Monday, September 19, 2011

The Magic of Cooking

I love to cook.  My dear spouse "Himself" is always ecstatic when I say this as he loves to eat.  It's a match made in culinary heaven.  In fact a close friend said that my spouses idea of a menage a trois was "three women in the kitchen cooking for him!".  Probably right.

I learned to cook the old fashioned way, standing silently by my Grandmothers, Mother and Father's side as they prepared dishes.  They never really gave me any instruction, it was learn by osmosis and careful observation.  I seldom use a recipe,  most of my cooking is a pinch of this, a dash of that.  I go by what feels right, what seems to be the best ingredient, and a lot of faith that the culinary Gods will not fail me.  So far so good!

To me there is something magical and elemental in the act of cooking.  You take the bounty of the earth (if you use "real" food that is - not a manufactured food-like substance) and through your ritual of cooking turn it into a meal to feed your senses, your soul and yes your stomach.

Himself and I try to buy as locally as we can.  We buy our eggs (chicken, duck, turkey and Guinea Hen) and locally raised meat from a small farm the street over.  Most of the seafood we get is directly off the fisherman's boat.  We frequent farmer's markets.  Our little neighborhood "general store" (and yes, it really is a general store in the old fashioned sense) buys most of their produce locally.  I try to use seasonal fruits and vegetables.  I grow my own herbs. 

I like to practice what I call my "Mindful Cooking" ritual - perhaps this is another aspect of getting older and being Crone.  As I'm cutting, chopping, mixing and cooking I like to think about the food.  I like to picture in my mind how it grew, where it came from, what it took to get to my kitchen.  I like to say a mental prayer in thanks for the food.  I cook with this ritual and the food is the better for it.

I love to cook in the Autumn as it's harvest time.  Perhaps my love of Autumn cooking is due to a racial memory of my ancestors celebrating a good harvest prior to the scarcity of winter.  A celebration to the Gods and Goddesses they believed in for giving them the means of survival.  To me Autumn food tastes best.  The act of cooking becomes even more enjoyable and my ritual takes on more meaning.

As I am writing this I have a pot of harvest soup simmering on the stove.  It's filled with squash, cabbage, carrots, onions and ham hocks.  My crows are flying about the backyard cawing at me.  The sunlight is golden, burnishing the greens, golds and reds of the forest.  It's beautiful.  The house smells wonderful. 

Le Petite Crone says:  All is right with the world!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Saggy and Baggy

Let's face it women have always been concerned about their appearance.  Women of every culture, from every age have struggled to achieve what was considered their "ideal of beauty".  From a certain hair style, to scarification, tattoos, nose rings, neck stretching, head shaping, foot binding, pale skin, dark skin, sharpened teeth, white teeth, full cheeks, sunken cheeks, tall, short, plump, name it at one time, some where, some place it was, has been, is or will be considered beautiful.

Unfortunately along this journey the pressure to be and become beautiful has warped our sense of self.  We women are more than an ideal that was created by society, by the media, by ourselves.  I feel so angry seeing young girls trying so hard to be something other than a young girl.  You see them online, in the stores, in magazines, on TV, on the streets.  Little girls with painted faces, pouty lips, dressed provocatively looking and acting like the kind of women their moms would divorce their fathers for looking at!  I've a friend who call these little girls "prosti-tots" - an apt description of how they look.  It makes me sick.
I can understand it though, I have not been immune to this desire for achieving the "ideal".  I spent so many years growing up feeling like an outcast and ugly because I could never in my wildest dreams be what was considered beautiful.  I was never popular in school because I wasn't one of the "cute" girls.  I wanted to be, I tried to be but I could never, have never and will never be tall, skinny and tanned with big boobs.  Well, ok, one out of four I've got.  Trying to be something that I could never be made me nuts and about ruined my health.  It certainly screwed up my mind. 

Age can be illuminating for some women for others it isn't.  For the crones out there, you know what I'm talking about.  I am, now, for the first time ok with how I look.  I may have a few wrinkles, I may be a bit saggy and baggy.  I've got pale skin, silver hair and a few extra pounds.  I'm ok with that.  I'm happy.  I like myself.  I wish it hadn't taken so many years to get to this point.  I worry about all the young women out there who may never realize that perfection and beauty really is inside.

Le Petite Crone says:  I'm beautiful just the way I am!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First and Second Sleep - Oh Joy!

One thing I've noticed as I age into my "Crone years" is that I just don't sleep well anymore.  I like to borrow a notion from J.R.R. Tolkien's hobbits who had "first breakfast" and "second breakfast" - I now have "first sleep" and "second sleep".

I go to bed, I may be dead tired but as soon as my head hits the pillow my brain seems to jump into high gear.  I'm trying to sleep and that little voice starts talking...."Hey, did you ever think about this?" or "When you get up in the morning these are the things we have to do!".  Sometimes the voice goes off on some wild tangent and it will be hours before I finally fall asleep.

Now I'm asleep, aaaahhhhh!  Lovely!  Usually about three, maybe four hours later I'm wide awake....we start the entire process all over again.  Morning comes and I'm dragging my little crone body out of bed wondering why I'm so tired!  Aaaaggggghhh!

Why does this happen?  I remember my Dad, in his later years, telling me that he just didn't seem to need as much sleep anymore.  I think he was just saying that.....I don't think that as you age you don't need sleep....I think you just can't get it! 

My personal theory is that my brain, whom I think of as a separate so afraid that if it goes to sleep it would just take way too much energy to get going again, so it's just easier to stay awake.  Granted I can understand this feeling....I feel that way about my body.  Once I get moving it just easier to stay moving.  Once I stop it's hard to get going again.  If you are under 50 you in most cases have no idea what I'm talking about...but trust me, it's true.

Anyway, here I am, me and my brain stuck in first and second sleep......I try not to listen and my brain just keeps on talking. 

Le Petite Crone says:  Get a good nights sleep!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Dark Flock

I've been attracted to crows for quite some time.  They hold a special meaning for me (read "Feathers Three" posted on 1/6/2011).   Before my dear spouse "Himself" and I retired we shared our home with an amazing African Grey parrot named Horatio who  forever changed my view on the intelligence of birds (I'll write more about Horatio at some later date). 

When Himself and I retired and moved to "the peninsula" we knew that Horatio would be miserable here, we travel a lot and it's very difficult to find a bird sitter (African Greys can not be left alone for long periods).  it's also dark and gloomy most of the time on "the peninsula" so it is not a good location for a tropical soul.  It was difficult to let him go but we knew that we had to, so we found a good loving home for him.  I think the crows that live in the woods behind our cottage are my answer for missing Horatio. 

For those of you who know nothing about crows let me first say that they are smart.  Wickedly smart.  Crows use tools.  They watch and learn and think.  Crows have a complex and fascinating social structure.  Crows in a certain area will have a slightly different language than crows from another area.  Crows live in small family units grouped into larger extended family units that during the winter form huge flocks of thousands of birds.  They mourn and hold "crow funerals" for dead members of the flock.

After my experiences listed in "Feathers Three" I started to take the time to talk to the local crows whenever I saw them.  They in turn have been studying me.  Earlier this year I started to leave bits of bread on the backyard deck railing.  I go out, "caw"a few times to get my flocks attention then leave the bread.  Initially it was a large male whom I named "Curly" due to the unique fuzzy feathers on his head and his mate who first came down to the deck to eat the bread.  Then Curly and his mate brought their babies once they learned to fly.  Now it's Curly and his extended family.  My flock is growing!

Sometimes Himself and I feel like we are living in Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds".  When we wake up we occasionally find crows looking at us through the window.  They like to watch what I'm doing in the kitchen and will caw excitedly whenever they think I'm coming outside.  I'll be working in the yard tending my herbs and suddenly feel as if I'm being watched.  Looking up I'll find the nearby trees filled with ten or so dark ominous watchers....intent on my actions. 

Himself built a crow feeder which seems to be a big hit.  I've moved from feeding them bits of bread to peanuts to dog food.  Crows love dog food kibble.  I'll occasionally add bits of meat or egg or anything else that is available.  My crows are happy.

This isn't just a one sided relationship.  Like all good relationships there is give and take on both sides.  The crows take the food which I give.  I take a great amount of enjoyment from watching my dark flock.  The other day the crows gave me something else.....after spending the year watching Himself and I go out to our back yard to pick up our mini-minion's "leavings" (aka dog poop) the crows have taken to picking up dried dog poop and leaving it on the deck railing for me.  It's obvious to them that it's something valuable to us, something we want since we collect it so often.  They are just lending a helping wing.

I have found it so rewarding to take the time to get to know my dark flock.  I have learned so much about them and I'm sure they are learning just as much about me.  It has been and continues to be a fascinating relationship.

Le Petite Crone says:  Take the time to foster different relationships!