Wednesday, July 22, 2009

put de lime in de coconut

Several years ago I decided it would be a good idea to start writing a cookbook. I got about as far as a rough draft of a table of contents, which was to include all my mom's specialties, and my grandmothers', and my father's (there are a few), and my sisters' and brother's and neice's, and CM's, and mine, and any other family recipes or others I'd found in one way or another to be reliable, satisfying, nourishing, outstanding or just plain old yummy. I've gotten a few of these down in writing but my frustrations with software and its inherent disinterest in foodstuffs have deterred me from getting very far on this project. However, in the interest of not being a total lazy ass, I am hereby recommitting myself to this undertaking and will make every honest attempt to spend 15 minutes per day to add a recipe to the mix (even though I should be spending that time doing crunches. one thing at a time, folks, one at a time.) By the end of the year I should have a pretty nice collection, if I fail to fail at this endeavor.

Now that we've got this new thing they call digital television, there are a few more public channels on the set, including any number of relatively lackluster shows about food. Junkie that I am (oh Iron Chef, how I miss Thee) I cannot help but get sucked in by even the most soft-spoken-round-bellied-meat-eating-city-slicker, much less all those bright-eyed farm lovers and sassy, drunken foragers... Watching all these people make food on camera makes me a) hungry, b) a little aroused and c) aware that CM and I eat very well and creatively, much of the time, both out of something akin to necessity and for the sheer pleasure of it. One of my favorite ways to pass the time is with a knife in hand. En guard! The gauntlet has been thrown...

So the challenge now is to keep up with this task, daily. I'll up the ante (self vs. self!) just a little by attempting to create some new edible compositions
of my very own, as this year's harvest comes in, and if any of them is any good I'll share them here. Until then, an offering from my archives:

Yummy Thai Salad

1/2 c. wild rice (1 1/2 to 2 c. cooked, cooled slightly)
1/2 sm head red cabbage (approx 4 c.)
3 sm carrots, thinly sliced
1 md daikon radish, in 3/4" matchsticks
4 lg or 6 sm scallions, sliced
3-4 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped (15-20 sprigs, stems and leaves)
2-3 tbsp shredded coconut, toasted (cast iron works, or toaster oven... keep watch)
1/2 to 3/4 c. cashew pieces, roasted or toasted
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp shoyu, tamari or other soy sauce
1/2 fresh lime or 1 tsp lime juice concentrate
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp canola or peanut oil
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp sugar

Throw it all together, change the amounts, see what happens. For something a bit lighter try rice noodles instead of wild rice, use green cabbage and add some fresh mint. Douse with fish sauce. Enjoy...

(btw, I have to admit that I can't really remember if this one's any good, but I did write it down and actually used the word "yummy". Must have meant something...)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Come Again, Another Day

It's Summer, and the garden is in bloom, flush, growing, thriving and, happily, very recently soaked. Again. It's been a mercifully wet July this year, albeit a bit chilly. Temps in the sixties last week, with overnights to the low forties.

I took the day off on Friday, to get some rest. CM and I headed up to my folks' place late. They were in their usual places in the kitchen, Dad with a fishing rod and some new line, Mom with a glass of wine and on the table between them, something new: my parents have
finally acquired, after some deliberation on their part and years of bitching and badgering on my part and CM's, a small set of knives befitting my mother's fine culinary skills and my father's appreciation of well-crafted tools. It could very well be the most subtly life-changing event of the year.

Saturday, the guys took the boat out on the lake early and returned a few hours later with a nice looking northern that Dad had snagged (in anticipation of the dozens of fat sunnies, crappies and bass they'll bring home next time, ha ha). Mom and I had a relaxed morning and weeded through the afternoon while Dad found and cut pieces for the tomato supports and CM took a long nap. I'd forgotten how much I can and really do miss the garden sometimes, how honest it is, how real. How totally not stupid bullshit. How alive.

A few new plants have caught everyone's fancy this year. There's a yellow-podded pea of the most fantastic color, with two-toned violet flowers, golden tendrils and soft white-green leaves that wear a ring of fuschia where they meet the stem. The favas have been captivating, also, with their stout square stems, black & white rabbit-like blossoms and origami leaves, unfolding into the sky. Hope to picture them here soon, if I can take a proper photo. In the meantime, here are the Scarlet Emperors, climbing with abandon, and waist-high Hickory Dent corn, spiraling higher by the hour...

On Saturday evening, after dining on that pike and a few other local delicacies, CM and I traveled north to stay at a friend's sweet cabin for the night. The interstate wasn't too far away, but neither were the North Woods... There's something about arriving at dusk, locating the shitter and finding your way down to the water's edge that will make your nostrils flare just a little, with the scent of pine needles underfoot and the potential for some kind of wild encounter (if only with a wicked little black spider on a square of toilet paper...). It was buggy enough that we stayed inside, in spite of starry skies, and cold enough that we started a fire in the old upright woodstove. CM switched on a battery operated radio and we tuned in for a while to a nice old-timey set (except for one, gospel awful) on Radio Heartland which included some fine saw playing by a friend of a friend, or so, with the Roe Family Singers. We read by candlelight. CM remarked that this was about all the technology he needed, and I felt much the same way. A peaceful night and morning in a quiet place, for a change.

near the doorstep, dry Birch and unknown white flower

On Sunday morning I sat out in the sun (!) and finished the book I've been reading lately, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar. This book, a gift to me from CM, has been the most timely and inspiring piece of writing that has found its way to me in quite some time. I actually cried just reading the acknowledgments. I can think of no other, offhand, that has reinforced my experience and mirrored my hopes in the way this one has. Martín Prechtel has here given voice to an Incantation of Love, and I am infinitely grateful for what I have learned from him and from it, so far. He draws the legend to a map we all knew by heart once, but have forgotten... how much there is to learn, as we heal and remember. As we must, as we will.

Sunday afternoon, CM took a walk on the river while my folks and I assembled and constructed a dozen fences for the tomatoes (to keep the sheep out...). Evening sun is always golden and lovely but pretty crappy for photos, so I'll post one next time, with some specs. As the sun sank, we loaded up a bag full of kale, one of chard, another of mustard greens, a couple handfuls of arugula, enough lettuce for a boatload of hamsters, a bouquet of radishes and several pinches of herbs--reminding us how gracious July can be, and also that in a few weeks we're going to have more veg than we can handle--and we hit the road for home, just before sunset.

On Monday, I experienced a minor miracle: sometime in the afternoon all the pain I've been carrying in my lower back and hips just up and left me. Aside from putting me in a state of dreamy bliss, this fleeting respite reminded me to be grateful, every day, for the pain I do not carry, which others do. It reminded me, also, that there was a time years ago when I hoped I might help heal others, with my small hands. So many people believe that to live in pain is not only inevitable but necessary. It is neither.

Today is Tuesday. Over the course of the past day it rained three inches on the July garden, and an infinite measure on my sleepy morning soul.

Anyway, if anyone wants greens, we got 'em... Let me know. More to come.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Promise of Sunshine, Promise of Rain

I have trouble sleeping. The reasons for this are ancient.

One of the things about sleep deprivation is that it can make you into a total psycho. I suppose it might be kinder and more accurate to say that it can induce a sort of psychosis. Compound that with the debilitating effects of dizzying empathic responses and blood-deep depression and you'll end up less than human, not a monster but a ghost, a whisper with no name. I was one such, for quite a long time. I lost my identity in a metaphor. I could hardly speak. It humiliated me to share food, to swallow in the company of other people. Asleep or awake, I suffered nightmares, was haunted, hunted, terrified. Above all, I was ashamed, and I still am, to share this. I write of it here not to perpetuate it, but to dig into it, turn it over and seed something new. Like addiction, like cancer, this kind of depression does not go away. We live with it, in it, in us.


The night before the funeral, I dreamed I was in my old bedroom,
searching under the orange bunk bed for something I could bring with me. There I found a heart-shaped trinket from a ponytail holder I used to wear when I was a girl. This was three years ago, now. At the time, such a dream--of the essence of my childhood--was almost unimaginable. To remember that I'd been just a girl, once, and shared a room with my sister, danced in circles on the grass... to find that small heart was a beautiful gift. In the days since we'd received the word of Sunshine's death, I had been flooded, not with grief and loss, not with compassion, not with love, but with a nauseating withered sense of heart-sickness, at how little I knew, how little I cared.

I had another dream that night. I was at the funeral. I stood in a field on the prairie, in a black dress, with a scarf of yellow silk tied around my neck, waving gently in the wind. I did not know then how she had died.

I've been working hard lately to keep my emotions in check but something in me gave way yesterday afternoon, and I left work in tears which did not stop until well into the night. It was many things, which need not be named, but an overwhelming sense of loss, of heartbreak and fear, of insanity, dragged me back to the shore of those dark waters into which I'd sworn I would not--could not--ever go again. That deep pool, the changeable tide, gently lapping waves and dangerous currents... Had I been there, that night; had she called; had we known... This I know, not a soul alive or dead can bring you back of your choosing. Shaken, I laid on the couch for a while, with little hope of rest. I thought my heart might burst. A hug, and a few drops of Rescue Remedy--a godsend--helped calm me down. I wrote a letter to an old friend. I laid down in bed and waited for it to pass.

I wake, frequently, with a head full of words which scatter like bats when my eyes snap open. Some of these I caught, one February night a couple years ago. I did not share them for CM's One Poem Project at the time, because I thought they weren't any good, but I really don't give a crap about that anymore. I'm not sure I ever did.

Belated Valentine.

I’ve kept that scarf in my sock drawer since July.
It’s the one I wore in the days after the funeral,
when my throat started hurting, badly.
Something was needed.
These days, the pain runs into my hands.
It sli
ps over my head and onto my face,
into my mouth and cheeks.

It’s hard to swallow, hard to sleep.

But that has as little to do with you
as it does with me.

Still, I can almost feel you in my arms,
too little,
too late.

We love so many ways. I adored Sunshine. There two people in this world who I have missed in my very bones. She is one of them.

At the funeral home, there was a table with some things on it. A photo album, in which there was an uncaptioned picture of me with my arms wrapped around Sunshine, kissing her cheek. Photos of her as a girl, which I'd never seen, were so familiar that they might have been me or one of my sisters. Lying next to those, there was a small bag full of ponytail holders, some with hearts.


Tuesday, after a tough night and a long walk, I came back to a dark house and a message from my Mom,
in words sweet and hopeful, telling about the rain that had fallen that day, what relief it brought... Two full inches, all told. Relief, indeed.


On Wednesday Cosmic M and I took a walk around the prairie at sundown. As we neared the end of our path my thoughts shot back to the night before, when I'd passed a group of kids at a school playground, boldly singing complex melodies and harmonies in a language unknown to me while beating out a rhythm with their hands and bodies... As I passed a boy yelled out to me from the shadows, "Hey lady, clap with us... We love people!" I clapped twice and they sang on, in proud and confident voices, and at that moment it struck me, as I said to myself: "I will not amount to anything." I looked up. In the twilight on the prairie, the rounded silhouette of a tree took on a third dimension, and a flash of light caught my eye. I paused for a moment as my companion walked on. A few breaths later it flashed again, one of the last fireflies of Summer, blinking at me as if to say, "neither will I."


Life flows on. We sing loudly sometimes and go barefoot when we can. I miss you, often.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sushi Rescue

Beautiful friends,

I would not have thought it possible

that I could speak so freely

with my mouth full of fish.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Valleys & Bluffs

We set out on Friday afternoon, C Monkey and I, heading south, toward the border. I'd thought we might have a better idea of where were going if we followed the Mississippi, so we cut East until we reached the water's edge and traveled in the cool shade of the high bluffs while we talked about the shape of life, of cultural vs. personal, neurosis vs. symbiosis, fiction vs. truth. We talked of shamans and food, of language. We passed a rainbow tree, and many flowers of different colors. Turning West, we were drawn along the lush, green slopes of the Root River valley, until a fork in the road led us South, through a little place called Choice, which looked strangely similar to a place I dreamed about not too many months back... no big deal, though, just up a hill and change of drivers. My turn. The roads got curvier, steeper.

Somewhere just before or after Choice it struck me that it's really been a damned long time since I had any fun. My mind set, for the better part of the past year, has been something rather less than carefree. Fun?? It got me thinking about what was, or might be, and it occurred to me that, for my part, "fun" usually means doing something where I'm likely to get dirty and/or wet and that I ought to be prepared for either or both at pretty much all times. We crossed an imaginary line into a foreign land called Iowa. C Monkey threw me a good one about how "the poor have to get funky, because it's free." Hell yes we do. The roads got smaller, dirtier.

Twisting roads with changing names makes getting around a whole new adventure, in a place unknown... We passed by a tiny country store (which we should have stopped in. durr.) and pulled in at around six, still an hour ahead of our hosts, so we stretched our legs and took stock of what was growing in the ditches until a couple clouds of dust came whipping down the road and turned into smiling faces. We unloaded a car and truckload of stuff into their new place, shared a few beers and talked into the night, telling jokes, watching fireflies in the fields and lightning on the horizon. Good to be with friends in the Beautiful Land. I slept well.


Saturday morning we all slept in just a little and then shared a lovely, long breakfast, of the sort I rather love and rarely have the opportunity to enjoy...there were duck eggs scrambled with onions, greens, juicy fat mushrooms, snap peas and loads of garlic, home-made goat feta from our friends at Honeymoon farm, spicy chorizo, freshly baked sourdough compliments of CM, vanilla yogurt thick with cream, succulent apricot, sweet rainier cherries, dark coffee, juice, and sunlight at the new kitchen table, along with much gabbing. After breakfast we drove a couple miles down the road, to a cedar grove on a stone outcropping over a nearby valley, and then down into a gulley where we bushwhacked a little and mucked around in the river for a while. Round about noon, C Monkey and I took a drive eastward to visit the effigy mounds, where a celebration of local native traditions was taking place. On our way up the path to the mounds CM spotted a large toad on the hillside, perhaps four inches big and wearing colorful brown and sienna spots--an auspicious greeting. Despite its being a park and the damned mowed grass around the mounds, we found quite a powerful place there. It was a strange juxtaposition, from the top of the bluff, of rare old trees and deep ancestral remembrance against the sound of motors and senseless shouts from the river below, which was plugged with boats and boaters carrying out their imperative. Further inland, memories surfaced and I was once again drawn to my knees, as those of you who have felt the pull of the ground will understand, for reasons nothing more, or less, than to be closer. Along our way we encountered a number of friendly but clueless tourists (including one smiling man who gave me a chill with his alien glance, as though he was truly not of this world) and it was not particularly strange but still rather sad, to feel somehow chased by strangers through a sacred place. We came to know a few new plants and heard a few new calls over the course of those seven miles. A good afternoon. The toad was still there, in the same place, when we came back down.

cool spikey grass i've never seen before.

Then north and west we sped, to Seed Savers, to hear Greg Brown play his annual concert there. A pleasant setting, of apparently quaint farm-like buildings (one of which was actually just a rather nauseating gift shop) backed by a ridge topped with tall white pines that caught the golden evening light and a few goldfinches as well. Swallows and bats swooped overhead, heirloom chickens clucked closeby. We and a bunch of other white people sat a grassy hill and took in an excellent set by Greg and friends (Pieta Brown, Bo Ramsey, John Penner)--dark, deep and seriously lovely, with a few good laughs. A couple of those songs broke my heart for the umpteenth thousandth time and a couple others made me wonder quite a bit, and I can't wait to hear them again. Greg's daughters joined him to sing backup vocals, somewhat timidly, for a few tunes and Iris Dement took the stage for one old fashioned tune
--a sweet surprise for me, having recently missed the rare chance to see her at the Cedar. It was a relaxing night and nice scene, if a little reserved--or perhaps "dull", as Greg put it (nice.). Have to admit that it made me miss Winnipeg a little (especially as we followed each other down a wooded path lit by a single string of white lights), although one of the best things about this concert was its scale, the sense of community and family. Greg ended the evening by sharing his hope that this would still be going on here, one hundred years from now. I would hope, if our humanity survives one hundred more years, that every community will have its own gathering place, built around the food we grow and share, our work and art. I'd dreamed of building one such place at Turning Earth. We may yet do so.

Somehow I ended up leaving my therma-rest chair there, a rather significant loss of somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred bucks, and of my only means of sleeping and sitting comfortably out on the trail... Ah, well. Perhaps it will inspire its new caretaker to go backpacking, as finding that Whisperlite did for CM and I, many years ago... Nice score for someone.

Back to the farmhouse, down a dark and curving narrow road, just the kind I long to drive at night. Back on high ground, we were met by an apricot moon hanging just above the horizon, as luscious as the day. It was a good night to go to sleep early. Sadly I slept like a convict, with the moon on my case.


Sunday we were treated to another delicious breakfast, much like Saturday's only perhaps even yummier. We took a hike around the hills and valleys, through fields of daisy fleabane and wild parsnip (which gave me a nasty blistery burn, it did) up to our necks and higher, munching on black raspberries and a few ripe gooseberries, scoping out mushroom patches, talking about plants and admiring the new stomping grounds. I was getting anxious--maybe just tired, maybe knowing we had to leave soon, maybe just needing a nap or a few hours alone... Time to go.

red-winged black bird babies nestled in a wild parsnip.

check out the beautiful geometry of this plant. queen anne's lace, wild carrot, daucus carota, who introduced herself to me during a trip to South Carolina last year. i've yet to really know this one, but now i know where i can gather.

home, sweet home.

The weather, for the entire weekend, could not have been more lovely. Wide blue skies and green landscapes, cool breezes and warm sun, a bit of rain. Our friends' new place is a fine old house, homey, welcoming and seemingly unhaunted. The collection of books, art, oddities, tools, junk and what-not that these two have amassed is something close to magical, and it was inspiring to see it taking shape in a new space. It was rejuvenating to spend time with friends who care nothing about the things that don't matter and care deeply about the things that do, and who love good food, good words, good water and good plants. It was heartening to feel the potential in their sweet little farm. But being there made me question rather seriously where in the world I really want to live, and how... That and lack of sleep left me feeling divided again and it was a long, winding drive back, tired out and wanting very much to get home, wherever that might be. Looking forward to getting back there one day soon.

yet another yellow flower whose name we don't know.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Mouthful of Cherries (Life is Just)

Dear fellows, I am not ungrateful. The depth of my gratitude, and appreciation, for the life I was born into, for sweet surprises, for the spinning cosmos, for serendipity and yes, for the esteemed role I play in the tragedy of our so-called economy, is truly far too great to be expressed in words. I am and have been more than fortunate; blessed, some might say. I am, also, ornery, crabby, burnt-out, witchy, sad and frustrated. And, mainly, probably, just weary of the capitalist model of existence. It's not that there has to be a better way; there IS a better way. Maybe I was born in the wrong century, or on the wrong continent. This grossly self-centered American Way I've been reluctantly trying to follow is turning me into a monster, only part human, stretching my identity until it's nothing more than a wire, strung out from here to the end of the last footpath that leads into what was once wilderness, and is now another filling station. What are we filling our selves with?

Oh, it is a Happy Day. I am relieved of employment tomorrow, however briefly, and look forward to a trip to the beautiful State of Iowa, to visit good friends and hear some fine tunes. And--to my sweet delight--I arrived home this evening to home-grown salad in the spinner, home-made pizza dough rising and a bag full of cherries in the fridge, right next to a tall, cold can of Surly. Who's complaining?


AS IF I should be grateful. AS IF I am a relentless bitch for asking, instead of someone else being an inconsiderate asshole for not responding. AS IF it is impossible for something to be done correctly. AS IF expecting that one might take a simple instruction (please do it this way) and comprehend it, instead of turning around not one fucking second after to ask me (so you want me to do it that way?) is unreasonable. AS IF actually listening and paying attention is giving the other person too much of your valuable time and energy. AS IF the fact that something is obviously and demonstrably not working matters at all when someone else says it's just fine. AS IF I have not been working so that others might have an easier time of things. AS IF I have asked for too much help. AS IF anyone has ever offered to give me a hand. AS IF I haven't suggested that at least a dozen times. AS IF we haven't been asking for that for years. AS IF you just had a great idea. AS IF it could really take that long to figure it out. AS IF I have kissed anyone's ass. AS IF I don't know what I'm doing. AS IF I'm doing this for my own good. AS IF I take pleasure in being disregarded. AS IF I enjoy having to ask again. AS IF I am asking for my benefit. AS IF there is anything else I can do. AS IF I could. AS IF I wanted to.

Monday, July 6, 2009

keeping track

A late dinner with my folks, my sister and her sometime husband, who brought the fine gift of a big fat brown trout he'd caught on Lake Superior earlier that day. Breaded and pan-fried with just a touch of fresh lemon, a salad of butter-soft-sweet-new lettuces from the garden with a bit of lightly steamed asparagus in a perfect vinagrette.
A few red grapes, beers. (Funny how one bite of fresh fish makes everyone want to go fishing...) After that, a couple games of pool, played in that drunken way which is both astoundingly good and embarrasingly bad, from one shot to the next. A nice night.


I woke to a surprise hangover, or something quite similar, feeling exhausted from the past week and wishing I'd gone to bed a little earlier. Noodles for brunch, of the Thai sort, thin rice ones with tofu fried in canola with toasted sesame oil, splashed with fish sauce, shoyu and Worcestershire (secret ingredient), garlic, cabbage, carrot, scallion, chile, cilantro and mint, dressed with oyster sauce, a bit of sugar, rice vinegar, fresh lime and probably some more fish sauce and shoyu. Not my best, but a pretty good breakfast for a weary person, a nice lunch for mom, and tasty leftovers for a hot afternoon.

Late start for me, and a slow one...quite a bit more tired than I ought to be at my age...Spent a couple hours in and out of the sun, working with Mom to mulch the three main rows tomatoes with paper and straw. This year we're trying just two sheets of newspaper; the four or more sheets we used last year seemed a bit much when it came time to burn and turn. I'm skeptical that two will keep the weeds from pushing through, but it might work out okay. Another change this year is that we're using shredded oat straw (having been run by Dad through The Chipper, his favorite new toy) rather than just spreading out the bales. Turns out there are a few advantages in this: one, it stretches the straw quite a bit further, since the smaller pieces form a denser mat (think sawdust vs. pile of sticks) relative to the surface area, so it doesn't need to be as "deep" to sufficiently cover the same area; two, it's a lot easier to work with and move around; three, it gives Dad a good reason to chip stuff (and thanks for that, by the way...).

C Monkey spent a good part of the day using his favorite new toy, The Stone Grinder, to carve a lovely sculpture and a nice little toad bath. At least that's what I'm calling it. There are quite a few toads in the garden this year, including one big one that lives under the shade of the rhubarb, and I figure they might like to have a soak now and then... Speaking of which, we finally got the boat out on the lake at the end of the day and had a nice swim with a couple of loons (take your pick) and a few curious dragonflies. Water's a little cold yet, but even so, it was the first time in a few weeks I've even approached anything resembling relaxation...

Another late dinner, of roasted
chicken accompanied by newly picked lettuces and another salad I'd made earlier in the day, of chickpeas with generous amounts of minced garlic, black and green olives, a bit of scallion and loads of fresh herbs from the garden--mint, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme--tossed in a simple olive oil and red wine vinagrette with a some freshly ground pepper and a dash of salt. I'd been wanting to try that one for a while now, and now I know why. Really quite good, especially this time of year. We'll have that again.

Before bed, I wandered for a while in the moonlight, out toward the pond, where the frog songs have modulated from the Spring cacaphony of chirping trills into the deep, slow, rubber-band twangs of Summer... I followed the sandy drive around to the old parking lot at the back of the shop and was taken for a moment by the beauty of the yellow moonlight spilling over the roof of the pole barn, setting the propane tank aglow and glinting off the shiny black plastic that covers that giant steaming pile of shit that's sitting there at the end of the garden.


Everyone was up early, partly to confer over a call from my sister inviting us up to take the big boat out sailing on Lake Superior, which it turned out wasn't in the cards, with all of us looking forward to a rather more laid-back day and less driving. Shortly after coffee, we got a call back from our friend down the road, who did indeed have some eggs for breakfast (which we didn't end up eating) and also extended a kind invitation to come over and do the morning rounds with him, to get a feel for the place and the animals and the life there. Having my own obligations for the day I chose to decline, although a change of scenery and pace might have been a pretty nice way to start the day. Perhaps another time.

So, we all worked for the better part of a very pleasant day, with others and without, weeding (as always), spreading composted manure around the peppers, eggplant and last few tomatoes and mulching them with paper & straw, transplanting some horseradish, replanting a few cucumbers that fried up, reseeding a few sunflowers that didn't sprout, spreading more composted manure around the brassicas in back, mulching the peas and favas in front, chipping stuff, hoeing and scritching and watering everything, then watering some more... you might be surprised how long it can take to water everything thoroughly, especially when it's this dry. (Need to get on that drip irrigation system...)

At around six o'clock we pulled the boat over to the landing and there met Captain and Peg Leg with their sweet little new sailboat, which we took for a couple turns in spite of dwindling winds. Good to swim again, even with a chill, and to feel beautiful for a while in the dark water. Bright blue sky ringed by gleaming green, and a rainbow-striped sail cutting through... The boaters sped off, the wind died, and we ended up paddling the final stretch back to shore, with half a kayak-paddle each, while the water before us turned to glass... Remarkably lovely evening, without a biting bug of any kind anywhere. Dinner after sunset, chicken and asparagus in a dijon-tarragon sour cream sauce over brown rice, and--not a perfect compliment but equally delicious--salad of pinto beans with roasted red and green peppers, red onion and scallion, a few artichoke hearts, garlic and a bit of cilantro, dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil, and topped off with slices of perfectly ripe avocado. We eat well.

After dinner I played piano for a while, that Brahms Intermezzo that I love so much and a couple pieces from The Piano of which I'm quite fond. My hands are clumsy, still, and slow. I have to watch the notes to know what to play, where to go next. My eyes and mind are slow, and I can't look down to see what my fingers are doing or I'll lose my place, lose track. It's been difficult to re-learn, especially with only a couple of hours a month of practice, but something happened last night that I haven't felt in many years... For a moment I didn't have to think about it, and my hands just found their place. I've experienced this residually from time to time, out of the deep memory of music I once knew by heart, long ago, but this time it was with something new--the Brahms piece that I picked up just last winter. Until yesterday I really thought I might not ever be able to play that way again. To reach out my hand and feel it there, as if it were easy, like swimming...

Another moonlit stroll, with everything illuminated, and the call of owls from the South and the West. Insistent moonlight kept me awake most of the night, when the dog wasn't barking, until macabre dreams pulled me into a realm somewhere between sleep and death, just before dawn.

The clouds were nice this morning.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

under the waxing moon

I pulled out the bottom drawer all the way, in search of something that was not there, and out it dropped--the whole drawer, stuffed full--squarely and woodenly, right onto my two big toes. On a different day I probably would have just sat down and cried, but tonight I calmly told myself at least nine times how much that hurt, while I put the drawer back. It really did hurt. I have a nice little blood blister, now, to prove it.

Inspired by my sister, I put on my beloved Shoes of Possibility and took off for a run after sunset. My toenails throbbed as though they wanted to fall off, but I hauled my sorry ass around a good loop, passing an armful of bunnies and a couple slow-moving trains. Watching my shadow run ahead of the streetlights, I saw that I did not appear to be the side-winding old man that I felt like I was. After a moment's hesitation I climbed the Tower Hill on a path too dark to see, nearly tripping over a band of light, took in the skyline for a few breaths and came down the other side, toward home.