Monday, April 26, 2010

Advance planning

I'm a big fan of under-planning when the risks are low and the outcome doesn't matter. Under-planning is a unique decision-making approach that I usually do not support because it gives you less control over what's about to happen to you. I say "unique" because this approach is best suited to those occasions when you know it's all going to be okay, no matter what. Otherwise, when you're airborne between the grassy cliff above and the bubbling miasma at the foot of the waterfall without having estimated, in advance, all possible or probable outcomes, you probably realize you are taking a risk. I don't always want to be a passenger on Fate's night bus. On that bus, the seatbelts don't work, the turns in the road are hairpin, and the driver is popping ephedrine tabs and singing prayers to stay awake.

My current situation reminds me of how it all went down: basically, without as much as a second thought. I neglected to think my decisions through, and now here I am, living in a small city I don't care for and doing work I'd rather not. I didn't plan to be single and living in a basement, but I didn't not plan for these conditions, either. Four dinner plates are stacked in my cupboard, but I once owned a dozen place settings from an antique collection which included a gravy boat…again, the product of under-planning since I didn't choose any of that!

Now, I choose. I'm lousy as hell at it, I mean I really suck, but the outcome is of less importance than the practice, and I reassure myself that it will grow easier in time - and I really think it will. Making good decisions requires planning and commitment, which consistently remind me why I neglected making decisions before; they are "serious" activities and not much fun. Planning squeezes all the fun out of spontaneity and adventure.

And so it came to be that my under-planned (some might say ill-chosen) menu selection, fragrantly steaming and carried to our table by the beaming chef himself, was freakin wicked:

Yup. You can't plan everything. Why would you want to?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


35 minutes! That's the longest pain-free run since my injury. It's Sunday, the traditional day of the long run, and I knew I wanted to try a longer distance today, but I put it off until late in the day. I was a bit anxious because I saw this distance as a test of my situation, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but the real reason why I didn't run until later is that this puzzle got the best of my afternoon:

So it was evening when I set out. Passing my neighbors' apartment in the hallway I smelled a delicious dinner cooking. Something with sauteed garlic and seafood. Outside, I saw the grey sky, then felt a few drops when I started running but mercifully none afterwards. I started with a shorter stride and tried to pay attention: if I felt pain, I was going to slow down, possibly to a walk. I didn't need to, though. When I got to the path, I could see a bright yellow strip of sky close to the horizon. I saw many geese nibbling at blades of tender spring grass. Older couples sitting on benches, chatting together. It was a pleasant run. Perhaps it was a success becuz M. treated me to a nourishing b-fast this morning:

Rounded out with too many coffee refills and two crossword puzzles!

Monday, April 12, 2010


frothy messages
embedded in hot cocoa
command me to sleep

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


These udon noodles are thick and slippery, sliding around in a salty sauce.

They'll qwell the hunger in your belly in no time, flat.

Speaking of flat....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fork, chopstick, straw

Despite the wooden chopsticks and stainless steel fork resting on opposite sides of the rectangular plate, this truly isn't an illustration of East meets West or Spy vs Spy. It's more like an invitation to grasp the nearest implement and dig in. This Japanese-inspired seaweed salad is dotted with toasted sesame seeds, and decorated with ribbon-thin slices of pollock and a drop of sesame oil. The flavours really stand up when this dish is served at room temperature, and the sesame oil relaxes and perfumes the air and just is.

The most endearing quality of bubble tea is the jumble of marble-sized tapioca pearls that congregate at the bottom of the glass. A regular straw is too narrow for the thick, chewy pearls, so the beverage is served with a straw wide enough to vacuum black holes out of outer space, and with a pointy end which is handy for cornering the slippery pearls when they hide between ice cubes. You can count on bubble tea to not take itself too seriously, especially when it's green apple flavoured.

Green foods with dots. That was the topic of today's post.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sweet Georgia Browns

Purdy's has a great rep as a maker of fine chocolates, and these pecan, caramel and milk chocolate gems have been called "the greatest reward for breathing." A colleague in BC raved about them to me, and a week later I happily discovered a little package in my work mailbox. Sweet!

Friday, April 2, 2010

On a roll

I have been an Asian food freak all of my life, even when I had limited access to its many cultural manifestations. Maybe it's because my opportunities were slim (the Chinese restaurant, that small town institution, did not exist where I grew up) that I relished each Asian meal, the occasions usually being dinner away from home while travelling long distances by car with my family. I can recall many Asian "firsts:" the first time I tried duck served with a sweet red sauce and coated in chopped peanuts; buying a plate of samosas stuffed with potato, garden-fresh green peas and coriander and a plastic container of mint-coriander chutney; noticing the light citrus flavour in "Orange Beef" and meditating on its remarkable subtlety.

Some types of Asian food escaped me altogether until I travelled. The first time I sampled Pad Thai, served piping hot on a small paper plate from a roadside vendor's wok on Khao San Road in Bangkok, was my informal introduction to Thai cuisine. Same goes with the dishes of Cambodia. I wish I had snapped pictures of the fruit salads I tried there, but I was probably too mesmerized by their beautiful arrangements. Some salads were almost too pretty to eat.

Vietnamese dishes (in the restos of this city, anyway) include a limited repertoire of items, but nevertheless have plenty to offer: fresh ingredients, cute presentation and great value. I can't help but smile when a plate of Shrimp Summer Rolls, accompanied by a bowl of peanut-y dipping sauce, appears in front of me. Can you?