Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

God, Woody, Bobby, and Eddie

So there’s these two dear people in my life who died on the same day a year ago – one is my grandpa, Bob Perkins, and the other is my friend Eddie Linkhorne, and I wanted to write, uh, something about Eddie and Bobby, uh, sort of like what does Eddie Linkhorne and Bobby Perkins mean to you, in 25 words. And, uh, I couldn’t do it, I wrote out 5 pages, and, uh, I have it here, it’s, uh.. have it here by accident actually (heh) but I, I’d like to say this out loud. So, uh, if you could sorta roll along with this thing here, this is called Last Thoughts on Eddie Linkhorne and Bobby Perkins… which just happens to have the exact same words as Bob Dylan’s Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie.  Um -

When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know it’s wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterday’s rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when you’re layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin’ with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm thinkin'
In the words that I'm writin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a steam engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dim lit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty

No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie and Eddie Linkhorne and Bobby Perkins in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown

Sunday, April 29, 2012

srce moje...tracing the journey.

my beloved is in the process of leaving the Balkans, where he has made his home for the past three years. where I made my home for one glorious, complicated year.  and so my heart is in the process of reminiscing, looking back and letting go of the comfort of having that intimate link to a place i came to love so much, even though it broke my heart sometimes.

thinking of when i first arrived in Sarajevo in the middle of August and was instantly in love with the [wordiness alert, this is from my journal:] "clear sweet sunny days backdropping the gorgeous colorful mountainous landscape and the beautiful multicultural milieu of people in the cafes and goods in the markets and church bells ringing and minarets lighting up at night and imams intoning calls to prayer and the river flowing on and on under many bridges through the middle of it all..."

and the day i made to the journey from Sarajevo to Belgrade, reassuring myself that "as i leave this beautiful scarred city, i know i will survive and maybe even learn to thrive in the one i will soon arrive in... i think i am already growing in my ability to recognize the cyrillic letters and sound things out correctly when i see it.  bouncing inside the bus, through tunnels, alongside rock faces, past pine forests and fern patches, we have now come down from the high hills to a more rolling landscape of fields and small towns. hello hay bales and humble houses and huts. the little trickle that started hugging the road's curves in a shallow ditch a while back has since gradually widened into a lively stream and then a broad channel in a gorge below us - and oh - now we have crossed over it on a bridge and i can no longer see it from my side of the bus, but i know it is still there, feeding this land, quenching the thirst of people and creatures, carving its cool, calm power ever deeper and wider, branching off into new waterways, to spread the gift, the youth, the life."

i didn't always feel very youthful or lively for my first few months there. despite some wonderful moments, overall i felt more like this:

i struggled under some shadows of uncertain expectations and rocky living situations and frequent colds and sickness and feeling like a failure a lot of the time.

sure, i smiled in the sunshiny joy of my language lessons, my daily work of caring for little children with special needs, my mini-adventures of walking and navigating public transportation around the city, and texts like this from my coworkers when i was too sick to go to work: "ok dont vory bi god love you"

but it wasn't until, oh, about November that i finally started feeling comfortable in my skin and surroundings again.  i realize this is fairly typical cross-cultural transition timing, but there were also a few real changes that made a big difference.  i moved to a new apartment and "woke up under the skylight, blue sky with wisps of clouds floating by, the sound of the streets being washed and the pigeons flapping about. i tiptoed to look out to the adjacent rooftops where they perch and greeted them this morning...i went to the pijaca/market and had friendly exchanges with the people from whom i bought: a chunk of pumpkin, a bunch of paradajz i luk (tomatoes and onions), some mandarin oranges, pola kila pečurka (half a kilo of mushrooms), i 250g brusnica (dried cranberries)...and trudged delightedly back up the hill...passing Everest Kafe, and the Crna Kornjača, and a Zdrava Hrana (health food) shop, and some creative graffiti...i LOVE MY NEIGHBORHOOD!"

i started having more opportunities to travel around the hike to a waterfall and play in the fall leaves or the snow or the spring flowers in Kosovo/ go to concerts in Novi spend time with MCC partners and regional directors in Sarajevo, and go hiking in the hills there...

life really blossomed.  blooming and growing, like edelweiss, the hills are alive, with the sound of music... :)

and i had awesome Canadian neighbors who moved in to the apartment below mine, and who invited me to share in their weekly crepes and their city-exploring adventures and their Christmas and Easter celebrations just like another daughter/sister...(and who dressed up as this endearing totem pole for the kindergarten's multicultural dress-up day!)

and i had a gig with a choir, a gospel choir! the only gospel choir in Serbia! who were the warmest, loudest, lovingest :) spiritual community i could possibly have been welcomed into. we sang all over Beograd, and in a few other cities, too.  music. friendship. joy.

and i had, unexpectedly, a boy, who tenderly cared for me when i was sick...who encouraged me to be gentle with myself and see the beauty in my role with the children...who traveled with me all throughout that "land of raspberries and honey-bees, hills and haystacks, abandoned houses and bullet holes, churches and mosques" ...who held me and helped me poetry-slam a bob dylan ballad when my grandpa and another dear friend in the U.S. died on the same day in May...who asked me if he could ask me to marry him yet, and then saw me off on the plane back to the States in July without a definite answer...who said YES YES YES YES YES when I asked him over Skype a couple months later!  who put the perfect eco-friendly vine-shaped ring on my finger this past December...who returned to the Balkans in January and has persevered through these final months of his term there... and who is coming home to me SOON.  srce we'll journey together for the rest of our lives.

Monday, April 9, 2012

getting intimate with the ingredients of life

"So many creative pursuits demand a period of solitude for the germination of projects - writing, music-making, painting. The same can be said of cooking. Aside from music, food might be the most social of those pursuits, but it is that time alone that allows us to develop an intimacy with our subject - here, the raw ingredients that will become a meal. Without distractions, we pay closer attention to the behavior of our materials, and gain a nuanced understanding of their qualities and how they come together to create a dish...

"Cutting pounds of carrots, potatoes, parsnips, or squash asks that the cook yield a little to the process - those tubers don't offer themselves up easily. And that's where the process becomes a hypnotic, almost trance-like activity. There is the gentle resistance of the fibrous vegetable and the slow, careful push of the knife, over and over...

"Those moments to myself, lost in the rhythms of chopping, prepping and combining, are often what I crave most from cooking, whether it's for thirty minutes, three hours or all of a Sunday. Later the house may be filled with friends and family. There's little that I love more than that ritual - spending time with the people I care about, eating together. But I relish the time prior to the meal equally, that hushed, engrossed period where I am alone with my materials."

words by Kimberley Hasselbrink
from Kinfolk magazine, volume two

amen.  i think that's what i've been doing over the past few months, in my little experiments with banana and pumpkin bread and muffins, with squash stir-fry, with sweet potato curry-fry, with red pepper/tomato/basil sauces, with blackberry/red wine or blackberry/strawberry/peach sauces, with fresh tomato/green pepper salsa, with taking some avocado and salt and a lemon and adding dollops of hot pepper sauce to make guacamole, or adding tahini and garlic and olive oil and cumin and coriander to make a mediterrannean style dip, as i did last night for our Sunday night community meal with dear friends...

and these videos are some of my new favorite images of food in motion, ingredients blended with beauty and imagination. watch below, then go Google 'kinfolk videos' for more of these addictively simple yet luscious celebrations of the earthy materials, weathered hands, and vibrant communities of living things and beings that feed us...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

recipes fancy that. ORANGE food.

i am absolutely NOT planning to turn this into a food blog, but something that has been lighting up my life a LOT lately, as i am learning to do it with more and more ease and creativity, is cooking. so i just wanted to share a few of the lovely outcomes.

(i made this with no dairy, either, since i'm slightly lactose intolerant and don't buy cow-milk - so i used soymilk instead. oh, and i added a generous assortment of spices - extra cinnamon and nutmeg, plus some ginger and cloves. it was delicious! all two loaves of it! one with chocolate chips and one without.  soooo moist and perfect. :) watch out for the annoying music on the website though.)

 i finally cut open this turban squash that had been sitting in my windowsill ever since a fall apple orchard/pumpkin patch/bluegrass festival/farmer's market adventure with my roommate.
 and was so surprised by its delightful orange color!!!
 washing its seeds felt a bit holy, like helping them gently pop out of their orange wombs...
(sooooo addictive. use butter all the way. and garlic salt for the initial toasting. and brown sugar for caramelizing. and a pinch of nutmeg and cloves in the sugar mixture. YUM. perfect studying snack for the next week and a half!)

other uses for the squash...
(this recipe triggered a whole series of curry-fry experiments. i always start with onion, then add potato or sweet potato or squash, then other veggies - broccoli, snap peas, red peppers, kale, carrots, whatever. you can add tofu or tempeh, too. most often, i dump lots of curry powder, ginger, cumin, coriander, and turmeric for a spicy Indian comfort shawl of a meal. or, start with some soy sauce, vinegar, hot pepper, drizzle of honey, basil, plenty of salt and pepper and garlic and ginger for more of an east or southeast Asian vibe. sometimes i whisk a few eggs together, pour and scramble it all together. as long as i don't put too much (or too little) salt, it is always, always good. and it spices up my whole life! every time i leave and later step back into the apartment i can smell the heavenly deliciousness, which motivates me to make another curry fry!)

 and i still had more squash, so...
this. this. THIS. was a TOTAL improv, and totally turned into my favorite meal i've made in a long time. possibly including the curry fry experiments.  so, i had half an onion. and a red pepper. and a tomato. and a few garlic cloves, which i tossed into the pan whole once the above were chopped and caramelizing nicely in a bit of olive oil, with a few sprinkles of basil mixed in.  in the meantime, while that all simmered and soupified a bit, i grated some chunks of the squash.  then the pan mixture went into the blender to make a gorgeous orange sauce, and the squash went into the pan to saute/soften up a bit with some garlic salt.  i wanted to lick every surface that was touched by the sauce. oh, YES. yes. why would i ever buy pasta sauce again?

that's all.  <3

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Catch Me in My Scurrying

Catch me in my anxious scurrying, Lord,
and hold me in this Lenten season:
hold my feet to the fire of your grace
    and make me attentive to my mortality
        that I may begin to die now
            to those things that keep me
                from living with you
                    and with my neighbors on this earth;
            to grudges and indifference,
                to certainties that smother possibilities,
                    to my fascination with false securities,
                        to my addiction to sweatless dreams,
                            to my arrogant insistence on how it has to be;
            to my corrosive fear of dying someday
                which eats away the wonder of living this day,
                    and the adventure of losing my life
                        in order to find it in you.

Catch my in my aimless scurrying, Lord,
and hold me in this Lenten season:
hold my heart to the beat of your grace
    and create in me a resting place,
        a kneeling place,
            a tip-toe place
where I can recover from the dis-ease of my grandiosities
    which fill my mind and calendar with busy self-importance,
that I may become vulnerable enough
    to dare intimacy with the familiar,
        to listen cup-eared for your summons,
            and to watch squint-eyed for your crooked finger
                in the crying of a child,
                    in the hunger of the street people,
                        in the fear of the contagion of terrorism in all people,
                in the rage of those oppressed because of sex or race,
                    in the smoldering resentments of exploited third world nations,
                        in the sullen apathy of the poor and ghetto-strangled people,
                            in my lonely doubt and limping ambivalence;
and somehow,
    during this season of sacrifice,
        enable me to sacrifice time
            and possessions
                and securities,
to do something...
    something about what I see,
        something to turn the water of my words
            into the wine of will and risk,
                into the bread of blood and blisters,
                    into the blessedness of deed,
                        of a cross picked up,
                            a saviour followed.

Catch me in my mindless scurrying, Lord,
and hold me in this Lenten season:
hold my spirit to the beacon of your grace
    and grant me light enough to walk boldly,
        to feel passionately,
            to love actively;
grant me peace enough to want more,
    to work for more
        and to submit to nothing less,
           and to fear only you...
               only you!
Bequeath me not becalmed seas,
    slack sails and premature benedictions,
        but breathe into me a torment,
            storm enough to make within myself
                and from myself,
something new,
    something saving,
        something true,
a gladness of heart,
    a pitch for a song in the storm,
        a word of praise lived,
            a gratitude shared,
                a cross dared,
                    a joy received.
Poem-prayer by: Ted Loder, from the book Guerrillas of Grace

Monday, January 9, 2012

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