This past summer, I had roughly a 40 hour period to
myself. Since having children, solitary time has been an endangered species. I’ve
gotten more of it as my lamblets have grown, but this past summer’s time was
unique. I was lakeside in Wisconsin,
was away from computers, to-do lists, any number of those normal distractions.
I had approx. 40 hours alone with my thoughts. Grizzled and the girls were up
with me, but were heading off to visit a friend’s place further north. Being
the chicken-shit I turn into after dark, I insisted he leave the dog. As I’ve
mentioned before, scary books and movies were a steady part of my entertainment
diet while growing up. It takes me about 2 seconds to imagine that small noise
I heard in the basement is really some scary creature come to life. Yes, I kept
the dog and probably slept with strategic lights on. I want to see the creature
that finally attacks me just so I have proof that all of this fear has been
But… aside from goblins and ghoulies and things
that go bump in the night, I had time to myself. I first plotted the best way
to spend this time. Do I pull out the sketchbook? Do I do nothing and laze in the
sun? I opted to finish the book and magazine I had brought with. I used to
blaze through magazines and books. I never had enough around. That was another
thing that went away after children. Losing myself in a book is now the
exception and not the rule. I miss it, but somehow, part of my brain keeps
telling me I need to be present. It keeps telling me I have other things to do.
I can now forget I even started a book. I have a stack (maybe 3) of books
beside my bed that have been started, but never finished. They are waiting, but
if enough time goes by, I’ll probably forget I ever started them in the first
During the 40 hours, however, I was going to finish
my book and I did. I forgot how much reading you can do when you have ABSOLUTELY
NO OTHER DISTRACTIONS! I blew through the book, blew through the magazine and
had at least 38 hours left… I needed another book. I looked around the house to
see what other people had left. The selection was at an all-time low. I was
reduced to choosing between some sappy romance thingie and Ruth Reichl’s, “Comfort
Me With Apples”. I had read, “Tender to the Bone” and had enjoyed it so this
seemed like a fine choice…. not too deep, not too sappy, not too, too. Ruth is
funny and she intersperses her books with wonderful recipes so in I went. I surfaced
about 5 hours later. Again, I had forgotten how fast you can read something
when there are absolutely no other distractions. I had killed off the last
piece of reading and was now left with my thoughts and instead of thinking about the raptors that live behind the furnace, this is where they took me.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had all been born with a
recipe card for our life? If you were meant to make a pot roast, you would have
been born with something that said, “Pot Roast” and a nice list of ingredients.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith, you are the proud parents of what is to be a splendid pot
roast!” Just think of all of the struggles, questions, quandaries you would do
away with if you knew you were supposed to be a pot roast. If you had by chance
been born into a Chicken Marsala family and they were giving you grief for not
fitting the Chicken Marsala mold, you could merely flash them your recipe card
and say, “See! I’m a POT ROAST!” They might still want you to be a Chicken
Marsala, but arguing would be pointless.
I was then thinking, would this take too much mystery
out of life? Would this make life too mundane, too boring? What if someone is
born with a recipe card that says, “Tuna Casserole”, but they decide they are
going to be Sashimi? No one should be stopped from setting their sights high and
if they feel like becoming Sashimi, then why should they be hindered by having Tuna
Casserole on their card? And maybe after they’ve become the best Sashimi they
can, then maybe in their golden years, they can use the leftovers for tuna casserole...
Okay, so then I was thinking, what if we were just
born with our list of ingredients? That list of ingredients of course being our
talents. Most people think talents are obvious, but what I have come to see during
my brief time here on planet Earth is that most people aren’t sure of them. They
think they know what they have. They think, they pray that they have all the makings of a grand
chocolate cake, but what if they’re missing baking powder? What then??? Wouldn’t
it just be nice to know for sure before strolling out your *chocolate cake*
only to be told you made *brownies*? I’m thinking it would be nice to know. You
could always alter your recipes, you could always choose not to make anything,
but just enjoy others, we do have free will, but I’m still thinking, it would be
nice to know. It would be nice to have a clue, to have a ingredient card sent along
with you when you start this voyage called life.
But then maybe the best or most interesting or
funniest recipes come from flying by the seat of your pants and making it work
no matter what your ingredients. Look at Ritz Mock Apple Pie! It’s apple pie
sans apples! Maybe you just need to make
whatever, to go for the gusto and to heck with what the Chicken Marsala’s of
the world are saying. I’d hate to think I had gotten to the end of my life and
had played it safe, and even though I had made wonderful brownies, had then
looked in my grocery sack and saw a huge can of unopened baking powder.
A surly, cranky, nasty mood has been shadowing me for the past few days even though nothing is really going wrong. I just keep hoping it moves on and finds a new host. I have been tempted many times to just let it rip right here... to just go for the gusto, but Grizzled keeps telling me, "Don't blog angry!" For as much as that pisses me off, he is generally correct on that front. He's the one with the fiery Italian blood surging through his system and yet I'm generally the one to blow a gasket and leave no survivors, so I will take his advice and will steer clear from posting icicles and daggers. I will not come back to the keyboard until I can play nice with the other kiddies.
Grizzled kept singing yesterday ala Koko Taylor. It got stuck in my head. I thought it would be gone today, but it's not. Oh well, I could think of worse things to think of and/or do... We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long!
Grandma showed up for a pre-dawn visit this morning. I thought I was sleeping, but I was not. I was not fully awake either. Grizzled got up at some God-forsaken hour and I was desperately trying to ignore the fact that movement was going on, that someone's day had started. I was not ready for mine to start... and then Grandma came and I was fully awake.
My grandmother has been visiting me off and on since she left this mortal coil back in the mid-80's. No, I don't see Grandma, I am just overwhelmed with the feeling of her and part of my brain registers her arrival before the thinking part. I had one instance like this where I was cleaning out the bathtub and I felt a touch on the neck. Did this startle me? No. What startled me was my response. I felt a touch and without thinking, without a second of delay, I heard myself say, "Oh hi, Grandma!" That freaked me out a tad.
Grandma came to visit after my first daughter was born. I was holding my babe and was walking back and forth when I felt a touch on my cheek. I stopped and smiled and was overwhelmed with the feeling of my grandmother. I was not surprised that she'd want to see my baby. I think she thought I'd never "settle down" let alone get around to having a child or two.
That same babe had a brush with Grandma when she was between 2 and 3. She told me she had felt something kiss her on the cheek while she was in bed. I told her it was probably me. I said I came in all the time and gave her late night smooches. She said it wasn't me, she knew what my kisses felt like and this was not my kiss. She said this was even softer. I suggested her perhaps she was dreaming or perhaps her blanket had brushed her face. No... she said, that wasn't it. She said she was awake and her blanket was no where near her face. She said this kiss felt like it went right through her. At that moment she looked at me and said she knew who it was! She said it was my grandmother. I told her I had two (two women I had not yet discussed with her). She then replied that it was my mother's mother. I wasn't surprised.
I have no firm beliefs on what happens when people leave their human form. I've always liked the Shakespeare quote from Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy." I would like to think that anything is possible.
This morning I felt the undeniable presence of my grandmother and after sitting down to the computer I see that today would have been her anniversary and tomorrow, her birthday, so I give a nod to Grandma and to those things we can't explain.
I had to break down and go grocery shopping today. I keep forgetting that my kids are now old enough to actually eat normal kid-sized portions and not toddler-sized portions anymore. They've been doing this for awhile. I'm not sure when it's finally going to click in my head and stay there, but today it was apparent that I needed to go to the store.
Some days I don't mind the store, on other days I could think of a million other things I'd rather be doing, but I went. I went to the store and the first thing I saw posted on the revolving door was a lovely sign that said:
"Don't miss our new meat clearance section!"
I thought I had misread. I knew they already had a small portion of refrigerated space for meat that had to be sold sooner instead of later.
Let me just say, this small section filled about all of my meat-clearance needs...
Okay, I'm probably a tad squeamish when it comes to meat anyhow. I prefer fresh, I prefer to follow those rules like cooking until it reaches an appropriate internal temperature. I don't use meat that no longer smells like meat no matter how often my father tells me that many great recipes were developed to cover the smell of meat gone bad. "Yes Dad, I know... Hungarian Chicken says to start with green chicken. Yes... I know what green chicken means...".
You are not going to find this person using green chicken let alone shopping for green chicken at my grocery store's newly opened MEAT CLEARANCE SECTION! Although a Loehmann's might be a wonderful place to buy designer duds for less, I don't think Loehmann's should open up a meat department selling last season's meat for less! And neither should my grocery store!
This should now be the part of the post where I describe exactly what the meat clearance section of my grocery store looked like, but I couldn't go... I couldn't do that. I was already certain that the clearance section was without refrigeration and I would just see shrink-wrapped slices of gray ham piled next to the unsold Valentine's candy. I have people in my house who like meat and I knew if I looked, they would never be served meat again.
I was working on something Saturday, a project that has been in my mind for a month or two. It was one of those times when you get an idea in your head and you know you will do it. You don't know when you will do it, but you know you will. You're not even worried about how. You know when you sit down and surrender to it, it will most likely come out looking like what was in your head or will satisfy the goal you had in your head. That is what happened Saturday. I didn't plan to work on this project, but rather, I just kind of started and the next thing I knew, a few hours had passed and it was completed and there I had before me, the physical representation of what was in my head. I also had a major adrenaline buzz going which is what usually happens when in this state.
I wish this happened all of the time when attempting something. No, not necessarily the buzz, but the trust, the surrender to the creative flow. I have had moments of this since I was a kid... moments where I would get an idea and would just start. I didn't plan, didn't research, but just started, and it would work. I have also had moments where I wanted to make something, create something and what came out was just horrible! It was no where near what I had wanted. I think at those times, it wasn't that I had overestimated what I was able to do, but rather, I lost trust. I doubted. Maybe I just need to do more, doubt less. It's worth a try if it gets me back into that wonderful flow I was in on Saturday. There's nothing like working on something that is working. You don't get tired, you are smiling and things turn out as they should. I'd like to bottle that if I could.
I'm in the middle of a bazillion things so I figured I'd just toss a painting up and call it a post. I did this about 7 years ago and I remember the exact motivation. I had been painting a lot of very monochromatic, linear pieces. They were requested of me and they were selling. It's hard to argue with money coming in the door, but I reeeeeally wanted COLOR! I wanted to paint something with as much color as I could get.
I covered my drawing table with the most rambunctious table cloth I had and put in as much stuff as I could think of. It's busy and has many flaws, but when I look at this, I see success. I see the day I once again discovered color.
morning as Grizzled and I were enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee, he was
telling me about his latest round of correspondence with our elected official.
He writes various elected officials at least twice a week and has been for some
time. Yes, our elected officials, you know, those people who are supposed to be
working for us, those people who are supposed to attempt to do the people’s
bidding. He said he sent off emails to our congressman, our senators, to the
new Speaker of the House… even Chuck
Schumer. He’s been adding Chuck to the list since Chuck keeps asking him for
more money. He tells Chuck he will not be sending more money until something is
actively done with the mess we are in now. He was asking them when they were going to start doing what they said they would be doing?
got us to talking about our taxes and how we really have no say in what they
are spent on. I have no problem with taxes. I realize roads need to be built
and maintained, schools need to be run whether I use them or not, people do need protection. Public
services need to be in place. I like public services so I have no problem
tossing some moola into the pot. What I do have a problem with is not really
having a say in where my tax dollar goes.
I know, I have a say at the election booth. I have exercised my right to vote
for as long as I could, missing only one city primary that I can recall. Here’s
my rub… there are actually people I voted for who got into office! So… if
people I voted for, because of what they said they were going to do, actually
got into office, shouldn’t they be doing what they said are at least attempting it??? THEY’RE NOT. And what is my
recourse? Wait until next election? Write a letter? So what? So the same thing can
are the people’s checks and balances? What action can we take once a person is
in office? And I don’t mean action taken against elected officials by other elected
officials, I mean action that the average Joe Public can take against people
they voted for who are not doing what they said.
and I were discussing withholding taxes as a form of protest. “You can’t use my
money unless you at least do 17% of what we asked you to do and what you said
you would do!” I know we’re not going to get 100%, but I feel like I’d settle
for 17%. Of course, not paying taxes is illegal, so they have us there. I
suggested putting our tax dollars into an escrow account, but Grizzled said
that would be mayhem. Everyone would be withholding their tax dollars waiting
until they got exactly what they wanted.
I were investing this money in a corporation and the corporation were misusing
my funds, I could charge malfeasance. I would have some action I could take
that would not be illegal. With the government, it appears the only action I can
take is to vote and write my officials. That doesn’t seem to be working.
morning I must admit, I felt hamstrung. I felt somewhat like the business owner
who must also pay a wise guy tax… a tax to someone who has more say and more
power just because they said so. Someone who tells me to pay for my own good and never mind what they are
doing with it. This morning, even in my very comfortable life, I felt democracy