Monday, March 24, 2008


I have been wanting to share so much about what has been going on in my self and my life... but I struggle to even find the words to describe the dramatic and powerful changes that are going on in my self-awareness. Now, I am feeling such joy that I am going to write about this no matter how incoherent I sound. LOL!

If you had asked me a year ago, "Are you self-aware?" I would have not understood the question. But, I would have convinced myself that I did, and I would have been convinced that I, of course, was very aware of myself. I would have backed that up with a whole lot of judgements of my skills and talents and flaws and quirks. In other words, my self-awareness was just above zero, with zero being dead. :)

Here's the analogy to the changes I am experiencing that makes sense in my head. Whenever I moved to a town or city, no matter the size, I always felt overwhelmed in the beginning about how to navigate. So, I would map out, out of necessity, routes to the places I needed to go to do the daily business of life. I could get from my house to school, from my house to the grocery store, from my house to the library, etc. But, I couldn't get from the grocery store to the library. I had no idea how the whole map looked, how far things were from each other, or what the neighborhood in between looked like. Gradually, through exploration, I would eventually "fill in the map." Within a few years, even a large city like Chicago seemed quite simple to navigate because I understood the pattern of organization of the streets and the transit system, and had a general knowledge of the different neighborhoods and where they were in relationship to each other. No matter where I might find myself, it was easy to immediately collect clues about where I was in relation to everywhere else in the city, and quite quickly, I could envision where I was on the map.

Now, finally, I believe I am starting to fill in the map that makes up me, and my relationship to the world and other human beings. Suddenly, I am seeing the connections everywhere. I have stopped looking at my feet, as they plod forward, step by step, and I've started to look up and actually seeing what is around me.

Sometimes, I lose my sense of direction and feel lost. I can't access what I am feeling or needing. I can't see options or recognize anyone else. But those times are coming fewer and farther between. I can experience the sense of being lost without despair, because I know that I can just look around me, and learn! Next time I am here, I will remember it, and I will know the way.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Papaya Passion

I absolutely LOVE papaya, which is ironic, because I don't live where they grow, and the quality of the papayas I have available is third rate at best. I always joke that it's a race to see if the papayas I buy will ripen or rot.

I get the big Maradol papayas imported from Mexico for 99 cents a pound at the Mexican fruit markets in a nearby city. The Hawaiian papayas cost at least $2.50 each (about a lb.) and they are usually poor quality. I love this little place called Mi Dos Patrias (My Two Countries), a little convenience store-sized market with narrow aisles and great big pinatas hanging from the ceiling. Not so nice is the stink of the carniceria in back! I go in and buy all of their papayas, usually 30-40 lbs. worth. They must wonder who this crazy lady that shows up every couple of weeks and wipes out their papaya supplies.

I didn't grow up eating papaya, and I don't remember the first time I tried it, but it was college or after, during the period when I had started experimenting with food beyond the fare I grew up with.

A funny papaya story. I gave birth to my youngest child at home with my husband and two female friends. I had some ripe papaya in the house. About two hours after the baby was born, at sunrise, I was suddenly ravenous! I told my husband to go and cut up papaya for us all to have for breakfast.

Both my friends, who were pretty with-it hip kinda girls, admitted that they had never tried papaya. I was shocked! But thrilled, as well, because now I could offer them this special food on this special occasion. It was a ripe, sweet and juicy papaya. In my ravenous, oxytocin-drenched state, it was the best food I had ever tasted. Imagine my surprise when they both hated it. My one friend said, "Will you be offended if I spit this out?" LOL! I wasn't offended, I was just unable to comprehend that anyone wouldn't enjoy this delicacy. However, I was more than happy to eat all of their papaya after I finished mine.

Someday, I will eat tree-ripened papaya under the warm tropical sun and I will celebrate birth with each bite!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 Things You Don't Know About Me

I got tagged by Margi. Glad to see you posting again! I think Margi's raw blog might be invitation only, so here is her other one, Flora the Forager, where she talks about her other interests.

This assignment was hard... is there ANYTHING I haven't shared about myself on this blog already? Good grief. Well, here are some things that might be buried somewhere on this blog, but most of you probably don't know.

1) I have 6 sisters and 4 brothers, all younger than me.

2) My middle name is Frances (rumored to be named after a childhood sweetheart of my Father). When I was in Kindergarten, my Dad got mad because my teacher had me practice spelling it Francis, like a boy.

3) I don't like apples, especially mushy ones. I don't like bananas much either, unless they are mixed with another fruit in a smoothie, or covered with date sauce. Or sometimes, if I'm really hungry, and the banana is just perfectly ripe, but not overripe.

4) As a kid, I played the piano and the flute, but haven't in many years. I just got a piano off of Freecycle and I am very excited.

5) I have a huge pile of fruit peels in my back yard. A very irresponsible "compost" pile! I also have a worm bin in my kitchen.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Durian fun

Sarah of Living the Fruity Life shared the sweetest picture of her son chowing down on his very first durian and weighed in on the "stink factor".

I was smitten with insatiable curiousity about durian after hearing about followers of Doug Graham talk about spending the durian harvest in Thailand, cycling hundreds of miles a day and monoeating durian. I was intrigued by the pictures and description of the fruit, whose scent was compared to "dog poop" and "rotten garlic." Apparently, while the fruit is wildly popular, it is forbidden from many enclosed places, such as train stations and buses, because of its stink.

I tried searching online for places to find durian in Chicago, thinking that on our annual summer trip, we could locate some. That did not come to fruition, although I did have lots of fun fruit adventures there.

Imagine my surprise when I found durian in Rockford (about half an hour away) in a neat little Asian grocery called The Golden Market. The owner was happy to give me tips on how to open and eat the large spiky creature that reminded me of a medieval weapon.

My first go at durian was quite enjoyable. I found the opening of the fruit challenging, but fun. The scent was noticeable, but not unpleasant. All three kids and I enjoyed the taste and creamy consistency immensely.

I began buying durian every couple of weeks. I soon found that some were more fragrant than others, to my husband's dismay. I soon found the taste and texture, while still pleasant, did not appeal to me as something I wanted to make a meal of. My son now refuses to eat it. But my two daughters are regular durian fanatics, and will insist that I cut them immediately when we buy them, which is impossible because they are frozen rock solid. Have you ever tried to explain to two crying children why you simply can't open a frozen spiky boulder now?!?

Now, for a funny durian story. I went to a conference on local foods with a colleague/ friend at Starved Rock State Park. As a joke, I brought her some durian, which she had never heard of before... partly because it's the antithesis of local food for us, and partly because it was a particularly smelly durian. She has a lot of jokes about smells. LOL! Anyway, we arrived late in the evening and had to eat in the bar. She ate a sausage pizza (the kitchen was closed and all they had to eat in the bar was pizza), and then we broke out the durian. She tried a bite, and I ate the rest.

Soon we noticed one of the patrons who had been seated at the bar talking urgently to the bartender. They then began sniffing around and moving through the room. I overheard their conversation and realized that they were concerned that there was a gas leak. I was amused and embarrassed. I waited for a moment, but as the bartender headed for the phone to call someone in to check the pipes, I 'fessed up. No gas leak; just a stinky durian, I apologized. Fortunately, everyone was polite, even if they thought I was a total freak. LOL!