Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thich Nhat Hanh's Camera

Last year I met a woman, Kate, who traveled with Thich Nhat Hahn on his first trip back to Vietnam in 40 years. She collected amazing stories and photos from that experience. One of my favorite stories is of TNH, surrounded by photographers all jockeying for the perfect shot. He smiled and raised his hands up to his eyes, pantomiming holding a camera, and also took a picture. I think about that moment a lot as I'm going through my day with my ds. Dh and I do not take many "actual" photos of him, but I use my Thich Nhat Hahn camera quite often. It helps me feel more present and available to every perfect moment I have with him. And they are all perfect.

Of course, this leaves my friends who live far away a bit at a loss. So these pictures are for them. With much love.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

New Beginnings

A little over a month ago I created 2 vision boards: one to focus my energy to write Ravenna and the other to allow myriad other blessings into my life. The fact that Ravenna manifested so quickly after I finished my board is, to me, a huge testament to the power of vision boards. Another smaller dream, that also found its way to my "opening and allowing" board, was to raise chickens. I have wanted to raise chickens for *years*, but thought I couldn't while living in a city. When I learned I could, I couldn't find anyone else to share the minimum order - 25 chicks. That was a few years ago, and since then I've thought it just wouldn't happen.

Never really having released the desire, when I saw a picture of a cute little chick the day I was collecting images for my vision boards, I cut it out. It got a rather prominent place on my board and it made me feel very happy when I saw it. A few days after I made the board, a friend and neighbor told me she knew someone who was placing an order for chicks and was willing to share whatever number we wanted. And today, mine are happily eating, drinking and foraging in the little kiddie pool we set up in the basement. There are 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Black Stars, and 2 Araucanas/Americanas. They are unbelievably sweet and I am incredibly happy. Here is a picture:

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Chicken and Cornbread

I've been researching the publishing world for children's books and have found that most publishing houses and literary agents are a little reluctant to take on a new author who has just one title to her name. You know, they worry there's a monkey at the typewriter. I thought their concern was valid, so this monkey got back to her trusty G4. Here's the result. It's an Appalachian Stone Soup - I know it needs some work, but I still love it and want to get it out there...

One day when I was a girl growing up in the mountains a stranger came to town. My two brothers and I ran up to him. He said, "I’m just passing through. You got any food for a hungry traveler?" We ran home to ask if we could bring the man some food. Our mama said she was sorry, but we didn’t have any to spare.

We ran back to the man and found he had started a cooking fire. He pulled a small grate out of his pack and put it over the pit. We asked him what he was doing. "I’m fixin’ to fry me up some chicken." We looked around and didn’t see any food, just an old iron skillet. "Where are you going to get a chicken?" we asked.

"Right over there," he said and pointed to a clump of big, yellow, wrinkly mushrooms growing a few feet up the trunk of an old oak tree. "Mister," we said, "Those are just some old mushrooms." "Yeah, that’s right, that’s a hickory chicken. And when you fry it up in a little butter, it tastes just like the real thing. The shame is, we don’t have any butter."

My younger brother looked at me and I knew what he was thinking. We had about a pound of fresh butter. We could take a little bit and it wouldn’t be missed. I nodded at him and he picked up and ran for the house.

When he got back, the man smiled and motioned to the skillet, "Just put it right in there. Be ready in a minute." After he fried up the chicken he passed the pan around and we all ate our fill – it did taste just like the real thing! We ate it all and then the man said, "Now, nothing I like more after eatin’ some chicken, then a little bit of cornbread."

"This here is a magic skillet and I can make the cornbread from just a little bit of cornmeal and salt - I keep ‘em in my pack." Our eyes got wide as he pulled out the little bags. "Of course," he said, "It would be a whole lot better if we had an egg, but there’s no use asking for that."

I knew our hens were laying plenty and sometimes they would even leave an egg in the shoes I left on the back porch. I thought if I found one now, I could give it to the man. Nobody would miss it. Sure enough, there was one in my old shoe. I ran back cradling it carefully in my hand, my mouth watering.

The man smiled as he pulled the ingredients together. "This is going to be good cornbread. Yes, sir - it would be fit for a king if we just had sweet milk. Too bad we don’t have some."

My brothers and I knew that we had a pitcher of buttermilk in our ice box. No one would ever miss a cup or two. Without saying a word, my older brother ran to get it.

The cornbread smelled so good while it was baking. The man had a lid that made the skillet into a little oven when he banked it in the coals. When it was ready to eat I asked if he could cut up slices for all of us. He laughed, "No, ma’am. Breaking bread was good enough for Jesus, so it’s good enough for us." And with that he turned the hot pone out on to his old tin plate, and we all broke off a piece. It was the best cornbread my brothers and I had ever eaten.

Later that night my family gathered around the woodstove. My brothers and I told our mama and daddy the story of our afternoon with the stranger. They wanted to hear it again and again. We marveled at how the wandering man had almost no food, yet always feasted from that magic skillet.