Posts Tagged ‘coping’

the wandering mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and thanks!

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success with pineapple

In all the excitement around here of late, I may have omitted proper treatment of one of my bigger accomplishments, Gentle Reader.

Which was the replication of an acceptable al pastor, for tacos.  Al pastor is one of those things I love deeply, sometimes even more than carnitas or rajas.  Naturally I was deterred from making it at home because you always see it being grilled on a rotisserie-like thing.  Which I don’t have.  So I thought, oh dearie me, too hard.

Well, not so much.  Turns out? all you really need is a good basic adobo recipe and PINEAPPLE.  It’s nice if you have the canned chiles en adobo but since I didn’t find mine until after I made the recipe, I can say it isn’t crucial.  You just then have to use a mix of roasted dried chiles and herbs and stuff, and the crucial pineapple, and whoosh it together…..and then you have a marinade to put on protein of your choice (I mean, in theory, you could use tofu- and tofu actually is not bad in rajas….) and……suddenly you find that you have accomplished something that seems huge.  And it’s basically just a recognition of what the elements of a thing actually are, and the relative sizes of them and you, and proceeding accordingly.

Bucked up by that glorious achievement, I have tried to approach the various and sundry things that seem to be hell bent on making me lose what little mind I have with what I am now calling The School of Pastor Approach.

In practice it’s kind of like stop, drop and roll in a fire.  Something happens, you pay attention to it, remain calm, and get out of harm’s way.  This means not losing even a tiny bit of composure which is always the part I struggle with: the inner Donald Duck.  In any case, the other day something happened which actually was pretty big.  I was taken aback by how quickly I went from zero to sixty on the Completely Upset Track.  (“I can’t do this” sort of thing.)

While the situation, had it been as bad as it might’ve been, was definitively not wonderful, it was also not as world ending as my feelings toward it indicated.  I realized that it was my attitude about it which was causing at least half of my distress.  Again.  This allowed me to calm down enough to not make things worse by untimely displays of inchoate emotion and yelling.  And to realize? that it was my expectation about what a given thing meant and thus should do that caused a relative inability to function.  Kind of like not being able to make pastor without a rotisserie.  Not, actually, the point.  What does this thing consist of, and how should it be approached?  How do I get on the right level here? In terms of pastor, the crucial thing is not the equipment, it’s the ingredients.  I suppose you could say the same thing of The Situation- it was the ingredients- the thinking- that made it seem impossible to navigate.  In the case of pastor, it was an addition (the sweet).  In the case of the Situation, it was a subtraction (the prickly bits- so pineapple still works as a metaphor!).  The thinking was the same, though, really.  I’m hoping this means progress has been made; over and above, that is,  the sheer joy of now being able to pretty much have pastor whenever I want.

Thank you!

two bees. or not to be’s.

I’ve been finding myself lately pondering writing as though it were like getting up on a high dive board at the Olympics.  Have I mentioned my fear of heights, Gentle Reader?

One thing that happens is so much time is spent on reading everything I think I “need” to read and writing stuff I think I “need” to write,  that by the time it comes to putting paw to “creative” keyboard, there’s no time or I’m mentally drained.  This is a lot what happens in today’s world in general, really.  Everyone’s glued to their screen, whatever it is, and time gets taken up, resources are expended, and what actually happens?  Not much.  But you’ve been busy, right? Without accomplishing anything productive or harmonious or dynamic.  This is starting to seem like it is actually the point- we are “guided” by “society” to function in ways that seem to create nothing but entropy for us, if we are really honest. Consume, react, repeat. And for HEAVEN’S SAKE!!! Do NOT confuse yourself with actual facts.  Mercy.  Don’t stop and ponder the fact that perhaps those extra pounds everyone’s so worried about could be handled by simple label reading and not purchasing things where the ingredients are largely corn and corn syrup related.  And why are so many in this country so overweight even though an unduly large percentage of us live in poverty and hunger? Not to mention the rest of the world. Why, in fact, is so much of the food we eat here not even really FOOD?  And definitely do not let yourself think too long about the fact that actual flat out blatant lies are being told as the truth, all day long, about things that have a direct impact on people’s lives.  A good recent example is the DEA saying that it will continue to classify cannabis as a drug on a par with heroin.  No research, they said, no demonstration of medical use.  This is simply not true and it doesn’t take an investigative genius to find that out.  As a result people are suffering needlessly. This will only end, of course, when the Big Boys figure out how to get all the money from this product, and not until then.  Oh, and then there’s the little problem of  opiate addiction (where they DO get all the money)- amazing what a visit to the dentist can do to you. But God Almighty, you can’t have cannabis for that.  You’ll get addicted to THAT.  And, of course.  Do not even consider focusing on just what it would take for everyone to have a decent life: cooperation.  Respect.  Having a value based on something other than personal aggrandizement.  We do, after all, have to make America……what, exactly?

What I decided at long last is it’s just another invitation to start again, to re-think, and the most fun of all, exercise some self discipline.  The temptation to go along with the flow, the tide, the crowd, the truth as you are expected to believe it is great.  Now, one could dissolve into a quivering puddle of horrified yuck at any moment, or into a twirling helix of anger- just by going out to the store, or watching the news.   This is the same kind of inanition I’ve been experiencing lately.  It’s all so overwhelming.  But then I realized something.  (For the umptieth time- when will it stick?) Being paralyzed by things is not going to cut the mustard.  And the rehash…..well. Enough, already, of that.

It will be fun to see if I can actually make sense of this for you, GR.  But today I read a really good description of Mercury retrograde.  (Bear with me, here.)  We’re accustomed to the warnings about not signing agreements and how our appliances and cars will appear to go temporarily insane during these periods that occur relatively frequently, and Mercury goes, in our view, backward.  But Eric Frances, in Planet Waves (I have a link!) wrote about it being something that exposes what has gone before- shakes the tree, as he put it.  So, then, this means? that if you haven’t paid attention, have glossed over things, or functioned as a case of Walking Entropy, problems and consequences will arise with which you will have to deal.

So, OK.  Instead of having a feeling of dread about Mercury retrograde, perhaps a more sensible thing is to say, now we’ll see where I didn’t pay attention, where I lacked clarity.  The cosmos in effect gives you a way to clean up your act, a few times a year.  If we see these times as periods where we shouldn’t do much because Things Will Go Wrong, we’re missing the point altogether.  Instead, this is a frequent flyer marvelous opportunity.  Most of the things we consider to be intractable problems are really areas where we are not paying proper attention, or willing to do the right thing.  Like, say, eat right, or keep your elected officials accountable for their actions.  These are every day actions.  Small things in a way.  Eat real food and cook it yourself, let your “representatives” know you are watching what they do.  Spend your resources consciously.  This means things like, for us anyway, not buying any more Limonata which we both adore- because why? Because Pellegrino is owned by Nestle, and Nestle is contributing to water problems on the planet in a macro way- by for example, getting water from here in California for cents on the gallon and reselling it to you, the consumer, and us from whom it was essentially taken without consent, for a large profit. And for extra fun putting it in plastic bottles which end up in the ocean.  This is real stuff, Gentle Reader, not propaganda.  Using your grocery money with awareness is an example of a  very small thing you as an individual can do that ultimately has an impact on the entire planet (where we all do live).  Especially if enough of us stop fearing Mercury retrograde and actually attend to what we’re doing.

Then I thought about what might happen if enough people on earth start doing these small things.  Evidence suggests this is happening, however slowly. There’s an energy and a power there, and what with all the worldly and political glitches coming to view, it might be possible to do what isn’t, really, rocket science.  Which is: CHANGE THINGS.  Because I personally don’t want to see one more image of one more bloodstained child or mangled man or blasted building or beaten woman in the name of what it really is all done for: Money.  Or one more parent who can’t get treatment for their sick child.  Or themselves.  Or afford it even if they CAN get it.  We seem now to live in a stupor so that the top sector of the world can live in its chosen cocoon.  We keep our eyes shut and are exhausted because it seems too tiring to do anything else.  It is not going to work- and really? it hasn’t.  So we got a BIG Mercury retrograde thing going on whether we like it or not.

When, however,  you open your eyes you see the world.  And it is beautiful. It is always new. Each step you take, each piece of trash you pick up, each person you treat with respect, wakes you up.  It’s tempting to stay in the old habits and patterns- but it is also constricting and suffocating and ultimately not even possible (uhm, thank you Mercury?).  Walking through the world with open eyes is when you can begin to claim your true inheritance as a human being- inclusion, not exclusion.  Love.  Not fear or hate.  Healing, not making yourself sick.  Worth a try.

And, for extra motivation:

happybirthday

thank you!!!!!

what muscles look like

The heat here has been, frankly, unbearable.  Having to be out in it for about four, scattered, and ever so slightly back breaking hours a day has been something I decided to view as Training, like for a marathon.  Fortunately we have a 50 foot long hose that weighs about ….oh, who knows how much.  But it’s heavy and has a mind of its own, we know that much.  I’m thinking I should do a You Tube video with it, a new exercise program- this could really be something!

Anyway it was fun when I went to the doctor (no more visits now! honestly, but everything takes about ten times longer than it needs to in the brave new medical world) and he said, wow, look at your BMI! You’re overweight!  I started to giggle, at which he actually looked at me.  Do I look overweight or inappropriately or excessively jiggly to you? I said.  He shook his head no.  OK then, feel THIS I said, extending my arm to him.  OH.  He said.  Yes.  I said.  Muscle.

So muscles are another one of those things that can be there but be unseen.  The usual adherence to preoccupations and entrenched ways of thinking can be continued without interruption.  Everyone’s prejudices and biases can remain intact.  I ruined his diagnostic day, sadly, as he was about to launch into the cholesterol and weight loss speech but realized it was totally off base. ( IN fact at this most recent appointment I had lost a fair amount of weight due to the above mentioned training regime.  And sweating, and stuff.) As he gathered himself, the eventual bright spot was the undeniable truth about my lungs to which he now had to attend.  In last year’s medical fun fest it turns out that in the process of collapsing my lungs, then filling them with fluid, then using god knows what crap to empty them?  Permanent damage was done.  I am pretty sure I can heal this up, actually, and more on all that soon because I am working on Something Big!……  But I am also going to file a formal complaint against the surgeon and anesthesiologist, because the past 18 months of not being able to breathe or do much and having my lungs crink up like squashed dixie cups in the middle of the night? has been hell.  And I don’t think they should have carte blanche to do it to someone else to whom, in their paradigm, attention need not be paid.

So.  You know.  This may be what passes for fighting the evil empire at the moment.

Other than that, it’s largely been armed struggle just to keep things alive out here this month.  We did get straw bales placed against the outside of the yurt, and they do provide some much needed insulation from the heat.  It’s still 85 in here all day but that, GR, is a whole lot better than 95.  Given that it’s about 112 outside, lowering on some days to 95 at midnight.  The Dog has reluctantly understood that it IS too hot out there for his paws and limits his excursions accordingly. We’ve had some Bad Dog Mornings, where he does naughty things like run down to the main road and eat dead things, returning up the driveway skulking and later? for extra fun, emitting the fart to end all farts.  Which, of course, hung in the heat for longer than it needed to.  It seems like a miracle that our garden is still alive and to the naked eye, flourishing.  It’s  really  too hot now for the vegetables to do much but we do have a LOT of cucumbers and chard.  We’ll have a few tomatoes but the plants have suffered since I am not nearly as good as the Partner is at picking those noxious hookworms off the plants.  Still, I’m feeling pretty good about it all at the moment.  There look to be enough San Marzano tomatoes to make some sauce, anyway.

Having it be too hot to cook has been a cha cha cramping sort of thing, too.  But!  I butterflied a game hen and marinated it in shallots and turmeric and chilis and stuff….not too bad, really, cooked in a grill pan.  The surprise was the aroncini I made with the end of it and the left over rice which was its accompaniment.  Aroncini are those wonderful croquettes made from risotto, with vegetables and cheese inside and crisp exteriors.  I thought, OK, left over shredded game hen, rice, let’s make those.  Imagine my excitement when I remembered it wasn’t arborio rice I’d cooked, but basmati in coconut milk. Deciding to do it anyway was touch and go, Gentle Reader and I feared ghastly failure.  I couldn’t get them to cohere (a lot of that going around….) because arborio and basmati are two really different creatures, and bit my lip as I plated their reasonably shaped in the end crispy selves.  Also important because the Partner has not been eating through this illness so whatever I do give him needs to be good.  And you know what? they were.   So further encouragement not to give up, dear friends.  Anything is possible and with a bit of effort, can happen.  From rice balls to evil empire, we can do it.

Thank you all, as always.

sartre lives

In a word, GR, NAUSEA.

So.  We now have Turkey, Baton Rouge, Minnesota, RNC., the Mediterranean Sea full of ghastliness, somewhat reminiscent of Otay Mesa, and more.  Even the police around here are nervous, looking at everyone as though a barrage of gunfire will erupt at any moment.  Given that it appears that the police around here are crack shots, based on the news, I don’t know why they’re uneasy. Yes, being a policeperson is a challenging job.  But no, you don’t just get to shoot people because they’re…well, whatever.  We are, after all, supposed to have a “rule of law”.  Not a rule of, I don’t like how you look so you are getting blasted to kingdom come. And, if you are being honest, you have to admit that this sort of thing happens All the Effing Time.  Here.  And, everywhere.  But the U.S. is kind of an epicenter of violence, oddly enough.  Or not oddly.  Just enough.

Moreover, it’s a really humiliating, more than usual even, time to be an American citizen, what with this “election”.  I look at the images of the individuals “in power” on TV, everywhere.  Istanbul to Cleveland, all of it.  Nobody looks even remotely human, like they’re not from this planet at all.   I’m horrified and saddened even though I am fairly sure this is all part of an evolving cosmos and world and really it will all be as it should, and fine, and well.  Still.  This is not the world I thought I used to live in.  I’m sorry, but really.  Trump? it’s totally inconceivable that anyone with even a small portion of a working brain could think he would be a functional, positive, competent leader of anything.  His business record includes, to my understanding, SEVERAL bankruptcies, not just one- and what this means? Is he defrauded everyone who invested in him.  UNBELIEVABLE FINANCING, we might call it. So, voters? Caveat emptor.  Just bring a barf bag and your check book.

But of course those feelings will not move us forward, and forward we must go.  In our world, we still have one person down and massive gardening duties as one result.  The Dog is using this time to great advantage.  For the first few days he ran wild outside, doing Bad Things Which Culminated in Vomiting since Mommy was Busy Elsewhere (with Daddy, of course).  Now we’re in more of a turbulent holding pattern, and for the four plus hours or so it takes to do what absolutely has to be done outside every day (temperature setting on BROILER), the Dog is in a state of bliss.  He paddles front paws in his water tub (yes, he does want to go swimming), flies over the deck with those same wet paws outstretched and tail extended gracefully, rolls in stickers and sits in mud.  He laughs, he smiles, he races back and forth carrying either an old slipper or small log in his mouth.  On the whole, it is in fact a lot of fun, I am getting MUSCLES.  Serious muscles, Gentle Reader.  Sort of an odd time in life to get buff but it is what it is.  And the plants are happy which is the true Big Deal.  We’ve got cucumbers and zucchini and grapes and chard already, which is exciting especially given my spotty  focus this year.

Other than that? I’ve had only one brilliant idea.  Kentucky Fried Chicken has had some, for them, quite witty commercials lately, featuring different people as Col. Sanders.  The most recent one features George Hamilton. ( Extra Crispy.)  I think the obvious next choice for the Colonel is Christopher Walken.  Followed by Samuel. ( Jackson, that is.)  It’s good to know in this dizzying world that I can still have ideas, after all.

I leave you with a picture of someone who does not like papparazzi:

dontwakeme

And of course, my thanks for reading.

picking up the pieces

Good lord, Gentle Reader.  I completely lost it last night after seeing, yet again, a shameless, depraved, pointless and nasty execution on the evening news.  For a minute I thought I might be “getting used to” this stuff, but.  NO.  NO.  It is time, Gentle Readers, to stand up and say absolutely not, no more, get your heads out of the paper bags and think.  Living as we do in a place where people snarf around about second amendment rights and how “law abiding citizens are being turned into criminals” with “background checks required!”, it never goes too well when I ask what about your basic right to life?  What about your basic right not to get shot dead by someone just because they can?  The out of control emotion in the voices of the shooting officers sounds to me as though they are too unbalanced to be performing their duties.  What about that? Those who protect and serve all too often ignore and ravage and aren’t even as mentally well adjusted as the perps they arrest.  What has happened to people?  I walked into the garden and just stood there last night.  Wondering what I can do about all this.

So, today when an Adele song came on the radio as I was driving home from a lengthy waste of time cum frustrating ritual public humiliation (Medical tests needed.  Medical tests not paid for by my “insurance”. No medical tests for you, in that case, so bye bye.  All of it happening in full view of a dozen or so people.) it seemed not unreasonable to burst into tears in the privacy of the Trusty Subaru.  And, bursting into tears can be quite therapeutic- it gets the static out of your wavelength, and then you can, from a calmer state of being, approach whatever it is that’s making you cry.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  So it’s just pretty strange, because while I KNOW that it is all energy and all moving in the direction it is intended to move, and that knowing gives me a degree of peace…at the same time? It just seems to all be blowing up as we speak and it’s indeed hard to keep the faith.  Of course that just makes it more necessary.  So I’ll do what I always do in these drastic moments: cook.  And say some prayers for all of those grieving for their loved ones, everywhere. My hope is we can all put down our anger, and pick up Love wherever it was last seen.

Thank you.

pain in my heart

Things coalesced today to remind me that in fact, for all intents and purposes, we ARE in the dumper.

While I realize ever more clearly that we are all in the midst of a pretty volcanic shift, and for the most part I can navigate that with relative success, at the same time there are moments when it all crashes into my forehead and I wonder how much longer I can go on living in this world.  The Dog and the Garden make a big difference, of course and I’m hoping that this weekend’s “cooldown” (to 87 instead of 107) will allow me to at last plant our burgeoning seedlings.  Plus bake some requested cookies for a friend in need- one hopes that 87 will allow the making of buttercream to proceed without incident.   The Dog had a moment of doggie disobedience earlier today and tempers flared; now they’re just at a simmer.  I’ve been handing out strawberries and ice cubes to the parties involved.

Still.  The election on top of everything else pretty much fried my circuits.  People were actually speaking in raised voices in the polling place about things that froze my blood- you know- The Wall with Mexico.  Muslims.  Everyone who either didn’t look white or had a Spanish surname (me) got extra grilling before their ballots were handed over.  I’ve been voting for a long time now and this year? They showed me as having no party preference and thus eligible for only a provisional ballot.  Which may, or may not, get counted. HOW GROOVY IS THAT?  I finally, using my best I come in peace but let’s get serious act, got things horsed around, voted, and then? This county has an electronic ballot counter which, excitingly, puts the name of whoever you vote for up on a video screen that anyone standing nearby can read.   My screen said Bernie Sanders, and it felt as though I barely escaped with my life and a tootsie roll, slamming the door on name calling behind me.

Then, glutton for punishment that I am, we went to the post office.  Where I was greeted by two things: 1) A new bill from my insurance company that was astronomically higher than it was before and 2) A man wearing a tshirt that said “Hillary for prison in 2016” who gave me a wolfish grin and said, funny, ain’t it?  Luckily he accepted silence as an answer. (Later, getting propane, I saw one that said “I refuse to learn a foreign language to accommodate the illegal immigrants coming into MY country” on yet another elderly white man who refused to believe the sidewalk was for anyone other than him .)  Just to add to my joy, I found that essentially now nobody will insure me for anything except my current company, for the aforementioned fortune.  I live in a place with a lot of fires, and my car is old.  It’s kind of like the internet around here: You gotta have it but nobody will provide it to you.  So net, net: the fat white man who crashed into me continues to cause trouble.  I’m betting he voted for turd with teeth, too.

There is of course more, although the good news appears to be the cartels are out of our neighborhood this season.  I constantly remind myself that it’s all a call for kindness, for love and compassion, for rectification of disharmony.  Perched on the high, pointy spot of my current life, it seems dicey but I do it anyway.  And on days when I’m inundated by the effing effontery of life, I do wonder if there is any point at all to what I do. It certainly at times looks like an entire geological age of catastrophe, my little existence.  At the same time it is so clear that there IS intrinsic goodness in our universe, and we can’t wait for results to do what is right and caring.  In that vein I’m going to give the Dog another ice cube, and say bless you to all.