In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cast Iron


September has brought many changes into my life. I’ve moved in with my brother who lives in Bellingham’s wonderful Broadway Park neighborhood, in my search for work. It’s a temporary situation that I secretly hope will last longer than expected because I’m falling in love with the area! Visiting with my nephews, all three under the age of ten, is also invigorating! Children bring out a young energy in us that as adults we too often neglect. Their sweet smiles and giggles warm up my bones!

Living with family members also tends to bring up some nostalgic feelings. During my first morning at my brother’s house, walking into his kitchen, my eyes immediately noticed the two beautiful cast iron skillets sitting inside of one another on his stove. They were black, bumpy and well seasoned. Many of my family members keep well seasoned cast iron skillets in their kitchens. Seeing the skillets reminded me of a evening from my childhood. Sitting on a kitchen stool watching “the adults” clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, talking and joking with each other in good holiday merriment. However, when it came time to season the cast iron the conversation got heated:

“It's OK to use a little hot water and soap to clean it now and then. Sometimes I give mine a salt n’ herb rub with some cooking oil.”

“NO! Water should never touch the skillet. Rubbed with olive oil on a paper towel while it’s still hot, inside and out. That is all it needs!”

“I use only bacon grease to season my skillets. It’s the only way. Sometimes I’ll heat up water in the pan while it’s still on the stove to get off any stubborn stuck-ons before I rub ‘em.”

Because it was my Aunt Joann's kitchen the skillets were seasoned per her method: an olive oil rub with a paper towel.

Cast iron skillets have several attributes that have caused them to be a favorite in many home and professional kitchens. When properly seasoned and maintained they have a natural non-stick coating, enhance the flavor of the food and last over a hundred years. It’s not too uncommon to find them in antique stores, although smart buyers snatch them up quickly. Talking with the owner of the store and asking to be on a call back list if a skillet comes in is one way to insure you get one.

For the past three weeks I’ve used his skillets to make many different dishes: scrambled eggs, beef stir fry, and caramelizing garlic and onions for spaghetti. “Man I love this skillet!” I thought to myself. However, I never purchased my own skillet. While wondering WHY I never purchased one, it hit me- people are seasoned skillets. You can’t deny the fact that life does season us up.

Life experiences good and bad have seasoned my mind and spirit so that when the trials of life come by I’m able to sauté them up processing them properly, the bad “stuck-ons” no longer sticking to my consciousness, following me around like a constant reminder of failure or shortcomings, the good left over flavor sinking into the pores of my very being. Just how my relative’s each have a custom way of seasoning their cookware, so do we season our hearts and minds. No matter what process we use preventing RUST is the main purpose of our efforts. Rust, given sufficient time, oxygen and water will convert any iron mass entirely to rust and disintegrate it. The toughest of metals iron and steel can get corroded. Rust in our heart can make us cold and callus.

During this time of transition I will try to keep myself “well seasoned”. Perhaps that means taking a good walk, having some quiet time with a book, or attending a play. Wiping off the day’s events with a good olive oil rub, preparing my mind for what’s to come.

***

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Poetry: Droplet


Sitting with a warm cup
sipping down the chamomile
looking up in awe
at the droplets fall

Abstract cutouts of dark trees
create the stage
so I can view you
descending from a silvery cloud

What of that one drop?
Where were you born?
You came from the sky
riding on a morning storm

Where do you live?
You go into the earth
watering a tree
Do you live in the tree?

Where is your home?
In the river as it
slithers back into the ocean
Do you live in the river?

Evaporated by the suns warmth
shrinking you down to mist
floating up to heaven
Are you dying or going home?

Back to the cloud you go
rising up and reborn
only to fall again
when a rain drop you become

Where do you live rain drop?
in the cloud
in the tree
in the river
...in me.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cell Division


Cell Division is an important part of life, literately, and it’s also a great name for a rock band. Every living thing is made from cells. Cell division is the process that cells go through in order to divide; division equals growth and LIFE. Sounds repetitive but rather simple, no pun intended.


Currently I am going through a cell division of my own. I’m not gaining weight, but rather experiencing growth of the cognitive kind. The little creative cells inside my id and imagination are growing and bubbling with life- to the point of division. It’s not that much different than giving birth. In the case of babies of course it takes TWO people to make one. In regards to the creative process, ONE person creates, creates and creates some more! Duplicating themselves into their medium whatever it may be. When an artist is not creating they are thinking about creating; it’s a love affair of sorts.

Each and every cell in your body contains a complete set of DNA, the double helix. Our bodies are just a collection of cells. “All DNA here on this planet is exactly the same, just put together differently. All life is not far removed from itself.” to quote my husband Christopher the Ecologist.

Cells may divide for several reasons, and there are two types of cell division depending on the purpose. The cell division associated with sexual reproduction is one type, called meiosis. The other type, the cell division associated with growth and cell replacement or repair, is called mitosis. In both types of cell division, the nucleus splits and DNA is replicated. Think about that moment, that moment right before division. Life bursting and bubbling up inside you, the cell, frothing out copies of bits of your DNA, until the fully cloned strand is complete, and then BOOM! Your brush hits the canvas; you type a word, or sing a note! Creativity is born!

Yellow Brick Road
In addition to dividing I’m also traveling; moving away from my Madrona Grove and into the medium size city by the bay that is Bellingham. Hopefully the ever powerful “luvs” that I get from my Madronas will be with me as I travel, much like the way the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Lion traveled with Dorothy on her venture to OZ. Will the love from the island help and encourage me while I travel into the unknown lands of lighted intersections and malls? Will the resident orca families remind me that it’s not ok to mix jeans with skirts, as so many B’ham women do? “Keep it simple, Shannon!” they might shout out to me as they swim away in their black and white attire. Will the Island Rock that I love so much help me to stand off the urge to have an affair with my yoga instructor or the McDonald’s drive through?
 …sigh… A new world full of new temptations and opportunities.


They say the first step is the hardest. Why? Because it usually involves a life changing decision. Change is stressful and a bit scary. I say the first step is the most exciting part of any venture. Taking a step, making a commitment, moving forward using all your breath, to steal a phrase, is refreshing. It is what life is all about- life is cell division!