Posts Tagged ‘Daily Life’

So much I don’t understand

That is probably a very clear understatement, Gentle Reader.  But I find myself Quite Perplexed by Comments.  I get comments now! Which is in itself astounding.  Some of them seem reasonably cogent, but when I look at the addresses, often they  turn out to be from known “Forum Spammers”.  It’s confusing, because one wants to be polite and responsive especially if…well, if there’s Someone Out There Reading.  I even got a B+ last week…from a Forum Spammer.  Anyway, once again my pathological fear of hurting someone’s feelings (surprised?) has revealed itself for further inspection.

Meanwhile, yes:  COOKING.  I was going to bake bread today but simply could not muster the energy.  Lately, among other things,  I’ve made:  Bolognese sauce, spaghetti with same, lasagne, squash and kale calzone, chickpea curry with turmeric, pad thai, mushroom tart, potato curry with mustard and cumin seeds and cardamom scented rice, parathas, chicken milanese, beet soup, glazed carrots with honey and chili, roasted mixed vegetables with pomegranate vinegar, tangerine rice, endive salads,  and cookies cookies cookies as well as an infinite number of variations on leftover roast chicken.   Reunited with my kitchenaid mixer, we whisk through things So Professionally!  We seem to be on a vegetable binge lately, emphasis on Indian Subcontinent.  We had a summer of Vietnamese and Thai food, a fall of Mexican extravaganzas and holiday regulars, dumplings and crisp potatoes…..there are still chestnuts to be cooked and a potential butternut squash souffle.  And then, all the lemons and tangerines.  And, a carrot cake has been requested.

I guess I cook to pull myself together and clear the befogged, stuck in jar of vaseline, head.  We have to eat, so it might as well be good as well as nutritious although this comes more and more to be very time consuming.  Lately I find we don’t buy anything that isn’t organic, and we eat a lot of home grown organic vegetables from our garden and our neighbors’.  This gets into yet another tangled trail, of course, because of the way agribusiness functions in the U.S.  When you ponder the fact that 80% of the antibiotics used in this country go to livestock used for food, and this of course generates our friend, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (such as MRSA in pork, recently), that doesn’t exactly whet the appetite.  It’s difficult to buy things because you don’t know if they’re genetically modified or not.  For example, I looked at a package of polenta, a brand I used to buy.  But now?  It doesn’t say where it’s from, if the corn is GMO- just as alot of tofu doesn’t say anything about origin.  Corn and soy are, of course, two of the most highly GMOd items around at present.   I almost slipped and got lazy, buying  bottled barbeque sauce.  Until I looked at the label and it was all chemicals, starting with the first ingredient which was: High Fructose Corn Syrup.  So bad on every level.  I thought the base ingredient in barbeque sauce was, traditionally, tomatoes in some guise.  Not corn syrup.  And milk? Holy, you will excuse me, cow.  So THAT has to be organic too.   All the additives in food for cows, for example: meat additives, corn, things they don’t eat and also? antibiotics.  Which creates…let’s just say, a highly unsavory gut environment for the bovine in question.

Food is just about the most basic thing there is, besides water and air.  People have gotten very detached from preparing their own meals from scratch, much less, in the broad swathes, thinking about where it comes from, or even really taking the time to enjoy and understand what is being eaten.  Of course there are bastions of people who are hyperfocussed on it (what gender is my steak?), and people who are just trying to make things better and get back to some basic connection with what makes and keeps us human (Slow Food, Farmer’s Markets).  I still can’t help but think that if people stopped eating all the packaged stuff, with all the fake sugars and additives and strange fats, and started really eating real food, things might change.  The thought process would  change, become more clear, because that’s what usually happens when you clean up your diet and treat your stomach with some respect instead of like a bottomless kangaroo pouch.  People wouldn’t be so overweight and ridden with health problems.  Things could be grown in a rational way and distributed reasonably.

Still, in spite of all, I do think progress is possible.  Pablo Casals said if we do small things every day we will see miracles.  I think this is true:  You do small things toward a goal, and eventually it does get reached.  You make conscious decisions about your own food so that ultimately, someone else can eat too.  It’s about keeping things in balance overall, and that happens to be something that makes cooking every day ultimately so satisfying and rich, no matter how humble the dish being made may be.

Quotidian Dilemmas

I WAS going to not even look at, not open, the laptop today.  Call it cafard.  But I woke up thinking about Chris Cleave’s novels (LITTLE BEE, INCENDIARY).  Things don’t work out so well for his characters, who live rather firmly in the real world (Nigeria, London, Osama bin Laden-influenced everywhere) even though we might prefer not to think so.  (That would mean that’s the world WE live in, after all.)  People are driven mad by the injustice they encounter, fate in a larger sense carries everyone in its’ torrent, and we can see that the larger energies in the world- even if and perhaps especially when they are unleashed by what we might call “politics”- do have some large and controlling power.  How, indeed, do we live in such a world?  Art, Craft, philosophy, actual thinking about things can help us stay afloat, I think.  In essence I think we live in such a world by digging deep into ourselves for sustenance and guidance.

We had been talking yesterday about Freud, the Partner and I.  You have to remember, said the Partner, that Freud was a GUY.  A brilliant, deep thinker who had something that had to come out of him- not something he particularly formulated.  What came out of him was basically a description of twentieth century man, not necessarily a key to human behavior. ( The Partner is a pretty smart guy, yes?).  I’m thinking specifically about Freud’s linking of almost EVERYTHING to sexual repression.  Guilt.  I took a seminar on him in college and thought, basically, if I had to read about how Dora “fingered her reticule” under therapeutic questioning just one more time…I’d go crazy.  But it did make me think about how this sort of characterization has become an accepted analysis of things in many ways.  And it may not be correct at all, or certainly not to the extent that our society has absorbed it.  The hierarchy of values Freud implied has manifested in the free for all, greed driven, unconscious motives to the front semi-catastrophe we call the world today. ( In my admittedly grossly oversimplified opinion.)

So, fast forward to this morning.  I’m thinking about the enormity of the things Cleaves writes about, and thinking about the enormous variation in people, things, EVERYTHING, that just is by nature.  It’s a bit of the luck of the draw what can happen to you, really, even though as humans I suppose we all want to feel more or less inviolable.  (Which is laughably and sadly not the case.)   Everyone is not, actually, equal and those who are “less equal” suffer the consequences- what happens. for example, to the baby who is born with gender disarray? or in the Sudan?  It’s a long road to the top if you want to rock and roll, Gentle Reader.  And we can find ourselves doing whatever we have to, to maintain our sanity.  Even if it makes us actually crazy. (the Partner, again.)

WHICH REALLY DOES LEAD US TO THIS MORNING.  We, the Partner and I, may be suffering from some dystopian dysphoria, as I suspect anyone would if they’d spent the past two years as we have.  But wrestling with reality every day is rigorous.  I thought about people who are imprisoned for their views or way of being, and of those who are able to come out of that experience ALIVE, unbroken and functional.  So these periods of being in the dark are, I thought,  in a way like involuntary confinement.  And seen in that light, keeping it together, ourselves together and sound to the greatest possible degree,  is a revolutionary necessity.  If we are to inhabit a better world, we have to make it so ourselves.  That can involve some tough sledding.  What we have to offer may be rejected regardless of its merit.  But we cannot give up what we know to be fundamental truths- about justice, fairness, equity, not violating everything that moves just because we can- under even the most challenging situations of pain and duress.  There is always a way.  That way may not be the one that gives the immediate reward, the sense of accomplishment, or even a sense of belonging to anything anywhere, and it can certainly be a way that causes those around you to perhaps Not Be Very Nice.  But there IS a way, there is a path, there is a tide, there is a time.  The patience required, and the surrender, is big.  But we’re doing something new, and also tremendously old, here.  Not reinventing the wheel, but finally understanding how to use it.

Won Ton W/rappers

Yesterday was a blur of difficulty, let’s just say.  Emotional instability reared its ugly head, dueled with logistical nightmares and potentially lethal snafus, skidded on muddy roads, and eventually baked cookies.  Today started off with telemarketing calls from the moon ( no, I didn’t buy any),  and then the real fun began.  My glass supplier called to say the jars I’ve used for the past several years and just reordered are no longer available.  Period.  Nyet.  Not making ’em anymore.  So, this is getting into real fun, here.  I make and sell a product that, up to now, has been a SPECIFIC SIZE, right?  Because I’ve used the same jars FOR A LONG TIME.  A jar is a stable little thing, isn’t it?  Who’d’a thunk that such a small thing could turn into such a big deal?   Except of course that it is always the things you don’t think of that suddenly afix themselves to your posterior with all the might of their pointy teeth and strong jaws.   Because, see, we have labels that have to be very specific about what is in the jar, including size/amount. The labels have to FIT a certain size jar.  Plus, it’s a certain price for a certain amount and size of jar.  So, basically, this jar isn’t a negotiable item.  We use amber colored glass and not clear or blue or green or purple  for preserving purposes;  plastic is of course totally out of the question.   Glass is essential, versus plastic, for preserving purposes and non-chemical contamination issues.  Why make an organic/biodynamic product and then package it in —– ? However much the petrochemical industry would like you to.  Heck, you can use the lotions that have all their petro stuff in them as preservatives, put it in plastic made from the same lovely stuff, and voila.  Toxic immersion, a concept we’re all swimming in.

My supplier was struggling to maintain composure through the many calls she had to make to tell people their orders weren’t going to happen. It made me feel terrible.   I called another source who reminded me that, as small businesses, manufacturers don’t really give a flying whizzbang about you.  They decide what to make, what not to, and you as the tee tiny business person out there get to, essentially, retool on a dime.  It took a huge amount of tooth gritting determination to keep my mind from completely exploding (again) when I think about the TOTAL FREAKING HYPOCRISY that is rampant, about “small business”, “job creation”, “support for entrepreneurs”, “getting America back to work”, blahblahblahblah….BLAH.   As a small business person, I have not found that support or help terribly available.  I couldn’t get a Small Business Loan at the startup because….I hadn’t been in business long enough.  I really liked that.  The bank wouldn’t lend me any money unless I essentially bought my car over again.  Once per car is enough, don’t you think?   I’d love to be able to expand and JEEZ, maybe even hire someone to help us.  That is definitely out there in fantasy land at this point, as the Partner and I toil on here in Biodynamic World.  But anyway.

I’m trying to maintain a calm, easygoing, upbeat attitude about all this.  It’s just change! A shift in direction! We’ve been thinking that we should raise our prices a bit.  The only jars I can find that are remotely acceptable now are  bigger than our current ones and a fair bit more expensive.  It makes sense to raise the price on something when you’re getting more of it, doesn’t it?   So we get to ponder this price point stuff too.  There’s a whole ecosystem for that, too.  At this point, my products aren’t expensive enough for people with  money to be too interested in them- they are lovely, they work, they’re good for you, but sadly no Swank Factor it would seem.  If we raise the price,  current customers are going to think twice, and we hope continue their purchases but after all.  Things are dicey and money is funny.   This is the life, Gentle Reader!

On a positive note, at least SOPA and PIPA, those two mutant darlings, are off the table at present.  Probably to be..retooled! and brought out again but nonetheless, something good happened there.  Tonight I’m making ravioli (hence today’s title),  another guided meditation to  keep everything loosely connected while we fly through the air hoping there’s a trapeze out there somewhere.  That tree branch I got stuck in last night wasn’t, in the end, all that comfortable.

Vicious Circle Surfeit

It’s getting harder to know what to do about things, Gentle Reader.  How does one participate productively, when do you just shine things on, how does a change in paradigm get implemented and, really? Is it any of one’s business?  Of course it IS quite often one’s business if only insofar as we each have a responsibility to tell the truth and ……oh dear.  Well, you can see my quandary.

We have drama brewing apace here on the hill, which used up quite a bit of my time today.  The good news was that our landlady had indeed returned on Monday with plumbing parts, did fix the leak to a certain degree, and then?  The pipes froze.  That was yesterday.  So when the phone rang and the day went to hell right off the top, I guess I was temporarily buoyed up by the knowledge that the pipes weren’t frozen TODAY! All the water I’d put in buckets all over the yurt could stay there for now! Just in case! And even though my mail wasn’t reaching its important destinations and my calls weren’t being returned, there was still a (temporary) sense of having backed away from the actual edge of the cliff.   But back to the Drama.  Perhaps the importance is in knowing when to say something, when not.  Also to whom.  Stupidity, however, IS forever quite often, and attempting to provide redress to that fundamental gaping hole in things is pretty damned hard.  This particular case in point showcased my general tendency to jump in, sort things out, get the life boat provisioned, and other people’s willingness to send me straight to the front.  Etcetera.  But then I thought, hmmmm.  When it’s drama, and high drama at that, the messenger often gets shot so really it is probably better to wait until everyone is calmer. It has also been brought to my attention that people don’t listen all the time, and that being the case a different approach than talking might be better.  But then people may indeed experience the consequences of their own actions, which sometimes has a scattershot effect, and in this case would be highly undesirable to say the least.

So.  Public policy.  How do you get people to actually act in their own best interests?   A spot of news listening doesn’t cast much light on this, either.  Boehner of our existence, WTF?  SOPA? PIPA?  I actually heard someone say that these bills are, get this! ABOUT JOBS.  Zillions of innocent people will lose their jobs if these bills are not passed because…er….piracy of films online will…..why, it will…..Totally did not get the connection there, except that JOBS are a catchword now, used by Republicans in every context whether appropriate or not.    I think if I hear…(well, and here it is! ONE MORE TIME! Mitt and Newt running their mouths with minimal brain engagement and maximal use of “job creation” ) any more malarkey about jobs I will scream.  Pardon me……

The birds screamed for me just now, the sweethearts.  Still.  It is really something to be on this runaway train.  We can’t agree that climate change is real in the Hallowed Halls of Legislation but we can sure wade in and make sure censorship is alive and well, because why? Because it’s easier than tackling the actual problems of the world.  And? Because the money has to stay where it is.  The laws will still be broken, criminals will still succeed, but by cracky we’re striking a blow for….certainly not democracy.  I wonder what they’re going to call it this time.  All they really need to do now is put Monsanto in charge of the internet, and their work would be done here, the forks could be removed.  They could go back to being Job Creators!  I suspect our fine legislators are just as confused as we are, however, because I also heard something quite interesting from one of them this past week, something to the effect that half of the people in the US don’t pay income tax.  This, it turned out,  was an allusion to people at or below the poverty line not having to pay income tax.  Therefore, it would seem that this person was saying that half the people in the US are at or below the poverty line.  Wow, I thought.  Inadvertent truth!

Anyway.  The sky is completely clouded over, no visibility and dark falling rapidly.  The weather is changing, and winter may have actually arrived in full force.  This will make the coming week a logistical nightmare but what else is new?  Meantime, I found a recipe for pinto beans with garlic and red wine (Lynn Rosetto Kasper, in the JPR Monthly)  and it is a winner.  Simplified:  Cook beans in pressure cooker.  Saute finely diced carrot and onion until beginning to brown, then add 8 or so thinly sliced garlic cloves, cook until they are softened.  Then, a cup and a half of red wine, bring to simmer lower heat and let reduce to almost nothing.  THEN, add beans and their broth, let cook for a half hour or so to meld flavors.    This was a really good variation on pinto beans, and with some good bread makes a good meal.  Tonight we’ll probably make something spicier with them, which it is now time to ponder.  Chili? Cumin? The challenge of making something interesting from a basic and often used ingredient, as well as something good out of nothing particular, is always eventually very enlivening.  Thank goodness.

Oh, Lordy

Yet another couple of hours of potential productivity dissipated this afternoon; somehow time flies by and today what it has brought is high wind and perhaps the start of rains.  This means, among other things, that we have to scurry around and get more wood before everything turns to freezing mud.

I was talking to an old friend who remarked that parsing ideas was becoming ever more difficult.  BOY HOWDY, I said.  Sometimes you find yourself simply unable to respond to things.  Anyway, it being Sunday we’re listening to Harry Shearer again.  Monsanto!  Mitt Romney!  UGH!   Not to mention all the local excitements of dwelling here in the land the BiPolar Express visited once and then forgot.  As in, restraining orders being tacked onto neighborhood bulletin boards with warnings scrawled thereon in lipstick.  But who’s counting?  The entire world seems to be more than a bit excitable.

And so time moved on and found us here at Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, erstwhile holiday.  I had actually thought about writing about that today until I found that we were unexpectedly  back at the part of the film titled “FUN WITH PLUMBING”.  The Partner had noticed a growing leak at the pumphouse (of the relatively recently replaced well, another fun time) which this morning culminated in:

The landlady’s husband turning off the water without telling anyone, then leaving.  He does things like that.

The landlady calling and saying they were BOTH leaving, she’d turned the water back on, and if anything happened THEY DIDN’T DO IT.   This was fun.   In addition, The Partner responds especially well to stimulus of this sort.  The water was indeed on, which also meant that it took some time for it to get back to a point where it would come out of our faucet.  This did finally happen, accompanied by huge spurts and sprays, green water (just like before!), muck, nothing, spurts…I decided to bite the bullet and wash dishes.  While I could, sort of thing.

While engaged in this attempt at productivity, I found my inner voice going: WTF! Am I the worst person on the planet or what? Why me??? Screw the easy button! That’s not good enough any more!  I can’t take any more of this (spurt, spray, glob, wild temperature fluctuation, rinse and repeat).  I NEED A NEW LIFE RIGHT NOW.  Then as if in some sort of dizzying technical display, I saw every plumbing fiasco I’ve ever experienced flash before my eyes.  There was the festive house where the original owner had used the wrong kind of materials when building the bathroom with the following results:

1) There was a constant ring of slugs around the base of the toilet until it eventually fell through the floor.  This was resolved by calling a plumbing company run and exclusively staffed by the Hell’s Angels.  Oh, yes.  During this time the sewer line from the street backed up into the bathtub also.  Tree roots, don’t you know.

2) Shortly after the toilet and floor and whatnot was…er…fixed, the shower wall/back outer wall of house, collapsed in due to…well, see toilet bowl above.    This repair took MONTHS.  Then the landlord’s son knocked up his girlfriend and I got shown the door.  Isn’t that always the way?  You just get things the way you want them, viz basic amenities, and then, whammo!  So.  Ultimately after looking at a variety of lodgings that made me cry,  I moved to another seemingly fine house in another adjacent town, where this happened:

Every drain in the place spewed straight up and then an air lock descended and nothing would move.  THIS TIME, I missed the Hell’s Angels.  This time, I got the Persian Plumber who, after thwacking, hemming and hawing, saying things along the lines of women should never go near plumbing, got up on the roof to clear out the roof vents.  Barefoot.  With his roto rooter thing, which smashed into, yes you guessed it! the kitchen window I had just replaced because it had gotten shaken loose in the earthquake and…..

This, in short, is how things Usually Go In My Life.  Apparently I am still delusionally attempting to pretend that I have a NORMAL LIFE.  Normal, schnormal.  Now I’m just working on telling myself that, uh, that……surely there’s something I can do today that will at least lend this Punch and Judy show the air of having a plot.  Meanwhile, the landlady’s back, perhaps with piping.  We’ll see what happens.   If we dare………..