Posts Tagged ‘cake’

ground to a halt

Or something like that, Gentle Reader.  In the ongoing jumble of everything, it becomes increasingly harder to focus on anything besides, perhaps, dog hair.  Of which there is ever more.

Firstly, I know you are all wondering exactly what birthday cake I made for the Partner.  I thought about this topic for weeks, and it may well be the reason my cranium feels filled with inert gas now- cake’s made and it’s over.  But it was a chocolate roulade filled with cream chantilly and lots of specks of prunes macerated in armagnac.  The cooking, at least, has been going reasonably well and the cake was well received, indeed.

Other than that I continue to swing between thinking, well heck.  We’ve actually pulled things together a bit more this year IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING.  And then? OMG, it’s all a mess what happened here?

Then I think, well.  If they managed to elect a Pope who actually appears to be a fully functioning human being, isn’t anything possible? ( I’m trying to keep my happy dance at Boehner’s resignation to a minimum, given that the alternative to him may be unspeakable.)  At the same time, I’m thinking: Hmmm.  This tide of humanity which is seething across borders and oceans.  It’s awful right now but the fact is good will come from it.  The tenets upon which the world has operated, at least in the past century and fifteen years, are beginning to be visibly bankrupt.  There’s no stopping what’s happening, and the moment the people who think of themselves as the “haves” and don’t want any immigrants messing up their perfect piles actually have to live in the real world for even a minute? Tipping point.  Sooner or later everyone is going to have to acknowledge we’re all in the same boat, we may not all BE the same but we are all one.  Perhaps someone will have the brain to ask the right question at long last and cooperation will begin.  Those who have hogged everything for themselves will find that what they held on to isn’t worth anything and it will certainly be interesting to see what happens then.  Somehow I think the vanquished of this world will, truly, rise to the occasion and show everyone how it is really done.  With love.  I”m hoping.

Of course the fact is that many people have been so damaged in the course of things that cooperation won’t be something they’re interested in.  There’s a way in which some migrations have the intention of crashing the place of arrival.  But now that time is changing and is both shorter and longer?  It may well be that the overall perception of things is more realistic in terms of doing what actually works for the most, instead of the fewest.  In my fantasies, anyway.

Otherwise, it finally rained here and wow.  I’d forgotten what that was like.  The day after it stopped the sky was the most amazing blue, and the clouds were sparkling.  The trees looked happy and a person could actually breathe, while looking at the mountains.  There was even a bit of snow on both Lassen and Shasta!  It’s hard to put aside the multitude of quotidian worries about survival and whatnot, but somehow when you can actually be present in nature on a day like that one after it rained, it just seems impossible that all will not be well.  It’s kind of the same view I’m taking of the erstwhile puppy training we’re engaged in now- it’ll all be fine in due course.   More on that another time, except I will say that when The Dog decided he would no longer be restrained on his leash in front of BevMo (where I was doing birthday party preparatory shopping for Polish beer) and raced in dragging The Partner behind him?  Everyone in the place tottered straight over to him, smiling and petting him as he splayed out on the cool concrete floor, grinning and waving a paw regally at all his devoted subjects.  I don’t know who this Dog was in his previous life, but I’m betting he was a rock star equivalent.

location, location, location

I’ve realized that my current internet spot is not one in which I can actually write.  This, of course, is a problem because that’s all I really use the internet for.  It’s an interesting issue, though: how an environment can be permeated by an individual’s energy to the point where it blocks any other energy.  Perhaps this is just another effing opportunity for growth, a reminder not to make excuses or something, but.  When I come to this place my brain just. shuts. off.  Not a good location, as it happens.

At the same time, not to place the onus on just one thing, there IS sleep deprivation going on, because:Jack 9:15 #2because there just is.  Puppy time, in short.

However, we are laughing more around here which is a good thing, pursuant to said Puppy time.  Also, The Dog is one of those beings nobody can pass without smiling, or,  once the tail starts going a zillion rotations a femtosecond, resist petting, either.  It’s pretty interesting to see the range of people helplessly coming toward him, hands outstretched.  Dog Zombies.

Anyway.  I’ve been thinking this year about the difference between maintaining focus, and obsessing.  The latter is what most of us do, the most.  We procrastinate, indulge in “what if”, think we “have to”, and think it is only our will that moves us forward.  This constricts our field, leads to resistance, and a sort of clenching down that results quite often in physical disharmony.  Focus is more about acceptance of what is, accomplishment  within that paradigm rather than procrastinating about the huge place you’ll never conquer.  With focus you choose to do something rather than having to do it, and since you allow things to occur the results are often a whole lot better than those resulting from the obsession paradigm.  It isn’t that there’s no pain, but it IS that there’s far less suffering.

I’ve also, for some reason, been reading Inuit poetry.  It has an incredible light to it, simple profundity.  A lot of it has to do with just this focus/obsess thing.  The writers will speak of how much they worried about things instead of simply being grateful for the light.  More and more it seems clear that gratitude, really, is one of the most important things you can cultivate in yourself.  Instead of bemoaning what might not be in any given moment, you appreciate what IS there- and so often there is so much more there than you think, if you just give it a chance.  Gratitude also takes you out of the obsession mode: you’re looking at the bigger, grandly scaled picture instead of close up at your pores and deficiencies.  There’s also something here about trust.

The I Ching has a hexagram, Exhaustion, that addresses this succinctly.  We struggle so much we lose faith in the Sage (or the larger reality, you could say), think we have to do it all by ourselves (obsess) and there’s no pattern or help, and lose hope.  This is not a formula for success, I can tell you.  So the issue really is about trust, about knowing that somehow there really IS more than we see or know, and that often we don’t even know what it is we don’t know.  Being blind, we should sensibly stop, listen, smell, feel- get information in as many ways as possible.  Then the picture comes into FOCUS, right?

Sadly, where I go ass over teakettle here is the Real World.  Or what is being passed off as that.  Donald Trump? SERIOUSLY? The insane things going on in Iraq and Syria? Destroying Palmyra? Poor sick individuals filling the world with their toxic energies.  And really, often such people simply cannot be reached.  I think about this all to the point where my head aches because it seems so insoluble.  But then?  I saw an interview of a Syrian man, in Lebanon or Turkey I think, selling pens on the street to feed his children.  The pain on his face was unbearable to see, but nonetheless his child was sleeping calmly on his shoulder.  And even though both his kids probably are so traumatized at this point there aren’t even words, you could see that there was real love coursing through all of them and that as a result, they had strength to carry on.   This is kind of what happens with The Dog.  Which is, there is truly love in the world and that is what will always give us the strength to carry on since it is the basis of all energy (to my mind anyway).  The darkness and the evil that exist will probably always be in counterpoise with the light and the good, but I do not think they will ultimately prevail, because the light exists forever and darkness always dissipates.

Now, if I can just quit worrying about my bank account and place in the world,  I can turn to more important things, like perfecting the prickly pear creme brulee and making an appropriate dessert for The Partner’s upcoming birthday.  So far there’s chocolate and armagnac (a long, grail like quest for which was recently completed and very economically too) on the drawing board.  We’ll see.  Bless your hearts.

bees, temporarily

And yes, it is VERY exciting indeed, because now we’ve got cucumbers and squashes and several melons happening.  Even a few tomatoes!  Some unknown fruit pits have sprouted in the compost- I think they’re peaches but only time will tell- and lots of last year’s Anana Amerique melon seeds sprouted in there too.  Despite the often high levels of demoralization we experience around here, this stuff never fails to thrill me and put a smile on my face.

There was, also, an epic dessert disaster.  A friend who is gluten intolerant is coming to visit and I naturally thought, oh for sure there must be something sweet to eat.  I made an experimental fig gallette with coconut flour and cashew flour instead of wheat flour, using both coconut oil and butter.  Somehow, something got lost in the translation and although the taste was fine the appearance was gnarly.  In a way it was calming to realize that, actually, I don’t have to do that, don’t have to stretch into a rhomboid shape to have things be workable.  We’ll have fruit.  Simple and nothing wrong with it.  Especially since it’ll be from the garden.

This may be the tiny nugget finally and at long last retrieved from recent challenging brain excavations: In fact, things are fine.  No high falsetto handsprings need be done in an attempt to prove worthiness, or anything else for that matter.  We are enough as we are.

The ongoing question of what to do about the state of the world remains, of course.  But we had an interesting discussion about the shape and consistency of evil this morning, and the Partner’s opinion is that we are getting closer, through all current space exploration and photography, to seeing the origins not just of our world but of good and evil as well.  Imagine if evil and its attendant beleaguering effects on us all was essentially an old blast of cosmic bad breath?  We might all see that finally and our minds might change and then….well.  Then we’d start to enjoy ourselves once again, and things might be a whole lot clearer.  It’s kind of like we might realize that we don’t have to run around trying to impress anyone with anything- we just have to BE.  Or, bee, actually.  I’m going to stick with that for now.

Are We There Yet?

And yes, apparently, we are.  Because we have been visited! By the Norwegian Carrot Cake Spammer!  I was prompted to look up the word “blunt” used in the negative comment, which included the injunction to investigate Norwegian Carrot Cake . (Spelt flour, sea buckthorn.  Healthy, for sure, and ingenious, using a seaweed as a cake ingredient.)  Others, we learned,  have also been visited by this person who seems to stop in, sock you in a back handed sort of way, and leave untranslated directions for this unusual creation as resolution, in the name of bluntness.  And, shockingly, Gentle Reader? I’d thought it was the wrong word, but as it happens, it was totally apropos.  “Blunt- Dull in understanding, not acute.”  My goodness.   It dovetailed nicely with this week’s ongoing lesson, which is don’t take things personally.  Anyone can be blunt, after all.  Move along.

Meanwhile, it being February and Valentine’s thingummy and what not, I was thinking about love, the power thereof, and how it really is the substrate of everything, and an application of love can make almost anything better.  And that application can be the simple act of listening.  Also? leaving judgement at the door, simply being present and observing what is there.   Mostly we don’t know enough to judge another, even though we can make decisions about whether we want to be in their vicinity or not.   But in the course of getting through a day, many seem to operate under the rule that if you can’t say something nice, think harder.  Surely you’ll find SOMETHING. (*I* like a song lyric we heard recently about playing music in bars for drunks:  “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it more than twice.”)  In all the life and death struggles of last week, about who did what and said which and what not, suddenly I was aware that mostly it was totally unimportant and related of course to all the stuff we all carry around with us, from the past as well as the imagined future, and project out into the world as if it makes sense to do so.  Really,  much easier to just let it go since it isn’t really helping one.  Deep breath.  Smile.  Keep going, keep doing your work, maintain balance.  In short, be where you are right now.  Remember it’s more important to be happy than to be “right” for the most part. Plato reportedly said that since we are all fighting huge battles, we must be kind.   It’s pretty amazing, really.  I hope to be able to stay in that admittedly precarious balance more, and with fewer trackless wastes of off-road cursing and commentary, by me or Whoever.   Long and winding road, indeed.

I Know I Left It Here Somewhere

Boy o boy.  It’s almost 90 degrees here today, Gentle Reader.  Last week at this time…hmmmm…..it was flooded and 50 mile an hour winds and, oh, torrential rain.  Cold, with a frost at night.  So, it’s exciting.  The Partner is especially crabby in hot weather so next week is going to be subsumed by Installing Insulation.  There may be pictures, as He has had, I think, an especially brilliant idea.  No doubt there will be a modicum of swearing, as there so often is.

I actually did start this post, completely differently, but then? The Special Satellite Internet did its’  wavery keystroke drop and whammo, all gone.  It’s exciting, also.  I think we may say this place is FILLED with excitement, without fear of contradiction.

Meanwhile, it was just my birthday.  A superhero friend came up to spend it with me, which provoked a flurry of box moving, tears, floor scrubbing and  laying down of rugs.  The rug was pretty exciting.  We’d bought it during the festivities last year, Partner saw it in an antique place, I looked at it a bit, said, great, paid for it, then it has lain fallow, as it were, folded up on boxes.  So when we unfolded it it was a complete surprise.  At first I thought it was an Afghan bomb rug, but investigation produced the even more amazing information that the pattern is actually older, more traditional, birds, plants, and bats.  Yes, bats.  A tribal Kurdish kilim.   So that was wonderful.

The cake turned out well, too.  This is a cake my mother made up for me, and quite the endeavor all these years to make myself because it is a very light, fluffy, lemony cake, with a thick vanilla custard filling and an unctuous, heavy, chocolate frosting.  (Think Eagle Brand.)  It actually held together spectacularly well and disappeared almost immediately.  A whole cake!  There were other things, too, of course.  Marinating a whole chicken in yogurt, chilis, garlic, cumin and saffron turned out to be a workable way to produce a great roast chicken with a minimum of fuss.

The big thing, though, was once again seeing how much I have to be happy,  grateful,  and excited about.  This past year has not been The Most Fun.  Not even.  And of course, things go sideways apace.  Nonetheless, this spot in the universe is full of beauty and knowledge and I’m happy to be here attempting as always to do my best.  With, it is safe to say, Variegated Results.  That could be the name of a vegetable….

Which leads us to the most exciting news of the day: BABY DONKEYS.  You may recall a previous episode in which a passel of donkeys escaped?  I guess that was their last gasp of freedom, a shopping trip par excellence, because today when we drove by their spot, out standing with them were two velvety, astounding, adorable, beautiful baby donkeys.  One black, one sort of taupe.  The ears! The legs! Velvet! and they were shy, too.  We stopped to wave at them, the adults wiggled their ears back at us  and smiled since they know us, and the babies looked at us with those amazing star struck eyes baby animals have.  Then they ducked in a tentative sort of way, both of them, behind their mothers…and then, peeked out at us from behind the gently swishing tails.  That, and the Farewell to Springs are blooming.  Already? Jeesh.