Reading in March


I know it's now May, but I'm a bit behind and determined to stick with my decision to review all that I read this year.

I finished three books in March. I used to read more. At times, I had to read more because it was required. But mostly I read more because I wanted.

I talk to some other Mama friends of mine and feel a bit sheepish that I am reading this much. More reading than writing.

I should be productive during Lotus Bud's naps, but she naps so late in the day I'm too tired to do anything else but read. Sometimes I think I don't mind getting sick because then I have an excuse to sit on the couch and read. Turn on some educational programming on PBS for the Lotus Bud and just sit back and read.

Here are some thoughts on March's reading list.


Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergehes
This one was recommended to me and I felt I had to race through it so that I could engage with the Mamas at the playground for discussion. Once I finished it I promptly made plans with the woman who had recommended it (Joy, the person) to double date, sans toddlers, out to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (*joy* the emotion).

It was wonderful reading about Indians in Ethiopia, life near the Entoto Mountain, and surgery (wha-at?) Yep, surgery. It was an entirely different thing that I struggled with while reading this book. One of the main characters shares the same name as my mother. I almost gave it up. It was almost too hard.

If I had, I would have missed this:
"Steam rises in plumes as Almaz clangs lids on and off the pots. The silver weight on the pressure cooker jiggles and whistles. Almaz's sure hands chop onions, tomatoes, and fresh coriander, making hillocks that dwarf the tiny mounds of ginger and garlic. She keeps a palette of spices nearby: curry leaves, turmeric, dry coriander, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seed, chili powder, all in tiny stainlesssteel bowls within a large mother platter. A mad alchemist, she throws a pinch of this, a fistful of than, then wets her fingers and flings that moisture into the mortar. She pounds with the pestle, the wet, crunchy thunk, thunk soon changes to the sound of stone on stone.

Mustard seeds explode in the hot oil. She holds a lid over the pan to fend off the missiles. Rat-a-tat! like hail on a tin roof. She adds the cumin seeds, which sizzle, darken, and crackle. A dry, fragrant smoke chases out the mustard scent. Only then are the onions added, handfuls of them, and now the sound is that of life being spawned in a primordial fire" (225).

I was reminded of my mother's cooking when I read those paragraphs. I was also reminded of my own. I felt proud to know my nose knows what it knows. As a ordinary home kitchen cook, I tell you, if you haven't already started training your nose to pick on the blended scents of spices - you should start now!

Now read this:
"I stepped out to the lawn. I remember air that night, and how it was so brisk that it could revive the dead. The fragrance of euclayptus stoking a home fire, the smell of wet grass, of dung fuel, of tobacco, of swamp air, and the perfume of hundreds of roses--this was the scent of Missing. No, it was the scent of the continent." (349)

Doesn't that make you want to jump right on a plane and go there? It sure does for me. Especially for that promise of a whiff of dung fuel. A peculiar and particular scent, isn't it?

But, if anything, these lines were what made the whole book worthwhile to me:
"She believed in every kind of deity, and in reincarnation and resurrection--she knew no contradictions in these areas" (648).

That, my friends, could have been written after looking in my own soul. Beautiful. And so perfect for this era, in this time when so many are searching for faith, or in search of something akin to faith, or just searching.

The Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler
For me, March was all about searching. It's that last month before Winter ends. It's typically full of neurosis, perhaps some depression, definitely yearning.

My search for a new relationship with cooking led me to Adler's book. She, in turn, got me intensely yearning for my CSA. This a book that has ended up on my kitchen shelf. It only has about a dozen or so recipes, but it is stocked full of thoughts and ideas and intuitions about ingredients, thrift, indulgence, and kitchen magic.

I am now cooking beans for the first time and cooking them with bold confidence. I am now using bits of stale ingredients and gathering cooking waters with abandon thus filling my belly (and soul) with rich ribbollita and luscious galette. All my bread making through the Winter has prepped me for crusts and at times, I even do gluten free. I feel well equipped to take on my CSA boxes with ingenuity and improvisation.

It's a hard book to describe and I have yet to entice someone to take it up.

If you're reading this and have read that book, then please, please, please, tell me about something you loved.

Manifesting Change by Mike Dooley
It's now April and I can tell you that the lessons I learned in this book have left me already. March was full of gratitude and all about manifesting change in my life. But now, the cooler temperatures have returned and I have been knocked off my ass by a severe ear infection. It's hard to think about gratitude and manifesting change in my life when I feel like someone is poking a knitting needle into my right ear.

That should not and will not stop me from returning to the style of gratitude practice and goal setting that Dooley proposes. I will still try.

I have to admit I was a bit bummed near the end when he discusses that the life possibilities are indeed limited by the particular matrix of one's life. Oh well. So much for that second home in the Caribbean. Or that killer writing career.

Nonetheless, like Hema in Vergese's book, I believe in all deities and faiths and spiritual paths and that means I will try various new-age-consciousness driven manifestations.

Om Shanti. Hallelujah. Amen. Blessed Be. Namaste Dawg!

Comments

  1. I remember the moment when I realized I would NEVER be a professional gymnast...I was too old (I was 13). Wrestling with limitation, particularly those brought about by wonderful yet limiting life choices...is something I've really struggled with--and continue to struggle with.

    I love the moment in Cutting For Stone when Hema announces that she is on maternity leave...and ponder it, given the above.

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