Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, Photography Art, poetry

Out of the “State”

When in the mood for a stress release, the all-time favourite is to lose own self in books or literature of any kind, from novels to online reads and the like. Though on some days, it mayn’t work, among the options of Netflix, Spotify and so on; one of them is to observe the toddlers and above at play. From trying to make buildings to antics of monkeys to get the kite stuck in the low branches of the tree or the swing, the tedious hours gets a fresh turn. As far as perseverance is concerned, children to do know quite a bit about it, especially when the cookie jar is placed way up the top shelf or the aren’t in the usual place. They don’t stop till they get those delicious crumbs on their dress.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates

Bad days will come, but how long they stay, the impact they leave and their effect, all depends on own thinking and state of the gray cells within. If and when those “bad times” govern our thoughts, all hell breaks loose. And when they don’t get the upper hand, the rays of light filter trough the breaks among the black clouds and eventually the brightness stays on and spreads ahead. The point lies in how eager one is to get the cookie jar. When one falters, learn to pick up own-self with help and inspiration from the world around us. Eventually we do get to it, no matter how hidden or how high the jar is placed. It all boils down to what, how and when we think and in doing so, just believe and charge ahead.

“It’s All In A State Of Mind”

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost a “cinch” you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost,
For out in the world you find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

Full many a race is lost
Ere ever a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work’s begun.

Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you’ll fall behind,
Think that you can and you will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can.

-Walter D. Wintle

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Reflections

Just those “Five”

“Wait for five minutes…when the sliced onions turn golden brown, pour the sauce and saute.”
“Five minutes more…I’ll switch off the television after this episode”.
“Snooze”. Five more minutes.

Reality and time are a formidable combination, especially when they turn events to be one of the life-changing moments. Every now and then, they snatch the net that holds our fall or by saving grace, they stretch the net to break the fall. Either way, their significance is not to be underestimated. In just “five” minutes, they highlight the balance of life, that we humans need to find and attain. Whether it be five, more or less; time always brings the one on the highest rung on the ladder down with a thud, or help us to grow our wings slowly.

“Balance suggests a perfect equilibrium. There is no such thing. That is a false expectation…. There are going to be priorities and dimensions of your life; how you integrate them is how you find true happiness.” Denise Morrison

Sticking to the universal “five minutes”, one can feel or do a lot of things in that time. When time is a whole bunch, those five minutes seem a lot of time. But as the second whiz by, it becomes too little.

Or those five minutes can be mean so much. Five minutes to talk to our parents. Five minutes to play wit our pet. Five minutes to sing a raucous song with the kid, or admire and share in their drawings. Five minutes to hug our better halves and show much much they fill a part to makes us whole. Five minutes to hold hands and walk under the night sky. Five minutes of shared words, whispered conversations and fears, and support.

Those five minutes is what pulls us through our worst moments in life. Those five minutes is what makes one smile from the heart, even though they may not be near in real. Those five minutes become the most important thing to us. In a way, “those five minutes” pale in comparison to those endless hours of “important meetings and projects”. In fact, “those five minutes” become the safety net for the inevitable fall that one may make when the carpet is pulled under our feet.

So let us all have those occasional “five minutes”; to be on those important things, the ones that matter the most. For those five minutes of “simple things” will last for an eternity, or expensive than eternity and more.

Posted in Daily, Food

An “In-dul-gence”

More than forty eight hours, still the excuse to indulge in a little of the delectable sweetness of “c” stays on. On a frank note, the gift from the simple cacao seeds don’t really need any special day to be enjoyed; yet on the need for a reason to binge on it, these special choclate based days are noted and celebrated. On such a note, a couple of us “chocolate-fanatics” decided to give the online chocolataire a whirl and oh what a visual treat was it. Though obsolete now, a chocolate themed social gathering gives a boost tot he low morale during these “locked in periods”.

“Chocolate Wine. Take a pint of Sherry, or a pint and a half of Port, four ounces and a half of chocolate, six ounces of fine sugar, and half an ounce of white starch, or find flour; mix, dissolve, and boil all these together for about ten or twelve minutes. But if your chocolate is made with sugar, take double the quantity of chocolate, and half the quantity of sugar.” (The Cook’s Own Book: Being a Culinary Encyclopedia, Mrs. N.K.M. Lee, facsimile 1832 edition [Arno Press:New York] 1972 (p. 51))

From being processed, blended, conched, tempered and stored, chocolate has undergone a bit more changes, primarily to the percentages of cocoa solid, fats or both along with added ingredients, to give the many varieties of today. Interestingly cocoa can be combined with vegetable fat (tropical or hydrogenated fats) to give the confection of compound chocolate. Though not legally “chocolate”, it can be used as a dipping sauce, candy bar coatings or just to give the feel of chocolate to a simple dessert, biscuits or even pie. Alternatively for amateur home experimenters (like yours truly); melting chocolate with glucose, golden or corn syrup to make the modeling chocolate for homemade decorations to sponge cakes, cupcakes and the like brings a feeling of bringing a bit of the delicatessen home. On a very sweet and sour note, chocolate too has its’ own tune with the creation of Callebaut’s Ruby chocolate. Made from the Ruby cocoa bean, the distinct red colour gives a flair to the dramatic taste.

The quest to find a “cool and practical recipe” for the impromptu chocolataire has opened up a whole range of ideas and range of experimentation. With many recipes being borrowed, jotted and modified; chocolate will be one of the musts for cacao based desert crazy folks. As they say old is gold; with a little bit of “this and that”, it gives a good feel for the taste buds and an enjoyable ride for the memory cells especially as they age over time.

[1957]
“Chocolate Fondue: Hot Dessert
2 squares (ounces) unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup milk, 1 cup soft breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs separated. Add chocolate, broken in pieces, to milk. Heat till chocolate melts; stir till blended. Add crumbs, butter, sugar, salt. Beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in a little of the hot milk, add to milk mixture, cool. Beat egg whites till stiff; fold into cooled mixture. Turn into a five-cup greased baking dish. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about forty minutes. Serve hot with whipped cream. Yield: Four servings.” (“Our Daily Bread,” Jane Nickerson New York Times, September 8, 1957 (p. SM46))

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

Standing Strong

As the downpour continues unabated for more than two days in a row, getting across the lawn to even close the gates at night are a hassle. From hopping between the deep pools to stepping on the stones laid across the path and below the tall branches laden with green leaves breaking down the torrential downpour to drips of rain. Though the skies are mostly laden with gray, the mornings are spent on assessing the visual damage across the fields and lawn. The scene of dead branches and a tree split by lightening, brings about the dark reality of life to surface.

The cycle of life as one may call it. The birth of life and the scene of destruction. Nature has her own way of showing her love, the cycle of balance and the end of an old or on the other hand, fresh beginnings.

All these and the words of Herman Hesse come to mind, on seeing the scene of chaos. Though fast forward a week ahead, the colour of the fresh flowers and the shades of varied bright colours across the fields, show how much beauty and revival is possible, once the mess is cleaned up. Likewise, our lives be so. After every fall, we pick ourselves by self or with help, clean up the mess and move on. Staying in the flow, eventually we will reach the point where the rainbow ends.

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” Herman Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Random Thoughts

Two Back, One Forward

“Roadblocks are nothing new. Going around them is the real issue.”

Words same or almost similar ones often echo in the recesses of the gray cells, especially when faces with those unexpected blocks. Truth to tell, those what we do expect, one can often deal with them. Those that just turn up, out of the blue, are what makes one stumble, often failing to get up soon after the fall.

So what’s next then ?

Procrastinate a bit. It isn’t a crime to do. For a while, getting out of the scene, doing something dissimilar or a remote similarity, gives us the breathing space to regroup and move ahead. For those of us who didn’t need them, well and good. But for the rest of us, sometimes those cups of tea, a swing in the hammock or just a walk around the block, gives us a fresh perspective and gives us back the inner mojo. Soon the roadblock becomes just another phase, and we move on. Don’t rush in, but just breathe. What if another comes along ? Find a way, none out; then breathe, do something else for a change and sooner or later all those roadblocks will change or the new turns open up. All it takes is those little steps, even though they may be few back and one forward. Tick along, we’ll soon be there.

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart

The Room of Ancient Keys
by Elena Mikhalkova

Grandma once gave me a tip:

During difficult times,
you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future,
not even what might happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Take off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow
bigger and bigger.
And time will come
when you can think about the future
without crying.
Good morning.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Reflections

Add them Up

For one to realize the frailty of life versus time given to one, scanning the first few pages of the newspaper is enough, or just listen to the morning news hour. For some who thought they had time, there wasn’t any. Whereas others have been blessed with a second chance, good or bad, only time knows the final outcome. Through all this one realizes how blessed one has been. In fact, these thought bring out the true meaning of what “we have never realized”.

One never realizes how blessed one has been with a job or any form of employment, till the day the wages stop coming and the money is out of hand. One never knows the gift of a family, unless they come back to an empty set of rooms with no voices, but only those of the media. One never realizes how much they were blessed with their own path to walk and friends to visit, until they are forced to confine within. Instead of realizing the simple gifts of time and life as a whole, we crib that theatres are shut, malls are out and we are all stuck.

“Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it’s about doing, being and becoming.” Mike Dooley

True that life may put one in a bind at times. Yet for every things there aren’t just one or two but many sides which can be explored. While we crib about what we may have missed out on, learn not to lose out on what we have right now. if one had to truly measure up the gifts we have been blessed with, the list made would put out the “so called better things” out with a whiff. As time shows us how fickle she can be with life, let each day be a highlight of the gifts that she offers us, put to use and not left behind in the chase for the perceived better.

How Much Would This Cost?
Courtland W. Sayers

One midnight deep in starlight still
I dreamed that I received this bill:
…………..In account with life:
Five thousand breathless dawns all new;
Five thousand flowers fresh in dew;
Five thousand sunsets wrapped in gold;
One million snowflakes served ice cold,
Five quiet friends; one baby’s love;
One white-mad sea with clouds above;
One hundred music-haunted dreams
Of moon drenched roads and hurrying streams,
One June night in a fragrant wood;
One heart that loved and understood.
I wondered when I woke that day
‘How much this would cost if I had to pay?’

Posted in Daily, Life, poetry, Reflections

DEPTHS

Guarding the pile of newspapers kept safe in the wall unit requires a certain amount of skill, specially in camouflaging the surroundings. With kids and pets running amok in the house, the set of the current week’s newspapers are kept up high, but one has to be wary of their wily ways and means. When the reader wonders the purpose of this, for the daily paper is meant for reading each day and with plenty of “visual media”-nization, why do so. The reason is simple, for the editorials as well as the obituary section. Even though one is well informed of the local news (specially those of the bad type), those pages are scanned through each day, only to read the bare details. When one reads those smaller words, is when figures out the person behind those lives. Noticing such things gives a daily to weekly reminder of not just how precious life and time is, but also how we lived through them.

“It is not length of life, but depth of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Making a difference never lies in the strength of how much time or resources one has at hand. Instead it lies in the way one prefers to wield them in the best possible manner. Whether it was an unfortunate end or the passage of years slowly over time, the mark one leaves behind is what matters.

When the hue and cry dies down on the weekend mornings, these sections are given a thorough read, for they do deserve it. As the sun rays filter through, the morning sky makes realize the strength of what we hold in our hands and thoughts within. No one knows how long one has. On the other hand when the talents gifted, blessed or acquired put to use in their deserving manner, then whether the days be short or long, one has their due and left their mark in the world and lives around them. Depths do matter as lengths, more or less, doesn’t make a difference. As shown daily through the contrast of day and night, as long as one breathes, live the hours not simply to one’s heart’s content but also to appreciate the chances given or taken, and their due difference made in their right and true manner.

Part Two: Nature

XXXIX

BRING me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning’s flagons up,
And say how many dew;
Tell me how far the morning leaps,
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps 5
Who spun the breadths of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new robin’s ecstasy
Among astonished boughs;
How many trips the tortoise makes, 10
How many cups the bee partakes,—
The debauchee of dews!

Also, who laid the rainbow’s piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue? 15
Whose fingers string the stalactite,
Who counts the wampum of the night,
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban house
And shut the windows down so close 20
My spirit cannot see?
Who ’ll let me out some gala day,
With implements to fly away,
Passing pomposity?

Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.