Tag Archives: work

Rolled up like a cat.

DON’T ALLOW THE LUCID MOMENT TO DISSOLVE

Don’t allow the lucid moment to dissolve
Let the radiant thought last in stillness
though the page is almost filled and the flame flickers
We haven’t risen yet to the level of ourselves
Knowledge grows slowly like a wisdom tooth
The stature of a man is still notched
high up on a white door
From far off, the joyful voice of a trumpet
and of a song rolled up like a cat
What passes doesn’t fall into a void
A stoker is still feeding coal into the fire
Don’t allow the lucid moment to dissolve
On a hard dry substance
you have to engrave the truth

-Adam Zagajewski
From Without End: New and Selected Poems.
Copyright © 2002

Translated by Renata Gorczynski

Not by singing and sitting.

GL P1020716
Getting the paths leveled and straight.

 

Gardens are not made by singing “Oh how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.
~Rudyard Kipling

What does make a garden is thinking and planning, digging and preparing good soil, marking out paths and providing for water.

You build any needed hardscape in the form of trellises or boxes, retaining walls, patios and paths.

GL P1020735
Fine craftsman installing the trellises that he made.

 

You get some plants and arrange them so that they are in the right relation to the other plants, and to the sunlight. You place them in the ground in such a way that their roots can spread out and take advantage of that good soil.

The paths here are made of three layers: a layer of weed cloth on the leveled soil, an inch or two of base rock on top of that, to be followed by a couple of inches of path mulch. Don’t ask me what that is, because I haven’t seen it yet; I am going on the recommendation of Landscape Lady who has it in her yard. The final layer of path will be the last step in the whole landscaping project.

I haven’t been doing much physical work, but I spend a lot of time sweeping and wiping the floors inside the house after I track in the clay mud. The other day after the paths got their layer of base rock, I realized that I was tracking the mud from the patio that hadn’t been swept in weeks, so I swept it. That was my contribution to progress. GLP1020753After the rock is smoothed out with a rake, it has to be tamped down by someone with muscle equal to all the pounding foot-by-foot until he has flattened all the paths very hard. The playhouse served as a coat rack, and the snowball bush gleamed on the afternoon.GLP1020749Today was the big day when the first of the plants went in, most of the dononea or hop-bushes along the fences. I could have helped with this if I hadn’t been running to the store or in the kitchen for those hours, making a very involved meal for a new mom. I did dash outside a few times to take pictures. Today it was the womenfolk, Landscape Lady herself and her assistant. GL P1020778They lovingly and carefully put the bushes in their new home, and then I sang,
“Oh, how beautiful!”

We make festival.

GGL coffee

 

My parish puts on a huge international food festival every year in September. I’ve written about it before, I think. We have to start baking and doing other kinds of preparations months ahead.

 

 

GGL IMG_0207baked crp
GGL IMG_0247 roll Gk crop

Earlier in the summer when Maggie was visiting we worked together at church on one of the cookie-baking projects, the Rainbow Chocolate Chip. Another week I helped make the Greek twisty cookies.

GGL IMG_0252 GK baked crp

I always enjoy working on church projects like this, where I am on an assembly line and can chat and get to know people a little better. It’s not stressful when someone else has the recipe and the system all figured out and I can just do as I’m told.

GGL green bean prep 2015

 

 

When the date of our event drew closer I went one day to cut up green beans for more than three hours; these would go into my favorite dish that we sell, Serbian Green Beans. The blanched beans are mixed with garlic-laden, buttered bread crumbs, then topped with sour cream and heated in the oven for about 20 minutes. Most of that process happens just before they are served steaming hot.

 

 

GGL P1010592 cabbage 2015

That prep day we were also making Sarma, which are stuffed cabbage rolls; the recipe includes a bit of sauerkraut, and the picture below shows the total amount that was needed. Actually, one gallon had already gone into the kitchen before I took the picture.

GGL P1010588sauerkraut

GGL IMG_0682

 

Just one day before, my friend Diane came with me and we offered our four helping hands. So many tasks had to wait until this day, such as cutting up vegetables for the kabobs, and stirring the Eritrean stews.

 

 

 

 

 

GGL IMG_0679

Year after year I notice how happy everyone seems to be, getting our party together, even if they are awfully tired by the end of it. We all see it as an expression of love to our community; if it were merely a fund-raiser I’m sure we couldn’t drum up enough energy for it. But it’s been going on for more than 25 years and a lot of people now look forward to the food, the music and dancing, and the joy.

GGL Glendi dance (2)

GGL IMG_0686

That last day Diane and I ended up sitting at a table where we made finishing cuts to endless sheets of baklava and placed the diamonds carefully into individual serving trays. Some people avoid this job, because it is messy, but there are plenty of little broken corners to snack on while you work, so if you like baklava….well, come to think of it, that might be another reason to avoid that job.

My job on the festival day was not to work in a food or craft booth, or the beer garden or the children’s area, but to mind the bookstore – I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone. I served several hours, and then I had a hard time dragging myself away, even though I did need a rest.

It was time for Vespers, which was the perfect thing to restore the soul that might be weary. After that I was looking around for a particular old friend I wanted to talk to, and I discovered her in the Eritrean tea and coffee tent, which I didn’t even know existed, maybe because it was tucked in a corner behind the main Eritrean booth.

GGL P1010684 Eritrean tea-coffee 2015

The woman who made tea for me was burning frankincense while she told another customer that this event is the thing she most looks forward to all year. Her colleague explained that the whole reason we make this offering of our time and effort is to express the harmony that we in our church share.

That is just what I was feeling.

Collis thinks on the land.

The author of The Worm Forgives the Plough finds that hoeing is a fairly pleasurable sort of farm work, writing of it, “I have never since had a combination of similar qualities for softening the blows of monotony.” And yet…

This job, and the previous ones, brought me up against one of the fallacies concerning agricultural work held by the citizen of our mean cities. It is supposed that ‘on the land’ you have ‘time to think’, and that conditions are such that the mind can indulge quietly in wise expansive meditations in the open air. Certainly the place to think is the open air. But not during work.

To be able to think consecutively about anything you must concentrate, and there are few jobs on the land that you can do so automatically as to be free to really think. Perhaps hoeing should be one of these. For a short time it is. Then the body interferes with the mind. The back begins to ache. You become physically preoccupied. You become tired. And then the mind, instead of being able to concentrate upon something consecutively, indulges either in fatuous daydreams or nurses petty grievances or dwells upon the worst traits of one’s least pleasant friends.

At such times I have often been appalled at my mind and wondered if others could have such rotten ones. And if a Great Idea does descend, well, I stop working to take it in, and rest on my hoe, and look across the land (as a matter of fact, I don’t: I carefully gaze on the ground in case anyone is looking — for he who gazes towards the earth presents a less agriculturally reprehensible spectacle than he who looks toward heaven).

–John Stewart Collis in The Worm Forgives the Plough

Man-witha-hoe Millet

painting by Jean-François Millet