Friday, August 31, 2012

"Walk up"

(week 13 Newsletter:)
of the first things that strikes you

while sitting behind the rounded rumps of two amiable horses, in a cart,
traversing an old familiar and common road is the newness of the landscape-and
the unexpected beauty of a place you’ve grown somewhat dull to and over-
accustomed with. Your eye, at that speed, can take in the full measure of the
sky and the light falling into little basins and clearings, settling into nooks
and crannies once un-noticed, now suddenly dear. You cannot ignore the effect
that a horse-paced mode of travel has on you- it brings with it sudden rushes
of delight (oh
rare and wonderful sensation!)

and beaming gratitude for all the richness that is living in a world of corn,
fat in the shock, pastures lush with clover and green, woods with slender birch
trees, leaves shimmy dancing in the breeze. People you pass do not suffer swift
judgment, but lingering and smiling observation accompanied with a grin and a
wave-so very different from the cloud of dust and exhaust that your car would
leave them with.
Pace is an important thing to consider in our lives. It can well mean the
difference between a life well-lived, children well-raised, and a life largely
missed, children abandoned to the ravages of Rush and Go and Hurry-We-Can’t –Be-Late.
A slackened pace can pick up many minutes and bind them into the bouquet of a
memorable and marvelous evening.
Nine years ago
I ran off to UCLA in a car borrowed last minute, with a friend (as eager for
ballet as I was, but unsure of the wisdom of our hell-bent venture toward
heaven), and a pocket filled with not quite enough money for a ticket to see
Suzanne Farrell’s ballet company perform many of the works she had danced in
her day as George Balanchine’s famous muse. I had the youthful, implicit,
slightly arrogant faith that so pure and so passionate a desire as mine for
that performance would not go unrewarded, and in a breathless tizzy I reached
the box office window and proceeded to beg for a deeply discounted ticket…equally
swift came the reply “I’m sorry, we’re sold out.” And as I reeled away from the
window I had absolutely no time to absorb my defeat, for a door-man came up to
me (with a much meandering pace) and mentioned he had the perfect view of my
little drama from the entrance to the lobby, and taking it all in, realize he
could be of some assistance. He held out a ticket to me and told me that woman
had given him the ticket saying her date could not make it, and that he was to
give it to the 1st person who looked like they could really use it….”so
hurry!” he cried as he finished his tale, and I ran into the theater, waving
goodbye to my friend who had pushed away the ticket when I had offered, and who
was content with the gallery….I was ushered to a seat 3 row from the stage next
to the most incredibly beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and as I sat down in the
cloud of her very expensive perfume, I marveled at the date who had not shown
up for her…the dancing was electric, exquisite, the execution flawless, the
dancers’ lines undisturbed, the night, an omage to the great work of
Balanchine, his APPOLO, the great Pas de Trois and Divertimento N. 15.
It was followed
by a rapid-fire Q and A session with the principal dancers and Suzanne Farrell
herself. “One last question” the moderator muttered into her microphone, and
suddenly, quite overcome with the emotion of the evening I found myself waving
my arms wildly, and called on. What followed was a kind of cathartic outpouring
of all my impressions of what was my very 1st ballet, and a back and
forth repartee with the dancers, asking them about particular sequences of
their dances, and their preparation and their motivation. One of my great
idols, Balanchine’s very dear Suzanne Farrell herself sat there speechless and
quiet, smiling as my exuberance exhausted itself and embarrassed the moderator.
I ended my fountainour gushing with: “Is it true that your war out you toe
shoes in a single performance? If so, can I have a pair?” The audacity and
idolatry so evident in this request, the evening was quickly closed by the
interviewer, the dancers ushered off-stage and the audience buried it in
laughter and commotion, the pace, shall we say, so hurried and unheeding was
too quick to bind the momentary passion into something more memorable than an
unusual Q and A.
But Suzanne
Farrell had not moved from her chair. She had whispered something to one of the
other dancers and was fixed on me in my seat, as the audience filed out of the
auditorium. She motioned me over, up to the stage. Needless to say I did a few
double takes and looked behind me many time, wondering if there was some
mistake. But there wasn’t. George Balanchine’s Suzanne Farrell bent down,
crouched at the edge of the stage. “Honey” she said in a slow drawl, “wait
here. We’re going to get you some shoes.”
We are living
in an unfamiliar age. As more and more of our population concentrates itself in
urban stings we lose our ties to the land. The generations that have grown up
on the farm that Mom and Dad built are aging now and rapidly passing away. We are losing touch
with that front porch/Sunday social call/barn dance pace as we lose them to
their graves. As I clutched
my toe shoes in the lobby, pink ribbons wrapped tightly around them, I became
aware of the fact that time had come to a stand still and even re-wound itself…a
crowd of old ladies pressed around me. “Your first ballet!” one of them
exclaimed, eyes twinkling as she pressed my hand and admired the shoes Suzanne
Farrell had given me at the lip of the stage. “I had almost forgotten my 1st
ballet. You reminded me of it tonight. You know, dear, I hardly feel a day over
18 just now.”
There are
things we’ve gotten used to: the can opener. Democrats. Republicans. Travel by
car. Credit cards.
But a slackened pace soon opens up for us a newfound appreciation for all those
wonderful things our prosperity has deprived us of: a landscape enjoyed and
embraced with all 5 senses, and a moment of shared delight with our fellow
human beings. There are
things that strike you while sitting in a cart, behind the rumps of two amiable
horses…like seeing an old spouse in a new dress…chief thing is this: there’s
nothing dull in this fine world….Most of it’s marvelous. “Wait here honey. We’re
going to get you some shoes.”

“Walk Up”.

SauerKraut in a Jar
Shred enough cabbage
to pack a 1 qt. jar.
Add to the ar 1 tsp
of salt and ½ tsp honey.
Fill with boiling
Screw the lid on
tightly. Store in a cool place upside down and check it every 3 days. As it ferments
the caps will bulge. Tighten lids. It will be ready to eat in 6 weeks. Store it
in the fridge for all those wonderful probiotics. SO DIVINE WITH SAUSAGES!

past few years have levied a strange burden of proof upon our backs, a burden
to account for our hours and days, to prove to all who care to watch from the screens
of their phones and computers that we are doing something worthy with our
lives. In the meantime, we have forgotten how to be content in being present.
We have not been transfixed and emptied since we first believed the lie that
all of our experiences must be shared….Let us all remember, now in the presence
of one another, that our memories are enough. May we live to remind each other
to partake of dinner without pause for a clicking shutter or a scribbling pen.
Stay here, drink more wine, and let the memories of a time exist by themselves
within you, and between you and the others. And may your art be a sincere
reflection of what already exists. Not a post of projection for what we desire.
Keep your hours close, and keep intimacy and trust closer. If we give this a
chance, we will surely realize that being present is powerful enough to burn
and consume our hearts, minds, and memories with fullness unparalleled.”

From Rebecca Parker Payne’s essay “Undocumented

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Great Melon Harvest of 2012

As the sun set, over the Western hills and Norwegian pines....the field, painted red in the glow, gleamed like a ravaged battle field.
Sweat trickled down into umentionable crevices, as wrestling with weary bodies and war-torn dreams, the couple lobbed melon after melon to eachother out of the vegetable acreage.
This great exodus, these hundreds of CRIMSON sweet watermelon and sugared cantelope, brought with it the realization of years of hopes and fruit-filled dreams.
"The bees" she muttered, whiping her dirt-stained brow, "It's the bee's and their knees...and their incredible work ethic." She chest-passed a basket-ball sized melon, he, waiting in the back of their rusty chevy, shuttered with the impact of it. He grinned weakly. The harvest was great. The workers few.Earlier that afternoon, shuttling the large globes in a kind of a relay to the edge of the field, their two little ones, ages 6 and 3 became inspired to be....flower growers. "When I grow up..." they mused, pausing between loads "I'm not going to have a vegetable garden. Just flowers. For bouquets." Great chortlings and belly laughs ensued...and than quickly died down abdominal muscles are required for hurling medicine balls across rows of vines and weeds....
2 days later, as she guiltily eyed the library, scene of all her once prolific blogging and BLAHging, Mrs. Farmer felt her ample arm gripped in enthusiastic passion:
"Those melons!" he said "I've never tasted a melon like that. Perfectly ripe, so sweet, so, so....Thank you. Thank you for those." And with that he plastered a smile on her face that has not dimmed as of this writing. More later, folks.