Posts Tagged ‘fear’

bending spoons

Once, some time ago, we were vending at a fair in Humboldt County, and someone handed me a brownie. Which, not thinking about it much except for CHOCOLATE! and HUNGRY!, I ate. All of. And of course it was a “funny” brownie and I had quite an amazing and neverbefore experienced couple of hours, during which I somehow managed to make sales without talking and saw, right before me, the central axis of the world, extending up and down as far as vision could perceive, turning slowly, and all of us revolving with it. I found it comforting to finally see something I’d heard about in all my winding roads, to know, I guess, that something described as a Mystery was also a Reality. Along with, of course, millions of other things/realities/whoknowswhats.

For some reason, watching Dortmund and Barcelona spend a scoreless 90 some minutes today at the end of what has been, arguably, the Worst Summer Ever, I found myself remembering that world axis and the timeless spin of it. Which again was comforting because it IS good to know that the eternal verities are just that. Especially now since it seems as though that axis is playing a game of high speed twister with us all and Murphy’s Law is paramount

I could, of course, list ALL the things that have gone sideways, like the new cel phone that actually worked long enough to lull me into a sense of false security whereupon it decided to “become defective”, and the tomato plants that just said: ick, too hot, sorry but Dark Galaxy is not in your future this year. Then again, there have been the successes.

I’ll start with the grape sorbet because it was truly mind boggling. We have a native California grape plant and the grapes are prolific, delicious, and full of seeds and tough as boots skin. Cooking them a bit, putting them through a food mill, adding a bit of sugar and corn syrup (organic), then freezing according to some set of instructions I no longer remember produced something from right out there on the axis of the world. Well worth trying yourself if you have wine grapes, concord grapes, or native grapes.

The other success….is still in a formative, gaseous state for the most part. Readers of this blog will remember the Interesting Times we’ve had with our landlady. It has been a rather harrowing experience, let’s just say. This summer she was diagnosed with cancer, and moved on into another dimension about three months afterward. Family of course descended to see if anything was available for them…and learned, along with us, that not only was nothing available, it was a total clusterfuck. No property taxes paid, nor mortgage. Garbage stuffed in a back shed for years. And of course, hoarding. It was a hard fact to grasp, apparently, that when you don’t pay off principal you don’t have equity OR own the secured item you are paying for. They were Not Happy when the actual owners of the property said, we are going to foreclose now unless you can come up with a better idea. Naturally none of their ideas involved putting up money, and after a thrilling first conversation with said owners, who I had been assured knew all about us living on the land and turned out to have absolutely no idea, it was clear that an Idea had to be come up with, by me since nobody else was going to do it, so that We could have a more permanent dog house. We are working on that at this writing. There were also animals: horses. I got up at the crack of dawn to feed them and the other denizens, make sure they had water and deal with the flies. This last bit made me feel awful after I accidentally spilt a drop of the undiluted, produced by Bayer, fly spray on my forearm and got bleeding ulcers in a day. Anyway this went on for weeks and finally the word came down that at last they might really need to be re-homed. It took a few more weeks but I finally found a stellar place for them. They posed for pictures when the horse lady came to meet them and smiled and twinkled. Knowing they are safe and happy is, really, the other success of the summer.

So. It’s been gruesome, Gentle Reader. But as usual, the eternal verity is what gets a bear through. The Divine permeates everything, and it is more a question of what one is prepared to do with that reality than anything else. Blessings and thanks!!!!

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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.

no picture monday

You are spared a gratuitous dog picture today, Gentle Reader, because my attempt at emailing an action shot of The Dog to myself failed.  Technology and I are not on good terms of late it seems.  While I am somewhat proud of myself for (at last) figuring out the reason my camera and laptop no longer speak to each other? (Which is that because I FINALLY upgraded my antediluvian OS , now the photo application is Lost In Space….) at the same time the complexity of constantly having to “upgrade” something that’s working fine as it is reminds me of just how close to going over the edge we are as a species, in general.

Writing yet another letter about not drilling in the Arctic.  Yet another letter about immigration reform.  YET ANOTHER LETTER ABOUT SAVING BEES.  This all takes time, and when you add to that the irresistible impulse I have every time I even see the word Trump to obliterate my consciousness, it adds up to quite the endeavor to maintain equanimity.  And?  All these things are generated by this same impulse to “upgrade”, make more and ever more stuff for God knows Who to consume.  All the while repulsing individuals, generically labelled “refugees”, who are simply trying to stay alive and escape from the miasma created to some large extent by this very Upgrade Machine called world politics and economy.  We all want, at bottom, the same things.  To be happy, as Buddha said, but also to simply be acknowledged and treated like human beings.  Not consumers and receptacles.

Which equanimity endeavor failed rather miserably yesterday.  The Arrival of The Dog has made me think about things differently, as such things tend to do.  As in.  When I “think” about The Dog, I think, oh jesus god it is too much work, too much expense, too much blahblahblah.  When I “experience” The Dog, it’s more along the lines of YIPPEE! Life is good, all kinds of things happen and we really don’t have to take any of it personally.  Just simply do the best we can at each step.  Remembering that love is the glue of the universe.  We are here to BE, not to DO or let our egoic thinking run the show.  HOWEVER.  As I was driving home yesterday a truck which did not have the right of way unexpectedly attempted to take it while I was, innocently minding my own business, getting on the freeway.  No collision, thank heavens, but massive horn honking and then?  The people in the truck flipped me off, big time.  Before I knew it, I’d returned the gesture.

I really was not happy with myself about that and was surprised to find a bit of nervousness as to whether or not the individuals in the truck were a) drugged, b) heavily armed white supremacists,  c) neighbors I haven’t met yet, or worst of all d) all of the above.  As it happened they whizzed on past me, probably not thinking much about any of it.  But I thought about it, because I do try to…well, BEHAVE.  And if someone like me goes tilt at the drop of a hat, what can we expect from anyone else?  Like, say, Trump.  Or FIFA officials.  Or any member of Congress or government in general.

I found it oddly upsetting, the whole incident, and couldn’t really put my finger on why.  Was it because someone, essentially, harshed my buzz? (ahem) Was it just the intrusion of three dimensional PTSD in the form of a bit of pickup driven thoughtless nastiness? One might also ask why I thought it was “bad” to be irritated with those fine folks who narrowly missed splattering me all over I-5.  So, net net?  I still haven’t figured a damn thing out.  Oh, well.

On the other hand, the Dog got his first bath yesterday, went for his first shots this week, and continues taking walks on a leash.  All of which are going swimmingly.  He is also, at least, peeing AT the door now when he doesn’t get through to us in time to go outside.  I’ve never seen anything grow as fast as this dog, who the Vet said will probably end up weighing EIGHTY TO NINETY POUNDS.  Talk about something landing in your lap.

The other sign of potential progress is tortillas.  Finally, I got back on the bike and made both corn and flour tortillas.  The problem with flour tortillas, of course, is that you have to use lard and also a bit of vegetable shortening.  Both of which are now close to weapons grade substances, being multiply-hydrogenated and chemicalized.   The quest for organic lard starts now.  But the tortillas were great and, as the Partner noted when he drifted by my pressing and rolling efforts, I had in fact “done this before”.  I was also seized by an unfightable urge to make prickly pear creme brulee.  Since we had some melons from the garden that were over ripe, I pureed them as well and plan a rainbow assortment of chair vert, cantaloupe, and aforementioned prickly pear custards set atop caramel.  (No propane in blow torch for top caramel at present, is why.) There is a cactus across the road from the yurt from whence came the pricklies.  At this point, between The Dog and The Cactus, I look as though I’ve gone several, losing, rounds with the inhabitants of a pincushion.  I plan to have pictures of BOTH The Dog and the panoply of cremes in the not too distant future.  Barring, of course, any more exploded equanimity or contretemps to the contrary.

eat the strawberry

I’ve always been impressed by the Buddhist story about a man, running from pursuers, who finds himself going over the edge of a cliff, at the bottom of which are a passel of slavering tigers just waiting for him.  His fall is caught by a protruding ledge.  On that ledge are growing wild strawberries, and he eats one.  End of story.

At first I was overly concerned with, well, yeah, but what about after he eats the berry? What then? Among other silly questions.  Of course now I know that this story pretty much describes life, in a nutshell.  At least it describes MY life, and I think I can finally report, Gentle Reader, that I have indeed learned to eat that strawberry.  Having narrowly avoided electrocution in the laundromat ( a pipe burst, whole place flooded with a few inches of water on the floor, I’m standing next to a bank of dryers set to HOT!! all full of wet, flopping clothes), I went on to surmount monstrously high triple digit temperatures AND tempers, and find yet another internet home (at least for a while).  This new spot involves the constant fending off of cats but I suppose things could be worse.

This business of being alive is strange and gets stranger by the moment if you pay any attention at all.  But I think the strawberry in the story may represent faith, in a way.  The truth is, there is always a strawberry somewhere, even if in one’s darkest moments one may be thinking that strawberries are extinct, or a figment of one’s fevered imagination.   They do exist, however, and another thing about them is you cannot live in expectation of finding them or making them appear or anything of the sort.  They just ARE, along with all that other stuff, but somehow understanding that allows a person to get through many experiences and ultimately makes it all, somehow, easier.  So.  When you see joy or beauty, engage with it.  It will probably save you and at least you will be in a slightly better frame of mind when encountering the snakes, dragons, and tigers that always await.

failure & redemption

Indeed, Gentle Reader, life of late has been like HELLBOY meets Alice Starmore.  Without Hellboy’s help.  His hands really are way too big to knit with, I’d think, but I feel sure he’d understand Alice’s patterns, and one could always wind yarn on his horns.

Anyway.  It turns out that among other things, my hospital interlude left me with heart failure.  Which they knew at the time of my discharge and somehow omitted to mention.  Thus, I’ve had six weeks of that stuff where you wake up after being asleep for a while and feel you’re suffocating.  Among other things like not being able to pull weeds for five minutes without running out of breath and being totally at the bottom of the barrel moodwise.  Another six plus hour trip to the emergency room (ha!ha! that’s an oxymoron, G.R.) where I never did get seen but finally tottered out knowing I didn’t want to be there until midnight.  Instead? We went to a restaurant in town, where I always seem to be a bit tattered.  The first time, I had a black eye (beam from yurt roof fell on my forehead) and THIS time I was covered in bandages and hospital bracelets.  They take it in stride here, however, because EVERYONE looks more or less like a wreck, and after some shockingly good food (a REAL New York steak sandwich) and an Actual Cocktail (bourbon, thank you), survival seemed likely.  And whaddaya know- I’m still here and even perhaps improved.

In the meantime, things have been floating up in my mind.  The wound, as Rumi wrote, is indeed where the light enters you.  That light can reveal some things one might rather not examine, like how old patterns still form a big part of the operating system.  What’s my father doing in here? one might ask.  More pertinently, why have I been racing around my whole life thinking I had to do,do, do, do more, do more again- when really that isn’t it at all in life, and also? It’ll kill you.  Of course, there is a bit of a concerted effort to keep us all doing precisely that, rushing around and not thinking.  Just accepting it when it seems that you must work (for someone else) until you drop meanwhile saving some impossibly vast sum of money so that when you get cut loose by your benevolent corporate sponsor you don’t starve to death.  Using weed killer on the lawn, not thinking about what that’s doing to the ground and the water.  Letting your phone tell you what to do and where to go.  Believing them when they say that all the poison that got dumped/inadvertently mailed/put in your food poses no threat to public health.  Finding a place to stand in the midst of all this is indeed the work of a lifetime, and it’s a pity more of us don’t start earlier.  Or perhaps, more successfully- I THOUGHT I’d started but it turns out I was a foolish and deluded bear.

The thing of it was that I didn’t really accept the way things actually are.  It was just too depressing to acknowledge the evil and harm in the world, and I had a rather large set of matched emotional baggage to cart around as well.  It’s taken a long time to get even the bit of clarity I have now, and one thing seems clear at least.  One must remain calm.  It sounds silly but when you think about all the times you get stressed and disoriented, just in the course of a day or a stroll down the grocery store aisle, it illuminates the fog we (yes, I) walk around in far too often.  Calmness isn’t a matter of repressing what you feel, either.  It’s more a matter of feeling what you feel, looking to the source and putting it in perspective.  Like, that was then, this is now.  What can really be done at any given point?  WHERE THE HELL AM I? If I am in fact in the grocery store there’s no need to panic, seriously.  The other big part of it is acknowledging the World around you.  Look at and speak to your fellow humans and animals.  Look at the sky.  This alone goes a long way toward clarity because it eventually does show you you are NOT alone- others are slogging through all this stuff too and the odds are that one of you will actually make it and be able to deliver a cogent report about the lay of the land.

Last evening we looked at storm clouds on the horizon.  (And we could do this because we had on our handy dandy mosquito and bug repelling bracelets! Yay!)  They were an incredible slate blue, behind the varying shades of grey and olive green of the trees, and there was a strange kind of alertness to it all- a soundless sound.  The finches and titmice and woodpeckers and hummingbirds were  busily eating their dinners and taking baths, the lizards and frogs were bustling around (we have BABY frogs at present, and they’re PINK).  We’d spent the workable part of the day (the non-broiler setting on the temperature that is) weeding and digging our raised beds up, the Partner and I (albeit slowly in my case).  Everything was quiet and the soil seemed to be thanking us for our work as it laid there tilled and breathing, happy with its new rock dust and peat and seaweed.  Our seedlings have sprung up luxuriantly and of course, even though I did a drawing of what seed was where….naturally, it is now all a mish mosh and it will be a revelation to see which tomatoes are the giant yellow Ukrainians and which are the San Marzanos.  Will it be cayenne or bell pepper?  We’re clear on which melons are which but that is about as far as it goes right now.

Anyway, as everything breathed in unison it seemed to me that the truth is, redemption is always possible, and always happening.  There’s a wonderful line in a poem by Robinson Jeffers about how the heartbreaking beauty of the world is there, whether or not there is a heart there to break.  Our hearts generally do break, of course….but perhaps that is what they are made to do.  If they don’t break they don’t open, and we never grow and flower.

la la la lalalala

Well. For the most part it has continued, of late, to be an extra weird mix of sturm AND drang.  I managed to obtain and download a new operating system for my antediluvian laptop, and also downloaded what appears to be a browser that will work.  I only cried about three times during all of that, which I think is pretty impressive, especially given the situation.  My heavy lifting routine consists of imagining a giant paddle with which I swat away all the bothersome thoughts about What Needs To Be Done.  Because I am not there yet, not at the place where Things Can Be Done.  Still a week away from being able to lift anything heavier than a kleenex, and watching the world careen from breathtaking mess to breathtaking mess on top of it.

In the meantime, I have been reading.  Detective novels during that grim period where I was applying ice blocks to my midriff and head, and now?  Two splendid LONG novels.  ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Anthony Doerr, which is just wonderful.  Elegant, sinuous language and the visual construction of an amazing world.  The other is WOLF HALL, by Hilary Mantel.  (I have fallen hopelessly in love with Mark Rylance, who has the part of Thomas Cromwell in the current PBS version-it is quite wonderful to populate the novel with the excellently cast actors therefrom, especially him with his ruined face and clear, burning eyes.)  Anyway for such a long book about the Tudors, for heaven’s sake, it is completely riveting.  The action is implied from the characters’ inner processes, and you come away from it with the feeling of having been at an incredible dinner party where you observed everything unfold from a much larger perspective than your usual seat allows you.

Otherwise, it is still all about riding the wave, or the bull, or whatever it is that we get on as humans one way or another and have to stay on til the ride’s over.  This has been an enlightening experience, of course (at the same time as it is completely the opposite) and I have learned a lot about what rises up in us when we’re sick and injured.  All that stuff has to be dealt with for healing to occur and we can see all over the place how hard a time people are having with this particular project.  It takes witnessing and someone who can abide with the difficulties without having opinions about them- which is the work of a lifetime, in itself.  There’s a tremendous quality of breath holding to all this, along with an overwhelming sense of being somehow tested by some perhaps completely crazed inquisitor.  How much of your fear can you leave behind, really?  How clearly can you think about things when all your old “stuff” is forming an ungodly ferment with the new input and foaming all over the place?  How much, really, does any of this matter?  What in the end can any of us do in the face of the enormous suffering on this earth when we can’t keep our own minds in check?  Oh my.  The deep breathing it all takes!

Then again, there’s always the moment where a flash of light comes in and reminds one that since it is a question of perspective and focus, probably mostly a time to rest up and get ready to jump the next time the merry-go-round passes.  I do believe that we are guided, the information we need is available to us, and the thing is to step into the fires that burn in us instead of running away from them.  Easier said than done of course.  Still.  Civility and kindness go a long way and if each of us made perhaps a stronger effort we might see something interesting.  At the moment I’m having a devil of a time with the civility part, but probably because having spent my life being polite, self effacing and helpful, the impulse to even THINK in uncivil terms has been mercilessly suppressed.  There’s a certain amount of outgassing that happens, I guess.

In the meantime, it is clearer to me than ever before that the truth is of paramount importance and we must really all begin to seek it and tell it.  Truth.  Not opinions, and not propaganda.  It’s pretty clear if you choose to look, and the fact that things have gone on on this planet in this ridiculously dysfunctional way for so long seems to indicate that it might just be time for a change.  Not the non-change we see in politics and wars now, but a change to actual right-living.  Everyone working toward the common goals of stewarding resources and providing support to their communities. Setting aside the illusory thing called money, and enterprise, and economies in favor of something that actually matters across the board.   Call me crazy but even notwithstanding the past month, I still believe it can happen.