Honey, red cabbage, apples, onion

Last night I sautéed onions to golden, then added two thinly sliced red cabbagesMy mom's red cabbage dish ... along with apples, salt, and honey. This was a speciality of my German-rooted mother, a woman who died twenty-two years ago. 

I’d softened the dark crystallized honey by putting its jar in a pan of boiling water. It slid into the cabbage-onions-apple mixture in a steamy swirl.

As I rubbed off the jar’s label in preparation for the recycle bin I saw it was originally from the Good Foods, Good People Co-op in Lexington, KY, my hometown until college.

I was in Lexington this past April, after my Dad died. The estate attorney told us that although the contents of the house were ours, the house itself was Dad’s wife’s. Even though her family were OK with us being there, we were technically trespassing. My brother and I sorted, packed and moved everything we could imagine wanting into a storage unit between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, stopping to sleep only briefly.

Of all the memorabilia, how ridiculous that I grabbed a nearly-empty jar of honey. And how grateful I am to have been ridiculous.

Let’s hear it for the muses that take care of us even when (especially when) we are stumbling through our days in a haze of shock and disbelief, bone-tired and muttering.

Let’s not overthink our gut-level choices: let’s allow them to sit, darken and crystallize into the sweet and savory comfort we didn’t know we needed.

May it be so for you as well.

If you would like to explore how memory can be shown in fiction, check out my post “Everything happens at once” at A Fiercely Kind Word.

 

 

 

Permission Granted.

Today, intermittent rain spots the sidewalk; I am caught up on bills and laundry and General Tidying and finally read Suzi Banks Baum’s marvelous post of ten+ days ago–a post I didn’t read because I was doing dishes and laundry and catching up on bills.

As you’ll see when you read her words, or, even better, watch her video, the reasons for my delay is extremely ironic. Note: for those of us who have been the primary caretaker for children, please pee before watching. It has several moments that will bring you the howling laughter of recognition.

So today I will open my collage journal and make something new.

After I write.

May it be so for you, too.

It’s been a year + …

… since I’ve posted a blog. My silence due to a combination of overwhelm logistically, personally, professionally, with a dollop of self-doubt on all fronts.

My last post, about being kind to ourselves and giving ourselves permission to disengage from situations and individuals that damage us, received an ugly anonymous response (I don’t allow anonymous and/or hate-full comments). Since then, I’ve heard that some experience my reflections about my difficult experiences as “white woman tears” and thus not worth considering.

And I bought into that. I thought: I’m a person of privileged social, economic and educational class. I don’t really suffer. I don’t have anything to offer to the unfolding bedlam. I put my head down, finished my MFA, quit blogging here, and prioritized family and personal matters.

That withdrawal put me back in a headset that I’ll call “juvenile,” reflecting that stage of development when we have inklings of our gifts, but not much mastery over them, or power in the world.

Reading Women

As when I was an actual juvenile, chronologically, I’ve spent a lot of this withdrawal reading. Muriel Spark and Zora Neale Hurston and Mavis Gallant; Deborah Levy and Penelope Fitzgerald and Zadie Smith. All writers who happened to be women, all writing despite bedlam of various degrees, all writers who tell Truth and truth.

I’ve been reminded by their Truth and truth that it’s not what others think that’s important, it’s the showing-up-and-writing that’s important. Maybe my stories will be meaningful, maybe they won’t; maybe they’ll be beautiful, maybe they won’t. But it’s not for me to say: it’s for me to write and publish.

Why have I needed to go through this cycle of self-doubt and -awareness, again? I don’t know. I wish it didn’t suck up so much of my time. But it has, and so far as I can tell, there’s nothing to be gained by lamenting what has been.

So I’m taking my own advice and sitting down and writing. Trusting the stories will show up if I do. Remembering these words from Alexandra Stoddard (note hole at the top: I’ve pinned this card to many bulletin boards in front of many writing desks):

Slow down calm down

May it be so.