Thursday, May 28, 2020

I am weary...

  I am tired.  Physically and emotionally and spiritually. The world and it's people are breaking my heart and I feel like I can't take it one more minute. I have cried several times today. First it was the video of George Floyd being murdered by the police in Minnesota. Hearing him beg  to get off him, that he "can't breathe" and the cop  just leaning in harder.    What kind of human being does that to another ?  Police meant to protect and serve, murdering people every year, rogue cops getting away with it over and over. This particular officer has a long history of  complaints  of police brutality. And nothing was ever done to him about any of them. I cry for Mr. Floyd's family, and for every mother and father who live in fear of their black children going outside or walking down the street. I cry for a world so ugly and so full of fear.  Then I learned of the death of my friends baby, less than 48 hours after birth. He had a heart defect and they were all ready to have him in surgery tomorrow morning, but he started having trouble breathing and then his little heart just couldn't keep him alive.  This young family is grieving the tragedy of their loss in the midst of this crazy pandemic and the whole world is upside down. I cried through the entire tale of the birth and the beautiful baby boy and his untimely death. And I don't claim to understand the laws of the Universe or the will of God... but I see no purpose in either of these deaths. and it breaks my heart.

  I generally tend to keep a cloak of optimism around me. I wouldn't have survived life on this planet for this long without it.  I want to believe that we can be better. That people can change. That love can prevail.  And then I see the headlines of  this administration destroying Native burial grounds to build a wall. Of a lying and conniving man in the highest post of this country who has used this presidency to line his pockets and those of anyone who may be useful to him. Who spreads hate and division on a scale never before seen in this country.  And I cry for democracy. And I cry for the poor.  And I cry for myself. 

  And so, Thursday has been my Day of Grief.  I feel like I am losing hope. I feel like I can't do enough to appease my activist heart.  I feel like no one is doing enough. I feel like I have never seen so many people blinded by their fear and their ignorance and their hate. And I don't know who I am or where I live or what is going to happen.  I try to keep my feet grounded in the day and not become so overwhelmed by it all that I am paralyzed. Or worse.  I don't want to become so angry that I don't recognize myself anymore. Even so, on days like today, I feel myself slipping away.  Where is that place people can go to insulate themselves as though it were none of their business or not their fault or giving up entirely the thought that they can do something to make a difference ?  I cannot in good conscience escape this. I cannot turn a blind eye to children at the border in camps, separated from their parents. To immigrants being turned away because of the color of their skin. To people dying because they cannot afford health care or food or shelter, here, in this richest country in the world. I cannot ignore it. It hurts my heart daily. And my heart is old. It is tired.

  I am reminded of a poem written by Wendell Berry,  which gives me the strength and grace to live another day...
The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence  of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

From The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Counterpoint, 1999),

   So...I will have my one day of  tears and heartbreak, and I will re-wrap myself in this cloak of hope and optimism, and chant and pray and dance for better days to come.  And try to remember...

Monday, May 11, 2020

It's a Monday that seems to match the world.

  The weather is strange. Grey, chilly and windy.  Doesn't seem like the second week of May. We had a frost warning 2 nights ago. Daytime temps are stuck in the low 50's.  I have had several phone calls of late from people freaking out about life in general. Lots of tears. Some anger. Lots of fear.  We are on the 52nd day of our statewide sheltering in place directive. The streets are mostly devoid of traffic. The stores are limited to  10 people at a time, and many of them are not following guidelines.  I try to only go out when it's absolutely necessary, and always wear a mask and gloves.  The death toll from this (at this writing) is over 80,000.  Some folks are handling this surreal scenario better than others. Some are delusional.  We are seeing insanity as never seen before in this country... armed protesters marching on state capitols.  People killing each other over nothing. A delusional leader of this country, spreading misinformation and outright lies about everything going on, who is encouraging hate and violence every single day.  It's no wonder there are so many people on the verge of breaking down.

  I am so lucky to live out here where I do. My biggest concerns are not running out of bird seed and suet blocks.  I have enough of every thing I need to keep my family safe and fed.  My needs are pretty simple these days.  The 2 people I love more than anything in the world are right here with me and they are both well.  Most all of the other people I also love are okay so far.  A little deranged maybe, but well and safe.  And I am becoming a little deranged myself...not sleeping  well, talking to myself and the dogs and cats, (ok-- that's nothing new, but still  lol ) feeling like I have lost my anchor in everyday life.  Not sure what I mean by that, but that's what came out.   Everything is surreal. Some days I wander around the house not knowing what to do next. There's plenty to be done, but I am not motivated to do it.  I have been making bread and baking desserts and even started a batch of sourdough. I am cooking ham and beans today (I found a hamhock in the freezer)  and will try a sourdough cornbread  for the first time. Wish me luck.

  I am watching an Australian drama series that is a wonderful commentary on life in the 1950's  Set in '53 (the year I was born, btw) titled  A Place to Call Home.  I am really liking it.  It airs on the Ovation channel on Monday mornings, 4 back to back episodes.  I dvr it and watch a show a day through the week. I'm really loving it.  I'd buy the set, but the affordable ones won't play on American dvd players apparently.  And the others are a little out of my league.  lol  We are watching more tv than we ever have I think.  It's okay... just weird.  I haven't done nearly as much reading as I would have thought. I am a serious reader... and have tons of books sitting around that I haven't cracked yet. Like I said... everything is strange...

  I have a good friend who has been doing all kinds of extraordinary projects at her house. I am impressed.  I keep thinking that any minute I'll kick into gear, but so far it hasn't happened.  Between the ookey weather and the general weirdness, I don't have particularly high hopes.  I have been bird watching a lot... we have had some beautiful not so common visitors... a pair of Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and a pair of Baltimore Orioles.  Along with a couple of Indigo Buntings, loads of Cardinals and all the rest of the crew... wrens, titmouses, sparrows of all sorts, mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees,  nuthatches, Juncos, 4 kinds of woodpeckers... it's delightful.  I'm glad to have the time to enjoy them all and be part of their world.  I'm glad I live out in the country where most times are quiet and nothing disturbs the beautiful wildlife around me. Where at night it is so dark you can see all the stars. Where my soul feels at home. 

  Be well and stay safe my lovelies. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

A blustery Friday afternoon...

  And these days, getting to go to the grocery store IS a celebration.  sigh...  I have been going out roughly every 2.5 weeks to pick up little things I've run out of...mostly fresh vegetables. And probably more because I'm a little stir crazy than because there are things I can't live without. Back in late March, I was excited to be able to just shelter in place and stay home. Now it's nearly mid-May and my mind has changed. lol  

   I have been canning things like beans (Navy and pintos), chicken breasts (whole and cubed), pork loin and roast beest.  I have been baking bread-- I have 2 loaves of sourdough in the making now.  What a process that is !  I hadn't made it in so long that I forgot.  Took 6 days for the starter to be ready to use, feeding it daily.  Then the day it's ready, you mix up about half of the flour and water. Let it sit an hour.  Then mix in the starter. Then let it raise for 4 hours and then into the fridge overnight. Get it out in the morning, add the rest of the flour, sugar and salt. Make into a smooth ball of dough by kneading it for about 15 minutes. Then back into the bowl. Raise for one hour and back in the fridge for 6 hours. Then out on the counter, make into loaves and let rise about 4 hours.  HOLY HELL !!!!  At 3 o'clock this afternoon, it will come out of the fridge to be made into loaves.  It will not be ready for supper.  Sourdough bread should cost a billion dollars a loaf.  Just sayin'...

  Himself needs a new phone I guess.  The one I bought him on Amazon does not work right, and between him and the phone it's a freaking nightmare. So when he gets off work this afternoon, I will meet up with him in town and we will visit the phone store. Fun times.  He gets so frustrated with it, and there ARE problems with the phone.  And him.  lol

  I just finished eating a plate of cold baked beans and leftover meatloaf for my first meal of the day. (It's 2:30 pm)  I am not hungry.  I am not sleeping well. I am not my stellar self.  lol   Mostly it's only me and the dogs that have to deal with me, so at least there's that.  Today I have had several phone calls from friends, led an online aa meeting in a town about 2.5 hours north of me (ain't technology grand ??).,  filled bird feeders again-- we're having a cold snap and they are eating like crazy.  We have a young raccoon that's been visiting  and last night he knocked a feeder to the ground, so I relocated that one and filled it too.Sometimes in the late evening when we're watching tv, he sits on the porch rail and looks in at us.  Drives the youngest dog to distraction. The older dogs-- not so much.  lol

  I got word yesterday that a dear old friend of mine died from Covid-19.  She was in a nursing home  and had dementia... and I hope she wasn't sick too long or too bad.  She was a delightful old woman when I met her some 25 years ago.  The last time we spoke was about 4 years ago I guess, when she first went into the facility. She was grateful to be there.  She was an ex-nun and a rabid anti-Catholic.  She had been a teacher for years and when she refused to teach the doctrine they "let her go"  She was put out without a penny to her name. When I met her, she was living in a little trailer on someone's property that they let her use.  Lots of us that knew her would drop by with gifts of groceries and gift cards and wood for her wood stove. She had a head full of snow white hair that she cut herself. With cuticle scissors, she told me.  lol  She wore it short and spiky. She was an amazing woman that I was blessed to know. This brings the number of covid related deaths in my life to 3. Enough.

  Well, I probably need to go put pants on to head into town. I am partially dressed, but wearing long johns right now.  lol   Himself told me he is working tomorrow too. 2 days of OT looks good in the bank, but I don't want him getting over tired. He was young when I got him, but now he's 60 and there was a guy at his job that was exposed and didn't tell anyone, just kept coming to work. Dumbass.  They closed the plant the next day and had a team come in to sanitize everything. So far no one else has gotten sick, but I am concerned. We have masks and gloves and I never go out without them.

  So... that's the story from here on Honeysuckle Hill. Stay well, my friends...and be safe.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

High Holy Days

  NO Easter egg hunts.  NO family dinners. NO joyful gatherings.  This year is different from the years most of us have known. Businesses closed. Schools and churches closed.  Many people are working from home or unemployed.  Lots of fear and panic running through the country. All kinds of rumors and fear mongering and dis-information flying about. Not sure who to listen to or what to believe...

  It is finally starting to look like spring out there.  Yards are greening up,  wildflowers are popping up everywhere and even a few mushrooms showing up.  Then the nights got cold again, almost down to freezing.  Strange weather.  It was almost 90 one day last week and then 50 the next. Never sure how to dress, but it doesn't really matter since I (for one) am staying in my pajamas much of the day. Some days I think, Maybe I'll go out and do some yard work !  And then look down at my pj's and think.. well, maybe tomorrow.  lol So, I have ventured out to fill bird feeders and sweep my front porch and stuff a few times, but really no yard work has gotten done.  

  I'm doing what many people are doing:  cooking a lot, reading more, napping extensively, and watching way too much tv.  I have been watching a lovely British series called  LarkRise to Candleford that has entranced me.  And now it has started over, so it must have been a short lived series.  Set in 18th century Oxfordshire, a story of 2 small hamlets, one a farming  burg and one a bigger town.  Marvelous. Watching lots of less marvelous tv as well, some things we generally watch and some we don't.  

  My son was here for a late midday dinner. I roasted a chicken and made candied sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, herbed stuffing, gravy, and some giant wheat germ and flaxseed rolls. We ate until we were beyond full and then he left and we vegged out.  I cleaned up all the kitchen and dishes, and then took about an hour nap. When I got back up , I asked him if he as hungry and he said not really and neither was I. So, we had some dessert (I made Creme Brulee earlier this morning to have for dessert, but no one had room.  I had enough chicken leftover to make another meal, as well as some of the other things too. I am being very frugal about using up all the things in the fridge in one way or another. I saw a recipe for a soup made with leftover stuffing, and they said it was a lot like a matzoh soup, so I might just try that.  It's raining really hard again right now. Tonight's temps are supposed to drop into the low 30's again.  We talked to my father-in-law up in Wisconsin and they are having a lot of snow again.  He is in a nursing rehab place now. It's disheartening talking to him sometimes.  He doesn't understand why his wife can't come see him and why he can't go home.  A common dilemma I suspect with older people who can't take care of themselves or their spouses.  We try to call him a couple of times a week at least.  Here is a picture of our table this afternoon...

 2 hungry boys over there.  lol  

 OK-- it's time to see how the tediously slow updating is going with the laptop. I've been using it a lot since I've been using Zoom and for meetings and stuff.  Hopefully it will be done soon.  I've been trying to delete a bunch of the crap that came on this laptop and they sure make it hard to uninstall programs.  Grrr...  I don't have much memory on it and am trying to free up space.

  Wish me luck.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Greetings from the Hill...

  Here in Illinois, we are on about week 3 or 4 (I can't remember) of the official quarantine and sheltering in place. I was already limiting my forays into the world before that...  I have mostly stayed home and took my last dr and grocery and bank trip yesterday morning.   I won't be leaving the house for at least the next 2-3 weeks.  Himself is still working, so far. And not just working, but working 6 days a week,  16 + hours of OT every week the past 3 weeks. I worry that he will get run down, but I'm pumping him full of vitamin C and Elderberry and Zinc and cooking him nutritious meals. He was young when I got him, but he turned 60 in February... Pursuant to the meme above, we haven't spent too much time at home together yet, so there's hope that we will still celebrate 28 years in June.  lol

  There's still stupid shitshows going on in DC.  He just fired the watchdog of the relief act.  So he can get money where he wants it ? I'm sure. The rich are making a killing off this whole thing. I am not going to say anymore on this.  What I am going to say is that I can't believe how stupid people are being in regard to this whole pandemic.  I heard somebody yesterday say that they believe this is just a conspiracy to try to discredit the ..."best President this country has ever had."  This President does not need a conspiracy to be discredited. He's done that all by himself. People being stupid and congregating because they think none of this applies to them or whatever.  All I can say is this:

 We'll see what the process of natural selection has to say about it.

  Hereabouts is as it is almost everywhere, I suspect.  Lots of the things we want/need aren't available when we want/need them.  Panic buying is rampant.  I have to admit that I have bought a few things  more than I may need, but since I always keep a stocked pantry I'm not too worried. And having been poor most of my life, I can make magic meals out of very little ingredients. There was none of the bread we like on the shelves a few weeks ago, so I started baking bread again. Then there was no flour or yeast, but that has settled down. Personally I am good for ingredients, because that's how my pantry is stocked. Not with any already prepared foods (except the ones I have prepared and canned... like tortellini in marinara sauce and a couple of soups) . Things have slowed way down in my life, and I am loving it. No commitments, nowhere to be, nothing to do.  Well... plenty to do here, as always, but you know what I mean.   The few times I have been out, the whole world seems slower.  Reading about how in India and China pollution levels have dropped and they are seeing blue skies for the first time in years. Fewer cars on the roads.  Fewer people in the markets.  So.Much.Less.Noise.  The earth must be sighing in relief. 

  The economic side of this is scary, but like I have said before ... when you are poor these  things don't affect you so much. And we have survived some scary things before, and I am sure we can survive this. We own our home, so no worries about repo. We have plenty of disaster supplies and  camping tools in case the electric gets shut off because we can't pay it. (We have lived though earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.  We've got this.  We have a cistern and plenty of spring water if the city water gets shut off. (We didn't have city water for 2/3 of the years we have lived here, so we know what to do).  So for now, I'll stay away from foolish people and practice safe distancing and common sense.  I'll speak up when I need to, and shut my pie hole when I don't.   (Maybe).  lol

  I've been baking bread and making desserts and growing fat and sassy. There was a time when fat meant affluent.  I am affluent in all the right places.  lol  Someday Rubenesque woman will be all the rage again, and I will be a frontrunner in the race.   Until then, I will be okay with myself, no matter what. No matter how grey, no matter what I weigh. I will never be tall enough- I've given up on that. 

  I am in the final (I hope) stages of recovering from a brutal surgery (February) that  consisted of my Achilles tendon being detached, split, bone spurs and fragments removed and stitched all back up again.  It was no weight bearing for over 3 weeks and then partial in a boot for another 3.  The incision healed nicely, but it's still tender and doc said it will be for a while. But the godawful pain of that spur shredding my tendon is gone, and for that I am grateful.  It did ease me into the social quarantine, I must say. 

  It's looking like spring here on Honeysuckle Hill. The peach and cherry trees are in bloom, the grass is greening up and the trees are leafing out. It was hot for a couple of days then a near tornado blew through and this morning it was in the low 30's.  Up to 55 today (hopefully) and very sunny and beautiful skies out there.  I plan on [maybe] doing a little yard work today.  We'll see. NO rush...we're gonna be here a while.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

First Day of a new Decade

  Here we sit. Precipice of a new year. Not particularly excited about it, but not dismayed either.  Curious to see how it all plays out, considering the state of the world and of this country.  I do believe that even in the darkness, the light will prevail.  That love wins over hatred, although it may not look like it at times. That there is hope for humanity, no matter how bleak things appear from time to time.  I am generally an optimistic person, and hope that doesn't change...

  We had a lovely quiet Xmas and New Years.  Friends and family for a Xmas Eve supper, and then just himself and my son and I for our traditional Steak and lobster supper.  And as I was cleaning up my plate, I realized I didn't take one picture of that magnificent spread.  NY strip steak, lobster tail, skewered shrimp. Caesar salad and aglio y olio and fresh baked Italian bread. We ate until we were full as ticks and still managed to barely stay up long enough to welcome in the new year. We never go out for NY Eve.  

  No particular resolutions for this year, other than trying to practice better self care and live an authentic life.  Something I do strive for, and probably do better than I think.  My diet needs cleaning up, my weight is an issue, and these things are in the back of my mind.  In 5 days I will turn 67 years old, and I must say, it's been a ride. lol  When I look at it all from a historical perspective, it's amazing that I'm in as good shape as I am. So there's that.  And when I get real, I could be a lot better physically and I know it.  Mostly I intend to be a little gentler with myself and try to stay grateful and happy.  I have lived longer now than either of my parents (mom died at 55 and dad at 60) and sometimes that's a little freaky to think about. 

  All in all, living lightly on this planet, doing what little good I can for others,  and cultivating more love in the garden of my heart... these are things that are important to me.  Family.  Food.  Love. Laughter. Simple things, to be sure.  But in my little corner of the world, it is enough. I hope to have chickens again this year and plant a garden. That's been missing from  my life for over 2 years.  I need it back.  So I'll do whatever I have to.  I may have to do it on my own, but maybe not.  This winter I have been feeding wild birds and they eat like crazy, but provide me with so much joy.  Every day out there I am blessed with cardinals, sparrows,wrens, titmice, woodpeckers (3 kinds) juncos, chickadees, and probably a few others I can't recall.  The weather is bizarre-- 51 today. I'm going out to enjoy it while it lasts.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Day 2019

   This is what the high holy day of gluttony looks like when your oven doesn't work.  LOL  Right now there is a pan of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in there for breakfast. That little Airfryer Oven has sure gotten a workout this past 6 months. I'm getting ready to make the pumpkin pie in it and then I'll put the crescent rolls in.  The Proctor Silex roaster oven held the 2 --12 pound turkeys just right...they've been cooking on low overnight and just turned it up to crisp the skin a little. House smells like roasted meat...and cinnamon. Keeping it pretty simple this year, turkey, stuffing, baked sweet potato and bacon wrapped asparagus.  Crescent rolls and pumpkin pie.  lol Some years I have lost my mind and made a 15 course meal.

  It's just me this year. And maybe my son.  But he's sick as a dog and I may just take a plate to him.  The Irishman is up in northern Wisconsin with his family. I don't know what any of the rest of my family is doing, but heard nothing about a get together, if anyone's even having one besides their immediate families. So, it's a quiet cold Thanksgiving day.  3 days ago it was 65. Today it's 35. I'm going to go out and refill the bird feeders in a bit. They appear to be stocking up, lol, and the wildbird seed feeder is empty and the suet block is almost gone. I filled them about 3 days ago. Maybe it will tun winter now...been crazy.

  Been thinking alot about the practice of giving thanks. My grandmother taught me to bend over the plants in the garden and thank them for feeding me and my family when I harvested them.  I was taught to say  thank you when anyone gave me gifts.  Gratitude and appreciation go a long way in changing my mindset, when I am feeling stressed about money or sorry for myself because I don't have everything I want.  But you know, I always have everything I need. My house isn't a palace, but it's [mostly] clean and it's cozy and it's warm and the roof doesn't leak. I have a car that runs well. Because I have a house and a car,  I have insurance that [for now] I am able to pay. I have family and a husband who loves me and a son with whom  I have a relationship I don't deserve.  I have friends.  I have  serenity. And I have a good stable life.  These things are the most important. The older I get the more I understand that the basic component of a well lived life is love. I could be anywhere, doing anything, and as long as I have love--in my heart and in my life-- all will be well.  The venerable Meister Eckhart  said : 

So I say thank you to God every day, for all things and in all circumstances. And I hope that is enough.

Happy Thanksgiving !