Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I Can Show You, I Can Show You, Rain I Don't Mind

Chicken Zucchini Dump Casserole
Chicken, zucchini and corn, tomato and cilantro are just about the best flavors together.  I threw all the ingredients in a big pot with a little stock, garlic, cumin seed and stewed it in the oven.  I put the chunked zucchini on top, not submerged so that it would keep it's shape and it worked! Still had bite but kept that ultra juicy roasted texture.  Of course bone in chicken thighs are preferred but this time I used diced boneless because that's all I could find.  #where'sallthechicken?
I wonder how this Pandemic will shape art and creativity.  I know many folks are still adjusting and energy levels are low.  But doesn't it also feel the atmosphere surely must be thick with possibilities?  What does music sound like when we're all this lost or lonely?  It sounds awesome, actually.  What do paintings look like?  What are you moved to photograph when your eyes are searching for beauty more desperately then before?   
But in saying all of that, I find that I've been holding my breath creatively, living in a comatose state for several months and have read the same from others.  Like waiting for a friend to come pick me up that never arrives.  That's what hopelessness feels like but that's not what this is.  I'm very interested in the time that we're in.  It's more of a timidness to step out of the cage to let happiness in at such an uncertain period.  Forced change is so very scary but also brings a huge burst of new possibilities, an unknown, new territory and that's exciting.  Of course I fear it all, that's in my nature. but I also embrace it because I longed for a reboot.  I never could I have imagined it would happen on this type of global scale though.         

Nature used this newly paved parking lot to display a gigantic portrait of a tree.  I stood and admired it for so long one morning that when I started taking pictures, the new owner of the building came out and stood watching me, looking concerned, as if he might ask me to move on.  Then maybe when he realized I was a tiny nonthreatening woman, he started looking around, wondering what I found so fascinating.  And he never did see it, I don't think. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

And I Wake To Find That You're Not There

A vibration in my gut made by the revving of a chainsaw woke me so rudely that I refused to get out of bed. The limb that broke off in the storm a few weeks ago lay hanging in the balance until this morning.  When I did finally get up, the tree trimmers had already cut off most of the dead branches from our giant tree out back.  

I sort of loved that darn tree, the way it was all bushy and wild.  Now so stark and sterile.  I hated seeing all the branches carted away, even the dying ones, dragged through the house to the front where the wood chipper grinded and pulverised them to oblivion.  I admire a nice garden, I guess.   The tree seems even taller now and perhaps will finally get a decent drink of water.  It's all about the tree. 

This week we were in Indian summer inside and out.  I made typical warm weather fare.  Avocado Cheeseburger on toasted Brioche bun, baked fries and corn on the cob.  

My neighbor got right to putting up lights and getting the space in order.  I hate order. Sometimes.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

All I Want Is Some Truth, Just Gimme Some Truth

The handy thing about dried beans is they are very inexpensive.  You can whip up a batch of amazing hearty soup by just throwing all the ingredients into a slow cooker and forgetting about them until hours later when you lift that lid and taste the magic.  The most work you'll do is blend up some of the mixture if you like your soup more thick and creamy, which I do and you might too.  Condiments are key and that's when you can get creative.  
My advice is after you've enjoyed one or two full bowls of this delight, to freeze up individual portions in plastic containers because unless you're a superfreak, it's not natural to consume so many beans in a week.  

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Just like it's not natural to be so absorbed in constant political journalism like many of us are right now.  It's no wonder we're so uncomfortable, some have long since fell into a kind of quiet depression, some have become much more angry at the world, and most folks that I know are eating poorly, finding it hard to make the right food choices.   It makes sense that in taking many joyful activities out of our daily lives, we try to compensate by finding pleasure orally.  But our diets are very important and many times that quick oil laden fix only perpetuates the gloom.  That takes its toll on energy levels and general disposition.  I have fallen prey to 'git r done' dinners and the screw it, let's just eat leftovers mentality countless days in the last months for many reasons.   My creative streak is on hiatus but what I think is most affected is my gumption.  I'm not giving up, I just figure the key to fixing it is recognizing the problem and then taking the steps to rectify the situation.  There is a lot going on in the world and processing it all can leave you with a dull appetite for life in general.   Probably all the more important for those of us, finding themselves in this new radical, confrontational, aggressive world with no desire to take part in the game, to strive to stay creating, to write, to paint, to play music and garden and sew masks and all the very beautiful things my family and friends did before all of this nonsense took hold of our psyches.  We are all battling mental terrorism.  We have to turn this ship around and return to using our minds, not allow our minds to use us to process continual information that serves no purpose but to keep us in a state of intake.  There is an amazing world of wonder right here where we are, right now that is real and true, like this hot, spicy bowl of black bean soup. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

You Got Me So Confused, It's a Shame

I admit, shamefully, that I did not want to spend an additional 2 or 3 hours of my day investigating and reading articles, watching video footage of the Breonna Taylor trial today and last night.  It's my day off and I value that time, each hour like precious gems. I try to fill them with creative projects, communication with family and friends, making meals for my mate, watching good movies, writing, listening to music.  Basic simple joys.    All the things that I resent not being able to do while I'm working. Putting on my own oxygen mask before I attempt to save others.  But how do you accomplish that logic and also keep up on the multitude of important, complex problems facing the world right now, and at the rate it's all pouring in.  How do we accomplish that balance of duty with our personal pursuit of happiness in this new world

I knew what I thought was enough about Taylor's case weeks ago to see it was an injustice, to feel for her family, to mourn the death of an innocent woman who probably made people happy and clearly was on a path to a better life after falling in love with the wrong someone.  Enough to be concerned this was on the heels of Floyd and yes, a responsibility to at least get informed and pay attention to the outcome.  I do agree this is everyone's problem, not just the black community.  If we, people that are less affected, go on ignoring these blatant crimes and misuse of power, that's a problem, we become part of the problem.  I do get that, I read the protest signs and pondered them, at first a little annoyed anyone was trying to guilt me into action but there's enough truth and good intention in the message to get my attention.  

But these folks need our help in numbers to make change and it should never be okay but worse now, that more people are made aware it's happening. So to know and continue to allow it with a blind eye is no longer a choice we should choose.  And the truth is, but what is not being talked about, is that so many of us 'other' people have been victims of lessor but disturbing power plays by cops too in our lives.  I know in my house we've talked of more than a few incidents and have even been together a couple of times when it happened.  Some people get into those jobs and use them as a tool to play out their crazy, sick, psychosis.  I've seen it in the extreme first hand. So,without even hearing all the detailed facts, it's not that big of a stretch for me to believe this is all really happening to folks less protected by status and class in society on the regular.  

But even putting aside responsibility,  how much can one take on, competently and truly?  When these complicated issues pile up you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to do much of anything but get yourself all upset and feeling deflated and tired.  Prioritizing is even tricky.  The election is coming at us like the unpredictable waves of Cabo San Lucas.  We're the flailing tourists who one moment were sunning happily but suddenly now are caught in the undertow on the beach unable to get up before the next bigger wave hits, and yes, some drunk and stupid but others of us were just living our lives, ignorant to how powerful the ocean can be.  This never ends well on the videos I watch late at night.   

Us before the election

We're all spent mentally from this Pandemic and what it's done to our everyday lives.  The discourse in society around the cops, our public servants bringing on this disruption by their years of bad behavior within their precincts and no one making them accountable.  I'm willing to believe that issue is so much bigger than that because nothing is simple anymore.  We have so much history, bad blood, old problems, poor leaders, years of corruption.  These types of things spin a brain like mine.  For someone like me, just a girl trying to enjoy her day off it feels like being hit with wave after wave and my inability to catch up or get a proper grip on solid ground has now become yet another problem to tackle.  

Before social disorder could hit the streets and because my grocery is across the street from Barclays Center, the starting place for all protests, I ran to the store for dinner and found this nice fresh, wheat pizza dough and thought to create a flatbread using grated sweet potatoes, Italian sausage, spinach and onions.  Lots of garlicky olive oil for good measure and of course cheese.  It was definitely a hit and a surprise even to me since I haven't made anything impressive in weeks.   

To this point I have not been a protester, I have never marched for anything.  I've thought about it.  The virus definitely squashed those thoughts previously but I will find a way that's true to myself to help.  When it's this specific though, I need to have all the facts and I'm still absorbing them.  As a matter of fact 20 minutes ago, I was sent the Definitive Breonna Taylor story, or so I'm told.  This made me realize, and maybe I've been slow to get this but we're no longer just protesting bad cops but our entire legal system if we are not able to accept the verdicts.  That would be more of a tsunami. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

No Longer Riding on the Merry Go Round, I Just Had to Let it Go

Beer Cheese Potato Sausage Soup
This soup was the most impressive thing I did in weeks.  It was more than just nutrition, felt like a (good) witches brew.  I put sausage but also ground beef as I love the texture with potatoes.  Meat and potatoes, what could be better?  Oh yeah, cheese!!!  And the Guinness gave it depth.  I omitted the whole milk because it was rich enough on it's own.  It's a decadent soup already, so it was easy giving up one item.
As always, I added some jalapeno for heat.  As in life, I am not fond of too much comfort in my comfort foods.     
When do you let something go, that you know is true or important but seems hopeless to resolve?  When is it crucial to state facts if they are not pleasant or hurtful to a person or community?  How do we talk about complex issues that require us to be more honest than makes us comfortable in order to unravel all the necessary layers?  It's hard enough for two people who are together for years to discuss problems in the relationship with complete honesty let alone strangers in multitudes.  Many of the problems right now require tougher conversations than we are probably capable of holding.  
But in friendships and love relationships oftentimes we refrain from bringing in the whole truth of the matter verbally anyway.  Truth tends to reveal itself over time slowly and gradually whether you like it or not.  Sometimes what we fear is true, is not what it seems at all.  Other times, the issue either fixes itself or goes away on it's own.   This year, for me, there is a good amount of accepting what is.   That's not to say giving up but understanding the limitations of my powers of persuasion and efforts.  Even going as far as to leave things be, not to affect.  I guess I would liken it to having a second child where mothers are less nervous and learn the hard way that they do not control much of anything.  This pandemic may have kicked me into that sophomore mentality. 
Before, there had been an obligation to contribute to the global mix of chaos, to get in there with a little elbow grease and help sort it out in many areas of my life, even at work.  But I have let that go because for one it doesn't seem to result in positive results.   I seem to have just as much luck when I do absolutely nothing in life then when I put all my heart and soul into something and I'll tell ya, it's a lot less painful.  It seems that if I keep my good intention but mind clear of debris, the rest falls into place naturally. 
A gorgeous rendition of Watching the Wheels by John Lennon

The next day after it became all soft and married