Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Good Medicine in a couple of forms.

Some of you may recall my words on legalism over the past few years. It is never very attractive, in the realm of spiritual practice, food, or anything else for that matter.

SO, while I regularly teach that white flour and other simple carbs are not helpful in one's everyday diet, sometimes a big, fat cheeseburger and fries, preferably in a small, locally owned burger joint like Magoo's here in Alpine is just what the comfort doctor ordered.

I practiced mindfulness as I chomped into that burger. The melty cheese, the toasty bun, the hand-formed beef patty satisfied my hungry heart for a few minutes. Aaah. I smile to think of that pleasurable lunch.

That said, it was great motivation for me to get out for an early evening two mile walk to compensate for all those carbs. I spent some time praying on the walk. I enjoyed the crystal blue sky. The moist air, the blond grasses. A few whys and what fors and how longs? But most of all, I delighted in the bright sunlight! At one point I raised up my arms in joyful prayer, telling the sun I was ever so glad to see him out so late on a weekday. Even now, almost 6:30 pm, the skies are bright, the shadows growing longer, but, shadows require sun, and sun there is.

Oh, I think I might survive the winter, she says with a sarcastic grin and a sigh of relief, knowing that it is absolutely ridiculous to get mopey with only 6 days of cold dark over the course of several weeks of winter here in the Chihuahuan high desert. Seriously...

Blanket of White

Yesterday I had to bundle up in many layers to head up the mountain to a job. I went out to the orchard and veggie gardens I help maintain and snugged the beds with agrobon in preparation for the cold snap to come. As I worked, fingers growing numb, the snow began to fall. At first tiny little specks. In an hour thick fluffy flakes that quickly covered junipers and live oaks and yucca and agave. Even the grasses were frosted by the thick layers. Instead of the vineyard, I moved to indoor tasks, working away while the snow came down, delivering a nice dose of moisture and nitrogen. All organic!

How lovely it is to live in a place where one day I can work in short sleeves, the next, enjoy a winter wonderland of quiet, cushioned cozy comfort, reading in front of the fire, and today, the sun is shining brightly, melting away the winter blanket, giving me hope that the dark will not last forever.

Have you gotten the idea that I absolutely love where I live? The mountains outside my window have fluffy shawls of cloud and a slight powder sugar dusting. By noon the skies will be clear and by tomorrow my yard and gardens will be moist, and I will be grateful for temperatures back in the 70s. Isn't it wonderful that the world has so much diversity and something for everyone?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness, or The Greenhouse is SO Clean!

Theo came over on Saturday and we worked together on greenhouse clean out. The greenhouse is a multipurpose zone, used twice a year to raise chicks for meat, used to hold plants over the winter that don't tolerate our cold snaps, a lime tree, several aloe and baby agave, airplane plants, ocotillo baby and a bay laurel plant. Come January and February we aim to use it to start seedlings for the garden.

The deep litter for chicks is a combination of hay and pine shavings. After a few weeks, it is a perfect mix of chicken manure and carbon matter, so I spent a few hours hauling it via wheelbarrow, over to an area near the garden. After a few months, it will become food for the garden.

My friend washed chicken dust off the plants and repotted a few. I hauled and hauled, growing covered in dust. Reveling in the tshirt weather, soaking in the sunshine. The girls hacked up the christmas trees and burned them in the firepit. They played with the rabbits, are latest acquisition on the farm. I mean small town backyard.

The other day I started an online course offered by Coursera. It is called "A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment." Winter months usually bring me down, and as I have several life decisions rumbling around in my head, like should I go back to school? Should I ditch self-employment and get a steady job that might offer benefits that would benefit me? It was recommended to me and sure enough, the course is engaging, challenging and enlightening!

When I started working out in the yard I felt a bit grumpy, realizing I had to make a choice, clean house or clean greenhouse. I felt pressed and irritated that I had to make a choice and couldn't do it all. I wondered why I couldn't be more like those other women who keep such tidy houses. Why couldn't I be better at helping supervise kids in the arena of household management? And then my muscles warmed up. The sun kept soaking into my bones. I felt contentment and satisfaction that comes from working companionably nearby others, not chatting, just doing our thing, as Nora entertained the little boys with Playmobil and trampoline and Rose entertained her squad of teen friends by burning things and showing off bunnies.

All of a sudden I paused as the light bulb went off.

I am happy! I shouted over to Theo and told her it would be damn stupid for me to be inside cleaning house on a day like today! I don't judge anyone who would find their satisfaction in doing household chores. I really love to clean my house. It makes me feel centered and cozy and safe. That said, a clean greenhouse makes garden plants, soil amendments and taking advantage of the gorgeous weather filled up my heart and warmed up my muscles and I can truly say I felt happy. I let go of my wish to get it all done perfectly. Duh.

This course I am taking talks about how our culture tends to look down upon happiness, as it might feed our ego more to work toward whatever our idea of success might happen to be. We think that being happy is selfish. I want to pay attention and know when to choose the thing that helps me feel satisfied and content, and JOY so my kids can see that as a model. Yesterday I was feeling tired and mopey and unhappy again. Then, as I drove home from a late Sunday afternoon hike all by myself, I began to mentally recount moments of joy and happiness I had experienced over the past twelve months. There were quite a few moments of pain, but when I thought about it, a flood of happy memories filled my mind.

I was kind of taken aback.

Wow. I think I am happy and just forgot to pay attention! Dang.

Well, more to come later. But as writing makes me happy, I thought I ought to sit down and do it for a minute during my lunch break!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Little Gifts, or wow, it has been awhile since I took an evening stroll

After a lovely visit with a girlfriend, I ventured out for an evening stroll. The air was brisk. The stars were big and bright.

I looked toward the west and the giant crescent of a moon was a glimmering bowl. I rushed to the top of a knoll, hoping to give her my full attention. She swiftly sank beyond the far mountains, and all that was left was a faint glow.

Oh how disappointed I was to see her disappear.

Oh how delighted I am that I went out with just enough time to catch her departure and tell her goodbye.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Carne Guisada, Tacos, Venaison en Bourgogne, Steak, Stuffed Peppers, Curried Venison, Venison Bone Broth, Yummy Meaty Bones for Brownie and Blackie

Patrick pulled the ginormous industrial strength meat grinder out of the closet. With three and a half deer to butcher, looks like we could use her awesomeness.

We sharpen knives. We don aprons. We pull out very cold, very large quarters of venison. We turn on Pandora to the Bach station. Light conversation accompanies knife work.

We are slow. We wish Daddy were here with his flashing knives! Decades of practice for him. A handful of years for me. Patrick's first time to wield a knife on a deer carcass.

I tell him that slow is okay, especially as we wish no injuries to accompany this harvest.

A girlfriend pops in earlier in the day. "Wow, people sure do love you guys!" she says, as she looks at the amount of meat waiting to be processed.

And don't you know I know it.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mental Photo

A sliver of moon made her way up into the black velvet sky this morning. I paused in my baking to witness the event. A couple of very bright stars cheered her on as she steadily rose.