Pages 60 to 70 are some of the best consecutive pages I have read in a long time as they situate the circumstances of what is unknown and what is being grasped to become known and familiar.

The personal transformation that arrives through day after day of dedication and not being dissuaded by a dearth of the right materials nor by the lack of skills or absence of familiarity. But the affirmation and realizations that come with continuing to be, do, and become.

The escalation of the story builds my anticipation and the end of a chapter has me feeling giddy, as I recall the euphoria of childhood and boyhood and being able to rise to some new level that has been unreachable in prior days.

The sentences are beautiful how they carry the feelings, the tastes, the smells and the sounds coming from inside his body, the impacts of his body with the ice and the air and the sun and the routines at dusk and nighttime culminating in abilities that come from continuously being imperfect yet persistent.

How there is joy inside in spite of the most horrendous set up.

These are some of what I experience and ride in pages 60-70 of Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

Great Mystery we honour

My grandmother had always referred to the universe as the Great Mystery.

Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse, page 65.

“We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility, grandson, is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”

Ibid.

The transformation that comes from practice and doing the same tasks over and over for many days. The chores build strength and speed and competency. The isolation fosters individuation and delight at the ability to accomplish and notice the changes that come with being able to simply do and with time master at what was once impossible.

This or that or that other that

The opportunity cost of the last hour has been:

  • to read the fiction by Kaitlyn Greenidge
  • read about how to plant a tree
  • write this blog post
  • write toward the other writing projects I’ve got marinating and fermenting inside.

Fortunately, the tree transplant needs a few days before replanting so that gives me until tonight or mañana. Now this blog post is nearly done. And the fiction is before me. And the writing projects is still marinating.

I’m aware of this at this moment as I seek to be intentional and rigorous about doing more of the things that have particular significance though they are also things that I’m less adept and less innate to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Sometimes I’ll do something but not more it or remember it and when I do remember it I don’t think of myself as having done so as frequently as I might have done it. That is one way that I belittle myself and make myself less small by not recalling when and what I did. So if I’m not doing something so frequently to know that I’ve done it, then I need to figure out the place and way that I’m writing it down so I can find that place where I wrote it says/weeks/month ago to quiet the inner critic that is so omnipresent to diminish the actions and moves and complete cycles that I have done.

It’s tricky this tendency to do something and be someone and then forget that was what I did or who I was such that I don’t remember thy about myself at all. It’s a simple way to erase who I am and what my recent history was. There’s some who write that forgetting is essential to the functioning of our brains but this habitual forgetting makes me smaller in my own cognition and my consciousness.

So I’m practicing and building my memory and skillsets to track and therefore remember. When I cannot remember with my internal gauges I will have to write it down either on paper, a smartphone, a journal or a hash mark on a wall.

I suppose that the tracking, too, is a form or practice.

Not today, haole

On Monday, in the middle of milking a goat, two police cars arrived outside the front gate. They were coming by to check after a call/complaint from a neighbor. A white neighbor. After a few minutes, a third car arrived.

It was bullshit and nonsensical. The 20 or so minutes that they were outside the gate was irritating, scary and instructive.

Some of the lessons of the episode were:

  1. Some people just won’t like you, so don’t take it personally because the exact reason(s) can be hard to discern and impossible to confirm. More likely than not, it isn’t about you.
  2. Align with fear.
  3. When people tell you who they are believe them. Believe them moreso when they show you who they are.
  4. Do not retract or recede or retreat in the face of violence, dehumanization or attempts to indignify.

The five days since then have been galvanizing and reaffirming to experience joy and delight and figure out who stands with us and what we stand for, who and what we value, and how living contrary to dominant culture in a racist, patriarchal, violent, capitalist world is something to be proud of and further fight for in the midst of hostility.

From the oven to my belly

7 of the 19 windows currently open are on the smittenkitchen.com domain, those being:

Earlier today, I baked the corn pudding recipe for the first time. But that page is no longer open so it isn’t in the list above though it was the gateway to a number of these other sweet, baked things. The estimated cook and prep time was 40 minutes but between bathroom assistance and reading two books, it was closer to two hours before that was finished. It took about two hours for all of the dish to be gone, too.

As the list above reveals, I like to bake. And I like chocolate. And I keep coming back to SK and Deb Perelman because the simplicity and the reductions in how to prepare is a relief and the food when finished is devoured.

Deb Perelman’s website is up there with Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food cookbook as a few of the constants that I return again and again. I only began to use Perelman after a friend’s recommendation of World Peace Cookies in December 2016 whereas I’ve had Bittman’s cookbook since 2002.

I frequent the site for Saveur and Food52 as well but not with the frequency of the others.

Dear feet,

Oh, how I relate to you with complexity, challenges and discomfort.

A dear friend reminded me today of “rooting in my feet” and it is something for each day. I asked him if he would “keep reminding me about rooting in my feet.

You are such a fraught place within my body as I continue to adjust how and where I place you and position myself over you. I stumble with how I use and locate you when I stand or when I sit. You are a place where I habitually do not take up space where I cower in the first four inches up from the ground in an attempt to take up less space, which feels both uncomfortable and agonizing. I will continue to recognize that you are the roots that nourish the trunk and branches and limbs and appendages that the rest of me rises from.

In another conversation today, another friend said how the arms of an embryo extend from the heart which immediately made me ask myself where do the legs and feet extend from? My guess is from the sacrum and/or hips and/or spine which makes me curious about how I might feel differently about you if I was constantly acknowledging how you are a continuation of my spine and my back and that the gap the torso to you is small even though the legs are vast, as are the three sets of joints in between you and the hips.

For much of my life, I’ve appreciated the lengths and places you’ve taken the rest of me. Yet, I have been negligent towards your care and the pristine nature of who and what you are. I read last year how researchers cutting up cadavers noticed how 40% (or so, if my memory is in any proximity to what was written) of the tension and strength within the arch of the foot does not come from the familiar arch on the bottom side of you but that 40% of the muscle capacity is in an arch in the top of the foot.

As I searched to find a reference for that dissection history, I came across how much written about you is in terms of pain and how many bones and muscles inside of you. Names that are unknown and bewildering and some things to learn more about …

here: the talus and calcaneus in the hindfoot + the 14 toe bones and 5 metatarsals in each forefoot + the 5 tarsals of the midfoot

… and here: like the muscles of fibularis longus and fibularis tertius and fibularis breviary

There is so much about you that I have yet to heed. And for this, I thank you for your patience and guidance and for your inability to run away and leave the rest of me behind.

The joys of the libraries

Even in COVID times, the act of checking out a library book is delightful. We could not go inside the local branch. Instead I wrote a few authors and titles on the back of scrap paper that I handed to the librarian as one child walked through the grass and another rode a bicycle back and forth. We waited on the personalized attention as the librarian walked through the stacks pulling the books that we listed. And I saw one more sitting on top of the shelves nearest the door and asked if we could have that cat going cross country (skiing?), too.

Library books and lending are endless gifts of infinite curiosity. For a few years, I have searched for “publisher: Enchanted Lion” and a few series like Mercy Watson [“the porcine wonder”] by Kate DiCamillo, Dodswortb and Duck by Tim Egan, King and Kayla by Dori Hillestad Butler and the Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. I’ve read multiple books (approximately 24 different titles) by these four authors more than 200 in the last three years.

Yesterday’s haul included a few Mercy Watson stories along with books on whales, other marine life and volcanos. It was most special because they were the first library books that we checked out in three months — the longest stretch of not borrowing books in five years.

Now we are back at it in a new library system with no limit on the number of books that we can borrow. But a system that does have late fees, so hopefully I will be more diligent about returning borrowed materials back on time. Better than I was 15 and 20 years ago, when I’d incur late fees but it was paying $.10 a day per book to the libraries and though I never saw the budgets of the library, I never had remorse about paying fees that paid for such a renowned institution.

Wanted: roommate

As I lay down for a second round of snuggles before bedtime, the five year old said:

“Poppa, I have always wanted you to be my roommate.”

I replied by smiling in the dark. I basked in the glow of this sentence as I looked out the window at the silhouette of the trees in the twilight. Then I said:

“I will always have your back. I will always love you even when I’m frustrated, sad, or angry. I will never leave you. You will live with Momma and me until your an adult and you decide where you want to live.”

It was a dignifying for me. I’m moved by the always of five years because these five years have been so enormous and consequential and so quick. And that some facets from a few months ago have been long forgotten. So always is so long.

And, it was a statement of right now. At times, she has the ability to recall some detail or moment or specific from months ago that has not been named and she can bring it up and remember some thing that I forgot. And throughout the day, a five year old can offer immediate feedback about how things are in any exact moment. And that’s what being told that I’m a roommate who has been wanted forever feels like some special love as a father finding my way in these unknowns.

We all are precarious and fragile every day

A dear friend was in the emergency room twice and made a call to 911 yesterday. Enabled by corporate health insurance as we wade and drown through a medical peonage system that tars and feathers and sullies us all when we seek to live. Or in the proximity of the ER, seek and hope and pray to stay alive. Or at least, those who love us and we are in touch with to know of an episodic venture to and fro a hospital and brinks of death.

I learned of these medical immersions a day after we exchanged words about the joys and bizarre inane of fatherhood with two children. Becoming a parent is more than double the fun. More than double the work. Double the pee, doubled the poops to supervise and scrutinize when not cleaning derrières and scraping diapers.

Fitting that poop thoughts leads me to how we live so precariously, always a few steps or select circumstances, largely unseen, from death. We are fragile like an eggshell and salad greens and fragile like the bud that becomes the flower that morphs into the unripened fruit that becomes the fruit that will perish by spoiling in short order. Fruit may be furthest from death when it is hard and unripened, which makes me wonder if we are furthest from death when our bones are more pliable and bodies are limber in some span of the early years of childhood. We are such fragile beings walking and waking and eating and defecating upon the Earth’s crust.

I don’t take for granted that I will see friends and family members when I travel away from them or they travel away from here. Rather, I cannot hold the probabilities of all who will live and who will die in the window of some unknown amount of time — be it months or years — before I see them again.

From more than 3,000 miles and three hours separated by the international time zones, I offered some ceremony later today once I am home. I don’t know what combination this ceremony will be. One certainty will be to name some blessings and gratitudes before dinner. One option will be to pull out one of our favorite books at home, Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations (ISBN: 0689806205), illustrated by Peter Parnall and published in 1995 by Aladdin Books. For all the baking and recipe swapping that I’ve done with this friend, I ought to bake, if not tonight, then something sweet and delicious in the next four days. And to find some laughter and be in charge of such laughter so I know that I’m doing so ceremoniously.

It is not just the proximity of his death, but the tender, vulnerability of all of these living things that constitute this plane and this world and this word as I know it through my current belief systems that i am reminded to celebrate and offer love and truth to today.

the failure of “I’m busy”

Note: an old post (circa 2012) that never uploaded to the cloud from my local network. So today, I try again.
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Choice is a powerful thing. As I find ways to slow down, I am amazed each time that I hear someone state: I’m so busy. So stressed, exhausted.

It is easy to fall into a state of hyper-activity. It is the norm in this day and age. An addiction that cuts across classes, generations, nations. There is a strong gale force wind at our backs bombarding the seemingly few hours in a day, a wind that feels unwelcome and stress-inducing. A wind that causes people to feel that 24 hours is just not enough. Such a feeling and attitude makes inadequacy inevitable.

Yet, we can live big lives. Honor the enormity of our souls. Grant ourselves the grace, the benefit of the doubt of what it is to be imperfect. Thus, embrace the bigness of our lives where so much happens in a 24 hour period.

At this time, I live in such a way that I have the time to write. As I write, I am making the time to observe the use of language. The quirks of what arises and what is repeated and common by people around me. Growing up with a father who I referred to as “a walking dictionary” I placed value on correct spelling; though I have been less concerned with correct definitions for certain words.

One recent list has been my list of words that I refrain from using, scratching from my vocabulary. Among the first to make this list with the accompanying feeling and reasoning why it is on my vocab non grata was:

I’m busy | being busy is a choice. a choice to mirror the hyperactive, over-committed, lacking sleep cultural dominance of these times. there’s no time like now to drop some old burdensome, time-consuming deadweight in your life.

I used to feel like my days were frantic. Where all of the phone calls, emails or things to do tomorrow corroded my ability to sleep the night before. I would wake up exhausted because I had tossed around between 3 and 5 a.m. Where it would be 6:00 pm, and I hadn’t known what happened to my day. Where I was squeezing text messages in at red lights or as I walked down the street. I once ran into the car in front of me, at a red light, by texting wiht my fingers while removing my right foot from the brake pedal. I had multiple too-close-for-comfort shoulder brushes with other pedestrians unable to avoid me because they were tapping out a text, too.

Now, I find a red light a welcome respite. Most times that I hear a horn honking, I note how urgent, speedy or rushed the person is who must be late. Who feels late, even though they may not be. At least, not from where I stand.

So much of what has changed has been my perspective and my own views of myself, which has altered my views of others. My perspectives about past/present/future are less pressurized because I spend much less time trapped in the past or preoccupied about the future. As a result, I get to feel and sense what it is like to think about the present. The present that is this moment-by-moment. Doing so has offered me a way to feel how each moment is different from the previous and the next. Where I am not struggling, attempting to keep things as they were just a moment ago, because living organisms are forever changing.

I am not responsible for keeping something just as it was.

Just like the ‘river that flows by itself,’ the cells in my eyes, capillaries, toes and throughout my body are constantly in flux.
Our bodies as people. Our bodies of water. Our bodies of dogs, chameleons and amoeba.
I spend more time outside. This requires and results in me spending less time in front of a computer screen.
I make fewer phone calls, trusting that I will call upon friends when the timing is just right.

There are a few phrases that we use at home. That we choose at home:

  • – In the nick of time.
  • – Just at the right time.
  • – Moment-by-moment.

I began to say “moment-by-moment” two years ago, when I realized that I was feeling a moment-by-moment sort of love. Where I had no idea of what love would be or feel like in a few weeks, but that was irrelevant. In that very instance, I had the power of love emanating from deep in my chest.

The most recent addition to this list of the fluidity of time and timing is:

  • – Before/After.

When exactly something occurred is less significant. Rather than getting consumed with the specificity of it, just acknowledging that it was some time before. Similarly, that something else happened or will happen after.

——-

This talk of time, and the perceived impacts of the pressure and constraints that it places upon us reminds me of a reprinted book of a 1920s era book by Florence Schovel Schinn (sp?). The moral of that story was captured in a single line of prose:

God provides all the time that we need.