A Kahlil Gibran and Joni Mitchell Christmas

 

Joni Mitchell

“And then a scholar said, Speak of Talking.
And he answered, saying:
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings
but cannot fly.
 
There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape.
And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.
In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.
 
When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.
Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;
For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered
When the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more.”
~Kahlil Gibran ‘The Prophet’

The presents glistened in glossy wrapping paper beneath the perfectly decorated tree. Each present was wrapped and with a bow to match, tags denoting to and from. A fire was lit, lapping happily at the seasoned wood in the grate. Yet it was such a quiet house. It was such a quiet house for Christmas Eve. I told my mother I would attend church for Christmas, she and I had a discussion the day before on religion.

My mother laid out her beliefs, that even growing up as a child in a home without God and his teachings, she always believed there was something more. She always knew that god existed. I listened to her tell her story and was silent for a moment, and ever so gently issued a reply. I think that I was always searching for the truth, even as a child I didn’t really believe what they told me about, the bible, the resurrection, all of these things that didn’t make sense. In a way I always doubted the existence of god, and my supposed belief as a child was more like acquiescence. I would love to have faith in a higher being, something to prove that I’m not alone, that there’s order to the universe. Instead I look to the universe around me, nature is just as awe inspiring and beautiful without God. As are we and our experiences on earth. My mother pursed her lips and then gave a small smile.

I put on my best dress, and my nice shoes, did my hair and went to mass. The familiar cadence of Venite Adoramus echoed through the coat room, and we took our seats. It wasn’t so bad as I remembered I thought, and I had missed it in a way, I missed the community, and the songs, and the vision of peace it brought. I did not miss God, though, that much I knew. As the mass continued, my favorite part of mass came up. “Peace be with you” I said to the woman behind me, and then to her small son in a sweater vest. I gave both of my parents a kiss and a hug. This has always been my favorite part of mass. It calls upon the very foundation of the christian faith- peace. Everything was going fine, until it was time for the homily. The priest’s tirade against alternative people, religions, etc and what made people good had my knuckles going white. Luckily mass ended without me jumping up and screaming that he was a liar and they were all fools.

We drove home and I put on my christmas pajamas that my sisters and I had opened together earlier in the day, both of them on skype. I did miss them terribly, I even missed the husbands. It was well past one am, when I got on the couch and asked my father to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. As was the family tradition. I held his hand so that he wouldn’t feel lonely without my sisters there. Afterwards I gave each of my parents a kiss and a merry christmas.

Christmas morning dawned, the excitement of presents hanging in the air. Books and notebooks were laying all about my stocking. A new Moleskine, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I even got a new laptop from my parents. It was awfully nice of them. We skyped my two sisters later in the afternoon and opened our presents from them. My eldest sister Katie’s presents got here yesterday. The presents I sent them haven’t even gotten there yet. Emily got me stationary, thank goodness, and a whole bunch of groovy LP’s. But Christmas was quiet. I tried my best to be overjoyed and grateful, and full of life and attention for my parents. But it was hard and empty. Somehow we have survived Christmas without my sisters. I hope we don’t have to do that again next year. Katie also got me a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s the prohpet, along with an awesome mix CD.

I feel as if Kahlil Gibran was able to write most of the advice that people need to live happy lives in this one volume.

I got many glorious presents. Sweaters, and jackets, clothes, make up, books and films. I love presents and always have, the surprise, the wonder, the thoughtfulness or thoughtlessness. Seeing who got what for whom. I have a child like glee that creeps up on me christmas eve, steals my sleep, and opens my eyes in the morning. This morning however, and this Christmas eve, I was tired. There were new games and old games to play, music and movies, but my sisters weren’t here to share them. There were supplies to bake cookies and ham and turkey and potatoes and cake, but no one to bake with, no one to eat with. “But it doesn’t matter. when you’re the last lizard.” (Last Life in the Universe)

Despite all of this though, I am grateful, and fairly content. I have people who love me in my life, and people whom I love. Though we’re apart, though we have changed over years, we still love each other and always will. Thank you for this life, Providence. Thank you for the love.

Happy Holidays comrades.

xoxoxo

Gluhwein and Snow

Leaving the chaotic conundrum of university I went home fully expecting to sober up, and live a few weeks in relative solitude. My mother had set up for me to be the hostess with the mostest for a University-aged child party for all of us who are on the army base for Christmas holidays in the middle of southern Germany with no friends. I already had a couple aquaintances on the street, but most of them were busy with family time while here, or with their own lives, or too scared to ask their parents if they could go out to a bar, when they’re under 21, but of legal age here in Germany. So I made some kickass Gluhwein, store bought meatballs, and queso with tortilla chips, I also bought a liberal amount of beer and wine. A brother and sister down the street came first, they have just moved in, and they’re awesome. When everyone got here, which ended up being about 10 people, we all got introduced, and I doled out the gluhwein. It went so fast! a whole pot full was gone in less than an hour. The beer remained predominantly untouched. The general consensus is that it was the best qluhwein ever. Here’s the recipe:

large amount of really cheap red wine
apple juice
1 orange
whole cloves
cinnamon
nutmeg
(Mulling spices. any mixture will do)
Vanilla extract
Cranberry Schnapps
Directions: over medium to low heat mix juice, wine and spices in a large pot. Cut orange half into slices, squeeze the other half into the mixture. Add a few liberal tablespoons of vanilla. Let it warm until its steaming but do not allow to boil (you don’t want to lose the alcohol!) Portion a shot of cranberry schnapps into each mug and serve with the wine.

I was lucky then to have made better aquaintance with people I already knew on the street and new aquaintances.  The brother and sister are awesome, i wish they were in my family. Since the party I’ve seen someone on the street and hung out with them every day except for Christmas. And we all keep on organizing and involving others on the street for our own activities, we had a snowball fight, and sledding, I even went skiing.

In trying to ski, I was a complete idiot. I had barely learned to put my boots in my skis when I decided that the best way to learn would be to go off on my own and just try to go down the slope. How hard could it be? I watched six year olds wizzing past and an old man that glided, easier than breathing. It was not my brightest idea ever. I went up the pulley and stood at the top of the hill thinking – maybe this wasn’t such a good idea- eventually I shoved off, elated for the first few feet and then terrified as I face plowed the snow. I scrabbled for my poles, and got myself up. This was repeated three times before I even got a quarter of the way down the hill. At some point I accidentally had one of my skis twisted the wrong way round and I started to go backwards down the hill. I decided falling would be better than tearing all of the ligaments in my knee, so I went down, and lost my poles again. A young german man grabbed one and handed it to me, and with consternation, amusement and concern started talking to me in German. All I could say was Danke, and sprechen sie english?Luckily he did,  he then proceeded to help me down the hill, and was a bit incredulous at the fact that I would even try to do such a thing, everyone I talked to was. I’ve always been impatient, some people mistake this for bravery.  Bit by bit he helped me down the hill, though my knee was still in pain from twisting my skis, I managed to ski for the last quarter of the slope without falling, and then fell again, trying not to hit people. I kept laughing at myself. I then decided I would walk that last ten or twenty feet, took off my skies, declined the offer for drinks, and thanked him profusely. I did not try to go down the slope again. My knee and my ankle were in a lot of pain (my knee is still sore) but not so bad that I thought I needed medical attention. With motrin and some ice it’s been doing fine. 

 I’ve always wanted to try skiing. The fact of the matter is,there are so many things I haven’t tried yet, I’m young still, and there’s so much time, and there’s so much I want to do. I have a list of things I want to do before I die. and skiing was one of them. Maybe next winter I’ll take a lesson or two and try to ski again. This season, I think I’ve gotten my fair share of eating snow- it didn’t help that I went down the wrong slope either (the one intended for experts).

I should be writing my Literature Essay but…

what should I write about?

Should I write about what metaphors, similes, alliterative speeches lend themselves to Shakespeare’s poetry? Should I expostulate the number of words in Shakespeare’s time to form a contrast and thus explain the ambiguity of the words? What would be worthwhile to read? 1500 words to kill a story, as the saying goes, or rather, as I say now. It only takes fifteen hundred words to kill a story, rather than to let it fly. You should let poetry rest on your tongue, let its poignancy fill you, but all anyone seems to want to do is to tie it up and torture a confession out of it.

What will it confess? It will say, ‘I am letters on a page’, it will say ‘see how my vowel sounds repeat?’ it will show ‘see my metaphors, my similes, my foreshadowing, my dramatic irony?’ You will nod your head and say, yes, yes, that’s what it means, that’s the means to meaning. But its a lie, its a lie. The truth is what you’ve already read.

Let poetry melt on your tongue, let the flavours lay themselves on your palette, let it insinuate itself into your senses. It is a part of you because it is completed by you, what you believe it is. There’s no reason to do what we are taught to do, to dissect and perfect and reject. Instead let the words drop like coins into the cannister of your brain. Let them rest in their beds and gently gaze upon their faces. Don’t shake them from their slumber and force them to look you in the eyes.

Resurrection of Laughter

The newly printed copy of my essay was pressed against my chest protectively, as snow in whimsical spirals fluttered to the ground. It felt like Christmas, drunken students from the bar had started an impromptu snowball fight in the square, shouts and exclamations echoing off of the concrete buildings. Laughter, for absolutely no reason but the sheer joy of snow, came bubbling from my chest. It felt unnatural, so I continued to do it. It came out, so loud, so strange. The resurrection of laughter came from my ragged lips. I mean to practice it more.

For nearly the first time, I am forcing myself to face my fears. It seems so strange, but my greatest fear is sucess, and routine, and ordinary life. So I have to allow myself to admit these fears, and to further chase away all of the doubts. For with the fear of sucess, comes the knowledge of sucess and thus the fear of failure. I am afraid that I won’t live up to my own expectations if I set myself goals. I am afraid also that these goals will own me and I will not be able to free myself of them, to be the gypsy I know whose blood boils in me.

So this Essay, clutched to my chest and shaped to its warm smoothness under the jacket, is a talisman of change. And each word that I write for each class is another step towards the realization of all of my dreams that I never dared to take a step towards.

Thank you,

life,

providence,

chance,

chaos,

for this chance, this moment,

this glorious mind.

Thank you for the snow that has caused a child-like joy to glow in my bosom.

Thank you my lady life,

for coming back to me.

With love to you, my comrades of the great wide world.

Sincerely,

Abigail The Brave

Gallery

Etsy Shop Updated

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My English Garden Series and Fairy Series are now for sale in my Etsy Shop. http://www.etsy.com/shop/SparrowRags

Aside

 

My First Loaf

Who was the first person to come up with bread? Was it an accident? Was it experimentation? Was it born of necessity or excess? One can guess that perhaps bread, much like cured meat, lasted longer than its fresh and raw grain form, thus providing food in the winter. Bread has been a staple food dating as far back as ancient Egypt, showing up in heiroglyphics, even having preserved loaves show up in tombs. In the old testament they talk about the making of the bread, when a substance called ‘barm’ was added to make the dough rise, now we use yeast. Apparently the Romans even made a specific class for the Bakers, being all free men, which were not allowed to go to shows or gladitorial events so they weren’t tainted and thus wouldn’t taint the bread. Interesting stuff huh? Apparently yeast was originally made by the fermented hops of beer (ooooh), but our contemporary pre-packaged yeast comes from a whiskey distiller. Yeast itself is its own plant. In any case, it makes the bread rise, and oh how we love it.

Crunchy/chewy crust, moist, warm, fluffy center, what smells, tastes, looks better than fresh bread? I, personally love it. So over the weekend when visiting my boyfriend’s parents, the lovely Cath and Dave, I asked Dave to teach me how to make bread. He showed me, I paid attention, Cath had my arms filled to the brim with yummy cookies, and a bread maker. I came back to my dormitory flat kitchen, after a long day of looking at the Norwich Cathedral, and I decided to make bread. I remembered most of what Dave had shown me, but I was unsure of myself. I put the oven to 50ºc for swift and strong rising, as he had shown me. Here are the ingredients:

2 cups strong flour

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp butter

1 packet yeast

3/4 cup water

and now for the secret ingredient… which I have never even heard of before…

UNFLAVOURED CRUSHED VITAMIN C TABLET

Crazy huh? but trust me, it works.

Mix dry ingredients (including the vitamin C) together with the butter. Add water little by little until dough forms into a sticky yet cohesive ball. cover said ball and bowl in a light towel or plastic wrap. Place in 50° c oven, leave door slightly ajar. Let rise for 45 minutes, or until dough is roughly double its original size.

Then proceed to knead the dough until the dough goes from tough to soft, knead it into a loaf shape, bringing the edges of the former ball onto one side (seam). Grease a pan or cookie sheet with oil. Place loaf on cookie sheet, seam side down. Cover and allow to rise for fifteen minutes. It should have risen to roughly a little less than double its size. Gently, and not deeply, cut small lines into the top of your loaf, this will make it easier to cut when its done baking. Set your oven on 220°c, put loaf back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow your loaf to cool for 3-5 minutes.

How to tell when your loaf is done: Use your knuckles to gently knock on the bottom side (pan side) of your loaf. If you hear a firm sound on the middle and sides then your loaf is done, if it isn’t done just put it back in the oven for five minutes.

This is the first time I have ever made a loaf of bread on my own. Dave taught me well, because quite frankly it was delicious. And looked and smelled amazing.

My first loaf of Bread.

Bake on Comrades!

Untitled Poem

I don’t know what you’ve done to me
I feel a bit tearful when you say
‘Good Night Baby’
on the other side of the phone,
as if not speaking to you is painful,
as if you’re the only other person
in the world.

I am a sparrow;
I’m such a frothy, flighty, creature
Yet in this cage you’ve built with me
I feel more at peace than ever-
If using relativity.

The depth of pain that has
so often sought to destroy me,
lingers far behind my conscious
mind.

You are the light bulb
to my moth,
I am warmed by your
yellow light,
knowing full well what
I must sacrifice,
But knowing that
it’s worth it-
Just to be in your light

As I hope, my love,

my light is to you.

~Abigail R. Godfrey

With love comrades.