Archive for the ‘food and cooking’ Category

deeeeeeeeep breath

It feels like a river of dread is what I’ve been propelled through and over for weeks now.  We’re all inner tubing down this thing, of course. For extra fun, here we’ve had: a few weeks of daily temperatures above 106f/42c; someone trying to drain my bank account with all due ensuing joy at trying to rectify the situation when you cannot talk to anyone because Covid, and it all has to be done online and…hahaha, internet service has been terrible due to heat; a large and scary fire at the end of our road requiring 7 fire trucks, 4 aircraft, 1 sheriff and 1 fire chief; bureaucratic snafus up the yang; some health issues- anyway, more than enough stuff to make my heart jump out of my chest, stand in front of me and say HEY.  I CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE OF THIS.  And then, of course, there’s the World.

While taking some, in fact, a LOT of, comfort in the fact that we’re all feeling the same things, my confidence that we will all work together to rise above the tide of crap and move forward is not at an all time high.  It was encouraging somehow, at a recent doctor appointment, when the Doctor said, people here are really strange.  Really jittery.  They don’t appreciate the beauty around them. It’s just weird.  No kidding, I said.  She’s from Texas which in a way makes this remark even more telling.  I mean: this is CALIFORNIA.  Then I remember people I used to think of as friends, also in California, who revealed that they essentially believe in Pizzagate .  Like the woman in the propane store who told me not to worry, enjoy myself, all this will be over at some point and was referring to the Rapture and not a lessening of our..er…viral load.  The concept we hold on to here is that this IS a pretty strange place, and it can’t be this way everywhere.  Right?

It seems logical to me that COVID 19 will be dealt with and SOMEBODY must know some actual facts about it, which would not be apparent to the average person in this country.  The lack of, and mis-information is mind boggling, and there really is no good reason why this infectious disease is still so powerful except: we are at a point in this country where we may really not continue even in the incomplete democracy we thought we lived in, unless everybody puts their kool aid cup down quick and in a hurry.  When the inhabitant of the White House says he wants the post office to close because otherwise, to put it simply, he won’t win the election, which is all that matters? when said individual suggested drinking disinfectants since they might do something about the virus and why not since you can’t get a test anyway? when it is revealed that the same individual caused needed pandemic aid to be withheld from “blue” states because? they didn’t vote for him? and when we continue to be subjected to racist, sexist, idiotic statements presented as fact? it scares me.  Marge Simpson, for heaven’s sake, has to defend herself. Suddenly there’s “diplomacy” in the Middle East? perhaps it is more an alignment of where the weapons and money are going in truth. The functioning US government is being dismantled, justice is more than elusive, environmental and civil protections are being slashed without anyone even knowing until after the fact? The fact that Breonna Taylor’s killers have not even been charged or arrested or anything? The founding principle of separation of church and state seems to be more and more a blurred line.  Photographs of postal service vans being removed by huge trucks in Los Angeles and not for repairs have been viewed.  It just goes on and on, and nothing is done to even address the very real questions raised by what is being said, and seen, and done.  And the manifested concern seems to be whether or  not one can go to a bar or get a tattoo.  Or be abusive in public at will. Exercise, you know, their rights.  Because, as I have been told more than once, this is what patriotic rebels do.  Someone actually said to me recently, very politely, that I, and people like me, (as in, appears to be a Democrat) really should be dead- that’s the only way we’d be “good”. Not EVEN kidding.

So. Yeah.  I fell into a pretty deep hole, which I realized one day when a petition to stop baiting and killing of bears (misnomered as “hunting”) completely gravelled me and I could hardly proceed with signing it.   It did get signed, of course, and we proceed with things like making dog biscuits (healthier! and also Someone may be a TINY bit spoiled), mayonnaise (now MIA in local stores), fig jam, salsa with our chiles, and tending to the welfare of this little family.  Keeping us stocked with the best mineral water on earth, Topo Chico. Making remedies and remembering that the Thing is to stay with what you know to be true.  Nature and kinship is what is true.  Love is what is true, and even as I sink into the attitudinal morass at times, still love for all of us rises more strongly than ever.

The question is, in this moment, about co-existence.  Is it possible? I always thought it was even though experience showed me it was generally a rather dicey proposition.  In the past, my belief that we could all get along and understand each other and accept differences and share what we know seemed unshakeable.  Non-violence seemed the only real way.  Now I wonder.  There are people with whom I really don’t want to communicate at this point, in the sense of not wanting to accept their abuse or lack of truth.  Another part, which may actually be a good thing, is I am no longer willing to compromise, fudge, elide,  what is correct for what someone else wants or finds pleasing or is willing to threaten me to obtain. (Apparently, according to a friend from high school, I was “always an outspoken bastard”, so maybe it’s just an old attribute rearing a head.) Bravery, after all, is often about keeping going in spite of how afraid you are, being of assistance where you can, sticking with it against apparent odds…more than it is about force or power over another.  In that vein, onward! Blessings and thanks as always, and take care of yourselves as we all carry on.

fugues and refuges

I thought more than once about writing here of late, and thought, well, hmm. If everyone else’s inbox is like mine, since many bloggers are posting many times a day, maybe it’s not the right thing to add to the excess verbiage. The old patterns, life and otherwise, have seemingly disappeared, and the urge to “do” is lessening by the moment. The fugue enters here and then, at about the fifth musical sentence therein, there’s a big spacious area which, even though it seems to be surrounded by fearsome beasts, really isn’t. Or at least, not completely. Exploration takes a new direction!

So, of course, finally I succumbed to the lure. It turns out that we all feel pretty much the same things now and that in itself creates an energy and lift, and thus: Hope. Ready, Set, Write!

One thing, maybe the main thing, that is comforting now is how much really wonderful behavior we see manifesting, the bravery and love and heart. Nature is throwing all the beauty at us she’s got, at least up here, and there is so much bird song to be heard that you can’t help but be full of joy. Still, one is also quite continuously reminded of Samuel Johnson’s observation: Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. We have several poster-child quality examples of this before us in the moment.

And really? One more belligerent, obese individual stuffed into something that looks like the American flag, carrying an assault rifle? to protect their right to…what? Inflict their germs and attitudes on everyone around them? All in the name of patriotism, country and whoknowswhat? It makes me very sad on many levels, even as I know the only response is to Love, and extend kindness, even if it is bound to be refused in the moment. I actually had to tell such a person (actually on several more occasions than this example, too. It makes going out, that one time a week, SO much fun, what with the Lysol we carry and the gloves and all the rest of it), in our hot spot of a Post Office, to move his unmasked six inches from my face self, and get on the marked spot six FEET away showing where to stand. His response was, it’s not real, I’m an American and I can do whatever I want, You Got a Problem with THAT???? I looked at his American flag t-shirt. I looked at him- poor, angry, fearful man. At times like these I really wish I was taller- perhaps foolishly I think it might make someone less inclined to attempt such silliness. ANYWAY. He did not move, this guy. I smiled (through my mask) and said, Sir! I fully support your right to have and express an opinion. But. You don’t get to disrespect me, my family, and everyone else, by potentially giving me a life threatening disease. It’s really pretty simple. And temporary if we all cooperate. He moved.

Whether or not this sort of thing is a building block for a more harmonious society, is something we’re about to find out. It’s hard, and pointless, to argue with someone toting an assault rifle. Each time something like this happens, the ability to stand in hope gets a little stronger and perhaps that is the real lesson of the moment. Or any moment…..

To distract myself from Thinking about all the Things I can’t Do A Thing About, I made a fruit pizza. The Partner likes these better than pies, so what’s not to love? Basically you make a soft pizza dough with the normal amount of yeast and flour, using a bit more water, avocado oil, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 of salt, and after a short rise, putting it in the refrigerator. After another half hour to forty minutes (or even overnight), take it out, punch it down, let rise again. Then, shape, place on whatever baking thing you use, brush melted butter over it, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar, layer fruit, drizzle with honey, bake for 15 minutes at 500 f. This works really well with soft fruit like fresh figs, peaches, and berries.

I am grateful, as always, for all who read me! May we all stay in harmony and readiness for the new world we are to build. Blessings and thanks!

 

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!

back on the street again

Well, Gentle Reader, it HAS been a long time. Mercifully, however, another season in hell has completed and for once I think we may well have really, really Learned Something.

Last year was a doozy all the way around, and my little world’s bookends of death and fire were, while by no means extraordinary, quite beyond anything that had gone before. I was unprepared for the collapse that occurred, even though it turned out the Partner was not (having passed this way before, he knew what was going to happen). My body seemed to sense that I was planning on carrying on as usual, and it issued a firm and not gentle NO. Somehow it orchestrated every tendons’ going kaflooey at once- tendonitis, fasciitis (not the culturally induced kind in this case, either), tear ducts and alveoli. The brain suffered as well and there was very little that got done in the final analysis. A lot of sitting on the couch, deep breathing, and the ever special fearless and searching moral inventory.

The good news is that you really can change habits, especially once you realize how many things are just that: habits. Fear is a habit, really. Being in the wrong situation with the wrong people is a habit. Feeling that you have to constantly achieve to be accepted is a habit. The fact that the world is in ever increasing chaos reveals that what we were accustomed to thinking was real, and now turns out not to be…that pattern is a habit, too.

AS usual, it comes down to basics. The rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When they do unto you what you do not do unto them, time to go. No prevarication, no wishing, no falling back on habit. No blame and all of that sort of thing. I found it interestingly difficult to let go of some old resentments and attitudes until I realized that my habit was to feel those as supportive, instead of what they really were- anything but. The new practice of letting the day dictate itself instead of “having things to do”, does, just like they say, end up being far more productive than you could ever imagine. The realization that the thigh bone IS connected to the knee bone leads to integration and healing. Even the huge effort of overcoming all the fears that arise during such an intense change turns out to be simpler than you might think. Will I EVER be OK? is just a thought. Returning to the moment you’re in, attending to the requirements thereof, gets you to OK right on time. So, net net, I think I made it through yet another Dark Night. Of course, there was cooking.

I got on a dog biscuit kick, since I have a cookie cutter shaped like a dog bone. That reminded me of how much I used to like making rolled out and cut cookies. In another time, I made sugar cookies in shapes based on what people had in their yards that amused me (bears in their windows, pig statues in hidden gardens) and gave them to the respective creative neighbors. I hadn’t made any of these cookies for a long time and when I did this year? It was quite a success, a parade of bears and pigs and cows and Christmas trees and shooting stars and moons and hearts. Another night we had what I considered to be a personal triumph. Making all these things with paws that felt like they had nails in them was tricky but nonetheless I forged ahead, tried a new schedule for making sourdough bread, and had a good result. Then I made some ricotta, thinking I’d make ravioli for dinner. Think again, of course, because the weather has been horrendous and we had both a road washout and no power. I’d made filling for ravioli already, with the ricotta and chard from our perennial chard installation, but clearly any cooking was a non-starter, literally. So. I made SANDWICHES with the sourdough and the ricotta filling and we grilled them on the woodstove and they were wonderful. Like something one had actually Intended to Do, sort of thing. Evidence, truly, that staying in the moment pays off. And here is someone who really knows that, for sure:

Blessings and thanks and happy new year, let us hope anyway!

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!!!!!!

pits, stakes, live tigers

No pictures yet, though, Gentle Reader.  We’re working on it but Technical Stuff appears to be in the same spot behind the barn door as everything else right now.

Not that it hasn’t been exciting.  A dozen fire trucks raced over our dirt road a few days ago after we heard a loud explosion.  The Partner saw smoke, and all of it was less than a mile away from us.  Seeing as how we were already surrounded by fires it was, as I told a friend, just the tiniest bit unnerving.  However, the fire people around here are probably stuffing their wings into their fire suits, is all I can say.  Once again they saved us.  Once again I felt exactly what it’s like to have overwhelming fear just materialize like a giant fug in your face, and also exactly what it’s like to say, not right now, fear.  I’m still rattling around a bit but ….oh well.

Shortly after that I found a frog atop my anti-depressant meds, and I thought, oh, my.  Even the frogs need help around here.  Or perhaps the frog was just saying, I’m coming with you.  FROGS PANIC TOO.

Meanwhile, though, the gardenia has bloomed and we’re already casting around for the hundredth zucchini recipe, which is all wonderful.  Beans are flowering and there’s a chili on the way.  The rhubarb plant appears to be on its last legs, but you can’t win them all- it’s been over 105 here every day and probably that is just more than a rhubarb can take.  The garden continues to be what keeps us all more or less sane, I think.  The Dog loves to eat mint and rose petals, the Partner manages and creates magnificence, and I find myself roaming around in it when my mind is so unsettled I can’t sit still.

Which, let’s face it, has been the norm of late.  I had to make a very difficult personal decision which, while the correct course of action, broke another piece of my heart.  Reality bites, in short.  But, I made ice cream (successfully caramelizing sweetened condensed milk in the microwave, miracle of miracles for me anyway) and salsa and marinades and zucchini 800 ways (new favorite: slice zucchini, place in oiled frying pan and let caramelize, about four minutes a side.  You put inch long pieces of scallion and a bit of salt on top.  When it’s all brown and great, remove from pan, remove oil, and place a tablespoon of red wine vinegar in the still hot pan.  Put squash back in, make sure it is mixed completely with vinegar, and toss with shredded fresh mint.  Let come to room temperature.  Eat.  Heaven.).

It’s not enough to keep the World at bay though and once again I am really, really wondering what to do since periodically it seems to me that all the meditating and right mindedness attempts are not even close to enough.  I don’t know how it is other places in this country but here? It couldn’t be more unfamiliar if one landed on a distant rock in space.  People are behaving beyond badly, and of course are given the example and go ahead by an individual who pretends to be President.  And we all know all the rest of it, of course, and how ANYONE can sleep knowing what is going on at the border (however much the doers of this resort to the Bible), how much money the for profit prisons are making both on incarcerating terrified refugees and the other huge percentage of American citizens they house, and how many people are about two weeks away from being out on the street, how the very air we breathe is being poisoned….   it is like a continuing gash in one’s entire being.  This is not OK, not any of it and I am at a loss to understand just why it continues.  This country is now being “run” by a crew of individuals who would probably be better placed in Pelican Bay.  And, yes.  It’s change, the cosmos is moving and shaking, shi/f/t happens, what you detest in someone is present in you also. Still, one really must not collaborate with what is poison, thinking it will be OK.  Even the Buddha said that.

The comparisons people make to the 60’s and 70’s  make me wacky too.  It is not the same and pretending it is seems to me to be the worst sort of magical thinking .  People had some heart in those days overall and were prepared to take a stand when things were clearly wrong even if those things didn’t seem to immediately affect them personally.  And there were consequences for those stands.  But things did change: civil rights, environmental rights, women’s rights.  Abortion, for example.  If you’re opposed to abortion then one must assume you’re opposed to the death penalty and war as well?  Roe v Wade showed that it was reasonably clear that a woman should not have to die either figuratively or literally (which DID happen) because she becomes pregnant unintentionally or unwillingly.  No other person really should be able to say what remedy is available and what isn’t based on their supposed reverence for life, or assume that all women are fluff brains who don’t know what they’re doing- along with all those miscreants in the hood who clearly need to be put in custody.  And why do we even have to call being treated with a sense of dignified equity a RIGHT?  How has it become a right not to be shot by over militarized police because you don’t straighten your legs out on the curb?  Or a right not to have your boss overcome you physically? And while we’re on it?  What the hell is sexual assault?  I looked up the words rape and assault in the dictionary and roared.  Assault is taking something (note: THING) by force.  Rape is “illicit carnal knowledge of a woman without her consent.” ILLICIT CARNAL KNOWLEDGE? Consent? Consent is not  saying yes so you won’t be killed. And, rape is not about sex aka carnal knowledge, which is a first step in dealing with it in a cultural context. It  is about power, control, and pain. Just like capitalism turns out to be for the most part unless you’re part of the tip of the pyramid.

Oh, dear Gentle Reader.  I do hope the zucchini recipe balances the excess verbiage.  And after all.  Mexico lost out in the World Cup, but the recent elections look most promising- even if you have, up to now, had to listen to Telemundo to find out they even happened.  Meanwhile, we pin our hopes on Uruguay, maintaining some level of balance and common sense, and send you blessings and thanks as always!

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!

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!