choose joy

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old family photos my aunt gave me!

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i take pleasure in a lot of things. what else do we have, if not joy? we must take it where we can, i think. often i will laugh at something someone says that i think is hilarious, even if it is not meant as a joke, merely a fact being stated. and then they will say, no really, i’m serious! but it is not that i didn’t believe them, it is that there is often hilarity in the simplest of things.

i arrived home to the wee island yesterday, after being on the big island for three weeks of work. it was the longest i have been away since moving back, and i missed it terribly, along with my cat. it is SOOOOO good to be home. this from my journal:

i AM HOME. and i am happy beyond belief to be home. seriously. i am giddy. grateful to be alone with my sweet cat, curled up in my lap. the sound of the fire in the stove. the FIRE in the stove. on the desk, my beautyfull cedar basket made by jane. i am surrounded in beauty here. the colour of my shawl on my lap with the grey of my kitty and my sweater of dusty mauve. the mason jar wraps on the desk in front of me. kieras gorgeous hand-sewn postcards. the new beautyfull tall trees patch from RSDK propped up on the wall. i LOVE it here. i LOVE being home. i LOVE the stars outside and the shed up top and the moss covered bluffs with the frozen crunchy moss. i love the batteries and the charge-controller. i love that i get books by mail and that i got may sartons ‘journal of a solitude’ via interlibrary loan covered with papers that say DO NOT REMOVE. i love that i make crafts so that i can be surrounded in beauty. so that i AM surrounded in beauty. i love this PEN…

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the day after coming home to my sweet bus i got an email from sandika saying, ‘we heard you’re home. there’s a christmas potluck dinner at hilary and jordans tomorrow starting at three…’ i had not been home for even 24 hours when this happened. then a couple of hours later sandika and laura and laura and hilary called from a hike to the top of the islands highest peak to make sure i knew about the potluck. do i need to tell you why i love living here? while we were on the phone i ran out to my lands lookout point to see if i could spot them, but it’s really pretty far and i didn’t bring the binoculars and the top of the mountain was encased in a gauzy fog. it was snowing up there, they said.

i’ve spent today revelling in having a wood-stove, wandering around the silent bluffs with a silly grin, eating pancakes, and beginning a new knitting project: a cowichan-style tuque. for this i am learning colour work and carrying the yarn. i am excited.

it is so quiet out right now. it is the silence of falling snow. hush hush. all you can do is listen.

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last night coming home i savoured my aloneness with my cat by reading the current book – a homemade life (brought to me by jeanine). this book is delicious. molly wizenberg recounts stories of her life in relation to food. i must say, and it is not the first time i’ve thought this: descriptions of food are sexy. here: “it was made mainly from cream cheese and heavy cream, with a smooth texture that sat somewhere between cheesecake and mousse.” and, “it’s a tender open-crumbled corn bread with a ribbon of cream through its centre…” and “it came to the table looking like a painter’s palette in shades of vinegar and salt: a stroke of green asparagus here, a splotch of peppers there, a splash of rosy onions and purplish prunes, spindly young carrots, even cauliflower tinted with turmeric.” doesn’t that just do something for you? shall i go on? after reading and a thrown together dinner salad of a half-ripe roma tomato, a cucumber, some white onion and a small handful of green and kalamata olives stuffed with garlic, doused in apple cider vinegar and olive oil, i sat down to two episodes of this seasons grey’s anatomy. heather got me the first seven of the season, which i plan to indulge in over the next few days. though i don’t really celebrate christmas, i do take great pleasure in this time of year. it feels extra cozy imagining everyone else warm inside, living quiet lives together, the busy day-to-day set aside for a little while. though i may spend a lot of the rest of my time living the quiet life, i give this time of year weight. the slow heavy weight of thick woollen sweaters, a coat of snow on the ground, hot cocoa and the fire crackling nearby.

back on the topic of food for a moment, about a month ago i went wandering through the forest to my friend jennys house for dinner. it was when the weather was a steady +6 everyday and it was still rainy. we were just going to have a little thrown-together dinner, i was bringing egg salad, she was making soup. but that morning, on her walk with her dog salt, she found a cauliflower mushroom. she said she wouldn’t have noticed it if salt hadn’t distracted her right then. what a fortuitous occurrence. up until the beginning of november i hadn’t even heard of cauliflower mushrooms, but since that night i haven’t been able to stop thinking about that soup. part of the allure of it is surely that it is irreplicable until one finds a cauliflower mushroom again. but also, it was a SOUP. soups don’t usually, for me, take up a lot of space on my list of food loves. when i eat, i eat a lot. i like big hearty meals that fill my stomach. if there is soup, there must also be something fairly substantial to accompany it. this soup though, oh my. she had used a stock she made last summer, adding more mystery, since she wasn’t sure exactly what she had put in it. there was fennel, and onion, and garlic, and potato, and dill and rosemary. and there was this mushroom. this mushroom had the slipperiness of wontons but the meatiness and substance of a mushroom. mushrooms! they are wild creatures. there are merely a select few that you can grow yourself. the rest you have to go out and find, and you have to know where to look. what a gift, these things that are untameable. thank you world for the gifts that are harder to take for granted.

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