Monthly Archives: March 2012

Week #7: Even the bees are humbled by his sweetness

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be sweet: taking or leaving the romance, I’ve always appreciated it as a day where my mom gives me chocolate.

A memorable celebration of this occasion for me was in eighth grade when I’d recently been dumped by the boy I still loved over AOL Instant Messenger (actually, he had someone else do it over IM, but that’s immaterial).  My friends and I all had matching T-Shirts with a Velcro strip: it came with letters so you could write your own message on the shirt.  Honoring Mandy Moore (she just keeps coming up here, doesn’t she), and her track on the recent The Princess Diaries’ Soundtrack, we wrote “Stupid Cupid,” on the shirts.  Armed with bags of sour conversation hearts, we spent the day throwing them at people.

You can hardly be surprised that by the time I was a freshman in college, I was reclaiming Valentine’s Day as V-Day and taking part in the Vagina Monologues.  I guess, for me, the fun of it, the sweetness=girl gangs.  Galentine’s Day, in the words of Leslie Knope.  And, as Leslie would also appreciate, public license to eat candy all day.

As with my birthday celebration, I feared the fun would be taken out of Valentine’s Day in the absence of sugar.  And as with my birthday, I decided to celebrate with a tea party, and put the fun back in.

Discovering the sweetness of the early morning sunlight while wearing a lace-trimmed, American Girl doll-style, floor-length nightgown for sleeping during the day, bringing back childhood pleasures. Arranging strawberry cream cheese sandwiches cut into hearts and rose-flavored chocolate hearts with sugar-free brownies and sage biscuits on a three-tiered plate with a heart handle. Waking up my sweetheart to the sound of the smoke alarm in the kitchen and surprising him with the spread at the dining room table. Sipping sweet rose tea during the brief hour we are both awake.

“Yet even while the formality of teatime makes it feel special, the inherent coziness and intimacy of tea makes it warm and comforting and delightful… A celebration over tea is also a reflective and deliberate celebration.”*

Even in the context of a saccharin holiday, honey on the tongue tastes pure.  The Valentine I received reminded me of the honey of the heart.

A line of bees crawls toward the Shiva temple in Benares, India.  Walking not flying, slowly making their way toward the beautiful blue building.  Even the bees are humbled by his sweetness.**

Devotion is such intimacy.  Is there anything sweeter?


*From page 58 of If Teacups Could Talk: Sharing a Cup of Kindness with Treasured Friends, by Emilie Barnes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1994.  Thanks, Mom, for this sweet birthday gift book, giving me so many great tea ideas and reminding me why I’ve always loved tea parties.

**A story told by yoga teacher Josh at Body of Santa Fe.


Week #6-7: “‘Oh no, so soon?’: A Juicing Story”

My friend Rachel and I, psyched on juicing up a storm with our new juicers, (thanks, Mom!) decide to try a one-day juice fast.  We vaguely follow a plan outlined by Dr. Gillian Something, in her book Something Something* from which we took notes in our local bookstore, and which prescribed mostly vegetable juices, and broth as well as the solid food of fruit, raw salad, or quinoa with herbs, if met with attacks of hunger.  We started our day with hot water and lemon, and juiced serious amounts of celery, carrots, beets, sprouts, apples, and cucumber before our stomachs growled and we made some quinoa to get through the afternoon.  Around 3 p.m. I made the mistake of fantasizing about pizza out loud.  We talked—excitedly—about abandoning ship.  Then our food guru Meghan joined us.  A flurry of chopping got the juicer whirring again for another round.  I sat sipping our savory creation, enthusiasm renewed, and hunger temporarily satiated.  I felt pure and light and cleaned out.  All thoughts of pizza, sweets, and other foods vanished; I was so proud of our commitment and willpower.  Meghan, suddenly, had to go.  Oh no, so soon?  Within five minutes of her departure, the effect of her presence vanished with her, Rachel was on the phone ordering the pizza and I was already making popcorn and sugar-free cookies** at the same time.  We ended the night feeling splendidly satisfied with ourselves and our choices.

The next day was Monday, and I was working the night shift.  I decided to re-commit to the juice fast for both the day and the night.  I made miso soup and a potassium-rich vegetable broth of beets, carrots, potatoes, and turnips.  I had quinoa and fruit and both fruit and veggie juice.  It was hard to maintain my energy level, but I could see how it was possible, on so much less food than I usually had.  It was good to reduce food to energy, the minimum needed for fuel, to see how, at times, less food gave me more energy—though the nighttime was mostly a struggle.  I broke my fast on Tuesday morning, Valentine’s Day.

*Details to follow

**Re-named ‘oat clumps’ to avoid disappointment

A Desert Within a Desert

Every single brand of yogurt and breakfast cereal we serve at the shelter, an assortment of donations, contains refined sugar.  Even the ones that seem or claim to be healthy like Kashi and Nature’s Path, and Quaker Instant Oatmeal.  The peanut butter, the jelly; most of the bread.  What do the diabetics have for breakfast?  I should ask them.  Not to mention the huge volume of sweets we serve.  The food we get is often secondhand, so its days are numbered.  The berries and bunches of greens are often going bad by the time we get them or, in turn, put them out for people. The packaged food (that almost always comes with sugar) is more consistent, easier to maintain.  Don’t we all in America eat more poorly for this reason, for what they are selling to us, what we can buy cheaply, and keep on our shelves?  I ask this and I recognize my privilege in having a pantry; making some selections.  A homeless friend wishes he could still be a vegetarian, but it’s impossible to maintain dietary restrictions like these, relying on food prepared by others, donated food.  Dreaming of a homeless community garden for the food desert of living on the streets.  Does this exist somewhere?