Saturday, September 19, 2009

curried spinach pea soup
6-8 servings, 20 min prep, 45 min cook

-4 c chopped onion
-1 T oil
after a few minutes add:
-8 cloves garlic
-4 c diced potatoes
-1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger
-1 1/2 t turmeric
-1 1/2 t ground cumin
-1 1/2 t ground coriander
-1/2 t cinnamon
-1/8 t cayenne
-1/4 t black pepper

once the spices get fragrant add:
-5 C water or a mix of veg broth and water
-2 t salt (or more to taste)
-1 1/2 T fresh lemon or lime juice

once potatoes are soft add:
-3 C fresh or frozen peas
-4 C fresh spinach (chopped if you're not going to blend it)
-1 3/4 C (14 oz) coconut milk

- fresh cilantro as desired
- blend or serve chunky. Its really nice blended and chilled too!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just heard an encouraging statistic on NPR, and its not often that one hears encouraging stats so it must be shared:

Local and organic food industries are growing by 20% per year consistently over the last 3 years. Conventional food industries are growing at a rate of 1-2%. Take that factory farms, pesticides and GMOS! Slowly but surely we seem to be coming around!

I just became a member of Bailey's Local Food Buying Club. Check out their website and consider joining if your in KW, if you're not check your local area for one or consider starting your own!!! Bailey's was started by Nina Bailey-Dick who once lived in Goshen and worked for Rachel's Bread. She's sourced an amazing array of local products and goes weekly to pick stuff up for the club. Saturday or Sunday you check the website for what's being offered that week. You make sure to place your order online by Tuesday at 8pm. Then Friday between 3-7 pm you pick up your fresh local produce, yogurt, breads (100 local spelt!!), cheese, dried beans, peanut butter, oils, etc etc!! The pick up is a km from my house, so it saves the effort of going all the way to the market and the offering in terms of local foods other than produce is much more than I've been able to source elsewhere!

Also, if you haven't seen Food, Inc check around to see if its playing in a theater near you, or make sure to rent it when it comes out later this fall.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Coconut Curry

curry base:
- 1 onion stir-fried
- 2-3 cloves garlic
sauté in veg. oil, when tender add...
- 1 c veg broth
- 1 can coconut milk (go for the creamy not the light!)
- 1-2T curry paste (depending on how hot you like it, i recommend green curry paste)
- 1 t turmeric powder (optional)
- zest from half a lime
- splash of lime juice
- 1 T fresh grated ginger
- 1/4 c brown sugar or maple syrup
- salt or a dash of tamari

to that add your choice of:
- peppers
- carrots
- broccoli
- potato
- sweet potato
- sweet peas
- egg plant
- bok choy
- dry-fried tofu
- chickpeas
(add green veggies later, potatoes, eggplant tofu and chick peas right away)

right before serving add 1/4 C + each of basil and cilantro

serve over brown rice or rice noodles


Friday, June 05, 2009

You can watch a full length version of HOME by Yann here for free!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hanging out (upside down) on a Satuday afternoon!
today i went to fergus with meaghan and nancy from
queen street yoga where i now teach a few classes a week. they are hosting a retreat at this awesome little studio/retreat center there in july, so we went to go check the place out. its a fully equipped iyengar studio with TONS of props to play with, including wall hooks and straps. you can see some of the fun ways we used them in the pics.
headstand with no pressure on the head! my cervical spine is so happy!
flying backbend!inverted child's pose. so so relaxing. there was so much sighing going on in this pose!

the studio is in an old converted mennonite barn, with gorgeous exposed beams. there are 5+ guest rooms each with stained glass windows and lots of character. and the property is beautiful with gardens, patio and a hot tub! it made me super excited to go on/help out at the retreat!

nancy and meaghan

if you're interested in the retreat, here are some more details:

Queen Street Yoga's very first weekend retreat! Meaghan Johnson, owner of QSY, and Nancy Shaeffer, author of the Body Means Well, and long time meditation instructor, will be joining their creative forces to bring you a weekend of fun and embodiment, health and restoration. We also plan to rock out around the the campfire Saturday evening with Charlena Russel, local musician and long time yoga student! This weekend getaway will be held July 10th to 12th, at the Soul Garden Retreat Centre in Fergus.
Go to the following two websites to see how beautiful it is!
Come and enjoy a weekend of yoga, meditation, mindful walking, swimming in the gorge,good food, soaking in the hot tub, bonfires, music and singing.
The Yoga studio is a fully equipped Iyengar based studio with lots of fun props to play with!
We can take 12 residential participants and 10 non residential (drive from k-w is 40min, or guelph, 20min)
Residential (room two nights, brunch and snacks Sat. and Sun.) $350 plus GST
Non-Residential (brunch and snacks included Sat. and Sun.) $280 plus GST The retreat centre is only 40min drive from Kitchener.
On Saturday night we will go to a wonderful Indian restaurant in downtown Fergus, please budget $20-25 for the meal.
Please email us to reserve your space. (email queenstreetyoga at gmail dot com)

Schedule of the weekend:
Friday night:
6:00-7:30 Arrivals, and registration
7:30-8:00 Greetings and Introductions
8:00-9:30 Restorative Yoga

7:00-8:00am Mindful Walk (optional)
8:00-10:00am Yoga
10:00-11:15am Brunch
11:30-12:45pm Meditation and Mindful Movement
1:00-3:00pm Yoga
3:00-6:00pm Snack followed by free time for hiking, swimming, napping, etc.
6:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Camp Fire with music and sing along gudied by Charlena Russel
& hot tubbing (within ear shot of the music!)

7:00-8:00am Mindful Walk (optional)
8:00-10:00am Yoga
10:00-11:15am Brunch
11:30-12:30 Closing activity and good byes!
You can plan to stay for the afternoon to enjoy Elora and Fergus or head home if you need to.
thanks ben for sending me this- ha! its SO great. watch along with weightless (below). my favorite scene is jumping off the diving board. can you imagine how long the video took?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saturday, May 09, 2009

check out our garden blog! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

my dad is great for lots of reasons (like driving all the way to waterloo to bring me to goshen for a week (no, not so environmentally friendly, but i am taking the train back), giving support and encouragement, and growing delicious vegetables), beyond that his commitment to environmentalism and sustainable living is really inspiring. he bikes or buses to work almost everyday, buys almost exclusively local produce, mows his lawn with a blade push mower (no gas, no electric), and always adds a few more layers before he turns up the heat. recently he made his commitment more public with his company Hertzler Systems. they planted 600 trees on their land in the industrial park. you can read a great article here and see some pics! 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Don't try this at home...

Tanutara: Making of the Anusara Syllabus Poster from Ross Evans on Vimeo.

Amazing eh? Its awesome to see the possibilities and highly evolved skills of some yogis. But if you've never been to a yoga class before, don't watch this thinking that we teach anything remotely near this level. most teachers i know can't even do an 1/8 of those poses, and many of us don't aspire to. we want to just breath and move, stretch, and begin to understand our bodies and minds more, and guide people to do the same.
anyone can do yoga, it doesn't have to manifest that way (in the video) at all. last week i started teaching a seniors yoga class, all women, mostly between 60-70 yrs. we do a lot of poses from chairs or using chairs for balance, and other exercises relax and loosen joints and work on breathing and relaxation too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The reason i never blog anymore is all this silly anthropology i study. i get too sick of writing papers to really want to write on my blog. so how about an anth paper folks?
its for anthropology of religion. the assignment was to attend a religious service/ceremony or take a secular practice that has aspects of ritual in it and apply course concepts. what did i use? well duh, a yoga class. if you spot any typos/have comments let me know, its due thursday!

Yoga is a practice of Eastern spirituality that is gaining increasing popularity in the West. While many Westerners think of their yoga practice as secular, yoga classes retain many ritual elements. I am a certified yoga instructor and I teach a number of classes each week in studios and community centres. When I teach, it is important for me to differentiate yoga from mere physical exercise by incorporating elements of ritual. This paper will explore the significance of these rituals and relate them to theoretical concepts in the Anthropology of Religion.
In her paper “Transcendental Meditation, Reiki and Yoga: Suffering, Ritual and Self-Transformation,” Garrett, a sociologist as well as yoga practitioner, examines yoga as a form of ritual in Western contexts. She claims that “rituals are often used as initiations from one form of subjectivity to another” and that practitioners approach yoga, as a ritual, as a means of self-transformation (Garrett 2001:329). I often ask my students why they choose to take yoga classes. Although some of my students come seeking physical transformation in the form of weight loss or relief from physical pain, the majority are seeking transformations of their mental state: to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, or find a sense of calmness. An even broader transformation may be sought: to ‘work on myself,’ to learn acceptance, reconnect with ‘something bigger’ or ‘move towards closer union with the divine.’
Garrett says that yoga is “a constant process of initiation, an ongoing training devoted to deepening knowledge of the body,” and then, according to its philosophical roots in Hinduism, to ultimately transcend the body (337). As a process of initiation and transformation, a yoga class may be considered a rite of passage and would thus fit into van Gennep’s (2002:130) model for the stages of ritual rites of passage. Using a typical yoga class that I teach at a studio I will explain van Gennep’s three stages of ritual: separation, liminality, and incorporation. Turner, who has also developed important theories of ritual, defines ritual more narrowly than I do in this paper. However, his emphasis on symbols has influenced my analysis of yoga as a ritual. For Turner, rituals must involve spirits or mystical beings and this may be the case for some yoga practitioners but it is not the norm. Turner (2002:123) finds that among the Ndembu, “Each kind of ritual may be regarded as a configuration of symbols.” Turner also emphasized the study of the dynamics of social interactions. It is through ritual symbols that social interactions are made possible and maintained (Hicks 2002:122). In a yoga class, gestures, postures and the use of metaphorical language symbolize what the individual should experience and what the experience of relationship between student and teacher in the class should be.
In van Gennep’s first stage of ritual, separation, the individual is removed from their original state. The yoga student enters the yoga studio space and changes into yoga clothing (typically form fitting, comfortable stretchy cotton). They separate themselves further from their everyday state when they enter the yoga room: they become more quiet, collect the necessary props for the class such as blocks to sit on, and unroll their yoga mat on the floor which creates their delineated space upon which they will ‘do yoga.’ I, the teacher, motion that class will begin by sitting down at the front of the room, facing my students. I begin by instructing my students in how to take a seated position with good posture. I then invite them to close their eyes and become aware of how they are feeling, noticing the thoughts and feelings they have brought with them to the practice. I invite them to turn their awareness inwards to their breath, shifting the focus away from those thoughts and feelings. This is a period of transition, of coming into a greater awareness of the body and mind.
Next we enter into the liminal stage, in which van Gennep (2002:130) says that clear-cut status is lost,; we are “in between.” In a yoga class, this phase is the bulk of the class, where I lead students through postures, called asanas. Before beginning the asana practice, I lead the class in singing the sound of aum together three times. I have been taught that sound is the original sound of the universe, and in singing it we reconnect with the Universal Source of energy for our practice. In beginner classes, often no one or only few will sing along with me in the aums. In classes with students that have been with me for several months more students join in. Usually if a few loud people sing out, others will join in also. If it is a more advanced class, a chant is also sung. The chant in Sanskrit that I teach my students is typically sung at classes taught in the Anusara style of yoga:
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
I offer myself to the Light, the Auspicious One, who is the True Teacher within and without,
Saccidananda Murtaye
Who assumes the forms of Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss
Nischprapanchaya Shantaya
Who is never absent and is full of peace,
Niralambaya Tejase
Independent in existence, the vital essence of Illumination.

The aums and chant underscore liminality because students are invited to let go of their previous ego-centred self. They connect to a Universal Source of energy/The Light/The True Teacher through the chanting of aum or by singing a chant like the one above and they join their voice with the teacher and other students. It is important to note, that although these more “spiritual” or philosophical parts of the yoga class are offered, not all students participate, some remaining quiet during chanting. As the teacher, I explicitly give the choice to participate by telling students to join in as they like or feel comfortable.
The liminal stage continues as we move into the asanas, the physically active part of the class. Students move together as I instruct. In our day-to-day lives, we choose how and when to move our bodies, at least to some degree. In a yoga class, students defer the freedom to move as they choose; they are in different state where a teacher directs their movement. Many of the asanas, in name and form, invoke symbols in Hindu mythology or embody characteristics of animals. One example is virabhadrasana, or warrior pose, which refers to the Bhagavad-Gita where a symbolic battle is being fought against self-ignorance. I plan my classes so that asanas fit together in a sequence, poses progressively opening the body and eventually bringing the students into a peak pose, the most difficult pose or sequence of poses that brings the class to a climax physically and emotionally. Then I follow with postures that are gentler, preparing students for final relaxation. The final pose is savasana, which is translated as corpse pose. Students lie on their backs, with palms facing up for about five to ten minutes. During savasana I encourage students to let the body go completely,; there should be no effort in the pose. I also instruct them how to gradually let the mind go, trying to suspend the busyness of thinking for several minutes. This pose can be seen as a symbolic end to the liminal stage in which the old self dies.
The last phase of van Gennep’s triad is incorporation; it begins as we end savasana. Students are awakened from their relaxation (not sleep) gently by the sound of a bell. While still in the lying on their backs, I invite students to become aware of their breath, and then slowly bring movement back into their bodies. Next, I tell students to roll onto their right side, and “check in with how you are feeling:” noticing the breath, sensations in the body, thoughts in the mind, and emotions. Then I invite students to slowly move into the cross-legged seated posture that we began with at the start of class. Here students have entered into a new state; it is often evident from their body language that they are more relaxed and peaceful than when they began. I invite students to again close their eyes and bring their focus to the breath, becoming aware of how their bodies feel in the new state. We then sing the sound of aum together one time. The class ends when I say the word namaste with my palms together in a prayer position over my heart,; at the end of the word I take my hands to my forehead bowing to my students and they do the same bowing to me and one another. In India namaste is a common greeting that literally means “I bow to you,” but in yoga classes (at least in the West) we translate it as meaning “the light within me honours the light within you.” The meaning assigned to this word in yoga classes is significant. It signifies the transformation that has occurred throughout the class, whereby the individual transcends their small self (ego) and connections with something larger, a “light” or “spirit’” that is thought to reside in all.
Human action, according to Leach, serves two purposes: to do things, “altering the physical state of the world,” or to “say things,” communicate information, particularly information about human relationships (Leach 2002:118). Leach argues that the term ritual is “best used to denote this communicative aspect of behavior” (119). Yoga alters the physical state of students, providing exercise as well as relaxation. Yoga has come to signify a number of things in our society: health, relaxation, the East. In taking yoga classes individuals might be communicating their interest in improving their health, their need for stress-reduction, their desire to be more self aware or their curiosity about “Eastern” or “New Age” spirituality.
The symbols within a yoga class also communicate important information about students and their relationship with each other and with the teacher, and also about the transformation of the ego through yoga. Turner (2002:124) explains that symbols in Ndembu ritual “connects the unknown to the known.” In the process of ritual, the “unknown, invisible, hidden” may be revealed and in turn what is private may be made public, what is personal may be made social. Among the Ndembu this process allows social tensions that may at other times threaten the cohesion and continuity of the group to be expressed in ritual and dealt with in a socially acceptable way. These processes, of revealing the unknown, hidden and invisible occur on several levels in a yoga class.
The first unknown is the body. There are few contexts in the West when we are encouraged to actually pay attention and be aware of our bodies, especially not in the context of a group. In a yoga class, I teach students to become aware of their breath and how it changes and affects movement, of the way that the body moves within space, and of the way that parts of the body move in relation to one another. I also encourage students to allow bodily processes that are normally expected to be hidden in social situations to be exposed throughout the class; for example, by telling students that it is normal for certain poses to cause them to pass gas. (One instance is pavanamuktasana, a supine pose, where one knee is drawn into the chest. The Sanskrit word pavana means air or wind and mukta means release, therefore this is the "wind relieving posture" and often releases trapped gas in the intestines). Another example is that I ask my female students to tell me when they are on their menstrual cycle as it is beneficial to modify some asanas at during this time. Here women are asked to reveal to a group of other students whom they may not know at all a matter that is normally expected to be kept private and cleanly concealed. In yoga classes the teacher creates a space in which students can experience their bodies and even reveal aspects of their bodies in ways that are not normally socially sanctioned. Here the private realm of the body is experienced publicly. However, there is a contrast from Turner’s theory of Ndembu ritual here. Turner argues that by expression of anti-social sentiment in ritual contexts, individuals “are purged of rebellious wishes and emotions and willing to conform once more to public mores” (2002:124). Although I don’t think my students will start passing gas in other public contexts due to their yoga studies, it is my hope, and I think the hope of many teachers that through yoga students will become more comfortable sharing about specific functions such as menstruation, and become more aware of their bodies and their health in general.
Several of the components in the ritual of a yoga class symbolize what is happening to the ego. These symbols, which are acted out physically and verbally, make public and social the more personal or private psychological experience of transcending the ego. Students come to a class as individuals, with their egos intact. In the separation phase they prepare themselves to begin to transcend the ego. In the liminal phase the teacher guides them through this process by performing asanas, such as virabhadrasana, which may symbolize the battle to defeat the ego.
The final asana, corpse pose, is a symbolic death of the ego, after which the student is reborn in a state of oneness with the other students and the teacher, so that they are all carrying the same light within themselves. Richard Rosen (2009), a well-respected yoga teacher and author, writes, “In Corpse Pose, we symbolically ‘die’ to our old ways of thinking and doing. The normally perceived boundaries of body image dissolve, and we enter a state of blissful neutrality.” This state of oneness is communicated by the gesture and vocalization of namaste that ends the class. Aadil Palkhivala, a prominent teacher in the Iyengar style of yoga explains, “For a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection” (2009). This word is a symbol that communicates the relationship between student and teacher. Palkhivala continues, “If it is done with deep feeling in the heart and with the mind surrendered, a deep union of spirits can blossom.” This symbolic gesture and word reveals a common sentiment between students and teacher that may otherwise be hidden, and that is normally only expressed between individuals who are in very close relationship.
Van Gennep’s model for the phases of ritual provide a viable framework for examining the journey of letting go of the ego and coming into a peaceful state of oneness that is an underlying goal of yoga. Yoga differs from Turner’s theories of ritual in some respects, but his insights to symbolism in ritual apply to yoga in a number of ways, particularly as pertains to processes of revelation and making the private public and the personal social. In contrast to Turner’s perception of ritual as a bounded event in time, the practice of yoga forms a ritual that can continue to influence the individual’s mental and physical state long after the ritual actions are over. Many students report a sense of mental clarity and physical well-being that persist through the remainder of the day after a yoga session. For some, yoga begins to approach the status of religion in their lives. I practice yoga regularly every morning, as many people might begin their day with scripture reading or prayer. Yoga becomes a resource to turn to in times of stress and anxiety, and a means to celebrate on a joyful sunny morning. In fact, yoga has become so integrated into my life that I will often do a sequence of poses as a study break, or while I am having a relaxed conversation with friends. This practice might be compared to the pervasiveness of prayer in the life of a devoted Christian, Jew or Muslim. In a functionalist sense, yoga and its accompanying philosophy provides much the same framework for understanding the world and interpreting events as any established religion. In this way, it surpasses merely the practice of ritual and encompasses the realm of belief as well.

Garrett, Catherine
2001 Transcendental Meditation, Reiki and Yoga: Suffering, Ritual, and Self-Transformation. Journal of Contemporary Religion 16(3):329-342.
Hicks, David, ed.
2002 Ritual and Belief. Second ed. Boston: McGraw Hill.
Leach, Edmund
2002 Ritual. In Ritual and Belief. David Hicks, ed. Pp. 114-121. Boston: McGraw Hill.
Palkhivala, Aadil
2009 The Meaning of "Namaste". Electronic documnt,
Rosen, Richard
2009 The Purpose of Corpse Pose. Electronic documnt,
Turner, Victor
2002 Ritual Symbolism, Morality, and Social Structure among the Ndembu. In Ritual and Belief. David Hicks, ed. Pp. 122-129. Boston: McGraw Hill.
van Gennep, Arnold
2002 Conclusions. In Ritual and Belief. David Hicks, ed. Pp. 129-133. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Premio Dardos

Beth just passed on one of those virtual awards to me, "And who blogs better about her ethical and personal values than Leena ? She's beautiful and truly good person." Thanks beth!

Premio Dardos means "prize darts.” This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.

Step 1: Respond and rework — answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, add one more question of your own.
Step 2: Tag other bloggers to do the same.

Here are the questions:
What are you wearing right now? brown cords, and a robin's egg blue sweater with an ani difranco tshirt under it.

What part of your house never gets cleaned? i'm not great at dusting. and right now my desks a mess with research papers.

Do you nap a lot? yes, i LOVE naps. at least a few times a week.

Who is the last person you hugged? kunga

What websites do you visit when you go online? gmail, blogs, webct for school work, lately the university library and JSTOR and other search engines for anthropology journals and research texts, yoga

What was the last item you bought? I bought groceries on saturday- free range eggs, spinach, grapefruits and echinachia for my cold.

What’s the last book you read? Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, about caste, gender and structural inequalities in an Indian village, reading it for anthropology of India.

If you could go to the Oscars, who would you want to sit next to? I'm with, beth, not too into going to the oscars...

What did you last eat?: an omlet with mushrooms, peppers, spinach and goat cheese, and fried potatos with rosemary and thyme. mmm mmm mmmmmm.....

What is one skill you wish you had, but don’t: I wish i had more patience.

What was the last movie you watched? Slum Dog Millionaire

What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? Being born into the family I have.

If you had a whole day to yourself; no work, commitments or interruptions what would you do? make delicious food, practice yoga, and walk in the park.

Is there a major goal you have that you haven’t yet achieved? Yes, many. i'm only 21 here.

Where did you meet your spouse/partner/bf/cat? In a yoga studio.

What is something that those in blogland might not know about you? I hated mushrooms until last july, i don't know what was wrong with me. This year i've been making up for those 20 years sans mushrooms and I sauté them up and put them in as many dishes as i can think of. still haven't ventured to incorporate them into a dessert...

What Countries have you visited as an adult? The USA, Canada, Burkina Faso, Senegal and England, Paris for one day.

Would your rather give up salt or sugar? sugar, i could never give up kettle chips with sea salt and black pepper... as long as i can still have maple syrup!

What do you do to relieve stress? breath, do yoga, take naps, and go on walks.

What is your first clear memory from your childhood? Walking out of my room one morning and seeking my dad shaving off his mustache in the green bathroom. I was traumatized.

As this is supposed to be a cultural award, what is the most recent piece of painting or sculpture that really impressed you? I love my roommate Christina's paintings, she's working on a website right now, not sure if its up yet. Also think angie's scultpures sound brilliant, but i haven't seen any recent ones yet!

What is the last piece of music that you heard and what did you think of it? Craig Cardiff, love love love him. he played at UW last week and I've been listening to him non-stop since. His voice is like dark chocolate and sea salt. also loved the goofy opener for Craig named Mike Evin, he plays the piano and sings silly songs like "(all i wanna do) is brush my teeth with you," love love love him. he's from montreal, of course. 

Who will I tag to receive the honor after me?
I'll chose MAWG because i'm his favorite daughter. and uncombed threads and herbacious babe because i love reading their insights, but like me they haven't been blogging enough lately.

Thanks again beth!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sweetest Yoga Teacher

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The National Parcs

I saw this band back in August, they were wicked performs, amazing fun energy. I just rediscovered them, and i love the way their music originates in the outdoors. check out the creative dudes from montreal in these videos.

Timbervision - The Making of from thenationalparcs on Vimeo.

Border Patrol - The National Parcs from thenationalparcs on Vimeo.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Ugly Sweater Fanuary Blues Party
On the night of January 31st we gathered, in all ugliness, to put an end to the blues of January and welcome a new, fresh February.

Some proof of the ugly...

aghast at our ugliness

playing a crazy game of celebrities

and to finish off the night my favorite local band, the Shady J's serenade us with the blues. you can watch their music video below!
(if you watch closely you might see some people your recognize like the beautiful MHJ)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Have you ever heard of a pangolin? Today I did in my anthropology class on religion. Long story about how we got to that topic. Needless to say, evolution is crazy. Pangolins are native to Africa and pasts of Asia.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My friend e.d. sent me this, i think some of you might really appreciate it. Happy Obama day!

This prayer was given yesterday, Martin Luther King Day, by V. Gene Robinson from New Hampshire (the first openly gay Episcopal bishop).

Calling up the "God of our many understandings," Robinson said "we pray that
you will:

"Bless us with tears -- for a world in which over a billion people exist on
less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and
raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition,
malaria, and AIDS.

"Bless us with anger -- at discrimination, at home and abroad, against
refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people.

"Bless us with discomfort -- at the easy, simplistic 'answers' we've
preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about
ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to
the challenges of the future.

"Bless us with patience -- and the knowledge that none of what ails us will
be 'fixed' anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a
human being, not a messiah.

"Bless us with humility -- open to understanding that our own needs must
always be balanced with those of the world.

"Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance -- replacing it with a genuine
respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in
our diversity, we are stronger.

"Bless us with compassion and generosity -- remembering that every
religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the
human community, whether across town or across the world.

"And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office
of President of the United States.

"Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's
reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best
efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for all the people.

"Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain
in these times.

"Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to
make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges

"Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his
leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United

"Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that
experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of
those who are still its victims.

"Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him
remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at
his daughters' childhoods.

"And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents,
and we're asking far too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife
are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep
him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand -- that he might do the work we
have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling,
and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity,
prosperity and peace. Amen."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Potato, Leek and Celeriac soup

1-2 Leeks, thinly sliced
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c butter
3-4 medium potatoes, diced
1 celeriac - don't be scared, i know its ugly, but its delicious. peel and dice, use greens if desired.
2 cups + h2o
1 vegetable bullion (or 1-2 tsp sea salt- to taste)
black pepper, rosemary, thyme to taste
1/3 c dry white wine
1 C milk (cow, unsweetened soy or rice)

1. Sauté leeks, onion and garlic in butter in a soup pot until tender and golden
2. Meanwhile chop the potatoes and celeriac and then add to onion mixture.
3. Continue to sauté for 5 minutes
4. Add water, bullion and spices and bring to simmer. Simmer 20 minutes until everything is tender/well cooked
5. Blend with hand blender in pot, or transfer into a regular blender to purée smooth.
6. Add wine and milk, and heat gently if its cooled too much.
7. Serve as is or grate cheese and sprinkle fresh parsley on top.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

hi interneters, its been a long time i know. maybe you've thrown in the towel on me... its been a busy adjustment getting back into school this winter. i just finished my second week of classes. i'm doing three UW classes, all in anthropology (anth of India, anth of the lifecycle, and anth of religion). I'm also teaching 4-5 yoga classes a week, and i'll be adding a few more later next month! add my own yoga practice, lots of reading and assignments, cooking (bread is presently rising on my stove), and time with friends and you get one busy bee.
i'm staying sane through my yoga practice and also geting a bi-monthly massage, which only costs me $12 thanks to my fabulous student insurance plan!

My Indian anth class has been really interesting so far. here's a commentary piece that's due monday.

Your first commentary will be on the subject of “Colonialism”; there are two sub themes: “Knowing India” (the construction of knowledge on India through Orientalism/anthropological discourses); Indian reaction to colonialism via clothing as ‘identity. To guide you in writing the first commentary, consider the following question:

‘India is the West’s other" - relate to knowledge construction on “India” and ‘Indians.” How did this constructed knowledge shape and influence Indians’ self-perception of themselves?

Orientalism is a western-based discourse on India and Asia that prevailed during the colonial period. It was a way of understanding and an attempt to classify a very diverse group of people. Orientalism tended to essentialize and homogenize the very diverse cultures of India and Asia and then pose them in opposition to the “occident” or European culture. Orientalist knowledge and discourse emphasized the differences between the orient and occident in order to provide grounds for subjugation and domination through European colonialism. This process of opposition and distancing is known as “othering.”
Understanding how and by whom knowledge was constructed on India is important in understanding colonial and post-colonial history. As well, the knowledge constructed during these eras continues to play a role in Indian political discourse today. In recent decades, post-modern anthropologists have emphasized the importance of deconstructing knowledge to uncover the individual interests and subjectivities of those involved in creating knowledge. Orientalist colonial administrators, scholars (who often worked for the colonials), and missionaries constructed knowledge on India in order to fulfil their needs. Thapar claims that during the colonial era “scholarly and administrative interests coalesced” (2). Scholars, such as anthropologists and ethnologies were often hired by administrators in order to help them understand in order to rule. Who these scholars were working for influenced the type of knowledge they generated and how it was generated. Many scholars studied Vedic religious texts and gathered knowledge from Brahmins. Brahmins were high class/caste and had a particular view about Indian society that they imparted to scholars did not necessarily represent the beliefs, conditions of life, and understandings for the majority of Indians, yet it was taken to be so by the Europeans. Knowledge from Brahmins was then reinterpreted, translated and given back to Indians with much nuance and understanding being lost in the process. Many of the colonial anthropologists were interested in the comparative study of culture, and the comparisons and generalizations they made contributed to the othering of India.
In her article Das critiques the notions of these anthropologists, particularly Dumont. Her goal is to deconstruct knowledge on India and then reconstruct it using a more comprehensive perspective. Das explains that the Western anthropologist is the Self and they construct the societies they study as the “other”. As the other, India and her people are objectified. In Oriental discourse, Indians were essentialized as over-sexed, immodest, intellectually inferior, and bizarrely spiritual. Their culture was seen as static, unchanging and without history.
Clothing is a lens through which the West “othering” India can be examined further. Clothing is a means of both expressing and constructing an individual identity as well as cultural and national identities. The British saw traditional Indian dress such as the sari, dhoti and langoti, as unsophisticated, immodest, effeminate, and childish and used dress as another reason for European superiority and higher evolutionary status. As Tarlo explains, “the ‘disgraceful’ nature of Indian clothes acted for the British as proof of Indian effeminacy and barbarism but also as a justification for their civilizing presence in India” (pg 35). The British wanted to civilize the Indians, and changing their dress was seen as one task in this process. Yet the British also wanted to maintain their distinction from Indians, and did not want Indians to look too Western. In 1830 the British instituted strict dress codes prohibiting wearing of Indian styles for British citizens working in India. If a British man were wear Indian styles he was discredited and called a ‘white baboo’. Distinct differences in dressed helped the British to maintain their position of superiority and perpetuate the view of the Indian as the uncivilized “other”.
Some Indians, especially those educated in Europe, did adopt forms of European dress. Some incorporated European styles by blending them with Indian ones. Others wore European styles at the workplace and Indian clothing at home. The wearing different forms of dress depending on the location and occasion expressed distinct identities for these Indians. For some this meant a public, more westernize identity (workplace) and a private more traditional identity (home). In general, women maintained traditional dress more than men, however some European elements were incorporated into their styles and codes of modesty were affected (for example the blouse being adopted under the sari). Tarlo’s article demonstrates the way that clothing, as a reflection and part of identity, is a process that is always being reworked and remade. Indians were constantly re-evaluating the degree of Western dress they took on, and what it meant to wear Western versus Indian dress.
Clothing itself also became the medium for a discourse of colonial resistance. In this Indian discourse, leaders such as Gandhi appropriated and then subverted some of the views of Orientalism to serve their cause. Prior to colonialism, India had a strong textile industry. This decentralized industry involved the labor of cotton growers, thread spinners, dyers, and weavers. The British started producing fabric that in colours and textures that would appeal to Indian aesthetics. This fabric was popularized because kings bought it and others imitated. By the 1900s few Indians wore fabrics made in India. In the 1920s, upon his return to India, Gandhi began working for independence in India. He saw economic independence as a crucial part of political independence from the British, as a form of resistance he advocated Swadeshi (self-sufficiency). As the head of this movement he adopted a langoti (loincloth) made of khadi. Khadi is a coarse, homespun fabric that to Gandhi’s movement symbolized local industrial independence, loyalty to the nation, a rejection of materialism, and a desire to unify social groups. Gandhi’s choice to wear khadi as a loincloth is also of crucial symbolic importance. To the British the fact that Indians (lower caste) wore loincloths was grossly immodest and offensive. Tarlo’s article cites British administrators who were shocked and appalled the ‘nakedness’ and ‘blackness’ of Indians working in the harbour. By taking on the loincloth, Gandhi co-oped this view of nakedness and turned it into a symbol of the nakedness, extraction of resources, and impoverishment caused by colonialism. The British had colonized the Indian body with their Orientalist and othering views of the Indian. Gandhi was then in response decolonizing the body and re-Indianizing it by reclaiming the traditional Khadi fabric and the loincloth. Another way that Gandhi’s symbolic dress can be viewed is he was accepting himself as the ‘othered Indian’ and in fact embracing and asserting this identity in order to unify India to resist the British.