7300 Bowls of Campbell’s Soups

I was stirring the oatmeal this morning and christened the 50+ year old stainless steel Paul Revere pot, “The Red River Pot.”  I chose this name because my Dad cooked Red River cereal for himself each morning in it.  I suppose I could have co-termed it the “Campbell’s Soup Pot” in fairness to Mum and the many hundreds of tins of Campbell’s she heated in this sturdy vessel.

If I take 365 days a year and multiply them by 20 years I have eaten 7300 bowls of Campbell’s soups.  I have not yet mentioned I was allergic to the great quantities of sodium laced into these soups.  These caused me to experience, “soup rage.”  I became unhinged after each serving but we all thought these out-rages were just part of me being Nicole and OD’ing on drama classes at school.  It was when I terminated conventional and manufactured foods from my diet that the reason for my reactions became quite clear = allergic! to chemicals, additives, and preservatives.

When I cook oatmeal I take my time licking the wooden spoon after filling our bowls with the sticky, nutty, batter-like organic cereal.  Blueberries, bananas, maple syrup, and cream:  perfect!

Listening to CHQM-FM and a country singer, a neighbor of Johnny Cash, is singing a song of tribute to him.  The singer says he loves crows; and Johnny Cash dressed like one!  This made me laugh.

When I’m up late in here filling in this book I feel like I’ve kindled my special powers.  I consider this time, “The Witching Hour:”  my witching hour.  It’s dark and raining.  I’ve turned on the heat.  A black figure reels down an inky Seawalk with a silver path from overhead lighting the walk under his feet.  An orange umbrella  appears like a gigantic flower moving in the black air.

"Moon Reflecting the Orange Umbrella"

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

In with the Fruit Peels when I Die

We’re here and gone.  We’re in and out.

The swell of the waves makes my thighs quiver and my lower body feels sensations taking in the movement of the sea.  The Shangri-La thrusts above the headland.

A deep pink geranium sits pretty in the black cast iron urn near my feet silently dropping her petals as she too admires the whitecaps. A dainty sophisticate, the geranium has an oriental lily pad leaf anchoring an English flower and bud with small petals, fanning out a saturated hue against clouds swollen with shadows leaning along the sky in layers.

The icy wind is bending tree branches and whirring the stalks of shrubs into a frenzy. The Seawalkers keep their collars up and kleenex under their noses as they brace their steps for the next burst of cold air breaking over them.  Long scarves twirl and leap outward in a scatter-brained dance.

The train tracks creak, dogs yip and howl.

My feet are cold, as is my tea, and yet it is mesmerizing to sit in the midst of it all.  A lone gull is being blown blocks out of his way by the next forceful blow of the wind.  He’s drawn across roof and tree tops and sent soaring away from the water toward the hard blue mountains.

A steady grumble makes its way through the leaky windows and the canvas awnings flap furiously against the current.

Without warning leaves are blown inside out revealing their naked light side.  The logs sitting atop the giant granite boulders lining the walk thunk, thunk, in repetition.  All is divine as blue sky and tips of sunlight foreshadow a heavenly day.

Now the sun comes out to spoil me warming my bare feet resting on the tile floor.  The rays are blinding as they reflect off the water and the surface of the sea glitters in madcap fashion. Sunlight is pulled back and in ten breaths I see only a glare as the seagulls wail mournfully.  The sun is back, in the completion of a sentence, playing hide and seek with me.  I have to squint hard against it.

More people are out walking now.  The path becomes a medley of color:  mauve, red, blue, pink, white, gold, black, navy, tan:  the colors of our clothing, our cars, and our floral arrangements.

The walk has emptied, my tea is drained, I leave the solarium in peace having read a few more pages from Louise Erdrich’s book, “The Blue Jay’s Dance.”  A Birth Year.  Exquisite, lyrical prose by a Best-Selling Author, Mother, Observer of Nature and Poet.  These little vignettes are “unpredictable and unforgettable.”  The mundane of everyday life is rendered marvelous!

Once back in the kitchen I look out and see the arbutus tree waving wildly in the wind. My concern is for the crow who built her nest in a strong fork of one of the branches.  I can see vaguely through the blossoms that she’s home by a small glimpse of her shiny black feathers.  The tree  is caught up in a baby hurricane and I think of the bird mother having morning sickness in the dizzying gale. If the eggs aren’t scrambled by the time the wind ceases the birdlings will be born remembering this psychedelic drama in their incubation. All day I fret over whether the nest will weather the storm.

I had watched the nest being built and the crow had a mate helping to weave each thoughtfully chosen strand of material into a new home. Many trips were made carrying puffs of something white and fluffy. Normally the nest rests in utopia almost hidden by the thick and lavish white flowers and green leaves of the arbutus tree; a floral-lined loft.  By sunset the scene turned calm, the five-hour power outage was repaired, and I had the kettle back on. I was extremely grateful for electricity, a safe nest, and all the energetic forces of Mother Nature purifying the air we breathe.  The electric heat is back on, the fridge is cold again, and the food didn’t spoil.  So what if the computer wouldn’t work, I got this written anyway… by hand and heart.

Crow Nursery constructed in the boughs of the red-trunked Arbutus Tree

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

Candy Pink… Pink Bow

I awake from a dream holding onto Julie with my arms wrapped around her waist.  I’m saying that my Mum is just wanting to buy as much time as possible before she dies of cancer.

In this dream I see a leopard print jacket with a candy pink, pink bow, at the top of the neck – who’s touching my clothes?

The walk to Ambleside is littered with abandoned logs.

A collage collects along the low granite wall where the seams of blacktop meet with the rock.

The wind presses forcefully against me like a new lover.  It takes all my strength to walk forward into it.

The clouds spit at me and a crow sprays white splotches across my black umbrella.

I leave the library on my way home with three heavy books curled into my arm none of which I want to read when I get home.

My Mother’s apartment building shivers in cold grey as I walk by.  I let the wind pull my hair across my eyes so I don’t have to look into the dark empty windows where she once resided in warm lighting.

I tell myself all along that nothing matters but the feeling of being under twelve today and noticing how connected I am to all of nature as I walk home in fluctuating weather conditions.

Once inside I put on something warm, wipe the bird doo from my umbrella and brew bancha tea.  I ignore the days’ old rinsed dishes and the clean laundry waiting to be put away.  I can’t scrub a sink or address an envelope right now.  I turn the ringer off on the phone, and relax into nothing.

"Sleeps in Neighbor's Treetop as I Dream"

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

Mother Junk: I’m Calling Oprah!!

We’re living in a Birdcage.  The floor is covered in seeds and feathers… pumpkin seeds that slip out of our hands or out from between our fingers as we pop them in our ‘beaks’ while watching movies.  Feathers have been squeezing out of seams around the bottoms of the cheap, made in China, slippers that were purchased at Daniadown.

We are taking refuge from the elements.  The sky’s pouring cold ice-rain and blowing it hard against all the windows.  The wind is howling provocatively and the treetops echo these sounds.  Parts of the wind escape the outdoors and squeeze inside through aluminum moldings loosely holding the windows in place:  a lovely day!

A lovely day is then followed by a day of reality… never my favorite.  Still I make an effort to ease into this kind of day and try to savor parts of it.

“Clutter Composition a.k.a. Mess Makes Music”

My daughter came by and looked into the room at the far end of the apartment and let out a LOUD proclamation:  “We’ll take a photograph of the “disaster” and send it to Oprah!

She has no idea of the mountains I move but goes on to say Oprah will get me a therapist! I have three already, and a friend who used to do therapy.  A game of Scrabble laid out, ready to be played, cuts the contention short and I make another promise to get to it.  It being the:  I don’t know if it will be an office or a studio.

A trip to the library for help leads to “Clutter’s Last Stand” written by Don Aslett. It was a quick read and more enjoyable than retackling the “zone.”

Here goes:

First off:   “You may have a serious junk problem if:  you have to think about how to cross a room!”  I can hear laughter but I didn’t find it all that funny!:   I had a map to cross the floor!

I’m not the only culprit.  Aslett writes:

“Paper weight… is a psychological ton.”  My dear friends, Katherine and Gavin Hainsworth, authored “A New Westminster Album,” and collected mountains of paper while researching it. Gavin has taught special needs kids for eighteen years and Katherine is a full-time artist and an historian.  Cartons proliferated filled with files from all their pursuits.  I always felt relieved after I visited knowing I was not the only one staggering under the remains of days working on projects.  One weekend I was surprised to hear that Gavin had made three trips to the paper recycling dump.  Each time the van was filled to capacity with these cartons  of paper.  The weight of his deliveries was calculated at one and a half tons.  Yes, tons!!!!!  What are we all sitting on in our own spaces??

Some people stack newspapers up in and around their homes.  I have a modest half banker box of clippings clumped into a half dozen yellow file folders.

At one time there were plastic bags full of New York Times Week-end editions I had hoarded and bunched about so I could sit and clip.  Here’s the reason I stopped saving them:

I was formerly a Real Estate Broker and had gone to visit a couple in shaky health whose house I had listed.  They were in their last decade of life at best.  This couple lived on one acre and their flower and vegetable garden had attracted visitors and won awards in the past.  The ocean was a couple of minutes drive away yet the newspapers had taken priority over nature. When I saw the wife sitting at a card table surrounded with stacks of newspapers arranged in the middle of the livingroom, cutting away, newspapers became an arm’s length item for me. No longer something to follow but a quick peek at now and then; I only went for the arts, and books and fashion anyway.

Aslett goes on:

“Keep files up to date and when you need something you won’t have to mount an expedition or perform an excavation to find something.”

“Shrines need to be tended.”………and dusted!

“Keep a piece, a symbol, or a sample of a big object or item and let go of the rest.”………….Huh???

“Storage units are the ghost towns of clutter, a testimony of shame.” …………….Oops!

“A rental unit is a kind of oversized Emotional Withdrawal Box.” ………………..Is he talking about an apartment-sized storage unit?

I laugh a lot as I read what Aslett has to say next: “A varnished horse pooh with a few wires for legs, wings, and a beak:  The “Turd Bird” @ $5.99 each which tourists flocked to the store to buy.”

“We’ve junked up simple pleasures – everything needs accessories, costly ones, or else it seems impossible to do.”

“New – improved:  it failed, and we want you to guinea-pig the second round.”………..Top Producer in the nineties anyone?

“Kids don’t get much satisfaction out of elaborate toys because there’s really not a lot a kid can do with them – toys do everything themselves.”

“Accumulate good health, talent, friends, experiences, and sensations.”

“You can get used to what you are instead of what you have.”

I followed Lagerfeld on Twitter and found this advice:  Karl Lagerfeld admits: “I try not to be sentimental and obsessive about possessions. I love collecting, but I hate owning.”

The Story of Stuff:  The Important Information in this Video must be embraced by Everyone ASAP!  Every Mother and Child is well positioned to organize and bring much-needed change into the world.

http://www.youtube.com/user/storyofstuffproject#p/a/u/2/9GorqroigqM

The Book is also available, but this short video is so thorough, we may not need to add a book to our overstuffed shelves.

Copyright © Nicole Rigets