Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apples to Apples

So I came across a blog finally opened a forwarded email from my mother about a food blog today and was transported from my desk in TheMiddle to the Farmer's Market in Portland, and the messy kitchen of a mother with young children, and the coastline of the Northwest with its haunting, damp beauty and the wisdom of humble ingredients and simple processes.  Yes. A food blog.  But more about how we arrive at food and the journey that takes us there.  We find what we're meant to find and the people we keep certainly direct us along the way.

It's author is, charmingly, the wife of the first boy I ever had a crush on.  This boy, the worship worthy teen aged neighbor of 5 year old me.  The patient leaf raker who allowed the annoying little neighbor girl the thrill of jumping in the pile over and over again.  Probably getting paid to rake the few leaves that do fall in Boca Raton, in my fantasy he never once rolled his eyes when his mother reminded him of the novelty of falling leaves and what, to 5 year old me, seemed like a huge pile of fun just waiting to be jumped in.  I remember being awestruck the day my father (who historically has issues with teenagers and expensive machinery) let him back our monstrous station wagon down the driveway to make room for the compulsive washing of another car.  I was mesmerized by all 12 feet of that incredible road trip.  Huh...haven't thought about that For. Ever.  Amazing how it all comes right back.  But I digress...this is about her blog, not my ancient infatuation... 

Among other things, she writes about soup, "The beautiful thing probably have all of the ingredients hanging around in the pantry right now. It's so easy to put together and yet, it's so...elegant."

That's how it is with so many things though, isn't it.  Food.  Parenting.  Partnering.  You have all the ingredients you need, just hanging around.  Your staples.  The amazing power of humble ingredients like patience, and experience, and humor, and confidence in yourself and your partner and your history.   So easy to put together when you have the right inspiration.  And so elegant.  Like I said, it's a food blog.  And a travel blog about the journey that gets us there.  And an advice column about where to look for inspiration.  

 "You have a blog and she has a blog.  You two should read each other."  My trip to La Pomme de Portland began in a very "apples to apples" sort of way.  Simple ingredients.  Yes, we find what we're meant to find and the people we keep certainly direct us along the way.  I'm directing you there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes, Even Solid Crumbles

My foundation is solid.  Solid.  My life is built on stable ground, with a solid foundation of bricks that say things like,

"I'm prepared for..."
"They all expect me to.."
"I always planned on..."
"You can count on me to..."
"I'm certainly capable of..."
"I have everything I need for..."

But then the whole thing is razed by

"I want..."

Like a carefully controlled demolition with destructive charges aimed at the most critical places, "I want" knocks the whole thing down.  "I want" makes me forget about my needs.  "I want" causes me to lose sight of the treasures I already have.  "I want" has me spending too much time looking ahead and not enough time looking at the joy on my left.  And the love on my right.  And the abundance in my lap.  And, and, and...

My foundation is solid.  Solid.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Makes My Heart Go All Aflutter

People have written at length about the value of determining your sleep phase preference and how it affects everything from your emotional stability to your intelligence.  A simple Google search might keep you absorbed for hours...but let me save you the trouble of losing an entire day.  I had an epiphany this morning and I'd hate to ruffle your feathers...but truth is truth.

You can't turn a night owl into a lark.  
But even hooters know 
there are certain advantages 
to occasionally being 
the early bird.

Tweet tweet.  Wink wink.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Long View in the Short Term

Why does it seem like we have to finishing becoming what we are before we can look back and see what we've become?  Why aren't the crossroads marked on the front end?  Why do they only appear in the rear view mirror?  Objects in mirror may very well be closer than they appear and that silly trick of the mirror extends to us the long view, but it still can't make those objects appear out in front of us where we can get at them. 

Is it what I do that makes me who I am?  Maybe that's part of it.  Is it what I surround myself with that shows people who I am?  Sometimes, but that's just a collection of things.  Things, change.  With a fresh coat of paint or a new address, or the latest acquisition.  They're things.  Is it how I act that makes me who I am?  Certainly that's part of it.  People have said of me that I throw great parties and I'm so good at being around people.  Partly true.  I don't always love talking up the crowd, what I love is a party.  That laughing, loud, work the crowd, pass the nuts, fill your glass display is certainly not for show, I love a great party but that's not the same girl who stands in line at the food store and intentionally avoids eye contact with you because really all she wants to do is buy her yogurt and get the hell out of there.

I need to think more about my collections.  Of things.  Of people...because they are certainly things we collect as well.  Some are worth holding on to and others...not so much.  

Why am I old enough to need my questions answered but feel my childish pout coming on when you tell me I'm too young to really understand that I have to find the answers myself?  meh.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wisdom at 70

That's 70 MPH of course.  Not 70 years.  I do some of my best thinking in the car.  I have been blessed with children who love to ride (and they do, just sit there and look out the window, it still amazes me) and I was having one of those moments, good music on the radio, (the Father plays the Knickknackpaddywhack Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah crap...I can't stand that while I'm in the car...he's such a good soul,) nice day for driving, and I saw this amazing stream of wonderful life metaphors rolling past me as I drove.

It's funny really.  I'm struggling with where to go to find my life map, my spiritual Triptik complete with notes on how long it's supposed to take to get through each leg of my journey, warnings about where many have gotten lost before, and hints on the best places to stop along the way.  I have friends who head out on Sunday mornings for their directions, others who look to ancient maps to keep them on the right course, and still more who don't even realize they're lost.  All in the name of being comfortable, it's not like me to head out without some sort of plan in most areas of my life, but in my car I feel powerful and so I was struck this day as I drove.

I feel like being in the driver's seat affords me some status and that the road has been put there for me to use.  This life's trajectory I own because it's the one I put myself on and keep myself on seems to be suiting me just fine, but I stop trusting it when I hear so many of the people I love talk about how there is a higher hand guiding their decisions, helping them choose their path.  Am I one of those people who's off course but don't realize it?  Dunno.  Really.

I remember once many years ago when my sister and I were headed to an Outlet Mall in Western Massachusetts that I had never been to before.  Her last words as we got into the car were, "Did you bring the directions?"  My response to her shocked face was, "No.  But there will certainly be a sign.  There's always a sign if it's something worth knowing about."

I'm headed in a direction.  Only time will tell if  I could benefit from some help in determining my course.  But the signs, they nudge you a bit.  Remind you of things if you're looking out for them.  Steer you back towards the middle if you drift.  So I looked at the signs.  Saw them in a new way.  And read what they were telling me.

Oh, if it were only that simple.  But this is a most basic direction for life, so I thought I'd begin here.

I've come up to this sign so many times before and simply slowed.  The familiar intersection that you've been through so many times before that it lulls you into a feeling of safety.  The same fight you have over and over about something that seems so safe.  The big red sign on this one hints of danger but not enough to make you realize how quickly things can change.  Stop.  Just Stop.

Sometimes you just need to give way.  Because you don't see what's coming at you.  Because it's coming faster than you're going.  Because you've got your hands full with the cargo you're carrying and you're not equipped to pay as close attention as you're going to need to in order to be safe.  Just give way.

Most of the time you can find someplace to pull over, but then there are those times when you just have to keep going.  Even when the conditions are not ideal.  Not safe.  When your equipment seems to be failing.  They give you this sign to let you know it's temporary.  The section of your journey when you're on your own will be over soon.  You will have a shoulder to pull over and cry on.  Sometimes it's a soft shoulder.  Often it's a hard one.  But it's coming.

Yep.  There's always a sign.  I think this topic is bigger than just this post, but I'm gonna follow this track for awhile and see where it leads me...because that's what I do.  Follow me, I'll send you a sign.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Weather Related Event

It is time that the world recognized a "Shit Storm" as an official weather related event with all of the accompanying pity and insurance protection normally afforded to other events of this kind.  I feel very strongly that we would all be better prepared to weather the storm if we knew we could count on a few of the following:

Shit Storm Insurance.  Prepared by the same guy who does your car and your house of course, and specifically tailored to your potential needs.  If you have a dog, you'll need coverage for rapid response carpet cleaning so when the dog pukes in the foyer as you are on your way to the airport to pick up your in-laws you can hit speed dial...shit storm damage covered.  If you have a clumsy husband, you'll need coverage for pizza and wine delivery so when he slides an entire homemade pizza onto the floor instead of into the oven just as the children are getting into bed and you emerge starving from the end of the hallway to come to his aid and proceed to knock the opened bottle of red wine onto the freshly painted wall you can hit speed dial...shit storm damage covered.

Climatology experts able to predict with varying levels of incompetence when and where such an event is likely to occur.  Hurricanes and tornadoes have entire fields of science dedicated to studying their patterns.  Our lives have climates too and there is certainly a science to predicting how when you're stressed, or pressed for time, or running out of cash, or blissfully happy...a Shit Storm is more likely to descend.

24 hour news coverage with that guy from the weather channel standing in the middle of it in some sort of protective clothing (although I'm not sure even LL Bean can design a garment appropriate for protecting one's self from the Shit Storms that spring up in life when you least expect them.)  I'm very certain that if he were to tell me to, "Just hunker down and wait it out." I would feel better.

A .gov website telling you exactly what kinds of items you should be storing in your home to be best prepared for this type of event...(therapist, pastor, yoga instructor, Tylenol, red wine, stack of mind numbing novels about vampires so when you're awake at 2am worrying at least you'll have something to read, etc.)

Friends and neighbors from unaffected locales who come by after it's over and help you rebuild what has been lost (your patience, your confidence, your living room rug, your calm exterior) arms laden with banana bread and frozen casseroles, of course.

A line of cards from Hallmark (although I've never seen one that reads "As You Recover from the Flood").  Shuffled among the bills (the report from the Shit Storm insurance adjuster) and snail mail that clutters the post after a Shit Storm , it would be nice to find a note from a friend with gloriously rhyming adjectives about how the storm is over and there is a light at the end of the rain and you've emerged a stronger soul and life doesn't give us anything we can't know the crap we need to hear even though it doesn't really mean anything.  But hey!  It rhymes!

A celebrity TV special with Cheryl Crow standing over the 1-800 number in her Jimmy Choos talking about how brave you have been and how amazing it is that you have come away relatively unharmed.  Music montages and video clips included of course, reminding all the viewers how something like this hits so close to home and how it could have been any one of us standing in the dog vomit talking to the clerk at the county courthouse about how it was a simple oversight that your forgot to pay the citation and that you really don't deserve to have your driver's license suspended right before your husband is headed out of town for 5 days and how it might just happen to them someday.

Yes!  I think it is time for the survivors of Shit Storms all across this great nation to unite as one and have our poop squalls recognized as the tragedies they truly are.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Definately NOT The Driver's Seat

There are those times in life when you find yourself securely in the driver's seat.  Sometimes it's nice to be the chauffeured passenger.  Fully knowing the destination and happy to be taken along.  Still other times the strangle hold of being in the backseat is nearly intolerable.  At the mercy of the driver, suggestions on where to go answered with rolled eyes and low growls, that backseat driver can see where the vehicle is headed but relinquished control when they climbed into the back.

I'm in themiddlebit of a major situation right now, the enormity of which has yet to truly sink in...sigh...for the past month I have been the zip-tied, duct-taped hostage in the trunk of the jalopy of life.  Partially to blame for placing myself directly in the path of this potential situation.  Knowingly at risk due to my association (and complete love and dedication to) known offenders.  You might even say, "She asked for it." if you were in the habit of blaming victims...but of course, you're not.

The news bulletins will report that the end of this ordeal is in sight.  Investigators have determined the direction of the vehicle and estimate that it will run out of gas sooner rather than later.  Only time will tell if the victim will run screaming from the car as soon as it comes to a stop.  Fully in the grips of Stockholm Syndrome, I predict to happily follow my captor wherever he goes...but for right now...I need your patience.

I'm down.  But not out.