The Country of the Present Moment

Unmitigated profusion

On a late afternoon whim in between bringing in laundry, feeding the chickens and starting dinner, I gathered sunflowers and put them in a vase. Total and complete pleasure flooded through me. I am aware of how lucky I am to be able to concentrate for a few minutes on the vase of flowers, blocking out the blankets airing from flea infestation, the weeds over running the patio, the peeling paint on the house, the bills, the need for a new furnace, my family’s lack of health insurance, etc etc etc etc….

Momentary Bliss


Tonsil mucous and other things you did not know you had to worry about….

Worry collage

So when I woke up on Monday (yesterday) , I made coffee and allowed various concerns and projects to slowly sharpen into focus in my mind. There was the note my 16 year old son had left late the night before to wake him up as he had grown increasingly concerned about these strange white blisters on his throat, there were dental visits for myself and the same son scheduled for later that day, there was my oldest son in  Florida in Hurricane Issac’s path, there was the decision about wether to allow my two teen sons to play soccer in the homeschool league which entails a heroic amount of driving for the parent (me), there were the two drawings that need to be completed by Thursday at the latest, and there were the class descriptions due at the college I teach at as classes start next Tuesday. There were some other concerns sort of out of focus in the back of my mind, but I’d say these were the primary ones that I felt I needed to address that particular day.

So I sat down at the computer and checked the path of the hurricane. It seemed to be missing the Sarasota area, though each “weather map” illustration pictured it differently. I quickly checked and found no headlines about Sarasota under water or art students found floating. I then googled the white ulcers on my other son’s throat and found alarming warnings to see a doctor immediately as the throat could close up and breathing could cease, and on the other hand, home remedies such as gargling with salt  water. Feeling no further ahead, I decided I better at least make sure he was still breathing so I went upstairs and looked in on him. It reminded me of when the kids were infants and I would check that they were still breathing. He was; only he was a lot bigger than an infant. Next, I went back downstairs and pretty efficiently typed up the syllabii for the classes I was teaching.

By noon, my world had been rocked by the the dentist telling me I needed a root canal and there was an appt available tomorrow. I felt obligated to take it as future Tuesdays would require me to be teaching. Simultaneously, the 16 year old was now very worried about the mysterious ulcers. I had a look at them. We phoned an alternative health friend who suggested that it could be yeast. We phoned the doctor and made an appt to come in that day once we had phoned the dentist and cancelled the dental appt.

We spent a long time first waiting in the little examination room for the student doctor. He asked lots of questions. He was supposed to guess what it was and then the doctor would confirm or contradict his guess. He left the room without enlightening us. When the doctor finally came in, he was as friendly as ever. He has a merry face. He looked over the notes, examined my son’s throat, asked a couple more questions and then calmly explained that the little white things were mucous off of the tonsils. Not everyone manifests them as sticky globs that bother them, but everyone has it! I asked the student doctor if he had guessed correctly, and he smiled and said that basically he had, but that he didn’t know the name of it. My son had been complaining about stuff in his throat for 2 weeks or so. (We rarely rush to the doctor) The doctor explained that it was not live flesh and he tried to scrape one of them off to show us, but my son’s gag reflex was not having it. He recommended salt and water gargling, and that if we were really bothered we could go to an ear, eye, nose, and throat specialist. I reminded him that we had no health insurance and  I stated that Iw as pretty sure we would be able to deal with it just fine, now that we knew what it was.

We went home, relieved. I felt a little foolish for going to the doctor, but at the same time, the peace of mind was wonderful. later that night, my son came triumphantly down the stairs bearing the three nodules pictured above. He had pried one out, and coughed out the others.

The root canal did not hurt at all, but the novacaine has not worn off yet.

“Crackers” about Vacation

Early morning ocean

In my 5th official week of vacation; weeks only broken by a 5 day stint of teaching 3-7 year old “sprouts” who mostly are already very accomplished “artists”,  I enjoyed the company of my family from Virginia visiting our NC beach house. We frolicked on the beach and played crazy games like one  called “Things” each evening. It was fun except that I had to refrain a bit from kitchen activity, as the guests don’t find baking in August in an un-air-conditioned house an acceptable activity. I, on the other hand, subscribe to my dear friend Jessica’s theory which is that if it is already a hot day, turning the oven on doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. Anyway, I restrained myself to 2 loaves of bread, some broiled fish, and a peach cobbler while they were there.
As soon as they were gone (and after I returned from a little jaunt down to Florida) I baked the crackers pictured above. Good crackers (and by “good”, I mean crackers without hydrogenated oil and corn syrup, and other harmful ingredients) are expensive and can vanish quickly from the pantry shelves, so I had wanted to try making them from scratch for awhile. They were incredibly easy as the recipe in “how To Cook Anything” had promised and they are delicious, if a little softer in texture than most commercial crackers.
I have a sneaking suspicion that my relatives find my desire to cook things like this somewhat ludicrous. I can just hear my sister saying, “I’ll go buy you a box of crackers if that’s what you want”. She’s missing the zen of creating each moment as much as possible. Yes, there can be zen in reading ingredients on the packages in the Food Lion and searching the aisles for the rare appearances of actual food, but to me, that’s a more difficult route to oneness with the universe.

Poppy seed crackers

Harry’s Barn Fight

site of former barn

So we came back from being away for 3 weeks, and our friend Harry had done it! He had taken down the huge hulk of falling down barn that graced our yard and loomed over our driveway.

Now, when I go out the door, I do a double take, pausing for a second to recognize the absence of the lurching, sinking, relic. I pause for a second to readjust my vision as it roams large across the barn foundation and on out to the new little red barn and the apple orchard….. no longer trapped close up by the decaying side of the barn.

How did Harry do this? In his younger days, he was a bull fighter. So it sounds like he literally climbed onto this barn and used a chainsaw, crow bars, a small fork lift, and brute force to reduce the thing to submission. He described using the forklift to fork his assistant up out of the hole in the floor when he fell in. He described using the forklift to gently sort of shake the roof loose from it’s supports and then the amazing earthquake-like KABOOM with a fallout of dust when the roof released and fell to the ground. he said he used the chainsaw to cut the huge heavy roof into four pieces and it was when the last piece fell that Harry went with it. He showed us the hole in his arm from a nail. And he said he’d went through 3 pairs of jeans sliding down the barn and wearing holes out in the pants. I wish I had taken a video of Harry telling about it. He stood strong and tanned by the sun, an older man, about seventy I think. He always wears a hat, and he would pause in his story-telling to remove his hat and wipe a kerchief across his graying head of hair. He tells a really good story. At one point he turned his face to the sky, shut his eyes, and extended his arms outwards. I can’t remember which part of the tale he was telling, but I’ll never forget how he stood there in the hot late afternoon sun for a second, making sure he conveyed the drama of what he had experienced with that old barn.

He is theoretically selling the salvageable wood on. He says that all I owe him is a bottle of wine. I’m trying to figure out what sort of bottle of wine could possibly repay Harry for this herculean effort. Maybe wine that comes with a delicious dinner? Maybe a few cases of wine? Maybe wine when he least expects it?

I admire Harry for being able to do that huge job, and to have done it so cheerfully. To him, it was another adventure. To us, it was an overwhelming problem that we could not address.