Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

the love project continues

glimpsedeepintoyreyes

And, probably, we need say no more.  But when the cursor allows it, we spring in to action and TYPE.

On the one hand, things appear to be hurtling toward hell in a handbasket.  On the other, essential reality and truth are seeping ever farther into the picture rendering the handbasket a bit smaller each day.  I mean, for the most part, I think things will turn out just fine, the News of the Day aside both political/personal, and personal.   There’s not much point in grousing, after all, however NECESSARY it may seem.

On the positive side, a lengthy sojourn of weed pulling and clipping and advancing into the impenetrable center of the garden (where I found blooming camellias!) did not result in career-ending back pain.  The asparagus plant has sprouted again, the plums are  looking strong, the peach is in full leaf, the pomegranate is leafing out AND the fig tree has both leaves and the initial early First Fig forming.  Clipping errors on rose bushes became propagation projects.  The grapes are legion, and the Fo Ti  has taken a grip on things that will take some time to unravel.  My laziness will have to be set aside so at long last, the roots of same can be tinctured in September (which is about when I’ll probably find them, too) and provide us with medicine which was, of course, the initial idea.  I think it’s called Hou Shou in TCM, a kidney and overall longevity remedy, which right about now seems quite appropriate. ( Otherwise, a word to gardeners: Fo Ti is a great plant but it’s like kudzu.  One little sprig will take over everything and I do mean everything.)  There’s still plenty of excavation to be done prior to planting the actual vegetable garden but it all seems, in this moment, Promising.  The black rufflled hollyhocks survived the winter so I am looking forward to blooms…..and sunflowers……oh boy!!!!

Also? the Partner hooked up the turntable for my birthday and I am once again reunited with my (large, sigh) record collection.  It’s almost…..overwhelming.  I mean, it’s been eight years here and….well. The dust situation is daunting, and the heat has burnt up two CD players already, but: MUSIC.  I’ve yet to find Coltrane and Bob Marley but they are in there, T. Monk, Bach, dance music of every description, in every language almost, oh! and! SALSA! which I have also not found yet….but.  Look out neighborhood, all I can say.  No longer do I have to satisfy myself with blasting out pow wow music and Femi Kuti from the car!!!! The Dog is adjusting fairly well, too, especially considering this is the first he’s ever heard of this sort of exact thing.  We’re listening to the Rolling Stones and he’s stretched out on the floor, head cocked and smiling.  And now? the tail is wagging and he and the Partner are dancing.  He also appears to have decided that I’ve had Quite Enough Time to Write This Whatever It Is and Someone Has To Go Outside When The Song Ends…..

So.  Setting aside  fears of disaster (although really- so much has happened already by this time I should know better), which are actually intrinsic to being human and thus can be assigned a proper size,  there continues to be reason for cautious optimism.  It really does come down, over and over, to choosing open over closed, love for all over #@@$$@@##!!!.  and also, when the mind spirals into the panoply of how many ways things can go sideways? Just turning around and facing the opposite direction.  Where you can actually See.  Which is, I think, what Creator (however called and named) wants us to do.

Blessings and thanks! as always.

 

 

 

Advertisements

hope springs eternal

cake18

Upside down but there it is.  Hope, and cake.  A totally decadent Julia Child flourless chocolate thing, just chocolate, whipping cream, eggs, a little sugar and rum, vanilla.  A raspberry sort-of-coulis underneath with a honey simple syrup.  And yes, it was for my birthday.

WHICH I ONCE AGAIN SURVIVED.  Quotidian notwithstanding.  And even though I fell into a bit of a mood-hole today, all is very well, and we even got out of it without bringing in a backhoe for extra fun.  We’re clearly in a time of change, Gentle Reader, which is thorough going and leaves nothing untouched.  That can be a good thing when it’s the old callused habits that get scraped off, even though in the moment one is thinking, ouch? OUCH? THIS AGAIN? ANYTHING BUT THAT…..and if is of course yes this again because dear heart you did not deal with it before.  All those things we all become entangled with in life as we pass by that we shouldn’t dally with, old relationships, old shapes we wanted to squish ourselves into……not to mention the moving storehouses of everyone else steaming by with hooks, barkers, enticing offers…..  And of course it turns out that the way out is through, right? Oh, goody.  But it also turns out that a heart oriented personal system of not doing anything to someone else you wouldn’t want them to do to you does work.  Even if what it does is make that Other dump you like a hot potato, or alternatively make you realize that “one should never be where one does not belong”, or, perhaps most challenging, make you realize you’re here now and it IS what it IS.  And you, darling little speck of light and energy, are one piece of a very big thing, so do try not to be the tail wagging the dog.

There’s a lot to getting along in this life and a big part of it is not-doing.  So, it’s a good thing indeed that it is Spring and in my ongoing not-doing epic, the garden now needs attention and I can just say, well, kid! go pull weeds! later for all that other stuff and DO quit worrying about whether the whatever it is got mailed/done/answered/ordered/handled.  First project will be cleaning the Dog’s Bathroom which is now the entire garden area.  (Why is there nothing productive to do with dog poop???? This seems like a huge oversight on someone’s part.)  Second will be figuring out a less byzantine system of seedling organization than last year.  Not that the color coded pots weren’t fun but the handwriting on the “key”….well, it got wet and then Somebody Chewed It…..so it was the usual  I guess we’ll see what this is in a week or so……..the Partner was VERY not amused.  o-PHOTO-BOOTH-DOGS-570.jpgAnd, given the enormous amount of love and support and being there he provides? The least I can do is make it possible for him to know what…well, what it IS.  And, apparently the Universe is saying, what it IS? is go wash dishes and I’m going to insert this picture here no matter what you think.  It is a really good picture, sort of a words to live by thing, and now….off to it! Blessings and thanks.

yet another palimpsest

Well, sheesh Gentle Reader.  The normal torrent of words flying around my brain has slowed dramatically of late and writing, which is usually fairly easy? has been like pulling teeth.

However, I decided to take the position that this is a Developmental Phase and inspect all the words that DID pop up along with their associated…associations.   All while fairly major things were transpiring, as usual.

I’m slowly investigating things now that make my stomach upset.  Realizing at long last that stomach upset is, guess what? a SIGNAL that something isn’t right, I’ve been thinking about how many times I’ve disregarded my inner voice, self, whatever you want to call it, in favor of the opinion of the Other.  And how in the process I internalized that Other Opinion.  Which has pretty much been a huge mistake every time.

It has been a mistake because in those moments I relinquished my authority over myself and set it outside.  This sort of thing always leads to the same place, which is nowhere you really want to go and often includes the permanent installation of that stomach ache.  You think, of course, at the time, that it’s a good thing and this other person knows more than you do and all the rest of the malarkey that goes alongside.  It turns out that generally not to be the case, and people who insist you take their opinion as Fact do not for the most part have your best interests at heart.  The sad thing is they may think they have THEIR best interests at heart, and that isn’t true either.

Net net, after all this sitting still and observing things, something big happened.  I accepted myself as IS, and yes, not a moment too soon.  Early in December during a massive flood of unpleasantness, someone came over to our house and proceeded to tell me in a very patronising way that the work I do, what I do…none of it works and it’s just silly.  This pretty much covered everything from gardening to my remedies. I looked at this person and thought, wow, you must really feel like crap to attack me like that for no reason.  Then I thought…whoa! this isn’t the first time at this particular rodeo, kid.  People have told you this over and over.  Intellectually I know it isn’t true and those uttering such sentiments speak from ignorance and limitation,  but….and there’s the but.  I saw that I doubt myself.  I decided to just try to nip that in the bud each time it poked out and wow, was THAT a full time occupation.  The way I spoke to myself for most of my life was in a manner continually anticipating some sort of ghastly failure.  Admittedly there is some historical basis for such a concept- but not all the time.  The countervailing force of “stay in the now” saved me but also caused a lot of cognitive dissonance, i.e. stomach aches.

Anyway, in taking the long view it became clear just how much magic and goodness filled, always, my days and how that, in fact, kept me afloat in a world that seemed not to wish me well.  Balancing the necessity of living in that world with the necessity of staying sane while so doing has finally paid off, however.  I recently had two powerful and really, incontrovertible, instances of where my work and remedies made a big and sustaining difference in people’s lives.  It was an amazing experience, like fireworks were going off all around me and I’d finally come up to the surface of a deep lake from the bottom, spluttering and shaking water from my eyes, to see….myself, waiting for me.  No division, no stomach ache.  Challenges for sure….but the knowing that they can be met.  So, it IS true.  Once you believe it, you  see it, and not in the sense of seeing what you expect to see, but in the sense of removing constricting information from your viewfinder and turning the darn lights on.  It can be done!

As a reward for your patient reading of this:

bloodoranges

Aren’t these AMAZING? Given the harshness of the climate here, the fact that this little tree produces this much magic fills me with joy.  Plus they’re totally yummy.  Blessings and thanks!!!!

well…….

Who knew that screaming would be totally out of the question so soon after I mentioned it here?  We became engulfed, enrobed we can say even, in smoke about three weeks ago.  Thus turning my life into one long Inhaler episode, removing any ability really to speak, or go outside. Or sleep, or breathe, or any number of things.   A bit of a fugue state, it has nonetheless allowed me to catch up on The New Yorker.

During which of course enough disasters have occurred to make a person wonder if it might not really be some kind of…something.  But what? Apocalypse? End of the beginning? Beginning of the end? We can see the fine hand of the forked tongue in the non-pictorial non-coverage of what’s gone on, at least on network TV.  The same pictures were shown over and over both for Harvey and Irma, but none that really showed what was happening and to what extent.  Nothing at all of the first earthquake in Mexico or hurricane information, either. The recent event in Mexico City is so big I guess it cannot be ignored but even so unless one watches Telemundo there isn’t much real information.  Likewise no film has been shown here, really, of all the fires that caused the above enrobement…because? Initially there WAS one news clip but OMG.  What was that in the picture there kids? It was a lot of marijuana plants, in an undoubtedly (due to size) illegal grow.  No aerial footage whatsoever after that, and barely even a mention of what was making the air yellow and solid either.  Ignorance is not necessarily bliss.

However, as usual, the kitchen has offered some solace from all this.  I finally may have gotten sauerkraut to work.cabbage1

And also, the butternut and other squash went insane to our amazement, and we’ve now got close to 30 butternuts stacked up for winter.  So that’s a good thing. Also a very good thing in that butternuts are something the Dog can not only eat, but goes cross eyed with bliss when he sees some in his bowl.  I also made a pickle from some of our never ending lemon squash so we’ll see how that comes out- curry flavor, and some prudently saved brine from prior pickles worked just fine.  It’s the Partner’s un-birthday tomorrow, so chocolate gelato seemed in order.  Fish tacos and homemade tortillas.  No singing but what can you do?  In other exciting news, we were reunited this week with the wonders of having a rear view mirror.  Readers may recall the funfest involved in obtaining Rear View Mirror Adhesive.  However, there was more.  This stuff could only be used between temperatures of 55 and 72 degrees F.  The people around here I told that to got hiccups from laughing.  So, they said, when hell freezes over, or February? Turns out it was 70! the other morning for about two hours so the Partner sprang into fixative action and I must say, it’s quite nice having that thing back.

This not being able to breathe business has, however,  made me feel even more grateful for all the good things in my life, and the ever present Bigger Picture of all of us on this planet.  Assuming, as I do, that improved functioning will resume sooner or later for both my lungs and the world in general, it’s given me an opportunity, lying flat and all,  to think about everything in our days with appreciation, instead of what was starting to loom which was more like $$%%!!!.  Still haven’t vacuumed but one task at a time, right?  I continue with redoubled effort to pray for some kind of sanity to envelop Washington DC at the same time as I think just how wonderful it is to have a garden and Nature to talk to, work with and in.  And a dog.  And a Partner who’s having an un-birthday.  Blessings and thanks!

because why

While I absolutely refuse to watch the “news” anymore (and the Partner is really tired of The Big Bang Theory reruns as a result), still it’s impossible to completely avoid the LPV and his incoherent, nasty, narcissistic expostulations.  I’m not ill over it anymore, like I was at first.  But now it’s like watching something horrible creep toward you- hoping it won’t Quite Reach You, also knowing that awful slime trail is going to kill a lot of stuff.  The awareness that this/it is an expression of things as they are, kind of like a gigantic pimple coming to a head, helps one to focus on doing what one can.  Given our cliff hanging fiscal situation, this may only be Thinking Good Thoughts for Aleppo and Houston with no donations included,  but somehow I am sure if we all did even that, it would accomplish great things.

ANYWAY. The other day after the usual festivities and great weather, I remarked to the Partner that I was, really, ready to scream.  He looked at me owlishly and said, well, that’s why they call these places HOLLERS.

This made me laugh for a very long time, daily reality notwithstanding. I found myself saying the word “holler” over and over.  Something finally made sense!  And a few other great things happened too, enumerated as follows:

  1. Having a pain in the wrist that kept me awake for two nights, I went outside and rubbed said offending wrist in the Nettle plant that is growing splendidly.  IT WORKED.  And not in the sense of, OK, you hit your hand with a hammer and forget your toothache.  No, it actually made the pain go away even though it was painful in the moment.  The historic use of this plant as a treatment for joint pain is something you can continue for yourself.  Easily grown from seed (just keep it away from DOGS), not only are nettles good to eat, good in beer making and biodynamic gardening, excellent as a hair treatment, but? pain relieving in the most extraordinary way.  Happy dance time.
  2. Tending as I do to overcommit and start things which then get buried in the dim recesses of say, the refrigerator….imagine my  joy when, at long last I uncapped a gallon canning jar of grape juice from last year’s harvest which I’d been Not Looking At in the refrigerator…and? it had become a fantastic fruit vinegar.  BOY WAS I HAPPY. (I admit to acting as though I had done this on purpose. *sigh*)
  3. A right wing group, “Patriot’s Prayer” (for God’s sake. really?) was going to have a demonstration in Crissy Field in San Francisco.  In response, the ever resourceful and humorous citizens of my home town carpeted the field where the event was to be held with dog poop:  The Turd Reich. (And, picked it up later as well.)  Fortunately the poop was not called into play, so to speak, since the Patriots decided it “wasn’t safe” for them to hold their event- tiki torches were banned.

Given the nature of the days now with daily apocalypti, I found all this very encouraging.  We even have mystery chili peppers coming in! The Dog’s spots are going away! Really.  What? Me Worry? Nah.  Blessings and thanks to you all.

poblano

 

life in a body

Perhaps it is the times.  Perhaps it’s because it’s been over 100 degrees here every day for what seems like eternity but has in actual fact only been about six weeks…maybe eight.  But I’m retaining the impression that most of how I used to look at the world was off by a bubble or two.

Things used to seem solid, concrete, have a”reason” to be where they were.  Now there is a shift afoot that makes even the idea of solid ground questionable.  As human beings we have quite a lot more capability than we ever use.  Bizarrely, we seem to feel the need to make more of us, not just in physical form but in mechanical as well.  Artificial intelligence?  Get serious. We have machines now we aren’t smart enough to use, and a brain in our heads we may NEVER have been smart enough to use.  The things we can actually perceive with our existing bodily equipment, if we put our energy into it, are astonishing.  The things we can see, the music we can hear, the languages we can understand- there is just so much more than daily life might lead you to believe.  Although of course daily life is precisely where to look for all of this magnificence.

And of course it is daily life that seems to be taking it in the neck over and over.   The premise that THINGS will make you happy, for example.  How realistic is that?  Then happiness can be doled out in drops from the top of the hierarchy and the inhabitants of earth can be led to believe that if they don’t have THINGS to make them happy, they won’t ever BE happy and of course? It’s their fault because they didn’t get the THINGS.  Oddly enough, most of the Nice Things along with the bulk of the stuff used to get them, aka money, gets wedged firmly at the top.  Funny how everyone at the bottom is just…not good enough.  Meanwhile the actual bringers of joy like relationships, conversations, having a way to make sense of your days as you experience them, curiosity and the urge to learn, an actual concrete relationship with FOOD…those things are all receding in the rear view mirror to the point that many don’t seem to know they exist at all.

And.  While we are each others keepers in the overall sense, that means we love each other and care for the common good.  It doesn’t mean making everyone think the same way you do and do the same things- or else all that “everyone” becomes bad.  It doesn’t mean consigning huge swathes of everything to the junk heap because somebody in some cubicle somewhere thinks commas are boring and words mean what you want them to in a given instant.   The common ground from which we are able to reach out to each other and our world is rolling up and out like a rug on moving day.

Not to even mention the titanic level of dishonesty that exists.  You can now see at almost any time of day someone who should know better saying something that is totally untrue.  And I’m not just talking about your local weather person. Aside from the packs of individuals who seem to have an endless amount of time to tweet on apparel and habits that are none of their business, nobody ever calls bullshit on the bullshit.   It’s as though a whole level of fear was poured all over everything…about seven months ago.

Still.  I realize all these things are manifestations of the change we’re all undergoing and as such can actually be lived and experienced, and thus actually dealt with.  The only thing for it is to be as awake as possible, armed with compassion and patience.  Lead us, as it says in the Upanishads, from the unreal to the real.  It turns out that is a far more challenging journey than you think when you first step out on to the path, humming and thinking, Oh YES! Reality! Truth! Onward! A few years into it  you may think, hmmm, not finding much truth here and reality may just bite.  But I’ll carry on.  A few more years and you think, holy unnameable item! Ignorance IS bliss! What can I do now? Limiting the snivelling as much as possible, eventually you crawl to the top of whatever you were laboring toward and see? More vistas, of course.  But in those vistas may be part of what is being sought, which is that goals and seeking may not be all they’re cracked up to be.  The map you use and the travel tips are, after all, from others just, or pretty much, like you who have toddled forth.  Opinions about reality, we might say.   So maybe it’s more about stopping at a pleasant spot, or just where you HAVE to stop, and not needing to have an opinion or an evaluation.  Experience all there is there without imposing anything on it, and try not to mess it up while you’re at it.  Not imposing like/not like on things is remarkably freeing, too.  Not so easy to do after years of  it being drummed into you, but well worth it.

In the like/not like vein, something we deal with here is snakes.  All kinds but the ones we’re thinking about right now are rattlesnakes.  Which one usually says to oneself, you know? I don’t really like these guys.  I have taken to saying a snake blessing prayer every time I go outside because it is HOT and snakes like being out in the hot afternoons and the garden is ever more jungly and OMG please don’t bite me.  Or the Dog.  Or the Partner. ( Although HE tends to talk to snakes and pat them on the head so I don’t worry about him quite as much.)   So as I said, a prayer.  I enumerated, each time, all the good things about snakes, my appreciation for them, my harmlessness.  So far? No rattlers.  Which was because why? It turns out there is a totally splendid King snake in the garden, like a small to mid-sized deity, protecting all of us, from birds and lizards to Dog and Moi.   This made me think two things.  One, as always there is more to all this than you know, and Two, good will eventually always wins. We’re protected, the rattlers know enough to stay away, the natural balance of things is maintained without mayhem. So in the midst of wondering if my brain has actually finally been boiled for good this summer and if so why does it still hurt so much every time the LPV shoots into view, I also know that there really IS something, some order, some reality, all around us, supporting us once we quit deciding whether or not we “like” things, and working toward what really does look like….Truth and Beauty.  The Good Stuff.  Grisly daily reality notwithstanding.

And with that, perilous as things seem, I made another ice cream.   Banana.  The secret to which is steeping chopped, ripe bananas in whatever milk you’re using- we’re still stuck on Dulce de Leche so I just slowly caramelized that with the chopped bananas, let it sit for a few hours, blended until smooth, and combined with a light custard (about 3 cups total material).  It is truly magic stuff even if I  only have a bite of it here and there.  Just restorative enough.  So that combined with figuring out how to make a kinda sorta summer squash (which we of course have coming out our ears) gratin on top of the stove (oven on is a non starter right about now, sadly) in about 25 minutes gives me a bit of cautious optimism.   Surely we can all do some good if we choose.  Blessings and thanks!!!!

the grace of ice cream

Things are somewhat indescribable of late.  Aside from the fact that it is mind numbingly hot, not even really cooling off at night.  (The tomatoes Do Not Like It at all but oddly the Butternut squash are going crazy, we have four Charentais melons on the vine, and the Chair Vert melon plant in the back has quadrupled in size to an almost sci-fi extent.)

The Dog has some allergic food reaction and is covered in spots.  There was, for the first time since we’ve been here, a fire that would have roared over the hill and destroyed our yurt (and maybe lives since it was blocking the only way out from here as well) if Cal Fire hadn’t gotten on it immediately.  It made me slightly sick to see the burnt place on the way into town,  but at least I got to thank the firefighters, barely able to not blurt out a question about how come they’re always so darn HANDSOME.  People I care about are having health issues and there’s a lot going on that seems very out of any kind of measure or control.   Also I found that as hard as I try, the poisonous atmosphere on Planet LPV and all that comes from same has crept into my little brain (aside, I mean, from wondering what I’ll do with no health insurance and an internet controlled by Comcast and Verizon, voter suppression and Environmental Protection c/o Exxon Mobil and how long til this guy gets COMMITTED???…oh well.  You probably know).  This was forcibly borne in upon me when in a couple of days, I got two follows on this blog, for which I am grateful!, in Arabic.  I watched my stomach clench as my brain said, Oh boy, this is IT.  “They” will ….they, who?, will do what, exactly? I mean, really? I get hits from all over the world, amazingly, and sometimes from places we’re “supposed” to fear.  (The many Russian hits are generally hacks and ripoffs from my website to porn sites, big surprise. Flower pictures, right?)  Don’t ask me what allure this bear’s life holds but there it is.  It’s kind of like when the sheriff drove up that day and clearly realized we’re just a couple of old hardheads and no arrest could, in any universe, be forthcoming for any reason.  ANYWAY the whole thing made me a bit more tense when I found that Google Translate would not let me cut and paste any language to be translated, as it usually does when such things come up.  Maybe it’s my antediluvean laptop. Finally I figured out that I could drag the text over and? Guess what? All of it was WONDERFUL poetry.  Beauty and expression thereof, carrying on a long tradition.  One person I couldn’t get enough blog translated to be able to leave a comment since, not reading Arabic, I couldn’t figure out where that might be.  So I very much hope they don’t think I am being rude.  I often wonder what would have happened to both Christianity and Islam had Capitalism not inserted its noxious snout- perhaps the inherent love at the base of both might have gotten the upper hand.  However, alas, it did and has and now? What the heck has happened to us that the simple act of reaching out and sharing one’s thoughts about reality becomes questionable and prone to causing wonder about who else might be “looking”.  At the same time I was filled with a kind of huge radiant joy at knowing there are people, everywhere, who do create beauty and strive for truth.  And  some of that was shared with me.

So.  Swinging between the twin poles of CHUFFED (followers! who write wonderful things!) and OH DEAR (fire, dog spots, dastardly politics) I turned to my latest obsession: Dulce de Leche.  Traditionally it is made of goat’s milk which is caramelized into total fabulousness.  It is also made quite simply by putting a can of Eagle Brand in a water bath for 40 minutes or so until it becomes thick and caramelized.  It being so hot and all ice cream seemed like the obvious solution for such a preoccupation.  Also I did not want to find that I’d eaten a whole can of Eagle Brand by itself.

The first batch was good, even if the experiment of caramelizing the Eagle Brand in the microwave went just. a. tiny. bit. awry.  The valiant and elderly microwave needed to be cleaned anyway and of course I expect this sort of things-reaching-past- their-assigned boundaries as routine.  The next time I started early in the morning on one day, using the stove, and putting the resulting cooked can into the refrigerator.  When it was cool enough a day or so later to even think about again turning on the stove, this is what I did:

1 cup of milk with the thickened Eagle Brand mixed in, heated slowly.  Three egg yolks beaten, tempered, and stirred in until spoon was properly coated.  Into the refrigerator with that.  About three hours later I mashed up a cup and a half of strawberries from the garden, put a tiny bit of sugar in them, and let them rest for a couple of hours.  A few drops of vanilla into the custard, berries mixed in, and into the ice cream freezer.  The Partner says it’s the best strawberry ice cream he’s ever had, and I think he may be right.  Now, if I can just convince the Dog that he’s not being punished by the now total absence of cheese treats, potato treats, and Daddy’s leftover milk from cereal, and get him to come out from under the table, all may yet be well.  May the Poetry be with you! and as always, blessings and thanks!