Summer Spotlight: Yolanda McAdam

Yolanda M.:

I was absolutely delighted to be included in Jill Weatherholt’s awesome Spotlight Series. Here is a little more about myself and my answers to 5 of Jill’s great questions.

Originally posted on Jill Weatherholt:

I feel very privileged indeed to be part of Jill’s wonderful Summer Spotlight Series! I have enjoyed getting to know you all.

Ok so a little about me…

Hi I’m Yolanda and I was born and raised in South Africa to Portuguese immigrants. My parents’ marriage was spectacularly unsuccessful (no adjective can truly describe how awful it was). One of my earliest memories is of my dad arriving home from a night out on the town (he was a notorious gambler and womaniser) to a barrage of verbal insults and flying plates. The trouble you see is they were both far too young and too tempestuous for a serious commitment like marriage. When eventually they parted ways (in very dramatic fashion – locks changed, suitcases left outside, father hammering on windows, police intervention) my father moved to another city and my mother went on to live the life of a…

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A Great Gastronomical Mystery

I love cooking not only because I love food and could spend my days cow-like grazing on edibles but also because I love experimenting with flavour and fragrance.   A few years back I discovered there was something called fusion cuisine and I have been inspired by it ever since.  In fact I can’t remember the last time I made something clearly identifiable as ‘Italian’ or ‘Burmese’.  Neither can the Mr.  He says I’m ‘innovative’. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t think I’m a great cook.   I make a mean roast lamb after all, inspired by Greek cuisine but mostly marinaded in Moroccan spices.

lamb

Source:  Wikipedia

So it probably goes without saying that I love the Food Network but sadly don’t get to watch it as much as I would like to, which brings me to this week’s topic:  Great Mysteries.

Now you’re probably wondering what has food got to do with the unravelling of deep existential questions like  ‘What is the meaning of life?’ or ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’

Probably nothing.  Maybe everything.  But because I’m shallow and pretentious I have never spent more than a nanosecond pondering those questions, instead I allow other mysteries like the one I am about to share with you to tumble about in the laundromat of my mind.

There is something called Peranakan cuisine.  Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to sample it on your adventures or in Indonesia.  Peranakan cuisine is the product of an intermarriage between Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines and the basis of it usually contains ingredients like coconut milk and lemon grass.   There is a nut – much prized – in Indonesia called Buah keluak.  Should you stumble upon one on your wanderings through untamed regions of Indonesia you should not under any circumstances eat it.  It will kill you unless you boil it first and then bury it for 40 days under ash and soak it in water for three days to soften the shell before eating it.  Apparently it tastes like chocolate.

My question is this: who were those first men and/or women? 39 brave volunteers (whose names are not recorded on stone tablets; no statues built in their honour) that consumed this nut and died in order for future generations to consume this chocolatey delight?

Why oh why is there no honour roll for these gastronomic heroes?   I want to write songs about them.

Do you find yourself wondering how certain foods got on the menu?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living With Mental Illness

Rant warning.

sunrise girl

One of my favourite sayings is “don’t judge a man before you have walked a mile in his shoes”.

It is one of those idioms that I wish more people would take to heart.

Earlier this week a certain celebrity decided to call suicide ‘stupid’ and described people who choose to end their lives as ‘selfish’. Having lost two friends to suicide and having counselled people weighed down by feelings of hopelessness and despair I can tell you referring to suicide as ‘stupid’ bothers me.

 (It bothered me enough to make me sit down and write this less than fluffy and charming post)

We all know someone with mental illness or addiction issues – diagnosed or otherwise.  Mental illness runs in my family.

My grandfather for example suffered from PTSD and was regarded until the end of his life by extended family and friends as  ‘a weirdo’.

My sister and I thought he was wonderful and eccentric.    We had no idea he was ‘disturbed’ by memories of the war.

Another close relative who lived with manic depression attempted to take her own life three times (that we know of).  Many of my friends had or continue to wrestle with depression and anxiety or live with someone who does.   I have mentioned before that I have learned to control my own anxiety.  At one point in my life it was so debilitating I didn’t leave the house for six months.

If we hope to be better human beings we should open ourselves up to learning more about mental illness.  When you do, you will come face to face in the office, in the community and at various social gatherings with a variety of disorders; anything from mood disorders to eating disorders.

Earlier this month Gillian Bennett took her own life because she had dementia and could not bear the thought of losing herself completely.  You can read her last blog post here.

We are tainted by our own experiences and perspective forgetting perhaps a little too conveniently that we’re not the ones hearing voices or wading through a sticky darkness 24/7.   We are also quick to assume that everyone shares in equal measure: opportunity, good fortune and privilege.  Not so.  Not everyone has access to social and medical infrastructure or the support of a loving parent or friend and many cannot afford the medication.

Treating mental illness is not the same as treating something like the flu.  There are a myriad complex and often intangible factors to consider.  So while some people do go on to live fulfilling lives many people have relapses.

Words and opinions count only if they enlighten, educate and address the issue.  We need action not tweets.  Action is far more powerful.  As is imagination.  Commit to wellness if you live with a mental illness.  Reach out.  Seek help.   Often the most difficult thing is acknowledging we need the help and the second most difficult thing is reaching out to others.   Be brave.  Take those first steps.

Commit to act if you don’t live with mental illness but know someone who does or reach out to help those in your community.

I credit not only therapy but imagination with my healing.  I chose to imagine myself as whole, safe and powerful.  You can too.  It won’t necessarily end the pain but it lets in a shard of light long enough for you to start believing in possibility.

We save lives when we act.  Let’s stop thinking of  depression for example as something ‘he/she should snap out of’  and see it as a real illness like we do cancer and let’s offer to do the things we do for others like picking up groceries or the kids from school.   Let’s practice compassion.

Keep Calm and Carry On – Delaying Gratification

Our fifteen year old son is building a gaming computer.  I am immensely proud of him but not for the reasons you may think.

You see, like other millennials he has a desperate (and often loud) need for instant gratification, so when he told the Mr and I that for his birthday he wanted to build his own gaming computer we realized here (at last) was our opportunity to teach him about the benefits of having a strong work ethic and of delaying gratification.

If you are the parent of a teenager you will understand how difficult it is for them to appreciate delaying gratification for any reason.  Their friends can be reached instantly via text or on Facebook and should they need to know if there are yaks in South America they’re a Google second away from having the answer.    Furthermore if they require feedback on anything like a new haircut or a pair of trainers they ask about it on Snapchat or Instagram.  

So imagine how he reacted when we said ‘Yeah sure bud we’ll get you the parts but a) you’ll have to work for it and b) you only get a maximum of four parts a month until you have all the necessary components”.

Well.  That, went down like this:

“I’m not sure I heard you.  Wanna text me what you just said?”

‘You heard us.”

“Did you say I would have to build my computer over several MONTHS?”

“YES.”

“I could be dead by then.”

Mr and I blinked in unison.

“Technology evolves at such a rapid pace I could be building a dinosaur computer.”

Mr and I blinked again.

“But the game I want to play on my new computer comes out next week!”

I got up to make cups of chamomile tea.

“There’s a law somewhere against doing this to children in Canada!  I know there is! I’ll google it! This is torture.”

When he calmed down to a hissing fit we explained our logic to him.  There are no free handouts in life.  You get what you work for and you have to learn to put things away (like money)and forget about it.  

When the first batch of parts arrived he was happy for 48 hrs and then he reverted to all kinds of shenanigans. He threatened to go on a hunger strike just before I decided to bake blueberry muffins.  He ate six of the twelve muffins.  He refused to clean up his room until I showed him that there was a massive sale on keyboards (50% off!) and that his laziness was costing us money.  He staged a silent protest beside the garbage bin on garbage collection day until I reminded him a black bear was spotted in our street earlier that week and well, if he wanted to deal with that problem while I was at work he was welcome to it.   

Maybe it is a generational thing.  I don’t know.  I have never had trouble delaying gratification.  In fact I get immense pleasure from saving for something I want or buying something small like a chocolate bar and hiding it away for a ‘rainy day’. 

Do you suffer from a need for instant gratification?

Since then our son has come a long way.  How do I know?  Well yesterday at the store he picked out a mousepad that reads: 

Keep Calm And Carry On

Trust me he would have never picked that one three months ago.

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Of Times…

It’s been the best of times, it’s been the …well, interesting.

So if you read my last post you will remember we had plans.  Real plans.  We were going camping.  Somewhere in the interior of beautiful British Columbia.  We were going to barbecue, bake on a rock, read books on a boat, drink lake-chilled beer, play with water guns….

Then my husband got promoted.  Very unexpectedly.  Twice.  In the space of two weeks in the middle of the best Summer in recent memory.

Getting promoted is really good news.  But.

No Summer road trip.  No getaway for the four of us.

So I’ve been working (and sulking just a little because I’m a child) and reading (I am determined to get through my Summer reading list no matter what).

Maybe, the Mr. tells me, later this year.  In the Fall.  When the bears are their hungriest.  The wolverines their feistiest.  We will lie on a carpet of molten gold and copper and shiver in our blankets as we watch the Harvest Moon rise.

I think not. I tell the Mr (with a stomping of feet).  No camping in the Fall.  I demand a hotel room, room service, warm towels, chocolates on pillows.  But I’m bluffing and he knows it.

We both want the bush.  Wild, untamed, gnat-infested bush.

For now I am home with my boys who in a desperate attempt to salvage what is left of Summer have the tent up in our backyard and the barbecue going.

What are you up to? 

Here’s a pic of a local rascal in our plum tree yesterday morning.

2014-08-09 10.57.44

Going Away

On the bus today, this short poem by one of my favourite BC poets (part of the poetry in transit series):

I’m waiting to write.
It’s like waiting for the bus. You know the bus will come.
I don’t know the bus will come. All I know is there’s a sign here that says “bus stop.”
You may have to flag it down.
I’m not flagging it down. I’m waiting for the bus that stops at this bus stop.
George Stanley

Wonderful, isn’t it?

Stitched Panorama

I suspect this may be my last “normal” post for the Summer.  Soon invited guests (as opposed to uninvited guests) :-) will arrive for a short visit and then in early August we leave the city to go on our annual Summer road trip which includes camping.  If all goes well, I will return with photos and news of our misadventures adventures in late August.  I know myself well enough to know there probably won’t be complete radio silence.  But then I could surprise myself and go cold turkey.  If I don’t (go cold turkey), expect to see me in the blogosphere leaving sun-addled/lake-chilled-beer-cheery comments on my favourite blogs.  I ask for your forgiveness for any odd or gobbledygook comments in advance.

I will be scheduling in some of my poems just so you won’t forget me.

I plan to get through a mountain of books.  I love reading under the shade of a tree with a view of water stretching before me.  Once I took a book out with me when we went tubing down a river and well, it didn’t work out so well for the book.  My Summer reads all return from vacation with shiny covers (tanning oil) and with sand between their pages (as opposed to toes). Sometimes when I need a whiff of Summer I just take out one of my Summer reads and smell the ocean on those rough sun burnt pages or run my fingers along a thin line of fine beach sand.

What about you? Are you going away? 

Happy Happy Summer! :D (to my Northern Hemisphere readers and is it ok to wish Southern Hemisphere readers a Mild & Happy Winter?)

Here’s to good times, glorious weather, happy gatherings and great reading!

Birthday Gal

Today is my birthday and on July 12th this blog turned 1.  So as a Big Thank You to all of you, my blog friends and followers for reading these scribblings, I thought I would share a list of some of my favourite things (things in Capital Letters are essential-for-life and non-negotiable like OXYGEN and WATER):

FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHOCOLATE, snickerdoodle cookies, ART, GREEN SPACES, sun-dried linen, CAKE, home-made pizza, animals, sun hats, art galleries, libraries, museums, comfortable shoes, MUSIC, dance, TEA (especially green and Yorkshire tea), POETRY, yoga….and it goes without saying BOOKS and WRITING.

Hubby insisted on taking these photos in our garden (with roses) he can be demanding like that sometimes (he’s a frustrated artist). Had I known I would be posing for photos I would have powdered my nose and brushed my hair :-) I hope you like them.

Summertime Soft FocalSummertime Pic