Gently, gently: or, a conflagration of noodles

from cell 2011 081Afternoon, pets. I’m sitting here on the couch, biding my time until my son Jess comes out to pick me up so I can help him load up his stored stuff from my parents’ house. He and his girlfriend Lauren have bought a house, a real beauty which I’ve seen only from the outside. They’re expecting a baby in June, thus navigating two hefty milestones at the same time, more kudos to them, so obviously Lauren won’t be helping lift the washer and dryer. To be honest, neither will I, really, but I can at least steady them while Jess does the bulk of it. Such are the perils of moving on a weekday afternoon: the only help you get is from your middle-aged mother and your pregnant girlfriend.

Tonight, after work, Scott and Torie and I will trundle over to see the inside of the house for the first time, have a picnic of Thai food on their living room floor, and meet Lauren’s mom, whom we’ve never met before and who’s visiting from Texas. Lots of firsts.

It shouldn’t even have to be said that I’ve already started the primal hunting and gathering process for my upcoming grandson. His name is Sol, by the way. The Sun. What sweeter name could fall on the ears of a Leo than Sun? Well, besides “Leo,” I suppose, which I’m glad they didn’t name him, because, well, No. Besides, he’s going to be a Gemini. I know nothing about Geminis. I’m going to have to start reading up.

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So, I started this post to tell you about some of the things I’ve been enjoying lately, and of some of the things I’m letting go, and of some of the things I’m picking back up again. Let’s start.

british flagI’ve slowly wended away from Scandinavian literature (both in books and onscreen) and am once again–this thing is cyclical–wholly immersed in Alle Things English. I am in love with Karl Pilkington, Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope, and calling people “pet” and “love.” I remember watching the extras on the LOTR DVD years ago and rolling my eyes at Elijah Wood saying everything was “brilliant.” At the time I thought it was an affectation, but I understand now that he had spent four years in intimate contact with myriad Britishers so how else was he going to speak? He was probably restraining himself admirably and deserves some credit. I’ve only been watching the BBC and Skye TV for a month or so and here I am even thinking in a Northumberland accent. There’s no hope for me. Bloody hell.

Hey though, I still love Scandinavian anything.

I like how small the world has become, and our burgeoning global culture. I’ve been thinking about how amazing it is that for the first time in human history, all peoples are connected. There’s just no way of predicting accurately how this will change us. The U.S. and other developed countries are no longer the melting pots of the world–the entire world is becoming the melting pot! I find this fascinating and encouraging, and am not scared about the future like so many are. I know people who are hoarding gold, guns, and canned foods for their version of the apocalypse and I think this is a terrible way to live, a paralyzing frame of mind to be in. Sad.

I also recognize the sadness in trying to carve out some kind of personal identification from the culture of others, as I have a tendency to do. Scandinavian, British, and American Indian cultures are those I’ve emulated recently, instead of settling wholly into myself, unidentified with anything or anyone, or with any system of belief or philosophy. We tend toward collectives because there’s safety in numbers, but at least for me, there’s no ultimate peace in any of them. No one has The Answer, I don’t care who you are. And besides, I’m NOT Scandinavian, British, or American Indian. I can trace roots back to all three, but today, right now, in this lifetime, I am your garden-variety mongrel American, and even deeper than that, I’m just… me.

writingLetting go and picking up, another turn of the wheel. I realized (and it’s funny, and frustrating, that I am constantly “realizing” the same things over and over and don’t recognize it until I stumble upon an old entry in a journal, or someone reminds that I’d said the same thing ages ago) that my creative expression follows a pattern. Artwork in the fall and winter, when I need to bring color in to the short, cold, dark days, and writing in the spring and summer, when the days are mild and long and bright. Easy. If I can just remember this then I won’t get down on myself for not finishing a project, because I’ll come back to it eventually. I’ve picked up my novel again, the one I was so enthusiastically working on last summer, and the great thing is, I’m refreshed and invigorated and ready to get rolling on it again. That means I am leaving my last painting unframed, and the frame is an intrinsic part of the painting’s message, but that’s okay–I’ll get to it once the cold weather hits again. I no longer want to be sitting on the floor working on papier-mache or swirling paint onto canvases; I want to be sitting anywhere tip-tapping on my laptop.

metaphysicallibrarySome books I’ve loved in the last few weeks are My Abandonment by Peter Rock; Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed; One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak; Books of Blood by Clive Barker; the Leaphorn/Chee novels by Tony Hillerman; The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert; The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. Right now, I can’t get enough fiction. I start to hyperventilate and sweat if my stack of library books dwindles to fewer than three. (It’s possible to be addicted to anything, but you know that by now.)

television2Some television shows I’ve loved in the last few weeks are An Idiot Abroad; Derek; Rectify; Vera; the fifth season of Supernatural; I Shouldn’t Be Alive.I just discovered Acorn TV (“The chief curators of the best British TV” – Time) and have been having a ball watching Vera and Inspector George Gently and adding shows to my watchlist. Next up will be the later seasons of Midsomer Murders, the ones after John Nettles, because I haven’t seen them.

God, I love stories–reading or watching, doesn’t matter to me.

hershey-baking-cocoa_lgMagical food tip of the day. I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the benefits of cacao and was considering buying some raw beans, but they’re so expensive and besides, I am very suspicious of trends because they make people such easy marks. I had been considering buying raw beans from a company online for $45 for 5 lbs, but was dragging my heels because of the cost, especially for something I hadn’t tried before. Then I discovered that New Seasons sells 8 oz for $10.99, much more reasonable, but still steep, and then there’s that pesky suspicion part.

It wasn’t until I was cleaning out some kitchen cupboards and happened upon an old (2003, don’t judge me) can of Hershey’s baking cocoa, that I noticed something that took me aback. Right there, on the front label under the big Hershey’s name, were the words “100% cacao.” I threw that can away, don’t worry, and the next trip to Winco picked up a new one. After doing some research, I discovered that it’s got the same properties as the raw stuff. It isn’t Dutch-processed cocoa… it’s actual cacao. The only controversy arises from whether or not roasting (excessive heat) ruins or diminishes those properties, but there are compelling arguments for both sides. At this point I don’t care, as I’ve been drinking a cup every day ever since and am delighted to no longer fall into afternoon comas, and to have saved some money. At $2.49, it’s a bargain. That’s one packet of Stevia, one heaping teaspoon of cacao, boiling water, topped off with milk, in case you’d like to try it yourself. I made it with coconut milk the other day for Jess, and that was delicious, too. I’m going to make myself a cup after I’m done here.

I’d make you a cup too, if you were here. Have a lovely day.

 

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