Here’s the resolutions progress report:

1. Cook something fabulous and complicated every other week.

I cooked three simple but tasty dinners and one easy lunch, which was way more cooking than I usually do.

But that’s not all!

Debra of Threading the Web shared her grandmother’s recipe for banana cake with caramel icing – it’s an old-school style recipe, which called for ingredients I had to search for in two different stores. It was worth the effort. This cake is seriously yum.  I made the cake for Nanook’s 75th birthday party and it received rave reviews from all party-goers.  And…then I made it again for my birthday.

Then there was a pasta dish that was semi-complicated. I used fresh basil, oregano, and cherry tomatoes from the garden, which made me happy.

I must admit, I am quite pleased with my performance this month on the cooking resolution.

I bumped the “Eat dinner before 7:00 p.m.” goal down to “Eat dinner before 7:30 p.m.” because 7:00 is still too hard and if I miss the deadline, I’m more likely to say “screw it” and eat at 9 p.m., which is part of the problem.  I was able to hit my 7:30 deadline 81% of the time in August compared to 67% of the time in July with the 7:00 deadline. Not perfect, but it’s progress. I’ll take it.

2.  Finish Inferno choreography.

I still haven’t finished it, but I’m getting closer! I spent 9 hours and 45 minutes working on it this month.

And here is where I will insert a gratuitous dance picture from last week’s performance at the Renaissance Faire.

Faire Dance

3. Write a book.

I spent 9 1/2 hours writing and researching this month, which only amounted to around 4,208 words. This is just sad. It’s not nearly enough if I want to get this thing written in my lifetime.

My resolution time was hampered by things like the need for sleep, busted water pipes, and walls being ripped out of the house in search for the leak.  A new semester started mid-month, so now I have a couple thousand preschoolers competing with everything else for my time and attention. I am getting better at saying “No,” to the time-consuming requests made by others, but I have a long way to go if I’m going to carve out enough time to get stuff I want to do done.

4. Tend the garden.

I spent 23 hours in the garden! Wowie. I had no idea it was that much until I just totaled up the time. Garden hours seem to pass on a completely different time scale. I logged most of this time in the first half of the month. I was a weeding and mulching maniac. Slinging mulch is great exercise. I planted oregano, cilantro, arugula, greens, chives, and lettuce. I clipped the amaryllis and hid them away until fall.  There is still so much work to be done!  I still want to plant spinach, garlic, kale and chard. The back beds need weeding. I want to plant mums and repot the house plants. And soon the leaves are gonna start falling. I am so looking forward to the fall and winter this year.  This is a brand new thing for me. I’ve always been a spring and summer sort of girl, but I’m ready to be cloistered inside with hot chocolate. I want to hide under a pile of blankets and spend hours reading books. I’m ready for soup.

5. Meditate 15 minutes a day.

I logged exactly the same amount of time this month as last month:  3 hours and 15 minutes.  This is a far cry from daily.  We’ll see how September goes.

The morning could hardly be described as “dawning.” It emerged warm, dark, and drizzly. The garden was a fragrant sauna and the ducks were quacking their delight over it all.  Star-shaped mushrooms had sprung up delicate, translucent, and otherworldly. I picked rain-washed basil, then stole time to tie it off and hang it over the doorways.  The fragrant leaves dangle low enough to anoint El-D’s forehead as he passes through each threshold. He shall be thoroughly seasoned in the next four weeks as the bundles dry. The whole house smells good enough to eat.

The fall semester has begun.  With loins girded I returned to the fray. It’s my fourth year of this. There are two thousand and two hundred children on the roster. By mid-morning I was surrounded on all sides by two-year-olds.  Things were going surprisingly well all things considered. Right before lunch screaming and tears erupted when a little one objected to my intrusion. Tensions were mounting on all sides. This human, just under three feet tall, had me near defeated when my friend and colleague snatched up a nearby puppet and launched into the most wildly entertaining impromptu song and puppet show I have ever witnessed. Devoid of all adult-like dignity, her performance was so brilliant and hysterical it stopped the two year old in his tracks mid-wail. Victory! It was the sort of inspired moment, so vivid and well-lived, that makes the heart unbelievably glad.

the rainbow at the end of a stormy ride

the rainbow at the end of a stormy ride

a little chicken named Chicken Little

a little chicken named Chicken Little

well, happiness...."Now look at each other"

well, happiness….”Now look at each other”

So I finally got around to making some New Years Resolutions this month. I’m in full-blown Geek Mode over it all. We’re  talking task analyses and spreadsheets here.  Here’s the progress report:

1. Cook something fabulous and complicated every other week.

This goal was partly inspired by the herb garden that had been more ornamental than functional.  The herbs were put to use this month in three complicated, fabulous dinners made by yours truly:

  • veggie lasagna with fresh basil that was accompanied by strawberry and orange salad with citrus syrup and fresh mint
  • spinach manicotti with lemon basil
  • quinoa stuffed bell peppers slathered with mozzarella.  (El-D insisted on making the sauce for the peppers himself, likely thinking I needed “adult supervision” in the kitchen.  I didn’t. That said, no kitchens were harmed in fires this month.)

No dinner party plans as of yet, but we’re hosting Nanook’s 75th birthday party next month. The theme is Elvis Blue Hawaii, whatever that means. Time will tell.

Eating dinner before 7:00 has remained a challenge. This objective was accomplished only 67% of the time. Not perfect, but it’s progress.

Green crab apples hang on the trees. Maybe they’ll be ripe and ready to spice up by the end of next month.

2.  Finish Inferno choreography.

It’s not complete yet, but it’s coming together. Ciardi’s translation has been a major source of inspiration, specifically Canto IX, from which the song’s lyrics are drawn.

3. Write a book.

I’ve been typing and organizing my notes. I’m at 12,000 words presently.

4. Tend the garden.

I did a little weeding this month, planted a flower, and kept things watered.  I haven’t planted the lettuce or herb beds yet. It’s too hot!

5. Meditate 15 minutes a day.

I’ve logged 3 hours and 15 minutes this month.

books

books on the dresser

I bought a new book yesterday. It’s getting a little  out of hand…

books on the stairs

books on the stairs

I keep giving them away, yet they seem to be multiplying like rabbits.

books on the nightstand

books on the nightstand

There are actual bookshelves in this house…

books on the bathtub

books on the bathtub

There are several bookshelves actually, with books on them….

more books

more books on the dresser

See that book up there ^ with the ripped cover?  The title is “Getting Things Done” … I started it several years ago and never got it done…

books on the coffee table with MoonPie eying them warily

books on the coffee table with Moon Pie eyeing them warily

…and don’t even get me started on the journals…

journals on the floors

journals on the floors

s

…think calmly and well upon this whole subject.  Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.  If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.

–Abraham Lincoln

 “The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations–all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen.  In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be.”

-David Levithan

I started Every Day yesterday and finished it before 9 this morning. I slept and dreamt in between, but the story called me awake early this morning. I’m not sure if it consumed me or if I consumed it, but I do know I haven’t read a story that held me hostage like this in a very long time. This is the tale of a body-snatcher….kinda.  “A,” the protagonist, wakes up in a different person’s body everyday, though (s)he has no control over who and where. Sometimes A is in a male’s body, sometimes in a female’s body, and (s)he doesn’t particularly identify with gender one way or the other. This is how it’s always been since A’s earliest memories. Each host is A’s chronological age – 16, and (s)he can access the hosts’ memories to get through the day without messing up the host’s life, which is typically A’s goal. That changes when A falls in love with the girlfriend of one of his hosts.

This is such an original and fascinating premise for a book. The ending vibrates.  David Levithan, please, please write a sequel!

“If you want to live within the definition of your own truth, you have to choose to go through the initially painful and ultimately comforting process of finding it.”

–David Levithan

2015-07-14 08.16.55

 

7 a.m. Sunday morning.

Gardening is a never-ending labor of love I muse as I begin gearing up for the ritual. I don the white vestments, the boots, gloves, hat, glasses, and braid. Only then I am ready to meet the Mistress. I open my door to a surprised hummingbird. We regard each other a moment before she flits away. I gather supplies and materials while the wasps and bees still sleep. Time and other trappings of the world recede until there is only the dirt and the things in it, living and dead. Weeds are ripped from the earth; the worms beneath them churn wiggly and wet. Beetles and spiders run for their lives.  Secret ant cities are uncovered, their nurseries revealed. The ants abandon whatever plans they had for this day to grab their babies and rush them to safety. The whole colony fights for survival in this sacred space where love, duty, and instinct meld into one indistinguishable force.  Blood is spilled over the roses, a sacrifice they demand regularly as thorns prick and stick fingers through gloves. God is in Her place.  All is right with the world.

 

There are some things you can only do with love. You will know that you have love when you do one of them.  --Walter Anderson

There are some things you can only do with love. You will know that you have love when you do one of them. –Walter Anderson

July & August Garden Goals

  • Plant the seeds for the fuzzy pink flowers in the front bed and containers.
  • Split and replant zinnias.
  • Prep the raised beds (weed and add compost).
  • Plant rainbow chard, musclun lettuce, kale, collard greens, arugula, and romaine in the raised beds.
  • Plant oregano, cilantro, borage, bee balm, and chives in all the right places.
  • Weed front flower bed,  cover with weed fabric, and mulch.
  • Plant garlic?
  • Water, water, water

 

Dear Garden People of the Internet: What wisdom regarding growing garlic can you impart? The spring’s attempt did not work!

 

~*~

The Garden

The cherub and the virgin Mary,

the Buddha and the garden gnome –

all the garden statuary –

talked in spring of how things grow.

Buddha said, “From compassion.”

Mary said, “The Lord above.”

Gnome replied, “It must be magic.”

Cherub sighed, “It must be love.”

And it rained then

in the garden

and they all stood ’round

and witnessed in stillness

and listened to that lovely sound.

And St. Francis in the corner

spoke up the gathering.

“Peace,” he said is most important,

“Peace for all the living things.”

And the stars burned,

and the earth turned,

and the sun shone down.

And they knew then in the garden

Life was stirring in the warming ground.

And St. Frances stood entranced

as Cherub watched beguilded.

Gnome’s hands laid on his sharp spade.

Mary gave thanks

and Buddha smiled.

–Peter Mayer

Walter Anderson's boat

Walter Anderson’s boat

Love called me here.

–Dante, The Inferno

Our lives improve only when we take chances — and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves… [The] greatest risk of all: to be vulnerable, to allow others to see us as we really are.

–Walter Anderson

My palms got a little sweaty just typing the title of this post – that’s how nervous putting this resolution “out there” makes me.

Someone near and dear explained this same feeling during a conversation earlier this week.  Regarding an idea for a project he had been keeping top secret, he said, “I didn’t want to speak it into being because once I tell everybody, then I’m basically bound to make it so.  People will start asking me about it.”  The idea of being held accountable for pursuing your dreams is a scary prospect indeed.

Writing has  been a recurring theme in my resolutions over the years. “Write everyday” and  “get my work published” are just a couple of the variations. My work has seen publication several times now – once in dissertation form and several times in the form of co-authored articles in academic journals. I will not minimize these accomplishments. It was rigorous work and I have a lot of respect for science and the people who toil and revel in it.  If I had been honest with myself though, I would have abandoned that work long ago instead of getting caught up in other people’s notions of who I am and what I should be doing with my time. Being invited into collaboration was thrilling to the ego and working within an institution provided a fair degree of comfort and security. I learned a tremendous amount through the process, but I never felt particularly free or autonomous enough to write the things I wanted to write in that context.

Writing is something I do on an almost daily basis whether I’ve resolved to do it or not.  It’s how I process things. I think the format of a book will help keep me organized and focused. Because it is an independent project, it will require more self-discipline. This is why I decided to put this one “out there” instead of keeping it personal – I don’t want to back out of it or make the usual excuses to myself.

The topic of the book evolved from a presentation proposal I submitted on a whim to a yoga conference.  I never thought it would actually be accepted, but to my horror and delight it was. After I spent several months researching and preparing for the talk, the conference was cancelled.  I was both devastated and relieved – devastated because I had been looking forward to the conference and the trip and I had invested a lot of time and work into the topic and I wanted to share it.  I was relieved from having to deal with a somewhat stressful situation.  I was way out of my comfort zone. Public speaking does not come naturally to me.  Also, this conference was business-oriented instead of the academic/research-oriented type I’d experienced in the past. The good thing about the stress was that it kept my effort sustained and moving in one direction. That direction felt right. Now it’s a matter of changing the format and continuing the effort in book form.

Inferno

I’ve been working on a choreography for Emma Shapplin’s The Inferno for months now.  The song stirs something in me that badly wants out. A version of the song is embedded below.

After months of reading, thinking, listening, and moving, the idea is finally beginning to find some form in motion. I need to finish it.

The quote in the image above was taken from John Ciardi’s translation.

Yes, there’s a lot aflame around here lately.  It’s an energy that needs to be channeled somewhere safe, like dance.

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