Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The gods really are crazy

I might just be stubborn.

I've refused to believe it, though evidence exists. But I'm slowly accepting this possibility, which I think goes to show that I'm really not THAT stubborn. I'll acquiesce to the accusations, a little, just to prove them wrong.

Yesterday, that bull-headed trait really wreaked some havoc. And I haven't cleaned it up yet.

All I really wanted was a catalyst, like a meteorite, or something else surprising. Out here, alone mostly, on five acres, in another new town, nothing happens. Unless I force it to. The girl wants some excitement, and she wants it to originate someplace else, that way, it's actually exciting and surprising, instead of inevitable and predictable, because she predicted it. I want Ed McMahon to drive up with a foam core check, even though I never filled out the sweepstakes forms. I want to win the lottery without buying a ticket. I want you to drop by, without an invitation.

But alas, everything out here is my idea, my doing, my choice, my own volition. God-like, yes I am. But it's boring too. Now I know what the gods must have felt when they slapped together some humankind: "It's boring. Nothing interesting ever happens around here. Unless I do it and even if I don't do it, I know it's happening. You know what we need? We need to make something over which we will have no control, and every second of the day, we'll never know what it will do next."
"Oooh! Great idea, Omniscient Igor!"
"Look what I just slapped together, my omnipotent Bertha!"
"Let's give it some free will and watch it gogo!"
"WEEEE! that's funny!"
"Oh crap... not cool little dudes, not cool."

And that was me in my kitchen yesterday. Bored, I tackled no less than three disasters at once, each one a proven prior failure. I charged head-on into disaster out of sheer boredom. And it sucked, as predicted.
Half the ingredients were substitutes.
I've never had one bun of success with yeast, and yet, I dove into dinner rolls with absurd abandon.
I miscarried yogurt, and I'll never know why.
And I ruined a perfectly good quiche by messing up the crust with an experimental flour. The CRUST people! As the name suggests, it's not that hard. It's crust. Crust happens. I've never effed up crust.

Why did I undertake these obviously ill-fated fiascos? Because I was bored. Because I am the god of my kitchen. And I think that's what happened to them too. They rolled out this human dough even as they stubbornly knew, "Now THIS is going to be a disaster."

Late and muddy, my Catalyst came home from work, mixed up some hot buttered rum
(which actually turned out, the jerk) and served it to his failed, deflated goddess. But rum and I...mmm... let's just say that rum doesn't perk me up. I don't even know why I have it... except for Huck also makes really great rum caramel sauce for things like apple pies and pumpkin pies, which he's been successfully rolling out ever few days, the ass.

Eventually Blue noted, "Mom, that's some seriously negative self talk." As an example, I clearly stink. But as a didactic teacher, I seem to be getting some where with my kids.

"I just don't get micro-organisms and bacteria, I guess. I even used thermometers this time."

They're so subtle, those living micro-scopic cultures. And yet they seem so easy. It's like failing at Chia-pets. Everyone can make bread. But me. It's the basic staff of life. After 15 years of trying, I still can't even make a single bun of life. People say to me: Oh! you should make bread! And I usually say, Actually, I prefer to support others for whom that is a successful passion. When I say that, I feel that my failures are actually blessings upon micro-economies.

Huck said, "I think this is an improvement. They're actually sort of edible, if they're hot, with enough butter....and honey."
"I made a dozen rocks for dinner, don't sugar coat it."
"I ate one!"
"That's not a compliment." The man eats everything, anything.

I can't get it going on here, despite that fact that we are all positively swimming in a sea of catalysts. Every day we walk through an invisible fog of catalysts: bacteria, yeasts, molds, micro-organisms yet unnamed and undiscovered. We are continually bathed in catalysts. Nothing -no change, no growth, no life even- happens without them. They make me live and they'll devour my death. And I cannot control them. I cannot tame them. Just like the gods and their little catalysts, us.

Maybe I am my own best instigator, but you could never infer that from what I messed up yesterday. It wasn't boring at least. Mission partially accomplished, I suppose.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ode to a Night Out

I'll never forget where I was when Huck proposed we go see Bright Star, the understated, smoldering film about Keats and his muse. I was on the toilet, my favorite one. And I nearly fell off at his suggestion.

I read the reviews. I ached and pined like Fanny herself to see it. But I didn't even mention it. Huck's hissing and spitting hatred of poetry is epic, steadfast and unwavering. It was hopeless, I knew. His poetical loathing probably accounts for some percentage of the reason I married him (probably less of a percentage than having his 5 month old baby (as I may have mentioned here before) but a percentage none-the-less because I have learned well and thoroughly a distrust of poets, especially male ones. Love the poem; pass on the poet). So a poetry-despiser seemed like good odds in my mate-hunting favor.

But Huck's hatred of poetry suffered a crack recently. We loved the film The Motorcycle Diaries. LOVED IT! The both of us. In this film, Pablo Neruda is quoted extensively. And a few days later, as fate would have it, I decided to finish unpacking my office.

I've been 1/2 unpacked since June. Another 1/2 of my books and office gear languished in piles and boxes. And the previous half of my volumes were donated, discarded and sold during "The Ordeal of Sarajoy, June 2008 through May 2009." (I do have to specify the dates because I've had some number of ORDEALS).
Anyway, Huck was stretching nearby when I un-crated a translation of Neruda's called Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. Curiosity pre-piqued by Che, Huck actually took the volume in hand and began to read "Ode to the Onion." And he hasn't looked back.

This is probably THE WARNING SIGN NUMERO UNO. Alarms should be clanging. Red lights should be flashing. From greasy dock worker to poetry loving dandy with fabulous taste in shoes and a passion for Neruda! YIKES! But me being me, I find it charming anyway. Life on the edge!

Bright Star, if you need to know, rocked. The love rocked. The costumes rocked. Fanny reminded me of our Wenatchee babysitter, in that she was a talented young seamstress who also sewed almost all her own clothes. The period was not quite spot-on with a few 21st century mannerisms and I swear there was a banister in there from the 1910's. But nothing as historically wicked and barf inducing as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Ipecac of Cathode-Ray-Tube.

We viewed Bright Star at the tiny artsy theater named The Magic Lantern: cute!

The date was facilitated by another visit from my grandkid-obsessed parents: THANK YOU!!

And we never puked up our dinner. It's like a first date, or a date of firsts. Awesome movie, not followed by food poisoning. I just don't know what to expect next from this crazy life!

photos are of our wedding and part of my new office

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Alphabet-man mock-up

Top Ten Signs You Might be a Bored Housewife

10) You'd actually consider an affair with Bob the Builder. He's so cute in those over-all and hard hat. He's so nice to Wendy! And since he landed the contract for Sunflower Valley, he's Eco too!

9) "A barrel of monkeys" is no longer a euphemism for fun, but is realistically a stupid Christmas gift played with for five minutes picked up for several years.

8) You dream neither in black and white, nor in color, but in cotton balls, paper plates, glue, and popsicle sticks.

7) Soap operas are so 80's. They're called blogs now.

6) Quiet time is reading a book on a lounge chair (while children roll all over you, mewling about boredom).

5) When your husband comes home, you actually ask him how his day went just so you can hear someone speak clearly in a well moderated tone of voice.

4) Even if they are just bills, you love getting the mail. It's your big adventure of the day: sneaking all the way to the end of the drive way, crossing the street, and opening a secret compartment where the secret car with the official light on top drops you secret messages. So thrilling.

3) The last person who cried out your name during sex was not even in the room with you, but was down the hall and needed a glass of milk.

2) You would actually blog about the top ten qualifications you have for the job of "bored housewife".

1) Ten? I'd rather go do the dishes…

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Studious Mother

"Kids teach us so much." The jumbo parent cliche.
I don't even know what people mean when they say that.

But I have discovered, like a new world, at least 1000 ways my kids teach me. Most importantly, I learned that "Remember when we had a dog and we tied him to a fish with a wee-cock?" (Blue around the time she turned two) actually means "I'd like a dog to walk on a leash, and I'd also like a peacock."

I've also learned, or rather come to the surprising place in my life where the opportunity has presented itself to note: Cauliflower is not for standing on.

In addition, I've learned much about myself, such as how my voice sounds and the skin around my eyes bag when I've been awoken in the middle of the night to change sheets or hold a bucket at the precise projectile distance.

I've actually learned that Blue's constant use of the word actually, actually comes from me!

I've learned that some piano teachers really stink.

But here's what I've REALLY learned. The first time I learned it, I was on the bus cruising through Seattle's tiny Chinatown. I was anxious about: school, money, being pregnant with some dude's baby and I barely knew him, having to deal with everyone else's responses to being a knocked up adolescent (okay, I was 25, but I looked 16 and that's how people treated me and now I have a lifetime of empathy for any teen who gets knocked up) and then dealing with a different set of opinions when I chose to have the baby, not to mention having to deal with my own tangle of emotions while having to make crucial decisions in which the entire world seemed to be claiming a stake.

So... where was I? Oh yes, I was on the bus. And I was stressed. And I could feel it in my gut. And I had just read that fetuses get emotion related hormones out of their mama's blood stream. So this baby was feeling anxious for no reason that it could figure out. And I thought to myself, "Self, why should this Being carry your anxiety? Let's give it a rest, a peaceful place to grow without imported anxiety hormones." And then I thought, "Wow, I guess this is sort of love, the responsibility love, the caring-for-another love." And then I thought, "Self, if being riddled with anxiety and stress are good enough for you, why should your baby have it any better? An early dose of anxiety will actually acclimate it perfectly to modern life. So, go ahead, wind your stomach into a ball, chew your nails and hyperventilate, enjoy it. Why deny yourself just cuz your preggers?"

Okay, not really. The question was actually, "Why wouldn't you want peace for yourself? You don't need a fetus en utero to give yourself a break. Love yourself! Live in peace, grow in confidence and safety! Self, let go of your anxiety for your own sake AND the baby's!"

And that is how I began to care for myself. What I want for my children, why is that too good for me?

My son can be a basket case. He's fairly happy-go-lucky, but once he starts wailing, it's anyone's guess as to what decade he might stop. He's done this since birth. The first 6 months, he spent almost every waking hour in the bath, which was the only place he would stop crying. That, and whenever I shoved a mouthful of boob at him. When he was three, he cried for most of an afternoon. After he cried himself to sleep, the neighbor lady scuttled over and proclaimed, "Wow! That was intense!" In worse moments, I've told him to get a grip on his emotions, (okay, loudly told him to get a grip), that it was necessary for his sanity and mine. Of course, he's only 5, where would he have pulled those skills from?

These tears wear out a mother and worry her. So I ordered the book, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. It's in line with the rest of my parenting library: How to Talk so Kids Can Listen and Listen so Kids Can Talk, Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, Non-Violent Communication, Playful Parenting, etc.

If you ascribe to the ideas proposed in these volumes, you will endure shock from the authoritarian set. Shock, ridicule and annoyance. You will also note that these tools are effective some of the time, but not all of it, which will leave you feeling like a total idiot when they don't work in front of your authoritarian friends (and that is the only reliable time they won't work).

The gist of Emotional Intelligence is the refrain: you can feel whatever you want, you just can't act however you want. This isn't news to our family, but I recently adopted it as a mantra.

I was uncomfortable with Coyote's depths of despair. I was unhappy with his anger, his sadness, his whatever crappy emotion: what if he gets stuck this way! like a bad face, or crossed-eyes. I took it personally too: instead of "WAAWAAWAA!" I heard, "You're a shitty mom and if you were any good at this job you would have fixed the problem before I even noticed it!! WAAA!" I mentioned this translation at a party and all the moms stopped and stared at me. I thought, yeah I just hit the nail on the head. Au contrair! One mom ventured in to the silence and said, "No, Sarajoy, they're just crying cuz they're babies." Well, maybe they could just SAY SO next time! Sheesh!

Anyway my prior attempts to coax, cajole, or sooth him out of it were more about fixing the problem and my problem with it, than about genuinely understanding him. And I'm going to say to you now, that I am really happy with the way this is going. Coyote is fussing a little less, but I DON'T CARE! I mean, I care that he's unhappy, but it doesn't get under my skin any more because it's okay for him to feel unhappy!

And there's more! I'm singing the same song to myself. Dear Sarajoy, it's okay to feel whatever you feel. You don't have to fix it. You're not going to get stuck in it. It's okay. And the more I say it to the kids, the more I say it to myself, the more I feel it. In my frustration, in my anger, in my PTSD from this past year, I'm fine. I'm even sort of happy when I'm sad because I don't feel this pressure to put a pink ribbon on every teardrop and find the f-ing cure already. We're not broken and I we don't need fixing. We've got feelings and they are fine.

And that is what my difficult child has taught me these past few weeks. Like a Buddhist, I am grateful for my adversary...er child.

Also: happy lame birthday to me! I'm 34 and so much more... At least I'm not in the hospital this year (barfing, 4 bags of fluids and still didn't pee for 2 days), nor am I visualizing starvation like last year. I just bought a cream cheese, huckleberry danish at the farmer's market (where I bought mostly potatoes and squash and my tongue kind of curled up inside it's hovel and said "I'm soooo not ready for my winter palate!") and now I'm going to take a bath with a good book that I just bought at Auntie's. I picked out a couple Pulitzer winners because, you know, those people have really good taste, I've noticed. For dinner, I was dreaming of my favorite caramelized onion tarte, but now I'm liking the idea of take-out pizza and no dirty dishes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

2009 Winner of the Nobel Prize for Miniture Disasters

1) Hendrika kicked the bucket. Hoof: really shitty. Gallon of milk: vanished into a fresh pile. Just getting a head start on the theme for the day.

2) Promised kids pancakes for breakfast. No pancake mix. The time calculations relied on the minute-shaving mix. But I figure pancake mix is over-rated and we were just finishing a bag from a camping trip. It's mildly more convenient. So it was buckwheat from scratch. I'm still unruffled.

3) Half way into pancakes I find, or rather don't find, that we lack maple syrup. I whip up strawberry syrup with our frozen summer strawberries. I remain un-peeved.

4) Huck and I begin a very heated discussion involving left-overs of all things.

5) Coyote is screaming at the CD player, trying to make it go. Finally Reggae for Kids blares.

6) Dishwasher starts hemorrhaging all over the floor. I slip across the wet tiles while the pancakes burn. "Mommy! Mine's crunchy!!" and "Three Little Birds" shout through the dining room.

7) A container of rice falls and cracks. And so do I. In my frustration, I pick up the container and hurl it down the basement stairs. (It's a genetic disorder that is never aimed at people.) And "children don't worry 'bout a thing" blares in the corner.

8) Blue is late for the bus. "Every little thing is gonna be all right."

9) Huck is late for work. "Smiled at the rising sun" repeats until I finally shut it off.

10) Coyote and I spend most of the morning chasing down rice before the mice find out about it. And I spend the rest of the day washing dishes by hand.

We all have these mornings. And this was mine.

Now I'm headed for a ladies night out with a bunch of strangers. Happy they thought to invite me, my husband's coworkers. But I miss my old friends, the one's I could be myself with and they wouldn't get scared and run away. And now I'm wishing I'd been the one to kick the bucket, fall down the stairs, crack and hemorrhage this morning. At least I would have a great excuse to not meet anyone new.

But at midnight tonight, I fully expect the bells to toll and to find myself again, a princess at home in a simple, manageable, friendly world with no accidents waiting to happen. That's not a fairy tale, right?

Right.

Just humor me, please.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The New IT child

One minute, you're hunting down a piano teacher, the next you're contemplating the meaning of life and our places in it.

Outfitted with a list of possibilities put together by Blue's last piano teacher, I have been phone calling around town.

The first one seems mentally unbalanced, which is fine as far as personal friends go, but not what I'm looking for in a piano teacher.

The fourth one didn't call me back for a whole week. Until today and this is what transgressed:

"How did you hear about me?"
"My daughter's old teacher (a professor at WSU's Piano Pedagogy School) gave me a list of people she'd recommend in Spokane."
"Did she take lessons from one of the student teachers?" You could hear the woman's nose wrinkling already.
"No, she did the group lessons with the head instructor." This was WAY cheaper and group lesson have an added bonus for social learners such as Blue.
"Oh... well let me tell you about my program. I only teach Spokane's higher end students, I mean, Upper End. (Like cars and purses?) I have high expectations of my students. I don't think we will likely be a good match. But just to give you some idea:" the woman's voice was straight out of Disney Villain-ess school. "My students are highly driven. I have a very demanding curriculum that is very competitive and performance driven. My students are career oriented and most become professional pianists. They're almost all Asian, you know."

I could barely refrain from laughing. Based on my admission of group lessons, this woman had concluded a variety of things about us and our family. I was not in a grovelling mood, nor do I ever expect to be. So I didn't tell her anything that might have changed her mind, should that mind have been expansive enough to do so. I try to keep Blue's life to herself, somewhat. She did excel at piano and was selected to perform for a certain composer who was visiting the school. She is blessed and cursed with an amazing brain, one that doesn't fit in with most third graders. In all of her math testing, they haven't found the upper limits of her abilities. She may come from an income challenged family, but she is by no means limited in any other way. The limitations we experience are usually in other people's very small minds, such as one, Ms. Miller, piano instructor to unbalanced over-achievers.

No, I could not grovel. I had already made up my mind that WE were too good for HER, in her current incarnation. Instead, suppressing giggles, I gave her an earful about the supreme value of mediocrity. This is my sermon-ette: I believe in the value of mediocrity, Ms. Miller. Our purpose in piano lessons is NOT to create a puppet for the wealthy to admire in concert. Our purpose is NOT to fabricate this small human into our wildest fantasy. She is her own purpose and her life is hers to live, alone, as she sees fit. Our only purpose in piano lessons is to expose her to musical thought so that she can, if SHE so chooses, pursue that path. Our purpose is to give her access to the width and breadth of the human experience and all it's joys and possibilities. Music is a deeply spiritual endeavor and I would never tether her experience of it to something as mundane and insane as "demanding curriculum." Certainly, we expect her to practice daily. But we don't push. We don't shove, not in this family. Playing piano in full, resplendent mediocrity is my highest hope for her. Perfectionism destroys the soul and creativity. We do our best, but never more than our best, for then something else, we can not predict what, suffers.

...but, would you be willing to recommend another teacher? One more suitable to our goals?

"I don't know how to put this," she sneered, "But I seriously would NOT be associated with a teacher that you would probably find to your liking. All the teachers I know expect the child to put some effort in to the lessons."


For a music teacher, Ms. Miller really can't hear. I was very clear that we expect her to practice nightly. I never said anything about NO EFFORT. Obviously, the woman herself needs some instruction: ALL or NOTHING are very rarely the only two options. It's dishonest, a lie, and it ratchets up the pressure to no good end.

I laughed. I told her what she already knew, that she was so very right, and that we would not be a good match at all.

I'm telling you this for several reasons, the first being that I think it's funny. The second is because this topic is very near and dear to my heart. I really believe that childhood is for being a child. For finding the joy in life. For developing our souls into things we can hear and understand. And a lot of studies back me up, not test scores, but studies of psychological health and happiness. And a robust emotional and psychological interior, which is best developed in freedom and free play, is the key to happiness, not some stressed-out achievement of perfection. A demanding curriculum and too much practice may make perfect. But not necessarily happy or healthy. "Show me a thoroughly satisfied man, and I will show you a failure," Thomas Edison once wrote. This is a common and thoroughly f-ed up thought process. And I don't buy it, but Ms. Miller seems to.

What is success? This is the question I want my children to ask themselves. Some among us fit with the greater culture's vision of success pretty well; some actually want what's placed before them, and such as being the greatest pianist the world has ever known. Others among us have an internal drummer who's way off the beat. And we've got to work hard to negotiate our true selves with the real world in which we've been plopped.

For myself, success is a fairly consistent happiness that I expect to go away in times of grief or trial, and expect to return to me in times of relative calm. I've found much of that... not entirely, but much of it is here. Unfortunately, nothing in which I find happiness would I ever do for money: my elaborate meals, my cows, my chickens, my gardens, my children. None of it would I enjoy as a W-2 style job. Usually they say a job you love is one you would do for free. But I've found a job I love which you couldn't pay me to do. Not that I think childcare, chefdom, or farmer are sneer-able occupations, they simply aren't where my earning joy lies. I don't yet know where my earn-ability joys lie, but I'm on the scent.

And so.. all that to say that a week delayed return phone call (now don't lecture ME about perfectionism if YOU can't return phone calls in a timely manner!) got me reviewing some core values. I couldn't help but share.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicken Soup for Coyotes

It's 11 am and I don't know where my chickens are.

Until recently, they have been about as complex to own and care for as feather pillows. And then I decided to free range them and that has created issues they don't mention in the books and advice columns. On the back porch, I stepped in one such issue in my socks. The other issue is with our King Louis. That avian-eating feline had opportunities to disembowel them when they were but handfuls of fluff, and yet he valiantly refrained because he knew they were pets. Now he's cowering at the bottom of the pecking order. I found all five chickens cornering him and closing in! I gave them to the count of five to stop because that is simply not allowed. King Louis is top dog around here. Don't mess with him or your ass is mine. I will EAT chicken, if that's what it comes to!

Otherwise, the girls are absurdly easy.

But when the forecast was for 20 degrees in the Fahrenheit, I began to fret. We went from 90 to 20 in three days. I don't know how they're handling it, but I'm a mess. The thermostat won't let me go higher than 66. Yes, I know, that is HIGH. But I was wearing flip flops and a bikini top just three days ago and I need a minute to acclimate! After yesterday, when my fingers turned numb typing, I acquired an office heater that is right this minute toasting my footsies to a perfect golden brown.

Anyway...I nothing about chickens and winter is very clear. They say that full grown chickens only need a little shelter down to 0 degrees and any lower than that and they're screwed. But my chickens aren't exactly full grown... so what does that mean? I decided that it meant I needed to move their coop from the dog run to the barn. I'd seen old etchings with chickens and cows and milkmaids gleefully frolicking all together in a barn. So I'm guessing it works... old art can't be wrong, right?

We shuffled the coop to the barn. But the girls did not follow. Huck and I spent the greater part of our evening chasing them down to send them to their room. You'll note I have an historic and well founded chicken phobia. So this was not my favorite activity. In fact, honest to god, I'd rather be washing dishes. At one point Huck said to me, "It'd be easier for you to actually catch one if you used your hands... instead of your feet." Yes, I had already figured on that, but thanks for pointing out the obvious.

After a night in the barn, I let them out, assuming they'd know it was their new home. But chickens have very tiny brains, we've noticed. In fact, it no longer surprises me that I was chased by a headless chicken as a child (see a previous post for full story!) because their heads are so small and so empty that it really seems unlikely that they are of much use. It is entirely possible that a chicken could live a long and probably happy life without one.

They spent the day under the porch. By evening, I was worried they'd fall asleep there, a place I could never get to them, but a coyote would find a buffet. Huck wasn't home. So I invited my own Coyote out with me. The moon was high. And that boy was full of energy. I could see his point: a child at a nighttime chicken rodeo.

My goal: catch all five and cage 'em in the barn. Bonus pressure: wild coyotes howling about a half mile away. The Buff Orpingtons were easy. Next time, I'd get all B.O.'s. They have the most agreeable personalities. The rest are a disaster. I locked them in the dog run until they fell asleep. Then the two Barred Plymouth Rocks were easy to catch. But the White Rock, she's a bitch. Priscilla is psycho. I don't know why I got a white one, as I'm pretty sure that's the one that chased me. Eventually she fell asleep behind the dog house and I had Coyote poke her with a stick until she stumbled out in what looked like a drunken stupor. I almost expected her to tell me how beautiful I was "no.. I mean... really... really... beautiful...and so nice too... you know girls... like my girlfriend... she... she's just... you know... knows she's beautiful... but you... I like you. You're reeeeeeealy nice... I like nice girls..." But she was just a sleepy chicken, not drunk. So much like kids, they just melt your heart when they're sleeping. So easy to love when they finally shut up and stop scratching at you.

I left them in the barn after the morning milking (in which I got nearly a full gallon, yes ma'am, with nary a kick!). But by the time I left to bring Coyote to his awesome and perfect Montessori school, they were out. No idea where.

And just as I was writing this, Huck reported that they are cuddled up with the cows! awww.

Speaking of cows, I just made a huge roll of Fromage Blanc and it was exceedingly tasty. Don't you wish you were here! We've eaten most of it on La Panzanella's Croccantini... and it pains me to buy the stuff as I worked for them for three years and received all of my focaccia, crusty Italian loaves, and croccantini for free. My boss was Ciro, the owner and "inventor" of the ultimate cheese tasting cracker. Paired with the cheese and crackers, we layered some very special tomatoes. These tomatoes were given to us as starts from our last land lord, a Sicilian with a passion (that's redundant!). He actually ordered the seeds from Italy. And those tomatoes tasted so beautiful, I almost wept. A summer sunset on my tongue.
And I wondered if this world is really a fallen place at all. Maybe paradise is not lost behind us, in a distant human history. Maybe paradise is in the palm of my hand. Not a collective memory, but a collective possibility. We know what the future holds for us, and it is a pepper cracker, fromage blanc and an old world tomato communion. Take. Eat. This we do, not in remembrance, but in our only moment. We take paradise into our mouths, ourselves, and we shall all thrive with a little Eden on the tip of our tongues.

"Listen, the only way to tempt happiness into your mind is by taking it into the body first," Mary Oliver, The Plum Trees.

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