28 April 2015 – Last Night’s Dinner and the Morning Papers

fish rice tsatsik Last night, at my parent’s place for two days, I decide to make dinner from what’s in the fridge, and find myself rustling up a nice little feast.

A plate consisting of sublimely sautéed sweet red peppers with sambar curry powder, crisp-roasted zucchini in ghee, grand portabella mushroom and fat spring onion and local ocean perch perfectly prepared salt-and-peppered with a coating of ground herbes de provence, and fluffy brown rice, and an excellent flash of tsatsik made from kefir cheese and a fine choppage of fresh oregano, parsley, garlic and tomato.

Laying out the morning papers, these are my first impressions and reactions:  he looks dead; have the papers (the editors and other powers that determine what images and information greet the media-consuming public) decided it is now okay to show dead children on the cover of the morning paper, oh it is Nepal; Boston wants to know about the Marathon Bombing and Violence in Baltimore than New York (the feed through my eyes and into my brain again challenges my self-centering filters, and my syntax does get confused); apparently the boy in colorful clothing on the gray ground is not dead but injured and asleep; a fist in the air in Baltimore and violence and death, and Abe is here from Japan and Obama said yeah to expanded military power for them; people in Boston mostly don’t want the death penalty for Tsarnaev but would be more comforted to know that he rots in prison for the rest of his life and we don’t ever need to know what he might have to say himself before he’s been driven insane, and what was all that about his middle finger, anyway…

IMG_2143 As we’re finishing breakfast, the doorbell trills and Tenzin and her assistant are here to clean the place.  We are finishing our cereal and banana and croissant and jams and apple juice and green tea when it strikes me – Tenzin is Tibetan, maybe she knows people in Nepal; but I hesitate to ask.  A few minutes later, Tenzin is standing by the dining room table and Nona is holding her hand and pointing to the leak in the ceiling that appeared a few days ago due to another construction mishap and messed up a bunch of books, and Tenzin listens and grins and shakes her head in commiseration.  A few minutes later, I hear her mention to Nona the earthquake in Nepal, and I come back from straightening up the bed to ask her, Do you know anyone there?  And she answers, Yes, I know a few people who died.  Her facial expression is a bit dark, though her tone is matter-of-fact, and she is busy cleaning.

Now as I am trying to finish this up and retain some coherence, the The Orb song I have been listening to to shut out the sounds of voices and vacuuming comes to an end, and I hear my father and Tenzin talking, and a little frantically I select more The Orb music to regain focus but catch snippets of Part of the problem is the urbanization there, it’s so built up, and in Japan they started preparing for these things a hundred years ago, and Yes I know some people there…  These noodly rhythms are comforting my ears and putting a nice coating on my outlook for the moment, as I look out these construction film-protected new windows at the blue-dapped cloudy sky and the yellow house with the red door across the street and the brighter yellow and dark pink flower heads on the trees right out front that glisten when the sun comes out.

Recommended prescription:
Tsarnaev’s middle finger
The Orb, Cydonia “Bicycles and Tricycles”

Wind Mind, Catkins

our birch with catkins
   It’s night now, and a chilly breeze is making the trees outside the kitchen window over the parking lot wave their clumps of newly unfurling leaves and the outside sounds of traffic or construction machines or airplanes seem like wind all distorted and funneled into this small interior world surrounded by countless others all busily occupied with themselves to make ends meet, to hold themselves together, self-preserve and -protect, keep heads above water, not give in or yield to the pressure, pressed and stressed and distressed though the mind is bigger and not limited by the body – as it has lately dawned on me and there is surely ample proof – the wind, the seasons’ changes, the water in its forms from society-stopping snow to late welling-up sap to this here hot miso soup to the blood pounding in the ears as one bounds up the stairs in time to close the windows against the torrent – but I can also ignore or just not notice it, that we are finite, that we are not alone and not all-powerful, and that the thought-action choices we make every day as individuals affects everything and everyone around us, I can let my mind and my ability to be conscious of myself and beyond myself be sucked into one illusion or another.  Because so much of what we take in is made to enthrall and distract, and suck away at consciousness.
   Long dangling seed clusters appeared on the branches of the birch trees outside our bedroom windows on the opposite side of the apartment a few days ago.  No leaves yet, just the bare brown branches off the single narrow speckled white trunk between our building and the grayish decrepit stucco apartment house next door, and I find myself standing by the windows entranced by the wind-waving scattered seed clusters which I looked up earlier to learn they are called “catkins”.

our birch catkin closeup   Close up of our birch with a single catkin
our birch catkin phone halo   Haloed by my phone case’s reflection
other birch catkin   Catkins in different stages, on a smaller birch variety

18 April 2015 Walk

Up the street up Observatory Hill, as it’s called, to the corner store to get an ice cream or something, past St. Peter’s church with its staidly pretty tower lit up, the air chilly but the warmth of the day remembered, observed a man walking on the other side of the street talking to someone on his phone headset as a loud squawking solitary bird came flying low overhead and caused him to take out an earphone for a moment, but when I got to the store I was disappointed to find that the ice cream selection was mostly Nestlé, and having just heard about the latest Nestlé wrongs I had to recoil and refrain, was forced to search for some other gustatory satisfaction, and after much dithering decided on chips, Kettle sea salt potato, and to drink found myself enticed by a Fentiman’s Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger containing ginger and herbal extracts, and I bought these things from the friendly-enough cashier whom I felt uncomfortable with because of my dithering and exited.
Back down the hill then, this time cutting through the observatory grounds with the pleasantly crunching chips and the mildly carbonated refreshing jigger, down along a dark path on the street side of the main building where I saw a lone man with glasses and a mustache looking at a computer screen in a lone lit office on the first floor who did not seem to notice me when I passed a few feet in front of him thinking about the news that Nestlé, an enormous conglomerate whose top man has declared that water is not a human right, is entering into a contract with the municipality of Cascade Locks in Oregon to gain legal rights to the local water source and set up a bottling plant, and then on down the street home, out of the mild mellow nothing-doing night and into my apartment where all sorts of distractions await me but I continue to enjoy the chips and the jigger and to think about this issue of water rights, the great wrong that is being perpetrated by those who surely know that water is a great resource of the earth that has only begun to be tapped for financial gain and who are jockeying for power to take control of it.
And again I am stuck behind my screen, now feeling just a little less ineffectual because I am doing some writing about it that I hope to publish as it were, body aching all over from several hours of shoveling dirt and moving rocks and other good hard labor, mind fuzzy I imagine partly from the wonderful quick onset of Spring, unsettled unfocused erratic and wondering about the next step as always, so much of my intention and action motivated by feelings as abstract as they are viscerally felt: what will tomorrow bring, and next week, and a year from now, when for example all the water in California is gone and there will be massacres over the lack of cabbage and oranges, is it all coolheadedly speaking a matter of perspective and we are generally better off as a species than we were say a century or five ago even with the information glut, it’s over, over and over, but what will be come of our children, when their parents and everything around them is always on the brink, and numbing cataclysms and uplifting discoveries are so constantly in our faces and eyes that future visions are overwhelmed by everflowing simulacra of the present?