Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Last week at the Kneading Conference West was a huge treat. I like being physical, and the bread- and cracker-making that I did for various workshops – along with wonderful Dawn Woodward of Evelyn’s Crackers, with whom I co-presented – was satisfying, and tiring too of course. We did a lot of baking for a tasting of (freshly milled whole grain) single varietal wheats, so interesting. I can't wait for next year's tastings. 

Meantime there were lots of other pleasures: exploring the amazing orchards at the Agricultural Research Center in Mount Vernon; talking, eating, and drinking with friends old and new; and cooking too. Best flavours? Hard to say, but the Alchemy apple that Dawn and I shared, forbidden fruit from a survivor tree at the Center, ranks very high. (It has Cox Pippin in its ancestry, so a firm-crisp bite, but it also has a sweetness and complex flavour. Just a dream.) High ranking too for the freshly shucked kumamoto oysters at Taylor's, that we ate sitting by the water last Saturday afternoon….

Now I’m back in Toronto, the moon is about to be full, and my trip to Iran via Istanbul is less than two weeks away. Can’t wait. But meantime, as the moon shone straight into my room through a crack in the curtains at 4 this morning, I started to run through the to-do lists that whirl in my head but that I still have difficulty remembering to write down. They include small things like shopping for black socks and a manteau or two for Iran; larger issues like learning a little Farsi, and preparing some language pages on the (old laptop) computer I am planning to take with me; urgent tasks like preparing for the talks and presentations I am giving this weekend at Savour Stratford, some of them Burma-related, some wider; and travel detail issues like what bag will I take, how much money to bring (there being no access to cash once I am in Iran, just like Burma until recently, so at least I have an idea of what’s involved), what shoes? and the trivial fusses that go along with packing decisions.

Hmmm…no wonder I sometimes feel scattered.

Yesterday morning though I had a wonderfully focussing experience. I went for a heart ultrasound to give my doctor a baseline (and yes, I have an active-person’s slow pulse and good blood pressure, and all looks very healthy I gather). Have you ever seen images of your heart beating? Or listened to the wonderful syncopations? It was thrilling and awe-inspiring to watch the regular pumping, see the “flapping” of the valve (can’t tell you which one), look at the heart’s structure from different angles. And there was a bonus: The very nice and experienced cardiology tech was teaching a student as she did the tests, so I learned a little about what they see and what they watch out for. As I walked out of the hospital and down the sunny street I was exhilarated, as high as I was when, years ago, I walked home from having a pregnancy ultrasound.

Life is mysterious, and the heart in each of us keeps us going. Best to have respect for it, treat it well, and keep it healthy, for it’s working without a break…

Now, as I round the corner on this blogpost, I look up and realise that there’s bright sunshine outside, and blue sky. The cat is asleep in the corner, in a patch of sun. It’s time for me to get moving. The writing and other sedentary “activities” of home, after the lovely physicality of the Kneading Conference, leave me feeling flat. The obvious answer is to remember to get my blood moving. And so I’m heading out now, heeding the call of the lovely September sun and the always interesting life on the streets of Toronto.

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