Last night our sisterhood of the GPAC Guild gathered for our monthly meeting and to gussy up the cavernous foyer of GPAC with trappings of the holidays. We do this every year, the occasion marked by pizza and marred by the frustrating task of hanging the garland on the brass rails of the great staircases that frame both sides of the building.
We all have different committees and such–and I am supposed to be the decorator in residence. I am not sure why this is the case, as there are plenty of talented and artistic women in the guild who could do this, so I figure they are just smarter than me and have engineered this so that I am the one left holding the ornaments.
By the time I walked in, the onerous process was already underway, and let me tell you. Dante sure missed this circle of hell when he was writing his Inferno. Imagine if you will a writhing but prickly fifty foot long anaconda and twelve women holding it– with another twelve offering advice as to how to set the thing down.
The devil, if I might continue my Dante allusion, is in the detail of where you secure the garland so that it swags EVENLY. One blessed year of our Lord the thing was taken down with tags placed where the wires should secure it to which balustrade.
Not so this year. So too, with the lights. Neatly coiled by someone, they rested in little bundles, waiting to be tested, uncoiled and twined back into the long green monster.
Worse, the garland was about to be placed around the balcony, which just looks strange with our somewhat anemic anaconda hanging limply from its stately prow.
“Nope, we can’t put the garland there,” I called, knowing I was about to be unpopular.
“What do we do with it then?” came the response that I knew was coming. In addition to being very bright, these women are very logical, and not given to standing around for any length of time with yards and yards of fake greenery.
Trying to think of something fast, I suggested that we put two strands of the garland together to make one. A marriage made in hell that turned out to be a heavenly solution.
Next question, came from one of the best dentists in our area, Becky, who asked, now are we still swagging it, or are we going to lay it straight down the staircase?
Eureka! Gadzooks! It was the perfect solution–avoidance! I called for a complete cessation of action and announced the brilliance that had occurred within our midst. A cheer and what I think an author called the “unbearable lightness of being” overtook us all. Freed from the dreaded constriction of our past expectation, we were able to not only complete the task with our sanity intact, but to create three enormous wreaths for hanging from the balcony.
The garland now follows the line of the staircase and looks like a fat, full hedge all a twinkle with hundreds of sparkling white lights. It looks fantastic.
Ah, you might be thinking, you detected the word pizza–but I didn’t eat pizza, I was able to swing by afterward and pick up two Wu boxes of chicken and green beans, which brings us to the green bean portion of our treatise on garlands and green beans.
In an earlier entry I mentioned the principle of variety that is employed by Mr. Wu in the manner in which he either chops or slices the ingredients. But I have noticed that green beans are generally rather lengthy affairs, possibly this makes them more chopstickable, but for me, in its steamed and rather nascent, greeny state, it’s a whole lot of greeniness for one mouthful. That’s just me, but as I have said, I grew up on melt-in-your mouth green beans that had been caramelized by simmering in a pot all day with bacon and new potatoes.
So I took a fresh look at those green beans. And inspired by our new take on the garland, I performed a little procedure on them, chopping them up into little 1/2 inch chunks, the way you sometimes see asparagus done, so that you have a sense of crunch added to the dish.
Yum! Perfect! Isn’t that weird, how one little change in something can take it from ho hum or even unlikable to absolutely divine? Like take Mona Lisa. What if she had been painted with a big ole grin, just because she maybe laughed at his joke?
Well anyway, the day was a reminder to me to be mindful of tweaking and for re-thinking old ways of doing things. Just because I have always done something one way, or just because something has been presented one way, does not mean it would not benefit from a new perspective.
Changing my old thinking and recreating and evolving is what the Wu Tao Food Project is about, and nights like last night are very encouraging to me because they light the way.
Thanks, GPAC Sisters!