Posts Tagged ‘food’

miscellany

It’s hard out here, Gentle Reader.  We’re now in daily triple digit temperatures which, as usual, steps up the fray rate on nerves.  So, instead of analyzing today’s latest Hole, a series of thoughts on other, Earlier Holes.  If we may call them that.

1) Shinseki resigns from the U.S.  Veteran’s Administration.  Well, gee whiz.  If we’re going to start making people resign because they haven’t done their jobs, I say: Start with Congress.  All of them.

2) Boko Haram HARAM.  Double negatives work in Arabic, don’t they?  Forbid the forbidden.

3) I support basic education for everybody everywhere.  Then we might not have situations like this one:

My landlady:  I’ve decided not to put any money into fixing the electrical wiring here.

Me:  OH? Bland smile grimace.  (The electric issue is, well, major for us.  We’re doing fabulously on our carbon footprint- because we’re essentially living in the 1850’s sans oil lamps.)

She:  Yes.  Because I’m going to go solar.

Me:  Uh.  Great!  But you still need wiring, don’t you?……

She:  Lalalalalalalalala, I didn’t heaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrr yooooooouuuuuu.

4) The wildflowers this year were fantastic, huge swaths of Shooting Stars, Fairy Lanterns, Larkspur, St. John’s Wort, Mariposa Lillies, Yerba Santa.  The beauty and elegance of nature is always a balm that pretty much makes up everything, not to mention that we’ve collected medicine for next winter.  The next big push in that area will be early fall, when roots like Valerian and Fo Ti will get dug up and tinctured.   I hope, anyway.  By that time the only thing I want to dig up is my pajamas, quite often.

5)  There’s a quite lovely (Congregational) church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Redding.  Normally I don’t much care for him, but this is a wonderful spot.  Cement arches, painted a light green, cover the building which is composed of rough cement and big local rocks.  The rocks are amazing:  Every color you can think of, burnished deep siennas and cobalts and turquoises and golds and terra cottas, emitting a real calm.  The arches somehow suggest water.  There’s also a huge gardenia in their garden, which blew me away since I didn’t think they did well in such blasted heat.  Inside there are many messages and schedules for work on social justice issues, which I was glad to see.  Quite different from the (Baptist) church I voted in Tuesday, where the reminders to keep your blinkers on and Praise God were omnipresent.  At least there was chocolate for after you voted.

6) Oh, yes.  It seems that like Chile, we here in the U.S. and Canada are soon going to have Chinese Chicken!  They’ll grow the birds here, send the carcasses to China for processing,  then back here with no indication of where they’ve been.  The chicken will be cooked and packaged, and you’ll get it in restaurants and frozen sections in grocery stores.  This is rationalized because it is cheaper to do it this way.  Yes, it is, right?  Keeping the world safe for petroleum once again.  The really neat thing about it is that this is already happening, apparently, with turkey used for dog treats.  Many dogs have died in the U.S. as a result of eating these things.  What can go wrong here, right?  There was a really delightful discussion on NPR about how you shouldn’t wash chicken before cooking it so as not to get germs everywhere, and NOT TO EVEN TOUCH the packaging if it’s wet- wrap that sucker in Hazmat and take it home, placing with tongs in a hot cooking vessel.   This really, really made me want to rush out and stock up on chicken.  It’s practically radioactive.

6.5) Many U.S. cities have passed laws making it illegal to feed the homeless on the street.  I really think perhaps things have deteriorated, socially and politically, to a place of no return.  Which may be OK since the way we’ve been doing things does not, to my mind, work all that well.  Yes, mentally ill and homeless people may not be what you want in front of your fancy store, and nobody enjoys combative interactions.  But, food for thought here.  We all want to be treated like human beings, acknowledged.  If that truly happens, the ugly stuff tends to dissipate.  Pretty simple, really.

7)  Still working on implementing the policy decision that I am good enough as I am.  Some days it is quite uphill.

8) Still, also, madly in love with jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk.

9)  Life is good in all of its permutations.  You just can’t take things too seriously- that distracts a person from the work that needs to be- must be- done: be kind to each other and go from there.

10)  Thank you!

surviving Beltane

We did, actually.  I rendered duck fat and made yogurt and more rellenos to keep my mind occupied, and the hill behind us did not erupt in flame.  Because why?  BECAUSE the neighbor who could see said fire bellowed out words to the effect of, are you nuts? put that thing out NOW.  It made us feel a bit less alone, and ended the potential for conflagration catastrophe this time round.  Sheesh, Gentle Reader.

Anyway it kind of dovetailed into the workings of my mind (which according to a quiz I just took, is creative, I don’t even have to TRY to be strange and eccentric, and my favorite: “as far as you’re concerned, there IS no box”- to think outside of, that is.).  This whole Beltane thing, for example.  In the historic sweep and genocidal range of the Abrahamic religions’ paths, pagans got snuffed all over the place.  Today, it seems still that many who attach themselves to a…can we call it?…pagan paradigm, are functioning in a place of opposition to Abrahamic/Christian doctrine more than they are from a place of actual spirit rooted awareness.   It’s kind of like how “science” has dominated thinking the way “religion” used to- all in a true spirit of duality, there’s only black and white and one of them is wrong.  If someone doesn’t like how things are going- say Exxon and the issue of global warming? or Cargill and the issue of GMOs and organic food?- they simply employ “scientists” to write their views as something proven by research.  This research, if conducted at all, is not done with a focus on enquiry- it is done with a focus on maintaining the status quo.   Some of what passes for “pagan” is kind of like this- a striving for a position of authority.  Of power. But really, it is a jockeying for position, not enlightenment.  SOME, remember.  Not all.

Well then.  One thing is clear if you look at all.  Power chooses you, you don’t choose Power.  You can prepare for it, perhaps, but you don’t call the shots about if it’ll show up or not.  We are in a world where supposed rationality supposedly prevails.   And yet we also know, if we’re looking, that intuition is a strong force in the world, and it is real.  There is a knowing that happens when a person becomes quiet, opens their mind, and waits for the right question.   This is quite different than following the more usual cacophonous mind direction of current authority, although one doesn’t necessarily and completely preclude the other.  Intuition is  a faculty that has fallen into a bit of ill repute and disuse during the past couple of thousand years of a unitary system that divides things into “yes” and “no”.  Yes and No being defined by the unitary system and not necessarily being true, or even actually replicable and provable by its own methodology.  The fact that things are required to be proven by this methodology, which even its makers know is flawed, is what holds many things back from coming into being.  As long as the field of opposites rules, as in Abrahamics vs. Pagans, Red vs. Blue, “science” vs. “intuition” or “unverifiable thing”, we’re going to be stuck in this current vortex.   This vortex is really powered by our resistance to take the right action, and continuing to choose appearance over reality.

I’ve been reading THE MOMENT OF ASTROLOGY by Geoffrey Cornelius, and before you go, oh! bosh and tosh!  wait a second.  Mr. Cornelius writes about how astrology has been derided for several hundred years because, essentially, it is seen to be non-scientific.  (This push for scientific proof became a bit of a corollary to Authority over time and replaced to an extent the Church as arbiter of truth- even if it IS often questionable science). In any event, astrological analysis can’t be “proven” or  “disproven” either, and research shows, on some level, it can’t really be researched in a system that doesn’t allow all variables to be included.  Modern physics and real science are moving into a place where more of the actual variables are insisting they be taken seriously as a picture of a whole and not a source of ultimately political control, and all the things that mystics and…er….strange eccentrics…have been saying actually turn out to be true.  Everything IS energy and it all moves and interrelates.  Anyway, in terms of analysis of, say, a horoscope, it appears that above and beyond the body of knowledge used for interpretation, intuition is a factor that really counts when you want to know something.   The same thing is true for doctors and healers and problem solvers of any ilk.  Without intuition, the patient’s issues often go unseen and unresolved because the practitioner is only looking at a part of what they think.   Intuition allows you to take what you think into account along with everything else that is actually there, and ask a proper question.   When you ask a proper question, you aren’t lead astray by what someone else thinks or what your lurking opinion may be.  It gets the fluff out of the way.  But it is scary, because you have to actually look at what you see.  This part is, I think, largely frightening because of our acculturation- for the most part dwellers in this world are not encouraged to look at the REALLY big picture- which makes stepping off the curb of the regular into the traffic of the unknown a challenge. In some way though, isn’t that very exploration what science is all about?  Personally I don’t see intuition and science being opposed.

Anyway, it is this asking of the proper question that is the crux, to my mind.  As long as you accept any doctrine as actual truth without thinking it through and looking for the patterns and shifts, you are dancing to someone else’s made up tune.    I think using intuition may lead to things like personal realization, independence and true inter-dependence on the right things.   It sets one apart, though, because for now we are still seemingly in a place where external authority, however fake and self-oriented, prevails.  So we can jump over Beltane fires without really understanding what the symbolism is, what it requires of us, or anything in truth.  And we can then think we’ve “done something”.    We can go to a doctor who will look at us, tell us whatever we’ve got is either in our heads or not happening or is something else that it isn’t, give us some pharmaceuticals and send us on our way, thinking they’ve “done something”.   Externals and artifices are no substitute for the real thing, part of the finding of which involves surrendering to something beyond our own thought process.

One of my Jin Shin Jyutsu instructors said, at the beginning of  class, that you “can’t know it, you can only be it.”  This happened to be my first class and to say I was overwhelmed would be a major understatement.  These words put it all in perspective for me though- it really isn’t about what you think you know or what you call yourself or what you say. It’s about what you DO and who you actually are.  Life itself comes with a built in guidance system after all- it may have been relegated to the back of the closet what with all the progress we’ve made as a civilization (that is a joke, yes) but as more and more people turn away from what they’re told reality is, toward what they can actually feel and experience and sense it to be, I bet we’ll see what seem like miracles.

In other news, the cucumbers came up, as did some melons.  We still have rabbit detente.  All’s at least partly right with our world.  And, thank you all!  I am grateful for your reading.

Episode, with ginger ale

I’m constantly being shown, of late, that there is indeed a reason for everything.  To wit.  Last week I was possessed by the notion that I simply HAD to put a roll of paper towels in the car.  So yesterday, when we were on an expotition of sorts, and the Partner asked for some ginger ale?  And that ginger ale bottle opened quietly at first and then at the last minute? Sprayed assertively all over everything?  I was prepared, Gentle Reader.

Yes, and prepared to go forth sopping wet with ginger ale and see some incredible things.  An enormous Tom turkey, in a wooded grassy spot, displaying for a female.  *I* thought she was playing a bit coy, but the Partner thought she was interested. ( I filed this away for future cogitation- the difference in how the sexes perceive these, shall we say, provocative encounters.)   Then, above a bend in a river, tiny beautiful swifts, also engaged in springtime activities,  mating in mid-air, plummeting down precipitously joined, separating right at the water.

It was interesting to note, once again, what a profound restorative nature is.  Things move along.  I looked appreciatively, and perhaps a bit apprehensively, at the garden dew this morning after watching COSMOS on television last night, too.  Those cute little eight legged orange things that look sort of like bears!  All those things we looked at through  high school science microscopes!  All right in there living, moving, eating, everything you can imagine, right in a teeny tiny dewdrop.   The enormity of it all is actually uplifting, especially when one begins to get bogged down in more mundane reality, such as everything all around us in the world seeming as though it is about to implode.  The reality of nature is that it keeps going, keeps finding what works best to maintain life, and does that.

Which is what we all should do, probably.  So, during this winter’s  black hole episode as usual it has been cooking that has ultimately pulled me out of the fishy deeps onto the developing legs of dry land.  You can ponder alot of things while weeding, and you can also do a certain helpful mental calisthenic while attempting a recipe you may not think you can pull off.   The thing about cooking anything, really, in terms of a meal, is you have to get several things to appear all at once.  Lately it has been hard for me to accomplish that- almost as though some piece of my head is MIA.  Anyway, I’ve made a couple of things lately that gave me hope.  Thing the first, a recreation of a restaurant dish, roasted vegetables in phyllo dough with a leek coulis.  Thing the second, a thing I love above many others, was chiles rellenos.

Neither of those things is particularly difficult, really, just a matter of confidence with the ingredients. (“Just”)  But the Partner recently mentioned remembering how his grandmother made rellenos.  I thought about it, looked up a recipe, and felt a light dawning on the whole relleno issue.  How, I used to wonder, do they ever get a whole chile into that perfectly fluffy delicious fluff of fluffy coating? (Did I mention fluffy? and crisp? and heavenly?)  Surely there is some magic to it.  Well.  The magic is called Separating The Eggs, and a careful addition of yolk and small amount of flour to the whipped whites.  Then you lay a bit of the mixture in a heated pan, lay your prepared chile (which is to say, roasted, peeled, and stuffed- I used cheese although not the cheese I made that day) atop, then spoon more of the egg fluff over the chile.  Flip when browned on one side, which happens fairly soon.  Brown the other side.  (No dipping  in batter and deep frying required at all, and in fact, to my mind this method is superior to the deep fry way. Since it’s fluffy.)   Eat with refried beans and you are in heaven.  Or at least we were.  We were able to feel very virtuous indeed since the ingredients, including the cheese we used, were local.  I may still plant some Anaheim chiles just for this purpose, since the seeds I am starting are productive of fruits, in theory, hot enough to take the roof of your head off.  Those are good stuffed, too, and rolled in tacos.

Anyway.  Devote yourself to small things every day and you will see miracles- it’s true. Why we don’t all do this is a mystery to me.

 

may all beings be happy

This was what came, exclusively, into my mind when my friend presented me with a (fabulous!) birthday treat (chocolate! guava frosting!) plus lit polka dot candle and said “make a wish”.  In that particular moment I realized I truly have everything, really, I’ve ever wanted and my wish could only properly be for an expansion outward of the love and joy in my own heart.  That has never happened to me before on a birthday so completely.  Perhaps getting older does allow for more periodic clarity.  Or perhaps on that prior occasion when I said what I wanted (understanding, knowledge, love) the order was put in at the top and there you have it.

In any event, there were adventures and travels and for the numberless-th time it was obvious that love is in fact the thing that keeps the universe moving.   If you can look at one living thing and  SEE it, it really does change everything.  For example, an emerald green pasture surrounded by flowering nut trees and full to the brim of lambs and their moms: Cream colored with black legs, and a truly spectacular all black ewe with two black brand spanking new babies who really seemed to be glowing.  Or the fascinating sight of a donkey rolling on his back waving his zebra striped legs in the air,  in an ecstasy of scratched itches.  This is not to say that life becomes one hundred percent peachy all the time, Gentle Reader.  Far, perhaps, from it.  But just the awareness of the overall flow of things can give you a feeling of possibility, a sense that you might really be able to embrace change, let go of all the stuff you really do not need.  It isn’t necessarily going to turn out for the worst!  And that lets you drop your shoulders, smile, and go forth in your time and on your path.  Maybe it really is a matter of remembering that everything changes, always, so the best thing is to remain open to the mystery and the grandeur of it all, seeking the truth. Easy peasy, right?

The other thing that happened was that to a certain extent my faith and hope were restored from their precarious attachment to cliff’s edge.  At times one can feel pretty alone, slogging through the days in the strange place we call home.  But I was left with the feeling that there are many, many souls who are actively working toward peace and sustainable life, with justice, joy, and equity for all.   I’m taking the position that it really can – and will – happen, and that all the changes required to make it so can be undertaken and made.  I once heard that in Bali, things you buy in stores are often put in bags with black and white checkered designs, to indicate the eternal standoff between good and evil.  (No advertising, either.)  This made sense to me, in that you are thus always reminded of where you are, exactly, and that makes it easier to know what to do.  Which is, essentially, breathe, smile, and go forth.  One more time.  And thank you for reading!

What we’re planting

Spring is arriving.  It seemed improbable, and given that every year we’ve been here has been pretty much completely different even while adhering to constant weather extremity, I still found my heart lifted at the sight of the fleeting pink haze covering the oak trees.  Now they’re leafing out in that absolutely splendid new, unique green color they have.  It’s like watching energy coalesce.  The hummingbirds are en masse, gale force, and one of last year’s cabbage plants appears to have become a perennial.  The snow covering the top of Mt. Shasta leads me to hope we’ll see it pink in a sunset soon.

We’re still in a quiet sort of planning stage.  I realized the other day that it’s really no wonder we’re both tired.  We got here in a state of moderate traumatization and have worked like dray horses until this winter.  Events then conspired to deliver a mental knockout punch which allowed, or presented requirements, for a physical stoppage for a while.  I realized that the Partner’s constant admonition to just STOP made total sense.  When you run around, constantly doing….you’re not in balance.  Eventually the doing stops as your end of the teeter totter crashes to the ground.  You may, as I did, wriggle around thinking you’re still upright but eventually the truth reveals itself.  You are not upright at all.

I saw, then,  just how much this whole experience has both changed me and brought out the deeper pieces that were previously underwater.    It’s shocking how much I didn’t see myself for what and who I am, but that is part of being human apparently.

We made a choice, coming here, or perhaps it would be better to say a preliminary part of our bigger choice was made.  We wanted to leave the city, and lo and behold it decided to spit us out as so often happens.  It was a bit premature to my mind in terms of planning and readiness but, you know, come out big or stay home.  I firmly believe that fate or whatever you want to call it had a HUGE part in our finding ourselves here.  Especially given that we’d never even HEARD of it til we moved here.  Excitement, yes?  The reality of living a much simpler, less electrified and more rural lifestyle, has shown us both things that have been surprising, largely because it has confirmed a great deal of what we both, albeit separately, had always thought deep down.

A lot of that is political of course, because the personal is pretty much always political.  I have never believed, and still don’t, that money is a mark of success and goodness.  I don’t think we need to eat tomatoes in the dead of winter here, but I also think? that since we live in a state that produces a huge amount of food for the world that we absolutely SHOULDN’T be eating things out of season that come from halfway across the world.  Why don’t we eat our own food and call it good?  This idea has its roots in what I think is a more truly democratic process, and not a process that has investment bankers and corporate lawyers at its heart and as its prime beneficiaries.  You work for the good of the whole, not the few.  That whole includes everything, includes treating the earth like your brother or sister.  In a way the shift we made really was political.  It was us saying we want to be free, we want to think for ourselves, and we want to work for the common good by, at the very least and to start, reducing our carbon footprint and stewarding whatever land we occupied, along with taking some responsibility for the food we eat.

This has rather thorough-going ramifications.  I reject many things now that people I am close to accept, and it is an interesting, and slightly frightening, thing to see how those differences get navigated.  It is easy for people to dismiss someone who lives the way we do, not in a house and in parlous economic setting, living in a way as our 19th century  ancestors did.  It is easy for them to think we don’t know what we’re doing or talking about.  But I think we do.  This bridging of the gap, this allowing the light to be shed on the entire room, is important.  We cannot continue, in this world, to do things the way we have been doing them.  Energy, resources, population, the seeming total inability to live in peace with each other, and the relentless placing of money at the top of everything all the time- it isn’t good, it isn’t sustainable, and I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.  Speaking of which, I read the NEW YORKER article on the ITER project myself.  It left me both encouraged and anxious.  There isn’t all that much time, and it is late in the day to let one’s ignorance of how the world really works be a guiding light.  Simply because one is comfortable in this world, or benefiting from its works, is not a good enough reason to remain silent and inactive anymore.  You just have to see things for what they are, no excuses.  It isn’t that complicated to set things right, either.  But it is like healing.  Anything is possible but not everyone is capable.  I mean, really.  What if all the rest of the world said, for example, to Putin: KNOCK IT OFF VLADI.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Or they kept capitalist ideation out of agriculture altogether, including ALL the kafuffle, from marijuana, corn, Monsanto’s seeds, to toxic chickens and not labelling GMOs.  I saw some apologist for the powers that be discussing the trade talks between the US and the EU, especially pertaining to food imports.  If the food is safe and nutritious for Americans, it’s good enough for Europeans, he said.  Of course, the evidence- if you choose to look at it- shows that the food the average American eats is far from safe and in fact splats them firmly on the disease conveyor belt.  How hard would it be to take the beneficiaries of our current system- the petroleum industry, don’t kid yourself- and say, jeez guys.  You’ve got enough money to last until kingdom come.  Lighten up, literally.  You ain’t running this game anymore.  We’ve decided to LIVE.

That is my hope, anyway, and my further hope is that the Partner and I are walking the right path, monsters or no.

in the beginning

We’re always at the beginning, of course, just as we’re always at the end.  The trick is to keep making that perfect cup of tea nonetheless.

This morning (after an action packed long yesterday that included yet another rock hitting our windshield and making an extraordinary impact- which will lead toot sweet to windshield number three for our brave Subaru, and to which I am not ascribing Any Meaning such as don’tevergooutsideagain), we watched Tyrant brave rain and wind to do his amazing courtship dance with…girlfriend number !!?.  He has quite a harem as it happens; after all he is quite a spectacular specimen so even though the ladies feign a ho hum attitude they all seem to stick around.  We have yet to find their nests but it is getting to the point that walking through the garden can mean a brush with puncture wounds and at a minimum a thrumming blow from someone’s spinning wings.  Anyway they spun around each other with tails fanned and fluttering and it was pretty amazing.  We’re starting to see the geese flying north as well.  They, and the salmon we saw raising up out of the river to look around and get their bearings, are our reminders that the Original World, the natural world, under assault as it is, is not just where we are now but where we belong.   And, of course, where we procrastinate.  But really, it is too muddy to work outside.  It is.

One thing we may have begun to understand is this odd matter of what some refer to as the Ascension.  Part and parcel of the 2012 thing, the Mayan Calendar baktun end, and all that, the Ascension has been discussed in certain circles for a long time.   I had a friend, for example, who was quite sure we’d all shift into a dimensionless reality and fly away.  Not completely buying that, I also saw how things were and are literally reshaping right before all of our eyes.  Essentially this…thing… is a coming huge shift in energies on the planet and it gets interpreted in as many ways as there are stars in the sky.

It seems pretty clear that change is coming everywhere and soon.  What isn’t clear is whether it will be a complete destruction of the planet and everything on it, or not.  The powers that be, in short, have been revealed to be perhaps not all that smart.  Making the world safe for petroleum products has been their game, and a wide swath has been cut in every area of life on the planet as a result.  We eat tomatoes from Chile and Mexico (some of us do, I mean.  We are total in season eaters which means right now? We are seriously jonesing for tomatoes.) and people in New Zealand eat ours. When you look at that you  must see there are some paradigm issues, all of which lead to better living for multinational corporations.  Unilever?  Texaco? They’re happy, and apparently the average person has forgotten that tomatoes really do not taste like scrubber sponges.  So, when the Partner read an article in this week’s New Yorker about the development of ITER, a hydrogen based comprehensive alternative energy source, it knocked his socks off just about completely.  It turns out that people have been working feverishly on this project for quite some time, and it is astonishing.  Essentially, a star in a vacuum chamber, providing a non-carbon based energy source that eliminates pollution and has little to no waste product.

Now.  That, there? Is the real Ascension to my way of thinking.  No blood for oil, Gentle Reader. No dictatorial economies.  No airy fairy or insulting non-explanations.  No pollution of the atmosphere continuing until doomsday.  We’d get to keep the Arctic! The middle east would become an energy non-issue and perhaps we could focus on liveability for the entire region, not to say world.  Granted, Exxon probably won’t like this, nor will the rest of the top billed actors in this crappy play, but we got very excited and realized that perhaps this is, indeed, the energetic shift we’ve been expecting.  And it makes sense!  A change to an energy base that is ubiquitously available, non-polluting, and essentially free….now.  THAT would really be something.  Maybe we’ll finally get somewhere, or at least to the point where “religion” and “science” can be the joined elements in one whole they truly are- not just instruments inflicting blunt force trauma on us all.   All these things may be complex and require knowledge, maybe seem totally unfamiliar- but they are intelligible, metaphysics  is also an appropriate language to integrate fully into use now, and it is my deep hope that all of us on this planet will quit relinquishing our personal authority to “religion”, “church”, “government”, or whatever external source coerces us into believing we have no ability to work on our own behalf.  Further, that work on one’s own behalf does not have to be of the selfish, grasping, all for and about me sort, but more along the lines of healing and rebuilding for all beings  So.  We’re kind of excited!

On another note, we had an opportunity to eat dinner out which is so rare an event as to seem on the brink of extinction.  Anyway, we went to a Thai restaurant and had corn cakes.  I realized I make these at home, and mine compare Quite Favorably, which was a sweet revelation indeed.  It IS a wonderful life. (The recipe is in Mark Bittman’s fantastic Vegetarian tome, should you wish to investigate for yourselves.)

Wide gyre

Lately I’ve been thinking what amazing and mysterious things brains are.  ALL brains.  From Tyrant’s tiny hummingbird brain, constantly plotting the best location from which to ambush other hummies (he favors a shaded spot to the side of our door where he backs up, flies in place quietly, and waits), to my own ,which so often veers into the ditch of dithering.

It would appear that our brains, when young, really are sponges.  Think of all the inconsequential things you remember, names, shoes, smells.  Then there’s stuff like quadratic equations and right action, where one so often has nothing.

SO.  I’ve been thinking.  We really do create our realities by how we think.  Our attitudes color how things appear to us, and those appearances color our emotional response.  It can be that one’s mood is the most important issue at times.   It seems that if one can keep moving, not get stuck on the hooks of appearance, and avoid reactivity, progress is possible.   What I’m noticing is that each time I can stay aloft, stay with basic equilibration and gratitude, the previously undiscovered circles of hell burning all around seem to recede.   It’s odd how, if you watch, you can literally see the change in things from menace to calm.  It’s very much about what your mind, body and soul eat, in the end.

In terms of what we eat, food is the obvious place to start investigating.  How can you expect your mind to be clear when you eat things that are not what they say they are, and far from what they should be?  So many people are so far removed from what they eat that kids don’t even know what a vegetable really IS.  We eat meat that is grown eating stuff it wasn’t meant for, pumped full of drugs that affect our bodies as well, and not positively.

The experience, then, of eating something that really is fresh, really is what it is, seems as though it should be wonderfully transformative.  Still, we talked to a guy the other day who said he’d never eat local eggs because they were too “dark”.  We both stood there, puzzled, then realized he meant the yolks were too deeply colored.  He’s used to mass produced eggs, in short.  The others have too much flavor.  Even at this simple juncture change seems impossibly up hill at times, the most obvious thing isn’t obvious at all:  that initial training and memory is pointing us in a particular direction in terms of food and it is not a healthy one.  Or even a tasty one.  It’s puzzling to say the least, but at the same time rather heartening.  The same core political and economic changes would affect everything in a positive way, as if by pulling any string you like in this messy situation  an improvement could occur.  I think I’ll focus on the garden with renewed energy.  Better living through strawberries!

oh yes it did

Snow, Gentle Reader.  It snowed here, about a half foot, and stayed icy for a week.  This was quite the adventure for me, since snow has not been a part of my experience until now.100_1388A time of incredible beauty and balance.  Also, wetness since one of us had to roll herself around in the snow and jump up and down a few times.  The Partner, pictured tinily up above, found all this very amusing.  Which was good.

Because what has happened since then has not been much fun.  In fact it’s pretty much been bloody awful in a way.  Except?  In spite of all the deeply troubling things that are going on, we found ourselves SAVED.  By duck fat.  DUCK FAT.  We got a duck in our ongoing ventures in culinary expansion.  Despite our trepidations, it turned out to be almost mindlessly easy to prepare two duck breasts in a deep saucepan.  They were unbelievably good- just skin side down, some salt, high heat for five minutes.  Then you move the breasts a bit to another spot, cook on lower heat for a half hour, and there it is.  With the spectacular corollary of duck fat.  Who knew?  The years I spent struggling to brown potatoes in lesser types of fat!! HAHAHAHAHAH!!! With duck fat, all is forgiven and possible.  You barely have to do anything!!  They come out, well, they come out PERFECT.  Needless to say this was a stunning revelation and we are going to move on to duck confit.  Ta da.

The other thing that happened was this.  As I was in the laundromat drying a gargantuan amount of laundry, and crying per recent events (a snivel fold, you might say), a very tall Caribbean man walked in.  This in and of itself is rather astonishing in this location.  But.  He looked at me, asked how I was, and then sang a lovely duet of uplifting Bob Marley songs.  Reminded me that if the sun comes up tomorrow, things will be better.  I know this, but for now I’m counting heavily on duck fat to fill in the gaps.  And miscellaneous angels.  Fortunately, we’ve still got the hummingbirds to cheer us up as well:  We figured out that if we take the feeders in at night, whaddaya know, they don’t freeze.  Out in the morning, and our little cohort is buzzing around like mad.  There is always hope.

Tales of frog man

I’m not sure, but the toad who lives in the yurt with us- and it is a Bufa, not a Rana- he seemed a bit upset with me the other night.  And it was HE who secretively crept up to the top of the bucket I was using to fill the small swamp cooler (85 degrees at 11 pm! This is the life!) and cocked his little head.  Scaring the daylights out of me.  Silly I felt, yes.  I emitted a bit of a yodel of surprise, yes.  But I IMMEDIATELY apologized, praised his nimble and handsome toadness, and set him down gently.  He escaped into the wine storage area, confirming my initial assessment of his intelligence.

The next night?  He flattened his growing and greener  body (and it is amazing just how flat these little beings can get themselves) in the middle of the red pad on the kitchen floor.  Thoughtful, really, because he’s hard to see on the blue and green.  Anyway, having lodged himself where I couldn’t possibly miss him, when I came around the corner he looked up at me, composed himself, and hopped under that same swamp cooler.  Looking at me coolly the entire time, he then deposited a very large and well formed toad poop.  Looking me right in the eye, casually hopping to one side lest a viewer miss the enormity of his production.  I found myself wondering, once again, if I haven’t just gone completely insane, as I stood there wondering if there was a meaning to this episode.  Was this little toad the possessor of hurt feelings? SHOULD I have kissed him last year like my neighbor suggested?  Instead I thanked his retreating form for not doing that in my frying pans.  Nothing if not regular, those toads.

And that, Gentle Reader, is pretty much how it is around here.  Barring the deluge of  “reality” which is of course ceaselessly mind boggling, my focus has changed.  Certain things have come to a head, we might say, and life is forming itself into something…unknown.  I’m remembering that that growly feeling in ones stomach can also be excitement and not just fear.  Right?  IT’S A GOOD THING.  It’s also, of course, funny how we cling to our patterns and habits and pasts even when we know a) none of it is happening right now (this is not San Francisco, for example) and b) it is not just over but not relevant to today’s situations (not slave girl to the divorce court anymore, either, thank you in fact very much indeed).  Partly of course it is also the acceleration of everything, time, tides, mankind’s headlong rush to extinction or sublimity.  We were watching a program about farming in rural America today and the same scenario is playing out everywhere.  Where a farmer used to be able to support his family by growing food for his community, caring for his land, working day by day, on a 200 acre plot of land? Now it takes at least 2000 acres, mechanization, and? No stewardship.  No ability to support a small family farm because you can’t make enough money to break even.  Who knows where the food you eat comes from anymore?  Not to mention what’s in it which is such a gnarly topic I can’t handle it today at all. BUT ANYWAY.  This scenario is played out over and over, and part of what happens, as we all do know,  that is really grotesque is that the small farm gets bought up by the forces of evil large agribusiness and Monsanto wins the day.  And, well.  Jobs?  There’s no way the numbers of jobs could be “created” that you hear we “need”.  And yet nothing is getting done and lots of things are broken.  I don’t get it.

As we move forward trying to make a new and improved and happy life for ourselves, the Partner and I, trying to grow vegetables and herbs and keep our little fledgling business and those it serves healthy I can’t help but wonder.  There’s such a push at the moment toward unreality, unsustainability, and staying asleep that at times it is just more than a person can really take in.   We feel alternately incredibly hopeful and positive and downright blessed and think how many wonderful people there are out there working toward an improved future, and simultaneously wonder whether that gaping, slavering mouth with the huge teeth snapping at our heels is going to get us any time soon.  We also wonder if that slippery saliva will remove our skins as it has removed much of all of our old kinds of economic viability.

The other thing that seems to be in the very visible spectrum now is the whole thing of swinging between…what?  Things that are said to be true clearly are not.  Things one might believe oneself are said to be untrue, but clearly are not.  The social preoccupations are enough to leave one’s mouth hanging open on a permanent basis.  If you love dogs, you’ll have to marry one?  Good heavens.  (Some may think that might have been a better choice to begin with but that’s another issue. Dogs are LOYAL, after all.) I guess it’s less a matter of picking your way carefully on the path than of simply letting go and letting the river and the wind carry you forward.   There are forces massing on the plain, I think.  I fully expect to see Krishna striding up the driveway any day, looking for Arjuna.  I’m hoping he has some Helpful Hints.  In the meantime, we’ll keep practicing.

Of birds and baking

The tides of the internet were not flowing our way for a few days- a major diversion up river required other focus, and since I had allowed all my new notebooks to get mildewed, the words, for a time, retreated into the paper and byte-less ethers.

This is not to say a lot didn’t happen.  One friend’s vet said the family dog needed a dozen enemas. This news came at a rather high stress point and reduced me to hiccups, especially after seeing the dog in question scrooched up into a furry,  inverted V shape, post enema the tenth.  (Which turned out to not be enough, but there it is.  Diagnosis is difficult.)  In another state,  a battery of pills were prescribed for the squadron of diarrhea-and-barf-ridden canines there.  People were breaking their legs, falling down, nails were rising up out of the dirt here as if they were zombies bent on devouring everything in sight -especially tires. Verbal fisticuffs abounded.  On the positive side, the rabbits, deer, and turkeys came back at long last, which has been quite wonderful.  There’s also a nesting pair of falcons!  I had the usual moment of cognitive dissonance on the way to an appointment this morning, too.  Passing the gentlemanly black hound up the road who no longer barks at our car but, rather, magisterially nods his head as we pass, and reveling in the spectacular green wall that is the oak leaves here for a short time in spring, I was rudely interrupted by the site of a man with a bulldozer mowing down said trees.  I mean, REALLY GENTLE READER.  We should all be planting trees in truth, not mowing them down.   It looked like, essentially, senseless destruction.  He was so lucky, that guy! Because I was late and thus didn’t feel the time was available to pull over and ask him what the _ _ _ he was doing, leaving a swath of ugliness with no apparent utility.

All the myriad other things, too, of course.  Plus it was my birthday which was an odd combination of grateful elation and dead bang panic.  But that’s normal on some level.   Among all the other pressing matters of late, the unsettling experience of seeing myself as I apparently am has been happening, and I realized that quite often I embark on things with no sense that I will succeed. (Probably no one else has this issue, right??)  I also realized that was pretty silly.  So it was that yesterday when the sourdough bread came out more or less perfectly, and I was shocked, the Partner sighed and looked at me as if to say: ?????.  But this recipe is kind of intimidating- from the TARTINE book, it is a high ratio of liquid to dry ingredients and one mixes an inchoate seeming mass which, over the next several hours, turns into the singing, crusty brown and lacy interiored bread of our dreams.  It is total alchemy. There is always reassurance in the world, somehow, and it does seem easy to overlook at times.  But you can be saved by bread.

And also by hummingbirds.  Being frozen, the feeder in our garden was out of commission over the winter.  We hadn’t seen Tyrant for a few weeks and were both a bit concerned about his irritating little bossman self.  So it was that as I was out mentally preparing witty ripostes while pulling weeds and dead branches into piles in the back, I heard a particular TWCHERPT!  I didn’t look up, heard another, louder TWCHERPT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!  and then a third which clearly said LOOK UP HERE NOW!!!!.  Which I did, and saw Tyrant, inches from my head.  He then did that huge upward zoom hummies do in display, and flew around as if in a cartoon all over the garden at top speed and volume.  He then pulled up right in front of me and we were eye to eye.   I was overjoyed, of course, and also amazed by the fact that this tiny creature and I have an actual relationship.  Magic really is afoot- a hummingbird remembered me.   I’m surer than ever that if you start from a basis of love, you will see things that feed your heart and soul and make your life full.   Sometimes it is hard to know what the truly loving thing to do is, but it must always start from a place of respect and honesty.

SO, even though I really did intend to bite the bullet today and do my taxes online which still makes my hackles go a bit sideways security-issue-wise, I found that I was missing a crucial piece of information (about last year’s taxes which I have blanked out because- well, because ARGH! to last year’s taxes) and thus could not proceed.  There’s still two weeks of high test procrastination possible!  And also? Today is the official start of baseball season.  What could possibly go wrong?