In Pursuit of . . .

What? Happiness? Love? Fulfilment?20160722_130406.jpg

None of the above. I was always in pursuit of someone to help me either learn how to cook or cook for me. I love food.

It was this that had me offering, volunteering most weekends, to assist with the usual weekend things – BBQ’s, food gatherings, parties, all that sort of stuff.

Why?

I can’t cook. Ask any of the kids who lived with me as a foster. You want to know why they all learned to cook (almost all the teenaged fosters were placed in my care for the ‘independent living skills’ component of some government rule thing before they were allowed to undertake employment as a ‘real’ person) because if they had to live on what I cooked, they often preferred to eat tinned dog food. Not that they actually did eat it, but it would have tasted better, had better (what’s that word for how it all holds together – texture, right!), looked nicer, and caused less stomach problems.

That’s one way to get them to learn how to cook, right?

There’s a better way – have them in the kitchen of someone who enjoys what they’re doing, likes learning about it, and isn’t so desperate and impatient that some things are overcooked, some are half-cooked and some are completely unrecognisable. Seriously.

So, why can’t I cook? My excuse: my mother was/is a terrible cook. Her sisters were good cooks; her mother (nan) was a great cook (I learned my gardening from nan). What happened? I don’t know.

What I do know is that when I go into the kitchen, even the dog leaves the house (and that’s a very sad indictment, isn’t it?) and people have learned to stay away if I even mention I’ll be doing kitchen or cooking stuff.

They don’t say anything, but all of a sudden, they’re busy with this, that or the other. If there’s someone who doesn’t know, they rescue them with words like ‘Oh, named one, you said you’d be doing something with me that day, and the next day.’

I know the words, I know the signs (you know that look, with the eyes scrunched just the tiniest bit, the head shakes a miniscule ‘no’, the white-wall eyes scream warning.

Do I take offence? No, not at all. De facts is de facts. I can’t cook. I can eat, though, so if these people know my lack of culinary skills, why do they get offended when I ask if they can cook?

They do, you know? Do they think I’m going to suck the knowledge out of their heads and steal it away so it won’t be theirs anymore? Of course not! Why don’t they invite me to the afternoon foodie things anymore? What did I do?

Do you think it might have to do with the desperate looks, the drool when they talk about the things they have planned? The belly rub at the mere mention of a BBQ?

I could put the effort into learning how to cook, and there have been times I tried that – didn’t take. Some people learn things, even if they don’t have a passion for that thing, but the food thing slipped right by me.

The kids learned, and we ate well while they lived-in, but they’re gone, I’m still here, still dreaming (yes, very vivid dreams, smell and all) of all that wonderful, delicious, wafting essences of life and . . . oh, stop! Please. So cruel to the dying palate . . .

Once, a long time ago, I even considered the idea of finding a man who could cook, and marrying him. I met the cook, shared the house – and watched him create absolute chaos in the kitchen; every dish dirty and damaged; every lid, utensil, tool, knife – everything used and left in an ugly pile of detritus that covered the whole room –  for the next person to clean up. Cooks don’t clean up after themselves, apparently.

I like my things to have a certain order, a structure, to be able to find the same thing in the same place each and every time I look for it. I like my pattern to be (loosely) woven on consistency and flow and ease.

The cook got booted. The kitchen returned to neat and tidy.

I turned to the raw-food vegan lifestyle (the fosters didn’t) because if I can’t cook, then maybe I should enjoy the stuff that doesn’t require cooking.

But cooking isn’t all about the application of heat, is it? I also couldn’t put together a good meal with the raw life – it takes as much effort and thought and purpose to create a good raw-food vegan meal as it does a non-raw non-vegan meal.

Woe is me – because I don’t think much of take-away, either (eyukkk! to most of them), and it’s also well beyond the current budget.

So, what do I do?

I focus on the few things I can do to some level of satisfaction. These get done regularly, and most of the time, I eat the raw food that comes from my garden – it will have to do, because no one is going to volunteer to be my cook, are they? Are you?

 

It’s That Time

Sunday morning; time to get out the fresh bit of paper (blank screen) and get into all the little ideas and story germs that patter their way into my thoughts and moments during the last week.

This week was a little subdued; I wonder if that’s because I’ve been able to work head-down, bum-up on the Dragon Dream novel with such gusto – no stopping to research little things, or changes from the characters, or plot or arc stall points. In fact, it went so well this week, I finished the first draft. Not just the outline, the whole, complete, almost ready to move onto editing stage first draft completed. And I think that’s because the world stuff, the character stuff, the situation and problems and conflicts, were already there, in my head or in the notes or in the previous story. I won’t say it’s been easy – it’s still hard work and dedication and the 3p’s (patience, persistence, perseverance), but . . . I’m pleased.

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So now I sit down to write out all the little idea seeds that popped up, either while I was trying to work, while I was lying awake at night (pretending to either sleep or meditate), while watching telly or reading stuff that wasn’t interesting, washing the dishes, doing laundry – anytime the brain isn’t active in the current project, in fact.

Write them down, give them some other words to build up the bed of words into a garden, let it sit until the season is right, and the time is right, and the moon shines full and highlights those words into the magic of a story.

The main idea this week came with just one word (often happens like that). The word: Inspection. Although the character (my things always start with a person) said ” ‘spection” like it was a special thing in his world, and like it was something to fear. The picture was from inside a building, and he’d just jammed as much furniture up against the openings as possible, pulled his companion down below the sight line of the gaps in the windows, and waited. Sure enough, barely seconds later, a face appears at one of the gaps. A voice: ‘sure I heard something – we gotta fill the quota this week, or the ‘spections start in our section.’

Interesting, isn’t it? No real story yet, but there’s the characters, the start of a plot, and the conflict of ‘them or us’.

of course, I can’t do anything about it right now except fill that blank page (usually it’s just a para or a scene or a page (or two)) at this stage, but I know it’s going to sit there and wait and while it’s waiting, the idea and form and structure will grow and flower and be ready to bear fruit – at the right time.

The Ceramic Jars

ebbie1

That contain the remains of my animals sit on the shelf, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, never moved or touched until the next jar comes to join them.

A life without one, two, or more of the furry, feathery, leathery or otherwise bedecked, creatures would be a life with something missing. A dog teaches about pack,  a cat teaches about confidence, a bird teaches about freedom, a horse teaches about respect, a snake teaches about truth (after all, they are not slimy, don’t attack without cause, and You scare the bleep out of ’em).

And the biggest lesson of all: life ends. We mourn, wallow for a while for what we’ve lost. But to learn the lesson well, we have another thing to learn: to remember how they shared our life, how that being enhanced our moments, brought joy (and other emotions) and boof-ebbiewarmth and connection – love and pack.

 

The little jars are there because we have been gypsies, moved from place to place, state to state, posting to posting. They come with us, the living and the remembered, because I can’t bear to leave them to the care of someone else. I hold onto them as if they were still in my care and will remain in my care until I take the long-sleep. My will provides for the jars to be sent with me into the flames of renewal. I don’t want to leave them alone, and I don’t want to be without them.Mini packing to move

Is this an emotional crux? Do I need to put them in the ground, let them pass on? No. They are already dead, and it’s only me who wants to keep the memory close by. Yes, I remember them, hear the noises they made when they moved in reality through my life, I speak to them (and use them as examples when speaking to the living representatives) and I love them. Always.

It was a lesson to the kids I fostered. Pack is life. Pack is forever. Pack is commitment and continuance. For a dog without pack, life is dangerous and short, and even the lowest ranking pack member expects to be cared for during his life, and mourned when he dies. I do this, I demonstrated this.

There are rules, pack rules, boundary rules, society rules, hunting rules. Everywhere there are rules, but pack is the most important rule of all. No pack means no connection, no love, and no purpose.

Animals teach us many things, and we are still learning – the world is not the same today as it was yesterday. The pack helps us deal with this, and move on, together, in the manner that best befits our purpose.Slim on office chair

Thank you for listening to my ramble. I love my pack, in all its forms.

 

The Way It Was . . .

nostalgia.jpgNostalgia – looking back from this point to the points before, the things that made sense and the things that didn’t; some things that still don’t make sense. Life skills come from painful lessons – why is that? – and nostalgia comes from seeing from within a soul that is not the same as the soul that experienced the moment being viewed.

Tears form in the burn of eyes unable to bear the relapse to the moment of the event; stomach cramps and shoulders slump – what if? If things had been different, if something different was done at the time, if – if – if. Nothing works with that. We go on because we must. Because life demands it of us. Because at some stage, we need to look back to re-experience the moment, or to pass on the wisdom gained from the pain of that moment, or to share that pain with someone who is in a debilitating pain now.

Is that why we experience those things? Why we feel pain and empathy and need to be with others so they can take some of the load? Is it a lesson in humanity?

I think it is. I think the thing that makes a truly sentient being capable of community is the ability to share and empathise the grief moments – and the joy moments.

We experience the power of that emotional link at the birth of a child, at the death of a parent, at the face of disaster when many people are injured or in danger. It is empathy that is power. We don’t simply ‘feel’ for the person, we experience it, we live it with them, the pain is in our heart as well. It makes it easier to reach out and touch, fold them into our warm moment, let them know they are not alone in this.

Nostalgia – the ability to look back at the things in our life that bring an immediacy due to the emotional aspect of that moment, that memory.

It’s not the rose-coloured glasses; it’s not the fuzzy remembering of things being better than now; it’s not the wish of returning to simpler or better times. We have those moments of nostalgia, of returning to a memory event, because we NEED to do that, we need to share that with others, we need to occasionally remind ourselves of our ability to feel, and how easy it is to reach out, to put an arm around someone in pain, to share their suffering, and thereby make it less.

Memories are for sharing. Nostalgia is a lesson we use to help others.