A Drift in Memories

A photo of me and my pet, "Little Red Hen" that I'd hoped to add to an earlier entry suddenly surfaced in my sifting today.

It was a day spent sifting through drifts of old letters, documents and receipts, sympathy cards, and photos.

I woke up this morning with both ears aching and a scratchy throat, a discomfort  I’ll blame on dusty excavations in an abandoned bedroom. The chore has been easily avoided. There were, and still are other tasks that seem more compelling, more needed per the triage of the day.

Rummaging through the flotsam and jetsam of the accumulated clutter recalls memories. Some are tough to take. The most painful reminders are often the sweetest, sending a shooting pain like sugar to a sore tooth in what is  an excruciating stab to the heart.

And so I stay busy. Very busy. But business, like a balm,  works for me, giving me the chance to take  doses of the past like treatments of chemo and radiation, allowing time between the exposure to my losses.

It’s all good. Stops and starts are okay. Pushing on is what counts.

To read the blog that goes with the photo, go to:

https://wufoodproject.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/me-wu-and-tofu/

Tofu with Mixed Chinese Vegetables

Funny thing–to get myself back on a really healthy track yesterday, I’d ordered Mr. Wu’s clean and refreshing dish of tofu with mixed greens. Last week included some dietary detours, and it was good to drink tea yesterday and today, and to enjoy the delicate flavors of Mr. Wu’s fresh vegetables.

Petals of Red, Petals of Gold

A mask I made to commemorate the life of Marguerite Piazza. The petals of red represent her life on stage, the red velvet curtains; and the gold petals are her memories of that life.

It’s a night for remembering, and like all New Year’s Eve’s, a time  for looking back and pondering.

As a cold front blows in, I can hear the rain falling  in the varied movements of a sonata, changing its tempo and mood; the raindrops hitting the roof  in pounding torrents,  pattering on the leaves and the street in a lively staccato,  and at other times,  drumming its fingers on the windows.

And so it has been this year.

Passages, movements, whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same, it’s change.

I don’t want change to come to me via erosion.I want to change creatively, to become who I need to be.

I believe there is a seed  within each  of us that is meant to grow into an incredibly special and magnificently unique person. It’s sort of what the generation before us used to call, “living up to your potential”, but on a much more personal and individual level. It’s why I get so excited about most people–and frustrated with other people. It’s such a gosh darn shame when people do not honor the beauty of their soul and self.

Beyond the boxes and the layers of  tissue paper of position and insecurity and ideology, there is such a tender and fragile beauty in us all, a gift so precious and valuable. That is why I make my masks like I do–not to hide the person wearing them, but to reveal their  lovely inner natures.

As the rain continues to fall, I think of the song by Bob Dylan, a Hard Rain is Going to Fall.

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

My Grown Up Christmas Wish

 

My mother took me to see Santa Claus. His broken road brought him to a Birmingham department store.

I’ve been enjoying an advent series of sermons built around the title of the song, “My Grown Up Christmas List”.  The minister’s  point is that our  “hopes and fears”  (to quote a traditional carol)  determine what we wish for as we mature, and thus we wish not for material things, but instead yearn for freedom from conflict, for a sense of belonging and to be at peace with ourselves and our families.

Today he pondered the mystery of why our actions in the present are not better informed by our knowledge of the future. I wonder about this a lot, also. Why do we do stupid things when we know the outcomes?

You would think change for the better would be easy. But change of any kind seems to be very challenging.

At the top of my grown up Christmas list is an abiding wish to keep moving in a direction that will lead me to where I need to be. And to not give up. Ever.

I think the key to change  is to be extremely mindful and conscious, which means cultivating a calm sense of awareness. So I guess that is what I really want, and that is a gift that I must give to myself.

For a long time I thought that change was more of a dynamic process, a kinetic and purposeful action oriented endeavor.  Maybe that is the “American way”–or what is more along the lines of “western philosophy”.  That’s pretty much how  I began the Wu Food Project, as if merely changing what I ate would lead me to a new way of being.  But “being” in a different place  requires a path.

Our group recently made the acquaintance of a great songwriter, Marcus Hummon. He collaborated on the song, “God Bless the Broken Road,” a song that plays constantly in my heart.  We do our own  a cappella arrangement and it meant a lot to us when  Marcus broke into a smile and told us how much he liked it. It is Jay’s arrangement of his song that I think most closely touches the music of the song.

IF I can just remember where I have been,  while considering where I would like to be someday, and can be mindful and aware of where I am right now,  then I will be more apt to make good choices that will enable me to choose my path wisely.

Just because the road is broken doesn’t mean that we are. I still believe.

Me, Wu and Tofu

Little Red Hen was a wonderful bird. Note her noble profile and patient acceptance of my childish hug.

I think I am in the process of redefining comfort food.

Gradually I am beginning to think of  comfort food as food I feel comfortable eating, and right now,  that means I’d have to define it as vegetables, tofu, and fish.

There are already a host of consumer items that no respectful person would purchase, because no one wishes to support corporations or products that harm the environment or victimize the helpless.

After the recent salmonella outbreak, it was “discovered” that the chickens had been warehoused in odious conditions.  Anyone keeping a pet in similar circumstances would instantly have landed in court on animal cruelty charges.

As it so happens, I have a very soft place in my heart for chickens. When I was a child, living in the country, my daddy and I went into town to the feed and seed store and bought 50 chicks. They were very noisy, and we had to build them a special little nursery–I think it was called a brooder, with light bulbs to keep them cozy.

The chicks  required a great deal of care and attention, and it was with some degree of pride we saw them grow up to become  healthy chickens leading productive chicken lives.  Chickens are purposeful creatures, clucking amongst themselves, pecking and scratching (the ground, not themselves), and preening  throughout the day. Then, they sensibly  call it a night and go up to roost so that they can crow and cackle and do it all over again the next day. Left to their own devices, there is a definite order to their lives.

When finally the big day arrived and  they had  reached critical mass,  it was time for the chickens to go to chicken heaven. The next day, all of my aunts and uncles and cousins assembled for a Sunday dinner of fried chicken at my grandmother’s house. Long tables covered with table cloths were set up under the trees end-to-end.  I must have been about six, when I asked my Uncle Olen to “please pass George”.

Now to me, George, who had lived a noble and bucolic life in happy dignity, was better served, so to speak, than the anonymous chicken available by the pound at the supermarket who spent its woeful life in an over-crowded chicken ghetto.

All this to say, that our society may be beginning to see a nexus that will give us all pause as to how much meat–how much chicken–even how much fish– we all consume.  Science is telling us that just as what we pay at the pump is a trivial amount compared to the general and overall  effect emissions have on the planet, so we will begin to ponder the price of  meat farming  and its effect on our general health and to the environment.

I have a vivid memory of the mornings when I would  slip my small hand under the warm feathered body of a hen to collect her egg.  And I have spent many a summer afternoon with the three hens that furnished our family with eggs. Their names were Fluffy, Scrawny, and Little Red Hen, who was  my beloved favorite,  following me around like a puppy.

The American obsession with pets paired with  its odd disregard for the life of the animals they eat is a paradox.  But as the planet and our country and our resources become more limited, it seems to me we had better begin to think  more carefully about how what we eat impacts the world that  our children, and our children’s children, will have to survive in.

To that end, I give a tremendous Green Giant thumbs up to Mr. Wu, who has a way with tofu and vegetables that demonstrates how satisfying and  delicious a meal can be with or without meat. Tonight’s meal of tofu and mixed vegetables was sensational.

The Wu Food Project continues to lead me in a new and exciting direction.

Life is for learning.

–Joni Mitchell