Saturday, March 28, 2009

That Person Behind the Job

What a busy week it has been. Chance to sit and gather up thoughts has been hard to come by. Reflection requires time that can pool quietly. The pilot light is burning, but I can't stand at my own stove long enough to cook up my recipes; I have a nameless stew, simmering on the back burner. Even now, I know, I could be called away before I strike another key, but I long to steal within, and so I grab these moments.

That's how work time often is, the inner life goes on, but not unhampered. Yet the inner being isn't really trapped in outward doings; it's always receiving and re-collating within the living tissue of memory that hungers for meaning. I know we aren't actually what we do. I know one's value isn't based on the outward rewards this culture gives, but sometimes that's harder to remember than others. Nothing required of me by my job has been onerous, I've just been busy in a variety of directions. But I know that isn't how it is for everyone.

This week a talented and dear to my heart young person, currently anticipating a return to the wait-person workforce, told me a story about a restaurant job experience in her college days.

The establishment in question we'll just call a 5 star luxury hoity-toity where folks of median means occasionally splurge for the most special of celebrations and lush luminaries drop your box office dollars to down enough alcohol to reveal threads common to all mankind.

Having gotten through the written application, extensive psychological and background checks, and a telephone interview, an in-person interview was finally obtained. Imagine this young woman's consternation at being told within moments of arrival, "Well, I'm not even going to waste your time, today. You're at the wrong interview." No explanation was given, she was just told she needed to reschedule with a different department on a different day. Two days later she was interviewed and hired for the upper echelon of dining. Asked if she had any questions, she inquired about the abrupt cancellation of the first interview. "Oh, let's just say that it's an unofficial policy that people of a ah...certain attractiveness get sent to the more prominent jobs than, well ah... you know, less attractive people." It must have been the Zoolander effect, that movie spoofing modeling..."you must be really, really, really, really, realllly good looking."

It was awkward amongst the employees, especially if groups of them spotted each other off site at the university or in town. Envy, pride, resentment were all afoot. The young women who worked in the cafe, knew they weren't as showy as the wait-persons in fine dining; lines had been drawn, barriers erected. The dehumanizing spell of the class caste system was doing its deed.

People aren't what they do, they are people. It's so simple I think it's easy for us to miss the person behind the role or the function that they're fulfilling.

Later that day, standing at a grocery store being ignored myself by the staff, I watched three employees, two women and one man, bantering amongst themselves as they checked and bagged my items.

The male bagger, a smooth faced young black man, of very average stature and above average girth, asked one of the buoyant tattooed clerks why she thought it was okay to call him "Big Ben." I wondered if she was up on the law and ethics of not harassing fellow workers.

"Well Big Ben is the name of a famous clock," she offered.

"Nothing to do with me," he said.

"Oh, but it's very famous," she insisted, "Big Ben is the nickname for the clock at the Palace in London. It's a good nickname for you, Big Ben."

"I don't know anything about it. My name is Ben," he said, "but I'm not famous."

As he checked my dozen eggs for cracks, rubber banded the box and set them in my sack, I caught his eye. "You don't need to be famous," I said, "You're a person."

His laughter rang out. "Cool, someone advanced enough to understand the simple things."

And that was it. Nothing more was said, as they finished up and I paid my bill. But somehow I felt Ben saw me as he loaded my sacks and that he meant it when he told me, "You have a good day now."

Well, it's back to work for me....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Turn your Back & Look what Grows
Wild FUNGI Black Mushrooms

I think they're Black Elfin Saddles (Helvella Lacunosa). NO, I am not going to eat them. "Oh dear, did you saute those long enough?" While they're said to be edible when cooked, that just doesn't appeal to it's poisonous, now it's not? Also when you handle them they can shoot off a cloud of spore "smoke." David Arora's authoritative guide to mushrooms says that they are commonly found on the ground in woods and under trees. They are said to be especially abundant in coastal California pine forests. Guess where I found it?

If I pass by something growing here and don't know what it is, I can be pretty sure that someone will soon be asking me to identify it. Writing things down helps me remember new information, and I thought that you,dear reader, might also like to know what these dark lobes springing up from the earth are. Also, if I do forget, a phenomena certainly in the realm of the possible, I can ask you, "What were those fluted weird mushrooms I put on my blog?" and you'll remember, won't you? Just picture little elves riding across the forest on their soft black saddles.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

San Francisco Evening
~Light on the Water~

Looking north east...Alcatraz Island in the bay and the dome of the 1915 World's Fair Exposition

Here's a closer view, it was so windy, most of my pictures aren't even presentable...just tilt your head a little to straighten this out. At least my hair hadn't blown across the lense in this shot.

Here she is...a little hazy...the city by the bay.

City folks in their Friday night black climbing a path below the bridge.

Bridge of so many parents walked across it the first day it was open.

looking north to Marin County

Now Rosannah and I are west of the bridge, and as you can see,
I couldn't step any further west to take this picture for you.

Can't keep me away from sunsets on the water.

Marin Headlands in the golden light. childhood home.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Extravagant Color

I suppose it depends on where you live
whether or not this color looks extravagant to you.

I know certain people who think pinks and their cousin colors are just too over the top. But nature is full of vibrant color surprises. One surprise I have been witnessing is how much Mark has taken to gardening. Yesterday he was screening the compost boxes and hand delivering vital soil treats to various plants. His camera is always on his hip, he doesn't have to run back in the house and get his camera like I do. So after I published my "lick and a promise" post, promising more flower photos soon, I snapped these few pink pictures and was off to the grocery and errands. On my return, I found that Mr. Green Thumb had snapped flowers galore. He did such a nice job you should just go look at the flowers at searock-mark. Then you can get a peek at his new friend, Sally the mander too.
These bursts of pinks are rhododendrons.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A lick and a promise...

When time was short and company was coming, a quick dusting and tidying up had a funny name in our house, "a lick and a promise." A lick means a hasty effort, I think it is an Irish saying but some claim it comes from Romany horse traders licking their hands before shaking. If that were the case, I don't think my mother would have used the phrase.

Well, there's much work calling this morning to which I must give my best effort, but I have a little flower blooming and am thinking about BETH, who is not a lick and promise kind of girl. She is faithful and kind, my mother-in-law. And I am proud of Grandma for getting high speed Internet and exploring her computer more.

Several years ago I bought some little bulbs at the hardware store. A few of them have survived the gophers, so here is a good morning wind flower, a big hello and a lick and a things are starting to bloom here on the Pacific coast, I'll hope to share more flowers and perhaps even something interesting to read soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tomorrow is Friday

Today I posted a short-short piece of fiction....a little writing warm up and I also wrote an essay about the economy and problem solving methods on my "other" blog. You can get to it through my complete profile. It will be different than this blog, more focused on writing, but then what do I know? I've already surprised myself with the offerings that have popped out on this blog. So forgive my predicting into the unknown and please just come back and visit me on both pages. I'll be glad to hear if ever something here has hit the mark for you, made you smile, or made you think or reflected back to you something you sometimes feel. Your comments on what you appreciate most will be of value to me. Thank you.

Well, tomorrow is Friday where I live and here's a picture of the last rays of Thursday, March 12, 2009 looking out over the Pacific. Hope you have had a good day and if you had a hard one, I hope there's a night of rest and renewal lining up for you.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Poem for the Topic of Troubles

When trouble comes
in small unmarked packets or
the large bannered varieties blazoned in headlines
"Oh why did that happen?
If only ... what if?"
But no,
all that has already taken place

How shall we be
of good cheer
In this world
of many troubles?
Birds fly
and sing
and drink dew from the cup of a leaf or
the slow drip of my leaking faucet.
We should be so simple;
migrating as the seasons command,
our boundaries no offense to any others,
residing in the zone where we belong,
a cup ready at the well for any sojourner,
the fear of poisoned waters dismissed in the golden sun of morning.

That we could live so with one another.
What if?

my collage & father's sketch

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunset, Phoebe Cat, Presents in the Mail & Kale

Saturday, a day of presents from the garden...spinach, chard and kale...a reappearing theme here, because without a concerted effort, the needed quota of veggies just don't get eaten, but we're trying.
It was also a day of presents in the mail * Thank you Beth,Rosannah,Susan D., Gretchen and Babs...and on Friday I had already been feted by Susan H. & Debi and today Sarah Beth and Mark are cooking and giving. Saturday was also a day of tea and reading on the cottage deck because the sun felt so good.

Phoebe challenged me to game of hide and see and almost always wins when I try to capture her full face photograph. Playing above my head in the trees, she hid her eyes at the last second.

And then there were presents from the sky and sea as Saturday came to a close.

And I must is now a very lovely Sunday.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Do Children Still Read Raggedy Ann?

Raggedy Ann Dolls are very popular in America and I suspect they have traveled to other countries spreading their good cheer. When I was a child I didn’t have a Raggedy Ann doll but I had Raggedy Ann and Andy books written by Johnny Gruelle (1880–1938). Yesterday at the local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) benefit shop, I found two Raggedy Ann books. Worth Gruelle, Johnny Gruelle's son, did the illustrations for this Raggedy Ann and the Golden Ring book. Here’s how the story starts:

“Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy were walking through the deep, deep woods in search of more adventures. The sunshine streamed down through the branches of the evergreen trees in ribbons of golden light and the birds sang and twittered happily in the leafy branches.”

Hey, that’s just how I felt the other morning when the sunlight broke though the clouds in between drenching deluges. I would that more children had woods to walk in and that play in nature in general was safely possible. Do children still read Raggedy Ann and Andy?
The stories are very fanciful, reliant on magic and imagination, dolls coming to life at night and wandering around with elves out in the woods where they find soda fountains and silver cups for their thirst and tinfoil wrapped chocolates for treats. Many of the illustrations capture changing moments of light, dark trees silhouetted against night skies that touched me with a longing to see glory and mystery. Standing in the benefit shop, thumbing through from one illustration to another, I re-experienced the outdoor nooks where I did so much of my childhood reading. I loved to hide under the shade of the willow trees on a plank that crossed the creek, my feet dangling in the water if the day was hot. Then in the empty lot next door I had a wooden perch in one of the apple trees.
I’d sit reading in the trees surrounded with the smell of the delicate pink and white spring blossoms or later in the summer, taste the apples hanging all around me.
Reading the Gruelle Statement of Ideals
I realized how the bright and wonderful pictures, the smiling doll faces, the magic and fun of dolls playing when folks aren’t looking, had brought those good hearted intentions of the Gruelles through to me as a child and that today I was getting another dose

of the sunny cheer that's still bound in the pages of Raggedy Ann’s stories. Thank you Mr. Gruelle and family.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blue Sky Morning

More than the water or the trees or the path into the forest, these are pictures of the morning sunlight, a welcome sight outside our door this fourth day of March. We won't be staying inside much today.
The little red wagon is probably happy to be drying out a bit. My husband's great grandpa made it around the turn of the century, no I don't mean right before 2000, but in the late 1800's. It has done a fair amount of work in its day, including helping his grandmother roll her groceries home from market where she lived as a young wife and mother in Rochester, New York in the 1920's. The wagon is retired from hard labor now, the wood is quite aged, but the iron wheels will probably still be good in another 100 years.

We, however, who won't still be rolling 100 years from now, are not yet retired from our labors, so I guess I'll get cracking.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

PROSE rather than an ODE to KALE

Like any palate-confused child, I pushed lots of veggies around the plates of food it was my privilege to be served. In many realms it often takes me just short of ever to figure out and then come close to doing what is actually good for me, but this isn’t about me, this is about KALE.

Kale, a highly nutritious vegetable, is said to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. If I would eat 3.5 ounces steamed I would get 30 calories, less than 6 carbs, only 1.25 grams of sugar plus 2 grams of dietary fiber. I’d have eaten 76% of my adult daily need of beta carotene. I’d get vitamin K, lots of vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, B vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Zinc. To be sure I've not left something out, you can go to the USDA Nutrient database to check up on kale or that chocolate bar you are thinking of eating.

The kind of kale I am currently growing, Lacinto or Dinosaur Kale, has very crinkly leaves. I have also successfully grown the Russian purple kale, but I think Dinosaur is my favorite. The leaves seem impervious, clean and strong. I want in my cells what they have going for them. Kale, like Broccoli, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties, particularly when chopped. (Warning: I have read that because of its high vitamin K content, it isn’t good for folks who have to take anti-coagulants such as warfarin as it could raise the effective dose of the drug.)

Kale is easy to grow and it seems to resist pests. While I sometimes have to wash away a few aphids, it doesn’t collect the bugs or blights that go after many other leafy greens. Having lived most of my life in a somewhat warmer inland clime, it’s wonderful to find veggies that thrive on the coast. I’ve read that Kale doesn’t seem too picky about the soil either. Mine is growing in enriched composted soil in a gopher- proof raised bed, but I bet you could raise good kale in a window box in your city apartment. If your summer is too hot or your winter too cold, think spring and fall plantings. Imagine standing at the grocery store, looking at all the expensive produce, wondering what you’ll cook for dinner and then remembering. “I’ve got Kale.”

I can tell you what I do with kale in my kitchen and I’m sure kale recipes abound on the world- wide- web, but now that you have finally come to visit my blog, I don’t want to link you right out of here. I don’t always write about kale,other veggies, or even bread, for “man does not live by bread alone.” I hope you’ll visit and read some of my other posts; enjoy the photos and stay for a sunset on the Pacific Ocean. Anyway, I chop up kale leaves and put it in my soups. I also like to sauté it with red onions. You can steam it and serve it solo with butter or salad dressing. You can juice it with other veggies such as carrots and drink it. Cooked is better than raw for folks who worry about low thryoid, though. You can chop it up in your salad, or you can add it to an omelet. If you need to hide vegetable matter from people you cook for, put it in the chili pot, or add it to the pasta sauce, they won't even know it is in there.
You’ll often see kale leaves used as décor in various restaurant presentations. I remember some standard D I N E R type of dinner out one night where I suddenly realized that the kale leaf was possibly the most nutritious item on the entire plate. Not knowing if that little green frond packed with vital stuff had been washed in the restaurant kitchen, I dunked it in the water glass I had already decided was not tasty enough to drink and ate the leaf. As my husband read somewhere, one of those great quotes attributed only to anon, "You’re only young once but you can be immature your whole life. " So I'll work on the table etiquette, but at least I (am trying to) eat my vegetables!