Tag Archives: Rekationships

Meta Mumbles on about a family pet named Chico.

While I was in grade school my grandparents had a rhesus monkey – there were times that they entertained the monkey, Chico, by sitting up a card table in the center of their living room and putting out on it a Sears and Roebuck catalog.  They would leave it there with the pages open.  That was a time when all sorts of things were for sale in their Big Book.

We would all sit around the room talking and watching the monkey browse through the pages.  He would turn each page and then carefully spread it out flat.  Then he would sit with his hands folded behind his back while exploring all of the photographs before him.  He would slowly look first at the left page from top to bottom and then the right, while chattering the whole time.

When Chico would come to the part where various breeds of dogs were pictured, he would get so excited that he sometimes flipped over backwards while he seemed to laugh – out – loud.  Then he would point to the family dog, Beau, sleeping at the feet of my grandfather.  Beau would quickly respond and go to the edge of the card  table poking his nose up by the monkey.  Chico would start pointing to a photo of one of the dogs, the breed would not matter, then point directly at Beau – back and forth his finger would go – apparently he recognized that they were all dogs – while laughing the entire time.  Beau would get excited and it seemed obvious to us, at the time, that they were communicating in humor.

And we want to think that we are the only ones that can make our thoughts known to each other.

Mid Summer Vegetable Soup

Come August, around the beginning of the Month although sometimes we must wait until mid month, Meta and I make a special trip to the local farmers market for our first real fresh from the farm purchase.  It gives us an opportunity to gorge on local produce and local farms provide most of the ingredients we need for a large pot full of vegetable soup.

Generally by now in Ohio the tomatoes should be well established and even seconds will be available which are perfect for soups and sauces.  I am a scratch cook so for me its just a question of throwing whatever we find into a large stock put and cooking the shit out of it.  When I first started the category of Kitchen Witchery I had intended it to include recipes.  The problem for me is the odd fact that I don’t measure anything.  It has been a stumbling block of sorts.  So I am going to take a shot at getting this recipe down for your perusal using approximate measures and guesstimates.

So here goes…

16 quart stock pot

1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds of beef chuck (Optional)

1/2 peck of tomatos

4 yellow of light green peppers (sweet)

4 – 5 green peppers (sweet)

3-5 small or 2-3 medium zuchinni

a couple hand fulls of green snap beans

a couple hand fulls of wax beans

6 small or 4 large turnips

3 – 5 medium potatoes

two hand fulls of white mushrooms

one cup of pearl barley

clean veggies, chop or slice and skin when necessary (turnips) and throw in pot, don’t expect all the veggies to fit comfortably int the pot so save some, Potatoes especially for later in the cook.  Taters can cook to nothing so chop one for later in the boil into very small of thing pieces.

Tip 1:  Potatoes can be used to thicken the broth.  I myself don’t really care for thin broth

Tip 2:  Soup is at least 50% water.

Spices:

4 and 1/2 table spoons of Thyme

3 Tablespoons of Marjoam

3 Tablespoons of Sweet Basil

! tablespoon of Savory

1 tablespoon of Rosemary

1 teaspoon of oregano

half of a teaspoon of black pepper

3 – 6 Bay leaves

3 – 6 cloves of garlic

Salt  (Don’t be shy)

Chuck the the chopped meat (optional), chopped veggies and Potatoes (Holding one tater the pearl barley back for a couple of hours, once the veggies begin to melt then these last two plus any other left overs can be added.)

Ideally the contents of the stock pot should fill said pot to a couple or three inches from the top.  Once this level has been established it should be maintained through out the cook.

Once a soft boil has been reached it should be maintained.  The heat can be high until boil is reached then the batch should be cooked over lower or low heat until finished.  As a rule of thumb the contents shouldn’t boil hard, if you get splatter from the inside of the pot onto your stove then the heat is too high.  I like to maintain a patch of bubbles maybe number six or eight or so near the middle of the pot.  Cook uncovered, add water as needed.  Stir frequently but not constantly.

If you want a neat amount of time on this mess I can’t give it to you.  Generally it takes about six hours once on the heat.  sometimes a bit more.  It is one of those dishes that takes most of the day to get right.  Taste it once it is well under way, and again after about four hours and you should have a pretty good ideas how the taste will develop.  Also use Thyme, Marjoam, Basil and Oregano along with Salt to finish.  Don’t be afraid of the salt as the ingredients are fresh.  Tasting as it cooks can give one the taste as it changes and develop strong anticipation of what it needs to finish. Whenever a person cooks from scratch and uses fresh ingredients it takes extra special effort to screw it up.  Meta and I will be putting this together later this very day assuming that nothing out of the ordinary happens.

If you want to try something a little different add a quarter cup of millet to the batch at the same time you add the pearl barley.

This has become our traditional (Twenty years now) Lamas meal and we usually party some once it has started cooking.  Even though this won’t be happening on the holiday proper I don’t think that really matters.

This is recipe is NOT intended for novice cooks.  But if you are a novice and have a sense of adventure don’t let this warning stop you.

Best of luck and happy eating.

Have a better then average day.

The Power of Hesitation

It is easy, I have found, to get caught up in the moment.  The mob is both frightening and enticing.  Once caught in its grasp there is this shifting of responsibility away from the individual  to the seething throbbing whole.  In this surrender of free will one find’s themselves trapped without feeling trapped,  Now if you are into this sort of thing then you can feel free to stop reading,  This is a piece about exercising free will and its not for everyone.

Any given individual is either a part of an event, acting with in their own sense of agency or in a neutral, observer state.  Rephrase, we are reacting, acting or hesitating.  The professor who taught the Action Theory class I suffered through back in college, one Doctor Robins, might have referred to this as a folk analysis or a folk understanding.  Well everybody has to start somewhere.   We do not just live in a world of events, we also live in a world of agents.  This is why an understanding, in an individual sense, is so important.  This debate, in my limited experience, breaks down between Predestiny (Determinism) verses Free Will (Action Theory).  Determinism is the idea that whatever choice you make today, at this second is based on all of the previous events, experiences and choices that you have made in the past.  Action Theory is dependent on the idea of Agency.

Agency means that some entities are actors and that they possess a thing or an ability that allows them to act that is known as Will.  There is an intellectual tendency to choose a camp but I prefer the quantum equivalent.   That any given individual exists in two states simultaneously.   The predestined state and the free will state coexist and that our resting state is the predestined state.  In the Predestined state we are simply reacting to the events taking place around us.  There is no exercise of free will.  Think of it like breathing.  You do it with out thought, it requires no exercise of will, it simply is.  A person simply breaths because their body demands it.

On the other hand there is Agency.  We are all born with this ability, we are all made to be Free Agents and we all have Free Will.  The choice, though, is like a muscle, it has to be exercised.  There is where the problem lies.  How can any individual tell the difference between a reaction and a choice, choice in this case requiring the exercise of Free Will?

This is where hesitation becomes important, the previously mentioned third state.  If one carefully observes others they have the opportunity to notice instant reactions when they occur, like the knee jerk response.  I swear to you I have seen people jerk their knee when they hear something or see something that they instinctively react to negatively.  Hesitation takes a great exercise of will.  It also involves some risk.  When The Christ stated turn the other cheek, he is talking about denying the reaction and concentrating on the action.  The act of Hesitating has to become trained, instinctive, it is through the act of Hesitating that any individual might be able to begin to detect the difference between reacting and acting.  Hesitating is an exhaustive process as it denies the instinctive response.  It also requires that part of the individuals attention constantly be cast inward in a semi reflective state.  Any one following this path needs a quiet space where they can just be.  This will give them the opportunity to rest and recuperate.  The path of Hesitation takes discipline and patience.  In time the difference between the two states, reacting and acting, will become easily discernible.  This will give the individual the opportunity to act when they think or feel they must and save their energy for pursuits closer to the heart.

The test is a simple one.  People, especially educated people, are experts at pushing other peoples buttons.  That is saying or doing something that will provoke a reaction.  So the next time some one hits you, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, or says a thing that cuts deep, that causes your body to scream and demand a response, hesitate.  While hesitating watch the reaction of the provocateur.

That is where the real education begins.

Not So Smart

I still remember this old cast iron wall hanging that use to be in the kitchen of my maternal grandparents house many years ago.  It seemed old to me at the time, a single color, something akin to a bright yellow with flashes and streaks of the iron underneath showing through.  It hung there high on the wall across from the chair that my grandfather sat so that he could see it when he ate.  If he cared to tip his head just slightly. It was written in German with the image of an old man wagging a thoughtful finger at what I assumed then and still today to be a grandchild, probably a son.  In my minds eye I can still see one word clearly, Schmart.  Of course my mind, being what it is might have twisted that a bit but I still think it is probably correct, after all it was some time ago.  I still have a rough translation of what the little cast iron thingy had written on it, “The older you get the more you find that the less smart you are.”

This was a big topic for Grandpa whom seemed quite old to me at the time though I personally knew many people who were even older.  He would get into detail about books of knowledge and how when you were young the book of what you knew was such and so big.  Then he would hold his fingers far apart to indicate a book of great thickness.   He would go on to explain that when you get older you realize that the book of what you actually know is only this thick and he would squeeze his fingers together to indicate a book to thin to draw even my interest as an eleven year old.  I did read quite a bit by that time.  I think that summer was my first encounter with To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the flies and Atlas Shrugged.  The last title well beyond my ability to properly appreciate.  So I liked the book reference and I thought that I understood what he meant which was that so much was being added to the body of knowledge that an individual just couldn’t keep up.  Sort of the standard point of view of youth which I have heard often through out my life pointed at me as well as my wife which is old people don’t know anything.  Mom’s don’t know anything, just pick your group and stick “don’t know anything” behind it.

So I thought I understood when I was young and in a way I did when I was young and that understanding was, as repetitious as it is, young.  Being that I have some formal education, a mental disability and nothing but time I do a lot of thinking and reflecting which is probably one of the reasons that I deal with schizophrenia as well as a do.  As a growing person has experiences and sometimes those experiences contradict what we were taught in school, college or at university.  When we accept a thing as known with out having tested the idea to be sure, assuming that the thing is knowable, then it is an assumption.  Believe me when I say that assumptions are everywhere like land mines.  Assumptions extrapolated from, built on top of other and piled high and deep.  Even when you know its an assumption you rush to defend it like the love of your life.  Sometimes you think you now when you don’t.  There are plenty of things of which I am fully well aware that I know nothing about and that’s not the issue the issue is the shit I think I know something about when I know nothing at all.  I keep stumbling over these things, things I accept are so with out really knowing.  Its getting to be a major pain in the ass and in the end that is what I think my Grandfather was talking about.

Its strange to me what I remember, those strange scant moments like shadows, vague an hazy and the ones that are sharp like yesterday’s morning.  Why would my young eleven year old mind latch on to those conversations.  Was it repetition?  My brothers heard the same as often as I yet the have no recollection.  It is odd what one remembers and how it effects them and influences their lives.  So that “Not so Smart” was a joint project between myself and my Grandfather.

Look for your Muses and don’t be afraid to be wrong as much of a pain as it is, you might find a pleasant surprise on the other side of that fear.

Have a better than average day.

The Nut Never falls very Far…?

I find that I hear that expression or some variation to it quite often.  Nut, apple or Hand grenade it doesn’t really matter the idea is that it never falls far from the tree. the family tree in this case.  I was born in the last year of the Baby boom, 1964 and I am aware that there are some out there whom feel that we boomers have had it way too easy and maybe they are right. But of course I am not a millennial or a gen X er so when I look back I think about my mother and father and even my grand parents. My grandparents where grown during WWII and I even had an great Uncle that served in the pacific theater. My Mom was a college graduate and my old man served in peace time in the navy among other things and eventually settled in a fat factory job in my home town. To hear Dad or my Maternal Grandfather talk about it, it all came down to planning and scrimping and saving and working hard.

I worked hard, I scrimped, I planned, how come none of my aspirations came true? Why was I unable to accomplish the simple goals I had set out for myself such as graduate college, work for a short time in the field and then return for a higher degree? Maybe none of this was a question of my bad luck or lack of effort, maybe it was a question of their good luck and lack of effort. It is even possible to admit that with all the effort in the world some has to be said for timing, luck. Nothing is accomplished in the American sense through just hard work.

None of this is really here of there, its just a way to get across just how far a skew my life’s journey has gone. Some times I even wonder if all those people from those not so distant years ago were even real. That instead they might be some figment of my baffled brain. That’s just the way it feels until I hear their voices squeak out from between my lips. For some time I used the word Evidently in stead of “I think so,” and would while on kitchen duty, swamped with complaints about how terrible the food I had prepared was I would hear my self make a noise my maternal grandmother would make under the same circumstances. I found it a bit unsettling at first just how foreign these sounds and words, uttered by my own mouth, sounded. It was as if My grandmother were speaking to me from beyond the grave through my own memories. I hum when I eat, a habit I am trying to break, like my Maternal grandfather did years ago. It was at his knee that I learned what I know about the investment markets before I even started High school. I can feel his influence in the way I think about the world and in the manner in which I assess risk. My father taught me about the importance of PRESENCE as that was his game. The ability to intimidate simple by the way you stood, where you put your hands and when the chips are done, nothing sends shivers down there spine as fast as a nice toothy smile. I learned the reverse as well, how not to intimidate, how to appear safe or harmless and most importantly how to assess who represented what level of danger when I was walking on the streets. My Mother was an intellectual snob with a gift for sarcasm, this I inherited from her and there are I times when I find myself repeated some thing she said over three decades ago verbatim , or so it seems…

The strange thing to me is that they are all dead, so in some way people really do live on not just n the memory of others but in their very personalities.  I sometimes wonder what remnants have been passed to me from the distant past from people unknown to any involved. the pieces of themselves handed down by the unsuspecting.  How much of me is in the strictest sense, is actually me and not someone else transplanted.  This is a question that is impossible to answer.  “To Thy Own self be true,” is a famous quote from Shakespeare.  That’s how I remember it but hell I could be wrong.  I’m pulling this stuff out of my ass after all and I could be mistaken.  It leaves an unsettling question which is, how can you be true to yourself if you do not know yourself?  I have spent a great deal of time an effort, through meditation and simple introspection trying to understand myself, know myself and it has become apparent to me that there will always be parts of me that I will never know.  This is painfully obvious when someone points out a quirk of my behavior that I was previously unaware of, this I appreciated.  Whether one finds such a thing ,an event, that they appreciate or that they find irritating is dependent on the personalities involved.   Meta, my wife, is a person I wanted to get to know well.  She has been a project of mine, to know her moods, to grasp when there is something bothering her that she needs to speak about but maybe feels that she cannot.  If there are aspects of myself I cannot know then how much of her can I truly know?  There must be aspects to her self that are hidden from me.  This is a profound truth that everyone needs to grasp.

There is a point to this, I think.

We had been married for some few years and one of the hobbies we both enjoyed was and is camping.  At this time I can’t say exactly when this event happened.  There were others but this was the most profound and crisp as it was the first.  We were camping at a place called Hearts Content in the Allegheny’s.  I remember it because over the first night we were there, in early summer, a strange crop of fungus had popped up all around our campsite.  I believe that these strange little critters were fungus but I wouldn’t bet on it.  I want to say that they came up over night but maybe they were there the first day and we just didn’t “see” them.  At any rate we had taken and interest in these strange pale pink little life forms and were walking out farther in the brush in out effort to survey them.  We were talking about something that escapes my recollection.  I remember looking at her.  She was looking back at me.  She was smiling.  It was the strangest thing.  I am a schizophrenic and I have become accustom to strange visual effects but this was most peculiar.   She had become two dimensional in a surreal sense, still in color but yet foreign.  I was struck by the fact that I knew nothing about the woman that I had been married to for, by that time three or four years.  She was a stranger.  I remember asking her, pointing my finger from she to me, “Were Married?  That’s right isn’t it?”

She said yes.

I explained that I had just had the intense experience that she was unknown to me.  She told me to just let it slid.  She had the same experience on occasion when she looked at me.  We both agreed that it was an uncomfortable feeling.

In the end you can’t truly know anyone.  Knowing is a work in progress, it never ends.  We are finally confronted with the odd fact that it is impossible to eliminate risk in our personal relationships.  We will lose those we love, we will be betrayed and we will betray.  All we have left is to simply trust.  It is on trusting where the greatest threat, the most dangerous risk lies.  But in the en d we must take that risk if we want to live a meaningful life.

Be Blessed in all things