Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just Trying To Get it Right

Lately in my lectures about my work (which is about my life, since not much is compartmentalized for me), I have noticed how often I have moved. Besides calling Mark and myself “urban nomads”, in defense of all this uprooting and replanting, I have taken to saying something like this: “I am just trying to get it right.”

This morning, as I was making my breakfast on the electric stove we inherited when we bought this house, I was mulling over the idea of learning something, and taking it into the next part of your life. After all, isn’t that what experience is for—to learn from it, so you can have a more elegant outcome the next time a similar situation presents itself? And similar situations always present themselves. In our Kansas home, year 2000, one of the first things we did was pay an outrageous amount to have a gas line put in the house so we could remove the very ugly electric stove that was there, and put in a beautiful stainless steel gas stove/oven. We had just bought a new oven for our New Mexico house (1999) but because we were off the grid, we had to buy the absolute simplest model—one without a clock, or any of the fancy regulators common on most models—a gas range that was converted to propane. Therefore, I was so pleased to be able to get what I wanted in Kansas, my new stainless steel range. However, I don’t remember it cooking or baking very well. Nothing extraordinary there, except it did look pretty.

Electric Range

Here, in our Vermont house (2008), we have a contemporary white electric range with the glass stop—no more tipping burners that disconnect in the middle of cooking (Arizona, 2007). If I want to have gas, as I was sure I would, then we have to go with propane again—but here I can get the fanciest model, whatever I want. Right now it is low on our list of priorities—a new efficient refrigerator would come first—but I am finding out something interesting. This is the best oven I have ever had. It bakes cakes perfectly. If a recipe says 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then the cake is done exactly at 30 minutes. I can even stir-fry on the glass range and things sizzle in minutes. Each day the stove’s place on the wish list drops further down. Will I request a similar stove in my next home (20??)—I don’t know. I certainly will be more open to possible solutions, depending on the circumstances.

So what did I make for breakfast? Cream cheese and lox on a tortilla. A combination of experiences from different parts of my life: cream cheese and lox from growing up days on Long Island (1950-60s), tortilla love from Guatemala (1970s). Getting it right doesn’t always mean doing it the same way. In fact, it usually means learning something and modifying it for the present circumstances. Like stopping at Trader Joe’s on my way home from Massachusetts to buy a freezer bag full of their frozen potstickers. Would I choose these if I were in New York City? Of course not—I would be down at a dim sum restaurant right this minute gorging on my favorite food. But what a treat in Vermont to be able to open a bag of these frozen dumplings.


I am almost at the end of a very interesting book called Journey of Souls by Michael Newton. It is non-fiction, but many people would call it fiction. Apparently he has written four books and this is the first. I am fascinated by what he writes, not sure where I fall on the fiction versus non-fiction. Okay, I lean more towards non-fiction. He is describing the place where souls reside between lives. The funny thing is what he has them doing there—they are studying and learning. If true, then I think I will enjoy myself. Apparently we spend a lot of time looking at our past experiences and analyzing what we did, and what we could have done better, and how we can return in a new life and try those situations over again and see if we have indeed learned a better way, or not.

There is so much to contemplate from this book—whether it is fiction or non-fiction—the purpose of all good literature, right? Maybe because it is spring, but I am certainly in contemplative, analytic mode, trying to remember what I intended to do and seeing if I can get back on track. Opening my heart, remembering kindness, listening to people with love rather than judgment—these are the sorts of things I tend to forget and am trying to rekindle and restore. I know I don’t have to move to get it right; I can just get up each day and try again.

Weaving Burlap/Jute?

Meanwhile, I have all five looms threaded. I am weaving on the warp with the mystery thread that I used the McMorran Balance to determine the yards per pound. The cloth is turning out so differently than I imagined (is this a metaphor for life?). It seems I am weaving burlap. On the spool I just couldn’t see it, but looking at the cloth, I think I can determine that the yarn is jute. It’s weaving fast—by the end of the day I will only have four of my looms threaded.


  1. I loved Journey of Souls, and the sequel to it. I tend to think of it as nonfiction myself, and it raises some intriguing questions. Plus, when I have "issues" with someone, now I tend to think of them as members of my soul group who are here to help me learn something. :-) Loved the weaving metaphor in your post, too.

  2. once at KCAI I wove silk fabric that someone mistook for burlap.