Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cramming the Mini Coop

One more day before the aqua blue chariot takes me east to Virginia, a place I never dreamed of moving. A place I've barely visited. After spending New Year's with my brother in Ohio, I'll be landing at my friend Walt's house in Virginia Beach for a few days. 

Moving to New Zealand in 2008, I went from a three bedroom home to two fifty-pound duffel bags. This move feels spacious. I have a whole car and I'm mainly bringing clothes, and not much else. However, my mom is probably right that I am overconfident of my packing abilities and the car will end up crammed to the gills. 

I don't have a place set up yet, but have been searching for a room to rent on Craig's List. I've see-sawed between renting a beach house and shared housing, and decided that shared housing is probably the best option. I've been essentially living with others since leaving Germany at the end of May, whether in a hostel or visiting someone's home. I think continuing living with others will be better for my mental health. 

It feels more like I'm leaving on an extended camping trip than moving. All my worldly possessions will remain in my mom's basement while I take off for a while, a temporary reprieve in unemployment. But the whole while, I'll have to look for a permanent job. This time I hope to find one and stay long term. So I've been pretty careful in my search and I think I have a good idea of where I might want to land. But only time will reveal the next destination. 





Thursday, December 22, 2011

Box-Sledding

I don't think we're going to have a white Christmas this year. The grass is still green in Iowa and the temperature hovers around 36. I was worried that I was going to have a rough winter hanging out in Iowa, but it's not the case. Christmas is around the corner and I leave in eight days for Virginia.

So I will just have to imagine a white Christmas like these from year's past... 


[Photos from approx 1976.] My dad hauling me through the northern Minnesota (Bemidji) white stuff, back when every winter included white-outs and blizzards. I was a snow child, and I still am, but I'm not sure what I thought about the box-sled that they had going. However, I'm impressed with their thriftiness and creativity. I think if I had a kid, I would pull them in a box-sled too. Just so I could re-enact photos like these.




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Running Therapy

Running clunks my brain into order. I thump around the track, making circles to nowhere with my tennis shoe feet. Life rocks around in my head and resettles, making more sense. What it is about making circles that creates logic?

I run for stress. I run for joy. I run for health. I run for good legs.

When it is done, I plop on the floor and push up off the ground with my ape arms, over and over, feeling strong, like I am getting ready for the Army fitness test. Like I can do anything I put my mind to.

The finale is stretches and yoga and water and washing my face with a terry green washcloth, before descending the stairs to my tiny car waiting in the lot.

How many years have I been doing this fitness regime for sanity and strength?

When I run, ideas flourish. I discover answers to life’s worries. It is like dreaming awake. It releases me from past and present pains. Anxiety dissipates. I feel used up and alive when I'm done. The runner’s high is authentic for me.

Seasonally I drop off. Running becomes a victim of a time crunch or laziness. But it always finds its way back into my heart. Free therapy for the soul and the body. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflections on higher education

Thoughts after reading, "What is College For?" in the NYT:

I've heard increasingly over the years the argument that college is worthless, and that we can learn everything outside the classroom. It seems a symptom of our lazy intellectual culture, which has been exacerbated with the age of the internet where answers are a google away, so who needs to learn or retain anything?

I'm probably biased, having earned a doctorate and worked in a university setting for a short time. And I do agree my major life lessons were outside of university. But my years of education taught me to explore subjects which I knew I'd hate because they were required (and discovering I liked German, anatomy, writing, etc...). The critical thinking aspect of university and having a few years to be away from home with the security blanket of the university walls was a stepping stone to adult life and contemplation.

One of the greatest joys in life is a lifelong love and respect for learning. I am sad for those folks who think college is about memorizing facts and preparing for a job. It is about something entirely different. It is creating a foundation of learning and questioning for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's important

My Niece, Claire:



Christmas is around the corner. And then Virginia.

I'm ready to hit the road. This week's been encompassed with preparations: car check, packing, a physical, hunting for a beach rental. It's starting to fall into place.

I'm thankful for this in-between job. Three months to try out the VA system. Three months to re-acclimate to US life-work conditions. Returning stateside has brought a plethora of experiences. I haven't thought much about the adjustment until periodically I notice something that trips me up. Examples: ground floor vs first floor (overseas first floor is ground), portion sizes of food, airplane carry-on bags... consumerism.

Mostly, I'm thankful for my time with my family. For the career which has given me flexibility. For my mom (and everyone else) who has taken me in since I returned stateside in August. For the ability to have a full life filled with love.

I'm convinced that we are here to share ourselves and share love. I hope the holidays remind us all how lucky we are to be together in this life.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Before the sun

The darkest dark
before the seeping color of dawn.

I must go a while.
To the cave of blackness
to hide
silent,
flat.
Pulling inward with all my might.

Alone. Away.
Empty. Tight.

Unknown lies ahead.
The roller coaster of life.
Plunging through darkness and light,
forever intertwined.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shopping malls breed existential crises

This week I've been trying to get myself organized to move to Virginia. I finally opened and repacked every single box in the basement and it looks like a bomb went off down there, but I found everything I want to bring along and dumped it into my room. So now I practically need to wear full body armor to safely make it to my bed which is covered as well... do not be surprised if you soon see a photo of me in a cast from self-inflicted injury.

Government Fun Take II: In the last week, I've been inundated with government forms, though not as bad as the Germany job. That, plus trying to find housing out east from here require a massive amount of time. I may end up in an extended stay for a while and then try to move into a short term roommate situation. I've emailed a lot of potential roommates but have not had much response. Maybe people from Virginia are scared of Iowans.

It snowed here. My mom and I went to the mall today. I figured it was a good idea to rest my back after the heavy labor of yesterday. (I was a little sore.) The mall sounded leisurely but for some reason, I felt like I was going insane and started having suicidal thoughts while looking at the multicolored fleeces in Scheels. Life just seemed so dumb. I know there's no sense to think of these things. I thought, good thing I'm going to work soon.

This place I'm now is a weird spot to be in. To think of starting this new job, because it is temporary, seems like it is prolonging the period of decision making. But that's not really true, since I am going to use this job to evaluate a career with the VA system.

I would like to move somewhere into my own place again with my own things, but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon. But then I have a feeling if I were moving into a place I might feel a sense of loss at the loss of freedom. So it's better to just enjoy where I am now.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

The world

Bird squaking in the distance. Streaming light through lacy windows. Creaking from below. The tick of clocks, out of sequence with one another. My fingers clanking the keys.

Reclined in my bathrobe.
Life is quiet.

I wonder.

Feeling a void. The after-effects of achievement. Between relationships. Before a new job. Lacking meaning. A floorless existence.

Visions of my tiny blue car headed east. The feeling of freedom, of possibility, of exploration and new experience. The open road of life.

Time to calm, before the storm of change. December.
I long to hole up. To isolate. To silence.

Heater kicks on. They're digging a hole outside. Someone's new home.

Sunlit fingers. The world, a circle. No walls, no edges. No answers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First snow

Drizzling rain turns into an Iowa snow globe
While we sip whiskeys by the window.
Good acoustics, I said.
I judge restaurants on sound quality.
Hushed murmurs, a fuzzy welcoming blanket
Inviting conversation & calm.
Anything else, jarring & cold.

Days on the computer, digging in files.
The data needed to achieve employment.
I think, I am not going to do this again.
I hope I love the VA.
Disorganized boxes stifle me, and I think
I understand why people never move.
It is not going to get better any time soon.

But I'm home for Christmas
And that is good enough.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Guest House - Rumi

"This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Midnight thoughts, and good news

It's after midnight and I'm in bed. I can't stop reading the news lately.

The police violence associated with the OWS movement really bothers me deep in my heart.

It matters not that they are liberal or conservative or otherwise. It matters that they are people. Americans. Who have freedom of speech and assembly, and who should not be arrested for standing on a sidewalk. Or beaten for sitting on the grass.

For the photos are around on the internet, documenting people sleeping in tents for Black Friday or for concert tickets, or even when Apple came out with the iPhone the first time around.

I just can't get my mind around it.

I read a while back, "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson. A semi-biographical novel from the American Ambassador Dodd's perspective on the eve of WW2. I wonder what the correlations are between our time and theirs.

I wonder why we would not stand up for our fellow citizens, whether they shared our beliefs or not. I wonder how we can stand by and let things happen.

But then we have been doing this a long time. Everyone is separate in their own separate homes. Walled off with fences and curtains and security systems. Insular in our perfect families and perfect lives. Saving ourselves above all else.

When will we learn that giving is receiving? That our neighbors are ourselves? That things are not happiness. People are happiness. Life is happiness.

Security. Building up a bank account, and walls around us. When it could all go down in an instant. Just a misstep in time, place, of luck and life is forever changed. The only true sense of security is a false one.

Anyway. I just hope you can take this Thanksgiving and holiday season to look with love on everyone. To stand up for the little ones. To stand up for inequality. To stand up for your rights as Americans (or citizens of the world). For your children. And grandchildren.

My time for loafing with family and pondering the messes in the world will soon be limited. As I have good news: I was offered a job with the Virginia Beach Veterans Hospital, covering maternity leave, starting January 1st through March 31. I'll be avoiding the winters, and keeping myself busy. I welcome vistors any time. So drop me a line and drop in.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

Historically I've not felt much affinity for the holiday of Thanksgiving. I think it's because I had misplaced emotions about its meaning. I took the celebration of a massive dinner with a dry turkey centerpiece literally, and couldn't see beyond the festive stuffing and resultant uncomfortable sensation at being too filled up.

But, I think I was mistaken.

This year, I'm home for Thanksgiving for the first time since 2000, which was the only time in the last fifteen years that I've been home for Thanksgiving. We're headed to Minneapolis, and I'm looking forward to the mix of relatives from both sides of my family. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I feel like embracing the idea of gratitude.

So many good things... I'd like to make a list, but it would be too long. Mostly, I'm happy to be alive, to have wonderful family and friends, to have had so many opportunities, and for the goodness in the world and hope for the future.

Life is beautiful. Living is amazing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Smearing sunsets, living life

(Hiding in the trees of Colorado)

I've taken up running again, at the little community center down the street. It's free for North Liberty residents and I relish my time there, where my feet carry me in circles, untwisting the thoughts in my mind, bringing clarity to my life situation. The days smear together, one sunset to the next. Only when the Sunday New York Times headlines are delivered to my inbox am I certain of the day of the week.

I've been quietly existing since returning from Colorado: time with nieces, a craft show with Molly, and cleaning the garage with my mom. When you've been overseas, there's an interruption in normal family time. In reality, the American life is a disruptive to family time. So this time here with family is especially important.

The job hunt is like molasses right now, sticky and slow and not much moving... I have a couple leads on temporary positions that would work well while I wait for something more permanent to come along.

In life, I've been contemplating the oddities of our existence. I know I shouldn't really waste time on this- I should really just live my life and enjoy myself, but sometimes late at night, when it is dark and quiet and I'm alone, it all seems very strange.

So I am happy for this time with my family in the quiet of Iowa. There is something about a small town with a big sky that brings mental peace. Driving down highway 965, the pleasure of no traffic hits me daily, and I think how I love Iowa and how surprising it is. Then I remember I loved the tiny village where I lived in Germany. I loved the regular people in the Army. I loved a lot of things I wouldn't have guessed: anatomy, physics... Oatie. And I've not loved a lot of things that I would have guessed. So, I guess you just have to go along through life, feeling your way, paying attention, trusting your gut instinct, and being true to yourself.

(Living out loud with Molly's girls)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thinking about "otherness"

I've been participating in a month-long discussion on race through Experimonth, which has run month-long experiments since 2009 on a variety of subjects/actions.

Discussing race is about discussing otherness. I've had a long history of friends and boyfriends who do not mirror my appearance or accent or home country, and I sometimes wonder why. I don't think it was particularly a conscious choice. As a child in Minnesota, my preferred neighbor friends were Korean and Vietnamese neighbor girls, even though there were several white neighbor girls also. After my dad died and I returned to Alexandria, I became "other" overnight, though it was not obvious from the outside to those who first met me. I am always careful to explain that my life was not a giant walk in the park and I understand being an outsider. But then I also understand that I have many inclusionary qualities. So I have the understanding of both sides of the world.

In a TED talk on otherness by Thandie Newton that I recently viewed, she discusses her otherness and how it affected her, and urges us to create a world of oneness with each other. She also points out that race is not about biology or genetics, which was something I didn't know:
In this discussion of otherness, I think of the current uprisings across the world calling for change. Too long have we considered those who are different, whether better or worse off, our own neighbors or not, to be "the other," quietly walling ourselves off in our safe separate worlds. I think the movements which are going on are less about Wall Street and more about awakening. Awakening to question the separation in the world by race, and wealth, and location. In truth we are all one and interconnected. It is time to start rebuilding our connections to the earth, to our fellow beings, to the "other" inside and outside ourselves. We are all one in the same, united in our otherness, united in our time on this earth.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Denver is not that ugly

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde

Denver does not have the reputation of being a beautiful city, but I found visual pleasure in the downtown architecture and neighborhoods. Denver is the 21st largest metro area in the USA; Portland, OR is the 23rd largest, both hovering around 2.5 million people. It feels like a small town, but from high above, it looks large and sprawling. It's a manageable size.

Public transport is ok, but I think would be hard to depend on for daily use unless you had several extra hours a day to waste. Short distances take a long time, and it is relatively expensive in comparison with other large metropolitan areas. I did not notice any cyclists in Denver, as compared to Boulder, so it seems they could improve in that area as well.

Ink! Coffee was ok, not great.
I took public bus to my friend Gretchen's house (who has 4 month old twin daughters and another daughter who will be 4 this weekend). They live in a quiet residential neighborhood just a short distance from downtown in a bungalow which could be transported into any Portland neighborhood.
On the right is the Denver Art Museum which was closed when I stopped by (a Monday).
Outside the Denver Public Library. Inside was filled with residents. It always makes me happy to see people hanging out with books.

Exterior of library. Very cool. Inside was also cool, but in a more sterile way. I always think libraries should have a cozy, stay-a-while feel, which this did not have, but it was still nice.
Denver Art Museum
Downtown.

There were a lot of bums in Denver. It's pretty cold there, so hopefully they have shelters for winter.
Cute construction workers outside the art museum.


I love grey skies, and if I ever move back to the Northwest, this would be one of the top reasons-- for the drizzly weather and blankets of grey.

BACK TO BOULDER:
Excellent cappuccino at Boxcar Roasters.
Boulder Teahouse.
Poetry bookstore on Broadway in college hill area.
Excessive amounts of tasty food at the Sherpa's Restaurant, which was staffed by Nepalese.

So, I'm enjoying Colorado. It's been a contemplative trip- lots of free time to rest and wander and think, intermixed with visits to old friends and memories past. I'm not sure where I will end up in the next few months but what I have now is pretty good.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Boulder

I finally found excellent coffee and superb company in a coffee shop suitable for a coffee snob like myself, Boxcar Coffee Roasters. I perched at the bar, eavesdropping and writing and reading the New Yorker in caffeine-induced splendor for at least two hours.
The Farmer's Market continues through November 19th. I am impressed at the hardy nature of Boulder residents.
During Farmer's Market days, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art offers free admission. It's small, but offers just enough to beg contemplation without mental overexertion.
My favorite store in town is the Boulder Army Surplus Store. On my second visit (I couldn't help myself), I discovered second-hand German goods, and someone who almost had my name.
Even though this is a very artistic sign, the goods inside the Pearl Street store did not delight my senses. Pearl Street is the main shopping pedestrian drag, and it's rather overrun with shops like this and overpriced restaurants, but I still found it enjoyable, especially with street musicians wafting through the air.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feeling Gratefully Unemployed (in Boulder)

Walking through Boulder today, I felt like a regular person. I looked like a regular person. If I saw me, I would think I had a job. I feel like I'm pretending to be a regular person. But then I start to wonder, what is a regular person anyway? I realize I'm finally starting to enjoy the freedom unemployment brings. Just walking alone with my thoughts and smiling at strangers. This is living life.

"The meaning of life is to make life meaningful." - A.C. Grayling


Wandering through Boulder's Central Park toward downtown from our retro motor inn, leaves squishing through slushy snow, I could barely open my eyes in the blinding sun. Yet I was bundled in layers with freezing ears. Winter's icy brightness. Our motel is cozied into the mountain, and its name apt: Foot of the Mountain. It feels like we're buried in, especially with heavy snow clumped all over the land.

Boulder has a reputation of high maintenance, silver-spoon hippies. The last time I was here was twenty years ago when I was fifteen and fresh out of North Dakota. It seemed like a wonderland that time and I wished I could go to college here. This time it feels more commercial and more like a regular American town. I suspect Boulder's changed, but likely I've changed more.

Boulder's predictable in many ways: the residents' appearance (dreads, earrings, messy hair), consumer possibilities (outdoor stores, orthopedic shoes, energy field readings). And not so much in other ways: boring repetitive building styles, quiet back streets, exceptionally friendly residents.


I wandered into coffee shops, searching for the perfect cup. (I'm still hunting.) Stopped into the end of the Occupy Boulder meeting and met quiet, articulate, non-violent people of all ages. On the way home, I saw art through a massive windowed building and walked up to discover it was the public library, where they also hold movie screenings, GED classes, and more. It's apparent where the values lie in this community, and I feel an affinity for its residents.

In the library, I met a poet who'd lived in San Francisco and Kalispell. She gave me her number and, feeling drawn to this kindred spirit, I promised to call her for coffee later in the week. Flushed out of the library into the brisk cold, I scurried home to our little pine-walled room, but not before a few residents arriving home could say hello to me.

Traveling and unemployment have a way of reminding me what is important: taking time to breathe in life as it is offered to me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Eerie Similarities

My dad and me about 26 years apart.
(At my mom's house in Iowa helping clean out the garage today, I found this in a box.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughtful post to share

A Voice From The 1% does a good job of addressing the questions raised surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement. I've walked by protests in action and they appeared to be quiet people, clean and tidy, but still I did not know what I thought. I have always believed that while I have made good choices in my life, there is little that separates me from someone who has much less in life but a few strokes of luck.

Our country is in a state of demise in many ways and these protests are putting the our economic inequalities into question. For this I am proud- of the American right to free speech and that we are able to effect changes in this country. No matter what happens or whose side we are on, there is success in being reminded of the democratic process, of speaking up when we believe things need to change, of starting the dialogue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cows

Looking back to the south island of New Zealand when these guys tried to block our exit through the fence, I was with three other hostelers in a rented 1987ish manual jalopy mobile. Supposedly it was a big tourist site, but really just a few rocks in the countryside. However, we enjoyed the cow standoff. I've been enjoying the cows for years and years, since I first planted Father's Day flowers for my mom's rancher boyfriend in North Dakota, and little Henry the Calf came and ate them all. He was so cute and his mom had died... how could we get mad at him for that? These are also a few of my reasons to be vegetarian.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Boston Academy

Last week, the American Academy of Optometry held their annual conference in Boston. Since I'm currently living without commitments, I decided to head east less than a week before the conference commenced. I purchased a ticket out of Chicago on Spirit Airlines (a US budget carrier) and arranged to stay with my friend Xandra (Alexandra) who I met in the south island of New Zealand and now lives in Cambridge. It's a delight and surreal to re-meet people who I met on the road in their hometowns. On the road we are sort of floating about, so seeing someone indigenously helps to complete the picture of who they are.

The conference offered a wide variety of education and I surely benefited, picking up some new things and catching up on changes that have occurred in my profession during my last four years abroad. Also fun was seeing old friends and roommates from optometry school, a colleague from New Zealand, old professors, and making new friends. I was glad to go, and it's also good to be home.

Allston (below) is a suburb of Boston where Xandra and I had dinner. It's Portland-like with heaps of coffee shops, a few second hand stores, and vegetarian restaurants. I grabbed a bus there from the conference center to meet Xandra. Boston transport is very simple to figure out. I bought a one week unlimited fare pass for $15 on arrival, which covers all modes of transport in the metro area.




The last time I was here was when I was 14. My cousin Jenny and I would take the hotel shuttle down to this area, where we spent many hours shopping at Gap, which was something I did not have in North Dakota. The square looks the same but back then it seemed so amazing with possibility.
Inside Quincy Market.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Aeschylus

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
Falls drop by drop on the heart,
Until in our own despair,
Against our own will,
Comes wisdom
Through the awful grace of god."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Milwaukee

My favorite song by the Head and the Heart:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Seventy-five miles south of Manitowac, where I lived from 1978-1981. Carrie was born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin because they wouldn't allow men in the delivery room in Manitowac in 1979.

Wisconsin looks like Germany. It's part of the reason I instantly adapted to German countryside; it felt like home. The hills clothed in multicolored leaves, churches peeking out above the trees, cool air swathing the hot, a premonition of winter to come. This year, the darkness of fall has stayed away.

Last weekend there was a concert by a Seattle band, the Head and the Heart at the historic Turner Ballroom in Milwaukee. We stayed at the Plaza Hotel, also a historic building, peaceful and retro, simply and accurately restored (or perhaps just very well kept up), and reasonable rates. The quiet of Milwaukee contrasts with Chicago's financial frenzied stressed population. It was a peaceful weekend.

Turner Ballroom was gorgeous and open, and the band amazing.
Resting in the grass along Milwaukee's biking and walking path. I've been so tired, and keep thinking that I'm going to have some time to rest soon. I realized that I've been on a non-stop pace since the end of March when I found out that my job was eliminated and I was on a crash course to move home. Of course, the traveling was self-inflicted pleasure & pain. Today I've been home for two months, and have not yet spent two weeks in one place. It's life on the road. I don't expect it to end anytime soon.
The Comet Cafe. Excellent food! Excellent coffee.
Surprisingly, I found tons of good tips in here. One always needs to practice self-improvement. Never stop learning! I don't intend to get old ever. (The book is The Encyclopedia of Immaturity.)
I shelled out muko bucks for new jeans. It's been about seven years since I bought a new pair of designer jeans. I like to practice delayed gratification so that I really appreciate my nice things.
Demonstrating the "mine and toss" technique. When you've bought too much ice cream and you can't eat it all, you are totally justified in mining out all the good sections and flicking the rest down the drain.
Holy Hill is a Cathedral Basilica in the countryside about 30 miles out of Milwaukee. The traffic to reach it was worse than anything I've seen in Chicago, and at the top we even sited tour buses. I tried to hide in the corner to cure my crowd phobia. But it was better just to go home!
We checked out the newly renovated Cheese Palace, after stopping last time the day before they closed for remodeling. I wanted to get one of the cheeseheads for Lily but they were not for sale, so a picture has to suffice. Next time I'll just take a picture of the Palace from the freeway and keep going. The place was swarming with people, and non-delicious samples for the second time in a row, so I'd have to rate this as a "no-go". Avoid!

Lastly, I'll mention Beans and Barley, a cafe and grocery store with hippie roots (though now very gentrified). For about a year, I've been hearing about their Tofu Scramber. I'm a big fan of tofu scramble: you can eat it alone, on top of salad, with bread, hot or cold. I like it all ways and it's quick and simple to make at home. A lot of restaurants will offer it, but drown it in oil and spices, so that later my stomach hates me. Beans and Barley makes a simple, savory version which I think would delight everyone's palate. I've found the recipe for it, so if you want to try it at home, you can savor the flavor without a trip to Milwaukee.


BEANS & BARLEY TOFU SCRAMBLER

Source: Beans & Barley Market and Cafe, 1901 E. North Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1/4 C. tahini
1/4 C. shoyu
1 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
2 lb. firm tofu, drained, dried and coarsely crumbled
2 tsp. olive oil
2/3 C. sliced fresh mushrooms
2/3 C. diced tomato
2/3 C. chopped green onions
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Combine tahini, shoyu, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Add to crumbled tofu, being careful not to crumble tofu too fine.

Heat 12-inch nonstick or well-greased, skillet over medium heat. Add oil and sauté mushrooms until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green onions and cook for 1 minute.

Add tofu mixture and cook, scrambling occasionally, until some of it begins to brown a little. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: Serve with home-fried potatoes and toast. This dish is also good with corn bread, muffins or bagels.