Archive for the ‘food and cooking’ Category

life, with Dog

mrhandsome

We’ll get the unpleasantness out of the way first: the lentil plant croaked.  Otherwise the garden seems to be shaping up splendidly, even in our now 100 degree f. heat.

Yesterday was the Dog’s birthday and another opportunity to see just how much he teaches me all the time.   The other morning we had an Unfortunate Occurrence….I had my back to the Thing in the moment since I was making something to eat, BUT.  I heard the Partner exclaim, No! NO! Oh GOD!!!! NOOOOOOOOO…..Since I wasn’t altogether sure if this was a Tottenham Hotspur malfunction or the Sheriff showing up I didn’t rush to turn around, but when I did?  There was an absolute steaming volcano of dog barf on the rug.

Of course, I am a pro at this now.  Show me your dog barf, pee, or poop! Go ahead! So, whipping out the always useful AARP magazine, I shoveled the stuff up, washed the area, mollified the Partner and babied the Dog.  I realized that since we found ourselves recently calling him the Bottomless Pit Bull, probably a ramp down on the food was in order.  He is a consummate pro at just…..staring….at you……until……you…….crack! and give him food.  He immediately races around whenever I even step into the kitchen, forget what happens when I open the refrigerator.  In short, he was playing me like Paganini.  Then again, the hummingbirds play me.  I just have to feed whoever’s around.  This turned into a really good opportunity to look once again at that still large matched set of emotional baggage and see that really, it is OK! I am not on a parole that will be revoked the minute someone doesn’t get waited on or fed, especially since I’m the one who passed the sentence.  And, especially since we know for sure that the Dog will eat until he explodes.

Traditionally (he’s three now after all. History, Gentle Reader!) he’s gotten a very tee-tiny (organic) turkey (nothing else) slider for his birthday.  This year I didn’t have turkey and he had to be content with what is probably going to be my crowning achievement for the summer: butternut squash popsicle cubes.

dogtreats

Success there, all around.  Even if when I made the first batch somehow the immersion blender tipped over the container and……created an impromptu kitchen sterilization episode.  Anyway, bucked up by receiving all this Dog Teaching, I was somewhat surprised when after inadvertently watching the “news” my head exploded and the poor Dog found himself in the position of having to lick my tears and murmur therethere in my ear.  Now that you’re on the floor with me, aren’t you glad you cleaned all that stuff up? He is nothing if not ultimately practical.

In the end it all goes back to feeling one MUST DO SOMETHING whether it be to offer food or end single use plastic. The absolute self absorbed idiocy that passes for discourse, information, public policy is so disturbing on its face that it’s hard to believe people aren’t rising en masse against it.  My egoic self with all the luggage feels that the world has been destroyed by a bunch of jerks, and casual observation does nothing to dispel that thought.   Then again, that itself is a thought, right? A separating sort of thought, too. And most of the difficulties in life come from separation, from not allowing love in to one’s life and being.  I had the oddest set of realizations that night, after the restorative power of Dog Licks (and Partner applied cold compresses!).  Perennial philosophy, let’s call it, discusses both the necessity of disentangling oneself from the glamorized and/or apocalyptic apparency of things, and to put in practice a radical kind of acceptance of what one encounters.  Not accepting abuse or radioactive stupidity at all, but extending actually the kind of….warrior power? of love.  Let me take that thorn out of your paw before you shoot me, sort of.  Then we each go on our ways, thus fortified.  Anyone can do this.  So I at long last incorporated this information: that we are all holy, so to speak.  The Teachers just all passed this way before we did, yet we are in the end all one and the same. We may be defiling ourselves by our actions (may????grrrrr……) but that can always be stopped because there is always a choice.  So.  Although I am driven close to mad when I see the suffering caused in this world today by stupidity, greed, selfishness and fear, and grasp my own powerlessness to “do” anything about it…..at the same time I am increasingly more sure that there are such things as truth and beauty, and that they will prevail as long as there are those to show them in the tiny spaces that often get overlooked.  Like, you know.  Gardeners and cooks and poets and people who hold the door open for you wherever it may be found.

Plus, I think I finally understand gravity.  And: the bug spray is in beta testing.

Blessings and thanks, as usual and always!

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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.

the Dog has a bilious attack

Oh, Gentle Reader.  It would be, really, impossible to describe just how much fun we’ve been having of late.  A friend accused me of being a “fun hog” after hearing the most recent happenings.

Anyway, on Monday, the first morning I’ve felt even remotely OK for  weeks and weeks, before I had coffee, the Dog, who’d had a Big Day the day before at the farm supply where we buy his food and he has, essentially, a fan club whose members stuff him with treats and hugs, barfed all over his spot.  This included his just eaten breakfast and treats.  I  realized at once that he’d a) overindulged and b) been affected by the bone crushing level of stress around here.  This caused me to remember a song, whose artist I don’t remember, the lyrics of which are in part: “I smoke two joints in the morning/I smoke two joints at night…” This actually made me laugh because when I used to hear that song, I didn’t realize the truth of it, which is that cannabis is a powerful aid in dealing with intrusions, both unwanted mental ones and the more rude, intentional ones performed by humans.  Feeling thus bucked up at the realization that I’d actually made it through several more Scylla and Charybdis episodes with a bit of such aid (the Dog gets flower essences for same),  I further rejoiced at the finding that there IS a use for AARP magazines.  They are excellent at picking up dog barf.

But and so.  We had no internet or phone service for around two weeks.  This is special on so many levels but I maintained a sense of pride at not having screamed at anyone even once, over the three hours on the phone this caused (including the part at the neighbor’s where one person started shooting his .45 at rocks about six feet from me while I was talking to a young man in the  Philippines who promptly freaked out- and I probably did not exactly help by saying, Oh, it’s nothing, just a drug dealer shooting himself in the foot) explaining that no, I can’t be in front of my laptop now because I am 20 miles away from it, where I have phone service.  But when I WAS in front of the laptop this is the diagnostic code I got.  What part of off the grid don’t you get? especially given that NOBODY has Hughesnet unless they have absolutely no other recourse.  Well, my favorite guy said, I’m here to help!!!! Which he did by saying we’d agreed that I’d take a $10/month credit on my bill over three months to make up for the extra money it cost in gas, and all the joys of having an internet business with no internet and missing calls and orders.  Not to mention that I’d paid for service I did not get.

So in the course of one day, I got to:

a) begin wrestling Hughesnet to the ground about the non agreement with absurd offer and get a proper credit for non-service,

b) wrestle with my health insurance about how they sent me a request for information to avoid cancellation which I got the day before it was due back to them, so therefore it would not be “on time”, and

c) continue working on the Larger Issue which I can’t write about here since Actual People Are Involved, but which borders on being life and death.  The person I’m dealing with, in the middle of yelling at me, said, oh, you are just so ENTITLED.  At which point I started laughing, calmly restated my position (which happens to be the only legal one in the picture on some level) retreated to Yurt Central, and had cocktails.  Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  I hope progress has been made on this front, is all I can say.

In the meantime, as usual to calm my jagged nerves, I cooked.  Focaccia, squash lasagne, butterscotch pudding, and at the same time as my friend in Chile did, baklava.  Plus of course tacos, Thai style coconut fish curry, and a million wonderful ways with beans.  Also, my planted peach pit sapling bloomed after we had a week of 75+ degree weather.  Then we had several hard freezes, of course, but the tree is FINE.  I am thrilled.  I mean: PEACHES. !!!!!!!!!

And of course as usual I learned alot.  How dumb was I, is a frequent question these days, but…..I learned unequivocally that whatever you call it, faith is both indispensable and the lever with which you can move..well, whatever it is.  After four months of living in the pit of my stomach I was shown that good decisions do not emanate from that region.  You just gotta move up toward the heart.  You have no duty to accept abuse but must remember we’re all here together.  Solutions can be found, but at least one person in the room has to be coming from some spot other than the Democratic Republic of Ego.

There’s also a good bit of observing and letting go.  In the midst of all this, more of the typically upsetting news I get from my (in fact only one person) family of origin arrived.  Realizing that freak outs of any sort are strictly prohibited in such perilous times as we currently are experiencing, I reviewed the situation, which involves me having severed contact a few years ago, and realized that in fact the whole thing turned out, for them anyway, as well as it possibly could and that was something to appreciate.  FROM A DISTANCE.  It also meant that I could no longer kid myself about my position in line so to speak, accept it and realize that I am in many ways exactly where I ought to be, and faith is my…well, strength and shield.  I have something to do besides  chase worldly success and please people.  It’s a new paradigm, Gentle Reader, and those who can leave their matched sets of emotional baggage behind at, or close to,  the outset have my deep admiration.

notkidding

When reality looks like this? Who are we to question.  Missed you!!!!! blessings and thanks, as always.

 

 

 

where the wild things are

And, that would be HERE, Gentle Reader.

Lately it’s been so wild, in fact, that my sense of humor pretended it had been buried somewhere in the back yard.  GAH, it said.  This is no fun at all.  I shall hide under the bed of mint until things improve.  No amount of cajolery swayed it even one bit.  So I had to consider things without benefit of jokes or drollery of any sort.

Once I decided to stop thinking It Was Gone Forever, and moved on to not panicking about small things like where the hell are the car keys, and could all the metal pieces in everything just stop breaking, clarity returned, if not a steady stream of witticisms.  Turns out it was just another opportunity for growth!  It’s kind of like the time many years ago when I realized that my ability to know what people were thinking was something I used to protect myself, and thus had to drop until I was able to function on my own without that crutch.  The sense of humor, while a good thing overall, became another such tool.  Once a blackbelt co-dependent, I guess.

So here I am, unable to think things are funny for the past few weeks- largely because of course they really aren’t, and it was a weird experience to finally just get close to all those things without any armor (you know, fires, floods, murders, idiocy, that sort of thing?).  The ultimate revelation from this was of course that one doesn’t NEED armor after all.  The whole idea of separation from other things is an illusion and I guess we find that out however we can.  I realized that in fact with a moment’s attention you can really FEEL what someone else is feeling, and instead of shielding from that awareness or using it as some sort of protection,  say to yourself, Self? You know we’re all One.  Let’s open up and send some good vibes out just for ducks.  It’s harder to do this of course when one is righteously indignant (like having new neighbors across the road in the house where the ACTUAL MURDERER used to live, who pull up blaring their car stereos in exactly the same way he did at all kinds of absurd times like, say, 2 am…).  It’s also harder to do when you’re circling the anxiety drain over how is this going to get fixed or whatever.  But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.  The other part of it shows Confucius wasn’t wrong about everything, since he said comparisons are odious.  No more comparing on the rigged scale we’ve all become accustomed to, either.  Things are as they are.  And they reveal their information over time.  Which ultimately provides guidance and a crumb trail to follow.

While I’m waiting for the sense of humor to crawl out from the mint patch, then, the crumb trail has led to some interesting culinary moments.  I made butternut squash enchiladas at long last, even straining the sauce like you’re supposed to and making the tortillas big enough to roll, and they were great.  It also turns out that you can indeed use  yellow lemon squash in place of zucchini in zucchini bread, and it’s almost better.  It’s also led to some amazingly spot on prognostications for people.  When I breathlessly tell the Partner that, guess what? remember when I told so and so such and such? He just shakes his head, like, silly bear.  Only YOU don’t know you’re generally right.   The trick now is believing in our own happy ending in this amazing new paradigm, where things seem to be irreparably blowing apart and mending themselves into something stronger, all at once.  The Dog, as usual, stays focused on the important things and is his usual invaluable counselling self, even when his usual question is: what’s to eat?  His quiet padding up to me in the kitchen area always reminds me that slow and steady, stick to basics, look everyone right in the eye, laugh…is a good way to go about things.  He may even find my sense of humor for me.

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

 

those donald duck moments

Not exactly what I expected from the Eclipse, Gentle Reader.  But I guess there’s a good reason for the expression Live and Learn, right?

It’s been the usual fun around here, what with broiling heat, the oven dying mid pizza preparation (life saving surgery performed by the Partner so the bullet was dodged another day), the well pump appearing to die but having a resurrection (corroded connection on pressure gauge), and finally, in honor of the eclipse? The rear view mirror falling off the window in the car.  I did not take it too well in the moment, the mirror thing.

We’d already been through it, with the oven for example.  Turns out there’s a piece (a glow bar) that dies every five to seven years.  How groovy is THAT? If you didn’t have a handy individual present you could easily pay more in repair expenses than a whole new range would cost.  We went down to our local appliance store, where we purchased the part and also watched as the Dog ebulliently jumped on the store owner, raking his arm with a claw. This caused an Iguazu Falls kind of blood eruption from the guy’s arm.  I had a dreadful moment wondering whether this was where the lawsuit was going to be buried, but the man calmly said, Oh, I’m on Plavix, it always looks worse than it is.  I am still trying to figure out what to take him as an offering in thanks.

Then, there was the pump in the well.  This, of course, spells Major Disaster in enormous neon letters.  There I was, innocently minding my own business, reading recipes and petting the Dog, when the Partner bellowed in from the back that there was no water.  He and the landlady Do Not Speak so I trundled over to relay the exciting news.  As usual I was between Scylla and Charibdis, each with their own horror story that had, in the event, nothing to do with reality.  Fortunately. But there WAS a fair amount of hair pulling and yelling on both ends, let’s just say.  Fighting down a wave of  indigestible feeling, I thought, what’s going on here and got the distinct impression it was nothing serious.  It turned out I was right, even if nobody said thank you.  So, okay, two potential disasters averted.

Moving on to the eclipse.  This put the Partner in high dudgeon, partly correctly in fact about the commercialism of it all.  But he couldn’t see enough of it to feel it had any reality and was very cross indeed.  This led to some terse exchanges which led, in spite of my best intentions, to a major Donald Duck, well, donnybrook or ten.  So, yes, *I* actually raised my voice when after going out to the car, preparatory to running some needed errands, and finding the rear view mirror on the floor, I walked back to the yurt and enquired as to whether or not we had a proper adhesive to remedy the matter.  The response I received was that everything doesn’t have to be fixed the same day it breaks and oh, well.  I lost it.  This was at about 1 pm, and IT didn’t come back til about 10 pm.

There is a point to this, really.  The juxtapositions of things are revealing at this juncture.  First, I went to the post office and spent a half hour in line waiting for an unexpected package, standing behind a guy who was mailing a form in to get two free magazines and a carry case for his Superior Giant Rifle of Some Sort.  He described how much money he was saving by doing this and I tried to conceal my level of horror at just how many people there are with so many guns.  My package turned out to contain prayer flags.  Just saying.

Then I went to the car parts store.  Taking the errant mirror in with me, I asked the man there if he had anything I could use to fix the problem.  Yes, he said.  And it’s called Rear View Mirror Adhesive.  Suddenly everything shifted and the larger picture revealed itself. I mean, really- the actual LITERAL answer to one’s question? No big deal? Ask, receive, just like that? Then I thought about the significance of it being the Rear View that was cut off.  As in: Stop dwelling on the past and fears therein and of.  There is an answer to this whole cauldron of weird, so say thankyou and try and remember that for more than two minutes.  The poor man probably wondered why I was laughing so hard after he uttered the adhesive words, but gave me a look that said, WOMEN. CAN’T LIVE WITH ‘EM, CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘EM.

What I learned from this is that it is really, really easy to fall down into duality. YES and NO.  RIGHT and WRONG.  And depending on how sticky the surface is you fall down onto on your back? It can take a while to wriggle back up into the place where there is a View.  At the same time, we are still human, with emotions and funky brain connections so words to remember are: I am sorry about that extended duck thing. How about some delicious coconut coffee ice cream to make amends?  Things like this are going to happen and yes, it really IS about how you respond.  I reckon on the whole I got a B-/C+ yesterday but it was, most definitely, a learning experience.  Anyway, here is a picture of the eclipse, with as always, blessings and thanks:

eclipse