Yogurt – Just Add Culture

yogurt

Today is yogurt day.

The plan for the day had originally been to do some extra cleaning, get some writing done, and maybe sort through some of my unwanted crap that keeps piling up in the closet. However, like many of my plans, that fell through. Unsurprisingly it fell through due to my one, great weakness: Cinnamon rolls.

A friend shared a recipe for what sounds like the most gooey, fattening, amazing cinnamon rolls ever. A recipe I was a bit too eager to try. A recipe that calls for yogurt. Vegan yogurt requires a special trip since our local store does not carry it. A special trip requires putting on pants and going out in the heat. My dilemma over cinnamon rolls verses no-pants was resolved when I remembered that I have a cookbook with a vegan yogurt recipe tucked away on my shelf.

And thus began my very first foray into making yogurt.

I am, as I am with all new things, nervous as hell. Despite the calm reassurances that humans have been making yogurt for thousands of years without expensive machines, I’m still certain I have a bottle of liquid death laying in wait. For the next few hours as it slowly turns into a culture growing powerhouse, I can do nothing except wait nervously and occasionally check the temperature.

yogurt2Still, I am trying to take the entire process as a good sign. I have been cooped up inside my apartment for too long, not really doing much of anything. Is it a bout of depression? Or just the oppressive summer heat? No idea. But I feel exhausted and irritable and lacking in a desire to do more than lay on the couch. Nothing feels exciting or interesting or worth getting up for.

Except cinnamon rolls.

I take my wins where I can find them.

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Life is Like a Pineapple

pineapple

My pineapple is dying.

Despite constant reassurances that pineapples grow well in containers and that it is nearly impossible to kill one, mine continues to wither and crumble a little more each day. I should have tossed it out already, given up hope that it could make a full recovery. Instead, I go out each day and move it to follow the sun across my balcony, sweet talking to it and begging it just try a little harder.

This morning I wondered if that is some kind of glimpse into my life as a whole. Holding on to things long after they’re gone, not willing to accept when it is really over.

My mother was a hoarder. Her mother too, to be honest. Holding on to things long after their usefulness runs in my blood. But instead of boxes of old newspapers and stacks of garage sale clutter, I hold on to people, places, and feelings. Like them, I never know when to let go. What should have been a short fling turned into a ten year marriage that we both left miserable and defeated. What was supposed to be a temporary stay to get back on my feet became a permanent residence. Guilt, anger, and pain that I should have worked through years ago are still the background noise of my day.

Sure, I don’t have trash piling up in the corners, but don’t think that means I’m not hoarding something.

So the big question becomes “when do you let go?”. When is the relationship over verses just going through a rough spot? When is it time to move verses time for a vacation? When do you stop feeling guilty for things you have done? And when do you accept that the damn plant is not going to make it after all?

If Home is Where the Heart is…

balcony

“The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.” – Desmond Morris

Some people thrive in an apartment. To tell the truth, when I first moved to the city I thought I would too. Small space means there is less to clean, someone else is responsible for fixing things that break, and no yard to mow in the hot sun. It seemed like a dream come true.And maybe at first it was.

Five years later however, and I feel trapped.

The small space also means there is no room to do anything. I barely have room for my loveseat in the living room, my dining room holds a tiny cafe table and two chairs, and in my kitchen you can barely run around. I miss space, I miss having the room to do things, I miss my huge oak table that seated six and a living room full of fluffy chairs, I miss having counter space to plug in both the toaster and my crockpot at the same time. And dammit, I miss mowing the yard.

I have tried for the last three years to grow a small garden on my balcony, and each year it has failed. Not only that it is too small, but it was built as a cement box that traps heat and refuses to let go. Texas summers get hot and my little piece of outside turns into an oven. Even plants I was assured were heat hearty have baked away into nothing. My poor pineapple is a bundle of dry, cracked leaves despite how much I water it.

I should be grateful. I have a nice home, there are bus routes nearby, a lovely park within walking distance, and even though the rent goes up each year it is still outside the ridiculous price bubble of the heart of the city. And sometimes the maintenance people actually show up. I’ve seen worse, I know people that live in much worse. There are fates far more damning than a tiny apartment and an unusable balcony.

But I am still gnawing at the walls like a rat. I grew up with space to run, space to grow, space to explore. Living in a cramped city, space is now a luxury that I can’t afford.

I wonder if this is living at all.