Monday, June 20, 2011

I could have looked it up, but nahhhh

I could have looked it up. I mean c'mon, I am a librarian after all! But sometimes, that's just not the way to go. Sometimes, learning by my own hand is just what I need.

In this case, the need was an Asian dressing to go with a meal I dubbed "Spring roll in a bowl!" Cabbage, carrots, cucumber, purple and green onion, and lightly lemony-garlicky chicken with the daylights diced out of it. I had resources at ready hand... we have cookbooks in the cupboard and access to the internet... but, the need for creativity outweighed speed today.

I came at the bowl with ideas and a ratio. 3/1 oil to acid. Soon, whisk in hand, the counter was dappled with magic in the making. First, one vinegar with a pinch of salt. Stir to dissolve. Wondrous relationship there! Salt calms the acid without turning it overly salty. Then, a pinch of raw sugar. One oil and whisk! Soon, creamy chemistry at its finest! Emulsion! I love the moment it all comes together! Balanced molecular harmony! Add one oil at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. A splash of soy sauce...a dribble of sesame...more whisking until all is one. Augh, beauty in a measuring cup!

Next batch, the same ratios, but with lemon juice as the acid. Combine the two dressings, add the whites and greens of four green onions and let steep.

I tossed the salad early to let the relationship develop between cabbage and dressing, wanting it to wilt a little but still retain some crunch, in the interest of texture in the mouth.

The pleasure was so simple and so very grand...

As I worked, contentedly alone among the bottles and pans, it came to mind that in a lot of ways, this sort of experimenting parallels writing poetry. Harmony and contrast play parts; blending and intentional texture as well; spice, flavor, feel...communication of that feeling...

And I must admit also to a parity in the role of the senses in both the process of creating as well as what comes of it. Simply put, the acts of poetry and cooking are pleasing to me, relaxing to me, soothing...delights I would even call prayerful--to witness to and have revealed Holy Mystery in a variety of forms, call it what you will: chemistry, sound, flavor, rhythm...

I find that just plain old amazing. And, delicious, truth be told.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Inspiring Chaos of Adventure

I'd think that by now I might have caught on. Yes, perhaps after a toe across the line of four decades, it would be expected. But nope. The plain fact is adventure brings a bit of chaos along for the ride as well as the grace to forget that part until the next time around.

I know this. I am typing within a U shape of cardboard boxes full of my things, a notebook open to my ever changing to-do list, and a mental panorama that spans both time and space. In 14 days, I leave the City that has taught me what it is like to actually imagine staying somewhere. Here I have found an expansive diversity that welcomes the fullness of who I am, a diversity that appreciates the gifts I can offer and calls them forth as something necessary to add to the whole. I have been loved here and I have loved--both people and places. New York has a place in my heart I never dreamed was even part of that inner landscape...

In telling folks that I am leaving, I have had one person say he was glad I was going before I stayed put and got "crusty." There is truth to that. I know myself well enough to know that no matter how happy I am here, the question of leaving would begin at some point to whisper its poetry to me:

"Arise my love, my fair one, and come..." "Go and do likewise..." "You will see greater things than this..."

And why not give in to the lush invitation, to the curiosity steeped in discernment--Where is God calling me? Where is the need? How can I respond best?

The "more" of God is limitless! The promise of that never ends--therefore the hope does not end! As Paul is, let me also live convinced "that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus."

While living that isn't always a walk in the park--Central, Battery, Union Square, or otherwise, it is all about love. And home. Another friend asked me about my beloved parish and the sadness of leaving a physical place and worship community that has been such a banquet of grace over the years.

Xavier has shown me that the best sort of home prepares us to leave and is ready to welcome again. We learn to love more in a place that is truly home. And, we learn to be loved. Home is not about staying put, home is about giving and receiving and being free and loving. I understand a little more fully now what it means to find home in God--because the love of God shared among people is what makes the home and that love moves with us.

I am home in the presence of the love of God...and that love, wonderously, is always and everywhere and now and forever with me.

What an absolutely enticing thrill.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Awe of New Friday Five

I have a little story to tell. Earlier this spring, my husband won three tickets to a concert presented by the symphony orchestra of a nearby city--featuring Mozart's Requiem. We debated for a few days about taking Trinity, our four-year old granddaughter, to such an adult event. In the end we decided to give it a try. After all, the tickets were free, so we didn't have a great deal to lose if we had to leave. (There she is in the picture, all dressed up and ready to go hear, "my Mozart!") You may wonder why we would consider taking a preschooler to the symphony, but this child loves Mozart and listens to a CD nearly every night at bedtime. Once I tried to sneak a CD of Bach in, and she cried, saying, "Grandma, that is NOT Mozart."

She was hopping with excitement, but we gave her lots of coaching, and when we arrived she gazed about with wonder at the lovely venue, and when the orchestra began to tune up she sat up straight and gazed, enraptured, with her mouth literally open. It was pure delight to watch her enjoying brand-new sights, sounds and surroundings.

This experience led me to remembering times of discovery, of new experiences. Some were my own experiences and some were remembered from my children, or those of others. Share with us today about five memorable moments of insight, discovery, awareness--from childhood or later, something you experienced or something you shared with someone else.

A. Two from growing up...
1. Giving a ten minute personal experience speech in my senior year required public school speech class about the day I met the Queen of England...and having the entire class buy it all. The teacher knew ahead of time that I was making it up, but the class--a large group of whom had teased me steadily over the years--actually believed me. Talk about empowering! My words could convince! I could speak and people would attend to what I had to say! It gave me the courage and desire to pursue the skill of oratory and it has been a gift, joy, and grand delight ever since.
2. Staying in the basement while my Dad was working there was often an insightful lesson of one sort or another...There's understanding about sound waves by putting my hands on speakers while he played the Who and radio waves by trying to tune in to the station furthest away...and who could forget lighting a leaf on fire (under controlled circumstances, naturally) with a magnifying glass and knowing you were concentrating sunshine?

B. Moments of cooking can render me stunned with awe... not because the result is any great accomplishment, but because it really did work! The science of it fascinates me...emulsions? Totally cool. Caramelizing? Slick. The reaction of flavors one with another yielding something else all together? WOW. Would that I could witness the molecular changes... So very amazing.

C. Watching my students think something or come to know a concept for the first time is a privilege that makes me nearly burst with joy. That moment of "getting it" and you KNOW that YES! Now they have a new construct, a new tool, a new way of thinking or being that will help them understand or enjoy or change or think about what they encounter. Awesome...

D. Receiving a massage for the first time...allowing the vulnerability of that encounter... absolutely life changing...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Crush-Proof Memories

When I used to work for the public library system, we had a collection of bikers that would often stop by the branch where I worked. Bandanas, tattoos, Frye boots, machines that rumbled with the easily identifiable soft edged "pahtaytah-pahtaytah-paytaytah."... really. Other folks would scatter when they'd enter but I recognized them. They reminded me of people I'd met growing up. These were nice guys who needed information or a book--nothing more, in spite of every preconceived idea people had.

Today, I met another character from my past. I was in a coffee shop, sipping and writing. A rangy, wiry, grandpa-aged man sat down on a chair by the wall and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs as he waited for the restroom. He had a silver Mexican "onza" coin as a pendant around his neck. There was a pounded gold ring on one finger, a worn-soft billed cap on his short haired head, and a "crush-proof" pack of cigarettes in his neat tee-shirt pocket. He hung his head and shook it slowly while saying to himself, "Folks get in there and then decide to take up homesteading."

I laughed. Homesteading? Hilarious and completely un-New York. He looked at me, I smiled. This man and my paternal grandfather were of the same cloth. I wanted to say more, but could only smile as memories came back to me. Memories of rubbing cream into his one hand, the other arm having been sacrificed to a train when I was a young child. Memories of playing with his empty cigarette boxes...turning them into garages for matchbox cars or repeatedly opening and shutting them to hear the little poof-click of the lid. Memories of flannel shirts and thick framed glasses and how much he liked my mother's home made cinnamon bread.

Funny how a two minute interaction can turn into reflecting on decades of experience.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rerun Friday Five

From RevGals!

Summer Reruns Friday Five

It's that time of year when the only new things on television are music/dance competitions (the 21st century answer to variety shows?). Yes, it's the season of reruns.

This week the clock turned back to last fall and the Glee kids went back to school and still got "slushied," and Michael hired his nephew on The Office, which was not something even he would be likely to repeat.

In honor of this annual Time Warp, please share five things worth a repeat. These could be books, movies, CDs, recipes, vacations, or even TV shows.

Five things Worth Repeating

1. The synchronicity of clean sheets, clean blankets, clean pyjamas.

2. The Magnificent Spinster, by May Sarton. I re-read this at least every couple of years. A touchstone book that reminds me of parts of myself, good, good, people that I have known, and dreams both met and unfulfilled.

3. The song, Mystery, on Misa Gaia by Paul Winter and the Paul Winter Consort. AUGH! LOVE this song... it is for a mystical lullaby of love and a celebration of the infusion of God in our world.

4. Reading aloud the Prologue to the Gospel of John.... or any text I know as well that touches-stirs-moves-inspires-brings about an Ahhhhh...home.... in the stillness of my heart.

5. The hug of a missed friend. Yes, to repeat it means waiting again, but that feeling is a grand one.