Chasing Rainbows

So, you know dear readers that I myself am a reader of several great blogs from fellow members of Jon Katz’ creative group. (quiltofmissingmemories.wordpress.com , treehousefoodie.com , quarryhouse.wordpress.com  to list a few)  The group also has many gifted photographers, poets, musicians and artists.  Frankly I consider myself quite the interloper, a fool among princes, given to bad but heartfelt haikus and an abundance of supportive (and equally heartfelt) commentary. To my bemused surprise, the more we share, the more common ground I find.  Whether it is time spent in another country, a common love of brussel sprouts or a similar parenting perspective these serendipitous meeting points have fostered hope for my creative intentions. I began this blog as a direct response to the support I received for the photos and poetry I had posted. Even as I did, I feared I was setting up a potentially futile creative goal.  I started this blog just as summer was coming to an end. It is one thing to meander along trails, snapping images to fuel thoughtful prose which can be edited between bouts of gardening and experimental cooking.  Once the school year begins such leisure time simply ceases to exist.  Working full time, running the “Mom Taxi,” throwing in dog walks and training sessions for fosters, leaves little time for thoughtful editing of the jumbled musings most entries are born with. The early arrival of hard frost where I live in Upstate NY is merciful because my garden would be dead from neglect by October anyways. Although my camera is almost always at my side and I have a small portfolio of images, their related stories must wait to be told while the responsibilities of running a household take priority. It is a choice I make consciously, and usually without complaint, because I have paid dearly in the past for neglecting those priorities.  I steal precious minutes for writing during lunch breaks, waiting for rehearsals to let out, while dinner simmers on the stove. Often, the very thoughts I was percolating turn up in other member’s posts. This creates a small wave of jealousy which washes ashore on my deserted island of busy-ness because obviously other people have time to write down thoughtful creative insights.  And then something happens to shake me out of my fog of pity. Like driving home and seeing this

rainbow

And then coming home and reading about another rainbow here: justponderin.com/2013/11/20/on-freakin-rainbows-and-t/

and I realize we are all of us chasing rainbows and when we catch one we put it out there for everyone who might need it. It doesn’t matter whose words, or images they are.  This is all coming from the same place, one tremendous Heart beating to the Call of Creative Spirit.  When I am given the gift of time to express myself, I will take it gratefully and use it wisely to post thoughtfully because it is not a race and we are all winners here.

Happy Trails good readers and remember ” If you see a fork in the road, take it.” Lawrence Peter Berra.

The Rules

To fully appreciate the context of this post, you might want to reference fellow blogger Lisa Dingle’s recent entry  at justponderin.com/2013/11/10/on-freakin-bisquick/

I do foster care for rescue dogs and our current house gust is a little fella that goes by “The Dude”   (yes, as in the Coen Brothers  “I’m the Dude. so thats what you call me.”)  Although he resembles a bowling ball more than he is likely to use one I would not put it past his  Dudeness to push one down the alley to knock over a few pins.

.Dude

  He’s got “tude.”  He’s also smart; smart enough to realize that when you are a guest in our house  “there are rules.”  Our own rescue girl Miss Delilah read him those rules when he arrived and periodically she reminds him of said rules when she deems it necessary.  Dude listens respectfully, licks his butt and moves on. It’s a Dude thing.

Rules are what keep most households from pitching over the edge into the abyss of domestic chaos.  Abyss ( what’s the plural ?  Abysses?  Abyssi?  )  anyways in general, an  abyss  is not a place one wants to go ( yes Lisa Dingle  I too have seen the movie…I too did not care for the ending and to be honest the whole breathing water concept complete freaked me out.)  so we have rules, some written but mostly unwritten.

The Bisquick post from my Bedlam Group friend and fellow blogger ( I am totally riding on coattails of the talented writers in The Group to even call myself a “fellow blogger”  with my fledgling posts, but I have been encouraged by their support so I’ll claim fellowship, no rings needed)  struck a chord.  Bisquick is a staple in our pantry because believe it or not it is vegan which makes baking for my vegan daughter and son-in-law much easier.  I have endeavored over the years to move away from packaged foods, but Bisquick is staying, kept fresh in it’s air tight supesized container which holds the “family” box I purchase at our nearest bulk foods warehouse.  Hey, it’s a nice balance to the organic local veggies we receive every week in our CSA Farm share box. Nothing says healthy more than a beet, brussel sprout and parsnip potpie topped with a flaky Bisquick Crust. Yum!

I am kidding.  While I do make Bisquick Crusted pot pies ( both veggie and chicken as our younger daughter is not a vegetarian) I have not, nor do I intend to put beets in them.  I stand alone in my enjoyment of the earthy, red root crop that were such a generous portion of this years farm harvest.  I have a refrigerator drawer full of beets. Unlike the kale we received in shrub like quantity each week,which can be frozen, the beets pose a dilemma for me.  Yes they can be pickled, but as much as I like fresh beets I simply dont care for pickled beets.  In fact I didn’t know I like beets because the only way they were served when I was a kid was in the pickled form.  Imagine my surprise when I had them fresh and lightly steamed!  My beet dilemma stems from a rule I grew up with. “Don’t waste food,” a rule reinforced by the years we spent in Southeast Asia where we saw firsthand those starving people parents reference when quoting that rule. ( To their credit my own parents never did that, even before we moved overseas.)  Receiving the CSA share boxes this year really pushed me to cook both spontaneously and creatively,  which was for the most part a good thing (hence the five bags of frozen kale in the freezer, waiting for their moments of glory in the winter soups to come)  Thankfully, beets keep a good long time.

Lisa’s “freakin’ Bisquick ” story brought to mind my important kitchen rule.  While we do have our kitchen cabinets somewhat sorted by category ( and refrigerator shelves too I might add)  I can function with the occasional ingredient shuffle.  For me it’s “The List” rule that matters most.  When one uses the last of something, one should write it on “The List”  posted on the kitchen fridge.  It is important enough to require a small magnetic pen/pencil sleeve stationed right next to “The List” to ensure writing implements are always available!  Nothing raises the ire of Mom quicker than the discovery that someone has used up the peanut butter, last egg or brewed the last tea bag right after the weekly grocery pilgrimage.

These oddities of life, the Rules we use to stave off insanity and chaos  require humor because if we didn’t laugh we would cry.  That humor is what I love so much in Lisa’s blog, why I have referenced it here several times and likely will again.  In the meantime I just want to know  “Who used the last of the freakin’ Bisquick without putting it on The List!”

Now off to google Beet recipes.  Happy Trails good readers.

Basket Day

It’s November, which means many things at our humble homestead.

Once we’ve plowed through the “OMGawd ( that’s for my fellow Blogger Lisa Dingle whose work you can check out at  justponderin.com )  it’s gonna snow any minute now” marathon of garden clearing, garage cleaning, wood stacking, recycling runs we are free to turn our thoughts to several important countdowns. If you are my would be perfect husband ( so named because he truly seeks elusive perfection in everything he does; besides the title of “nearly perfect husband” has already been tagged in the aforementioned blog  wink  wink Lisa D. ) there is the countdown to Black Friday, because if one is a vegetarian, Thanksgiving simply does not hold the same appeal as when one was a carnivore. The appeal of finding the deal of the year, however know no dietary restrictions.   I, on the other hand love Thanksgiving because it combines two of my most cherished elements of life:  food and family, without the stress of would be perfect gift giving associated with next month’s big family and food holiday season.  My countdown however targets the Friday prior to Thanksgiving, a day known here as “Basket Brigade Day.”  It has been my favorite day of the year for over two decades now. That is because in 1992, my husband (inspired by a life coaching seminar he had attended) asked me to help him organize a Thanksgiving Food Basket progam.

We started small and kept it simple, drawing on family and friends to help us purchase enough food to stock a few boxes to provide Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkeys for  a couple of local families in need. A few years later,  we had close to a dozen people coming to our house a few days before Thanksgiving to help sort food, assemble boxes and deliver in all kinds of weather.  There was the year the teams delivered in near white out conditions when a Lake Effect snow storm blew in unannounced. Another year one of the delivery teams required a police escort to make their delivery as the intended home was on a city block where a shooting had occurred.  One year, I saw a small blurb in our local paper  asking readers to send in their thoughts on what they were most grateful for. I wrote in  my entry that I was grateful for the people who took time each year during a busy week to help us deliver those Thanksgiving Baskets. I got a call from the features editor asking if they could do a story about our “Basket Brigade.”  They sent a reporter/photographer the next week; they told me there would probably be a little story in the paper on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving morning the local section of the paper had two stories side by side on the front page. One featured coverage of the County’s decision to eliminate the annual Thanksgiving food distribution program because the resources were needed for the Christmas program.  The other story featured our little Basket Brigade.  We were amazed  and my daughter who was only 7 at the time was a little embarrassed  because she was in one of the photos, helping me  (I was pregnant with her younger sister then.)  The next week, the social worker from our local elementary school called and asked if they could become involved in the program.  The following year  the elementary classrooms collected food.  Some of them collected small change to help purchase a turkey to go with their box of food.   The idea was to show students how a big need could be met when everyone contributed just a little bit.

That year we tripled our delivery capacity and almost two dozen families had  Thanksgiving Dinner.  Volunteer drivers assisted by members of a girl scout troop made deliveries for three hours on a dark, windy afternoon. Some of the classrooms had decorated their boxes and included cards or drawings.  A small mountain of extra food went to the local Christmas Bureau to jump start their holiday food drive. The impact on the students was significant enough for the school to make it an annual tradition.  The year after we almost missed delivery because of a snow day, we moved deliveries to the Friday before Thanksgiving,  just in case ( as I’ve said here before this is Upstate New York people, after Labor Day, snow is ALWAYS a factor;  plan for it, dress for it.)

I need to be clear about something here.  I write about this  not for recognition.  The Basket Brigade is an astoundingly simple program, we have not created anything innovative or heroic.  It can be (and in fact has been) replicated with a handful of people almost anywhere a community is willing to come together to help one another. That is the beauty of the idea. I write about it now because as our Creative Group members have been following the “Days of Gratitude” challenge I have been counting down the days to my favorite day of the year.  It is not my favorite day for the obvious reason one might think.  It is very gratifying to know we have done something to help others in need. The day’s significance comes from something I realized when I overhead a conversation between one of my daughters and her young friends. She had been invited to do something and she said she was going to be busy because it was “Basket Day.”  Her friend asked her what Basket Day was and our daughter answered “You know, the day when you deliver food to people who need it for Thanksgiving.”   For her and her sister, Basket Day was not something extraordinary but something we did as a matter of fact, something they thought everyone did. While I know my daughters have long since realized this is not the case, as I am sure the students of the elementary school also go on to discover, for me this is the day we can plant the idea that there is a way to help when help is needed.  My favorite day is Basket Day, when the difference I have made is starting a thought, planting an idea, creating a possibility. Let the countdown begin….

basket brigade kara and emma