The Garden

I was in our garden a couple days ago, pruning. Pruning is satisfying on such a deep level, it feels spiritual. These thoughts jumbled about in the back of my head as I worked: I am guiding a living thing, making a choice for it’s betterment, helping it to thrive by deciding what to preserve and what to remove. As a gardener, I am a steward of life. I have authority over the plants in my garden. One could say I have dominion, and I exercise my dominion gently and for the good of all life in my garden by deciding what stays and what goes. If one were to assign a moral perspective to it, I become a good and just steward of the Earth by knowing what is good and what is evil.

These are the things I learn by gardening.

And that’s when it hit me. What if there is another way to imagine the story of Adam and Eve? What if they were not the first humans, frolicking in the Garden, expected to remain innocent and punished for seizing knowledge? There were other humans when they left, after all. And God charged humankind with dominion over the Earth.

What if Adam and Eve were the first gardeners? What if the purpose of their time in the Garden was to learn how to be stewards of the Earth? And what if the apple was the sign that they had gained enough understanding to nurture a healthy plant to produce good fruit? With sufficient instruction given in the Garden of the Lord, it was time for them to go out into the world and teach.

Imagine them describing the Eden to people who were cold and hungry, seeking to inspire them to take up the studied mantle of dominion. Might the cold and hungry not ask, “Why did you leave such a place?” And what if they then answered, “We had to.”? Any explanation that followed might have fallen on deaf ears, for someone cold and hungry might not readily imagine that somebody would willingly walk away from a plentiful garden, a paradise on earth.

“What do you mean, you had to?”

“We learned what we were supposed to learn, and now we have to go out and teach.”

You had to leave because you were done learning? You had to come out here, where it’s cold and painful and we’re hungry? Sounds to me like you were punished for gaining knowledge.

Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden… always such a compelling story. And such a negative one. And yet, as the immediate precursor to its telling, we have Genesis Chapter 1, verses 27-31:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

What if the story doesn’t mean that God created man of mist and dust and breath, after the seventh day – He had already created them, male and female, in his image, on the sixth day. What if a man and a woman were charged to be of the water (mist) and of the earth (dust) and of the air (breath)? What if they were sent into the Garden to learn HOW to fulfill the divine purpose of man?

The world feels a little different when I think of it this way. Vibrant and loving and full of purpose. As it should be.

Broken Mugs

About six years ago, my husband and I moved halfway across the country, from New England to Bozeman, Montana. We had no connections there. We weren’t moving because work required it. We moved there because we visited and we fell in love with the place.

We got rid of a lot of stuff and put the rest in boxes, as you do. When we first arrived in our new apartment, we bought a couple of things so that we could perform Basic Life Functions while working to unpack. These things included a pair of mugs.

I loved those mugs. They were black, with a pretty gold-brown vine and leaf design on one side. Honestly, they were nothing particularly special in the grand scheme of things, but I loved them because the were big, so I could go a good while before refilling, and the bottoms were stable, so they never tipped over. They were my favorite mugs, and I always smiled at the recollection that they helped welcome us to Bozeman.

Fast forward six years. We got married in Bozeman. We found incredible health care support and did a lot of healing in Bozeman. We had our daughter in Bozeman. We, against all odds, shut-ins that we are, made some wonderful friends in Bozeman. We even had found a restaurant that serves the best sushi we’ve had everywhere, in freaking landlocked Bozeman. But it was time to pack it up and be close to family. We agonized. We cried. It was a hard decision, because it was a decision between two amazing things. I feel blessed and grateful to have been burdened with such a choice.

In the last two weeks before the move, I broke one of the mugs. In some impossible twist of how-on-earth-did-the-physics-work-there, it practically leaped out of my hand while I was washing it and hit the bottom of the sink just so. I decided it was a sign. I put the pieces of the handle inside the cup, stuck it on a windowsill, and asked my husband to make sure that it was the last thing we threw away, because I am a weirdo.

Fast forward again. We’ve been dealing with all the monumental emotional strain of uprooting life, finding new vendors and health care and restaurants and trying to remember where the hell we packed our socks. (Answer: with the toolbox and last remaining holdout VHS tapes, obviously.) And the adjustment of our baby girl going to daycare. Insanity. Stress like I don’t remember ever having dealt with before.

Yesterday, I heard a crash from the kitchen. “You okay?” I asked, as I do.

“Yeah… I broke a mug,” said husband.

“Oh,” I said. “That’s okay.”

He poked his head around the corner and held up the surviving black and gold-vine mug. “This one,” he said.

I blinked at it and decided I couldn’t possibly have an opinion about it right then. “Okay,” I said, and went back to surreptitiously feeding our child dinner while she was too distracted by More Important Things (read: Muppets) to object.

This morning I woke up and thought about it again. I realized that I had been treating those mugs as symbolic of a beautiful chapter of our lives, and wondered if I was about to start bawling because it was such a clear, stark reminder that it was over. But then it hit me that I wasn’t upset about it at all. I felt relieved, and free.

These physical tokens, these material reminders, are never up to the task of containing our experiences long term. The treasures of our lives are far too big and important for that. The experiences we had while living in Bozeman are a part of my heart and soul forever, and in that, I will never truly leave.

Sad

On a cold and snowy Tuesday, I saw a representation of sadness: a Lost Cat sign, taped to a signpost no more than two weeks past. Top corner torn away, paper foxed and bedraggled and almost illegibly wet.

My prayers to lost pets everywhere.

Best Trip to Home Depot Ever

I had to get four small things from Home Depot today. I was dreading the errand because I was sure it would take an hour. But then I had a moment of inspiration, and I’m still feeling very smart about it. If you like to wander around in there, that’s cool – this method is for the people like me, who eye the size of the building and whimper. I present to you, How to Shop at Home Depot:

  1. Write down a list of things you need.
  2. Upon arrival, go directly to the Service counter.
  3. Present your list to an employee and say, “Could you please write down an aisle number for each of these things?”
  4. Shop.
  5. Leave.
  6. Rejoice that it is possible to spend 20 minutes or less at Home Depot.

It’s these moments, and not any of the grades I got in school, that make me feel like a freaking genius.

An Old Poem

I am cleaning the entire house, from top to bottom. I am ruthlessly purging every malfunctioning gadget and outdated scrap of paper. I am leaving no stone unturned.

Boy does it feel good. I refuse to hold onto anything that does not add to my life. If it’s going to take up space in my home, it had better earn its keep.

During the course of this purge I found a ridiculously crumpled piece of notebook paper with a poem written on it. Based on where I found it, I’m guessing I wrote it somewhere around 2003. I don’t think I can bring myself to keep the original anymore, but I’d like to preserve the poem itself. So here it is!

A Worthy Yet Once Removed Subject

When did I see the beauty of today,
or have I seen it yet? Am I still blind
and trapped inside the things I’ll never say
because the language chains them in my mind?

I lay within a cage within a cage
(whose bars are made of feelings unexplained),
mocked by the words I write upon this page,
for they do not express the whys of pain.

Shall I believe the words do not exist?
If so, then in this world man is word,
and men struck mute will not be sorely missed.
But silence by its action still is heard…

© Jane Bartley Hozier

Imaginary Argument #1, AKA I Love Dory

“Everything is going to be okay.”

“What a ridiculous thing to say. You can’t prove that. And obviously everything isn’t okay, nor is it going to suddenly become okay. Just look at <insert favorite gripe topic here – war, famine, global warming, politics, disease, etc. etc.>”

“That’s true, I can’t prove everything’s going to be okay. But you can’t prove it won’t. ‘Everything is going to be okay,’ like any statement about ‘everything’, is a statement of belief, not of provable fact. We live in the present, and the present is the only moment to which we have direct access. Statements about the sum total of the future are pure speculation and fabrication.”

“So you admit it.”

“Of course – do you? Think of it this way – if ‘everything is going to be okay’ and ‘everything is terrible’ are both statements of belief, I’ll take the positive one, because it has a direct impact on the quality of my present moment. Why on earth should negative belief be assumed to have more dignity and realistic weight than positive belief?”

This is what happens to my internal arguments when I start reading about Zen. I could probably sum up the whole darn thing with a quote from Finding Nemo:

Marlin: How do you know something bad won’t happen?

Dory: I don’t!

Taste a Different Rainbow: Paleo Stir-Fry

Writing a recipe, Attempt the First.

IMG_1176

Gather the following, per two adults (ingredients):

  • 1/3 to 1/2 red onion
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 8-12 cherry tomatoes
  • generous handful of roasted, salted cashews
  • something green*
  • 1-2 zucchinis
  • 4-6 chunks of canned pineapple

And for seasoning:

  • ghee
  • coconut aminos
  • salt
  • Chinese 5 spice

* “Something Green” – Tonight it was 8-10 snap peas, tomorrow it’ll be all the florettes off a medium head of broccoli. Pick a favorite.

Pre-prep: 15-20 minutes before you start cooking, spiralize the zucchini into zoodles. This has been written about by many more patiently explainy people than I. Basically, make the zoodles, salt them, and given them the 15-20 minutes to drain off a little water so they don’t turn out soggy.

Other than the zoodles bit, forget the idea of prep time and cook time split apart. Get your stuff together and find your state of flow.

Get yourself a nice big pan and turn on the heat to medium (6 of 9 on our stove). Melt enough ghee to lightly coat the bottom. Splash in 1-2 Tbsp of coconut aminos, and sprinkle in some salt and Chinese 5 spice to taste… maybe 1/2 tsp each?

From there, chop something up (peel first if relevant) and toss it in. Then chop up the next thing and toss it in. The order ensures that everything turns out pleasingly cooked:

  1. Onion
  2. Green thing
  3. Carrots – I like mine with some crunch; add earlier if you don’t.
  4. Tomatoes – I halve them.
  5. Cashews
  6. Zoodles
  7. Pineapple

It’s done when the zoodles are al dente.

If you want to add meat to this recipe (I’ve tried chicken, marinated skirt steak, and slow-cooked bison roast – all fantastic), slice it up and add with the onion if raw, or with the cashews if pre-cooked.

Dish it up. Eat it. Boggle that when you’re done you feel satisfied, but it was so good you totally wish there were more to eat. Hope you like it – smooches, fellow eaters.

The funny thoughts that get me through…

I’ve picked up a couple new vocabulary words.

  • Baby-Fu: The prehistoric parental art of getting the baby to sleep. At all. Ever.
  • Toddler-Fu: The prehistoric parental art of removing harm from the toddler’s path or, failing that, altering the toddler’s trajectory with a minimum of tears.

I expect my vocabulary to continue expanding as the years go by.

Give me food, dang it

Wow. Motherhood. WOW.

My (amazing, wonderful, adorable) daughter is six months old. I am convinced I will never feel rested again, but I’m told this is part of the process, and that around the one-year mark things will get better.

I generally eat Paleo, as I’m pretty sure I outlined in some danged post or another. But part of how I’ve survived these past months is by indulging in food treats. Unfortunately, this recently caught up with me. So, let’s briefly review what I can’t have – whether it’s due to baby’s sensitivity, my sensitivity, my recent need to Eliminate Fungus (SERIOUSLY? Whatever I did to anger you universe, I formally apologize)… etc. It’ll make most anybody reading this feel better about their options.

CAN’T HAS: dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), white potatoes, alcohol of any kind, sweeteners other than stevia, rosemary, vanilla extract, black pepper, FRUIT (ARGH) other than avocado and tomato, vinegar other than apple cider vinegar, all grains, legumes, most commercially used oils, blah de blah blah blah.

What has kept me from falling completely to pieces? Making my first ever successful batch of bone broth! Thank you, Wellness Mama.

This means I can have soup! For the first time in something like three years! Suddenly, life is okay. Add onto that, finding a piece of a recipe out of This Stupendous Cook Book (Breakfast Bowls, the part about the biscuit cups) that led me to adapt my own version and make biscuits that taste pretty similar to the buttery wheat flour-based biscuits I’ve been desperately missing.

I’ve made a basic veggie & beef stew, and sweet potato basil soup. YUM. I shall survive.