Friday, August 14, 2009

What Am I About?

When a man is in earnest and knows what he is about, his work is half done.

My trouble is, I don't know what I am about. Or as we moderns would say, I lack focus. Some days the thousand details to be seen to, the hundred or so projects unfinished, don't bother me. But today is another matter.

Maybe I am in transition from a heavy thinking period into a time when I need to attend more to housework and at least a couple of those tangible projects. The philosophical questions, and the writing projects--I assure you, just cranking out a few good paragraphs for this blog is a Project-- can wait. It occurred to me that I should shut just down the computer for a spell, but then I remembered that if I write even a few words on the subject, it will help me come to grips with my "problem." And in the process, I'll share a few things from my week, somewhat haphazardly.

I recently started a new project, just to make things more difficult. A baby quilt for which there is a deadline, of course. Deadlines are just a facet of time, and time is not a bad thing. Christ sanctified time, if that were needed--and I don't want to start thinking too much here!--when He entered it. So time, and deadlines, are all part of being human, and I mean that in a good way, as Christ was The Human. He had a deadline, the cross, but He never hurried or fretted.

This photo is one of two baby quilts I've made, both more than twenty years ago! I don't want to show you the fabric for the current one yet, because I want it to be at least partly a surprise.

The photo of melon and blueberries is a beautiful image, yes? Those two just seemed to belong together. But it was an idea based solely on the visual sense, and failed completely when tested by the tongue. The honeydew was SO yummy by itself, and the blueberries were perfectly sweet and distincti
ve in that flavor that blueberries have. But together they clashed, or rather, the honeydew completely ruined the blueberries, and you wouldn't know by that bowlful of color that blueberries were anything but flat and sour at the same time.

The fruit bowl surprise ties in to another somewhat philosophical point--about our western emphasis of the visual-- that will have to wait. If I ever get back to that part of what I am about I'll post the picture again. It's pretty enough for a repeat.

There are two types of basil at left. The green one is growing in my garden, and the purple-tinged bunch was given to me by K.

I washed it and spun it dry and did make pesto, though she wasn't sure the flavor would be right. "Everyone" has a pesto recipe so I am not going to post mine. I got it about 30 years ago from a weekly very small-town newspaper, a recipe from a local woman who used sunflower seeds instead of nuts. Since then I have adapted and changed the recipe and switched to walnuts and then pine nuts and back again.

Pesto is infinitely variable. Depending on what you are going to do with it you might want to use more olive oil--or butter, as an Italian lady I knew used to do--to make it more runny. You might like to add some parsley or use toasted almonds as the last recipe I looked at did.

This time I was putting it on toast. We thought the flavor was outstanding. And just for good measure, I'll show you the pan of zucchini I served that night.

I've lately noticed a phenomenon repeated from the past: one spends so much time cultivating the vegetables that it's hard to get back in the house to cook them into the dinner. B. used to come out in the garden looking for me, asking if there was a plan for dinner that night?

Today I knew what I was about when I did my gardening in the morning! Tonight I will be ready.

I watered the vegetables and made a second picking of Blue Lake beans--wait! Do those look like Blue Lakes? You're right, most of them certainly do not. A few, from last year's seeds, are true to type, but my packet was mislabeled. The beans I am getting are mostly sticky, coarse and with a flat profile. They will probably have a bean-y taste, if they resemble Romanos across the board.

Hmm...another surprise in life. If you can't get what you like, you have to like what you get. I'll just slather them with pesto and everyone will love them.

Anyway, the green bean tower-tepee looks pretty, especially with that Celtic cross my friend H. gave me in the background.

This last picture is of my favorite flowers this summer, some nasturtiums and lobelia in a big pot that was a bargain at Food Maxx of all places. Year after year I try to get new varieties of nasturtiums to grown from seeds or plants in many places all over the garden, but they never take. Instead, the standard variety keeps growing in the cracks in the concrete around the pool pump where no one sees it.
So this year I put two healthy starts in a pot, and with more TLC they are thriving. I'm wondering if I should place the pot over against the fence and encourage some seeds to self-sow in the ground...
Now for a closing thought, before I leave you to attend to the other kind of work--or toil:
Toil is man's allotment; toil of brain, or toil of hands, or a grief that's more than either, the grief and sin of idleness. --Herman Melville


Pom Pom said...

I like Melville's words. It almost seems too simple, doesn't it? I do not regulate my thinking time and I often wonder if I'd drive myself crazy, left to myself with no distractions. Would I ever get enough of it? One summer, Bill and Jeff were in Asia for a month and Jenny had a boyfriend that she wanted to spend too much time with. I started to feel a little sick of my thoughts, but most of the time I don't know when to jump back in unless I have to. So, the Lord's grace unto me = I have to.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I always read them carefully.

Anonymous said...

All the best with the baby blanket, Gretchen - the earlier one is a work of art!

I'm afraid I've no idea about the red berries -I've seen them before in a few gardens, but have never found the name. I love their colour, though!

Anita said...

I discovered your blog quite by accident and love the vibrant colors, the recipes and thoughtful essays that make me think.
Thank you,

Gretchen Joanna said...

Anita, thank you for your kind comment. I just visited your blog and when I read that you like the book Mrs. Mike it made me remember that I loved that book when I read it so long ago, but I had completely forgotten it.
I love the name of your blog. I wanted to leave a comment there, but for some reason I am always prevented when the comments format is the way yours is. If you change it to pop-up format it will work for more people.