Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Lusty Month of May

April 25 marked the new moon in the Mating Moon. This is the time of year when the birds are birding, the bees are beeing and the blooms are blooming all over the place. You can't walk out the door without some natural being shoving it's idea of sex in your face - cherry blossoms, singing robins, floating crane flies and wildflowers galore.

"The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May."- Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur
Living, as I do, in a culture with such schizophrenic ideas about sex I am always a bit conflicted in talking about the topic. Sexy women's bodies are used to sell everything from cars to cold medicine, our schools are pressured to teach abstenence only sex education, our young adults feel free to have promiscuous sex but our culture doesn't support women who stumble upon the natural conclusion of all that sex. What's a girl to do about sex?

"What is so sweet and dear
As a prosperous morn in May,
The confident prime of the day,
And the dauntless youth of the year,
When nothing that asks for bliss,
Asking aright, is denied,
And half of the world a bridegroom is,
And half of the world a bride?"
- William Watson, Ode in May, 1880

One thing to do about sex is think about the greater cosmic powers at play. Sex is about pleasure and partnership, yes, but it is at it's heart about creation. It is about two opposite forces coming together and from their swirling energy creating something new. Weather comes from the opposing forces of heat and cold, our bodies from the opposing forces of building and breaking down and babies from the opposing forces of male and female. Without the opposition we'd have cancer, deserts and barrenness. Ideas are usually born out of opposing forces as well. One of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt, was greatly influenced by both his European predecssors and the new artistic ideas coming out of the Orient at the time he was actively working. With the meshing of the two ideas he created something new and exciting.

It is through the creative processes of these opposing forces that all things are created. I'm growing a garden for the first time in many years and am enjoying watching my little plants grow. Just as I am working on growing my lettuces and peas I'm also setting up a composting system. I will eventually need to replenish my soil and that require the breaking down of nutrients and decomposing of plant life.
"The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh."
- Philip Larkin, The Trees

Get out there and see creation this month. Take a walk and count how many flowers you can see. Watch the trees shoot forth their leaves and notice the pollen on your windshield or on the surface of a puddle. What are you creating in your life this month?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Courting Moon - I took a break!

Ooohkay... I'm back. The moon that was full on April 9 was the Courting Moon in Annette Hinshaw's calendar. The Courting Moon is an intercalary moon, a month that doesn't occur every year. The energies of the Courting Moon are that of time out of time and re-creating through recreation. I didn't feel bad about taking the month off blogging.

An intercalary month is necessary in this calendar because the 365 days of the solar year don't divide perfectly by the 29 days of a lunar month. There is always some left over days and the months tend to creep around the year. If you want your month names to coincide with seasons then you have to do something to get them back on track and an intercalary period is usually that something. The Romans had an intercalary period just before the beginning of their year in March and the Hebrew calendar had a provision for a leap month if the month of Adar was finished but the barley was not yet ripe. The Bahai calendar has 4 or 5 intercalary days every year that are set aside as a time of feasting, hospitality and giving presents. Even our solar calendar (with months based on a lunar calendar, but no longer connected to the moon) has an intercalary day every four years because the solar year is actually 365.25 days long.

Annette Hinshaw points us to the energies of recreating through recreation during this extra month. She asks us to look at how we spend our time and think about whether we feel energized by our activities or drained. I've been feeling tired and rushed again this last month and so have been trying to find a rhythm to my days and weeks to get control again. In her book Slow Time, Waverley Fitzgerald discusses how we have come to be controlled by time rather than use it or move within it. She provides words and activities to help the reader understand their relationship with time and wrest control of their time from the dominant cultural paradigm. One of my favorite ideas of hers it to use the word "life" every time you want to use the word "time." Instead of saying "I don't have enough time for that" you would say "I don't have enough life for that." Try it - it will change the way you look at your priorities.

One of the things I don't seem to have enough life for these days is cooking dinner every night. This is a drag because eating real food is a priority of mine and I take a lot of pleasure out of cooking. So last weekend I made enough macaroni and cheese to feed an army - or at least myself for the whole week.

Cook's Illustrated Macaroni and Cheese for an Army

1 lb elbow macaroni
2 cups frozen peas
6 tbs butter
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 tbs flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb shredded sharp cheddar
1 lb shredded colby jack
crispy topping of your choice

*Cook elbow macaroni in a large pot of salted water. When the pasta is almost done add the peas and bring everything back to a boil. Drain in a colander and set aside.

*Wipe the pot dry and melt the butter. Add the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant. Add the flour and stir to combine over medium low heat. Cook for a couple minutes or until the flour is not longer raw tasting. Add the milk and stock, turn the heat up and stir until well combined. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and bubbly. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cheese. Then stir in the pasta with peas.

*Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan (or two 8x8 pans or three loaf pans) and top with the crispy topping of your choice. Bake 20-30 minutes until bubbly and browned. Eat all week, maybe with greens or a salad. Maybe not.

How you deal with time in your life? How do you use vacations, weekends or other "time out of time" periods to either further your life goals or squander them? How do you make sure you have enough time/life for everything you want to do?