You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2007.

It’s my sabbath, and I have been in the moment all day. On my sabbath, I take a break from Time, not from work…
I thought I would offer up this up for today’s entry.

This is one of my favorite passages in any book. (Let it be known, I really don’t read fiction. I pretty much read my same old reference books over and over.) In this case, the book is Carla Emery‘s Encyclopedia of Country Living.
This bit is about food and growing it, but one could be creative and apply these thoughts to other areas of life perhaps.

“The wonderful magic at the heart of a food-growing household is the magic that turns your home-produced turnips and cream, apples and meat into your meals. The moment of triumph is when you say to the family, “Here’s what we worked so hard to grow, and isn’t it good!” I think you cook most happily, freely, and independently when you make good things out of what Providence is giving you!
Lane Morgan, author of the Winter Harvest Cookbook (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1990), says, ‘I agree entirely that cooks are spending too much money at the supermarket and at the gourmet supply store. But I think we would profit by spending more time looking at cuisines of other cultures, to help us better use what our particular gardens can grow. Country people around here will eat canned green beans and carrots all winter, which are considerable work to put up, because that’s good Amereican garden food. Meanwhile they could be eating fresh kale and leeks and Japanese mustards from that same garden, which would be tastier, more nutritious, and easier all around, but they don’t because that’s foreign stuff and they don’t know the Greek or Indian or Japanese techniques to make them wonderful. They’ll make clam dip from a package, but they wouldn’t consider an Indian chutney made of garden mint and chutney, served with garden spinach and potatoes. Too strange.’
Making menus out of what you can grow is the way that Great-Grandmother did it. Each week she looked in the larder and the cellar and took a walk through the garden to see what she had to work with. Then she made menus. When she had eggs and milk aplenty, a little honey and some stale bread, the family had a bread pudding. In May she served rhubarb in it, in June strawberries over it, and in September peaches — because that’s the way they grew.
To have 365 days of independent eating, you’ve got to learn to eat what you can grow, and you’ve got to learn to grow what you want to eat. At first it will be hard, but stick to it. If you don’t like what you have, eat it anyway and use the energy of your distaste to figure how to get what you’ll like better. If your only meat is elk, eat elk until you can raise something else. If you miss bacon, get four little pigs. In six months, they’ll be 200-pounders. and you’ll have a year’s supply of bacon plus a sow to breed and keep the bacon coming. If you’re still living in the city and you don’t have anything but dreams, try for fun buying only what you imagine you could grow — in a natural, unprocessed state — like whole grains, and see if you can learn to live off it.
When lettuce is in season, have a salad every day — you can’t preserve it. If you miss it in the off-season, contrive a way to raise winter lettuce in the house. If you miss sweets, learn beekeeping. If you have barley and corn, make your bread, pancakes, and pie crust out of barley floour, cornmeal crust, and a bear-meat filling. If you have some tough old hens past their laying time, 3 extra male goats, and 100 rabbits, then learn good ways to cook tough old hens, goat meat, and rabbit.”

for the record, I don’t like turnips, I have eaten bear meat (and it is good), and I am so not there yet.

I am doing everything in my power not to whine today.
Some days I am overwhelmed by what feels like a lack of vision. What motivates me to create? I ask myself this on a daily basis. There are ways in which the answer does not matter; I have a certain amount of maintanence that I have to perform, on the home, on my projects. For these tasks I don’t need Motive.
It is the projects and ideas that are not tethered to function that baffle me.

french knot work

This is all a function of stretching to achieve more than what is immediately within my grasp.

and also some knitting.

I had a rich day, spent lots of time with nature. Things I did: saw a harrier hunting not 10 feet from me; lay in Mark’s little boat just to let the current rock me; spyed the moon through maple leaves; stretched out on the warm rocks in the driveway next to a snake, each of us checking out the other; sat for half an hour under a larch tree, blending with it, and willing the seeds I gathered and planted from that tree to hatch and grow; and shucked oysters brought to me by Sharin, and sucked the salty water and slippery beasts out of the shells.
Now at the end of the day I feel so good!

As promised, here is a page from The Night Life of Trees. This is a book “of art and folklore from the Gond tribe in central India. In Gond belief, trees stand in the middle of life, and the spirit of many things lie in them. They are busy all day, giving shade and support and shelter and food to all. Only when night falls can they find rest for themselves, and then, under quiet dark skies, that spirits that live in them are revealed.”

the creation of trees
The Creation of Trees.

more to come.

Okay, here are the thoughts. I tend to be fairly spacey, forgetting about commitments and general maintainence, and that’s not good.
I became aware of something developing in my life today, an internal organization, ooo, that sounds dry, let’s say I am learning how to feel the threads that connect me to the things I need to keep track of. For example, I have to make a pair of socks for a swap, and while there isn’t a set deadline, I am determined to not procrastinate this time! My heart is set on making a pair of pomatomus, which puts me on a bit of a learning curve. First step has been to mull over the choice of yarn. I decided on this yarn, which I have been ravelling from an abandoned project I got at a thrift store years ago:
blue yarn
it is very thin, and I needed smaller needles than I had, so I went and bought some 0 dpns. (The pattern calls for 2s and I know I am loose knitter, so I start two sizes down.) Then I made my first gauge swatch. Which turns out to be too big!
All this taking place along a stretch of time, mind you, and in the meantime, I am getting a bit restless, so I turn the gauge swatch into something possibly useful:
redbird patch
which didn’t turn out good at all, but hey maybe somebody will like it. I am really poor at figures, and this is supposed to be a Firebird, but didn’t it turn out too cute!

I quickly figured out I was going to have to learn the lace pattern for the socks on a bigger yarn than I will ultimately be using. So:
pomatomus swatch
I nailed it.
Now, I am waiting for my smaller needles to arrive in the mail (I went ahead and ordered 00s, 000s, and 0000s, it’s been too damn long since I spent money on myself if you don’t count this, tight last couple of months), and while I wait, I am working on a Sunrise Circle jacket for Alice, which is itself a preparation for making myself one!
the beginnings of the back of the sunrise circle jacket
All this is relatively mundane, but it serves to illustrate how I have been able to carry the thread of an idea through several stages without losing it, and of course, I simultaneously have many other threads running between my fingers that I am keeping track of with similar processes.
After years of forgetfulness, I am excited about this ability! and, best of all, this “method” is enhanced by, not dependent on, written lists.

so yeah.

WARNING: Non-craft content to follow!

my mother wore red

I was listening to some bad disco tonight…(is any of it good? I love it)… and thinking about my mother, circa 78, 79. Those were some days! She really took us for a ride.

For those who don’t know, my mom died on Halloween 2006, at the age of 57. She lived hard, that’s for sure. She did love to party. I think about her a lot, and try as I might to have it otherwise, my memories of her are of this partying hardcore broad (her word, not mine). I have some stories! but it wasn’t a really kid-friendly environment. If my childhood were rated like a film it would be a hard hard R. Not quite Boogie Nights, but still I couldn’t finish that movie, ouch.
I am aiming for a nice quiet PG-13 for my daughters! (for language and smoking)

here’s a story: When we had just moved to Astoria from Isla Vista (where they burned the Bank of America in 1970), my mom fell in love with a Turkish sailor who was passing through on one of the big ships. We were going to move to Istanbul! (if that didn’t work out, then we were going to San Francisco…) We even started to learn turkish, as a family. Taskin, he seemed like such a gentle soul, but then he went upriver and got into some trouble. Got drunk and knifed someone. So much for that plan!
Something my mom was always doing was taking me to movies that were totally inappropriate for someone my age. I think she was so used to me being her best friend, or else she felt guilty about leaving me at home. She said she was working 90 hours a week in those days. Days at the cannery and nights at the bars. So it was off to the movies we would go. American Gigolo (there’s the Giorgio Moroder connection), Midnight Express, Saturday Night Fever (hey I got that record for my tenth birthday!), Rocky Horror (okay that one wasn’t so bad), and there were other earlier shows that still nag at me. At least she didn’t take me to see Looking For Mr. Goodbar, but she still told me all about it, down to the violent end.

here I am in those Diane Keaton days, so pleased to be able to wear this coat for a night! I was 9.
rabbit skin coat
of course nighthawks is hanging on the wall… they were like that, such nighthawks.

here’s my mom’s 20th birthday party:
my mom's 20th birthday party
that’s her with the skinny legs. check it out, she’s smoking, of course.

And here’s another from that same time, 1969:
mom, me, and my best friend
warhol could have done something with her, it’s true.

There were some hard times, and I don’t need to tell all the stories, not here and now, anyway.
She loved to smoke and she loved drugs and she loved her kids. When I was younger I worshiped her, and then I got angry, and nowadays I just shake my head and wondered what she was thinking, with love, and humor, and respect for her struggles.