Cooking · Dogs. · Eating Locally · Garden · Healthy Eating · On Being Green · Small Joys

Embracing All of This

The dog asks to go out into the bright morning, and I climb back into bed grateful she wants to come in too, it is so cozy and I begin to drift off but there is a nagging sensation that I have forgotten something.  It is an hour before I realize it is Saturday and I am down to three radishes, a dozen and a half eggs, a lemon and a handful of wilted scallions in the fridge.  

I park in the shadow of a tractor trailer without it’s tractor and open the windows half way.  I am still saying there should be designated dog parking all summer long.  It is only 68, this is the only shade anywhere. How hard would it be, to make a corner of the lot safe for those who are out with their pets?

Now later I feel such a sense of peace and contentment.  There is a moment at which you find yourself, in a place where everything comes together and begins to make sense.  It is really just an inkling, but it is there and it feels like it will become more profound.  

I would not have this home, nor my yoga teacher without my ex husband.  I would not have this belief in my personal strength and integrity without the pirate nor would I have known that the problem was not with me with regards to our difficult relationship, would not have my daughter if it were not for her father… you get the picture.  I would not be cleaning my house organically and with such a small footprint without A.  and a Tau sister I lived with who reminded me that there was a time when this was what I did.  Oh. Yes.  The dogs at my side, my ex again, and a Tau sibling.  I feed them pea pods, blueberries, strawberries and sour cherries.  The pup putting her paw on my knee, asking for more.  What would my life feel like without them?

I wash and cut and prepare my fruit and vegetables.  Storing some in freezer bags, some in the fridge.  I slice cucumbers, the little ones with no seeds, and poor hot vinegar over them, cutting up cilantro and parsley from my garden, trimming lettuce to put it on later, with chickpeas.  

My sour cherry jam is boiling away on the stove and fresh homemade scones baking in the oven. A lifetime of having to live poor, now coming to fruition through living clean.  My six face cords of wood on order, I look at this wood stove and do math in my head, 75 dollars a month to be warm all winter.  Sometimes my gas bill was as high as 350 dollars a month, and that is cheap.  I really can get used to this.

I embrace this, it is perfection.  What a gift.  I am filled with gratitude.  

 

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Buddhism · Cooking · Magic · Musings · Nature · Photos · Pirates · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

Slow Cooking

Iron Ore

There is this kind of perfection in cooking.  The slow kind.  Yesterday I used the food processor, something I would have never bought for myself, because there is a zen quality, a peaceful quality, a hands in and hands on kind of quality to carefully cutting the vegetables.  I love this.  This act of cooking.  I understand the purpose of a sous chef, but I love the act of creating the food from the beginning to the end.  But today, the processor does the stalks of celery in seconds, the onions sliced, I pour them out onto the cutting board and chop them into small pieces.  Saute the veggies in butter.  I do not have any sage.  I call and ask if anyone has it.  No.  I am not yet fully here in this household.  Several minutes later, I have a brand new container of sage in my hands, delivered to my door, via the grocery store.  And I cook it all on a stove I could never have imagined owning, it shines brand new in the kitchen, they went out to get it, so I could bake properly for Thanksgiving.  I open the windows and bake nothing for the first time, as directed in the manual.

For this new family I feel a deep sense of gratitude.

In the morning, I wake early, to the crispy frosted grass and leaves.  The sun is shining and the day promises to be warm.  I raise my arms up and stretch in the brisk air.  Lovely day.  Lovely day.  There are no shortcuts for pie crust.  I put on Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, the heavenly choir fills the air.  The dog comes to me and rests his head on my knee.  I look into his eyes, he is almost smiling as he “hugs” me in his doggie way.  He does this at least two more times over the course of the morning, though I am regularly admonishing him to get out of the kitchen.  And as I mix the egg and ice water into the flour and butter, I feel a sense of something, I do not know what, it is profound though, and I savor it.  I cannot name it.

For this beautiful animal and his unconditional love, I feel so very thankful.

Sancho

He comes in from hunting, smiling, cheerful.  Last night I said to him, in the hot tub, that he was clearly miserable, so clearly not happy with me living in this place with him, that I just didn’t know what we were doing.  He said, I have always been miserable, but with you here, I am this much more happy than I was before.  He holds his hands apart like the fish that got away.  Later I tell him, thank you for telling me that, he pulls me down on top of him and kisses me.  Later still he comes into the living room and places a big plate of sliced apples on the coffee table, but not in front of himself, but off to the side.  I look at him, into those stunning green hazel eyes, he smiles.  I get off the awful chair and sit beside him.  We should bring that small couch in here, he says, it is a good snuggle couch, and put that chair in the office.  Okay, I say.  I would like that.  I go from one house to another, my side dishes and dessert a hit, and get containers for the remains of dinner, when I come in they are talking about rings, and cruises to Alaska.  They change the subject upon my entrance, but not quickly, slowly as though to tell me something.  Later I show him my board of pins, ‘for the wedding I will never have”.  He laughs.  But he is quiet too.  I don’t know, honestly, if we will ever go there, but I know at the very least, I have his love, and he is my very best friend.

For this man, who is difficult, moody, miserable, and sometimes positively awful, I am so very thankful.

She comes to the door without being announced, he lets her in.  She sits in her favorite chair, the cats come to her to cuddle, the dog sits beside her.  I pour her a beverage, it is kind of fun to have a drink with my baby, though she is not a heavy drinker, and I have water.  After he goes to bed we tickle each others backs, a multi-generational ritual of affection, that I have not had the pleasure of in months.  After, I tell her come here, and she cuddles me like she did when she was little.  It’s hard huh?  I ask.  She nods her head as she sucks her two fingers.  Harder than you thought, isn’t it?  She nods her head more vigorously.  But, she says, it is so worth it.  I know, I say, and it will get better if you are prepared to work your ass off.  I fall asleep while we are watching reruns of NCIS, she nudges me awake, come on Momma, she says.  Do you want to drive your car home, I ask her, as she gets in the car I have not owned long, but is now hers, minus, for the moment, the title and registration.  Yeah, I do, she says.  I feel butterflies in my stomach, as I realize that I am still being the fearful mom, but she has got the driving thing down.  It is my tension, not her maturity that is the problem in this moment.  Its a good car I tell her.  It is a grown up car she says, I see now the truck wasn’t a grown up car, but this car, is a car for a grown up.

I am so very grateful for this child, though she is now an adult, most of the time, she has brought me so much joy, so much worry, so much love, so much angst.

It is late, but I started to straighten the house as we watched TV together, folding blankets, sorting junk mail from bills, organizing my side table, preparing the dishes to be washed.  I come into the dark quiet house.  I notice how the house looks better day by day, than it did when I moved in. The gorgeous hardwood floors hidden under a horrible cream Berber carpet.  The organized area where the shoes were, the cheap cruddy looking throw rugs gone, the kitchen de-cluttered, and more open, my belongings scattered throughout the house, in spots here, and there.  I wash the dishes, clean the bit of pie off the bottom of the new oven, note the work to be done, the rugs in the kitchen need a wipe down, the wallpaper torn off and a pale blue wall added, the out dated light fixture moved to the middle and replaced with something a bit more modern, simple fixes.  Small steps.

For this house, which I live in, for all intents and purposes, for free, I cannot even tell you how unimaginably thankful I am, for the halved work, for the beautiful space to paint in, sunny, airy, open and the warmth of a wood stove to make it a four season room, for the deer that are in the yard, for the hot tub, for the bird feeders in the lawn, that he loves as much as I, for the herbs and vegetables he has planted, for the sanctuary of my own room, for the slate rock patio, for the sunny front steps, that cured a recent bout of the stomach flu, 36 hours into it (first time I have been viral sick with more than just a cold in literally four years), for his willingness to help me make it the kind of home I want to live in, though it takes a great deal of dragging, for all of this…I am humbled.  So grateful.

And for the love of my family, my friends, my Mom, whose birthday was today, for my students, and the cats, and their conditional love and occasional affection, I am full of gratitude.

And there is that feeling, as I clean up my room, organizing my jewelry, I stop and notice it.  What is that?  I ask.  I notice it, this ordeal, I think, has been divine in its making.  Long did I think it in the dark hours, with all the weird things, the odd coincidences,  divine.  I have hated it, and I was destroyed by it, but it had to be, didn’t it?  Divine?  And as the things happen, as I get further and further away from it, it feels divine.  As I sit, at a desk, waiting for my new vehicle to be prepared, this song comes on, and I stop, I listen to every word of it.  I cannot believe that only a few months before he left me, he played this song for me, sending it to me by phone, from the concert we were watching.  I listen to it, for the first time, with a kind of passive acknowledgment, why would this be playing, here, now, when I realized this morning, that this is perhaps one of the last steps in the letting go of what I had lost.  I am grateful for the gifts of things I wouldn’t have without it.  And there are good things I carried out of it, for sure, but the greatest gift of all, is how much better my life has become with the after.

In the cool night air, I stand, same place I stood as the sun was rising, and I look up to a blanket of stars, and there, staring me in the face is the constellation Orion.  I thought I was free from it here.  But I see, it will never be wholly gone.

It is like the act of cooking, it is the process, the act of being whole and present, and putting your self into each moment.  They say I am a good cook, but it is the love of the act that makes it so.  The wholesome ingredients, the small bits of knowledge, the years of experience, the immense failures taken as lessons, the lack of attention resulting in burned ruins, the pleasure of sharing the meal, and of partaking in a meal alone.

For this life, I am grateful, deeply, profoundly.

Thank you for destroying me, because by that act, you have made me whole.

I loved you, I love you still, and I always will.

I am sorry I was hateful and so terribly angry when you left, see what happened was, that I made the mistake of following you, into the dark.

For the path I made out of this darkness, I am so very grateful.  For this new life, of my creation, I am so very grateful.

The fire here, is set on simmer, and the meal promises to be good.

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” ~ Rumi

Snail Shell, or “Life Continues – Profoundly, Beautifully”
Cooking · Eating Locally · Healthy Eating · Recipes

Two Fine Recipes

The pirate and I didn’t make it to the Farmers Market this weekend since it is hunting season and he, instead was finding food from another source altogether.  We decided while we were out running afternoon errands to go to Wegmans, perhaps the biggest and best store in the area.  There was a woman there sampling sausages of all kinds and they were phenomenal.  I bought a lovely smokey chorizo and then came home and made dirty rice.  I was unhappy with the finished product, but the pirate added his touch and viola.   Put two intelligent heads together and here is the recipe:

Dirty Rice ala Pirate and Wench

saute two medium onions, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, three stalks of celery and a green pepper on low heat until soft and translucent.  Push to the outside edges of the pot and add a package of sliced chorizo sausage, brown lightly.  Stir in altogether add two cups of rice (I used Goya medium grain rice which I absolutely cannot stand but that was somehow the only kind we had in the house) and 4 cups of water and your favorite Cajun seasoning.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to lowest setting and simmer til the rice is done.  Add one 8 oz jar of salsa to your taste (we used medium) and also optional a hearty squeeze of Sriacha sauce for extra spice.  mmm

I made my favorite lentil stew for dinner last night.  A meal I love but is not and has not ever been anyone else favorite.  So unless you adore lentils don’t bother.  BTW the pirate didn’t love it, but he liked it enough to have a second bowl.

No Fat Lentil Soup

add one and a half cups of green lentils to a stock pot and put in about 10 cups of water.  chop one onion into large chunks and add 6 whole cloves of garlic.  simmer for about a half hour.  add two large carrots cut into chunks, add one parsnip cut into chunks (opt) and two large potatoes and several stems of fresh thyme.  simmer on medium low stirring frequently until the veggies are soft.  add about six large mushrooms sliced, a half a head of broccoli chopped (you can add the harder stems when you put in the carrots and potatoes)  and about four ounces of tamari sauce.   Remove the thyme stems.  Simmer about ten more minutes until the broccoli is cooked.    Warm, fat free, and rich in fiber and vitamins.  LOVE LOVE.

As a good wine must be kept in a good cask, so a wholesome body is the proper foundation for a well-appointed inner ground. ~Johannes Tauler 

Cooking · Eating Locally · Festivals

Crawfish Festival

The day was cold and cloudy, I got into the truck and immediately the pirate and his friend admonished me to get another jacket.  I declined and of course the pirate who is always prepared had at least two extra jackets in the back.  When we got to Clinton Square I had to admit it was chilly, but within one hour the sun had come out and we were all removing our sweaters and jackets.  This was year five of the festival, started to raise money for Katrina and for the gulf of Mexico, it has continued to raise money for Bernard’s Parish.  The pirate is so personable and open that literally everywhere we go he “has people” and this was no exception.  We walked up to the man who was running the boil and he shook hands and greeted him by name.  We were treated shortly by a handful of boiled shrimp.  I tried the jambalaya and the gumbo which were delicious.  Later I tried a crawfish, I am not a big fan of lobster, ever since I boiled one alive, oh not by dropping it in the already boiling water, but by putting him in a pot and cooking him alive, his tap dancing toes on the bottom of the pot was the first sign of my ignorant mistake.  I am a soft hearted thing and it was one of the last times I ever ate it.  Also lobster carries some memories of my Mom being rushed to the hospital in anaphylactic shock, that leaves me leery of it though I eat crab, scallops and shrimp with little fear.  I was not fond of the crawfish though either.  I really felt queasy about sucking out their brains, I know it was all mental so next time I will try more.  Cyrus, the man who ran the boil said that last year they had 1600 pounds of crawfish and had 400 pounds left over, this year they ran out by about 330 in the afternoon.  Now that the boil was ended they ran a special boil using the venison sausage and peanuts that the pirate brought and we also had access to boiled garlic bulbs and some of the spiciest most delicious mushrooms I have ever eaten.  We finished off the day with biegnets and coffee, the beignets taste kind of like a sweet fried biscuit, I suspect though that they were not nearly as good as the real New Orleans ones.  It was such a great day, we stayed until the end of the festival, as the sun was going down I was getting pretty cold and the free t-shirts we were given by the boilers were a great, and I used one over my clothes to warm up.  I had a pretty good sunburn, I thought the week in paradise would have set me with a base tan enough to not burn, but it did not quite cut it, you could even see the imprint of my disk shaped necklace on my chest.

Crawfish boil

Crawfish
Beignets and Coffee