Apparently, I can’t write The Kale Chronicles right now: I can’t finish a painting. I cook very little and whatever I’ve cooked I’ve blogged about before. I cook oatmeal with milk in the morning for breakfast before I take the bus to downtown Berkeley to sing in the BART station. I eat leftovers for lunch. Mom has been cooking more and more since my brother Bryan moved in with us in July.
Bryan eats only fish, chicken and poultry in the animal kingdom. We recently bought a cheap supermarket turkey. Bryan prefers white meat so I took the dark meat and made turkey-apple stew, which I usually make post-Thanksgiving. What else have I made recently? Only gingerbread, adapted from Mollie Katzen’s recipe in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. When Mom said twice in five minutes that she thought butter was wasted in gingerbread I substituted coconut oil to please her and I used buttermilk because our yogurt had turned funny colors. We ate all of the gingerbread.
What am I doing? I am cranking out words for NaNoWriMo 2012, often at 5:30 in the morning. I leave the house at 7:15 every weekday to sing in the Berkeley BART station, playing for tips. I get home before 11 AM. Sometimes I write then if I have slept late. Then there is that lunch, whatever is around — leftover turkey enchiladas, leftover turkey-vegetable soup, leftover pasta.
Yesterday afternoon I reorganized my bookshelves after Bryan installed a new double shelf for me: it took three hours to shift all of the books around twice. Yesterday evening I went back down to Berkeley to sing a song with my friend Carol to celebrate the victory of common sense over Measure S. a ballot measure that made it illegal to sit on the sidewalks of Berkeley. Then I returned books to the library, practiced a song I’m trying to learn to play for a few minutes and fell into bed with a book, nodding off to Anne Lamott’s always-entertaining prose.
Last week I worked a sixteen-hour day on Election Day, which rewarded me by hurting my back, leaving me unable to sit, paint or lie down: all I could do was walk or stand for a few days, take hot baths to loosen my back muscles long enough for me to get to sleep. That is past now, but I am woefully behind on my reading, writing and painting.
I am wondering if the blog has come to the end of its useful life. I will not make a decision about it this week. I am always worried that I will run out of recipes because, in reality, I cook the same things over and over and, right now, I am cooking from a limited palette of what is around the house and what Mom brings in from Canned Foods Grocery Outlet and Smart and Final. This is what happens to people who cannot afford to buy fresh, seasonal food. I never thought I would be in that category and I don’t expect to spend the rest of my life in it.
We have some produce: we bought five limes yesterday and I scavenged a pomegranate from the Election Day goodies. The tree in the front yard produces Meyer lemons and we have a bowl of our own apples sitting on the counter. I have been more than six weeks without my beloved farm box and I miss it but can’t pony up the twenty dollars a week it would take to receive organic produce again. As the weeks pass I think, “Maybe next month.” “Maybe in January.”
I am sure that many of you know what it means to fall behind financially. I track every penny of spending and income. I don’t buy much — bus and BART tickets, the occasional coffee when I need to meet someone in a public place. Soon I will need a pair of shoes.
But I met with someone today who may help me find writing students and I sang at the Farmers’ Market this weekend and my back is better so I will table big decisions for a bit and keep on keeping on in some fashion until I have clarity on what to do next.
Painting Notes: Meet “The Emperor’s New Painting” (There’s nothing there).