Not About the Fish – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #97

I knew I didn’t have any sunrise pictures to go with Crispina’s (way too early for me, on most days!) and I thought I’d skip or write a little something simple.  But then I could not help it and found myself trolling my photos.  Wouldja lookit that?  I’ll be darned… A little something simple AND a sorta kinda matchy-matchy 😉

 

Whether at sunrise alone

or at sunset with a friend

it doesn’t matter

It’s not about the fish

It’s about getting away

from the demands of life

to just be one with nature

It’s what keeps me sane

 

Mindful(less?)ness

Free the space for nothingness

It was August 7th when David Kanigan suggested I write a post based on my response to his post “You Missed That…”  Here we are, the last day of August and I am finally writing it.  I did start composing last night but it took me so long to find David’s post because my computer decided to be slower than molasses in January that I abandoned the project in frustration and decided to watch the second half of “Chef’s Table with Jeong Kwan” because watching the first half the night before is what brought me back here in the first place.

So, here I am now.  My response to D.K.’s post was this:

Yes. Mindfulness is a state of being.
It’s funny. On Wednesday, while sitting in my canteen, for a “quiet moment” (i.e. no customers, everything stocked, nothing needing my attention) I was so aware of just how many sounds I am being bombarded with in that tiny space. The hum of the three fridges – each their own sound, the clicking of the hot plate, the whir of the A/C, the flapping of my protective plexiglass “window” every time a breeze came. It was both disconcerting and oddly soothing at the same time.

David’s response was:

You should write a post based on this comment. That’s beautiful.

Kiki seconded the motion and, after a chat on Messenger with Sawsan, I said I would.  Thank goodness I didn’t say when I would do it!

As I worked yesterday, I kept thinking of Jeong Kwan and her being present in the moment – giving herself completely with an open heart and love to whatever task she is doing.  I decided to try to be mindful (instead of incredibly bored) as I made the sandwich fillings:  weigh the meat, calculate the percentages of the add-ins needed as per the recipe such as mayo, sour cream, old-fashioned grain mustard, etc.; take out the food processor, wash and chop the celery, add to bowl sitting on scale, add each ingredient by weight, mix with spatula.  Then, process ham or chicken (or pass hard-boiled eggs through a cooling grid) and add to bowl. Remove my ring and go in with my hands (except for the eggs) to mix well as it is way way more efficient. Feel the cold ingredients and their textures as I lift and fold, almost in a kneading motion, scraping sides of bowl with the side of my hand to bring into the mix.  Let my mind remain empty as I do it, focussing solely on the task, a meditative state.  For me, this is the form of meditation that works for me – besides walking. Of course, today, of all days, I was disrupted by a client who scared the bejeezus out of me by calling out.  No matter. I was able to get back into that frame of mind after I got him his hot dog.

By being mindful, it somehow felt less monotonous; less brain-draining. It helped me give meaning to a simple, repetitive task that I do three times per day, twice per week.  Does this mean I love it? Hell no. Not even close.  What it has done is confirm that I definitely do not want to work in the food preparation business ever again.  I shall, however, not leave them hanging and finish my season. Even if it kills me. Slowly.  Is it mid-October yet?

Dishes done for the third time, vacuum-formed packs put away, I was able to relax between sporadic customers. It had rained non-stop on Tuesday so I was frankly surprised there were as many golfers as there were. The air was crisp; the wind, fierce, the grass certainly soggy, and yet there they were.  They truly are a special breed of fanatic.

I sat there, trying to read when the various hums and clicks got my attention and I realised this was the reason for this post in the first place!  So I set my timer to see just how often the two most annoying and loud items go off.  The vent, the air-conditioning, the small fridges each have their own humming sound that remains constant.  The hotplate starts an almost frenetic clicking sound that goes up to reach its crescendo then slows down until the clicks are more intermittent. The cycle takes 2:35:42 exactly – I timed it.  Twice.  The big-ass Foster fridge motor starts off with a thud and a shudder and this odd echoey-rattly sound before lowering into a loud hum. The cycle takes about 5:03:07.  I timed it twice but missed the start by about 5 seconds as my phone had turned off and frankly, I hear the damn thing all day, I was done focusing on it for this.  I have noticed one of the other fridges has its own sort of shuddering restart or whatever you want to call it but I didn’t bother with it.  I actually took this video two days after David’s post, thought I’d try to redo it and then decided meh. This’ll do to give you an idea.

I have never spent so much time alone and in my head, as I have since I started this job on June 18th. Yes, there are busy moments and lots of customers but they come and go quickly, in a rush to hit their first or back nine. It’s not like serving in the restaurant of the previous golf club I worked for where you get to know the customer’s names and favourite beers and create a rapport.  Sure, there are quite a few regulars, here:  Monsieur Pomme, who orders an apple-oatmeal muffin every single time – and says not a single word other than to order, or now, smile as I put his muffin on the counter before he asks; or Mr. Oxford (from whence he hails) who orders his coffee with four laits – pronounced lays (milks). There are friendly and not-so-much-so types and no one lingers.  That’s to be expected in a canteen or casse-croûte, as we call it.

Random view from my window to distract you from how long this post is

Employees come to get their lunches and snacks as well and some, a few only, take a moment to chit-chat. Other than that?  Me, myself and I.  And my head. And my thoughts.  And the incessant humming and clicking.  I tried putting the radio on to drown out some of it but, being under a cement terrace, the reception is not always without the grating scratchy sound of not quite being on the channel – you remember those? A radio with a dial that you have to adjust ‘just so’ to get your station? I know, I know, I should simply download some music on my phone but honestly? I don’t think of it.  Regardless, it’s not worth it, it just adds to the cacophony.

Somehow this post has not turned into what I thought it would. So since it was a reflective piece, I’ll leave you with a nice little reflection of the setting sun on my just rained-on street.

 

 

Revelation

I decided to participate in yesterday’s prosery for dVerse in which Lillian asks us to use one of two lines in Carl Sandburg’s Jazz Fantasia. My text has absolutely nothing to do with his fabulous poem. I chose “Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops”. I did write it last night, then decided to wait until today to post, feeling it needed more fine-tuning.  Needless to say, I played with it so much, I fear I buggered it up completely. Or maybe not.  I’m putting it out there anyway!

I hike, breathing in the clean, crisp mountain air, revelling in my sense of being, as they say, one with nature.  I wonder why I don’t allow myself to do this more often.  To just be.  To occasionally let go of all the musts, shoulds and needs that seem to take over everyday life.  Why do we do that?  Why don’t we take the time for ourselves?  I know I was not taught to put myself last.  Our family did not do this type of teaching, despite many hours of discussing pretty much everything.

I often read of people saying their parent taught them this lesson or that. I don’t. I sometimes wonder if I was simply not paying attention.  Before I know it, I moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops, then howl, releasing restrictions I now know were self-imposed.

 

I Had a Room of My Own, Once

I had a room of my own, once

We officially called it my office

It was important to me to have my own space

Separate from mothering and wifing

Where I could be a woman

Free to create ~ something

 

I’d holler down below, to

Tell him his music was too loud

But it was just an excuse to say

“Hey, how’s it going down there?”

To let him know that I was still there

Should he want to interrupt me

 

I had a room of my own, once

A place to call mine, not shared

And now that he’s gone

I no longer want nor need it

It’s purpose has lost its appeal

Besides, I’ve taken over his chair

 

Sometimes choices are made for us

And our needs and wants change accordingly

We adapt, we learn, we grow

And now that I am in charge of my destiny

That room of my own, once needed

Now feels more like a place where I hid

 

Every now and again, dVerse calls me to participate.  This week’s host is Laura Bloomsbury who asked us to “Make Some Room”.

 

 

 

 

I’m Sorry, But, We’re Done

That’s right, Sourdough.  You and me? We’re done. Finito. Kaput.  No matter how much love I give you, you refuse to do your thing.  I had to bring in Janet into the situation for one-on-one consultations and STILL, you gave me grief.  Janet asked me what I had named you and I apologise; I had no idea.  So I gave you my favourite name:  Charlotte.  And what did you do? NOTHING.

But let me go to the beginning.  When I first decided to try my hand at sourdough – yeast having become more impossible to get than toilet paper – (and like every other Tom, Dick and Harry during the great Sit-In – so unoriginal and such a follower, am I) I followed Janet’s instructions to the letter. 50g flour, 50 g water (filtered), mix, set aside, covered, room temp. Days 5, 7, 9, I did the 50g sour, 50g flour, 50g water – keeping the discard for future waffles (which were rather good, I might add).

Days 10, 11, 12, I left you alone.  When I uncovered you, your stink made me recoil.  “It should smell pleasantly like cheesy beer.”  Ummmm. No… this was closer to vomit.  I threw you out.  Oh wait… this would not be YOU, you.  But let’s call him/her your late cousin, who shall remain nameless as well, I didn’t know.  Plus there was an orange tint to it so, I took no chances. Of course, once I posted my failure on FB, everyone who could chimed in with a NOOO don’t chuck it!  Too late. NEXT!

We decide, Janet and I, to start fresh and do a double-feed per day for three days and then bake.  Let’s see…  You looked nice

So I did my kneading (stretch, pull over, eight “corners”) every half-hour for three hours.  Followed the video, EXACTLY, the bowls, the cloth, the flour.  I was not impressed with the rise at all. But I went with it anyhoo. My boules looked nice though not huge. (Haha! I wish!)  Used my special Dutch oven, preheated, baked and… phooey.

“Looks acidified,” says Janet.  Well hell and damnation.  The crust was nice, as you can see but the crumb?  To the bin with ya.

We start over.

We do the double feed, for three days to speed up the process with the intention of trying just one loaf.  At one point Janet said you looked cold, Charlotte,

so I gave you the oven with the light on.  Barely a bubble.  We tried all sorts of feedings. Nothing.  I left you alone for a few days, figuring you were in a mood.  All you gave me was a thin crust of hardened – something.  I think my oven lights are too hot.  Skimmed off the goo. Oh! But you did smell wonderful and guess what?  Yeah. You made FABULOUS pancakes.

Will I ever try this sourdough thing again?  Maybe. I dunno that I have the patience for this type of endeavour, to tell the truth.  Ironically, I was on Twitter when I caught Lesley Chesterman’s tweet (she was a food critic for the Montreal Gazette):  “I think I’m ready to break up with my sourdough starter. Too moody, too needy, too high-maintenance, sure to let me down in the end. And a bit stinky.”  Yep. Pretty much covers my feelings.

Nota bene (or post scriptum):  Since last Monday… I have yeast, so…

****

Running Diary

For those of you who ready my post where I shared my new “love” of running… ok, ok… I don’t love it. Yet. I thought I’d bring you up to date on the last two.

Saturday was a gorgeous day and there were way too many people out.  Some were being good, some, not so much but all of them I kept my distance from. That said, off I went, enthusiastically, for my 10 X 2/2.   I made it all the way to the park where I discovered a beautiful field of flowers last year. By the looks of it, there will be more this year – Yay! Plus I ran into a couple from the golf club – chit chatted for 30 seconds, luckily during my walk part. Soon as the bell rang, I was off.

On my way back I was feeling like there was no way in hell I would complete my ten sets.  I fudged a little on the times, cutting the run parts twice by 10-15 seconds in an attempt to catch my breath.  By the time I was just past my Willow the guilt set in so I added a rep and a half to make up.  I was glad it was over.

Today was another story. Like a recalcitrant child who doesn’t want to go to bed, I dug my heels into the entry rug.  It was cold outside with a light wind and rain was threatening. Really? Do I have to? I don’t know what force pushed me out the door but it worked.  And you are right, B… nothing more satisfactory than pushing yourself to do that thing you don’t feel like.  Not only did I do my ten sets, but after the first two, I felt I could actually control my breath.  And then, after walking for four minutes, I thought… why not? And I added three more!  Woot!  My knee felt a slight twinge just as I finished the third so I made sure my stretching session was properly done.  Extremely pleased with myself today.  Oh, and, following a discussion with Monika over at Tails Around the Ranch, about her lack of belief there is anything good about running (my former belief, as well), and did I ever notice that runners never smile?  Well, guess what Monika!  I kept thinking about you and put a smile on my face every time I heard the alarm that yet another set was completed 😀

Itty-bitty magnolia

 

 

 

The Next Chapter – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #77

Good Thursday afternoon/evening, Peeps!  In looking at Crispina‘s lovely photo, I eschewed my usual “look through my own gallery to find a matchy-matchy” and instead have chosen to do something I almost never do.  A part two!  Yesterday’s Friday Fictioneers sent me down one path and today’s CCC sent me down the next one.  They are both stand-alone, but should you wish to, part one can be found here.  No pressure! If you wish to read other stories or poems inspired by this lovely cottage, click on Crispina’s name above.

The Next Chapter

That snowy day at work in February had set into motion a desire to change her circumstances.  She spent hours reflecting on what she enjoyed doing and how she could put those joys into a profitable living.  Retirement wasn’t an option yet (dammit) but the thought of throwing herself into some job for the next ten-fifteen years made her shudder.

She loved to entertain and to cook.  She also loved her quiet time.  How to balance the two?

While perusing the “Want Ads” she came across the picture of a little cottage.  An affordable one.  In the country but not too far from the city.  “That’s it!  I know exactly what I want to do…”

And so she sold her home, purchased the little cottage and opened up her Air Bnb, which also offered suppertime meals. When it was time to vacation, she simply made it unavailable.

Win? Meet, Win.

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #150 – Continuity

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Thank you, Sammi.

Where do I find my continuity?

In each breath that I breathe

In each hour that I rest

In the nourishment that feeds my body, mind, and soul

In living with truth, humour and grace

Weekend Writing Prompt #145 – Abysmal

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

I love this challenge, so thank you, Sammi.

Choices

Life is comprised of a series of aleatory happenstances. There is a fair mixture of dark and light, should we pay attention.

Those who focus only on the dark send their psyches into an abysmal place from which they feel they cannot escape.  A tragedy, if left uncared for.

Some see only the light, dismissing the dark completely; oblivious to it.  Is this a realistic choice? Is their life flat?

I like to think I am a mixture of both, taking from the dark and turning it to light, ever growing, always learning.

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #143 – Elysian

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.  Thanks, Sammi, for getting me to use a word I never use!

To Each Their Bliss

It can be found on a beach

high up on a mountain top

in the endless sea of sand that is the desert

There is no set place outside of your mind

For me, on most of my walks with

Zeke at my side or bounding ahead

My Elysian bliss is found

No matter the weather

2019 Attitude of Gratitude Challenge

Funny how things work, sometimes.  I can’t remember if it was Thursday or Friday (2nd or 3rd of January) when I thought to myself: I wonder if Dawn is doing her Attitude of Gratitude thing this year. Not two days later (or three) what do I get in my inbox but Dawn’s post! Serendipity at its best. Let’s just say that if she hadn’t, I would have been sad and maybe, just maybe, I would have done my own anyway. It’s kinda nice to be part of something that already exists, dontcha think?

The rules are really simple.  Set the timer for 15 minutes and start listing – very stream of consciousness, this thing.  I will do exactly that by listing whatever pops into my head and at the end, shall return to my list and clean up typos, remove duplicates or even maybe cheat by adding more deets to the items, because, well, if I stop to write all the whys, then my list will be shorter.  Then again, this isn’t a contest so, does it matter just how many I have? Maybe cheating won’t even be necessary!  Okay, Rogerson, just shut up and write already.

The following are the things for which I am grateful or simply bring me joy and peace:

  1. B – for what you give and what you agree to receive;
  2. My sisters – no matter what’s what, they will be there
  3. Mom – same thing, without you, I’d not be here
  4. Dad – no longer here, you still influence some of my decisions
  5. Mick – no matter that you’ve been gone five years, you are still a huge presence, not to mention a great muse for my writing
  6. Writing – the ability to share what I want to say and have people receive it
  7. Reading – we learn so much about life, the world when we open ourselves to reading
  8. Friday Fictioneers and Rochelle in particular for being the first challenge that opened me up to writing more
  9. Blogosphere – for introducing me to so many fantastic writers
  10. Friends made over the blogosphere – it’s amazing how close we can become, like you, Sawsan, now a flesh and blood friend
  11. Julie, Giselle, Linda, Cathy – my girlfriends who are there to drink, eat and be merry with
  12. My guy friends – who keep me laughing
  13. My boys – for keeping me real – whether I like it or not
  14. The scent of petrichor in the summer
  15. The sound of rain on a window when lying in bed
  16. Being able to sit outside on a covered porch when it rains
  17. Big fluffy snow in winter, especially on Christmas Day
  18. Zeke – for giving me a reason to get out and enjoy the fresh air
  19. Standing outside, and realising all is silent and being in the moment
  20. Coffee!
  21. Wine (and beer or spirits 😉 )!
  22. The sound of the wind in the marcescent leaves
  23. My house – it keeps me safe from the elements
  24. My health – it might have blips from colds but otherwise, I’m healthy
  25. DK – for introducing me to soooo many books and for being you, who shares such beautiful things
  26. My laptop – which keeps me connected to so many people
  27. Hang Outs – which allows me to chat with my bestie face-to-face
  28. Warm thick socks in the winter
  29. Dresses in the summer
  30. My capacity (capability?) to smile through the tough stuff
  31. My ability to love freely
  32. Photography – a way to capture everything that grabs my attention
  33. Sunsets
  34. Being by the water – lake, river, ocean
  35. Travel – introducing me to cultures and broadening my horizons
  36. Cooking – not only to nourish but also to show my creativity
  37. Discovering my creativity, which I was so sure I didn’t have till it was pointed out to me
  38. Movies – being able to escape into another world for a couple of hours
  39. Merril – for introducing me to poetry and inspiring me to keep trying it
  40. Frank – because you introduced me to sooo many fabulous bloggers and your concerts were the best that I was honoured to act as your Maître D’ and because I want you to know that I am going to miss you – blogging. I shall hound you elsewhere 😉
  41. Light to see
  42. Dark to rest
  43. Love, in general – amorous or friendly
  44. Sex and the joy of sharing intimacy
  45. My eyes – so I can appreciate what is out there
  46. My ears – listening to the sounds around me, music, my loved ones’ voices
  47. My limbs – though they sometimes let me know they need more limbering
  48. My sense of humour – which helps keep me out of trouble
  49. My ability to connect with people of all stations
  50. My intellect – which permits me to have proper conversations on all sorts of things
  51. My curiosity – which keeps me learning always
  52. My snarkiness, which keeps me from not being taken seriously
  53. To you authors who trusted me with your works and allowed me to be a beta reader – I am beyond chuffed