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Reflections in the Silver Cup

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA XV

THANK YOU NO MATTER WHAT

 

Listen

with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water looking out

in different directions

 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging

after funerals we are saying thank you

after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

looking up from tables we are saying thank you

in a culture up to its chin in shame

living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

 

over telephones we are saying thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators

remembering wars and the police at the back door

and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you

in the banks that use us we are saying thank you

with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable

unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

 

with the animals dying around us

our lost feelings we are saying thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minutes

of our lives we are saying thank you

with the words going out like cells of a brain

with the cities growing over us like the earth

we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

we are saying thank you and waving

dark though it is

 

~ W. S. Merwin

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA XIV

BREAKFASTS

 

My parents were more equal partners in their marriage than many couples of their generation. My dad always made our breakfasts while Mom poured juice or cut up fruit and shouted at us children to get ready for school or church. Dad's breakfasts were never the same two days in a row, and there was plenty of variety: pancakes, waffles, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, Ralston, cream of wheat, ground beef in cream gravy on toast, creamed brains, cornbread (called johnnycake in our house). Dad saved bread heels, and when there were enough, he dipped them in beaten egg with cinnamon; it was essentially French toast made of pieces of crust, so we teased him and called it Dutch toast and slathered it in homemade, imitation maple syrup. Sundays we could count on coffee cake—always. When we had bacon, it came from a big square box of bacon ends—cheap. He made Grrt from ground liver, ground pork shoulder, and barley in loaf tins, which got fried up and eaten on toast. He could do something I thought was unremarkable until I started cooking: he took two eggs in each hand, cracked them all at the same time, the eggs falling into whatever he was making with nary a piece of shell. Dad was trained as a cook in the army during the war and later made his living that way several different times in our lives. He was creative in his cooking, experimenting with combinations of foods and spices. He was the one who taught my mother how to cook meat early in their marriage.

 

For years I ate the same thing for breakfast almost every morning: yogurt with fruit and nuts, a little granola sprinkled on top as a condiment. But in the Time of Corona, I have apparently channeled my father and am creating a much more varied repertoire. Perhaps it's because the sameness of the days needs some spicing up (pun intended). I make heart-shaped mini-waffles; roasted corn mush (pictured) with little surprises—date bites, sunflower seeds and walnuts ; oatmeal mixed with chia seeds; ta'niil (blue corn mush); a Dutch treat called dikke rejst, which is rice (sometimes mixed with barley) re-cooked in milk with maple syrup or honey; yogurt and fruit; the occasional fried egg.

 

Sometimes I make what Cheyenne's friend (and mine), Amber, calls an "Anna Redsand breakfast," which makes me chuckle because it's just a continental breakfast, really. It's not what some American hotels call continental. When Cheyenne and I lived in Cuba, we sometimes stayed overnight during an Albuquerque trip at a hotel on Menaul. Their idea of a continental breakfast was donuts and orange soda. In European hotels, a continental breakfast is a veritable feast of meats, cheeses, eggs, pastries and fruits. An Anna Redsand breakfast is something in between—no sodas, thank you very much. It might include eggs scrambled with veggies, toast, a couple of cheese choices, pinto beans, bacon, a fruit salad, perhaps mimosas, French press coffee and a variety of teas. Little can give me greater pleasure than having a bunch of Cheyenne's friends or mine over for breakfast.

 

Food is not matter

but the heart of matter,

the flesh and blood of

rock and water, earth and sun.

 

Food is not a commodity

which price can capture,

but exacting effort,

carefully sustained,

the life work of countless

beings.

 

With this cooking I enter

the heart of matter,

I enter the intimate activity

which makes dreams materialize.

 

~ Edward Espe Brown

 

What are you having for breakfast these days? Do you have a breakfast memory to share?

 

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA XIII

Masks from Bradi!

ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIES

 

What do you do when you're self-employed, and the pandemic causes your source of income to dry up? Cheyenne and I have a friend who owns Belle Couturiére Alterations in Denver. Not too many weddings right now. So what did Bradi MacSlayne do? She started making and selling PPE masks—snazzy ones. You can order them here. Another artist friend, Sonja Horoshko, also began making masks in the first month of Stay at Home, which helped her make her mortgage payment. Hers were made from Bluebird flour sacking—an iconic Southwest fabric. She also makes beautiful, unique prayer flags, thinking we are going to need more prayers in these times. Sonja thought the Post Office's shipping charge for a single cloth mask was excessive, but then she pointed out that it helps keep the Post Office open. Such an essential consciousness. I ordered a mask from both of these friends. So now I can trade off and be in high fashion! 'Cause you know that's a great concern of mine!

 

These are the kinds of loving things people are doing in the Time of Corona. Creating an alternative economy while Staying Home and helping save lives with masks and...by Staying Home.

 

There is also the giving economy. My friend Beck Touchin of Laguna Pueblo together with New Mexico Seamstresses United, has donated handmade masks to Alamo Navajo Chapter, Zuni Pueblo, and UNM Hospital. And I got my first mask as a gift from my friend Karen Ulack––pink with white polka dots.

 

Speaking of keeping the Post Office open, I was notified today that my order of Earth Day stamps has shipped. I only had three stamps left, and ordering them online was so easy. USPS—my favorite government service. Help keep the Post Office open!

 

Cara Oosterhouse, a Michigan friend who shares my love for locally made gins (whenever I'm traveling and eating out, I ask if there's a local gin I can try), bought a bottle of something new from Wise Men Distillery and also a few gallons of hand sanitizer. With bars closed, breweries and distilleries are joining the alternative economy and saving lives by making ethanol for sanitizers.

 

A few weeks before the pandemic hit us, I strongly considered buying a foot-pedal-operated clothes washer. It wasn't expensive, but I dilly-dallied. It's easy to handwash smaller items, but as Stay at Home wears on, what about sheets and towels, jeans? I imagine a lot of people like me live in a small space and would have to go to a public place to wash clothes, so they must've ordered one of these. Lots of them ordered. A foot-pedal washing machine is eco-friendly––an example of a different sort of alternative economy. It's sold out, and I should be glad. I am. Sort of.

 

It's part of the alternative economy to keep paying the people who do things for you on a regular basis––like hairdressers, barbers, massage therapists, housecleaners––people who can't work and have to stay home. They still need to pay rent, mortgages, gas and electric, and buy food. We can support them with cash and gratitude for all the ways they've made our lives better.

 

We can join the alternative economy by purchasing from small local businesses. I have plenty of tea in the house, but I'm on the mailing list of New Mexico Tea Company and have bought quite a bit of loose tea and tea-making paraphernalia in their shop near Old-Town (adjacent to the Golden Crown Panaderia) in the past. In the Time of Corona, the shop is closed, but they have started an online ordering option, and it's enabled them to keep all of their people employed. I ordered 2 ounces of organic Darjeeling. I would've ordered 4, if my favorite––Fourth Flush Darjeeling––weren't out of stock, so I'll hope to order that soon. I also ordered a collection of nine teas—5 cups worth in each packet for $24. A darn good deal, I figure. As for me and my house (which is just me), I intend to use some of my stimulus money this way––buying LOCAL. Keeping people in my community employed and solvent.

 

Do you have a favorite local small business or alternative economy you'd like to tell about? Anywhere––not just in New Mexico. Please feel free to add to comments, and I'll do what I can to make that small, local business known. We have social media!

 

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA XII

A HAIR STORY

 

In a set of six daily quarantine questions, Number Three is, "What expectations of 'normal' am I letting go of today?" On Tuesday I let go of the expectation that my hairdresser would be cutting my hair anytime soon. My downstairs neighbor and I talked, over suitable distance, about how we short-hair women are normally on a 4-to-5-week schedule. I'm vainly fond of a nice clean look. Nine weeks after my last clip, the cowlicks were creating unsightly bumps and humps.

 

I've owned at least one pair of clippers with guards, maybe two—discarded on different moves as being too much to pack and carry. But I still have my German-made, salon- quality scissors, and Tuesday morning, I got them out, placed a hunk of wrapping paper over the sink and got to work. I imagined a sort of chunked up, possibly feathery look. Reality: I gave myself a buzz cut that could almost pass for a shave.

 

This wasn't my first pair of good barbering scissors. Long ago, I used to cut hair for friendship. Thus I had my shears with me when we moved to New Zealand. I don't remember how my midwife got a hold of them, but she used them to force open the clamp on Cheyenne's umbilical cord, bending them in the process. Unusable. We moved soon after that to Women's Land near the northernmost tip of the North Island, and one of the women there also liked to cut hair. She was from Germany, and she had her sister send me new shears. That was 34 years ago, and they are the ones I have now.

 

At the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School in Sweden, when it is time to enter the silence that lasts more than a month, to learn Kriya Yoga meditation, many students get their heads shaved. The first time I ever had my head shaved was on the three-month course. One of the yoga teachers stood by a sink in the large communal bathroom with scissors and a clipper and took us, one by one. I was surprised to see how much hair, even very short hair, detracts from the face. Without hair everything is visible. Without hair, it is also cold. You feel the breeze of someone walking past you. You must wear a cap outdoors, especially in the winter in southern Sweden.

 

I've had my head shaved a few times since. These other times it has been to mark a significant change in my life. And then, in a sort of paradoxical move, I covered my head with colorful, crocheted beanies. I realize now that I have it shaved for myself, but I'm not always sure I want others to see it. It is fine for men to shave their heads, but it can be seen as antisocial for a woman to be so boldly, baldly naked. And I don't necessarily have the iconoclastic courage to be that visible in the ordinary world.

 

Hair. The Bible calls it a woman's glory. When she gets married, a Hassidic woman's head is shaved, and after that she wears a wig. In the 60s and 70s long hair, especially on men, became a symbol of revolution, of the "make love, not war" ethos. The musical Hair reflected those values, portraying the hippie counter-culture and anti-war movement. There is a way we are identified with our hair, with what we choose to do with it and with things that happen to our hair outside our control. In times of transition people often do something different with their hair. Many women find losing their hair traumatic when they undergo chemotherapy. Sometimes friends and family get shaved in solidarity with a cancer patient. Some men, when they go bald, choose to get hair implants. Others choose a full shave. When I had a black partner, I learned a lot about how different the care of black hair is from white hair, including how it's cut. I learned that by doing such a bad job of cutting my partner's hair until I learned how from a black barber. The purpose of shaving our heads at the meditation school was to give us a more powerful experience of energy through the crown chakra.

 

My most recent, near shave on Tuesday was a practical matter. I just couldn't stand the lumpy, shaggy look anymore. But it also gave me pause to reflect. In the aftermath, I've been enjoying running my hand over the stubble. I giggle when I notice how different a shower feels when water lands between these tiny upright spikes. Hair.

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