Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Garden Adventure

I thought I would share this story based on a wonderful adventure that Ian and I had at the nearby Garvan woodland gardens. He and I had a grand time spinning this tale as we walked along. Enjoy!

A Garden Adventure

One bright morning Queen Avramina and Prince Ianthayn went wandering through the wild gardens. Usually King Jamesthayn joined them but on this morning he was otherwise engaged. So the two of them mother and son, grabbed water skins and dried fruit bars, fastened summer cloaks around their shoulders and headed off down the forested trail leading away from the castle wall.

It was pleasant day with sun shining and a light breeze blowing past. The leaves overhead danced and the surface of the secluded pond rippled slightly. The multi-colored coy who lived in the pond swam in concentric circles and then fanned out into streamline patterns following the largest bright golden one of the bunch. The large golden coy was the king of the fishes and he was named Longfin Twofin. Ianthayn had come often to the pond to call on King Longfin. He knew many of the old stories about the forest and was always willing to share the news from abroad. He was well versed in the plant lore and the history of the wild gardens.

When he saw the queen and Prince approaching the pond, King Longfin splashed loudly to get their attention. Bubbling up from the water he called out to the prince, “Quick Prince Ianthayn your help is needed in the gardens today. Are you available for a quest?”

Prince Ianthayn looked at his mother who nodded gently and then replied, “My friend King Longfin, please tell me what is this task you have for me? If I can help one of my people surely I will.”

King Longfin responded, “A little child in Brick Hill was out in the green today. She was supposed to be gathering littlesprite, a helpful herb, for her mother. However she did not pay attention when it was shown to her. By accident she harvested the very poisonous lurkweed and ate it thinking it was the tasty plant she was supposed to have found. She is now very sick with a black fever and cannot get well without the antidote. It would show great courage and caring if you should venture out in the rock plateau and find the plant called Trifoli, it is the only antidote.”

“Mother and I were just out on a walk and we would both be glad to hunt down this magical plant to help this child,” Ianthayn replied.

“Mother, the rock plateau is near Draco’s cave. I shall call to him and let him know we will be heading his way,” Ianthayn said to the queen.

Queen Avramina looked at her son with a deep smile. She was proud that he cared so deeply for their people and was willing to go on great adventures to help them. “Ianthayn, we must get moving before it gets much later in the day. I heard that Leesees the dark has been spotted in some parts of the garden. We will want to return before mid afternoon.”

With that the two of them bowed low to King Longfin, after all he was much older than either of them and deserved the respect of a king. Then they turned towards the darker fork in the trail and began the journey towards the rock plateau.

As they walked they sang songs of healing and plant lore. Queen Avramina pointed out plants that had recently begun blooming to make sure her son knew them and Prince Ianthayn was quick to point out new mushrooms that had sprouted since the recent rains. In this way they passed the time until they reached the dark path into the thick growth of forest that would bring them the quickest to the rock plateau. Just as they stepped out of the sunlight a terrifying shriek split the sky above them. They looked up and could see the large shadow circling above the trees. The large gusts of wind produced by the giant flapping wings caused the mother and son to huddle together closely.

“Oh no, Leesees is near!” gasped the queen.

“Don’t worry mother, I will call on Draco to help us if he can.” replied Ianthayn kneeling down and touching his hand to his temple to silently call out to his dragon friend.

“Draco is on his way although the best he can promise is to scare Leesees off temporarily,” he told her in hushed voice.

In a moment they could hear the jolly laughing roar of the trustworthy Draco the dragon beating above the treeline. Now was the time for them to make a run through the dark trail as they would be safer once they were back on the main trail.

Leesees was an old mean dragon that had plagued the wild gardens and it peoples on and off for hundreds of years. He was big and black with large yellow glowing eyes. He was swift of wing and had a voice like honey. He was ever the trickster luring wandering minstrels and other travelers from the path only for them to never be heard from again. The Vetetorians had made several attempts to try and befriend Leesees but he was not much for compromise. Now and then he returned for his rampage and they were glad that Draco the Kind had come to live near them. He was a brilliant bright blue dragon with silver eyes that shone like diamonds. He was soft spoken and loved to play with the children of the kingdom. He was a good ally and at least Leesees would disappear when Draco was in flight above the kingdom, as he was now.

The Queen and the Prince arrived safely back into the sunlit path that would lead them to the rock plateau. Ianthayn waved to Draco in thanks and Draco, ever kind, offered them a ride to the plateau. They graciously accepted and were at Draco’s cave in no time. Draco had found a lovely empty cave on the plateau and he decided to make it his home. Ianthayn often visited with him there and the two of them would fly above the kingdom checking in on all of the little hamlets that were part of Vetetoria.

“Thank you so very much Draco,” the Queen said as she curtseyed.”

“Yes Draco, you are a wonderful friend to have in the hills,” beamed Ianthayn. “Are you familiar with where the trifoli plant grows here on the plateau?”

“Yes,” said Draco thoughtfully as if trying to remember where he saw it last, “I believe there is some in bloom above the waterfall. It should be easy enough for you to reach.”

Ianthayn quickly headed up the stone stairs deeply cut into the rocks at the back of Draco’s cave. There was a secret way in and out that Draco had shown him and he knew that the hidden stairs came out directly above the waterfall. As he climbed out of the hidden opening, his ears were bombarded by a loud hissing sound and directly in front of him was the dreaded spiny river monster, Ataatooroo.

“Not you again!” shouted Ianthayn as Ataatooroo pounced swiftly at him.

Ianthayn was thrown to the ground with the monster on top of him. He just needed a moment to get right and grab his sword from the sheath.

“Quick, now!” he thought to himself as he simultaneously smashed Ataatooroo on the nose with a loose rock and kicked both of his legs with all his might.

The monster, not expecting the two moves, was launched backward and Ianthayn had just enough time to get up and grab his sword before Ataatooroo shook off the attack and was back on the offensive. Ianthanyn slashed purposefully at the spiney monster and cut through the slick skin his side. Ataatooroo was not pleased by this and hissed spitting an acrid liquid at the prince. Ianthayn quickly dodged the nasty ooze and brought his blade down on the monster’s head. With a final hiss followed by a putrid smelling gurgle Ataaatooroo slumped forward and expired.

“Ianthayn!” his mother was calling, “Are you all right? What is going on up there?”

“Coming mother,” replied the prince smiling as he bent nearby and harvested the trifoli in full bloom.

He climbed back down the hidden stairway and was walking into the sun once again when he felt the sting in his arm.

“Ow!” he exclaimed grabbing his arm.

“Are you hurt friend?” asked Draco. “What took you so long up there?”

“I had to fight Ataatooroo. He ambushed me as I climbed out of the cave. I think some of his venom hit my arm,” at that moment Ianthayn went faint and his mother caught him and gently lay him on the small grassy patch.

“Oh Draco,” said Queen Avramina concerned, “ I’ve never had to heal someone from spiney river monster venom before. Do you know what we need to do?”

“Don’t worry your highness,” whispered Draco in a soothing voice, “The venom of the spiney river monster is not deadly. We simple need to wash the wound well with clean water and dress it with a linen bandage so that it can heal.”

“Oh thank heavens for small miracles,” sighed the Queen as she set about caring for the wound.

Shortly thereafter Ianthayn awoke with a start. “Mother we must get back to Brick Hill and help the child.”

Queen Avramina beamed brightly at her son. Once again his first thought was of another and how he could help them. One day he would make a great king. He was so kind and compassionate and yet he was brave and adventurous. She was eager to go also, better to get moving than be in the woods at dusk with the possibility of Leesees lurking nearby.

“Well, I think I better help you as best I can,” offered Draco lowering himself so the pair could climb once again onto his brilliant back. He flew them as close as possible to Brick Hill.

“Ianthayn,” said Draco in a stern voice, “I do hope you will be more careful the next time you visit me. I can’t have stories of you getting attacked by river monsters floating about the kingdom.” Then he laughed a jolly laugh, “Please do come see me soon.”

Then he nuzzled gently into Ianthayn and the boy hugged him promising, “I will come soon and we’ll scour the kingdom looking for the juiciest fruit trees.”

“Thank you again Draco. King Jamesthayn and I are so pleased you have to come to live near us. Our son is so very fond of you and we think of you as a friend,” said Queen Avramina.

The Queen and the Prince waved goodbye to their dragon friend and walked up to Brick Hill. They delivered the trifoli to the family of the sick child. They were very thankful and offered a tasty pastry to nibble on as thanks. The girl recovered quickly and learned a valuable lesson about plant harvesting. She vowed to her mother that she would pay better attention in herbs class as to not make a worse mistake in the future.

Queen Avramina took her son by the hand and they walked quietly back up the path to the castle. The sky was beginning to darken a little as it was nearing dusk. They could see the glow of the setting sun reflecting in the distance on the rock plateau and they could hear the coy splashing in the pond. The smiled at each other glad to have good friends and good family. They reached the castle without another incident and were greeted by the King who was awaiting them in the tame garden. Over supper Ianthanyn shared the story of the day’s adventure and at bedtime he kissed his parents goodnight went off to sleep.

Tomorrow there would be a new adventure waiting for them in the wild garden.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Alena's Artichoke Dip

I created this artichoke dip recipe about ten years ago when we were heavily into Macrobiotic eating. It has become a favorite of ours and I hope you'll like it. There is no dairy, wheat or corn and it is vegan.

16oz artichoke hearts drained and chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 & 1/4c Veganaise
3/4c brown rice Mochi, grated (found at health food stores or sometime Asian markets)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
3T nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients well. This can be done in a food processor if you prefer instead of chopping the artichoke hearts. Place mixture into a medium casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover, stir and cook 15 minutes more.

This dish is flavorful and creamy and is "cheesy" enough to convince the most suspecting eaters.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sad News

I just wanted to take a minute and say farewell to an old friend. I just found out that an old friend of mine and JIm's passed away today. Frank Cook was really fascinating and caring person and an amazing ethnobotanist. He traveled the world trying to gain as much planty knowledge as possible and sharing everything he learned with others. He was always willing to give of his time and to to share a kind word, smile or magical potion with those who needed it most. Although I never knew Frank extrememly well, I have known him for over a decade and he was someone I always looked forward to seeing at least once a year. I know that both Jim and I will miss him and so will the many many people whose lives he touched. Truly, I think that the plant kingdom of this planet will miss Frank too, he was a true champion for them. My thoughts go out to his family and friends and I share the sadness that I know many others are experiencing as they find out this news. May we all be glad we had the chance to know him. Let this serve as a reminder to all of us to live our lives to fullest each and everyday because you never know if it migt be the end of this journey. Blessings to all those i love.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Watermelon Margarita

Oh so delicious and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.

First scroll down to the bottm of this blog and get the recipe for watermelon granita and make it, as you will need some for this recipe. About 2/3C -1C per maragrita actually.

Sour Mix: makes 24oz, serves 6-8

in a large bowl or pitcher mix together

1 1/2c spring water
1/2c lemon juice
1/2c lime juice
1/2c agave nectar

then add

1 1/2c or 12 oz tequila
3/4c or 6oz triple sec
to make the margarita mixture

Fill each glass with watermelon granita and pour the margarita mixture over. Relax and enjoy!

For a single serving make the sour mix and keep in in the refrigerator. Then for each glass add 4oz sour mix, 2oz tequila and 1oz triple sec.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mooless Chocolate Pie

Here is a delicious recipe adapted from my friend Amy. She came over this weekend with her fmaily and we had such a blast. Of course the lake fun was topped off by this awesome and super easy dessert. Enjoy!

2c Chocolate chips (use grain sweetened if you want)
1/2c Soymilk
1t Vanilla extract
16oz Silken tofu
1T Agave nectar

Pre-made pie crust, either bought or made ahead of time.

1. Melt chocolate chips in soymilk and then stir in vanilla.
2. Combine tofu, chocolate mixture and agave nectar in a blender until smooth.
3. Pour into pie crust and chill at least 2 hours.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food as Art

Friday night I helped with a great event here in Hot Springs. The Spa City Local Foods Market in conjuction with the Art Church hosted a combined evening of fine finger foods and fine art. This event was held during the 20th anniversary of the Hot Springs Gallery Walk.

The Food as Art Tasting was used as a way to showcase fresh, locally grown and raised produce and meats. Spearheaded by Brittany Lindon, we provided a delectable feast that tickled the taste buds of all who tried. Our finger foods menu consisted of Chipotle Sirloin on Gorgonzola Crostini, Peppered Steak with Garlic Crostini and Horseradish Cream, Lemon Verbena Lamb and Pok meatballs, Panko Crusted eggplant with Herbed Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Molasses, Crudite, and Coconut Shiso Flan.

The ingredients were provided by Arkansas Natural Produce, Arkansas Natural Meats, Petit Jean Natural Meats, Backyard Girl, Beadtanical Betty and a few others (sorry I can't remember all the names).

The Art Church provided the space for the event as well as live music and a variety of artists work to bring in folks on the Gallery Walk.

We all had a great time and so did the folks who came by. Thanks for supporting the Spa City Local Foods Market and the Art Church.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunrise on the beach

Just wanted to share a writing exercise here allwoing my thoughts to wander to memories and try to describe them. I plan on sharing other writings, stories, poetry, memories and works of fiction. I hope you enjoy.

"I walked quietly along the shoreline listening to the sound of the waves lapping against retreating sand. I could hear the seagulls from above as they prepared to land a little further up the beach. The water gently washed over my toes as my feet sank and I could feel the grit left behind. I reached my hands into the cool morning water that had not yet been heated by the sun which was only just rising over the the horizon. I could tell the sun would be strong today, not a cloud in the sky, at least not yet. It was still early. The rain wouldn’t come until later. I looked out into the vast ocean spread before me and could see the large tankers and cargo carriers awaiting their turn to enter the port. Port Everglades that is.

As I contemplated the strangeness of working third shift at Primanti Brothers, I was glad the morning had come and I was done. Even though I had come in as a customer before during the late night/early morning hours, I didn’t realize how many people liked to eat pizza at 2 in the morning. It had been fun and strange to serve them hot NY style slices made fresh and dripping with the grease of really delicious mozzarella. The smell clung to me, and the grease. I had a ride coming to get me but not for a while still and so I had some time to just enjoy the solitude and quiet of early morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Slowly I spread a towel out before me and stood gazing into the never ending water stretched out before me. I breathed deeply a few times. I reflected briefly on how much I loved the true nature of this place. The sun, the sand, the sound of the waves, the sea birds, the breeze, the salty smell were a part of me. I began a sun salutation and went into an hour long series of yoga poses I had learned in college. I meditated on the towel allowing it to form to the changing shape of the dry sand below me. When I was done I walked to the water and plunged in to the small waves allowing the salty sea to take me in her arms. I felt refreshed and awake and alive and I let my floating body drift with the current back to the shore. I was cleansed. The pizza smell and grease officially removed from my body, my hair and my mind. I knew the day would be a good one.

That was the only time I worked third shift. In fact, I had given my notice and was preparing to leave this place and never look back. Even though I felt so whole right then, standing on the beach in the early morning, I knew this place was no longer my home."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Twilight (the saga)

I thought I would take a minute or two just share my thoughts about this particular book saga.

The truth is, when I first heard about the movie and the books I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be interested in it at all. Considering with the fact that my main vampire interest days seemed to have peaked somewhere about 1995 or so with the onslaught of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles. However, I like to watch movies and this one intrigued me, just because. When J- was out of town I got it from Netflix (I knew he would not want to watch it, never really having gone through any sort of vamp stage). After my little one was settled into bed for the night and I was ready to just relax I put it on to give it a try. Truthfully I had not followed all the hype and had no idea how good or bad it was proclaimed in the media, I simply knew it was in the media.

I really enjoyed the movie. Well it was more the actual story I loved. I'm a romantic at heart and if truth be told I like happy endings that are somewhat sappy and probably not that realistic. However they make me smile and I do love that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

So, since I like, ok well I'll just say it, loved it, I thought I might like to read the books too. So I went on the hunt to find the series to borrow. In the library here there was llike a two month waiting list. I wasn't committed enough to buy them. Finally a friend helped me connect with a set to borrow.

Let me tell you that for me these books were like crack. I could not put them down. I think it was just becasue I allowed myself to both sympathize and empathize with the main themes of deep love, loss and hurt, growth and change, rebirth into our next stage of life. I read the books twice in less than a week. The first time I devoured them reading so quickly and so caught up that at the end I was so sad for them to be done. So I read them again at a slower rate, which for me is still fairly quick.

Now I won't go so far as to these books are a Literary Masterpiece. They are simple for an adult to read being geared to a teenage audience and all. However, I would recommend them to others that simply just an't get enough of a good love story with a lot of twists and turns.

So, that's my two cents. Take it or leave it.