember whenever I talked to my mom and she’d rhyme off a list of all the people she knew who had passed away recently I’d get annoyed.  I suppose it’s a necessary evil of living so long yourself, but I found it an uncomfortable subject.  Maybe I need to get used to it.  The alternative I suppose is to not be around myself to witness these sad events.

So I’m on my own again for a couple of weeks, and the first thing I did to celebrate that was to blow up the microwave.  There is something about me and microwaves that defies compatibility.  I really thought this one was a keeper, but there you go.  It did last longer than its predecessors so that’s something.  Although not much to brag about I suppose.

There are still things to be grateful for, although having to buy yet another appliance of indeterminate life span is maybe not one of them.  The weather is mild, it is gently snowing, the house is warm and quiet.  My neighbor is shovelling our driveway.  How incredibly thoughtful and kind that is.  This insane cold bug I caught days and days ago seems to finally be loosening its grip on me.  I must say I will miss the sexy deep singing voice that came with it, but not the breathy nasal part or the part where I cough up my lungs between verses.

Here’s a Sunday morning song and a virtual drive in the snow.  I don’t really get the lyrics to this one, but then nobody really gets mine either.  So, watch out, the world’s behind you.  Maybe that means nothing at all.

Sunday morning
praise the dawning
It’s just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning
Sunday morning
It’s just the wasted years so close behind
Watch out the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all

Sunday morning
And I’m falling
I’ve got a feeling I don’t want to know
Early dawning
Sunday morning
It’s all the streets you crossed, not so long ago
Watch out the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all

Blog Tag – Wanna Play?

Thank you C.B. Wentworth  for inviting me to play BLOG TAG.

At least I think I mean thank you and not curse you.  I will let you know if I ever get to the end of this little assignment.   As a child I was not that good at being IT.  As an adult who has learned that no one wants to listen to me snivel about stuff, I have decided to play by the rules and give it my best shot.  And I was kidding about the cursing.  I’m flattered.  Really, I am.

I hope everyone who reads this will check out C.B.’s blog by clicking on the above link – it’s a delight to read and you’ll be glad you did.  I’ve been following her poetry, stories, artwork and photography – there are awesome things there for everyone.

The rules for playing blog tag are….

  • You must post the rules
  • Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
  • Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged (or use the existing ones)
  • Tag (eleven) people with a link to your post
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged

Here are the questions I’ve been given, and my answers to them.  Everything you never wanted to know about me and more great links coming up:

1) What is something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do?  Teleport.  Right now it’s science fiction, but if instantaneous travel ever becomes reality I am SO going to be a frequent flyer.

2) What is your favorite quote?  “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” (Agatha Christie)

3) What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?  I gave birth to babies. And then, even scarier, I had to be their mother.

4) If there were no rules, what would you do? No doubt I would make some up.

5) Stick shift (manual) or automatic transmission?  Automatic is certainly easier, but manual can be a lot more fun and definitely makes you pay closer attention to what you’re doing.

6) Mac or PC?  I’ve only ever had a PC but I’ve heard so many good things about Macs, when this lap top dies I think I’ll make the big switch.

7) You are a published author at your first book signing.  What message do you write with your autograph?  Happy reading?  I have no idea, and feel confident that this scenario will never come up.  But for sure I’d use a really great pen, like a fine point sharpie.  In purple, maybe.  Doodle some hearts and stars.  Personalize it with your name, which I will have to ask you how to spell.  Add a few hugs and kisses.  The line up will be slow-moving.  Better bring a coffee with you.

8) What charity is closest to your heart?  All the health related ones I guess.  Heart and stroke, cancer, diabetes.  And children’s hospitals.  Research and prevention.  We wouldn’t have to be searching so hard for cures if we could prevent these things from happening in the first place.

9) Name something that you think is underrated.  Yoga pants.  If everyone wore them, this world would be a much more relaxed and happy place.

10) If you could give yourself a new name, what would it be?  Ultimate Supreme Queen of the Universe has a nice ring to it.

11) What book or event changed your life?  I don’t know if reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle changed my life, but it did change the way I look at it, and the way I experience things.  Instead of constantly reliving the past or rehearsing imagined future situations in my mind I am learning to let the involuntary thinking subside, giving way to stillness, peace and the joy of Being.  There is something to be said for having an empty head.  Put on your yoga pants and try it.

Here’s the 11 questions for those I have tagged:

1.  When is the last time you did something for the first time?

2.  What would your life be incomplete without?

3. What is your greatest fear?

4.  What makes you smile or laugh out loud?

5.  What’s your worst habit, and what are you doing to change it?

6.  Who (or what) is your best friend?

7.  What makes you sad (or mad) enough to cry (or punch somebody)?

8.  If you owned a boat, what would you name it?

9.  What’s your proudest accomplishment?

10.  What did you want to be when you grew up and how did that work our for you?

11.  If you were making a movie about your life, what actors would you chose to play yourself and your significant other(s)?

(Question number 12 is Do you hate me for tagging you?  but you can skip that one if you think I won’t like the answer.)

I am tagging:

Incidentally

the dancing professor

sillyliss

slapppshot…tales of a single dad

As I See It

Coffee Powered Mom

Coffee and Spellcheck

brainsnorts inc >.<

HURTLED TO 60 AND NOW BEYOND

Andy’s words and pictures

The Meat and Potatoes of Life

There are many more tag worthy people I follow but the rules state that I must stop at the magic number of eleven.  If I’ve missed you, please feel free to answer my fascinating questions anyway. One way or the other, I’d love to hear what you have to say.  There was a lot of messing around to be done getting all the links right, but this was fun anyway.  And if it directs some new fans to these and other great blogs, my work is done.