I believe that the sentiment, “Life is too short to drink cheap wine” is a familiar one. I totally agree with its intention (whenever possible) and also with the corollary that decent wine does not have to be expensive to be enjoyed either. On that note, I have come to add a maxim of my own: “Life is too short to drink chamomile tea instead of something else.” Try as I may for an adult lifetime and more discards of half-finished cups than I am comfortable to admitting—I just don’t like the taste or get enough satisfaction out of it to appreciate its value. It’s possible that packaged chamomile tea has been crapified down too much into “good for you” marketing limpid bags. My grandmother used to brew real chamomile flowers into tea as a tonic for her children. Perhaps the real stuff is worth working with, however all the “sleepytime” marketing and promises just don’t pass muster for me. And the shame of it is that I love the word chamomile and will have to use it henceforth only in poetry or prose. I usually have a cuppa tea next to the computer as I write this around 3:00 AM nightly. Chamomile has been my go-to decaffeinated choice for its calming attributes.
This pandemic has taught me a lot about self-care: with true self-care, comfort and pleasure sometimes outweigh the promise or premise of (puportedly) healthier and healing. In other words, during a pandemic, comfort takes on its own healing modality. We all must judge this for ourselves, and unbridled hedonism does not eclipse healthy choices. Harmony of the two should not be overrated at this juncture.
So it is with some sadness and disappointment that I bid adieu to any more middle-of-the-night cups of chamomile, and while I’m at it, so too rose-hip tea. It is with great pleasure on the other hand, that I welcome back black pekoe (decaffeinated) into my swinging night life. I feel better already.
new haircut same face no more chamomile tea
Yesterday was a rather rough day. I learned that the insurance adjuster totaled my car, while watching out all morning for two workers from our internet provider who worked on restoring wifi and climbed poles during a tornado watch and torrential rains. My everlasting gratitude for their dedication and perseverance despite a tension headache that escalated with each weather report. I had to escort them in and out of the gated nursery (about 500′) to the phone box on the outside of the building (actually an old three-room chicken coop that served as the nursery sales and work rooms in better times). I had to change out of three pairs of soaked jeans.
So I turned as I usually due to cooking and chopping while responding to and monitoring the men on the telephone poles, talking to the insurance representatives and a car dealer. I managed to make an old rustic Italian favorite—pasta fagoli or pasta and with ceci (chickpeas) in a garlicy tomato and basil broth.
When the tornado warnings became more localized, I decide to attack the flourless chocolate cake in my refrigerator that I did not get to eat for Easter dessert due to other circumstances beyond my control. And as a “friend” reminded me—I would have a much greater chance of staying grounded in a tornado if I was that much heavier. I also wanted my last meal (if indeed the case) to include pasta and finish with velvety chocolate.
Luckily for me, I am still here to share today’s blog, heavier but happier that I decided to live in the moment and screw the extra calories.
chocolate on my tongue bittersweet
Yesterday tears streamed. Grief for families, and a daughter in particular, who had to say goodbye to a parent dying from covid-19. Due to hospital visiting restrictions as well as long distance travel problems, the afflicted spend their last days and hours without the support of close loved ones. It’s heartbreaking because we see in each situation a part of ourselves, our own fears and our own tenderness.
Speaking of tenderness, love rivers its own course. Nurses now stand in for absent family members and tend to the spirit of those dying and to family who can not be present. Thus new families are birthed through this separation, grief and its attendant ministering of love and sharing. During this pandemic isolation, we are physically separate, and yet we are all the more connected on so many levels and as-yet-to-be imagined emanations. Covid-19 has been termed a novel (corona) virus. Viruses spread affliction yes, however they also spread affection.
I start chopping
another goodbye on the horizon coyotes howl
On Saturday I made pizza for the first time in thirty years! I made the dough from scratch—it only takes four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt with added optional dried rosemary from last year’s garden for a savory touch. I rolled out the dough on my green linoleum farmhouse countertop and stretched the clingy mass into abstract shapes in well-worn rectangular cookie tins. Voila, about four hours and much-flour-on-the-floor later—Grandma’s pizza or as we called it back in the day—tomato pie. Grandma and mom were there with me with the same remarks from the other side (in my head) as when they were here in the flesh. “More oil, shred the mozzarella—don’t cut it, and why are you using American-made tomatoes? Use the good ones in the cans from Italy.” I finally had to ask them to butt out and leave it to me. “I can do this.” That’s what happens when you come from a long line of matriarchs who are home-grown kitchen chefs.
Why did I have to wait to be sequestered to give myself permission to make pizza, when in reality (as we knew it to be), I could easily have done it on any given Saturday (barring spring and summer—my busy gardening seasons)? There is something about having no option to go outside my house (this also happens during blizzards but not hurricanes) when I give myself permission to cook or bake something special. There is also comfort in recalling simple pleasures and tasks.
This quarantine allowed me to explore an age old tradition and reconnect with my mom and grandma kneading and stretching dough in their kitchens. They also lived through the duress of a great depression, world wars, rationing and shortages. I absolutely know what they would say to me: “Buck up—you can do this!” The pizza-making brought me back to my youth, their culinary magic, grit and fortitude. I will do this again. Time is relative. Too often though, it is lost in busyness.
kneading time into dough
the rise and stretch
hand to hand
I am taking great comfort in all the small and creative ways people are reaching out to each other and connecting. I learned that friends and families are staying connected through virtual dinner parties where everyone is making the same food/dishes in their own homes and sitting down together virtually and at the same time to share the meal. How amazing is that?!? I too have been part of a virtual happy hour where we were all texting and sharing our individual concoctions (it’s a very creative cocktail and appetizer crowd on any given day, viral isolation or not) complete with laughter, jokes and photos.
Artists, musicians, readers, puzzle-enthusiasts and countless others are connecting and challenging each other while fostering creative solutions to what otherwise could be dire circumstances. i’m not downplaying the real hardships here—simply pointing out some healthy responses to this novel infection. “Out of chaos comes creativity.”
the boisterous clink of glasses
resounds via text
Filed under #NJ Drivers Who:
Drive like maniacs barreling down rural roads on a Sunday morning in a low-slung car with a monster wake-the-dead-probably-not-a-faulty-carburetor roar during a pandemic with no one else around to pass or impress.
I heard the dude (yes I’m calling the person inside the car a dude and not a dudette, because for a brief NJ moment, we can dispense with the political/gender fluidity correctness), coming from far away. I was walking in from the field (on 20 acres) toward my house when I first heard the low rumble that eventually swells and vibrates loud enough to scare birds from their nests. Since I was hearing this come from a mile or more away, and because I had nothing better to do, I directed my attention to the road to see if it was motorcycle or a truck. It was neither. It was a sports-type car, and he was speeding at about 50 mph on a road posted for 30 mph. Really??? During an otherwise quiet-everyone-off-streets-global pandemic? Speed and sound—I know it thrills and chills, but this is not the Daytona Speedway or anything near it.
In the end, I had to give this guy credit. He was just being his true self, and no viral or other crisis was going to slow him down. He was staying totally in character, and there is something to be said about making room and not judging (too harshly anyway) his chosen modus operandi. Except for being filed under “Obnoxious NJ Drivers” he was breaking no laws and probably just letting off steam as best he knew how. Who actually knows what lies ahead when he turns the next corner? Or for any of us really.
breaking the silence
by not braking the rules
The saying goes “You don’t really miss what you have till it’s gone.” And so it shows ever so acutely and painfully in a global pandemic.
HOWEVER, to be perfectly honest, heavy rush hour traffic and with it—rude drivers is one of those things that is up for debate with this philosophy of missing what is now gone, at least here in New Jersey. Yes, yes, yes —it is far better to be annoyed by rude and too-many-cars-on-the-road than deal with the Corona virus—I get it, lest it be said that I am being insensitive here. Again though—a big HOWEVER or loophole in the “wishing things could go back to the way they were” is NJ road congestion and aggravation. Even today, with traffic down by 90 %, one a#*-hole had to speed between lanes and the few cars bunched up starting out at a light. WTF?
If I am being honest by blogging about gratitude during a viral pandemic, and most of it is going to be more on the lofty-let’s-take-the-higher-road (sic)-approach to handling this mess, there has to be some “let’s down and dirty” truism as well, at least on my part. I am grateful for less of the rude and crude drivers now staying off the road in the Great Garden State of the Third-Finger-Salute-crowd. And unfortunately the return of these drivers will probably be one of the quickest rebounds to pre-Corona days when this is all over.
red up ahead on the road the flash of a fox crossing the yellow line
Apple-ginger-cinnamon-lemon tea with a touch of honey. Who knew it would taste and smell so wonderful and be so soothing and healing as well? Certainly not moi. It is but one recipe, idea, suggestion that is circulating/shared as virally as this novel corona virus. Another sharing: how to freeze fresh vegetables—it’s all out there. Who knew?
Restaurants in my town are now shuttered for on-site dining or even snacking. So these same business owners as well as crafting stores etc, are offering curb-side pick-up and some novel delivery.
We are creative creatures and as humans that is our main saving grace. “Out of chaos comes creativity” —a sign that hangs on a friend’s studio door. As uncomfortable as chaos, uncertainty and the unknown are to our lifestyle—it is the pathway and process to healing and growth.
I made a big batch of this tea and will gratefully sip it throughout the day—in much smaller cupfuls than I am used to. But that’s another story/gratitude for another day—changing habits for the better in the long run.
until your song
a brown edge
ag ~ (haiku from February 2016)
contrails and foxtails
a wispy wave
to the morning
It’s the last day of February, 2019, and the ending to my practice of writing at least one haiku per day for National Haiku Writers Month–always February. I missed only a couple of days including yesterday. The practice of writing a daily haiku is more of an exercise in taking a closer look at moments that often get ignored or diluted in busy-ness. It’s also a great practice in articulating and editing just enough to give these moments breath and respect. For all of this and more–I am grateful.
beginnings and endings
false starts and fine finishes
always in the editing
January is coming to a close and with it my mindful writing posts for 2019. I have not focused too much writing about my visual art mainly because I feel (the operative word here) that I’m in a slump sorts. It is the black vortex that all artists face, sometimes after a particularly productive period and sometimes not. It is the most difficult aspect (for me) to deal with: an uninspired, I don’t know what I want to paint, unchallenging and utterly bored/boring bump in the road. During these drought-like periods, painting often feels like a chore and production does not stop altogether, however the output or finished piece is not exciting to the artist. Pablo Picasso famously stated:
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
And so we do work and plow through these lulls which can last for weeks/months and sometimes for years. Every artist in every genre who is truly a creator, explorer and seeking to grow her/his artistry must work their way through the dull-as-a-dishwasher cycles to breakthroughs. For a fledgling artist this can feel like a first crushing heartbreak and that feeling of “oh no–not again” for the veteran creator. It’s not something you ever imagine could happen when you first fall in love with your vision/passion, and you never want, expect or prepare to end. But end it does bringing with the angst–necessary change for greater creative growth and a deeper more nuanced love. Inspiration is another archetype that walks along side us often at her own quirky pace. She must also find you hungry and willing to surrender to her fire.
The painting below seems to have evolved on its own. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m guessing my fiery muse had something to do with it.
until my brush sneaks past me
lost in the paint