Healing Spaces

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

Some places make
for better healing spaces
out under the moon
in the first rays of
the days sunshine
in the shower
where my fears
run on forever
along with that
steady stream of water
then out they go through
the dime-sized copper pipes
and into the land if only for a
moment’s notice before rising
up again
I find a healing space
on the inside of a just
laundered sock
at the lip of a hot Mason jar
filled with tea
on the soft, forgiving face
of a yoga mat
at the tip of my tongue
when I am speaking
the truth
in the warm embrace
of a familiar loved one
I find a healing space in
dreaming
creating
accepting
allowing and
holding back
I find a healing space in
kissing and
licking
cooking
cleaning
and challenging myself
there
there
there
it is
the healing space
where my actions
are for the good
not destruction
how easily we can self-destruct…
I find a healing space
when I CHALLENGE
muscle memory
when I allow myself
to do what’s best
I find a healing space
in forgiving myself
I make a list of the
healing spaces
I write down:
kitchen
bath
candles
incense
scents
warm clothes
wood stove
massage
self-massage (more likely)
I write down:
order
a clean car
clean pillow
clean mouth
clean fridge
I write down:
near a stream
sea
lake or
fall
I write:
inside of your own self
if you’ve got nowhere else
at all
I write:
on the teet of my
dream goddess mother
I write:
in my lover’s arms
I write:
call my father
I write of healing spaces
like within the pages of a
Jack Kerouac book
I remind myself and
I write it all down then
I remind myself to look
again

Not So Hot

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

Too easily offended
I’d rather not listen
to some people
most of the time
My anger is my
downfall and rage
follows, like falling
boulders, from behind
I’m antsy in my heart,
which the doctors have
confirmed–they say my
heart doesn’t pitter-patter
right

Some days are fine,
some nights are worse
some are best for not
speaking at all
but I faux smile
cause that’s what
people want of me–
it’s what we want
of each other

Silence is    t h r e a t e n i n g
d  u  m  b  i  n  g
only meditative if you’re
…drinking hot tea before or
…wearing lycra and a yellow scarf,
with elephants on it
No but that’s not really true now

C

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

What I mean is:
that was just my anger talking and
ah I see what I shant speak today

So I lie on the bed
or I cry
because I can’t feel my head
like a hot air balloon it has risen
and escaped me
no longer attached by way of
my spine to my feet
no longer accepting responsibility
for foul thoughts and behaviors
Truths I’ve built up with strong
hard-to-destruct things like
addiction and the inability to
see   l o v e   clearly
the tendency to judge this  l o v e
of its worth
inspect it for faults and errors
beg with my body but sometimes
do not give it up when he has
come home for me,
when he is ready

Photo credit: Benoit Courti

Photo credit: Benoit Courti

When he is ready I sometimes
see the hands of another man
a man that some of us women all
know so well
the very hands of a man who first
showed us hell
on earth
turned an ordinary meadow
into a red burning thing
where all routes leading out only
lead to more traps and catastrophes
the hands of a man can either help or threaten me
the hands of a man can trigger me
in the best and the worst of ways
I’d say don’t come for me on a day like today
I’d say don’t come for me

I’d say my devil man hands
never paid
as many of them don’t
too many wrists, unroped
so many women coping daily
in millions of different little ways
I myself
I toxify
detoxify
toxify
detoxify
on and on

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

Photo credit: Crystal Danielle Gasser

Inside my mind I am
ringing my hands I am
pulling my hair I am
opening my mouth
to scream
my eyes are bulging
out my pretty little head
I am coming apart at
the seams
and though I can’t
seem to get a grip
I am still.

And all I am actually doing
is leaning on the stove top
and staring at a boiling pot with
hot salted water and chicken
One would assume
I am daydreaming
thinking of nothing
deaf n’ dumb

But I am a poet                    black-and-white-photography-005
and I am still scared
in millions of different little ways
I am still scared in the way that
too many grains of weightless sand
could crush my every last bone
like the way a toddler could drown
in a half bucket of water
I am still scared in the way that
teenager held her breath and her
friend pushed on her chest and she
died but it was all suppose to be a joke

an experiment

My anger has turned to sadness
My rage into despair
Somethings,
most of the time
are too difficult
to bear

A Free Woman

Caretaking my day job
and tending to my valued
friendships, my words lay
dormant inside of me for
days on end
my fingers lazily
flicking the turn signal
with the underside of my
pinkie finger
my feet are on the pedal
and is it sunny and busy
outside–I am outside for
once

Later in bed I am trying
to wind down
I swat away thoughts
with my fingers and the
turn of my head like
the thoughts are flies
and it is summertime

I hear the click click
of my cat’s tongue
across the room
and the up and down
of conversation out
on the back porch
it is Thursday night
and my boyfriend is
hollerin’ out there

I left the music on (Tom Waits)
in the kitchen
so I wouldn’t be tempted
to stretch my ears and listen
to the stories grown men tell
as I have done in the past,
waiting for the drop of a
questionable manstory
–a story about a woman
or women and nakedness,
something controversial to
make me sweat and panic
and feel sorry for myself

But never have I overheard
such a story
and it’s not that I try to listen
it’s just the combination of my
natural inquisitiveness and
the fact that they’re fukin
loudmouths that I ever
end up eavesdropping

The sunshine has kept my
heart hurt at bay but I
cannot help but see
heart hurt coming down
the lane
as always things
are changing in “love”
But I’m not sabotaging,
No I’m not sabotaging

Though I do rifle through our
existence for weakspots
and I poke at them like
the bruises of a brother
I shudder fearfully acknowledging
the power he was over me
my future wrapped up in him
like a thin-linked silver thoroughly
knotted necklace

I don’t want to be pushed
to my limit anymore
So why do I take myself there
I want my home to be
a meadow of peace
So why do I search for
the imperfections?
Strain my ears to
hear them
Then spell them out
for everyone to
see when the only
one making a mess
here is me

I walk the plank
everyday in this love
and you and everyone
we know would say
I’m making too much of this
and I am
in just about every way
Like any good woman
eager for a baby,
I scare us both

I vow to dry out my
moistened wounds
in the springtime sun
and think
fresh and
trust and
first things first
First…Things…First
Me,
in bed,
alone.
As it was in
the beginning
and then thereafter
and as it will be again
in the end

I cannot, should not
control him I think,
as he shouts, emphasizing
a word in conversation
I cannot track his words
I cannot control him
I am enough as I am–
Ignorant
and trusting
A free woman as
he is a free man
and we are unmarried
and probably happier
than most

Life is Art

If life is art today is a work by Salvador Dali               deconstructed         fragmented                        independent          sparse     calm       melting                       roomy                  brave                 and                           pieced    together helplessly, brilliantly, randomly.
divider
Today is holding itself together, pink and black and hurting.
divider
If life is art I am food. Manipulated, folded, dusted, brushed, beaten, whipped, fondled and put out on display. If I am food I am fresh then rotting then rotting then fresh. I am frozen and thawed or laid out to dry. Too hot to handle and left, forgotten, to rest. If life is art I am food revived, ravaged, digested. I am appetizing and colorful.
divider
If life is art then last night’s dreams were movies that jumpstarted me to wake, frightened in the night beside him. Shaking him awake, pointing at the robes hanging black on the bedroom door, “Look! Look! It looks like a man! The devil!” I whisper-shout, scared and kid-like. To my comfort, he agrees (the robes look like the devil) and knee walks to the end of the bed and shuts the door for me. “Hold me,” I whimper, never more myself than in the night. And he holds me. Tight. Tighter than anyone ever has. If life is art my lover is a geisha. Masked and beautiful, teasing, obedient, and entertaining in the old ancient way.
divider
If life is art then last night’s dream-fantasies were a collection of the greatest. But fantasy does not hold up well in reality and I roused awake, ripping off my nitetime pants and I tried to wake him again, murmuring nonsense and coaxing and humming with my hands. Thinking thinking thinking about hard man arms long man legs wide man fingers tender man hair wild man hair and beard my body his body soft lyrics and bells pleasant but vibrant like angel sounds. These are the thoughts and feelings of that stage between sleeping and wake….does anyone else sense that they are in heaven?
divider
In the dream there was more than enough, in the bed there is less, not enough. But in the bed there is truth, and it is here that we both get closer to heaven then anywhere else on earth. Both of us, in-between worlds, together. We are so kind there……I come to wake and whisper-beg with my body. He laughs amusingly, innocently, at my desire and like a man I jump out of bed and spout something I can’t remember now but included the words sex, frustrated, and Not Funny. If life is art then I stomp to the kitchen, sleepy, dramatic, and deserving of a stage. For a show which nobody would ever enjoy to watch.
divider
If life is art then there is work left unfinished. I drag it around with me today, during the morning commute, on my way for coffee, clocking in and out at work, like a project I cannot wait to touch up and complete. I cannot do it alone and in the wake of this interruption I growl with my eyes and smile with my teeth at the many of those who cannot help me. I aspire to go home and release myself.
divider
If life is art I am black today, red on the inside. Human with a capital H today. So I go outside of and above my body. I see a few pieces of the puzzle that are fitting just right. But I remember how the earth it always moves, our bodies grow and shrink, and the pieces that once fit here might later there and so on. So I don’t lay my puzzle pieces in concrete, but in dry sand, allowing for the natural shift in things, for the pieces to fall where they may and move and they please, or as I see fit.
divider
If life is art then nobody’s getting paid what they should. But we’re all doing it for the right reasons.
divider
If life is art then everything is messy, all the time, and aint that right.
divider
If life is art then I was right to blast live rock n roll first thing this morning, before I even turned on the coffee.
divider
If life is art then I hope he’s armed with the hardware to ground me today. I am all watercolors and old acrylic paint tubes, hardened and plugged up, holding back, else on the page. If life is art I need a frame and nails to keep me down today, to keep me sane.
divider
If life is art I am free.
divider
If life is art then I am living.
divider
If life is art then I am a mess or a masterpiece, depending on the angle.
divider
If life is art then what is standing in front of the space heater crying.
divider
If I am art then I am waiting for the audience to burst into applause.
divider
If life is art then I applaud YOU you crazy, talented, sonnofabitch.

divider

If life is art then I am distracted by all the colors and modern flashing things.
divider
If life is art today is a work by Salvador Dali               deconstructed         fragmented                        independent          sparse       calm           melting                       roomy                  brave                 and                           pieced together helplessly                    brilliantly                            randomly.

A History of Kitchens Part Three

Wintergreen Farm offerings

The kitchen, it’s my job. I want this role. I’ve earned this role. I wear aprons. If Steve did these things too it wouldn’t be my role. I might be demoted to just bathroom cleanup or worse, yard work. So I just shut up and say Bring it On, the dishes, the unbelievable messes Steve makes when doing anything in the kitchen but just sitting there on the counter. I mop up after the dog and Steve-boots multiple times on a good day. I wipe the coffee grinds from the counter top night and morning. I recycle the green and yellow sponge from dish sponge to chicken-egg sponge and I decide when we start a brand new one fresh from the threepack. I even get to feed and water the chickens, collect eggs, and harvest the fruit of nine apple trees. I have been blessed with a kitchen to call my own. And because Steve works on a farm, once a week he plops a dirty plastic tote up on the countertop and I smile warmly in return and start unpacking the goods. That plastic tote makes all the difference…our lives revolve around that tote, that kitchen.

I imagine I will dominate many more kitchens in my day. I have a dream to even design one. It will have a window above the sink, for gazing dumbly out onto while washing the dishes, an “island”, and one of those overhead hangy-things for pots and pans. Maybe I am asking too much. I probably am. Perhaps someday I will sit quietly in the kitchen of my daughter-in-law, watching her take control of the stove settings and the manner in which dinner is served all on her own, as I once did, eager to show her skills to her in-laws, eager to be grown up and woman and to have the gift of addressing each and every need of her guest. Water, tea, and fabric napkins. Beers, tops already popped.

I imagine I will die in a kitchen, upright, moving my hips and fingers to the beat of the radio…static, old classic country. I imagine the kitchen will be sunny, not gray or brown or fabric-y, a pot on the stove containing saucy stewing yummy things and the conversation always intimate and trying. I imagine I will die trying…to feed my family.

A History of Kitchens Part Two

I had a boyfriend in college who barked at me for washing his fancy wine glasses, his most valued possessions, with soap. Frankly he was much more sophisticated than I was [in the kitchen] and knew things like to wash with only hot water (I still don’t get it?)…and how to actually cook duck (I once ruined some very expensive meat), how to really tell when a steak is done (or perfectly undone), to buy unsalted butter, to always salt water, how to season fish Cajun style…we shared a kitchen which he absolutely dominated and filled with all sorts of fancy things like meat tenderizers and food processors and a whole set of knives it was understood I could. not. touch. ever.  I learned to fill a small porcelain saucer with salt for easy access, placing it near the cooking stove, something I still do today. I learned to defrost meat in warm water and how to make lemon vinaigrette in a processor. I couldn’t tell you what hung on the wall in the kitchen. Or what was on the fridge. I think the kitchen was a male.

orangesMy kitchen now didn’t always belong to me. Less than one year ago I was timidly tiptoeing around it, washing dishes quietly and obediently as my lover fell to sleep. Not wanting to boast my kitchen management skills, I cleaned the counters and the cooking pots in-between-time, quickly and nonchalantly. I picked things up off (bits of bark and mud from boots) the floor when no one was looking and I began grooming the kitchen to be mine, talking to her and showing her counters and cabinets Who Is Boss and where things belong.

In August, after I officially moved in with Steve, I painted the kitchen windowsills bright yellow and after dusting the kitchen head-to-toe I hung a large sun/moon artwork in the corner by the window, reorganized the spice rack, moved in my toaster oven (boyfriend loves), hung a colorful and funky coffee mug rack above the stovetop, put a simple beige rug underneath the sink where your barefeet go in the morning, and retrieved every mason jar I could for easy drinking, canning, and snack packing.OldDesignShop_AluminumCoffeePotBW

My boyfriend destroys the kitchen every single morning. Although he always always always unloads the dry dishes from the strainer and puts them away (it’s like a ritual) he also always always always always cracks three eggs, cuts one potato, dirties one chef’s knife, one plate, one fork, one coffeepot, two cups—and the egg yolk and dishes remain there on the counter until I get home from work in the afternoon. Then it’s: clean up the breakfast mess and start to make another mess for dinner. I tell my boyfriend, clean as you go, like I do. I try to demonstrate how perfect and polished the kitchen can remain even as you bake bread, pan-fry pork, handbrew a pot of coffee…if you just clean as you go! It’s brilliant! I chirp and hum along with the radio.

A History of Kitchens Part One

rebecca sittler

Photography credit: Rebecca Sittler

These are the kitchens of my past. Some of the kitchens were females and some were males. Some of them had dining tables and some did not. I remember the worst of the kitchens, the friends or neighbor’s kitchens in college—I was afraid to eat a thing strait from the waterlogged counter, there were hotpink Las Vegas shot glasses and sticky empty liquor bottles on their sides and who knows whose ass had been sitting up there. I remember the food bank finds, the cardboard microbrew beerbottle canisters with a banana inside, a serrated knife, and a days old spoon with yogurt-tongue markings still on it…a bag of Western Family wheat bread always almost out and wanting so badly to be the lucky roommate to eat the last sandwich, with cheese.

I cleaned kitchens in exchange for cigarettes for a woman I can’t remember the name of now but I can see her plain as day in front of a sepia television, blinds closed, sitting on her long black hair on a tan couch in a house down Modoc Lane. I was fourteen. She didn’t have a table in her kitchen. I used yellow Sun soap and an inefficient wide-pored plastic green scrubby from the dollarstore to wash dried Top Ramen noodles from indian boybowls on foggy, windy days, my kid-hands enjoying the hot soapy water and subsequent Marlboro 100’s plus four to go in the pocket of my jean jacket.

Personal | Becky Luigart-Stayner--Food & Lifestyle Photographer

Photography credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Kitchens with no power. A solar pushlamp dim as a candle. Kerosene lanterns and a generic plastic red and white checkered tablecloth my Dad picked up at Shop Smart. My Dad, just twenty-four but playing Mom with our square, aluminum-legged kitchen table, checkered cloth and candlelight, for both practical and spiritual purposes. Two dinner plates and forks. Papertowels folded in half for napkins. The days when things were real good for us both. A father, a daughter, and a kitchen. Propane gas stove and long-handled lighters—big boxes of matches my Dad would strike on his pants zipper if I asked him to. Matches that struck on the pavement of the platform outside our trailer, the concrete foundation that would be our home. A home that never really got to happen.

It was a small father-daughter kitchen, with one window above the sink which in the daytime looked out to a lush green lot, with rabbits in cages, wild doves in the Myrtlewood trees, and geese and ducks and things. The window fogged at night and I would write things on it to entertain myself, smiling faces, peace signs, my name, mad, antsy scribbles, spirals and hearts. There were no refrigerator magnets and the walls were bare. In the living room was a framed school photo of me that would eventually burn and in the bathroom, the Lord’s Prayer hanging on the wall, a wooden vintage piece: Our father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name... In the kitchen cupboards: white sheaths of premium saltine crackers, cans of “ABC” soup, a bag of popcorn kernals, white rice, apricot jam, and on the counter, carrots, potatoes, cumin and mint tea.

What Katie Ate » Happy Easter 2013 (!) and a few Gluten-Free Desserts :)

credit unknown

A boy cousin is over for dinner. We’d come by some sort of green squeaky toy—a frog—my dad requests that we bow our heads to pray before eating which I obediently do. My boy cousin squeaks the toy and giggles. Maybe he did this twice. My Dad says firmly (to us both, as to not even call my cousin out), “Humble yourselves.” My boy cousin squeaks the toy again and my Dad immediately smacks the toy from my boycousins hand, looking serious for once and shocking us both to the core as it was one of the few times we’d seen my Dad genuinely pissed. We both bowed our heads as my Dad gave a shaky, but always sincere prayer starting with Dear Heavenly Father and ending with the three of us saying Amen.

Nag champa incense and me knee-sitting on a simple wooden chair washing dishes, often my designated chore, with large yellow rubber gloves (you know the kind) complete the memory of my most cherished kitchen—the one dad and I shared in Rock Creek. Sometimes I would be asked to come play, but my Dad made me do dishes instead. However if the dishes got done, I could go play. But if they didn’t it was me in the kitchen crying and alone.