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Hopefully this link will do the trick: https://youtu.be/ZughLxTC3t0

I have been trying to stick with the contemplation and not complaining objectives, but I find myself wondering about what counts as a complaint. Is acknowledging a fact a complaint? For example, if I notice that it is cold, and think "wow, it's cold", is it complaining if I'm not horribly unhappy (though maybe a little suprised)? Is it complaining to run through scenarios in my head (those "I wish I had said" or "maybe I should say..." conversations)? How about the ones where I repeat in my head those conversations that actually happened (the ones where someone states a hard truth that I happen to agree with)?

At heart, I'm an analyst and analysts are regularly accused of being pessimistic when really we are just trying to see all the angles (and that can be bad). The whole exercise of questioning myself is interesting, though. As I notice things, I am trying really hard not to let it be anything more than just "noticing". When those endless loops of conversation start up in my head, I work really hard to make them stop. In some ways, this may be helping me to achieve the mindfulness that my leadership coach keeps trying to convince me is a good thing; usually, it just strikes me as flaky, which is why this article made me smile: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/actually-lets-not-be-in-the-moment.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0. After re-reading it several times, I'm starting to think that maybe being mindful is a good thing. It doesn't mean I have to like washing dishes, or even dealing with Scary Mary from work. But maybe I can get better at acknowledging my feelings and move on to something more productive.

Enough deep thoughts for tonight. It's time for rum, hot chocolate and some quality time with my pillow (and hopefully a cat).

Nov. 25th, 2016

I went to work I late and left early. I started knitting a hat for my son (or my daughter, if she gives my son's hat back to him). I sewed a little linen bag to hold sausages and made a drawstring for it - I'm quite pleased with the pattern of the braid in thee drawstring. I hemmed my friend's dress. The crafting is balm for my soul.

So is the visiting. I had a three hour drive with pink_lady2, and then hours of chatting with friends at the house where I'm staying. Tomorrow we'll get up early and drive to another town to meet more friends, do more crafting, and talk about crafting and history. Then we'll drive home; hopefully without the thick fog that dogged us for much of today.

There aren't many better ways to spend a weekend.


Visiting Parliament

Tomorrow my big project will be discussed by Cabinet, so today I had to go to Parliament Hill to do a run-through as I'll be flipping the slides for the Minister's presentation. I haven't been there in ages and much has changed. After the shooting a couple of years ago security was tightened considerably. Instead of walking in through the front door, I had to go to a basement entrance and go through screening. Then I was given free access to go to the Cabinet room, which is weird. I expected I would be escorted. Mind you, there were many security guards everywhere.

The run-through itself was fine and I took the time on the way out to appreciate the architecture. It's a beautiful Victorian building with heraldic carvings and gargoyles everywhere. Even walking back down the hill and across the lawn to find a taxi was nice. In the good old days, you could call a cab right to the front door, but now they aren't allowed on the premises.

When I first started working for the House of Commons as a secretary (back in 1989) things were even more relaxed. My very first day of work someone hijacked a Greyhound bus and drove it onto the lawn. http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/another-incident-involving-a-gunman-on-parliament-hill. Before that, you have to go back to 1966, when a man accidentally blew himself up in a public toilet in the Centre Block instead of "exterminating as many Members [of the House of Commons] as possible" according to a note found after the incident.

My view today was a bit snowier:

This is the main entrance area. It leads to the absolutely gorgeous round library overlooking the Ottawa River from atop a cliff (the only part that survived a huge fire in 1917). It's what I took a few minutes to admire today:

And although security is much tighter than it was a few years ago, it's still a very popular place. Yoga on the lawn every Wednesday at noon is de riguer for trendy fitness folks: . Of course it is THE place to be on Canada Day (I avoid it after about 11 am because the entire downtown is crammed with tens of thousands of visitors, even though there are amazing live performances during the day and evening, and fireworks I can see from my house at night). When I worked downtown, I always tried to be outside at noon so I could hear the daily mini-concert by the Dominion Carilloner, playing the bells in the Peace Tower.

Some days, I have a pretty cool job.

Chicken and Pumpkin Recipe

I make some variant on this every year. It's a great way to use up pumpkins. The original recipe is vaguely African. Although pumpkins aren't native to Africa, the peanuts certainly are, and I think I first found this recipe in an African cookbook. It's filling and tasty. I hadn't gotten around to digging out a recipe this year but it was on my list of things to do, so when this popped up in my FB feed from 4 years ago, I decided I needed to save it somewhere that I was more likely to be able to find it again.

Getting rid of the Halloween creepies:
Once you have frightened away the ghosts and goblins, use up your jack-o'lanterns by making baked chicken and pumpkin.

1 kg chicken pieces
2 onions, cut in chunks
1 pie pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks (or about half a large jack'o'lantern)
3/4 c peanut butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c hot chicken broth
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 c chopped peanuts

In 9 x 13 inch baking dish, place onions and pumpkin. In a medium bowl. Stir together peanut butter, half of salt and half of cayenne pepper. Gradually stir in hot chicken broth, melting peanut butter. Stir in half of lemon juice. Pour over pumpkin and onions. Bake in 200C oven for about 20 minutes
Remove from oven and place chicken pieces on top of vegetables. Sprinkle chicken with remaining salt, pepper and lemon juice. Return to oven for another 30 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and pumpkin is tender. Place on serving plate and sprinkle with peanuts. Serves 6-8)


Popping bubbles

I'm trying to keep my US election thoughts to myself (not my circus, not my monkeys) but I am concerned for my friends south of the border. This article seemed particularly relevant.



The Friday Five

1. What is your favorite food to eat prepared by someone else (parent, spouse, friend, etc.)?
2. How many times a day do you typically eat?
3. How often do you cook for yourself?
4. I wish I ate more:______________________
5. If I want a "real breakfast," I:_______________________

1. I love when my son barbecues me a steak with sauteed vegetables. I never have steak except when he comes to visit.
2. Four - breakfast, mid-morning snack, late lunch, supper
3. Pretty much every day. The only exception is when I'm cleaning up leftovers.
4. Maybe an extra fruit? I try to get two servings a day but I sometimes fail. Really, eating more is not something I need to be doing!
5. Have some protein and a glass of milk. I don't do well with just carbs, and especially with sugary breakfast foods (even toast and jam).

Copy and paste to your own journal, then reply to this post with a link to your answers. If your journal is private or friends-only, you can post your full answers in the comments below.

If you'd like to suggest questions for a future Friday Five, then do so on DreamWidth or LiveJournal. Old sets that were used have been deleted, so please feel free to suggest some more!

Remembrance Day

Every year, I remember friends who died trying to make the world a better place. I lost a friend in Afghanistan, a colleague in Kosovo, and and one of each in Haiti. I also remember someone who I didn't know personally, but who I admire (the first Canadian woman killed in combat; I happened to be working on the Afghanistan file when she was killed, and her death touched me deeply). They represent the full range of service: a diplomat, a corrections official (because peace without justice and respect for human rights won't last); a police officer and an international development worker, as well as an infantry officer.

My own dad served in the military for 33 years and worked as a civilian for another 15 years. My mom was also in the military, as a nurse. In their hearts though, they were both hippies.

Today I am remembering a new group - my own extended family. I knew that my great-grandfather had served in WWI. More recently, I learned that he also served in WWII and continued in various roles (some of the honorary) long past normal retirement. In fact, he was the longest-serving member of the Canadian forces. I didn't know that my great-uncles also served. All four were in WWII. A cousin told me last week that there was a newspaper article at the time celebrating their service and noting that theirs was one of the few families with soldiers that didn't lose someone.

My great-uncles Leslie, Fred and Arnold are in the back row. Great-uncle Len was already serving overseas. My great-grandma and great-grandfather are in the front row. My grandmother (Dad's mom) would have already married and been raising her own family by the time this was taken.

On the other side of my extended family, I remember my cousin Ken, who I first met while he was on leave from serving in the Golan Heights, and his son Kyle, who is now on posting in Poland.
Absolutely bagged tonight, so I'm going to bed early. Technically, it's probably closer to "on time" but that's still early for me. But first, I am rendering duck fat. I don't need more duck fat for cooking, but I may experiment with using it for hand cream or something. It doesn't have a particular smell, and it is amazing on the skin.


The Friday Five

Today's five questions are brought to us by livejournal user amguynes, the letter F, and the number 5.

1. Your favorite book?
2. Your favorite movie?
3. Your least favorite adaptation of a book to a movie?
4. Your least favorite adaptation ever of anything to a movie?
5. Your first ever novel/comic book/movie character crush?

1. The Grapes of Wrath.

2. Henry V (the Kenneth Branagh version)

3. No idea. I don't watch enough movies to pay attention

4. It was a children's book - The Jim Carey version of The Grinch that Stole Christmas

5. David Partridge of The Partridge Family

Good things, bad things

My good thing was being able to return $100 that someone had lost. My daughter and I were having lunch at a fast food restaurant on Wednesday when I spotted $20 bill on the floor. When I picked it up, I realized that it was actually a stack of five $20 bills. I left my name and number at the restaurant and got a call yesterday. My other good thing is details on the planned redesign of the busiest street on my way to work, to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians (lots of seniors live here, and there have been quite a few accidents). Which leads me to my bad thing...

My bad thing was the death of a cyclist yesterday on the segregated bike lane downtown that is supposed to be the safest bike route in the entire city. She was hit by a construction truck making a right turn across the bike lane. Bikes are supposed to have the right of way but the truck driver may not have seen her, or she may not have been paying attention to his turn. Regardless, it is a very bad street design (and one of many problems along this route, which is full of garage entrances and exits for commercial buildings and condos). It is one of six cycling accidents in the city and nearby in the last week. Two left cyclists with critical injuries, one was a hit-and-run that luckily didn't involve major injuries, another was only reported on the traffic news. Just out of town, a 13 year-old was killed. The bad thing isn't the deaths and injuries though (although they are all tragic), it's the victim-blaming I have seen. Instead, we should be focusing on the real issue, as one local city councillor said: we all make mistakes. We need to design our streets so that fewer of them are fatal.