Posts Tagged ‘postaday2011’

Like cooking an egg

In terms of available time, that is.  Places to go and things to do, etc.  But as usual, on this last day of the year, it seems like it’s just started.  But that’s NEXT year that’s just starting.   Easily confused, apparently.

Such a plethora of gloom and doom we’ve been subjected to in poor 2011.  And of course there’s more drama brewing in the corridors of power and yet at the same time…….In fact, according to the Mayan calendar, this coming year which includes spectacular Venusian events is the end of a long cycle.  So we should be happy and celebrate completion.

For my part, the past year has rivalled almost anything in my previous life in terms of just get down, knock down drag out, dead bang, eye watering horror, how much longer can I stand this, AM I GOING TO DIE? sort of stuff.  Naturally one has also learned alot, and since I made the policy decision to not ask whether I really needed to know any of it (obviously I do, so get on with it), it’s easier.  The interesting thing is, of course, that one learns through experience, in much wisdom is grief etcetera.  As Nietsczshe said, what doesn’t kill one makes one stronger.  Also, what makes you stronger also makes you more open to it all, so having learnt many things means all the feelers are turned on even more than before, it’s just a bit different.   There may have been some very useful things but at the moment I’m just kind of dazed by the new sensation of being immersed in life and also flying high above it.   Watching all those fun mistakes I make!

HOWEVER.  I can report one thing I’ve absolutely learned this year.  Those frozen blue ice block thingys?  ABSOLUTE PARTY AND FIRST AID ESSENTIALS.  Pick up a broiling hot pot lid with your bare hand?  Stick that ice block on it until you don’t feel any pain.  Get soundly bitten by a prima donna parrot? Blue puppy to the rescue.  The next day it is as though no insult occurred.  It is, for me anyway, truly wonderful to know that there is, after all, a way to avoid constant scarring by life’s daily activities.  So, blue ice blocks, you are my heroe-ines for the past year, and have really kept the Quasimodo Factor, at least, to a dull roar.  Happy New Year Gentle Reader!

Momentum

Something I struggle with mightily, Gentle Reader.  MIGHTILY.  Those smooth stretches where you work on a task or something and can finish it then, more or less, instead of next week.  Or never.  I think that may happen when one is alone, but not too much otherwise.  There are always interruptions, intrusions, things that require you to be elsewhere than where you are, or were, or would wish to be.  Things don’t get finished or sometimes even started.  I make countless lists and by the time I get to the end the same list is staring me in the face again.  I’ve learned to accept interruptions calmly, change directions at a moment’s notice, go with the flow.  Still it isn’t good enough more often than not.   Whatever I do, someone is not pleased.  Which, really, is kind of the essence of dealing with life.  You can’t please all the people all the time.  This is an unreasonable expectation that I will venture to say is more often laid on females than males.  The question is then, how do you focus on the right kind of pleasing?  Which probably means, once again, being true to yourself, which does not mean being fixated on the rigidity of the ego’s demands and what the “self” wants.  It means listening, evaluating, looking honestly at situations and taking action based on that.  Which then means you have to know something about the bigger existence outside yourself- have as much information as possible.  And of course not be afraid to displease others from time to time as the need arises.

I think back to when I actually had a studio.   What bliss that was.  Then one might have to deal with blocks or deadlines or whatever but it was all taking place in that separate space, private and focussed.  In living with others, however, in a tiny space, it gets quite a bit different quite quickly.  The solitude required to create something is not so easily come by and many things compete for time and attention.  There is also the thing of getting tired.   You spend several hours on a project and then, funnily enough, don’t really feel like applying hyperfocus to cleaning the bathtub, or speeding through anything, really.  And out here in the country, there are always a vast number of things that need to be attended to, all the time, no matter what.  So it’s quite a balancing act.

I’ve been mulling over the fact that pretty much my entire life (except that short period when I had the studio) other people have been telling me that what I’m doing isn’t important and I should do something else, generally something they wanted done.  Yet this urge toward expression has never left, never abated.  Whether or not it generates money turns out to be beside the point.  Like the old story about the Muse: she shows up when she chooses and you dance then and there, period.   No fooling around, no screwing her, either.  It’s like an absolute of a sort.  Whatever it is, dance, write,  make pictures, you just have to do it, period. Regardless of perceived balance or lack thereof in the moment.

At the same time, these absolutes (if we can call them that) are part of the bigger current we all swim in and ultimately are a connecting thing rather than a distancing one.  The whole image of artist as ongoing tantrumer is only one image, and one more reflective of the values of this culture we find ourselves in than the essence of the absolute itself.  Everything is art, really.  People just don’t do much for themselves anymore, in the sense of creating tangible daily objects and food and whatnot,  and lose sight of that truth.  We’ve allowed things to be run by the Ego, with Profit as the motive, and anything that fits into that paradigm works.  So, that includes tantrums but it doesn’t necessarily include work for the good of all.  I happen to think that craft, art, all the things we do as humans to express and expand our vision and experience, work toward the good of all and are valuable.  The idea of the limited few overarching everything with their drive for profit- monetary, of course- is not in the end a workable one.

And what, you might ask (or not) does this have to do with momentum?  It has to do with the striving toward awareness and fulfillment of purpose instead of the blinkered rush toward something unitary and abstract, like profit.  Or finishing up six tasks so you can sit, quietly panting from exertion and wondering if you’ve actually accomplished anything.  So then time gets distributed a bit differently.  Some days are devoted to the unitary purpose, say going to the dump or pulling weeds.  Others are devoted to developing awareness.  Generally one likes to do both those things at the same time but that is not always possible.  That is when momentum has been lost.  To recover momentum, maybe one has to step back from the pairs of opposites populating everything, and see where the real yesses and noes are.  And THAT, Gentle Reader, is where we often get snarled up around here.  Because, when you look at it, everything is right, it’s all moving along and whatnot. The world is not going to end if task A or B doesn’t get done immediately, even though it may “feel” that way.   Our attention gets snagged on something and we get stuck because we react to it, thinking it is something substantial, which usually it isn’t.  It doesn’t mean just blithely saying, oh, it’s all an illusion, tra la.  Or getting mired in the crush of it all, so many points and sharp places and obscure turnoffs.

What it does mean is what we’ve been padding our way through the last few days.  No answers yet.  And, I’m beginning to be more sure that maybe it isn’t answers that there are, at all.  More questions, mostly.  And an ever present sense of being opened up, experiencing whatever it is, feeling the feelings and refraining from attaching meaning or opinion to them whenever possible.  It’s oddly painful, oddly joyful.  One thing for sure is there’s no going back, even or especially when you feel it’s time for a thoracic surgeon to enter the picture and sew you back together.  But there’s no needle, no thread, no bright light.  And funnily enough, when you do get someplace you can examine that wide open space in you, it’s healed up or it isn’t, but it’s fine as it is.  JEEPERS.

Sloth Wins the Day

Oh, well.  Yesterday was yet another Olympic level mad dash at the gold ring of solvency and today? Simply cannot move.  Our neighbors went ice skating this morning- I was still in bed with the covers pulled over my head when they called to ask if I wanted to come.   In addition to exhaustion, I also had an incredibly strong aversion to falling down on hard, cold, ice so it wasn’t all that hard not to go.

There’s simply too much to consider at the moment and, being a bear of little brain, I decided to devote my flagging mind to smackerels instead.  All the things and issues and whatevers swirling around the bleached bones of my brain waiting for Answers are just going to have to wait.  My attention is elsewhere.  On cooking, in short.  I made a tripe-less menudo (the Partner wanted menudo, neither of us was really up to tripe, so….) a few days ago- we cooked our turkey in the Weber at Thanksgiving over mesquite and the left over drumstick and wing from the freezer gave the soup base the requisite oomph.  Our cow horn chilis were the perfect flavor and heat, so on the whole it was a success.  We have a bumper crop of tangerines and on a whim, I juiced one and put the juice and half of the fruit itself in with some basmati rice in the Famous Rice Cooker.  It was terrific with left over chicken, and the tangerine had rolled over into the center of the rice and nestled there in the middle as though by design.  Today, we’ve eaten our way through all the leftovers in the yurt, and I’ve decided that I can probably muster the strength to make calzone.  So now I’m comparing recipes, Deborah Madison vs Chez Panisse, trying to remember how I did this the last time.  I think today’s effort will involve mushrooms and artichoke hearts but that’s as far as we’ve gotten overall so far.  The quest goes on for parsley substitutes since mine is enjoying its long winter sleep.

I used to bake lots of things at this time of year; complicated things like French macaroons, stollen, sugar cookies, all kinds of stuff.   We picked some prickly pears (tunas) earlier this week and I’m hoping to make creme brulee again on Christmas day and infuse it with some of that nectar-like, watermelon tourmaline looking, fruit.  (Ostensibly it was picked for the birds- they LOVE them.  Or maybe it’s the energetic flinging around of gelatinous, wet, bright magenta left over seeds and skins?) But anything more ambitious is probably going to have to wait.    Cake?  Cookies?  Somehow in my current life I never seem to have the “time” I used to, no stretches of a day in which nothing else (you know, like Explosions, or Helicopters or Rattlesnakes or Jehovah’s Witnesses or green water..or….) intrudes and you can spend it making marmalade or some mind bending Italian desert or dinner extravaganza.  I once made a cake out of Gourmet that took me almost a week to do with all different sorts of swiss meringues and soaking liquids and sponge cakes- and I don’t even like things like that.  It was just the challenge.  Cooking is still what I do to maintain what little tattered sanity remains to me; apparently the body is as tattered as the sanity at this point and the cooking doesn’t cover the same cinematic sweeps of imagination and turf as formerly- when probably I was also working through a big spot of Clinical Something Or Other. ( No, now we have chocolate chip BAR COOKIES, Gentle Reader, as we are simply too tired or pressed for time to drop the individual ones on a sheet let alone form them into shapes depicting a journey through the universe.  You think I’m kidding, don’t you?)

So.  The wolves are still at the door, people are still crazy and things are still strange.  Still.  At least I got out of my nightgown today.  And I’m going to cook!  Tomorrow, back out into the so-called Real World.

 

 

Real Life Ridiculous, #1

Nobody could make this stuff up, Gentle Reader.  NOBODY.  And I would tell you all about it except that my brain feels as though it was dropped on a hard, flat expanse from a great height.  So we will just mention two recent events, to be expounded upon later.

1) Our second annual Christmas Fair Motel Egg Laying took place and was quite a success despite some death defying moments involving a forgotten water bowl.

2) This morning there was an air evac helicopter, along with two fire trucks, an ambulance and a pickup truck, in our “neighborhood”.  The helicopter flew around for about ten minutes, waiting for the fire truck to come creeping around the hill at 15 mph to show it where the action was. ( That was very, very special) The drama! The excitement!  A culmination of a long, stressful story with at this point, unknown denouement.  But it has everything:  Greed, illicit love, crossed loyalties, danger and an international cast. in the rugged wilds of…….

In short, the fun continues.

 

Viral Smackdown

I suppose it was inevitable, but at long last I got some respiratory bug and the body feels like it was stuffed with hot jello with all outer surfaces having been tuned up with a baseball bat.

SO.  The dismal news didn’t help:  Obama? Where are you?  Not vetoing the indefinite detention bill, and apparently reversing course on the pipeline debacle.  Also I learned this:  There are actual RULES and stuff about what may constitute a terrorist.  For example.  Missing a finger? Uh oh.  Have guns? WOO HOO.  If you have waterproof ammo, fugeddaboudit.  X marks the spot, all you duck hunters.  Also, if you have more than seven days worth of food on hand, well, you, Gentle Reader, MIGHT be a terrorist.  Also if you’re unemployed there may be mandatory drug testing for you, buster.  I wonder who pays for that?

Anyway.  It distracted me from my Larger Topic, which essentially involves the necessity for taking a higher, broader view of things, dropping resistance and having forgiveness in one’s heart while working toward clarity, which comes more easily when you get your ego out of the way.  AHEM.  Anyway, we were watching THE BIG C, which is wonderful, and that made me think about all of that.  The plot involves a woman with Stage Four Melanoma.  One of the things she does is have an affair, which when you think about it, isn’t all that surprising.  Not much time left, one wants to savor all the things life has to offer, really.  But it reminded me of a good friend I had, who also had Stage Four Melanoma.  She also had an affair, and it happened to be with my husband.  They’re both dead now, and although it still has the feel of an old injury that acts up in cold weather, I have to say I am glad that I could look at it with a bit of perspective at the time, and realize that they were both more important to me than my deeply hurt feelings, and with some understanding of their unthinking (among other things) motivations.  So now I don’t have to be angry in addition to feeling the sorrow of their absence.  I don’t condone the behavior, and didn’t then- OH BOY.  I set so much of his stuff on fire it was incredible. (But I felt better for it!, yes I did.)  I also made some Christmas dinners for her and her family when she was too ill to do it herself.

Still, approaching the depth of winter and the change of year, confronting what appear to be insoluble and hopeless problems here on earth, it’s worth considering that probably the only thing that will save us is precisely this dropping of habitual response and the coming forward in love and peace, working with each other to raise, as we used to say, the level on every level.  Looking at what really needs to be done and marshalling the required things to get it accomplished.   It’s terrifying of course; but it is way too late for us all to give in to paralysis, tempting though it is.  I have a fever, however, so I may be excused just this once, for this evening.  I’ll play nicely, really.

Finding the thread

Ah, momentum, Gentle Reader.  After last weekend’s adventures and, incredibly, even poorer internet than I have here at Chez Rudimentary, it’s time to get back on the Word Horse, which seemed to have meandered off somewhere leaving me with a ball point pen and notebook for company.

It was an amazing two days at the fair, especially given that Friday and Saturday involved about four hours of sleep what with packing and anxiety and dishwashing.  But, we did see the eclipse.  Did we ever.  We drove (for the last time. The tattered nerve endings deserve at least that much of a break.) over Highway 36 which runs between I5 and 101 here in the wilds of Northern California.  This road is sheer hell although it is mind bogglingly beautiful, which I am sure I mentioned last summer when we made this trek.  Your maximum speed is about 35 mph, on the good spots, given that it rises up through two mountain ranges, up up up up, and hairpin turns don’t even begin to cover it.  Plus there are a few spots where it just DROPS with no real warning and your stomach is on the ceiling.  Did I mention there is a paucity of guard railing?  Well, there is.  I had been hoping we’d miss seeing the sheer cliff drops in the dark but no such luck.  In any event.   We left in the magnificent profound blackness of dawn, with the eclipse starting.  The few lights and Christmas decorations visible were like strange beacons. There was ice on the road and snow sparkling in the headlights on the sides.  The moon became a moving and undulating gray cloud, and would intermittently disappear as we wound through the mountains, reappearing in its mysterious not-thereness.  You could see batches of stars far, far out, and mist-like swathes of constellations as well.  The sunrise began as an intense tomato red line across the horizon behind us and gradually filled the sky with golden clouds and ethereal blueness.  The snow now sparkled in the sun and we were suddenly driving through a field of diamonds.  There was also fog (THE JOY OF IT ALL) and in some meadows we passed it wreathed the ground and the trees, everything sparkling in the rising sun light, like some ancient story.  Which I suppose it was, really.  It felt like being in something that had happened forever and would continue to happen forever, whether or not it was seen through any eyes.

So, net net, four and a half hours later we’d gone slightly under 200 miles and arrived at our destination with a fabulous four minutes to spare before the starting gate opened.  Where we unloaded in a mad dash, I set up the booth, and the festivities began.  Concerning which, more to come.

Continuing Speechlessness

Today the sun came up to prolonged gunfire.  We think someone around here has made an indoor (” “) shooting range.   They have many guns.  How great is that?  Now it’s nightfall and some Intellect is outside with a chainsaw.  In the dark.  I sometimes think the crazy train just stopped here, dropped everyone on it in the dust, and took off.

And, oh, stories to tell but even changing the names won’t be good enough.  It’ll just have to wait.  Meanwhile preparations continue for the weekend Christmas Fair.  Christmas.  I can’t even begin to take that in.  Also? I found it somewhat confusing at the post office when I head this:

Patron: Do you have any Christmas stamps?

Postal Employee:  Yes, but we only have the Madonna.

Patron: Oh, I don’t want THOSE.  I don’t want to offend anyone.

Uh.  Christmas is a Christian holiday (even if appropriated timewise from much older traditions) which celebrates the birth of Christ.  His mom? The Madonna.  So if this is a religious holiday (even though you’d be hard pressed to really think that what with the selling of it beginning before Halloween), and it is a Christian religious holiday (Black Friday not withstanding), and the Madonna is a, shall we say, central part of this event just who would you offend by using a stamp with her image on it, probably to mail….a Christmas card to another person of the same religious persuasion?  Not to mention what a rabidly Christian area this is but STILL.  I am confused.  Again.  I’m not religious but this sort of thing makes me slightly bananas.  Fortunately I have a picture of the Dalai Lama posted in a place where I can just stand and shake my head and wonder How Much More of This Is there?  He of course smiles and reminds me that there is no point in too much worry.  But I’m CONFUSED! I say to the picture.  I am referred to some pithy texts via the ethers, which get me back down to a point where I can:

Continue mixing, jarring and labelling things, I can’t find the tablecloth we use for the event and there will be ice on the road at our 5 am takeoff time.  Still.  We’re forging ahead and tonight! We are going to use our wood burning stove to roast some potatoes.  The dismal state of things can be set aside for the nonce.

Arming the Bears

Struggle as I have been, I still cannot rid myself of the pervasive malaise that descends whenever a) I think about my bank account, and b) I listen to any news.  ANY.

For example.  On Le Show, a wonderful program by Harry Shearer, this past week the astounding news was revealed that Dow Chemical, after having destroyed thousands of people’s lives in Bhopal, India, and having been charged with providing that community with LIFE LONG FREE MEDICAL CARE has now decided that a vaccine they developed by unannounced testing on that same suffering community- well, those people should pay for that vaccine.  Speechless, Gentle Reader.

Politics in the US?  Please.  Our fearless “lawmakers” just torched Habeas Corpus last week.  Need we say more?  Even now President Obama is on a news clip, saying that America is/should be, a place where you can make it if you try.  Make it where? and What? and, BESIDES WHICH.  Who cares? If the entire country is essentially a militarized zone because of..well, because of….WMD, right? The War on Terrorism, right? and thus all its citizens are under military jurisdiction and can thus be arrested by said military if said citizens appear, to said military’s judgement, to be…er…terroristically inclined.  Of course this is all pabulumized to be about Guantanamo and how our Constitution and stuff used to seem to prohibit the government from doing things like arresting people and not allowing them to contact ANYBODY much less a lawyer and certainly NOT to torture them.  But that was before the Constitution Knew About Terrorists.  Right? Because these terrorists are Threatening Our Way of Life and Therefore We Must Use Any Means Necessary.  Funny, when Malcolm X said that..why, what a coincidence.  He was a terrorist, wasn’t he?

So I’m really disgusted.  And a bit scared.  Also? Cold.  But today when I went out to see how my tenting operation over the garden went (so far OK) I figured I could fill the hummingbird feeder again since the 40+ mph winds have ceased for the time being.  So, cleaned and filled, I put the feeder up and said, I don’t know if you’re still here but- and the rest of my words were drowned out by the buzzing of tiny, irridescent wings, as if to say, Where the hell else would I be? IT’S ABOUT TIME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  So all was well there for the time being anyway.

The sky is peach and lavender, the hills are a milky slate blue, darkening,  and it’s dinner time.  Something with beans and rice and leek stuffed mushrooms, I think.  Now that I have apparently truly conquered chicken soup (I personally think cilantro is the secret ), on to another level of comfort food.   All we have to do  is not run out of propane tonight.

Je Ne Sais Quoi

Julia Child used to say that about ingredients in recipes, so dashingly, that they’d give a particular dish a je ne sais quois.  It might have been tarragon in something but of course I don’t remember exactly.  I did think yesterday though that bliss might be having all Julia’s tv shows on DVD and us having a..modern tv? Perhaps mounted on the bookcase that constitutes our bedroom wall (Partner’s idea of course) and then when I have those moments when I want to End It All, I could retreat to a parliamentary splendor amidst pillows and watch Julia, who has always had a wonderfully bucking up effect on me.

Meanwhile although the large picture appears ongoingly with startling non-clarity the actual daily stuff seems to contain ever more nuggets of wonder.  I got hugged and bowed to in the post office! Holy smokes.  Anyway what with The Partner still being down with the virus, plants needing to be protected from frost, big upcoming work thing next weekend and all sorts of other stuff (such as actually learning how to keep a wood stove going overnight, for example) I find myself a bit wordless this evening, while making chicken soup, expect to say that, actually? I think magic IS afoot.

11:59:59

This was the time a friend and I used to think things generally resolved in life.  In short, one second before detonation.

I still pretty much think this, and the firing squad motif hasn’t changed all that much, either.  However, night is once again falling and the mountains have a faint outline of rose above their deep slate blue silhouette and under a cloudy blue expansive sky.  The conifers against the mountains are an incredible deep velvety, bottle green. The oak trees have dropped their leaves and the branches are to be seen in their twisting and curling magnificence, black and reminding me of an Arthur Rackham drawing.

This morning? I really was ready to give up.  Things were so overwhelming, so impossible.  So much anxiety and no saliva, in short.  However.  Yet another series of deep breaths.  Alot of kicking of rocks and a tee tiny bit of screaming way up on the other side of the bluff.  And then some really nice, good news came later in the afternoon, reminding me that of course, you never know.  When I was out getting wood, there was more.  Copper and Sierra were running around their corral with tails up and manes flying.  I watched them for a minute and realized they were playing a game.  With a plastic bag- one would get it gently in their teeth, run around gracefully and in zigzags, the other would nip and retrieve, and it would go on from there.  I was mesmerized.

So.  I read today that the function of our mind is simply to create our reality.  While I’m watching the evening sky turn slightly green above the pink and the blue above that turn to lavender, I wonder why it is so hard to shake off the bonds of the negative conditioning, the negative reality, and to inhabit the true expansive beauty of the moment.  Even if it IS painful.  Everything is moving and shifting, us too.  Sometimes when those dark thoughts come up, one feels totally separated from everything, Gentle Reader.  And we know that is not the true state of affairs.  The Partner, who has some hideous virus and accompanying mindset, sternly informed me today that I can’t change the world.  But maybe I don’t have to.  Everything is changing, with or without our conscious participation,  and perhaps it is our task to flow with it and open our hearts and minds to  that movement upward, toward the light rather than continuing on in the fetid darkness that seems to be descending on us all, economically, socially, politically, all ways, really.  Align ourselves with that flow, that really does contain cooperation, curiosity, and common goals and basic unity.  However that flow manifests itself, whatever it requires.  A challenging assignment, to be sure.  Today, I think I can do it.