My first Bento lunch

I’ve been inspired by Just Bento.com, who writes about all things bento. The idea of packing little nutritious and aesthetically pleasing lunches has huge appeal to me. I’ve been reading about Bento all day, and have even ordered my own magawappa bento box and chopsticks.

I have even created my own first albeit very simple bento lunch consisting of Quinoa Lime/pepper salad and a modified Greek salad, with two romaine leaves doubling as food holders and dividers. As i don’t yet have a proper bento box, I used a round tupperware container for this first attempt.

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I shall take this little lunch on my bike ride tomorrow. My bento test. Hope it holds up to all the jostling it’s sure to receive!(Not sure why this photo is so blurry, and it’s frustrating since a blurry photo of a bento lunch seems ironic given that visual appeal is part of the whole point of bento to begin with. Clearly, I’m just a beginner at this!).

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Street battle

I have become hopelessly addicted to new style street dancing, particularly to les twins. When i was a teenager (and now I’m about to really date myself!) we hung out in one another’s houses, waved our freak flags, smoked a little (or a lot, depending!), listened to progressive rock, and from time-to-time, offered up some philosophical insight or another.  We were cool. We didn’t engage in a whole lot of strenuous physical activity. We  were cerebral.

Maybe it’s the contrast that appeals to me so much. Street dancing and the mock battles are intensely physical expressions of things we immediately recognize – conflict, anger, intense joy, freedom. All without words. And each dancer has his or her own unique style that comes out of who they are. That’s not to knock ballet or jazz or other more formulaic styles of dance. I love those too. But the organic, individualistic and spontaneous nature of street dance is just so incredibly immediate and compelling. I am continually blown away by the way the dancers do things that appear to be impossible (that backward swoop Laurent does, for example, where he seems so use the muscles in the front of his feet and ankles(!), to lift himself back up, or Bones’ and Pee Fly’s ability to free-flow their entire bodies). When Les Twins, Meech, Rayboom and the like dance, it seems to me they’re pulling from the very core of who they are. It’s so creative, earthy, and expressive. I love it, and I love them for sharing it. Check it out…

… and maybe it’s just me, but I find these battles are based in a collaborative effort that makes the term “battle” truly interesting. There’s an agreement to battle, to engage in a conflict and sometimes the dancers can get really quite aggressive. But there’s also an agreement that what happens on the dance floor stays on the dance floor (I love those hugs at the end of the battle). And even though it is a staged event, the battles are also so amazingly spontaneous and cathartic. I wish we could have the occasional street battle at work! I can’t help but think that would help us work out the barriers that get in the way of our collaboration. I can just see it now…

I am hooked. And I can’t help but think that Aristotle would approve.

Reading: David V. Herlihy

I just started reading _Bicycle_, written by David V. Herlihy and am fascinated by a few facts I did not know previously. For example:

  • women took to cycling very early on, “forcing reforms in the rigid Victorian dress code as had no other pastime” (3)
  • the cycling trade launched the Good Roads Movement culminating in a great national network of highways and became the foundation for the automotive industry (4)
  • the advanced techniques for mass producing the amazingly popular bicycle were readily adopted and applied to automobile production (4)
  • Bicycle repair shops evolved into the first gas stations (5)
  • Wilbur and Orville Wright owned a bicycle repair shop and used bicycles to conduct their first wind tunnel experiments and in 1903, built the Wright Flyer in their workshop using the same tools and materials (5)
  • by the 1920s and 1930s, touring by bicycle had become popular in Europe (in the States, and presumably Canada, cycling was considered to be a child’s activity until the Great Depression saw many people turn to bicycles as a cheap and functional means of transport) (7-8)

I’ve only read the pre-history, but already I’ve come to appreciate cycling in new ways. Get the book! You won’t be sorry…

Imagine

I haven’t posted for a while, but I’ve been gathering more stories about collaboration that I don’t want to lose, so I’ll be adding those over the next little while.

First up, this version of John Lennon’s Imagine by a a group of grade 5 students with a university acapella group…

…and here’s another, in case you want more. It’s hard to say who’s having more fun in this one, the kids or the college students! What a wonderful way to bridge generations!

there is a season…

Autumn never fails to put me in awe of what it means to be alive. Even in this most urban of settings, we are aware of the fall as the time of harvest. The signs are everywhere: pumpkin, squash, potatoes, pears, apples, falling leaves and cooling temperatures, early evenings…. This awareness of the life-giving bounty of the harvest juxtaposed with the browning of once-green plants and scurry of animals hurrying to stock up food for the coming winter … this is the season that, for me, most profoundly embodies the full spectrum of the cycle of life. I know. I am aware of the purple state of my prose, of the fact that all that I am feeling and am about to say has been felt and said before, but I cannot help it. This is what this season does to me. It makes me acutely aware of the passage of time on a broad scale and the passage of my own life on a very personal scale – that even as all things reach their prime, myself included, they – we, I – also begin the slow descent into oblivion.

But this is not a season of sadness, it is a time to celebrate passages and extremes — the warmth which gives way to cold, the slow transition from the light of long summer evenings to dusky afternoons, the way the vibrant green of plants trees waxes into the dusky browns, reds, and golds. In spring, when all things are new, our thoughts and our vision are forward looking. The world is newly formed, and the future and all the promise it holds is before us. In fall, the world around us begins fade and decay. Everything is shutting down, hibernating, going to sleep, dying. Our focus is not on the future, but rather on the cyclical nature of our world – the revolution of day and night, the cycle of the four seasons, the spinning of the earth on it’s axis, the yearly revolution of the earth around the sun, the spinning of our galaxy, the expansion of this universe, sparkling new galaxies and black holes, life and death …

This season brings to mind all the rhythms of the world, big and small – monthly tides, seasonal weather shifts, yearly squalls and storms. Shifts in our own work and life patterns in keeping with the shorter days and longer nights, the way the changing seasons reflect the human experience, how childhood gives way to youth and then adulthood, and finally old age, and the ways in which all our loves and desires and fears and hopes shape and are shaped by our experiences along the way.

It’s all so huge. I feel both humbled and inspired by it all. I am in one minute full of joy and wonder and in the next, astounded and in awe. I find myself in a moment of fullness and in a stillness that both terrifies and thrills me. It is a time of comfort and plenty. It is a time of endings. Every autumn. All my life. This season is my constant, my core, the quiet space between my beginning and my end, the breath between that moment when I am everything and I am nothing. It feels like home. And so I welcome it with open arms.

Oh Canada! (It’s all relative)

I’m documenting, right here and right now, the fact that on this day, July 12th 2010, I find the temperature of 23 degrees celcius (73.4 farenheit) to be refreshingly COOL, almost chilly, in fact. And the reason I’m documenting this is because I am quite certain that at some point this coming winter, I will be saying that I find -15 or even -23 degrees celcius to be downright BALMY!

This weather schizophrenia is what comes of living in a land of extreme hot and extreme cold.

Canada. What a country! What an experience!

Summertime, and the living is easy …

Reading: Around the World on a Bicycle by Thomas Stevens, written in 1885. (download it for free). This guy went around the world on his bike which meant there wasn’t always a road handy. He once had to take a railroad track for some 6 miles and at one point, perched on the edge of a cross-beam holding his bike over the edge into the precipice below…. quite the read!

Eating: gazpacho, and lots of it since it’s way too hot to cook.

Listening: catching up on old episodes of This America Life via an iPhone app that is truly fantastic – gives you access to all past and current episodes. Check it out!

Watching: just discovered this little Canadian Gem, The Republic of Doyle. It’s great fun. I’m all about Newfoundland these days! If you missed seeing it last fall and winter (as I did) you can buy it on iTunes.

Cycling: all over the Montreal Island. There are some truly beautiful paths in this city. I thought going car-less in the summer would be hard, but as it turns out, it’s a treat. I’m seeing more of the city this summer than I have in the previous 3 put together! some samples…

Lost of paths by the river and the canal, which I love since I really like being by the water. This photo was taken along the south-west end of the island. I could move to this area and be quite happy…

And there are also lots of paths that take you through pretty little wooded areas, like this one. The folk responsible for designing these paths really did a great job.

While going carless is turning out to be much easier than I thought, I did get to visit my old car when I went to Halifax recently. I couldn’t resist taking a quick picture as I followed it down the highway.

By the way, since I no longer have a car, I took a train to Halifax, which is a much more civilized way to travel! Instead of spending 14 hours hunched up behind the steering wheel, we did things like look at the scenery outside the observation deck…

and when we got tired, we curled up in the little flip-down beds and went to sleep. Much, much better than driving for 14 hours!

So, what are you up to this summer?