Blessings for the winter solstice – pecan fudge pie!

Winter solstice greetingsMay the trees rest peacefully this winter, under their blanket of snow. May the earth continue her turning, gently nudging the darkness toward light. May all beings be happy, fed, and warm.

The winter solstice gathering at Monkey Valley was cancelled due to early snow and overworked snow plowers. I drove out of the valley last Saturday evening, through 7 inches of sparkling, light, fairy-dust snow. I was very proud of the Tracker, in 4WD low and with new winter tires, for driving out of there like a tank, over 12 KM of unplowed roads! It was -15° Celcius, and the snow was still falling. Truly a magical drive, with the roads completely drifted over, and the snow-laden boughs of the pine trees hanging low on either side, giving friendly wishes for my safe journey.

Vegan a Go-GoSo instead of having a gathering on the land, I will have a small tea party in Vancouver, taking tea with my friends Geoff and Azusa Blake. In honour of the solstice, I am going to bake a pie (instead of the traditional bread). I’ve never baked a pie before, so this is quite momentous! I’ve been inspired by my expert pie-making friend, Devona Snook. And just today my friend Tim Kelly gave me a fantastic book for travelling vegetarians, called Vegan A Go-Go, by Sarah Kramer. I’m going to try her Fudge Pecan Pie. If it works out, I’ll let you know! Though if it doesn’t, I will probably blame it on pie babyhood, not the recipe.

So I invite you to take a moment to notice the deep darkness of the longest night. Feel that brief moment when the earth makes a tiny shift in rotation. Wish her blessings on her journey. And then celebrate with friends, with or without pie. Happy winter solstice.

Basic Flaky Pie Crust

  • 1.25 c flour
  • .25 t salt
  • .5 c vegetable shortening
  • 3 T very cold water

Stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until well mixed, then add the water. Mix until a dough forms. On lightly floured surface, knead for 1-2 minutes, then roll into a ball. Wrap dough in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes. Roll the dough into a pie crust with floured rolling pin.

Fudge Pecan Pie

  • .5 c water
  • .25 c vegan margarine
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • .75 c chocolate chips
  • .33 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • .175 t salt
  • .5 c soy or rice milk
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 c pecan halves
  • 1 9″ prepared pie crust (see above)
  • 2 t soy or rice milk

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Bring water to a boil in a pot, then remove from heat. Stir in the marg, cocoa, and choc chips and whisk until melted. Add flour, sugar, salt, .5 c milk, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Stir in pecan halves and pour into pie crust. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Brush top with 2 t milk. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Easy-peasy! (As my old friend Bev Lytton used to say. I hope all’s well with you, Bev.)

Digging a hole

Digging a holeHere it is, December already. The time of the west is drawing to a close, enticing us to move around the wheel to the north. But sometimes, in our solitude, we can get stuck in the west. Especially for those of us who enjoy the introspection that the west evokes. Going inward for healing and to increase our self-understanding is a vital function that the west supports us to undertake. Yet the purpose of this growth and learning is to emerge renewed, strengthened in our resolve to bring our gifts to our people. That is, we do the work of the west in preparation for the turning of the wheel onward to the north, which is the direction where we take our place with our people, and contribute to our community.

Digging a hole is an excellent way to enjoy the energies of the west while turning, turning, to the north. It is a physical expression of digging down, earthing ourselves, but because it is work, a task, with a physical nature and clear results, it helps us embody our west nature and bring it into the north, into the place of contributing to our people. For someone who is feeling depressed (stuck in the darkness of the west), a concrete physical activity like digging a hole is a great way to use the element of the west—earth—to bring about a shift. The energy evoked by the hard physical work of digging charges us with the red of the south. While the task that the hole will serve to fulfill brings in the energy of work, service, and contribution of the north. It is not so hard to dig a hole—with enough effort, just about anyone can do it. But the fact of the doing it helps us feel confident in our capacities to function and contribute—evoking the confidence of the will aspect of our true nature, which is associated with the north.

As I mentioned previously, my street sign for Starshine Way was STOLEN! So in the next few postings, I’m going to tell you the story of digging a hole for my new sign. To be continued…

Adventures of The Donald

SupercoolVisitors to Monkey Valley usually enjoy the spirited character of The Donald. They might hear him galloping down the path to the Medicine Wheel, sounding like a horse, his tail puffed up and fierce. Or he might precede the group softly, with the tip of his upright tail bent at an angle as he walks. He often stops to roll on the ground, presenting his belly for rubs. Kim Ashley took the photos of Donald on this page, when she was up in BC co-guiding Monkey Valley’s first vision fast in August 2008.

He’s also a favourite in our Vancouver neighbourhood, where he is more well known than the author! Donald is an adventurer, and he goes into people’s houses and cars, and goes along for a walk with strangers. He has been photographed by snapawayoungman and has an international following on Flickr!

Recently he went missing for three days and nights. Concerned neighbours and friends helped print and distribute posters, checked the internet for found cat ads, checked under bushes, and generally contributed good wishes for finding him.

The DonaldLess than an hour after I had put up “Donald is Missing” notices, I received a phone call. He followed a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth home on Sunday night around midnight. She took him in and fed him, and he stayed with her for three days! He was only three blocks away, and she let him go out whenever he wanted. Which implies that he could have come home but chose not to. So my personal belief is that he enjoyed the company of this younger, blonder woman, whose perfume still clings to his fur. And also, she fed him better! He was very unhappy to come home to me, and growled and hissed at me all night.

This was not Donald’s first adventure. He has been missing before, and was found over 15 blocks away and taken to the SPCA. My friends Geoff and Azusa put up a missing cat poster, and someone who had seen him at the SPCA saw the poster and called them! Another time I had a call that he was in someone’s house on First Avenue. He has been shut up for long periods in garages, basements, and the “cold room” at Monkey Valley, because he just goes where his curiosity takes him! And he has been chased by a coyote or two in his day, and lived to continue with his aloof philandering ways…

For those of you who are familiar with object relations theory, you might notice a thing or two about my relationship with my cat!