Tuesday, December 21, 2010

cooking with lightning

2010 has kept some tricks up its sleeve to lay on the table right before it heads out the door.

In October a single bolt of lightning struck the middle of a quiet New Haven intersection on a sunny day just dozens of feet from me and several others waiting to cross the street. A giant boom and a flash of brilliant white light, like an explosion, and then nothing else at all. No rain, nothing damaged, no further thunder, just car alarms set off all around, while everyone including myself froze in place trying to comprehend, except for one woman who laughed with unbound joy as she skipped down the street.

The next day, on the opposite side of the same block, I ran into a street prophet. He first asked for money to help him get a train to Maryland to see his son for the first time in 21 years. When I had none to offer, he hit on me. When that didn't work, he began telling me about Jesus, and told me to ask him any question I had about God. I thought hard, and then told him earnestly that though I have many questions about the world and about myself, I have no questions about God. He hesitated, and then for the first time in his lengthy monologue asked permission to tell me something, and I agreed. What followed was spoken in a different voice and tone, and something I can only consider to be a prophecy for my future, a good one, that I am keeping close at hand.

I've wondered since then about my having no questions about God. I didn't notice that before. I believe in God and I think about God and religion and spirituality a lot of the time. I ponder how I can best live my life in tune with God. I wonder why people care so much about the details of different religions that appear to them to be in conflict. But about God, himself, herself, itself, whatever- I don't wonder or worry, or try to understand with logical thinking. Should I be relieved about that, or does it mean I'm lazy or missing something if I don't have questions?

I contemplate this as I continue a long hermit interlude, slowly piecing my kitchen back together with all the details carefully considered. It is an overdue home improvement, but it's deeper then just that. With my new wheat allergy the need to learn how to cook has bullied itself into being a priority in my daily existence. Resistant to this at first as a life-long hater of cooking, putting so much love into the kitchen through my language of paint is changing my feelings about feeding myself for the better. And as I go, I learn even more about kitchens and food, and how they are so closely linked to God.

Photo above, the kitchen with its newly recovered wood floor, once under brown linoleum. Below, the floor before deep sanding and polyurethane.

Monday, December 06, 2010


A New Haven ally, Erika, has been leading gatherings of intentional doll making and blogging about it on Each Day is a Present (added to my links over there on the right.) We talked about dolls and discovered that one she made recently has come to serve the same purpose for her as my Bambola doll does for me. She had a lot of interesting things to say about this, so I'll let you read it yourself in her Dolls as Guides post, in which she included Bambola.

I made Bambola 16 years ago, out of discarded painters' canvas and found objects when I would sit nervously for hours in my studio trying to get up the courage to take on the wild streets of Rome. Carrying a horned faceless doll certainly helped keep the roving packs of girl-hunting Romans at bay. But more courage was gained from the hours and days of stitching with this need in mind. Making objects by hand is powerful meditation when there is a strong and specific intention. It is spell-casting.

I added some doll and Baba Yaga folk lore to Erika's post:

"A merchant had, by his first wife, a single daughter, who was known as Vasilisa the Beautiful. When she was eight years old, her mother died. On her deathbed, she gave Vasilisa a tiny wooden doll with instructions to give it a little to eat and a little to drink if she were in need, and then it would help her. As soon as her mother died, Vasilisa gave it a little to drink and a little to eat, and it comforted her. After a time, her father remarried to a woman with two daughters. Her stepmother was very cruel to her, but with the help of the doll, Vasilisa was able to perform all the tasks imposed on her." More on "Vasilisa the Beautiful" at Wikipedia.

"An example is the fairy tale of 'Vasalisa with a Doll in Her Pocket' in Estes' chapter 'Nosing Out the Facts: Gathering Intuition as Initiation [Women Who Run With the Wolves].' Vasalisa loses her good mother early and is plagued with a wicked stepmother and stepsisters who make her a servant -- not an uncommon fairytale structure. Her true mother left her a magic doll to always keep in her pocket to guide her. When the step-women send her into the woods to the powerful witch Baba Yaga for fire, expecting Vasalisa will never return, the doll guides her way and saves her by helping her give the dangerous witch the right answers. When she escapes and returns with the witch's fire it consumes the bad women. Estes explains that the Vasalisa story illustrates intuition as a mother's gift to her daughter. Intuition is symbolized by the doll, teaching Vasalia to pay attention, hold onto (and trust) the doll, gather the facts. The story is a tale of the rite of 'the old female Goddess, Baba Yaga,' initiating the girl into adulthood and a dark world where she has the power within her to survive." -Linda Ashar. More here.

Bambola has been a lot of places with me, and taken a lot of ware and tear. I just noticed the little Amalfi coast sea shell necklace that was sort of like a rattle when Bambola shook broke off. I'm looking forward to the repair.