Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coldykins



Boulder.  The high was 5 degrees the other day.  The high! That is Fahrenheit. I am on the verge of losing my mind.  How to keep softening, surrendering, and opening.  You only have to know me for about eight milliseconds before you discover how much I dislike winter.

I am so tired of feeling like life is against me.  A battle which I appear to be losing.  Of course, that is all in my mind.  The tightness.  The contempt.  The contraction.  Compassion is the balm for this ancient darkness.  There are places where it doesn't yet penetrate.  Muscles guarded by fear.

Everything has to be welcomed.  Nothing banished.  All of it massaged by the soothing hands of Mother Prajnaparamita.  

And yet I can't help think that I would much rather face my inner demons and dragons in the silent solitude of some sunshiney locale - unfettered by the contracture of winter's icy meanness.  My skin soaking up rays of warmth to melt my ego-clinging.  

In 2004 I moved back to Boulder.  How I could easily obsess about hating myself for returning to this town which refuses to let me go.  Of course, one doesn't make the best decisions under the duress of suicidal depression.  Still.  

Welcome the self hatred.  Give it a warm bath.  Spoon feed it something soft and sweet.  Tuck it into bed with a lilting lullabye.  Rub the back of her heart.

In the end, it all comes back to "what about me?" the root of all suffering.  

Can't just keep plucking the shoots.  Have to dig deep down into the cracks and crevices and find the tricky root.  The root of the root.  Clean it off.  Roast it.  Eat it.  

Holding on to the fantasy that at some point everything will come together and finally make sense.  That the pain and torment will have some higher purpose. 

Let everything tenderize my being.  Resist nothing.  Surrender to the flow of all events.  Create the causes for freedom.  Dissolve into my heart.

Spacious.  Kind.  And carefree.  

Less talking.  Less thinking.  Love and let go.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Blah Humbug

I just ate a wonderful dinner.  Perhaps all foodies are this way...I feel compelled, since I ate alone, to share the wonderfulness of it with someone.  So here I am posting it on the World Wide Web.  I am sure no one really cares what I had for dinner.  Although it is a meal that busts a few myths, so perhaps that will intrigue to read on.  Or maybe, like me, you just love a good menu.

Braised Lamb Neck in Moroccan Spices with Pecorino and Fennel Risotto...lamb necks are surprisingly tasty and cheap.  You can get 100% grass-fed lamb almost anywhere.  Yum.  It sits overnight in a dry rub of cinnamon, ginger, clove, cayenne, black pepper, and coriander.  The risotto says cozy on a cold winter night. It is creamy and gooey with the sweetness of anise and the sharpness of pecorino.  Both plates got licked clean!

Okay, clearly the first myth is that Buddhist nuns are vegetarian.  I admire and respect the philosophy of being vegetarian.  I get it.  I've done it.  It doesn't work for my body.  To be honest, rather than people being vegetarian or vegan or omnivores or flexitarians or whatever, I would rather see people looking deeply into their food and making conscious choices.  Since I eat meat, I try to eat bigger animals which means less lives taken.  I don't eat what I call "One Life One Bite" such as shrimp or "One Life One Meal" such as lobster.  I also like to inquire after the animals' living conditions and diet.  I won't eat animals from feed lots or animals who eat GMOs.  I would love to buy meat only from farmers I know.  I hope one day that is a reality.

Second myth...people who live alone eat cold cereal and pints of ice cream for dinner.  Please cook a nice meal for yourself if you live alone.  Share some with a neighbor.  Invite over a colleague.  Deliver food to an elderberry.  It is such an act of kindness to make something special and nourishing...even if you're the only one at the table.  I made homemade chicken stock for the braise and risotto.  I marinated the lamb overnight.  I cooked it for 2 hours.  I stood at the stove and stirred risotto until it was perfectly cooked and creamy.  The secret ingredient to my delicious dinner?  L-O-V-E.  You are what you eat.

Third myth...risotto is hard to make.  Not.  This hearty and satisfying dish is simple and weeknight-friendly.  What a delight to stand in your kitchen, listen to some nice music, and stir a pot of Italian magic.  Please try it.

Fourth myth...you can substitute boxed chicken broth for homemade.  No and double no.  Some time ago, I put my foot down and said, "No more processed broth."  I also said no more store bought mayonnaise, but that wasn't in my dinner and is not topical, but it is delicious and I hope you'll try it.  Can you boil water?  You can make chicken stock.  It freezes well.  It is liquid gold.  Do yourself a favor and make some this weekend.

Well, I guess that's all I wanted to say.  I hope you are sitting down to a delicious meal, whether alone or with family and friends.  What a joy to commune around the table.  It sure helped beat my winter blahs today.  Let's promise each other to slow down, get into the kitchen, and eat with care.

Here is my meal prayer by the way, in case you are looking for one:  Thank you farmers, thank you lamb, thank you chicken, thank you workers.  May this food become my enlightened body, speech, and mind.  And, one day, may all beings have chemical free food.  ENJOY!