Archive for the ‘heavy weather’ Category

the famous exploding head

Yes indeed, Gentle Reader, that would be MY head. Things have been so far above standard gnarly of late that about the only thing to do has been pray. However, when I got an email from an old friend who was concerned about my lengthy blogging absence, remarking that since my life has more twists and turns that seem humanly possible she was worried, I thought, perhaps an update would not be amiss.

Our living situation here has always been a bit…..tricky. Due largely to the fact that our landlady has been a bit…..tricky. In fact, we have just now learned HOW tricky since she is terminally (probably) ill and Stuff has Floated to the Surface at an alarming rate. A long, sad story and a big part of it has been me having to actually face the facts of the whole thing. (Partner: You see good in people even when it isn’t there. Me: Really?. Partner: YES) Plus figure out what to do so we don’t find ourselves living on a sidewalk somewhere. I look like I have Parkinson’s most days now what with the nerves firing on all cylinders all the time. HOWEVER.

There appears to be resolution in the offing and all will, we hope, be well. Nothing goes smoothly and dealing with County officials and Social Security applications and relatives who crawl out of the woodwork and all the rest of it…well. To be expected in today’s milieu, I guess, but it has been almost more than this bear could..well, bear. However, we still have a home and potentially a Permanent one, and while there will be more on this Incredibly Amusing and Horrendous Story, there have been some successes in the midst of all the Challenges, too.

There were horses living here, right next to us. I often took care of them and we always dealt with positively biblical levels of flies, and then mosquitoes from the above ground pool and horse troughs. A home, it transpired, had to be found for the horses in the middle of this Situation. In a place like this such a thing isn’t as easy as you might think since there are lots and lots of unwanted horses after people get them and realize a)it’s expensive and b)it takes actual work. But. I persisted and? found an absolutely splendid home for them. Pictures were duly sent and the two of them looked like totally different creatures, they were so happy. So that was good. Also? NO FLIES. Happy. Drained pool and troughs: NO MOSQUITOES. I am calling that a WIN.

Another striking thing that showed itself was that, like Camus, I found, in the depth of this horrible winter, an invincible summer in myself. While spiritual teachings have largely, in this culture, been turned into blunt instruments to keep everyone in fear and in line, the fact is that the Divine does exist. Everywhere and all the time. And it is there when you call it. You may indeed be at the brink, at the last straw, in despair and fear. But. The Divine is there to remind you that you take another breath, you step back, you allow things to reveal themselves and gradually, come to a higher point than ever seemed possible. And, hey. So what if you have to do this a thousand times a day? Which leads me to:

Pickles. The weather has just been gruesome this summer and the garden has not been the usual resplendent refuge. We have, however, had zucchini and the Partner suggested making pickles. I thought for a minute and then realized that a simple refrigerator pickle would be just the thing. We happened to have a jar of Trader Joe’s organic hot and spicy dill chips that had no pickles but had the pickling juice. Zucchini spears were duly inserted into said juice. Results in three days? Outstanding.

Otherwise the world seems to be mirroring the struggles we experience here (the irrational people, the bursts of Bad Behavior), and it looks more and more like full blown good vs. evil, which I always had trouble believing in, in the past. It is absolutely beyond mind boggling, and the fact that Bloviating Pustule thinks he can buy Greenland? Is so insane that it taxes one’s credulity that it has been…acknowledged as anything but completely psychotic. And when we go to the doctor now, they ask us if we take “a certain medication for a certain (x) condition”….naturally when I said, you really think some ringer is going to come in here for this fantastic non service? REALLY? and they say, well you MIGHT be an illegal trying to get a prescription refilled….we need to know you know what you’re taking….well. Let’s just say there are days happy hour starts Early. People are definitely crazy and things are definitely strange…but, blessings and thanks as always!!

life with weather

More time has passed here, Gentle Reader. AS usual it has been closer to the Hell side of the equation than one would like. We had gale force winds and 3-5 feet of snow a week or so ago- and generally speaking? it doesn’t snow here, and if it does it’s a matter of inches. So this was different. Fortunately the Dog LOVED it and provided some moments of joy and levity as he flew through the snow, sunk down into it, gobbled mouthfuls up, and sprang up for another flight.

But different it was. To say the least. We were snowed in, in fact, which was kind of weird. We had no power for close to a week. Did I say how cold it was? No water anywhere but fortunately we had snow to melt, and to pack in the refrigerator so that part of it wasn’t Awful. There was also rainwater (yes, that too) to use to flush the toilet. One day a few days into the experience I was in our local grocery store on a fruitless quest for water, which was open because they had a HUGE generator, and a woman who works there and I were laughing uproariously about the excitement of having a flush toilet again….some time in the future. People were walking around in total stress mode- expectable given that there were about 42,000 people without power.

Some good things happened of course. I learned how to cook effectively on our wood stove. It’s a Jotul, which is the kind of stove the guy on New Scan Cooking lugs around for his outdoor soirees, and it is really quite extraordinary what cooking on wood is like. It’s FANTASTIC. We roasted cabbage and meat on the coals directly and it was a revelation. I made a kind of coq au vin (leftover red wine from the holidays) which was incredible, since I just put everything in a pan, covered it, put it on the stove, turned the chicken once and 40 minutes later, virtual perfection. The fact that the smoke from the candles made my lungs crunk up was almost an aside.

The real thing that happened, though, was this. Prisoners are used extensively here to fight fires and do road work, and this storm tore trees up by their roots and pulled huge limbs across roads and it was…horrible. There was a lot of sawing to be done before the power people could even get in, thus the prisoners. We wound up finally being able to get out of here and went on quests for water about three times. I waved and smiled at the Guys in Orange each time, as is my habit. The first time they squinted back at me with their Game Faces. By the third and last time, I actually got SMILES and waves back. It was a real moment of communication and understanding and from that standpoint, mind boggling, not to put too fine a point on it. It reminded me that we don’t, in fact, have to do earth shattering things to make a positive difference. We just have to be here. Now.

As difficult as that has been for some time now, it still turns out to be the basic instruction for not going totally bananas. Things look quite grim in this country right now, really, and every reminder one can receive about how love and kindness are the bottom line is a very good thing. Even when they are punctuated by lengthy periods of tooth grinding.

As always, blessings and thanks!

forty days, thirty nine nights

And of course it FEELS like all eternity has passed, but when I heard that the Carr fire had started 39 days ago, on the 40th day, I thought, well.  JEESH.  I looked up the significance of the number 40, and found that it was, in the past, considered to be equivalent to Umpteen.  So there you are.

The wind shifted so we are once again enveloped in smoke.  Yesterday we saw blue sky, clouds, the mountains for crying out loud, and stars.  It was like a dream.  Today we are back to what has become typical:  oppressively hot, airless and turgid daily reality.  It is quite fatiguing, probably because of the low oxygen presence, but this has not kept us from the Quotidian Beast Slaying and, of course, cooking.

On the Beast Slaying? Honestly.  Part the first was getting our trash removed.  We have to take it to the dump ourselves, of course, and after a certain amount of time it’s a toss up as to whether it is nobler to go to the dump every month or just get a container once a year.  We don’t actually have that much trash, which I comfort myself with in times of demoralization.  Anyway, getting the trash picked up turned out to be like a whole season of Jerry Springer.  It strikes me as odd that the harder it is to find a job and make money? The more reluctant the people are who do have jobs to do them.  The first person I called to do this said, well, MY time is REALLY VALUABLE.  So I’d like you to come along with me to help.  And pay $30 an hour for the privilege of same.  We did not take that option.  Finally I found a delightful young man who, although apparently incapable of following directions, did finally arrive on scene and perform the requested work.  SUCCESS.  I still don’t know what part of: it’s the next driveway after the one with the address on a horse pen, is mysterious, but it doesn’t seem to be something anyone can figure out so once again we found ourselves running down the driveway with flailing arms.  Still, it got done.  Beast the second was even more formidable and took yet another week to resolve.

It turns out that having a post office box is tantamount to having DANGEROUS NE’ER DO WELL tattooed on your forehead.  A company, who shall remain nameless, who I use in connection with my website sales, decided that it had to have Proof of my Physical Address.  They froze my account pending establishing a location for me where? who knows, men in black will race up and kick the door down any time now.  Since I cannot get mail here, I do not use this address for anything, so I don’t have anything with it appearing, like utility bills (which I don’t have since we’re off the grid, another concept that is seemingly unfathomable) or, even funnier, brokerage accounts, which were what this company asked for.  We went back and forth, I sending things, them rejecting them, until finally I sent a copy of my State issued Resale License, since it does have this address.  I’d asked if this would be acceptable and what non responsive item on the drop down menu should be used to describe said page.  So you may be able to imagine my state of mind when I once again called the company, got someone in an archipelago somewhere, which someone said, Oh, No.  WE CAN’T ACCEPT THIS ONE BECAUSE IT ISN’T AN EIGHT AND A HALF BY ELEVEN PAGE.  I came completely unglued.  There was loss of temper.  There was even a  bit of what might be called yelling, and the Dog retreated to his bed as he does when kafuffle rears its ugly head.  Somehow after I once again demanded, and finally got, a “supervisor”, public records were checked and whaddaya know, they “granted my case”.  Since everyone I told this story to said, oh, that company doesn’t do that, that never happens to ME, and so on, I was reasonably proud of myself for not succumbing to total paranoia and thinking this was Personal.  No sirree bob.  Just business.  It also made me think about how the fact of it is that I tend to hide in general and be very private in areas where I feel things are nobody’s business.  Like, where I live I guess.  And  no, you don’t get my phone number if I sign your petition, either.  So things like this are to be expected, even if they are beyond the beyond over the top ridiculous. One person said to me in the course of all this that they “required these informations” because of, wait for it! The Patriot Act.  It’s the government, they said.

So there was plenty to think about as I made grape juice in the food mill, fig jam, fig pizza, many OTHER pizzas, pesto, basil puree, and the continuing zillion zucchini things, along with every imaginable kind of cucumber salad and salads made out of melon balls and wontons stuffed with herbs and vegetables.  Every year something goes bonkers in the garden, and this year in spite of the ghastly conditions we have had cucumbers coming out our ears (41 in the kitchen right this minute).  The fig tree has been prolific and the basil has been mind boggling.  The melons are coming in now too. We expect tomatoes late again since it is just now not 115 every day so maybe flowers can set and….who knows.  Anyway it really is true that once you grow your own, nothing else is as good so all of us take heart from the garden.  The other day I even saw several swiss chard seedlings around the pot where we’d had the Perennial Chard Installation for the past three years.  Happy!

So as I pondered the ever more dismal happenings in the world overall (and by the way? the LPV or loser of the popular vote will now be herein referred to as BP, or, bloviating pustule) and wondered what the world would be like without Aretha, I was able to keep in the forefront of things the fact that yes, it does get grotesque periodically.  But there is still Real Life, and the beauty and grace and grandeur of that is what one must attend to if one wishes to stay upright and civil.  Given that such attendance includes everything from cleaning the toilet to watching the Dog reduce customers in the farm store to giggling joyful individuals moving blindly forward for a kiss from his Divine Doggy Snout, there’s no need to panic unnecessarily about where to place one’s attention- unless of course you’re navigating a moving vehicle.  It’s just all present, and my concern often is that so many are not partaking of the feast right in front of them.  Listening and observing seem to be overlooked skills more often than not.  Words, for heaven’s sake, don’t mean what you think they do, and whole concepts, like saeculum, are no longer to be found.  (Saeculum is an old measurement of time referring to the time period between and event and the death of the last person who experienced it.  Food for thought there.) And. Yes indeed, it is often through one’s tears that this partaking occurs, but the disengagement from things like conversation, cooking one’s own food, paying attention to what’s in that food, paying attention to the beings around you, watching where you’re going sort of thing, seems to be increasing exponentially.  I firmly believe that if everyone smoked weed and had a dog? It’d be a lot nicer world.  The same goes for making pizza dough.  There is a LOT of bang for your buck with pizza dough after all: pizza, calzone, and focaccia, just for starters.  Also, just simply being Present makes things smoother, oddly (or not).  It’s not necessary to fill the world up with stuff, and it turns out to be a lot more fun to just pay attention and see what happens.  Even when what happens is Not What You Wanted At All, things are always moving and nothing lasts forever in one condition.  Not to mention the always available opportunity to learn from your mistakes.  Back to it, for now, with renewed praying for..er…Self Control When Things Get Dicey.

Blessings and thanks!!!!!!

don’t think it hasn’t been fun

how-it-is.jpg  This cartoon from The New Yorker pretty much says it all.  And yes, we HAVE been eating olives.

What with the over 110f temperatures every day for a long time, the state of the world and all, everyone’s been a bit Tense.  Barky, if you will.  So this past week kind of put it all over the top, completely, seeing as how we currently find ourselves a bit closer than we’d ever want to be to the south end of an 89,000 acre fire, complete with firenados and total murk as far as air goes.  The wind here is always like something out of some movie where you’d say, Oh, that’s not realistic!!! Wind doesn’t do THAT! so when there are flying sparks involved and the wind does THAT? It creates something very close indeed to apocalypse in spots.  This afternoon is the first time in days that there has been anything even hinting at blue sky and it’s mostly in my imagination, probably.  Anyway the other night we watched the City of Redding burn from our front door- the flames reflecting off the huge clouds of smoke.  The fire guys got on it quickly and the red sky dimmed in an hour or so but I very much hope not to see anything like that again.  It’s all kind of a stress blur, but yesterday it looked very likely that we would have to evacuate.  In this situation, what that actually means is you leave and know there will be nothing when you return.  So, what THAT actually means is you have to get over your sense of your entire body being ripped open, think it through and realistically assemble what can be taken- if you have, as we did, the…uhm, luxury…of time.

Seeing as how I have hundreds of books and bottles of oils and tinctures and essences and what not this was not the most fun I’ve ever had.  But, I was proud of myself because I actually was able to put things together in a pile by the door.  Leaving, of course, 99.9% in place.  A Kitchenaid mixer can be replaced.  An out of print copy of the only existing authoritative book about Yoruba herbology probably cannot, but there it is.  In the end, at least for yesterday and today, the fire line held and we are still here.  For which I am truly thankful.  While we’re not anywhere near the end of this, unless the wind does something totally infernal, even for it around here, we will probably be OK.

So once again I marvel at the workings of the universe and all its mysteries, and once again realize that you do create your reality with your thoughts.  No matter how awful the scene in front of you appears to be, it is always shaped by how you are reacting or responding to it.  I couldn’t help thinking about all the people who live with smoke and destruction all the time, like in Syria.  And what that kind of stress does to people- the grocery store yesterday was enough to make a person reach for Xanax, after a mere week of this disaster.  But also? There are the unimaginably angelic individuals, like the farrier who was helping people move their animals to safety just Because.  And of course, the firefighters.  I feel as though I have a lifetime debt to them- it’s going to be interesting to figure out how to get that in balance- aside of course from the daily work of kindness to those one encounters.  These people go directly into Hell and save places and people they don’t know, with everything on the line.  Just Because.   So in the end, and despite certain other things that transpired that sent me directly to the cocktail olives, I feel for the first time in a long time, a certain sort of hope…or maybe it isn’t hope. Maybe it is the sense of the Light that is always there, no matter how dark it appears to be.  There is a peace in that, and a peace in knowing that there always IS light, and it is us and we are it.  And, eventually the ash will stop falling, we’ll reorganize and move along.  All of us.

Blessings and thanks as always!!!!!!!

 

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

 

walking the line

I don’t know about you, Gentle Reader, but I am not really looking forward to the eclipses barrelling toward us.  Regardless of your metaphysical perspective, it seems to me lately that almost everyone feels pulled, toward what they don’t know, pushed, and they don’t like that much, and generally frizzled.  Eclipses are like the giant reset button in the sky being hit on a lot of levels and….I think we’re all kind of tired.  Anyway, I know I am.

Still.  I read something this morning, again in Patanjali, that made a lot of sense.  Once you can stop looking at time, clock and western world defined time I mean, as a Real Thing, and accept it for the construct it is that actually lives, truly,  in your watch, it’s possible to have a different approach to past and future.  With some discipline and effort, you can (really!) keep them from bleeding into the present, which means that you actually have one.  The now really is quite roomy when left to itself.

Another really groovy thing about it is that when you are IN the present, you’re not having opinions about the past, or hopes and fears about the future.  You’re too busy attending to the what IS.  The longer you can maintain this at any given juncture, the better the what IS gets and that can mean great ideas, a calm mind, all kinds of things.

Not to say that this is easy.  How often do you find yourself ruminating about some long past Episode or even more fruitlessly WORRYING ABOUT SOMETHING?  I can speak with some authority on this because, given the solitude we live in, there’s plenty of time to rehash those non-witty non-ripostes, and also to worry about the ever looming and expanding list of WHAT IF’S.  Something happened yesterday and it plunged me into a quite moody abyss.  However, I thought, really not liking this feeling state.  Let’s see…..and of course I realized that I had in the twinkling of a bird’s eye placed all kinds of disaster scenarios on this one more than likely non-event.  Even if the worst DID happen? What was I accomplishing except ruining what could have been reasonable moments??? leading up to??  And of course in this particular moment (as usual) there really was nothing to worry, despair, or be perturbed about.  I have to say I was rather proud of myself for the five minute meditation retreat I took which allowed me to get back on the horse.  (I did burst into tears a bit later whilst picking up dog doody- which somewhat shockingly reminded me of the army one Greek hero sowed with dragon’s teeth- in 100+ degree heat but, well, chalk that up to short childish outbursts.  Nothing a glass of Fortified orange juice can’t handle.)

Net net what I think this means is that it IS possible to get through a day with minimal or no blood loss, no matter what kind it is.  If you are in the now, you are thinking of what works in that space.  Not about what didn’t work in another space or what might happen if pigs started flying around your bedroom.  Given that pigs ARE flying around a lot of places they shouldn’t be, it may mean that one’s thoughts go to how the droppings might be productively used.  Can a window be opened so they can fly out? sort of thing.  Maybe they’ll all fall asleep? How can this actually work overall?  Of course this means that you have taken yourself out of the position of Center of Everything and Most Important, and joined the rest of the universe in its giant circle dance.  Which also means that, since you’re dancing, aggression and frustration are sitting this one out. Again and again the message seems to be pay attention to what you are seeing and feeling NOW, not to the blunt instruments of yesterday’s “thinking”.

So I think there’s hope, giant reset button and all.  Have a good week, blessings and thanks!!