Archive for the ‘Amazement’ Category

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!

the wandering mind

Lately, probably in some high level of procrastinating avoidance, I’ve been In The Kitchen.

I decided, for example, to make the herein previously mentioned lentil/rice crepes, Adai.  Last time I may have omitted mention of the FLOOD that happened during mixing.  You have to grind things together and I thought, heck, food processor here we come.  Except, no, because? Water. Which went everywhere rapidly.  It did produce a rather pleasant cumin scented cleansing for the butcher block, and I went on to use the Nutri-Bullet, with good results.  So this time? There was FIRE.  Yes.  Actual fire.  Oh dear, I said, and managed to put it out with only minimal damage to one dinner plate.  Don’t ask how that happened.

But fire? after a flood? It seemed kind of apocryphal. Or maybe I mean apocalyptic.  Also I neglected the crepe component so they were a bit….thick.  But, live and learn.  Ultimately I decided to view the whole thing as a storyboard of progress, flood, fire, and then? The promised land?

Which turned out to be sourdough english muffins.  Worth the effort but not without incident, at least I can say I get the concept now.  And it also showed an important area needing improvement.

Which is following instructions.  Oh, dear.  I had a lot of things going on so I just read the recipe for the basic dough (baguette) and mixed it accordingly.  Of course when I turned to the actual english muffin recipe, it said, don’t handle the dough much.  Uhm.  So next time, like the Adai, it will be easier I think.  Less work, actually, and paying attention to what one does somewhat carefully does yield positive results.

So, notwithstanding that it was so hot yesterday I lost my brain completely and couldn’t even grasp which pan to use to make chocolate sauce, thus skipping that part of desert, I think this has all shown me at least what the next step is, about which I was wondering.

And that step is Attention.  I realized I’ve lived my life as though chased by werewolves, lending itself to a sense of not having time to…well, pay attention.  Run, run, run.  But as flood, fire, and spongy muffin interiors show, if you don’t pay attention? The wolves are waiting for you when you get there.  Going, haha and oh dear.  Looky here……So actually this has all been rather liberating in the final analysis.  I realized I don’t have to have epic disasters more than 40% of the time, which seems to be their naturally occurring orbit just in the way of things. At least in MY life.  We were watching a sitcom the other night and all kinds of things were happening with the expected ensuing hilarity.  The Partner said, this is so unbelievable! This would never happen in real life! (pause) Except, he said, getting up off the couch and moving away from me, to YOU.

In fact, he is a brave soul, the Partner.  It made me think of a time long ago, when as a student at University, a friend and I were taking the bus back from San Francisco to the East Bay after going to Japan town to get some groceries to make some culinary extravaganza in my studio in the ‘hood.  Exciting enough, really.  This friend had confidence in me since once when we were visiting his cousin in a somewhat questionable area, and wound up having to climb out of a small back window as LAPD broke the front door down, he commended me for my “sang froid”…we WERE in college after all.  So when, in the bus station, he said, you’re always saying weird things happen to you and I’m just going to stand on the other end of the platform to see, I remember gulping a bit.  And when, as usual, a poor disoriented man under the influence of many things both seen and unseen laid eyes on me, raised both arms with index fingers pointed and started stalking over to me, and I, in response, calmly lifted a pickled daikon (shrivelled, atomic yellow, and unpleasantly reminiscent of a certain part of male anatomy), packaged in a totally brain blasting plastic wrapper with exclamation points and Kanji in red outlined in purple, out of my shopping bag? And the poor soul turned white as a sheet and ran shrieking off the platform? My friend came over to me, hugged me and apologized for ever doubting my…er….cred.

This, in short, is what the Partner has taken on, bravely if perhaps ignorantly at first? I don’t know.  He’s probably somewhat relieved that our life precludes a lot of the normal dangers of going outside in a city, and keeps me limited to a small area where he has a hose and shovel and shotgun ready at all times.  He takes heart every day I don’t get bitten by a rattler, for example.  Anyway it gives me hope.  If I pay attention and have someone at my side who Understands that Stuff Happens, anything is possible.  And there really Is a splendid dog picture (success with the 21st century!) coming up in our next installment.  He’s almost not a puppy any more……..

Blessings and thanks!

retrospect

For me, Gentle Reader, retrospect is something that often involves at least some level of eye-watering horror.

Leaving aside the grisly truth because, well, why?, we’ll just examine my relationship with CAKE.

I’ve had pound cake on the brain for a while.  Since it’s made in a standard size loaf pan (although needing to replace some bread pans has lead me to realize that finding even something like a standard size bread pan is akin to the holy grail now- they’re either ENORMOUS or TINY) it seemed perfect, given my prior history of dyslexia regarding cake pan size.  Not realizing that I should, er, measure the cake pan for proper size? I embarked at one point on making a Lady Baltimore cake for a friend’s birthday.  My pans were too big and I wound up making double the cake, cutting the tiny layers in half, and making more of a Lady Baltimore torte.  The fact that everyone wanted that cake over and over was good, of course, but once the Partner clued me in to the mystery of Different Sizes of Cake Pans, it also made me glad I’d kept my mouth shut about the roundabout way the cake was made, instead looking down and smiling modestly and saying thank you and no, I’m not a master chef, stopping before I blabbed the awful truth about having to bake the whole thing twice and sweat bullets while cutting it up.

So, as I say.  Pound cake.  This particular recipe, with the rather sinister name of SIMPLE POUND CAKE (in retrospect a First Clue) promised a dense cake, leavened as it is only with eggs.  I will digress a bit only to add that the Partner has been noticing of late that his bread is rising in an unusual, ballistic way.

We see our heroine mixing said cake, following instructions exactly (which honestly I often don’t except with cake because it’s chemistry, after all and, explosions…..), feeling rather proud of the lovely thing as it went into the pre-measured correct size pan and pre-heated oven.  I pulled out all the stops, in short.

So. When I looked in after a few minutes to make sure the oven temperature was right, imagine my, yes, eye-watering horror, when I saw that the cake had become your basic little volcano and there was cake All. Over. The. Bottom. of. the. Oven.  It exploded a bit, in short.  There was smoke during the extra long baking period, for added value.  I found myself plummeting down into old, often travelled waters of “you just can’t do anything right, can you? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”.  After the allotted hour of baking passed and the thing was still wet in the middle I almost cried but thought, no.  We’ve done a lot of heavy lifting and we’re not giving up now.  We can use it for something.

After an extra half hour of baking, it was at long last time for The Reveal.  Not without incident, it involved a tricky bit of jaws of life type crust carving to get the pan off. Fortunately I’d already had the Lady Baltimore Tutorial.  At this point, the cake looked OK, if not like a “normal” pound cake.  The oven duly cleaned, dinner made and eaten, and cake cooled, it was time to face the music.

And? It was PERFECT.  I was stunned.  And then I realized what the cause of the eruption was.

EGGS, Gentle Reader.  We’ve been getting eggs from our neighbor and they are not, we know now, just any old eggs.  I made rellenos with them and the batter was almost radioactively yellow and puffy as a cloud. And since for some insane reason I made several the same night, also kept perfectly til the next day.  The bread, using these eggs, has risen crazily, driving the Partner to chew his nails.  Then, the exploding cake.

Aside from the issue of one’s ridiculous very important story intruding its lifelike Godzilla head into metaphorical sky scrapers for the most nonsensical reasons, and all that…..the important take away (aside from remembering never to despair too early!) from this episode is the nature of food now.  We’re often told that organic food is no different from food not grown organically.  And heavens to murgatroyd.  GMOs? No danger to public health there.  The fact that the US has a population of bloated, immunosuppressed, unhealthy people can’t have anything to do with what they eat.  Can it?

The fact that something as ubiquitous as a freaking egg can be so incredibly different because the chicken is fed organic food and allowed to toddle around (within reason of course given that we do live in predator world here) instead of being confined, just for starters, is totally mind boggling. We used to buy organic, free range eggs at the grocery store, but even they are far from these eggs on every level. If such an egg has such an effect on a little old cake? Think what it can do for your body.  It’s like a big shot of the perfect magic.  Who knew? Right? That Nature actually does NOT do the stupid stuff- doesn’t have to be fixed and controlled- and food as it IS, without manipulation or waterfalls of chemical interventions, is actually good for you.  Keeps you healthy for the most part.  Once again what you are “told” is not necessarily so. Food, as we say, for thought.  I’m quite sure that for the Partner and for me? The fact that we eat almost completely organically and locally (barring essentials like coffee, chocolate, vanilla…and pineapple), grow our own produce in the summer, and cook our own food daily is why we’re still alive.  This place we are is, to put it mildly, physically a ball buster, and even young people can look worn and “old”.   Without real, good food? Good luck getting through a day.  I mean, I’ve always been a bit fanatical about this stuff, always revered seeds and baked my own bread.  But this egg thing was a real revelation.  Leavening with rocket fuel, kind of.

I think, actually, that paying attention to what you eat and where you buy it may be the one most important thing you can do NOW, politically and personally.  We simply cannot allow the unthinking rush to “profit” to destroy us all.  Seeds are not being preserved, land is being killed by chemical overuse, and people are made ill by the poor nutrition mass produced food provides, along with the reactions the body has to the poisons used all around it. For example, there is in fact  evidence that gluten intolerance is really a reaction to the herbicides-  like roundup-  used on grain producing plants.  And then, supplementing their healthy meat byproduct and antibiotic diet, cattle get to eat this stuff too.  Is this really what you want? Don’t think so.  Connection with what is real has got to be re-established.  You gotta know where your food comes from and what’s in it.  To think otherwise is to be, as they say in baseball, badly fooled.

This relates to the War Against One’s Very Important Story, to me anyway, because it has to do with disrupting the patter, the voices inside, the propaganda we’re inundated by, and being in the here and now.  It means thinking for yourself and expanding your awareness of what’s important to a much bigger radius- in other words, to what other people feel and need and do.  It has to do with not listening to the familiar refrain, and with starting to actually plant your feet on the ground and look at the sky.   Where you will, if you are lucky, see birds and bees.  And if you can’t? You will see the road forward truly means being your brother’s, and sister’s, and fellow creatures’ keeper.  I don’t think there’s any other way, now.

The tale of How the Dog Got Blow Dried After His Bath for the First Time and Liked It, following the Miracle of Actually Finding the Blow Dryer which Saved the Day in and of Itself,  will be saved for another time….blessings and thanks!

another year older

We’ve been busy of late, Gentle Reader.  Mostly the Mental Hamster getting into Olympic condition, but still.  Things did happen.

It was, in fact, my birthday last week and I decided this year a different attitude was called for.  No shopping or thing coveting transpired (aside from an ill fated attempt to buy a copy of Moby Dick online), and the Partner baked me a cake this year- I decided not to do it for once.  I relaxed into it all and rigorously chucked expectations and preconceived notions.  And? it turned out great.

Our social landscape has changed drastically since we’ve been up here.  Some of it has hurt alot, and some of it has just happened. There are definitely fewer people in our world now, anyway.  Since this is the case, and birthdays are of course, like many holidays, times when we can go overboard into the past OR the future,  I did not allow myself that lapse this go round.

And what happened was that so many birthday wishes and lovely things came to me that I was absolutely overwhelmed, with surprise and gratitude.  The day itself was interesting, too.  After a year of, essentially, armed struggle, I FINALLY got a doctor appointment for the Partner.  On, as it happened, my birthday.  I’d thought about just taking a thermos of wine with me to quaff while waiting, but realized that the Dog would be with me so I’d be attending to him, and he DOES jostle in a most Tiggerish way, so it would not be cocktail time just yet. On the trek to the appointment we saw two amazing things which gave us both a jolt.  One, a peacock unfurling his splendid tail and vocalizing in that unearthly way they have, in a horse pasture.  The other was by the creek, an actual bald eagle.  Those birds are HUGE.  I figured those were both really good signs.  Anyway we duly arrived at the appointment and I experienced a fair amount of unease because I really didn’t want to leave the Dog, by himself, in the car for over an hour.  Nor did I want to be unavailable for questions during the appointment, as I would’ve been outside with the Dog.  And you know what? They let me bring the Dog into the waiting room! (Is he small? they asked. Er, NOOOOO, I said. Is he a service dog? nodding their heads? YESSSS!) Where he was, for him, exceptionally good and brought a noticeable calm.  Maybe people were just stunned by his Handsomeness, but anyway. That was one of the most interesting things, really, because I could actually SEE people relax just looking at him- elderly, kids, and everybody.  So when the Partner came out and I said, did the doc tell you what the plan is? and he said yes and I said, do you remember any of it? and he said no….I just rolled with the calm.  SO MUCH EASIER, really than what I might’ve done before which would have been the usual balloon shrieking up into the corner and quietly deflating in irritated futility.

The appointment itself went very well, all the paperwork got wrestled to the ground and worked, which in and of itself is almost shocking.  All my plant seeds came in the mail that day, I got a few Big Things accomplished thanks to my friend and New York Marketing Guru and Cab Driver Extraordinaire, and learned something.  Which is this.

Not that it’s altogether easy at first, but.  If you really make an effort and focus, cast out the what-ifs and shouldn’t-I-be’s and all the things you know are lurking under your mental bed waiting to leap out and scare the daylights out of you? and just say, this particular endeavor will go well, the highest good for everyone in the situation is what we want, and you smile? It actually moves in the proper direction without any of the normal pushing and pulling.  The challenges are temporary, like everything is, even if there are as many of them as grains of sand, but the moment to moment beauty and rewards are somehow nonetheless quite indelible.  It’s possible to feel complete joy no matter what.  And when you feel that it somehow affects everyone around you.  It’s magic.  And that, Gentle Reader, is what I got for my birthday.  Best ever, really.

And here’s the cake- His first, I believe,  a caramelized pear/peach upside down gingerbread cake.  The sky’s the limit!

CAKE

As always, blessings and thanks!

palimpsest

I’ve always liked that word, Gentle Reader, and since it means a surface containing layered images from various different periods of time which have been covered up by succeeding users of the surface with their own images which, in turn, get covered up by future users…..it just kind of makes sense in general to me.  It’s kind of what we are, really.

I guess it’s a good thing I like weathered surfaces, in short, given that I’m kind of turning into one.  And in that process, various things surface and submerge, day after day.

In the ongoing “What Would Pooh Do?” effort, we’ve had a couple of successes.  I found myself doing math in my head.  Multiplication and long division even.  Algebra!  And arriving at a correct answer, which was needed to figure out proportions in a tincture presently being made, and also one coming up as soon as I get more vodka.  This is quite something given that I always thought I “couldn’t do math”.  So.  Lesson learned was: don’t let other people tell you what you can and cannot do- try it out for yourself.  Gently, humming a bit.  It actually works.

In that vein as well I decided to play with the Dog when he wants to, even if I don’t since I often feel like I’m “too busy”.  A question of what’s important in a way, and the lesson here? is Joy is Always Important.  It helps with all the other spots of eye watering horror that pop up around here with Monotonous Frequency.  It’s harder to see that happy, bouncy, smiling yippee-ness of the Dog (with his various toys being tossed hither and yon requiring important sorties for retrieval along with extravagant praise for same) in humans but just knowing it is there makes it easier to just Do It all the time.  It really takes no effort to just smile or give a compliment or kind word- far less than coping with a slobbery, squishy dog toy actually.  And speaking of slobbery dog toys, we had another Step Forward today.  The Dog dashed out the door giving chase to a miscreant cat.  He’s done this a few times and it has always been dicey because he tends to run, and then just keep going…you know, for the Joy of it.  But today he actually came back when called.  We were both speechless.  Extravagant praise ensued, plus toast crumbs which he especially fancies.

jack 2:17

The third thing is realizing that we really do for the most part have just what we need.  The challenges and privations of our life now are real, and  it is way too easy to get sunk in anxiety and gloom about everything, and get on the What If Train to The Future (which as we do know is almost always a trainwreck).  The mood swoops all over the place at such times.  But! As usual cooking revealed the lovely picture underneath the more current spray painted scrawls.

It revolved around peanut sauce.  Kind of a necessity for certain noodle and vegetable dishes, as well as making a terrific glaze for broils and braises of whatever you might have.  It calls for fresh ginger which  I’d used up the day before so there I was at a pivotal last minute, chewing my lip.  We HAD to have peanut sauce of course, no question, and the clock was ticking.  And as I stood there the lightbulb went off.  I’d received, in a bit of a fiasco’d situation (since improved) a box of Fortnum and Mason stem ginger in chocolate.  The box is exquisite and ginger candy is a favorite.  FORTNUM AND MASON, after all. But? This stuff was ghastly.  A real British dessert, deafeningly sweet and a travesty of chocolate, if I may say so.  The ginger, however, was good and actually tasted like fresh.  So, I thought: hah! cut off the chocolate and use this ginger for the peanut sauce.  It worked like a charm.

Aside from enjoying the improvisational success, it really made me think about the fact that we do, in fact, have what we need.  If we’re calm enough to settle down and let it manifest- let, in short, the muddy water settle and clear.  As usual, the Dalai Lama is right: No reason for too much worry.  Just continue to saunter through the multi-acre wood, remembering that no matter how it looks, there’s something underneath and something to come and it will all work out.

Blessings and thanks!!

 

spring healing

It’s pouring again today, the sky is lowering, and the streams are rising.  But Spring is in the air, nonetheless.  The evening air has a green tinge, and the sky at sunset is teal rather than the usual deep blue- when the morning glory colored blue birds swoop in for their evening bug repast it is enough to make the very cones in your eyes vibrate.  The Dog was out doing his business the other night and the air was so spectacularly fragrant it was like a dream.  Turns out the scent is from the surrounding manzanita blossoms, which makes sense to me actually.  I mean, when you walk by the trees the smell isn’t particularly noticeable.  But at night the leaves almost glow in the dark, and as a remedy the plant brings thing to light and resolution.  It also, as a tea, is a specific for poison oak, applied topically.

So.  In this period of is it recuperation or what? it has been sustaining to realize that some things are still North Stars.  Tomatoes, for example.  The other day when one too many things had gone sideways in less than twenty minutes (short version: haybales, now wet and leaden, topple off side of yurt.  In attending to that, wall gets tapped and the one “cupboard” we have, in the “bathroom”, toppled, broke, and hurtled objects all over the place.  A festive yurt filling sticky collage of antihistamines, hairpins, emu oil, mysterious jars and shampoo bottles, and god knows what else…..) I was grinding my fingers and gnashing my teeth when suddenly the clear image of a tomato floated through my mind.  I felt the heat in the garden, felt the dirt in my hands, and smelled the plants.  Saved, in essence, by a tomato.  And the garden.  Which of course means flowers, which mean remedies and that led me back to the manzanita.  Which made me think…..

About Spring.  And about how life proceeds in the swoops and gyres and cycles, carrying us along even when we aren’t exactly attending to it all (by which I mean we- *I*- may be – have been- hiding in bed or something like that).  There is a bigger pattern to things and perhaps the real deal of it is to simply pay attention to the part of it you can actually see at any given point in time.  The familiarity of how a season smells, how the light is.  How the way you feel interacts with what you see and think about it all.  Then, one has to separate that awareness out from the pressure to do/get/go/get/consume/go/do….blahblah ad infinite nauseam.   This in turn allowed me to reflect when something happened that might, at another time, have thrown me off totally.

All in all, it’s hard to make a living doing what I “do”.  Fortunately on some level I don’t have to make a total living doing this but I do need to make a part.  So that means that I, above and beyond caring about the people I work with and wanting them to be helped and well served by what I do, also need that to happen from a purely practical point of view.  It’s taken me some time to even be really comfortable with charging people for my services because I feel strongly that such work should be given freely, and also so much of it depends upon the recipient’s state of mind.  Thus, it is unquantifiable on some level, this business of assisting people with their physical projects, notwithstanding what the AMA might want you to believe. Recently someone came to me with a fairly serious pain project.  I “looked” at it and felt that while surgery wasn’t indicated, the healing trajectory was going to be long.  There was also a nagging emotion present which I wasn’t able to put my finger on, and it was of a nature that seemed as though it might be a stumbling block of sorts,  but in any event.  I made a remedy and it didn’t have the desired effect.  Further testing and doctor visits actually did confirm my “diagnosis” but since my work didn’t “fix” the situation, it was deemed more or less a failure.  Never a good thing when you’re “in business”. Or, period.

In the past, I would have been upset by this and felt that I was a failure, completely.  Now I realize that in fact, nothing works all the time and the paradigm of “fixing things” is in and of itself a sort of, slightly heroic, fiction.  Nothing works on everyone.  Things can work at different times. Even though there are patterns, you really don’t know what’s going to happen.  We all really heal ourselves in the final analysis- any practitioner is assisting in that, shedding light and providing oomph where needed. Healing can take time, takes patience and energy, and has a somewhat unpredictable quality- except that it DOES happen.  But I knew, for sure, that I had done the very best I could.  Time will tell, as it usually does.  The other thing is that I hadn’t done any HARM.  So it gave me, in the end, a relatively positive feeling after all. I mean, I wasn’t HAPPY about it because I would have preferred this person not suffer. And it was not, of course, like when someone says, OMG you fixed my migraines! But more like: You’re part of this whole process, this whole thing, and the only thing you can really do is be as focused, present, honest and attentive as you possibly can be.  You keep attending to small things, and eventually the miracle is revealed to you- often having been there all along.  This seems to me somehow like gardening (which everything does somehow), and tomatoes, and flowers- like in one of Rilke’s poems, the hands that do more than you imagined they could, with flowers.  It isn’t always perfect or what you may have “imagined”.  But it is what it is.  And there is the beauty of it.  More of IT, less of oneself.

Meanwhile, in this seeming decade of pancake making around here, we recently made Adai, which I can heartily recommend.  Soak lentils and long grain rice for two hours with cumin seeds and red chilis.  Blend with more water, add more spices (turmeric, cumin, I added Amchoor powder too, and some other things…oh! fennel seeds! and pepper probably as well, some salt) stir in chopped onions and cilantro, spread in a heated pan as you would a crepe, fry and eat.  Really sensational.  Excellent with North Indian style cauliflower.  I take heart from this, especially since today’s project of infused honey is going to be a real barnburner due to a massive brain outage at the crucial early stages.  Perhaps this week’s theme is, you can’t win them all but….how much does that really matter?  Also there will be more Gratuitous Dog Photos soon- he’s HUGE now and the Valentine’s Day visit to his girlfriends at the vet’s was quite the occasion.  Other people were in there growling, why does HE get the treats? then saying: Oh.  Because he’s the cutest dog on earth, is why.  You’ll see.

Blessings and thanks, as always!

 

 

the dog with no sense of time

Whenever I ‘m in the kitchen,  I can usually time pretty precisely just when I’ll hear the patter of ever bigger paws, rising from whatever reclining position He and They may have been in, trotting around to INSPECT.  Looking, licking his lips, and pretty much saying, I don’t care what it is, I want some and when will it be ready?  Not yet, is my general response. Unless it’s coffee or something and then he gets told it’s Not For Dogs.  He’s getting better, in that he usually only comes back once more to assess just HOW MUCH LONGER????!!?? and I remind myself, every time, that this Dog does not know how to cook and thus has no idea about anything other than that stuff he likes comes from this area and he….must…..patrol…..not…..miss…..anyofit…..so he’s engaged and curious. Yes.  Good things!

I also try to cultivate in myself his for the most part consistent joy in things that are pretty much always the same and he greets with OH BOY! MY FAVORITE! YIPPEE!…notwithstanding the times he has to be Very Parliamentary and look just a tiny bit like a dog George Clooney, with his paws crossed in front of him.  Ball, stummy rub, cooking shows where they’re making hummus (a favorite), the morning routine, the afternoon routine, the evening routine, checking out the kitchen, switching seats on the couch, the morning kiss, hippopotami, the paw hold when he gets hiccups….everything, in short.  Except baths which he has recently developed an aversion to- he either retreats to his bed, snoring ostentatiously, or most recently, tries to fake us into letting him outside right before he’s to be put into the soapy drink.  He loves baths, actually, and closes his eyes in bliss as the Partner soaps him up, rinses him,  helps him out of the tub and whatnot.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking, which may or may not be a good thing.  The being in the now is the joy thing with him.  It’s all good to him, for the most part.  He doesn’t have a lot of preconceived notions or opinions although he does have some ever lessening remaining trauma from his challenging early weeks.  Really, he doesn’t have fear or trepidation either.  He just assumes, correctly as it happens, that everyone is going to like him.  So far, he’s been right except for two times which is an average one might profitably take to Vegas.  Clearly, there’s something to the way in which he assesses things.

The thinking struggle I’ve been engaged in, however, ranges farther afield from NOW and covers the knottier topic of knowing who to listen to.  The Dog ignores us at times but for the most part, KNOWS he benefits from listening to us.  Would that I had that kind of clarity myself, let’s just say.  I try to take his happy appraisal as a model and implement it in my own day.  It was going really well for a while. But as usual my ongoing issue of listening to the wrong station at the wrong time reared its head.  I realized that I had almost lost faith in myself.  I put too much emphasis on what I was hearing, in essence, without keeping the housekeeping detail in action.

I think about faith a lot.  I am not religious but I do have faith.  This faith tells me that love is the truth, do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the rule.  Hard as hell, but true and rule, nonetheless. While most of the things our cultures deems “wrong” appear on reflection to be nothing more than exertion of social control and an extension of the separation between us and everything else that seems to have happened about 5000 years ago, the things that really ARE wrong get no attention and it is quite common to hear people, in a variety of settings, say that there is no right and wrong.  But, there is.  It is wrong to hurt people or condone it when others do it. (Even though we hurt people all the time just by being alive; we step on bugs unwittingly, our housing tracts kill animals, everything our society is based on just about causes some harm. So already we’ve got cognitive dissonance up the wazoo.) It is wrong to damage the earth. It is, in fact, wrong to think that you are better than anyone else- or than any animal, plant, rock, or body of water, on some level, as well.  In a way the discourse about there being no right or wrong has morphed into an acceptance of awful behavior as long as you agree with it yourself. It’s almost a bit doctrinal, when you listen to religious people talk about the world now- and with SEVEN “god channels” on the tv here, it’s unavoidable. The religious texts, it seems, tell you so.  Yes, there ARE a million ways to stack dishes after you wash them, a million ways to clip your fingernails, all those things we so often let drive us bananas- tuneless humming, et al.  None of those things are wrong although they are often cast as so.  But I happen to think it is wrong to discriminate against people or situations or things simply because you want it all to be more like YOU. It’s wrong to make others suffer because you refuse to do the proper thing in a situation.  It is wrong to accept shoddy thinking and behavior as accepted and installed wisdom just because it benefits you, or so you think.  Given that we are all one, we have some responsibility to each other not to be total idiots. Even though, of course, THAT HAPPENS.

Is it about considering the source? I wonder.  Real Source is, after all, ineffable.  We get glimmers and hints and outright blatant messages but it is still all so much bigger than we are, as we get carried along with the cosmic parade.  Current source, not so much.  In fact one of the main things to be said about it now is that it constantly contradicts itself.  (Which may be better than say in the mid-20th century when essentially untruth was the message for the most part)  Researching a simple thing like is dog saliva a good thing for dog owies gives you a zillion answers that all refute each other. Information pretty much equals propaganda unless you’re the type to spend a lot of time in the real or metaphorical library.  Perhaps it is more about the fact that since we don’t know, it really is better to greet each moment with the joy it deserves rather than trying to figure out how to get it to do or be something other than what it is.  Which we don’t know anyway.  The information we REALLY need is, for the most part, available to us, right there in front of us.  It’s a question of who we listen to- who tells us what we’re seeing.  And that person we listen to should really be US- as long as we are willing to put in the work every day, pay attention, learn how to truly think for ourselves, greet the day with joy, and hope for the best.  Then it kind of doesn’t matter, or at least not as much, who’s talking because you can listen, think, trust YOUR source, and make better decisions.

So far, having crawled out of the Hole of Seemingly Complete Across the Board Powerlessness of last month, I’m equilibrating myself one day at a time. Traversing the hills and valleys of taxes, delicate but crucial negotiations, County Inspectors, health insurance weirdness,  memories and current time attitudinal snafus, I’m Remembering that I CAN trust myself, so I’ve cooked, the usual fallback after breakdown.  Butternut squash/olive/white bean pizza (initially looked at askance, liked very much later), homemade green Thai curry (did not send myself the memo about the part where I decided I’d make all this stuff from scratch so there was a good half hour snipe hunt in the refrigerator for the non-existent jarred stuff)  soup with more of That Squash, homemade garam masala dusted over roast chicken for the luxury portion of the trip, and variations on our new old favorite, tetrazinni.   Not to mention the Achiote-on-the-brain extravaganza, more of which to come later. Since so much, including whether or not we have basic services or any income whatsoever, seems beyond my ability to effect OR affect, I’m finding that preparation of every successful dinner has a very salutary impact on my quivering brain.  Marx said that people do things like crafts and knitting and complex cooking I suppose as an antidote to alienation.  I think he was right about that.  As for what comes next? I’m trying to cultivate the Dog’s approach and see the good in it.  While reserving my right to bark and give a good nip if the good turns out not to be there.  And I think, Gentle Reader, you know what I mean.

Blessings and thanks!