Thursday, January 10, 2013

To My Beloved Email Subscribers

Love ? I love love love you.Dear friends, as you probably know this blog has relocated to my new website, where it continues uninterrupted and does all kinds of interesting things.

I would be very sad if you did not come with me to my new home.

So you are thinking: that's too much trouble,  I'm not savvy with these things, I don't know how to do that ...

So guess what? I'm going to walk you through the process, step by step. 

1. Click on this link. It will open in a new window so you can still see these instructions.

2. Look in the sidebar on the right-hand side. There's a blue header there that says "Subscribe via Email".

3. Fill in your email address.

4. Click the button that says "Subscribe".

There, that's it! You're done! You may get a confirmation email, I'm not sure whether that is configured or not. Actually, if somebody could let me know that would be great.

So, I hope you will continue to follow my blog! I'm talking to YOU, after all.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oooh, Shiny! Or, A Farewell to Blogger

ShinyYes, I have a shiny new blog over on my new website. Blogger really jumped the shark for me the other day when I was trying to insert a screen shot of my Facebook page. It jumped all over the screen and the formatting was just horrible. I'm done.

So, this is the last blogpost I'll be writing on this site. I will set up some kind of redirect to send you to the right place in future, but please come over there and subscribe! All the old posts are there in case you want to find something.

In a way I'm quite sad to be leaving this familiar forum, but I'm also excited to be making my own new one (first need to learn quite a bit more about Wordpress!).

Wishing everyone a wonderful, healthy, successful and productive New Year! I love you all.

What I've Been Doing

Construction WorkSo, I asked everyone to like my FB page, and I had a wonderful response that warmed the cockles of my heart. Then I went quiet. So, what's going on?

There are several things on the go. First of all, my little tutoring/editing/web support business has been dormant for a while, and I need to revive it. I can't go into details but let's just say employment in my family, which was stable for nearly twenty years, has become precarious. It's a difficult time for us and I need to look into doing my share. It was one of the reasons I got the B.Ed., but that path has turned out, for a variety of reasons, not to be very fruitful so far.

In support of this endeavour, I'm starting a self-hosted website, and while I'm not ready to share it just yet (to be honest, the construction there is not unlike this picture at the moment), it is gobbling up lots of my time. This blog will also be moving to Wordpress at the same time - I had a traumatic experience with Blogger trying to use a screen shot of my FB page for the previous post, and it really accelerated my desire to get off this platform and onto one I can control better. Of course, to do that I have to learn how to control it. How wonderful that I just finished an HTML/CSS course!

There are also three kids off school who seem to think they have some claim to my time. Don't know where they got that idea, silly people.

So I just want to wish everyone a healthy, happy, productive 2013, and may we all get to pursue our heart's desire. Talk to you on the other side.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Like my Facebook Page?

facebook logoI've added another step on my journey to creating a web presence that will allow me to reach people and offer them my services. I've made a Facebook page for my blog. It used to be that FB would allow you to post blog posts directly to the page, but they've decided, in their infinite wisdom, to disable that feature. That's OK - I do see their point that they were getting too many automated feeds and not enough interactivity. I love talking with you guys, so it's all good.

I'm struggling with all kinds of silly issues - too many names, to begin with. This blog is called My Coat of Many Colours, because my life and my thoughts are so eclectic. My gmail address and Twitter handle involve the name Lionsima, which I've been using for many years and would be reluctant to give up. In the past, I've claimed Beenah Communications as a business name. Following the advice of Dean Dwyer and others, I've claimed as my domain name. Decisions, decisions.

Thank you for travelling this road with me. Any thoughts or suggestions you might have as I learn how to do all of this stuff would be very welcome.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

May I Help You?

Happy Happy Cookie
I wrote a huge long post about things that make me happy, and it made me realise that aside from the obvious such as hanging out with my family, there really are two main things that make me light up. So I deleted everything else and I'm just going to concentrate on those two.

One is learning new things. Some of the happiest times of my life have been when I was a student. Lord knows I'm not wishing to go back to college a la Avenue Q. I mostly enjoy being a grown-up and cooking is definitely one of the joys of my life. But researching, learning, acquiring new skills and using that big brain of mine, so woefully under-stimulated most days, really make me happy. So obviously I need to look for something that allows or even requires me to do that. I've been taking online Continuing Education courses in Technical Communication from my local college and they have made my life so much better. Learning new things was the one part of my life as a research scientist that I loved.

The other thing that makes me happy is helping people. Someone asks for a recipe and woosh, just like that, I can Google it for them. I can teach people to make sauerkraut. I can help them set up a website or Facebook page. I can edit their writing. I've supported a university professor in using Learn. I've tutored high school students. I volunteer for my kids' school and my synagogue as a coordinator, making sure volunteers are in the right place at the right time. I love doing all of that. It isn't even the thanks and kudos, although of course those are very pleasant. It's the act of ascertaining a need and fulfilling it. Helping people was the one part of my job as a high school teacher that I loved.

All of this makes me think that I need to look actively for people to help. I can research topics and write reports about them. I am learning new skills such as website design (in which I've recently finished a course), editing and proofreading (ditto). I should learn more about Excel and Wordpress and find people who need help with them. Because I can learn quickly and well, and many people have less time and inclination than I do for these things.

So, I'll be setting up a website for these things, and I hope you will consider coming to visit, and maybe sending your friends. I would love to help you if I can.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 5 reasons to love your SCOBY

Andrea's gift
Andrea's Gift
This post is something of an experiment. While SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has become a bit of a dirty word in blogging recently, I believe there's nothing wrong with making cosmetic changes that increase the chance that people will find and read what you have to say.

One kind of post title that people appear to like promises a list of reasons for something. I've been meaning to write a post about the joys of the fermentation community for a while, and the original title of this post was "It takes a village to grow a SCOBY". But I'm going to use the list format, instead. Tell me whether you like it and I should do more of them, or you think it is just gimmicky.

Just to remind you, a SCOBY is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. The acronym usually refers to the culture used in making kombucha, but milk kefir and water kefir grains are also SCOBYs. Yoghurt cultures are not.

5. While there isn't much scientific proof of the benefits of fermented drinks such as kombucha and kefir, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that people with gut issues who drink kombucha seem to feel better. That is certainly true in my case. There was a scare a few years ago in which the FDA linked deaths to kombucha, but there doesn't seem to have been any conclusive evidence there. I've never felt ill after drinking my home-brew. It's also a great source of B vitamins. Of course it is important to make sure everything is clean, etc. - well, duh. They haven't warned people off Pepsi yet, because, you know, it doesn't do anything bad to you.

4. Even if you, like me, can't drink cultured milk directly, you can still make wonderful dairy products with it. I made the most amazing cultured butter from local organic milk I had fermented with milk kefir grains. It tasted just as good as the store-bought butter brought in from Quebec, and was considerably cheaper, which you can't always say for home-made stuff. Just as an aside, if I were able to access raw milk in Manitoba it is entirely possible that I would be able to drink the milk kefir. Again, there hasn't been much scientific research but I've heard many anecdotal reports of people who were supposedly intolerant of dairy doing just fine with the unpasteurised version. Again, you need to make sure everything is clean and safe. Well, duh.

3.  There is something very magical about watching the slow transformation of sweet tea into something resembling cider. You plop your little alien-looking colony into the tea, cover the jar and put it in a warm place. After about a week you will have a new baby SCOBY to share with your friends, and a yummy drink to put into bottles for a second fermentation with fruit or herbs. I usually use blueberries, strawberries or ginger. It's incredibly delicious. Even if it didn't have a single health benefit, it just tastes so nice, especially first thing in the morning. Move over, grapefruit juice.

2. It does take patience, whether you are making kefir or kombucha. You can't hurry it up, although you can slow it down by keeping it in a temperature that is too low. I usually put my jar in the oven with just the light on (and a BIG sign on the door to prevent me from cooking my ferments!). Having to wait on nature is good for the soul in these frenzied times. It can be quite zen.

1. Best of all, you get to interact with an amazing community of fellow enthusiasts. You can't buy a SCOBY in the supermarket. There are websites out there which will sell one to you, but it is much more fun to get one from a local person. I was fortunate to be put in touch with a lovely lady named Andrea, who gave me my first kombucha SCOBY. I am so grateful to her, and to Sarah who gave me milk kefir grains. I was fortunate to be able to pass on some of my baby SCOBYs to others interested in travelling a similar route. You can't buy that kind of experience, either.

So, those are my top reasons for loving my SCOBYs. I'm sure I could come up with more, but I don't want the blog post to be too long. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is the Negative Voice the Evil Inclination?

negative III was listening to one of my favourite podcasts today - Jonathan Roche's No Excuses Weight Loss on Blog Talk Radio. It isn't really about weight loss, although that may well be a welcome side effect of listening to Jonathan in the long term. It's really about the Lizard Brain, the Imposter Police, or what Jonathan calls the Negative Voice. Jonathan encourages listeners to exercise, eat well, but most importantly, to learn to silence that voice that tells them that they aren't worthy of all those loving efforts.

So why am I blogging about this now? I've been listening to Jonathan for years. I enjoy his direct approach, his gentle humour, and his uncanny ability to put his finger on the real issues his callers are struggling with. But today he spoke with a long-time listener from Israel, a guy named Steve. That was interesting enough in itself as the overwhelming majority of Jonathan's callers are female, although Jonathan handles male callers with the same ease and aplomb, with no hint of awkwardness. Steve has been dealing with some major health issues, but he's been doing well recently - swimming, walking and becoming more fit. That's all good, but then Steve said something I found quite fascinating. Jonathan commented on his positive attitude in the face of his health challenges, and Steve said that the Negative Voice was "what we call in Hebrew the yetzer ha'ra  - the Evil Inclination."

According to Jewish tradition, children are born with the Evil Inclination, but start to develop the Good Inclination (the yetzer hatov) after they become Bar or Bat Mitzvah (13 or 12 years of age for boys and girls, respectively). The Good Inclination's job is to control the Evil Inclination, to make a child who is only interested in pleasure into a responsible adult who is an asset to the community. It is a long struggle.

But the rabbis did not see the Evil Inclination as a demon to be exorcised - it is considered the source of many good things in life. If the Evil Inclination were banished, there would be no marriage or procreation, no one would bother to work or invent anything, ambition would be gone. The Evil Inclination drives people to desire.

How can this powerful force for creation be the Negative Voice or the Lizard Brain? The Evil Inclination is not fearful. It doesn't call us names - on the contrary, it flatters us into action we may regret. Maybe it convinces us to eat cake we don't need, but I imagine that the desire to increase health and energy comes from the same source. The Good Inclination doesn't lead to the kind of fierce joy we get from being strong. If anything, it is more likely to put us in our place - maybe the Negative Voice is more related to the Good Inclination? How confusing.

It seems that the traditional Jewish concepts of Evil and Good Inclinations don't map easily onto the idea of a Negative Voice or Lizard Brain or Resistance that is trying to keep everything status quo, keep your head down and don't rock the boat. If anything, that much-lauded Good Inclination would play the bad guy role, as it takes the Evil Inclination's wild energy and bops it on the head and pushes it into socially acceptable directions. Yet, anyone who does not learn how to function in society, at least minimally, is going to be seriously distracted from their creativity and art by the difficulties of everyday life. Wheels within wheels and layers within layers!
This has turned out to be a somewhat abstruse blog post, but I really love combining different parts of my life in this way. I hope you like thinking about these things, too.