Cheers, Dear Haiku-Kefir!

Not sure which makes me happier— Haiku or Kefir.  They both provide nourishment, a cleansing even.

With Haiku– there’s this lovely contrast between the short, simple form and the thoughtfulness behind the words.  I like the stillness I feel when reading Haikus.  I drift into a daydreamy, contemplative state of mind.  It’s nice just being present, watching—without saying anything—just an observer.

creamy pebbled grains
turn milk into


Kefir is definitely not a drink to guzzle down. The sheer thickness of it initiates a luxurious focus. Sitting–quietly enjoying a glass of kefir– I can’t help but drift into a happy, self reflective place. Home made kefir is even better!   No rush, no worries.  Just being– wherever I am–now.

the new year is here
we all need help digesting
go make some kefir!

Hello Kitty, You’re So Pretty



If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have one food–an unlimited supply of it—what would it be?




I’d choose  a sweet potato.  I love sweet potatoes–especially roasted sweet potatoes. I’d also have a few add on condiments–like a generous slathering of cultured butter, a sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt, a drizzling of  local raw honey  and a dash of cinnamon on top.  But–actually–I could eat a roasted sweet potato plain.



The one food I really cannot stand is eggplant.  So, if you’re on a neighboring deserted island and your food choice is eggplant– sorry- I won’t be swimming over for lunch anytime soon. Even if you have a stash of chocolate!


I could not, would not, on a boat.
I will not, will not, with a goat.
I will not eat them in the rain.
I will not eat them on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I will not eat them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them Anywhere.




My new favorite way to use roasted sweet potato is in a  Sweet Potato and Almond Cake.




The recipe is based on Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake.  Instead of using oranges–substitute a large, 1 lb. sweet potato (roasted or baked) and add 1 Tbsp. orange juice plus 1/2 tsp. (each) cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and  1/4 tsp. black pepper and coriander.  It’s so easy even a cat could make it. My goodness–I should have said rat instead of cat.  My twin sister’s cat, Paloma,  was indeed quite the baker!




In fact, not too long ago, Paloma, was the reigning Queen of Cat Baking. Too bad her one and only rival, Niko, could only bake birthday cakes.  Of course, Paloma could do it all! She was also an accomplished water colorist.  Self-Portraits were her specialty.




Paloma, however, is no more– but my twin sister still has her diary. Apparently, Paloma’s dream was to create a Cooking  A-cat-emy (for the advancement of feline culinary skills).  She wanted to personally groom each student (she called them kittens) to ensure they measured up to her royal Hello Kitty standards.  (Hardee Har Har-that was an inside joke–on page 324 of Paloma’s  diary–she reveals that she hated that floozy Hello Kitty).



Oh, Poor Paloma.  She never got to meet big boy Boris  or  little Stix.  These two handsome fellas were going to be on her dream team at the A-cat-emy.  It’s probably for the best–Boris has a reputation around town and Stix is a thief!   Plus, Alibaba, Paloma’s one true love has a jealous streak (and crazy looking fangs)!   But he is very sweet.  And he still visits!




Because Plants Have Feelings Too

I am terrible with plants.  I know I can do better.  I just need to figure out what to do.


I was in denial at first– but now– I fully accept that my little Bonsai Boy plant, Tiberius–is a goner.  It happened so fast too.  Tiberius was a birthday gift from my twin sister. From the moment I saw him–I could tell he was special.  He even came with instructions.  And I read them– thoroughly.  I thought I was doing all the right things. Poor Tiberius used to have such bright, beautiful, green leaves. He was very healthy and alive. Then something happened. His leaves shriveled up and they all fell to the ground.  He became a collection of stems in a decorative planter.  “He’s probably just hibernating,” I convinced myself.  But, then the stems turned into dry sticks. Then dust.


Now, I have a strong feeling–if I don’t do something fast– my Aloe Vera plant, Agripina, will soon meet Tiberius in plant heaven.


Unlike me, my beautiful mother has a real green thumb.  Plants, flowers, tomatoes–they all flourish under her care.


While my mom has been recovering from a stroke (10 months)–she has trusted me to take care of her plants.  My dirty little secret (click here to listen) is that I have been slowly getting rid of them–one by one.

shovels2 by Akuokuo Vallis.jpg

Of course, I wait until they’re good and dead first. It’s not like I just bury them for no reason.  I know, I know.  I can do better.  And I will.  It’s just that my mother has a lot of plants–so many plants that my twin sister takes care of half of them and I take care of the other half.  I remember  when my mom was first in rehab– she’d look my way and ask, “How are my plants?”  I’d smile broadly– but in my mind I was singing this song (click here to listen).


I  feel terrible about my inability with plants. Especially now that I’ve done some research into the many health benefits they offer.  Not only do plants emit oxygen and humidify the air– but they also purify indoor air of pollutants.  According to (click  here to read more):  plants are mood enhancers.  In fact, there’s even a wellness modality called Horticulture Therapy (HT):

  • HT is a practice that uses gardening as therapy. Outdoor gardening can reduce your risk for dementia by 36 percent. You may find similar therapeutic benefits from desk-sized Zen gardens, bonsai trees, or mini herb gardens.


I’ve also learned that plants have feelings. Meaning–they feel pain (click here to read more):

  •  According to researchers at the Institute for Applied Physics at the University of Bonn in Germany, plants release gases that are the equivalent of crying out in pain. Using a laser-powered microphone, researchers have picked up sound waves produced by plants releasing gases when cut or injured. Although not audible to the human ear, the secret voices of plants have revealed that cucumbers scream when they are sick, and flowers whine when their leaves are cut.


According to Michael Pollan (read more here) plants not only feel pain–they also hear, taste and have intelligence.  Pollan says that “the line between plants and animals might be a little softer than we traditionally think.” Click here to listen to an interview with Michael Pollan.


Michael Pollan also believes that by studying plants, humans can eventually create more intelligent robots-because plants like robots “process information without a central command post like a brain.”


Last night I watched an interview with the famous Australian architect, Peter Stutchbury (click here to watch it).  In the interview Peter Stutchbury talks  about the importance of being responsible by showing respect for all materials used.   This  concept of being responsible by showing respect really struck a nerve with me.


I started thinking that the missing link in caring for my mother’s plants is that I was not showing them the respect they deserve.  So, this morning I tried something different.


Before watering my mother’s plants — I stroked them and I spoke to them.   I took my time to really be present with them. All of them. And I finally saw how unique and individual they are.  For the first time ever–I quietly listened to them. And I learned that they do not all require the same amount of water.  But they do require care and attention.  I finally respected them.  And in return– I was transformed. Colors seemed brighter.  The air literally became sparkly.  A connection was made and I was healed– on many levels. This simple, profound act of respect has opened up a whole new world for me.  And I like it.  Thank you Peter Stutchbury!

Caffeine Fiend



My little caffeine problem started with Kombucha–that fizzy drink that is supposed to be so very healthy for you (according to a lady I overheard at a grocery store).

  • Kombucha is a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks. Kombucha has many supposed health benefits. It is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic ‘colony’ of bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY).


I did not like Kombucha–at first.  There was something odd about the vinegary aftertaste. Even so–I kept buying it and drinking it.  I became a Kombucha addict. I tried nearly every kind of Kombucha out there. I even tried strange DIY looking local brands that were suspiciously packaged in recycled Coke bottles.  But after a few months–I got tired of Kombucha. That initial odd vinegary aftertaste was hardly even noticeable to me by this point.  It wasn’t even boosting my energy anymore either.

I put a twin size mattress for myself  in my mother’s room so I could help her at night. The night shift began taking a toll on me. I needed something to keep me awake during the day.  That’s when I turned to coffee–Black Coffee!

Wowee. My coffee fling escalated quickly. It was great–at first.  But soon, I noticed my driving was reckless. I was  having terrible thoughts about those #$@&%*! people who should not be on the road. I was getting headaches too.  And I was fidgety–I just could not rest, ever. My vision even deteriorated.  I had to call it quits.


But of course, I found something else— Chai. I even started making my own.

The combo of super caffeinated black tea with spices, milk and sugar (lots of sugar) was delicious. It went well with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and everything else in between. Eventually, I realized that caffeine  was getting the best of me.  I had to stop– cold turkey.

  • Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug.
  • Caffeine can produce a mild form of drug dependence. Tolerance develops with chronic use leading to autonomic effects of increased blood pressure, heart rate, and increased urine output (Wikipedia).


I do think about coffee and tea and all things caffeinated from time to time.  I actually still have an unopened bottle of Kombucha in the refrigerator (just in case…).  But even if I am a little tired during the day–I am a much calmer, happier person without the caffeine.