CSA-tus update

I’ve written one rather pedantic post about my CSA box, back when I first started receiving it. Now, after 6 months-ish, I’d like to give a status update.

I diligently pick up my box every second Wednesday after work. I have not lost the excitement to see what is inside. I have learned that some things are staples, or recurring items, while others are seasonal specialties:greens always; red cabbage often; gorgeous sweet heirloom tomatoes and tiny ripe strawberries only a few times in the summer reason. I feel a compulsion to use all of my produce, which creates a unique problem-solving challenge when I receive radishes I don’t recognize, turnips I’ve never cooked, and more greens than I can reasonably salad-ify. The satisfaction I feel when I create a dish to use my CSA produce (extreme satisfaction) is disproportionate to the achievement (basic cooking). The aforementioned self-satisfaction leads me to tell other people about my CSA meal accomplishments. When I have exhausted the (severely limited) interest of my friends, I must turn to the wider internet community…

So, let’s recap some of the things I have cooked/made. I used a butternut squash to make a ‘pumpkin’ pie. I cooked rice with cubes of summer squash. I put red cabbage on a pizza. I made Vietnamese spring rolls with lettuce, carrots, and basil. I have experimented widely with green smoothies. Spinach, lettuce, cucumber, red chard, green cabbage with frozen berries, bananas and cocoa powder, watermelon, and/or peaches (CSA!). I’m particularly pleased with the green smoothie option, because I can use up my greens that way, in large quantities, when they are teetering on the brink of spoilage. And it feels so healthy…

Last night I made improvised pad thai. Leftover rice noodles from my roomie who moved last week, a little fish sauce, a little soya, a little brown sugar for sauce… Soften a CSA onion, CSA garlic, CSA red cabbage… Add an egg, sauce, and noodles, and stir fry into delicious pad thai. It was tasty AND it used up the head of red cabbage that had been languishing in my crisper box. Truth be told, I have struggled with the cabbages!

Wednesday’s, the day I pick up my boxes, are morphing into semi-regular dinner party days. My roommate, his girlfriend, my buddy, and my boyfriend came over last Wednesday for turkey tacos, with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber from my CSA. The Wednesday before that, my boyfriend came over for caprese with the gorgeous tomatoes, and pesto chicken, with a homemade pesto from CSA basil. The Wednesday before that two friends came over for a Thai homemade curry with CSA potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers.

I love my CSA box. I love it like I love banana bread. And I love it like I love my boyfriend. Or, I love it like I would love my boyfriend if I were sure that I loved him. More on him soon.

Related thought: I really want to work on vertical farms and other ways to grow and distribute food within cities. I’ve been trolling the websites of a few start-ups…particularly a greenhouse/greenroofs deal in California.. Let the record show that if/when the opportunity arises for me to work in the field of food and tech and social shift… This is what I daydream about at work.

Going to daydream about it now.

Spoonbill.

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Temporarily Out of Order

I once knew a boy, whose father was degenerate and whose mother was homeless. When his mother gave birth to him, she christened him Ily, as an acrostic tribute to I Love You, because the only thing she could give him was her love (and, I guess, a name to remind him that she loved him). This is a sweet story, and serves two purposes: firstly, as a (somewhat clunky) introduction to the I-love-you discussion, and secondly, as an introduction to a shorthand for I love you (ily).

I absolutely agree with Ibis’s ‘I love you like I love banana bread’ sentiment. In the heat of the moment, after a romantic dinner of great conversation and flattering candlelight, or during a lazy Sunday in bed with cute pillow talk and soft sex, I have a feeling of overwhelming happiness and closeness that I want to call love. But this is I love you like I love banana bread. This is I love this moment with you. I love the evening we’ve just had. I love lazing in bed on Sundays with you. I love YOU is different. I loved TONIGHT means I had a good time, but who knows about tomorrow night. I love YOU is a commitment. It’s achieving the $32,000 threshold in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. You can’t un-win the $32,000. (Which is where this metaphor breaks down, because who wouldn’t want an irrevocable $32,000.)

Once you say ily, it’s assumed that your sentiment is enduring. After you say ily once, you say it again, and more often; you hang up the phone with an ily, and say goodnight with ily.

Saying ily is a trust handshake. It says that you are safe with me. It says that underlying any superficial ups, downs, and arounds, I feel a constant devotion to you.

It’s not a guarantee of a relationship. I can un-date you, un-friend you (from facebook), and un-love you. But within the context of a functional relationship, ily is a promise and a frame of mind.

Now, I’ve given this some thought because we chatted about it, and Ibis wrote about it, but I have another, more pressing reason why I’m thinking about ily.

I may have to say it soon.

Radical, I know. Especially given the massive time gap since the last time I posted. If you recall, my last post was about my masochistic crush on Caleb. Since then, a series of events has transpired. Well, one main event really, where Caleb hiked me up to the top of a cliff overlooking the sea, produced a bottle of wine, confessed his feelings for me, and asked me to date him. Naturally, I said I’d take the weekend to think about it. I obviously agreed. So, now we have been happily dating for a few weeks. Six weeks. When I write it out like that, I realize that I do not have to say it soon. It’s too soon.

I am inordinately happy though. I know this because I skip through all the songs on my ipod, trying to find something that suits my mood. Dark xx, depressing National, mellow Bon Iver, aggressive Eminem, folksy Wake Owl, dubsteppy Nero… nothing is what I want to hear. I need some jubilation!

Anyways. More on this happy relationship to come, I hope. My total elation and sexual satisfaction is giving me serious writer’s block. This is a temporary issue, right? I’m temporarily out of order. And by out of order, I mean completely disordered in my heart and my head.

Banana Bread

Spoonbill and I recently had a conversation about when you should say “I love you” in a relationship. There are probably more opinions on this topic than there are definitions of the word itself. And for the record, dictionary.com lists 27 definitions of the word love. I won’t type them all here because that would be tedious and unnecessary. Instead I will provide you with my own rambling thoughts on the subject. (Which may also be tedious and unnecessary but I’m going to labour under the happy delusion that everything I write is fascinating and wonderful instead).

Love Defined by Ibis

1. to really really like something, experience delight and joy as a result of it and be ready for more of it at all times: I love banana bread
2. to feel a strong affection towards your friends and family: I love Spoonbill
3. to feel passionate about someone that you are committed to having a long-term relationship with, during which time their happiness will be as equally important to you as your own: I love Mr. Smart-and-Sexy (note: imaginary character…does not currently exist for me)

Let’s take the above as our working definition of love. Yes, I only defined love as a verb and left out definitions as a noun and the delightful collection of idioms and mysterious “verb phrases” that dictionary.com included. (“Love up” made the list and apparently means to hug and cuddle! I shall be using this on someone as soon as possible. Ex. It’s raining and I’m watching Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time. Please come over and love me up. Bring ice cream.) But I digress.

Spoonbill told me that when you say “I love you” in a relationship, you are talking about definition number three. And when you say it, it represents your relationship reaching a certain plateau. She doesn’t believe that you can un-love someone when you are talking about definition number three. (Spoonbill, please feel free to correct me here if any parts of my interpretation of our conversation need redefining in a “Love Defined by Spoonbill” post). Other people use timelines as their rule of thumb to determine when it should be said. Six months, eight months, one year. But the general idea on this side of the spectrum is: do NOT fuck around when you’re saying “I love you” to your significant other. Love is serious business.

I understand and respect this opinion. Love is serious business indeed. The overwhelming majority of the posts on this blog are written about the pursuit of love or the loss of love or the frustrations of love and so on. When it comes to definition number three, I also do not fuck around.

But when saying “I love you” to a significant other, I am notorious for dropping the L-bomb way early. Another person makes me feel a rush of happiness/pleasure/sheer unadulterated joy and I want, nay – need, to express it. And thus far, I have not found another way to adequately describe what I am feeling to the other person. I’ve tried: I really really really like you, you make me unbelievably happy, you are indescribably wonderful, I am having the greatest time with you, you’re the cookies to my clods, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. That just doesn’t cut it.

For example, I tried as hard as I could to suppress my urge to say “I love you” for as long as possible when I was dating Jack, because I understood that he was in the serious business camp when it came to I-love-yous and I wanted to respect that. But I didn’t last very long. We probably started dating in November, let’s say I wanted to say it by December and by February I had cracked and said it. He balked and didn’t reciprocate the sentiment until a week or so later. (On Valentine’s Day. Which I personally thought was kind of lame. A little spontaneity feels more genuine to me. And by then, I don’t think I was even concerned about him saying it back or not. I was just so relieved that I had finally said it to him.) In the time leading up to me saying it, I was an emotional wreck. After we had sex I would lie there with him wanting to say it so badly, knowing that I had to bite my tongue. This would make me feel so frustrated that I would start to tear up and then of course he would say something like, “Oh my god what’s wrong? What have I done to make you cry?” And I’d always say, “Nothing at all, I’m really happy and these tears are absolutely nothing to worry about.” And he would say, “Ok but it is really upsetting to see you on the verge of tears after every time we have sex.” And I would say, “Ok let’s stop talking about it and just have sex again.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

As an entertaining sidebar, I’d love to share with you some more tragic poetry written by yours truly during this emotionally fraught time in my life:

You ask why I’m crying

I’ve never been at a loss
to express what I feel.
I’m so overwhelmed
that it’s frightening. It’s real.

They form in my heart,
they die on my lips,
I trace the words on your skin
with my fingertips.

But that’s just not enough!
Still it’s far too soon.

If I say the words now
I fear that I’ll ruin
the potential we have
for soul mates to grow.

Deny me the rush.
It’s much better slow.

But I must have an outlet
or I fear I may die.
So there’s nothing to do
but lay here and cry.

I hope the recounting of my poetic undertakings is as entertaining for everyone else as it is for me. Or perhaps you are reading this and getting that uncomfortable squeamish feeling that you experience when you witness someone doing something unbelievably embarrassing and awkward and you quietly pray for lightning to strike them suddenly and put them out of their misery, thus ending your agony as witness. I’m ok with it if it’s the latter. After years of hiding journals of poetry from everyone I’ve decided that it’s better to share them. They are nowhere near the perfect and tender genius of say, Tanya Davis, but they were fuelled by all the honesty and passion I experienced at the time, and what more can I ask from a poem?

When my relationship with Jack ended, one of my takeaways was that treating the words “I love you” with reverence was not going to be my thing. It didn’t change the outcome of the relationship and it didn’t mean that I never stopped loving Jack (because I did, eventually). All it really did was make me miserable and deny me the sincere happiness to be had by honestly expressing myself in a moment of rapture. So now I just say “I love you” when I feel it.

The caveat is that when I say it, I do not mean definition number three. I might be so head over heels for the person that I *think* I mean definition number three, but I do not. How could I possibly mean definition number three when I have known the person for what is very likely only a short period of time? (To clarify, it is usually something like one or two months, not one or two days). What I really mean when I joyously declare “I love you” is “I love you like I love banana bread!”

I mean definition number one.

This might seem terribly careless and cruel and perhaps it is if the person on the receiving end of these words is in the serious business camp of love. But I have tried doing it the other way and all it accomplished was embarrassing tears post-coitus and some emotionally fraught poetry with a lazy rhyming scheme. To be fair, when my partners say to me “I love you” early on in a relationship, I assume they also mean they love me like they love banana bread.

And if I ever say it and I mean definition number three, I like to believe that both my love and I will understand what is really being said. No dictionary needed.

Ibis

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Poems, Love Letters, Novels and Stories

Poems, Love Letters, Novels and Stories

This video has been making the rounds lately and I haven’t seen anything I loved so much in awhile. Stephen Fry is infinitely quotable in this love letter to language, but my favourite line has to be, “Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to?” I almost gave a cheer of approval when he said this in the video. Yes Stephen, yes! I wonder the same thing! Do they?! They do not. I wish they did.

I believe that words are powerful and we should take pride AND pleasure in choosing the ones we use to express ourselves. I won’t say you’re pretty when what I mean is you’re radiant. And I won’t say it’s delicious when what I mean is it tastes like ambrosia from heaven’s kitchen. And I won’t say yes when what I mean is absolutely! One of the reasons Spoonbill and I became such close friends is that we share this love and respect for words and language. Spoonbill definitely has a more vast knowledge of technically correct grammar rules, but she is never pedantic. And she is completely upfront about her own knowledge gaps in this area. Direct quote: “I’m not very clear on the subjunctive case.”

I’m sure we can all relate. But instead of feeling guilty about the subjunctive case, perhaps we should think of grammar as the display case for the most treasured words. Exhibit them proudly! Share them with others! Let’s celebrate synonyms and create elation from adjectives!

Logophiles rejoice!

Ibis

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The New Format

Time flies when you’re having fun. Quick calendar check…neither Spoonbill nor I have posted anything since March 18. That was almost four months ago. Oops? But we had a quick standard three hour long Skype call this morning during which we discussed some changes we’d like to make to the blog if we’re going to keep it up. And here’s the thing, blog-land, the letter-writing format is kind of a drag. Spoonbill and I talk on a very daily basis via text, email, skype, phone, telepathy, etc. So when we start a blog-post about something, it feels bizarre to write as if we haven’t already told each other all about it. And I think the tone must ring false to the reader. It’s especially false when there are background details that need to be explained to strangers, but both of us know all of each other’s background details from the past six years. But, a solution is at hand! We’re doing away with the letter format and we’re just going to write our posts to blog-land. To facilitate that we have two new categories: Life of Ibis and Life of Spoonbill. Easy peasy.

Let the blog-writing begin again!

Ibis

Ibis Cooks

Spoonbill,

I’m having an identity crisis. All my life I’ve considered myself to be a “loves dinner parties, hates to cook” kind of person. This is why I satisfy my yearning to hostess by inviting people over strictly for drinks. And my boyfriends always have to be good at cooking. And my family worries about what I’m eating. Actually I often found myself worrying too. Something like, “I know I ate today, but I can’t remember preparing any food.” My strategy was to forage in the cupboards and cook whatever looked like the least amount of work. GF pasta with canned tomato sauce? Dinner’s ready! An apple with cheese slices and cold cuts made a nice lunch. More often than not I made eggs for any meal, any time of the day. And, of course, I supplemented my nutrition with frequent meals out in Edmonton’s finest dining establishments (read: a lot of pad thai and salad rolls from the restaurant down the block). So when I decided I wouldn’t dine out for the entire month of March, I wasn’t sure if I’d actually make it thirty-one days without paying someone to feed me. But it turns out that one of my multiple personalities actually LOVES to cook. And bonus! I’m pretty good at it!

This is what I’ve made so far:
– Homemade pad thai (old habits die hard)
– Homemade salad rolls (like I said)
– GF french toast with caramel rum bananas
– Teriyaki orange chicken
– Shrimp salsa
– Fish tacos with homemade guacamole and homemade chipotle mayo

Recipes planned for this week:
– Stuffed red peppers (filled with brown rice, ground turkey, black beans, butternut squash, corn, lime, cilantro)
– Rice pasta with sundried tomatoes, homemade pesto and chicken (again with the old habits, but at least I’m not going to use sauce from a jar)

I know it’s lame for me to note that it’s homemade for half of the things I listed. Like, “Obviously Ibis. You said you were cooking. That means homemade. I get it. Stop saying everything is homemade like you’re Martha effin Stewart.” But I just want to be clear that I’m not cutting corners and buying pre-made stuff and just heating it up or scooping it into a bowl or whatever. I am going through my (surprisingly extensive) collection of cookbooks, selecting recipes, buying the ingredients, turning on the stove, and getting all the pots and pans dirty. I feel like a new woman!

Also, two of those meals have been made for and shared with others, and I want to keep it up. No longer shall I be strictly a boozy party hostess. I made the french toast for brunch with the girls two weekends ago. And this past weekend I made the fish tacos for a very impromptu dinner party. I’d like to say that I’m going to start posting recipes and pictures of food on this blog under a semi-regular feature called “Ibis Cooks,” but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s see if I keep this up into April first. Then maybe I will feel legit enough to detail my kitchen adventures online. Although it certainly looks like this will be a permanent thing. I flip through recipes in the morning now instead of reading my facebook news feed. Shocking.

I obviously have to cook gluten –free, but I’m pretty committed to cooking dairy-free as well. I recently experimented with giving up dairy for a few weeks and then re-introduced it into my diet. The weeks I was dairy-free I suddenly had no more upset tummy, which I had always attributed to not being a strict enough celiac (hard to do when you’re dining out a lot). And when I brought the dairy back in again, those problems re-appeared. Perhaps I am secretly lactose-intolerant in addition to the nut allergy and celiac diagnosis. I’m not sure I can go cold-turkey on the dairy products for life, but I am going to try my best to save it for special occasions only. Example, I had to use milk in the french toast. I toyed with the idea of using almond milk, but I didn’t want to risk a french toast fail when I was feeding other people. But everything else I’ve cooked has been dairy-free and gluten-free. And nut-free. The trifecta.

And sidenote: oh my god I love cilantro. Three of the recipes I’ve cooked already have featured cilantro, and one of the upcoming recipes does too. After our Vietnam trip I knew I was a fan, but now that I’m using it in my own cooking, I’m feeling a bit obsessed. It’s just so good.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will admit that I actually did have a meal out this month. Friday turned into a boozy night out. Around 2am I found myself at Oodle Noodle with Daniel (more on that later). I found myself ordering pad thai. I found myself totally unimpressed with their pad thai. Mine is way better.

Ibis cooks son!

Love,
Ibis

The Kitchen Sink

Hi Spoonbill,

Today I was having coffee on Whyte Ave with my old roommate and Mama Ibis, when a familiar face came strolling past the window. It was Alex. (Recall, the German who wasn’t Hunter). Nothing happened except that I quickly looked away and hoped he hadn’t seen me. But it reminded me that I never told you what happened to him. So I thought I would tie up that loose end.

The last thing I told you about re: Alex was the dinner date where he said something offensive but my coworker convinced me to give him another chance. Before I tell you about the next date, I’ll tell you the offensive thing he said. He had been to see the movie Skyfall recently and was telling me how much he liked Bond movies. But Daniel Craig was his least favourite James Bond because apparently Craig can’t drive a manual car and therefore he must be gay. Wow. I froze mid-laugh when he said that. I asked him, “Do you seriously believe that driving an automatic car means that Daniel Craig is gay?” His answer was, “Well in Germany, driving is a very masculine thing and all the men drive manual. So if you don’t drive manual, you’re probably gay.” I know there is a good way to respond where I would point out how ignorant his comment was, and perhaps he doesn’t understand the problem with using the word “gay” to describe something when what you actually are trying to express is that it’s lame/not impressive. People have blind spots. I believe people can be enlightened about their blind spots so they can appropriately modify their behaviour. But I was so disgusted by his remark, I couldn’t think of what to say. I hate it when I’m caught speechless like that. I want to be one of those incredible people who have just the right response to anything shocking that’s thrown at them. Or the ability to freeze time while I come up with my clever retort.

Anyways, we finished our meal and he drove me home and I turned down his offer to go back to his place “for a glass of wine” (obviously). I was thinking I definitely would not be going out with him again, but I talked to my coworker and she assured me that he was not a homophobe and he probably just wasn’t aware of the ignorance of his remark. I decided to see him again so I could ask about it and maybe educate him a little about non-inclusive language. I mean, prior to his donning an asshat, the date had been going rather well. He texted me the next day and we made plans for brunch the following weekend. But in the end I didn’t educate him about sweet fuck all. The night before I was at the AGA Refinery party and I had a next-level hangover in the morning. You know you partied hard when you have to sit on the floor to get ready in the morning. I mean in the shower, when blow-drying my hair and when getting dressed. No, it was not easy to put on underwear while sitting on the floor. But I’m a trooper like that. So I don’t think I said much of anything during brunch. It’s hard to lecture people about their flaws when you’ve shown up to a date possibly still drunk from the night before. And I was pretty occupied just trying to keep my breakfast in my stomach. Classy to death.

And now you’re probably thinking that must have been the last I saw of Alex right? Because who calls THAT girl again for a date? Turns out his standards are pretty low because I actually did hear from him again. Conveniently enough, it was on another boozy evening. (I went on a bit of a bender in November). I had people at my place and we were playing cards and drinking a lot of vodka. Alex texted me and said he had been out of town for work but could he see me again soon? At this point someone had helpfully poured my vodka water into a sippy cup. That should paint a picture for you. Naturally I thought it would be an excellent idea to invite Alex over to join us. I *think* my reasoning was, “ah well if I don’t want to date the guy I can at least help him make friends.” Just call me a good samaritan.  He showed up at my door right about the time everyone was getting ready to cab home. Timing like a Swiss clock. We chatted for a bit and then he excused himself to the washroom. I sat there trying to quickly sober up and hatch a plan to get rid of him so I could just pass out. And then the plan came to me in the form of the need to throw up.

I hit a new low that evening. Nothing says “Get your life together” like the moment you have to throw up in your kitchen sink because a homophobic German is using your only washroom. I had a wicked shameover the next morning. I would be even more humiliated but within 24 hours I had received another text from him. “I had a great time last night. Are you feeling ok today? When can I see you again?”

The fact that he was still interested in me after that little episode is reason all on its own to never date him ever again. And thus ends the story of Alex.

Lining ’em up and knocking ’em down,
Ibis