Baffled by soup

The soup was only okay in spite of good ingredients and the same steps that have produced outstanding results. That’s how it goes.

There’s basil, parsley, garlic, collard greens, cabbage, carrots, onion, chicken sausage and homemade chicken stock. Added hot sesame oil and a squeeze of lime at the end. Maybe the lime was a mistake? Unlike softer greens which can be thrown in at the end or even off heat, I wilted the collards and green cabbage in advance.

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when I chop garlic, I chop enough for days

Sad to say, I broke my favorite knife in the process (the ceramic chef’s knife that was a Christmas gift years ago). I dropped it in a moment of distraction created by the hot handles of my Dutch oven. That made me decide to replace the damned pot (not the one in the picture) — in addition to poorly designed handles, its heat conduction is awful, producing side scorching and smoking olive oil routinely. Enough!

Besides, you should see the beauties I can get with frequent flyer miles!

A chill

It’s cool. And sunny. A good day to read. 


And maybe attach a bamboo skewer to the back of this one and call it done. 

I dyed all of the indigo scraps except for the Shibori with the tree stitched on it. The curving vintage linen also done here, but with black walnut. Deb Lacativa probably dyed that brilliant yellow textile shining in the middle of the lower band. 

Forms of distress

hipstamaticphoto-508700880.644213
img_0641img_0668img_0760img_0640
img_0781Ruin porn is a thing, you know. I learned the term after Season One of “True Detective” which was set in Louisiana and featured one ruined landscape after another. This post’s photos were taken at the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, SC. It’s a site dedicated to preservation rather than restoration, meaning a tour affords a gorgeous array of distressed surfaces. Evidence of life, sorrow, styles, labor, wealth, oppression, and the passage of time are made plain on every surface. I love history speaking this way. I find the peeling paint, scraped up wall paper, splintered wood, and decaying furnishings so evocative. I know it would make you swoon, too.

But here’s the thing: distress of the soul does not enamor me. It most certainly does not make me swoon. It is NOT where I want to start, thank you very much Pema Chodron.

After a morning of being told how unsympathetic I am, hearing my sister’s reports of ongoing (possibly life threatening?) diarrhea, and making multiple calls to arrange the dissembling of one hospital bed and the delivery of another (there is such a long and fraught story there), I’m on to ordering sheets and mattress covers and protectors, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just want that feeling to go away.

And then, there’s how the dog lunged at people this weekend! It’s discouraging, hard not to blame myself, or feel a stab of self-pity — (“Couldn’t I have gotten ONE easy dependent,” goes the whine). I’m watching Cesar Milan and adopting his interventions but worry they won’t work because I lack inner calm and confidence. (“My dog makes ME anxious not the other way around!” goes the defense). Finn’s distress might be partly physical, too — oh how he itches lately! He’s always been allergic, but that too has worsened. So far efforts to identify an allergen have failed.

Writing’s hard and sometimes (truthfully — OFTEN) I just hate it. Love it. Hate it.

There’s a new house renovation four doors up the street, meaning the summer of ’17 now rolls into its ninth or tenth week of jack hammering. On Friday I just couldn’t take it anymore and fled the house as if my pants were on fire. Writing in a coffee shop turned out to be a good thing, but still…

Then there’s the absence of compensatory external rewards, like you know, a paycheck or communicative children.

Image result for monty python it could always be worse

from “The Holy Grail”

I DO KNOW it could be worse, because it could always be worse. (Think: Monty Python’s crucified characters singing: “always look on the bright side of life!”).

For instance, I just read about a father who traveled to Texas last week with his family so his son could have brain surgery. The parents were stranded at the hotel, unable to visit their hospitalized boy on account of the flooding. The poor man said, “It’s bad enough that my son has to have brain surgery without also having to deal with a hurricane.”

So yeah. I have a lot to be grateful for. Today? The sun, the cool air, the time to write, the financial support to write, a stocked fridge, noise-cancelling headphones, tons of state-sponsored care for my sister, an upcoming trip to see Son #2, the coming of fall, friends, ice cream.

Ta-da! What’s on your gratitude or complaint list today?

Mid-70’s selfie

This self portrait was shot with a Rollieflex. I was in my early twenties and clearly enamored with polka dots even then. Somewhere, there are more revealing pictures. What to do when I find them? Burn them? I certainly don’t want my sons laying eyes on them! 

What a great camera! It had that cool flip top and produced large negatives — two inches square maybe? The one I used belonged to my high school and they did eventually get it back. 

It’s a gorgeous day here. I began the day with two Jude Hill YouTube videos (will nourish me for weeks!) and then continued it with errands in town and then attention to belated birthday gifts and a wedding gift. And now the morning is gone. Later. 

Friable cloth

Curtains I made 25 years ago did not survive the wash today. Hot water and bleach were perhaps a mistake. These were upstairs hall curtains and filtered a lot of morning sun in a quarter century. The muslin was friable! Some had shredded in the wash and some disintegrated as I pegged the cloth to the line.

For some reason, their ruination did not bother me — quite the opposite, in fact. It nearly felt as though something sacred was taking place as the fabric fell apart in my hands.

What the ragged cloth did with light was extraordinary.

Hanging laundry on a line satisfies a person in a way that most chores do not. Cannot. Is it because it hearkens back to our mothers in the same way that certain recipes do?