Last weekend I spent time with both of my sisters, in the flesh, for the first time in over three years. It was only a long weekend and while there will never be enough time to mend the ragged holes of sisterly absence that continue to fissure our hearts, it did offer a temporary balm and the reminder that the blood bonds shared between these weirdos is pretty strong, and we’re gonna be okay.
On one of those evenings, we thought we might divine the answers to some of our most pressing questions with tarot cards that I most shamefully never use. I confess, I just like to look at the art! Tarot is something I’ve tried to learn about over the years, but I always find something more high-priority, more interesting, that diverts my attention. “One day…” I’ll probably still be saying about it, even on my deathbed.
But just because I’m not terribly knowledgeable about the practice, doesn’t mean I won’t shuffle a deck from time to time to see what the cards want to tell me. I interpret the images very literally and apply what I see to my question, and while that probably doesn’t offer much in the way of nuanced insight, it’s a place to start, right? And then I may consult a book or two because despite what I may have said, I still want to learn…I’m just not making much of a concerted effort. So we each pulled a card, had a think, and tried to come up with some possible ideas.
Mine was interesting. I didn’t have a specific question in mind, but among other things, the card that came to me indicated disappointment and the feelings that come when things go differently as you expected. Ooooof. That is something I struggle with. I always have. I have a desired outcome firmly (one might say “rigidly”, even) set in mind from the outset of a thing, and if things veer off course I become overwhelmed and frantic and despondent. Or… awfully sulky at the very least. I took this as a sign that this rigidity, this inflexibility, this sulky-sullen-glum-“nothing is ever going to be okay again” attitude I immediately take is something I need to look at. And come at the situation differently. Adjust and adapt and let go of attachments and all that sort of thing. I’m sure it has something to do with a “grateful heart.”
(If that sounds a bit snarky or snotty, I am sorry. Read a little further and you’ll find out why I am a little grumpy.)
In the week after our visit, I fell back into my regular routine and thought about that card periodically, but you don’t have to work very hard at adjusting your expectations while things are going well. I met a major book deadline, I submitted an article and I had bunches of plans and projects for the weekend. Then I learned that in the midst of our state not doing particularly well during this pandemic, setting new records–the bad kind– daily as a matter of fact, my boss wants me to drive to the other side of Florida and attend an in-person luncheon. Ugh! Really? Right now?!? Well, I like having a job, so I guess I’ll do that if I have to. I hadn’t been planning on it, but it will be fine. It will be fine.
The next day our AC stopped working. At the end of July. In Florida. Just…spectacularly awful timing. Two days later the AC repair guy was finally able to come out and have a look, and as it happens, the whole system is done-for. We have to get it entirely replaced…and it will be one-and-a-half to three weeks before they can even get started due to a parts shortage (and I just did a quick Google search to make sure I hadn’t imagined that portion of the conversation, but that’s real, it’s a thing.)
So. Not filming a little video for YouTube this weekend. Not making a blackberry cornmeal cake for Lammas. Or any of the other little kitchen or garden or knitting putterings or perfume testing or book research that I had hoped to do. Instead, we went out and spent close to $1000 on portable AC units to cool our 90 degree home to a more tolerable 82 degrees. And then we sat in front of those noisy machines and proceeded to do nothing for the next six hours before going to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night.
When I get overheated at night, I tend to have nightmares, and sure enough, at 1:29am this morning, I woke Yvan up terrified, because “the executive portraits were climbing off the walls and crawling into our bed.” So…21 more nights of that? Wheeeeee…!
That’s a cake I made two weekends ago. It’s a chocolate cake with an espresso buttercream frosting, and I was attempting to redeem myself for a chocolate cake I made a year ago for Yvan’s birthday, and which did not turn out so well. We couldn’t even get it out of the bundt pan (I think using a bundt pan was my first mistake) so we just spooned it right out of the pan into a separate bowl of frosting and it was delicious anyway. That was actually a good way to work with that disappointment, past-Sarah! Anyway, I thought I might give it another go and this one turned out beautifully.
The month before, I made a lavender and lemon verbena tea cake for the summer solstice. I can’t remember what recipe I used, but you could use these herbs in any tea cake or pound cake recipe and it would probably work out well! And this cake has nothing to do with learning lessons or letting go, but it was a nice picture!
This is a shawl I’ve knit once before. It’s a relatively simple pattern, but this time around maybe I wasn’t paying attention to how far along I was and I bound off a bit early. It’s tiny! You can’t get a real sense of scale from this photo, but I am fairly broad-shouldered and this should be quite a bit larger. I was so mad at the time, but I’ve simmered down, since. I guess it could work as a more bandana-like scarf? A shawl for one of my pixie-sized friends? A bit of gift-wrapping the next time I send a surprise or a treat to someone? I’ll work it out. It will be fine.
A quartet of meals from the past month which actually turned out great and about which I have no complaint:
Misfits Market is finally delivering to our area, so in between making a pot of slop on the weekend (“slop” being a catch-all for some sort of soup or stew or casserole we can reheat all week long) I’ve been reveling in making some fun weeknight recipes with the produce in the delivery box. So far there have been only a few squished tomatoes, but that resulted in the inspiration to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes, so that worked out, anyway!
When I first realized I had to scrap all my plans for the weekend, my first thought was “oh! well! I’ll just do a bunch of reading!” After all, Goodreads was just haranguing me because I am two books behind in my yearly challenge, and it’s possible that I think about books and I talk about books more often than I actually read them. So this was a great opportunity to get caught up, right? However, it became quite clear, very quickly, that in this heat it was impossible to lift my fingers to turn a page, let alone concentrate on the slippery words dancing in front of my eyes. That could also be due to the fact that I literally can’t see very far in front of my face. Or too close to my face. It might be time for bifocals or transition lenses or whatever. Anyway, I put the book down.
So…I have done a lot of nothing this weekend. Well, that’s not true. We ordered in nachos and drank very icy drinks and watched Fellowship of the Ring for probably the 250th time. That’s our “it’s the middle of the summer and it’s too hot to live” marathon pick, and the timing seemed appropriate.
As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve been overcompensating for being told I was a lazy child, and in believing that, I became a teenager who was scared to even start anything because apparently, I was so lazy I’d never be able to keep up with it, and I grew into an adult with all kinds of anxieties about productivity and perfectionism and finally, in my 40’s, I think I have developed a fear of stillness. I say I’m someone who is laid back and go-with-the-flow, but I’ve realized that has to do with my relationships with others, and less with myself. I will tell you that there’s no rush, it’s not urgent, it’s no problem, don’t stress yourself out about it, but I don’t extend that same grace to myself. And so everything (from blackberry cakes and YouTube videos and blog posts to deadlines that I am actually contractually obligated to meet) has the same end-of-the-world sense of urgency. And while all of that does stress me out me out terribly…isn’t that “I’ve gotta do all the things or I will quite literally die!” energy still better than being the lazy person that everyone says I was? Hm, Sarah. Is it?
But I’m tired. And hot. And maybe I need a break. And maybe it’s ok that nothing from my to-do list gets done this weekend. And maybe that card and imagery and whatever all else is wrapped up in whatever I was seeking an answer for…was telling me that I need to examine some things I have been hanging on to for such a long time. Those old hurts and fears and issues don’t have to shape my every reaction and attitude and behavior for the rest of my life.
I am feeling the need to wrap up this missive. Despite those little AC units cranking overtime and doing their best, they are in other rooms, and my office here is a sauna. But to totally screw up that metaphor…I have run out of steam.