Venison Mincemeat

I met the pirate three years ago this month, introduced by someone I would not know, were it not for the X, funny how that happened, and makes it so much easier to see his leaving as a gift, both the worst and the best thing that has happened to me in the nearest years of my life.  Last year it was the discussion of mincemeat that led to my giving him my email, though he did not contact me, instead I stalked him down, sending the recipe, stumbling over myself like a gangling foal trying to connect.  I paid him no mind until my Japanese friend, said, oh he likes you.  I could not imagine.  I was so okay with being single.  It felt easier than all that other stuff, though a few weeks later a friend convinced me to try the online dating thing again.  Ironically, she tried again recently, I am having so much fun, she said, you should do it with me.  No way I said, I am done, I have a boyfriend, but other than that, I have no interest.  Its too hard.  I find myself in doubt of my own confidence when I date, its not insecurity so much as not wanting to deal with or accept the criticism of another, I have had enough of that crap in my life for sure.

I have about 10-15 pounds of neck still in my freezer, but I canned 12 quarts of some neck that my brother brought to me at Thanksgiving.  It was a difficult recipe, made worse by my inexperience with it.  It took me two trips to the store, and the kitchen was an absolute disaster.  Thank all the Gods in heaven for the two gifts that the X got me many years ago, that made it so much easier, my Kitchen Aide mixer with attachable grinding arm, and my Kitchen Aide food processor.

Ground Venison and Lemons

I used about 6 pounds of ground venison, 10 pounds of peeled and chopped apples, 5 lemons, two ground, three sliced paper thin and deseeded as much as possible, 9 cups of sugar, a pound of currants, almost a pound of raisins, 3 pounds of cherries, 6 tsp of cinnamon, 3 tsp each of nutmeg, allspice and cloves, and 3/4 cup of vinegar.  You boil the venison until it is cooked through then add the apples, lemons, sugar, spices, raisins and currants, cook until the apples are done, then add the cherries, heat through.  Next I canned the meat in canning jars and processed with a hot water bath, bringing it to a full boil and then letting it boil for 15 minutes.  Only one can did not seal.

As I was making it, I was calling my mom, like three times I think, to get instructions, and the last time to tell her how yummy it was.  There is something really special about making food that your great grandmother made!  That my own Mom made when she was my age.  Its like a tradition.  I have a quart promised to a co worker, and a neighbor heard I was making venison and he asked to try it so I will bring him a slice of pie in a few days.  And of course the pirate will get some too.  I still have that huge neck he gave me to make into mincemeat too.  But it will have to wait for another day, man that was a big job.

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sunday will never come

married forever they bicker
you don’t appreciate me
you don’t appreciate me
suddenly i see
i want to tell him
i appreciate the man you are
i appreciate all you do for me
i am so thankful to have you in my life
instead my own words echo in my head
i want more
i want more
and his mom’s words
we ask what the hell is wrong with him
leave him alone for awhile
let him see what a good woman you are
when you are not there
don’t tell him your feelings
(can i not be myself for even a moment?)

damn this is all so hard

am i worth it?

yes.

the right attitude

Unlikely friends.  But nonetheless, a friend.  He calls me and tells me how very much he has been missing me.  Then when I tell him I drove by last night at 730 but thought the lights were out, had I pulled in and knocked I would have been welcomed; I told him I was feeling the need for company, but instead I drove around the city listening to music loudly as I sang along.  Always he says, even if I am tired or sick, because you are so accepting and easy going, that you are not ever unwelcome.  I start to get choked up then, it hits a bit close to home for me today.  I tell him, I am glad you said that, because honestly I needed to hear that.  I hang up and for a second I am caught in the memory of a few days ago as my other friends lingered extra long over their empty cups of tea, they had to make one more stop before calling it a night, but one of them said to the other, but I want to stay with our Meg a little longer.  I reflect on this and how it feels, warm, comforting.  As though I am accepted whole, for who I am, who I really am.  As though I am loved.

He picks me up and we drive around the late city with his two boys, giving his wife time to relax without their hyper little boy.  We shop and then stop at Friendly’s  I know better but have an ice cream, I warn them that it will make me cough, and it does.  There is no admonition of disgust, just are you okay.  I warned you I say, it always does this to me.  Tomorrow will be worse.  As I am dropped off at my home, an I will call you tomorrow and you can come over and watch movies with us.  Okay I say.  Welcoming, inviting, I see now that it isn’t much to ask for, and is freely given with a loving heart.

I reflect on this.  And for a moment I feel a little sad.  Sometimes I cannot see the truth when it is hitting me over the head, goose-egg on top of goose-egg.  If I were a better person, I would be happy with what I get and ask for nothing more.  If I were loved, I wouldn’t have to ask.

That is all.

little angel gift

“Sometimes life has a way of moving you past wants and hopes.” from the movie Tron.

“…it keeps my spirit alive to struggle.  To struggle is to strengthen my faith, my hope, and my belief in humanity.”  ~ Valentino Achak Deng.

It takes me a thousand years to shave my legs, at least it seems that long.  I feel profound in the moment that I am doing it, and for the briefest moment something more like a millisecond I think that this is what enlightenment feels like, and even so it is not enlightenment.  A moment captured in a moment, like an image in the mirror’s reflection.  I wash my hands and feel the peppermint of the soap in my hands before I even smell it.  Each splash of water is like an oasis in the desert, I am thirsty for every drop.  I knit and each stitch is slowed down so profoundly that it feels like the first loop on a chain that will stretch around the earth, and there is no need to hurry because it will take so many lifetimes, it will never end for me.  I put on my heavy wool coat, my dad’s jacket and I walk in the unexpectedly warm evening, a light drizzle is falling, the air is scented with the warm perfume of wood.  Of pine burning.   2 miles, one step at a time, beset by obstacles, odd neighbors, my dog behaving aggressively, avoiding a dog I know to be aggressive, and his oblivious owner, and my poor little old man dropping in the street, his body shutting off as he has a seizure, I lift his heavy body and carry him to the grass and hold him my own knees in the wet grass he leans against me as I comfort him, softly whispering that he will be okay.  He tries to get up and cannot move, shh I speak so softly, I am here buddy, its okay.  After a few minutes we take each step, one at a time, his body still not fully in control.  He follows me around the house as I clean up the disaster of leftover Christmas, cookies in the freezer, reusable bags organized, garbage placed near the door to take out in the morning, dishes washed, cupboards organized and room for all the candy and hot chocolate and coffee made.  My vitamins laid out for the week, blankets folded, pillows placed, and always on the nearest throw rug or sofa, my guy sits, now his body pressed close to me.  Insecure, but knowing whom he can count on.

“When you are in danger, it is most important to make a good decision.”  ~ Gabriel Bol Deng

I make no decision.  I sit waiting for the next thing to happen.  I am lost in a crystal of frost, what words were whispered to get me here?   I stretch my hexagon of arms out fraying and feathering.  God’s plan for me is in fact not always the plan I have for myself.  I shrug my shoulders up tight to my ears, and draw the sweater in close to my face the wind is so cold it cuts me.  And yet here I am with a soft damp at the nape of my neck, and the temperature is not at freezing.  I build a hexagonal shield, as my arms fold in on themselves, wrapping round a sparkling star at my center.  I have only taken one step on my long journey and yet it is already halfway over.  Do you not see the universe is playing out your life on a scale so vast.  I feel the world suddenly spreading out, getting bigger as it implodes.  The universe is all of the infinite possibilities of life enacted, living, whole, grand, vast beyond words.  Can you imagine that this universe is the embodiment of all creation.  You are so small, but without you there would be no illustration of this profound life.  You are just exactly as you are meant to be.

I am resigned.  I am exultant.  How ordinary this life is. How profound.

Profound.  I whisper to the night.  Is all of this not profound?

 

 

The Cemetary Gate by Caspar David Friedrich

‎”As long as we’re caught up in always looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we’re always running from discomfort, we’re going to be caught in a cycle of unhappiness and discomfort, and we will feel weaker and weaker. This way of seeing helps us develop inner strength. And what’s especially encouraging is the view that inner strength is available to us at just the moment when we think that we’ve hit the bottom, when things are at their worst.” ~ Pema Chodron

I walk outside in the midnight blue of twilight.  The moon is a sliver in the sky and either Venus or Mars hangs heavy in the sky, bright.  Wish I may, wish I might. The snow is falling in its quiet way, if you don’t breath you can hear it hitting the surface of the cold pavement, you can hear it softly landing on the grass, you can hear as the trees sigh, waiting for the angle of the sun at spring.  There is need, there is desire and then there is the quiet contemplation of my evening constitutional, the Writer is loud tonight, her words in my mind pure and crisp.  She says that she doesn’t need the stars, and she doesn’t need you, and she will never need anyone ever again, but she says you are like the stars in the sky, she doesn’t need them, but for the poets inspiration, she wants them, her world wouldn’t be the same without them.  Pirate, you stole the treasure of my heart.  A heart I promised myself I would never give freely again.  Hunter, you keep me by luring me in, capturing me, and letting me go again.  Frustrated I want to give up the hunt.  You scare me by your distance.  And yet the more I come close the more you hide in the trees and keep your distance.  I am sure I will not ever be able to capture you.  You have not buried your treasure, but you keep it close, and I am not privy to your secret pearl.  My problem is, mine is bare for all to see, I have never learned to protect it well enough.  I am like a doe that thinks she may have scented a puma on a fleeting cross wind.  I startle jumping, and then wait to smell it again, it all depends on how the wind blows whether I live or am killed by the predator that lurks quietly nearby.  While you hide in your trees, I steal back my own treasure.  And I walk away, and then I hear your call.  I ignore you.  You ignore me.  Do you not tire of this ridiculous game?  I am angry now.  And I have no patience for this.  I never have had, and that is part of it too.  I feel unbalanced by your boundary gate for I have none and never have.  I tried to build a gate three years ago, but I suck at it, and it all looked haphazard and broken, like it was a gate of ancient times, off its hinges. The truth is, this is hard and I feel off balance.  No one has ever taken their time with me, no one has kept so quiet.  I find treasure in the small gifts, heart shaped venison patties, and a kiss on the hand attached to the arm that is wrapped tightly around you.  The times when you say your day is better for having me in it.  But then you don’t answer me, you push me away, you don’t seek me out.  I tell myself I am stupid for believing, I have always been stupid for believing.  I am stupid for hope, for faith, for my fidelity.  Yet you are my definition of a man, when none before you have been anything more than boys.  And then your boyish joy at Christmas, charms me, I see myself in you, I gaze in wonder, as though I realize what I am hunting is my own reflection, but with antlers and the buck’s broad shoulders, instead of this old doe.  Sitting with the brokenness of my heart, I realize, there is nothing to do but wait.  Maybe someday you will come and sit beside me, maybe you won’t.  I can no longer chase your shadow in the twilight.  Starlight , light star bright, you were my wish tonight.

Cold Embrace

Image

Painting by Caspar David Friedrich

Lurker,

perpetual
looming shadow
to my quivering mouse
I burrow in
my stinking nest.

Phantom,

keening
moaning ache
to my blind spider
in the darkest cavern
I creep my way forward
hoping to escape.

Stalker,

I can feel you breathing
neck hairs like urban soldiers
my third eye tingles
your cold embrace
imminent
goosebumps erupt
and I have
spider belly.

Shrieker,

I cower in a darkened alley
you tower over me
I am wet with your spittle.
I am afraid of the sting that is sure to come next
That sucker punch to my gut.
That hand on my baby cheek.
That red face of shame.

Breath on my neck
You whisper,
you belong here with me.

I want nothing more than to escape you.

In a candle flicker of inspiration
I suddenly find myself turning towards you.
Taken aback you stumble
hand out stretched to catch your fall

this moment lasts a million upon a million years

like the time of the universe
already farther than our minds can fathom,
stretched out in slow motion
marble statues in our slow reactions
2000 years old already
glistening,
translucent.

Marble Diana from National Gallery

Further musings on the challenge of this path.

She is my hair stylist, and has been for about four years.  I am a creature of habit in some ways and I had gone to another woman for many years but sometimes she missed the mark, and one day a woman at work gave me the name of her stylist and I went to her, just to see what she could do with my hair, which is straight, but has a small wave at about neck length that curves under on one side, and over on the other, when my hair is short, and with the right shampoo it can get pretty wavy too.  This woman who cuts my hair now is truly amazing at what she does.  It isn’t just that she is good at cutting hair, she is also good at telling you what you need to do to make it look right for your face.  She is an outstanding colorist too.  I really love my bright copper red hair, and the artistic bleach blond highlights.  It is artsy and fun and easy to take care of.  I went in today to get my hair recolored.  She has a lovely little boy, and her husband of a couple years recently adopted her son.  She was telling me about the process and I knew some of her history, parallel in many ways to my own, but she said some things that really were so important to me.  I don’t think it is right, really to tell her story but I will say a few brief things about my own life that she and I really connected on today.

So often people have said to me, why bother with your daughter’s father, he is a loser, let it go and move on.  Those very words were echoed to me today, but instead of being from the side that is normally standing and speaking to me, I heard her thoughts as though they were my own.  It is hard to understand that little glimmer of hope you have that the man who fathered your child will somehow step up some day and do what he couldn’t do in the first place.  And it is so hard for people who were not in the relationship with that man, and who did not give birth to his child to understand that it is not that easy to just let go of it.

She also spoke of the deep betrayal that you feel as a woman and as a mother when that man does not stand by you as you expected them to.  She said, no matter what it is a betrayal that you carry with you for ever, you heal from it, you get over it, but it is always there like a scar.  The scar heals, it may stop hurting and you may not even notice it, but from time to time it is visible to you or to someone else and you carry it inside of you, just as you would carry a deep scar on your skin.  She said to me, I don’t know how you bear it that TWO men have betrayed you in this way.  I have never spoken to her about my thoughts on the betrayal.  She knew it, because she knows my story.  Because she knows her own.

It was interesting to have this conversation, and at the end of the appointment I hugged her and thanked her for sharing her story with me, and I told her, it feels validating to know that a woman, a mother who has gone through the same kind of abandonment situation with her child’s father, feels similar feelings to what I have over the years.  I imagine it is a common feeling for women who have been in our situations.  It also helped me to understand where some of my fear and some of my lack of trust comes from in the relationship I am in now.  Being aware of the scars, may in some way help me to avoid the self sabotaging that I do to (falsely) protect myself from getting hurt, and why I look for trouble whether or not it is actually there.

 

 

Christmas Cheer

The weather this year has not been strange because it seems that the weather in this place is always changeable from one year to the next.  One year it starts to snow in November, the next it doesn’t snow until Christmas.  It has been wet, but not cold enough yet to snow much. A spitting, a dusting.  If the Inuit have 100 words for snow, we in this town must have 100 words for types of weather.  Nor’easter, lake effect, drizzle, mist, sleet, freezing rain, wintery mix, spitting, dusting, fat fluffy flakes, the heavy wet stuff, slushy, buttery, slick, bitter.  The wind has howled and cut through for the last three days, it makes you cover your skin, and leaves your inner ears aching.  It is not cold, really tonight but crisp, clear and still, though there is an inordinate amount of traffic on the road and I encounter a neighbor who seems to have had a bit of the Christmas cheer.  The dog and I walk, my legs start to take on steps of their own.  Walking for me. It has been so stressful for me lately.  Work is always a challenge at various times of the year, the weeks leading up to Christmas are some of the worst.  The kids are wired, the teachers tired, kids are fussy, they cry too easily, they get angry and pace the halls yelling, angry.  I am already frayed and over tired.  The animals are restless, and therefore so am I, my nights consist of closing an open door, or opening a closed one, drugged by doctor’s prescription I literally hold my eyes open with toothpicks during the day, I am cranky, I am on edge.  Today was rough, kids crying, because they miss their mothers, because they feel ugly, because they feel like no one loves them.  The wild ones are ready to get wild at the drop of a pencil.  I come out of my paper closet, I am cheekzilla, they run screaming hiding under the tables except the ones who are one step ahead they sit at their seats just waiting for cheekzilla to get them, others chase after him giggling in fake terror.  It makes me calm down, I come out, hey I yell what is all this noise.  Cheekzilla cheekzilla.  What I say, I just went to get paper what is all the commotion.

See this makes it easy but it doesn’t because later in the evening I catch myself talking to myself.  I can’t take it anymore.  What?  Nothing, just stress coming out of me.

She is sobbing when she enters.  I give her a few minutes but then her friend pushes her chair over to me and I put my arm over her shoulder and she leans her head into my shoulder and cries.  She literally says word for word what I used to say to myself when I felt badly.  I am so ugly. God hates me.  No one loves me.  I want to die.  I tell her I know exactly how she feels.  I know how hard it is, I tell her but I love you.  So you cannot say no one loves you.  L. says I love you, too.  And I say can you think of anyone else who loves you.  My Mom and Dad.  Yep I say see so you cannot say NO ONE loves you.  And you know you are not ugly.  Can you think of anything about yourself that is good, is pretty.  No she says.  I tell her, I am kind of an expert on what looks good and what doesn’t and I say I know you probably are like me you look in the mirror and say oh I am so ugly I have a pimple or look at how hideous that mole is, but I say, you have to learn to look and see what is good about you.  I tell her, because you know I like men and everything but I have to tell you some day some nice boy is going to tell you, you have the most beautiful luscious lips.  She laughs, and I say I mean it one day he will tell you and you will remember, Ms. Gregory told me that someday someone would say that to me.  I tell her, and your eyes are just stunningly beautiful.  They are says L., that’s true!  Later two boys want to fight, the first is a punk, mocking my voice and talking back, and being exceptionally rude, he gets out of his seat and comes over to one of my student’s whose dad died a couple years ago.  One of the one’s who cried on my shoulder on his bad day.  The two stand chest to chest hands off but ready to fight, another kid whose dad has died intervenes, and I speak up and say C. back down please, be the better man, and he walks away.  Later the two boys, listening to my talk with the crying girl, ask what do you do when you are lonely?  I crawl into my bed and hide under the covers and cry.  My Mom does that he says.  Yeah well, its easy to do when you have lost someone really important to you.  He looks serious for a second and then always quick witted he snaps back with something smart-ass and we go back and forth a couple times.  But I know that the kids at that table have some pretty difficult lives, it isn’t just me coming into the building with a heavy burden.

I have to remember to wait for the rough waters to calm.  I ask for patience with myself.  I ask to notice the blessings in my life, like the blessings of my students.  The blessing of a daughter who has an outstanding work ethic, and is doing so well in school, and who is 20 but one day will reap the benefits of my midnight tantrums, and perhaps only have hers when her burden feels too heavy.  I am a blessing in my own life.  I have faith, I am charitable, I am thoughtful and intelligent, and I try to be a good, honest, loving, and compassionate woman.  Look in the mirror girl, see those sea green eyes, and that brilliant smile, know that you are loved.  Perhaps by more people than you know.

 

The Constellation Orion

It is high blood pressure that has me out here, that and the still damp corners of my flannel sheets, fresh from the crisp night air, soon to be warm from the dryer.  I look up and I see Orion, the hunter.  His tell tale pattern of stars as though a cookie cutter in the sky.  I once told drunk boy that there would always be the moon watching over him.  Once many years ago, when I still believed in magic.  I guess sometimes I still do.  And once I believed that Orion looked down on you.  The true hunter takes my now warm hand in his and holds me with a firm strength.  I feel safe there, in its presence, but away from it, I am still the naked child, shivering uncontrollably, I have always been vulnerable, it is not a weakness, but a strength, it makes my heart strong, my spirit brave, and my mind keen.  Did Orion once watch over two dreamers?  The greatest mistake?  Only one thought it was for as long as the stars shone.  I see it and for the first time in some long months it does not fill me with heart ache.  I know when you see it you will think of me, whether you wish to, or not.  You cannot help yourself.  Orion, for me is transformed, into flesh and blood and sparkling eyes.

I say sometimes I need you to take care of me, and he says gentle, with a voice of emotion.  I will take care of you.  I will.  You never really did.

I ask for little really in this world.  I work hard to care for myself, and my own.  I am like the fierce hunter, only I hold solid to the trees that anchor this land, they are my walking sticks.  I am firm in my resolve, I keep my word, I stand strong by the ethics which bind me for their own reasons, not because they were handed to me on flimsy paper, and I followed their instructions to the letter.  I am smarter than that, I am smarter than what you replaced me with, too, all that says, is that you are a fool.  I am the huntress.  I look down on the blanket of earth beneath me, and I see your shadow lurking, you do not shine in the star lit night, like a rat you have scampered in the alleys.  The rat, said Roshi, fell into the boat, NOW WHAT?  Now, what.  I raise my hand and point my fingers, bang, you are dead.  And I, I am alive.  And here in this place, is perfection, glued together heart, and crisp starlit night.  I bow to you Orion, in sacred gratitude.

All I asked for, and more.

 

a circle of grace

she sprinkles faerie dust on me and I begin to laugh, even as the canned laughter makes me laugh even harder. but it is in the cold crisp solitude at the end of the evening where the laughter shimmers in my eyes.  great furry one, i say as his sparkling eyes look on me, if i unzipped you, nothing but pure radiant sunshine would pour forth.  i am a supermodel as my 10 year old corduroys fall off of me and my five old shirt looks faded in the yellow lights of the street and my stained red walking shoes carry me.  what would happen if you unzipped me?  i expand and expand into the great vastness of my self, there shivering in a corner is a naked little girl, but standing strong here is this warrior, fierce, this artist, on the edge of tomorrow.  i am the cave of forgotten dreams.  i am rutting lions.  i am a herd of running horses.  i am a female mammoth.  i am as rare as an aurochs.  ancient.  covered in paintings on my insides, the shape of the universe.  what use is such beauty if no one can see it, if it is not revealed to the world?  i feel free.  i am so full of faith that all i can do is pray.  will you not hear me, i whisper in the form of a round, lord hear my prayer.  i am fay in my solitude.  i revel in it.  i sprinkle faerie dust on my bed.  i burn incense, the smoke curls upwards, and stains my nose with its bitter aftertaste.  what if what i wish for is to be wished for?  i keep a jar of the iridescent magic corked by my bedside.  i am a sea of stars on the black night sky.