Friday, February 28, 2020

red plate specials - the horrors of cooking that actually taste pretty good

My husband likes to tell me 'enjoy your horror' when he sees me upending cans of food into the glass pyrex container, strange spices and things he wouldn't touch with a ten foot stick.  But then, he has digestive problems and likes to 'stick' to what's safe.

I experiment.

He also made a comment the other night about how most people, when they follow a recipe, actually use the ingredients suggested by the recipe.. or at least, try to.  And then they blame the recipe when t heir substitutions of baking powder for flour or etc do not work out for them.  Well, I think I have much more of a handle on it than those people! 

I improvise.
I follow my nose, and my tongue.  Some things just go together, others.. don't.
There is a certain interplay of fats and proteins, vitamin-C and vitamin A and K...
Some spices are there at the edge of my brain - cinnamon with this, celery seed with that.
And I know that hardly anyone else really would like half of these things.
Or at least, maybe they never let themselves cook like this.
If they did, they could discover this process for themselves.

Sometimes, I'm sure I'm vitamin-seeking, and there is actual chemistry going on at an intuitive level.
These combinations taste REALLY good to me, and it could be because at that very moment, that is what I need for some building-block project my body has going on, rebuilding collagen, muscle and blood. 

I'm certain I would not have survived college without this skill - to be able to throw the net out over my culinary ocean and figure out what to do with what came back.  There were days I walked into the Hornbacher's market in Fargo and my nose took me directly to a grapefruit or a bunch of onions, or I found myself really really interested in tracking down a jar of mustard or can of olives.  I was always working with pocket change, and willing to experiment - that is how most of my cooking knowledge was born. 

But, this sense doesn't work for other people - no one I've met yet..  My nose works for my stomach, and everyone else just stares in horror as I consume the mixtures.  My sister when I was younger, my roommates.. my husband, sometimes my child.  But oddly, the dogs are very appreciative.  They live from their noses to their stomachs, too.  But I wouldn't let any of them cook.

 I found a really good combination last night, and continued it a bit today.

The inspiration for the mixture was a recipe for Sardines and roasted endives with bitter greens - way above what I have on hand at any one minute... but hey, fish and green things, that sounds good - let's improvise.  I've got things in my cupboard that will do that for about $5.99.. at the most.

A can of olive-oil packed mackerels
A can of green chiles, all of it, undrained
A handful of some frozen leeks (tops and bottoms combined)
The other half of a bag of frozen broccoli

A can (drained and washed) of small red beans, non-sauced, non Kidney-beans.


My favorite glass pyrex banana bread pan was deep enough to hold it all.

I layered the fish on the bottom of the pan, then the chiles, then the frozen items on top and covered it with aluminum foil.  I let it bake at 350 for about thirty minutes, then added the beans and stirred the top few layers a bit together.  I baked it a bit more  - about fifteen minutes, to warm the beans to the same temperature.  I originally wasn't going to add the beans, but.. vitamin-seeking, I saw those greens and said 'what does this need?'...and it some more iron and some more protein etc...

I served it up (for myself, only) on my red plate special with some mashed potatoes, butter and lots of black pepper.  I had an audience of six dogs and two cats who would have really liked more than I saved for them.  It was so good, I saved a serving for today and reheated it with some pineapple tidbits mixed in.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The golden lines and fragile webs

I took joy (this morning) in the golden line that shows behind the silhouettes, the way the first light is touching the trees, lit up and the very colour I feel joy to be as it illuminates my soul.

The golden lines, lit up from only one direction or full face on... the glints and small patches where it is like a fire is present, and all of the dark branching silhouettes where there is darkness but form and structure against the contrast.

 The color of the light pushed me to return to the house, and grab the camera.  And gloves, and a scarf.  My glasses were so fogged up, I had to leave them in my pocket and capture the colors and the shadows to tell as much of the tale for me as I could.

I knew that there were things to be seen at thirty degrees that just do not show up later, at fifty, sometimes even at thirty-three.  

And I grabbed the better camera, the one that sees better than my own eyes, to try to capture the snow crystals forming/settling on the spider webs of the fairy houses.  Even with this camera, you can barely see the threads, very up close.. and that is how you know what you are actually seeing. 

Shadows in the strength of the sun, colors that only show up in the gloss and sheen of frost and wet melting under the heat of sunshine.

And now I am watching red birds and their mates skitter through the cedar trees outside my dirty window, sun glinting off of them and the branches they dance through, gleaming and flashing.  Even after a long winter they are still finding things to eat, to argue over, dashing to the ground beneath for a quick sort through the leaves.. cardinals and redstarts and others, congregating.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

I took joy this morning in the mathematics of the trees, again. The powder blue criss-crossed with burnt umber at angles and intersections. The mist out of and into which a hawk soared above the branches, pointed out by the younger eyes beside me. As I am contemplating twists and turns and melancholy steps waiting for the future paths to reveal themselves, it all resonates with a similar tone, rich and varied underneath, and forming to a harmony that says ‘for now, look.’

Algorithms.  Parabolas.  Integral Trees.  Patterns of Dispersion.

It's in the mathematics of the trees, the stones under my feet, the approach and the descent.  It is in the heads of small growing plants rising up through the flat planes of soil.  It is in the steps that we take down the road and the patterns of the many feet running by in the forest, and behind the fences.  It is a rhythm and a harmony of music that is mostly silent, but like music, gathers over time into the patterns and meaningful phrases.  It is in the wrinkles of a face, or the tracing of hands through their motions day after day, and in the tracking of eyes on the horizon waiting for a sign through the passing of astronomy and birds and rain.

I get into this state, seeing this whole that is so much larger than myself but so invisible to most... and I don't know what to do with it.  I can draw, write, record.. but I am only a drop in the river, waiting to see where I will end up and if anyone else is listening to the same music.  It is such a solitary music, even when shared, that still .. a reminder that we are Being, and that over Time there is no such thing as Chaos.. as even the rain on the window tends to fall back together after it has fallen, somewhere, somehow.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

eds update

It has been about six months since I sat down and thought about the EDS in detail - in writing.  It is still here - it will always be here.  BUT, I am not abusing my muscles and bones every day or even every other day anymore to the extent I had been.  And, it shows.  I am not covered in bruises - most of them I can remember exactly what I did now.  EDS makes your skin extremely easy to bruise, even a normal holding the door open with your shoulder while you swing in a box or groceries etc.  And I was seeing that at Lowe's especially around my feet and knees, using them as wedges and levers to pull and push things that I really shouldn't have been handling by myself anyway.

I've seen other improvements.  My hair and fingernails are growing.  Fingernails are also very easy to break, split and tear.  I still see that - I broke two on mailboxes yesterday but not to the quick and I wasn't already to the quick on five others etc.. I don't wake up as often in the middle of the night with pain in my hands from something I did during the day - if I do, I usually 'earned' it, like knitting for three hours straight while I watched NCIS.. but that is tolerable compared to before.  When I get a cut now it doesn't take four or five days of opening and reopening to get it to start to heal - that was especially bad on my hands as a cut on a box at work would turn red and infected and be open for days despite peroxide, antibiotic ointment and bandages - it just kept getting pulled back open before it had time to seal up, and things would get into it and make it infected and that would further extend the healing time. 

My shoulders and knees and foot still crack and crick all over the place but I am not fighting the fracture in my foot every morning just to walk down the stairs and then walking on it for six or seven hours on a concrete floor.  My knee is normal size and despite some pain after I've been in and out of the car all day it has not swollen or needed the brace.  I don't feel every single little fracture and strain piled on top of each other day after day.  In short, there is time to heal in between everything.  Taking care of the infected teeth really have helped my immune system, as well.  I have one left but it has not bothered me much, and with the bleeding after each one I'm going to wait a little bit to do it.

After the route last night I was definitely ready to come home and rest and sleep - muscle aches from being in a car for eight hours etc - but it was a different kind of exhausted and I knew I wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night being hit by the load of pain the day had saved up for me ten or twelve hours after the impacts.  Not everyone with EDS has that specific - but I've read enough that it really hit home - and made me feel like something I had for most of my life suddenly made sense - not an alien, it happens to others, too.  I just hope we can organize what I am doing over the next year that I can make enough to support us while still not tearing my body apart.  That is the goal. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

After a million miles, I still return to the garden

Spring wants to come, but it is still cold.

I am feeling introspective this morning, as a result of one of what I call the 'million miles' dreams - like I've lived days and months and years in a movie-like realistic experience.  The experience comes complete with books, movies, clothes, people, conversations, stores, driving, maps, cooking, laundry.. everything except sleep.. realistic places and things that are not quite real and I know they aren't but I just can't break out until some certain circumstance.  I had one the night before last that only lasted 'two weeks' dream time, but the one last night was months, maybe a year.. and so slippery I can only grasp thoughts before they slide away.

When I wake up I feel like I've lived a 'million miles' elsewhere and wonder about the coherence of space time and reality.  I'm relieved, and confused, and curious and exhausted all at the same time.   I worry a little about my memory, which on many things is so sharp and clear and organized and then on many other things it feels like I'm sorting through soft cheese to find the bits that matter and ignoring the rest hoping it will "reboot' and be useful for something.

I know it is my photographic memory and stress and some sort of cosmic whack-a-mole all combining to create that and that it isn't real time.  98% of the time I can separate real time and dream time.. but there are things that sometimes seem a bit too real - like looking at the (non-extant) scar on my face in the bathroom of an apartment I didn't rent in the 90s, waking up only because I realized that my keys were not MY keys.. as I saw myself walk in the door holding a bag of groceries..

There are even titles of books and magazine articles that turn out to be entirely in my own dream (this is rare for dreams, I've read.. to read entire things in dreams, website URLS, phone numbers and addresses, children's books with pictures.. it all fades away and I can't keep much of it.. some of it I write down as my stories that I am publishing again soon).  I even hear and read things in other languages in my dreams, but not often, and usually as a result of something in 'the real world' having had a good dose of it.  I'm still waiting for the moment I grab a book randomly off a shelf and it is empty inside, or lorem ipsum or something like that... but so far, in dreams and reality the books have all been complete, sometimes even to having the copyright page and year inside.

 I often have said that I keep all the things of this world 'in my head' so that this plastic dinosaur, although lovely, doesn't have to be in my physical hand to hold onto the sense of it.. but in my dreams I guess I take that to the next level recombining and recreating everything down to the plastic dinosaur or book, or endtable, a collection of keys or pocket change or fabric pattern. 

The pizza box in my dream last night was from a television show I had watched earlier in the day - and at the point I made that connection I was able to initiate waking up.

What do I think about when I boil it all down through years lived but not lived?
What stands out about this world the most?

Family.  Time.  Growing Things.  Repetition.  Math (matrices, sine patterns, exponential curves, scatter patterns, spatial patterns both in and not in crystalline form).  Space (The feel of real space around me, touch, cause and effect, conditions and improvements).  Doing Things that alter time and space, randomness, spontaneity, things that are unexpected vs orderly progressions.

There is something about the math - bits that come in the dreams and chemistry and other things that I know I don't consciously understand and probably never will.  It is a 'dream' within the dreams.. something that teases me but I will never have enough time to focus on and figure out.  I feel the taste of it and then let it go.. and concentrate on the other big thoughts - family, growing things, doing things in the real time before me. 

I am going through my seed vault and looking at potential, while a little bit of my mind is still turning over all the other ideas.

I do this every year, work some varieties, see the seeds germinate in the earth and grow along their potential, unfurling leaves, flowering, setting fruit and seed.. different weather patterns and phenotype and nurture every year - some years flourish, some drought or mold or bugs .. some things produce and others do not -  eventually I let Nature take back over and the weeds come up and the earth returns to Fall and Winter to go over again.  But there is a concreteness to this, too - and a tie down to time in a succession of months of regular progression.

I am thinking right now about tilling the earth when it is warm - days or weeks or a million miles twelve times over from now.

I am thinking right now of little girl coming home from school in the afternoon, better from the cold and sinus that have been awful for her and Mark this week.  I am thinking of the flowers growing and the snow yesterday, and the water sound from the freezer this morning, and that tomorrow I run the mail again.

And I am thinking that today, is today, and reminding myself that a million miles of lucid dreaming did not exist for everyone else - I am not in the Planet of the Apes staring at the Statue of Liberty thousands of years in the future (although, honestly, there are days it feels like that)... Today is one day after yesterday, and two days after the day before that... and so forth and so on.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Shepard Lane Garden bits

Mark and Esme are still both down with colds, and a little fever.  I'm planning on taking her into a clinic today, as she says her throat hurts, too.

The post office job is going well - I'm getting faster and I didn't have to check my notes for where to go at all last time - only a few times to see if a box was really 'the next box' since there are a lot of boxes without any markings on them at all on my route.  The other carrier I drove with remarked on it - really, it's a lot.. you should get out here with a silver sharpie and put some numbers on the front of the box, at least - so you don't have to keep opening it up to see the one marked on the inside.  She rec' getting some large brightly colored stickers to put on the vacant ones, too - so I don't have to slow down and check for the green vacant card inside.

I'm going through my seeds and ordering a few greens type things.  A few of my things are actually trying to come up outside - or at least, they were, before this last bout of cold.  I'm trying to decide if I want to buy some onion sets and a new mint plant, and then what to start in my greenhouse.  My house plants could use more attention but I am not sure what to do other than water  One could really use transfer to a big floor pot but then where would I put it that dogs and cats wouldn't get into it or it would be in the shade all the time.

There is someone I was going to give a few seeds to at the post office job.  She is very interested in organic and landrace gardening - which is an interesting connection as I've been doing that for years.  She is just starting her garden, and hoping to make a long running plot that will provide her food over the course of years with saved seed etc... We agree that there is a spiritual connection to growing your own food, to being out in the soil and seeing things change year after year..  I am trying to decide if the year will be hot and dry or cold and wet and moldy... last year was so disappointing.. well, all of the last half of last year was BAD.. from June on.. and I am not sure how things will go this year but I'm willing to look forward to it a little at the moment.

wrote down the following out of my seed box and what is coming up or expected to

purslane (perennial reseeder)
lemon basil (same)
sorrel ( have to plant, have seed)
good king henry (have to plant, have seed, not sure about this one)

Lady white cowpeas
Cherokee white Eagle corn, a few other sweet corns
Whipporwhill southern cowpeas
Shackamaxon beans (pole)

ordered : mesclun lettuce, arugula, komatsuna mustard
carrots, rutabaga, beets, kale, Kenearly yellow eye and Ireland Creek Annie bush beans
wax bush beans

pick up more seed : india mustard, cabbage, marigold, parsley, kale (maybe)

did the asparagus I had started die off or is it just late to come up?  Should I start some more - dig out the seed warmer bed out of the filing cabinet

Wingo sweet peas
a grape tomato
a cutting tomato
banana pepper, pimiento or jalapeno pepper

Friday, February 14, 2020


Practiced our postal routes today and then I bought some special ingredients for Mark to cook a good dinner - pork chops and potatoes.  I run the route again on Tuesday, practicing again probably Monday.  I'm going to have the turns - and the turnarounds - down.  Esme and Mark both had colds but seem on the mend.  It is a cold snap again - water frozen out in the chicken's dish and has been that way all day.  I'm hoping for some better weather, and to find a postal vehicle right hand drive with tax money when it comes in.  I have some paperwork left to do next week - can't forget to check in on it.  Esme and I have been playing on a minecraft server - in tandem, since we get terrible lag when we're both on... it's cool to see into this world that she spends a lot of time in.

My poetry and my two stories came back rejected.  Which means, in actuality, that I can now go forward with The House of Sunlight on my own terms and if I want to put the poetry in it and the stories both, I can.  That would flesh it out and make it a book about the size of Time in December.

There are still some illustrations to make for it- too .. and a final edit on some of the stories, and to decide if I can finish Ingie (Negative Shadows) for it or for the Salt Magic book.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

long weeks

Tomorrow I run half of the new postal route by myself.  Today I laid eyes on it and rode along for the first time.  I can see the first big in my head still and I did pretty good setting up my mail in the morning.  Now if my little car will do what it should and a few of those mailboxes are down a foot or so off the road to the side.  Looking at some other cars for the future - but I think I can do it in this for a bit.