“One single minute.   Every day. 

Just one minute of contemplation every day is the start towards the killing of the nafs.* 

You don’t need a book- no Qu’ran, no Bible, you need to study the book of yourself.

Who you are.  What you do.  Why you are here.

Dervishood has been around since before Adam, and it goes on today, and has evolved.  I used to say that you needed to study yourself for five minutes a day**, but now I say one minute.  Who here can say they take one minute  a day for themselves?

A single minute.  Every day.  This will kill your nafs.  This will answer all your questions.”

-Sheikh Cemil Baba repeated as faithfully possible from memory from a discussion Saturday, April 17th, 2010, please forive any transcription error. 

*I was once told that the challenge of the individual on the Sufi path was “De s’en débarasser en lui de ce qui n’est pas de Lui.”  Some refer to it as polishing the mirror so as better to reflect God’s light.  I like to think of it more as polishing a gem so as better to refract His light and share the colours of the lovely rainbow thereby created with those around me.  It’s very similar to Buddhist teachings and efforts, especially when you get talking about the illusory nature of the world.  But I digress…

**This reminds me of how in the story of Muhammed (pbuh) being lifter to heaven on the “buraq”, he was instructed by God to pray 50 times a day, but then how Moses (pbuh) told Muhammed to plead for a reduction, and it was haggled down to only 5 times… Although technically in the Qu’ran the commandment is only for three times- near-dawn, afternoon and evening.  But that’s another story.


After spending so much time seated on a cushion on the floor, we creaked and cracked and stretched, saying we had “zikr-knees”.  This reminds me of  “prayer bump”.

Speaking with my father recently about plans to get together during the summer, meeting up with other family members, staying in a hotel.  He’s going to make the reservation, and I had a momentary “twinge” about sharing a hotel room between My Fella, the Micron and I.

When we used to travel as a family if we got a hotel room with only double beds, That Guy would share a bed with Micron and I would share a bed with The Elder on account of the adults being plus-sized people, a double bed would barely fit us.   It seemed innocent enough at the time, but I regret it now, looking back.

So last night I asked my new family if they were comfortable with the three of us sharing a room.  My Fella and I would share one bed (I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past few years, and MF is quite slender), and she in a pull-out or cot or another bed.   They’re both cool with it.   This is good.  I mean, we’re a lot more concerned about being seen naked by other family members, which seems a shame that the innocence was shattered.  But now I guess we’re more like most other North American families, hiding their bodies from each other.

I’m still doing this cleanse thing which says I’m not allowed vinegar or sugars or dairy.  But vinegar is an essential component of most mayonnaises, and many commercial brands include sugar in theirs, and many recipes call for cream.  What’s a girl to do to get some flavour in her gluten-free sourdough sandwich?  Make her own mayo, of course! 

I was really intimidated by the prospects, but honestly, it was ridiculously simple.  I remember my grandmother making her own mayo and me whining that I wanted the commercial salad dressing type.  Ah, the folly of youth!  Fifteen minutes, common ingredients and a blender resulted in over a cup’s worth of fabulousness!  

1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk (room temperature)
1 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp salt
1 ½ c olive (NOT virgin) or canola oil
3 tsp lemon juice (room temperature)

-In a blender or food processor, mix the eggs and spices together until frothy.
-While the blender or processor is still going, drizzle in the oil slowly- and I mean SLOWLY, so slow that if you eased up, it’d be coming out in drops.  Keep on mixing, only stopping once or twice to swipe down the sides of the bowl or blender.  This should take about 10 minutes, possibly 15.
-Add your lemon juice and mix in.

Keeps in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

I made this with my teenage daughter helping: I poured in the oil, she moved around our hand mixer (the kind with the whisk attachment) until she got bored, then I managed to do it myself.   I refrigerated half immediately, and then mixed in some unsweetened soy milk and made a tasty hollandaise sauce variant for brunch.

If you want to simulate the white garlicky sauce from your fave shawarma/gyro/falafel place, add 1-2 cloves (2 small ones or one big one) of  minced garlic at the same time as the lemon juice.  Goes great as a dip for roast potatoes as well as being a zesty sammich topping!

I am not actually a vegan, but I recognize that animal fats are generally not very healthy for me.  Plus, I have vegan friends, so I like to stock up on recipes for when they come to visit.  But right now I’m on a no-dairy (and a bunch of other stuff that’s off the table) cleanse.  So here’s a super tasty dessert treat that can also double for breakfast!  This makes about 4 ½-cup servings.

  • 2 cups cooked, brown rice
  • ½ cup coconut milk, unsweetened, stirred
  • 3 cups soy milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla (or if you’re really awesome, ½ a vanilla bean, diced)
  • ½ tsp cardammom (ground)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Sweetener:  I use 6 individual packets of Stevia.  Maple syrup would also be a lovely treat for the non-diabetic crowd.
  • ½ tsp salt: use only if your rice was cooked without salt. 

Combine all ingredients in a pot.  Simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first, then constantly for the last 10 minutes as it starts to thicken.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken up a bit more. 

I like to spoon it out into a funky dish (martini glasses are a popular fave, or a tea cup) and sprinkle with cinnamon.  You can even garnish it with a cinnamon stick.  By the way, did you know how good cinnamon is for diabetics?   It’s fabulous! 

Anyhow, this recipe is sugar-free and uses high glycemic-index brown rice, so it’s good for you, fine for those on candida cleanses or other non-gluten diets, and tastes great!  I like to serve this with fresh fruit on the side, but for the more traditionalist types, raisins or dried cranberries could be quite lovely.  If you really want to make this into a special dish, you could hydrate your raisins in some rum, and/or and top with a few slices of baked apple.  Or slices of banana and coconut flakes.

But for me?  I’m keeping it simple and healthy!

PS- if you don’t have any coconut milk, you can just use regular/soy milk and a bit of coconut extract.  Heck, the other day I didn’t have enough soy milk, so used all coconut milk, and it turned out just fine.  So long as you’ve got 3½ cups worth of liquid, you’re fine.

Elder, The: my eldest daughter, born whilst I was still single.  She’s 18 as of this post, living on her own in another city studying to be a doctor.

Micron: my youngest daughter.  Almost 15, she lives with My Fella and I.  She’s witty and talented, and loves living in a city now.

My Fella: we met over 15 years ago and became progressively closer friends.  We started dating just over a year ago, and now live together with my youngest, a pet reptile and kitteh in a cute apartment near the university.  He’s terribly clever.

That Guy: We were married for over 10 years.

More will be added as I start to generate pseudos for all the people in this chronicle.

Last night I had a conversation with Micron.  She had just gone to her first solo session with her new counsellor in this city, and I was hoping to hear how things went.  I didn’t necessarily want to hear every detail, because that’s between her and her therapist, but I did want to get an overview.  She likes this new lady, even though – or perhaps because of – the grandmotherly vibe. 

Anyhow, she said something that really took me back.  I knew that one of the issues she was dealing with was watching me fall apart.  Both girls had told me that that was something that had hit them hard.  But what really struck me was when she told me about how That Night had played for her.  We were at a friend’s house about a twenty minute drive away in the country.  The girls and I and the hostess were watching some eighties movie with the Brat Pack (I think it was Breakfast Club) in the living room, the host and That Guy (who was at the time my husband) were in the kitchen checking out some game.  The phone rang.  It was the police saying “There’s been an incident we need TG to come back to the farm.”  So he drove away in our minivan, promising to phone back. 

The hours passed, and it was getting late, no word from the farm despite phone calls to both houses.  So our hostess offered to let us kip out in their spare room.  TG didn’t phone back, nor was I able to speak to anyone at the farm before the girls went to bed.

So they tried to get to sleep not knowing if the farm had burned down, if their grandparents were ok or not, or what. 

TG didn’t come back that night.   The next morning, they awoke to me crying and informing them that their dad had done something unforgiveable, and that we were going to get a divorce.  He was going to come over to say goodbye, but then that could possibly be the last time they’d see him for a long time.

What a crappy way to wake up.  And I’d been so tied up in my own emotions that it didn’t occur to me how much of a shock it would be to the girls.

A lot has happened over the past year and a half.  Heck, come to think of it, my life has been fairly eventful in the past two decades .  This blog will reflect that.  Sometimes I’ll post what’s going on today, sometimes I’ll dig back into old diary entries and memories to post a story that might add clarity to what’s going on now.  I’ll try to be vigilant with regards to tagging entries so those who find this blog and who are only interested in its recipes can stick to those, for example. 

Chances are if you’re joining me from the beginning, you’re a friend.  But I suspect it might attract more attention from beyond my personal circle, so please, if you do know me, do not reference my name or those of others.  Names will be changed within these chronicles to protect the innocent.  Also, there is the pesky element of a publication ban in effect with regards to the events of the past year and a half, so unfortunately at the same time, the guilty will be protected as well.

These are my memories such as they are.  Sometimes I’ve made little changes for artistry or brevity sake.  I’m sure I make for a flawed narrator, but I assure you, unless it’s tagged “Fiction”, it’s true.   Also on the subject of tags, if it doesn’t have a date in the content of the post, then it’s from “today”.  I will be jumping around with many anecdotes from my lifetime, but will try to be clear when they happened.   I will be sharing experiences with regards to my daughters’ and my trauma, and these will be tagged “That Thing”- fair warning for people who might be dealing with their own triggers.

I’m starting out on the Sufi path.  I’m starting out a new life post-trauma with teenage kids.  Charting new territories all around.  I’m not your typical Muslim or mom, and I trust that you’ll leave higher powers to judge me and refrain from overtly harsh comments.  I do welcome feedback, recipes, and presents.

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