My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cloud-Gazers, Unite!

This is for you, Spud! (And my other fellow cloud-gazers!) :-)
Cloud Watching
Cloud Watching by Harriet Peck Taylor

I love Harriet's colorful artwork, always full of cute critters doing cute stuff! I have a couple of organic cotton tshirts featuring her designs that I got from the
Jim Morris Environmental T-Shirt Company (the source of this image).

Gonna be 102ยบ here today ~ a record high ~ so guess what we're going to be doing? Hauling hay! Brilliant. We have no choice... it's going to be just as hot tomorrow (and every day next week, ugh!), Mocha's gotta eat this winter, and the guy we buy our hay from is always antsy to have us come get it out of his pasture the day it's baled. We'll wait till later this evening when it has (we hope) cooled off substantially. We usually take Willow with us (Tess and Josie, bless their hearts, require far too much adult supervision during adventures!), so if it's cool enough to take her and I remember to take my camera, I'll try to take a photo worth posting.

May intriguing clouds dance across your skies today! (I think this one looks like a hangglider... what do
you think?)


  1. Yes, it does look like a glider. I've always enjoyed stories told by the clouds. Also there are stories told by groves in ceilings and walls.

    This one, hmmm, minute or two after the glider a chinese man, a noble man in his fifties with traditional hat appeared under a large garden umbrella. The garden is behind his house, and there is a mountain in distance. He's pondering about life and enjoying the nature. His age has thought him to be well aware of and appreciate his good luck and destiny so far. Or perhaps he's just waiting for his lunch to be served. Maybe both.
    A cat jumped on his table. He didn't shoo it. It reminded him of childhood and his brother. His brother, who was far less fortunate. An older son, a gentle soul in a fragile body, when the war started felt obligated to join the military and defend the honor of their family name, since their father died several years ago and younger Chan, man sitting in the garden, was only fourteen. Chung Ho was eighteen. He was killed in first hours of battle, in front rows, where he bravely volunteered himself. Bravely and foolishly. Much too young to know. Life was not forgiving, though, of such impulsiveness and misjudgments. And neither was the enemy clan.
    He was always brighter and better behaved than Chan, and everyone's favorite. Chan was just a regular kid, with regular learning troubles, regular pranks, bad habits and a few well maintained qualities. No one was especially bothered by him, but he received no praises either. And look, poor Chung Ho has long gone with the winds, and he, Chan, is still sitting in the same family garden, under the same mountain, probably even visited by the cat from the same family that Chung Ho and he played with when they were children.
    And now his stomach is starting to grumble, teased by his brain signaling it that today is Saturday, and duck is on its way to this table and his watering mouth, as certainly as it did when father was sitting many years ago in that same spot, waiting for duck cooked by exact same recipe established by great-grandfather's fame deserving cook, and transferred only to the next family cook.

    After that, I could see small waves in the open ocean, and a stingray swimming up.

    After posting a comment with first unsoppable version of what I've seen, words continued going on in my head, and I made a few corrections and additions, so if you don't mind, delete the first one and save just this one. Not that it matters much.
    And thank you. It was fun, reading your post, and letting my own imagination soar on your glider. :-)

    Again, I hope you're enjoying your weekend. See you around :-) .



  2. Wow, Merima, you'd be most entertaining to go cloud-gazing with! I'd just be saying, "That one looks like a rooster." Or "That one looks like a man in a tall hat." You come up with entire novellas! :-) What a great imagination you have!
    And of course no ducks were actually harmed in the telling of this cloud-story, as Mr. Chan's lunch was mock duck made of seitan. (Old Chan family recipe.) ;-)

  3. Hahahaa, I love your comment. I didn't even think of that. I am surrounded by meat eaters at work and in family (though most of my family does not favor it) and take them as granted. But, since the cloud reading in question is our and not theirs, I must admit that you are right. Good guess.

    Duck indeed was a decoy.:-)

    See, the cook was a buddhist monk under cover. He began working for Mr. Chan because he needed a good job to gain trust and respect of plebs, as well as to have an insight in life of nobles in order to learn how to target and influence both categories into opening themselves more toward philosophical outlook of life rather than superficial survival filled with emotional immaturity and suffering.

    Chef Xi was a man of many talents. Apart from being one of wisest and most educated priests and an excellent cook, he had an inventive note ingrained deep in his brain. His religion and his personal belief in rights of all living creatures forbid him killing and eating animals and anything that would bring suffering upon them. However, it was something that his new master, a sworn omnivore, would not tolerate. Mr. Chan was especially fond of duck meat. For him, the taste brought sweet nostalgia for childhood, time when everyone was still alive, and every day filled with pure joy, as pure as a child's mind only can reach.

    Seitan worked to some level as a good substitute for meats, especially in combination with tofu, but the duck recipe chef Xi received from previous cook, a special recipe kept for generation within the walls of Mr. Chan's kitchen, was not as easy to manipulate into a vegetarian substitute. Seitan was almost impossible to sculpt into the shape of a duck with a good skin imitation, not to mention bones that could not be reproduced in any way.

    Xi stayed up many a night looking for an answer, and running out of excuses as to why tradition of duck Wing Hoo Saturdays was stopped, along with Master's patience. Quite desperate, Xi decided to go for a walk and think of how he could retire from his position without Master Chan taking offence by it, which could turn out very dangerous. While walking around the pond, he suddenly saw something. Right there, in plane sight, stood a decoy wooden duck. He remembered his early recipes that used bamboo shoots, which he, differently from other old buddhist chef's apprentices, cut into larger chunks and softened in a special sweet and sour river algae juice sauce. The sauce was invented by him back when he was a poor village teenage boy who had little less than a handful of rice to survive on every day, so he turned to what he could find in nature and adapt for human stomach. It seemed that the old sauce recipe would save his life once again.

    He grabbed the decoy, scraped off the paint, and quickly prepared the sauce, in which he marinated it for next few days. After that procedure, wood was as soft and as edible as skin of a real duck. All it needed now was some food coloring and shape adjustments, and adding the seitan with duck meat flavors and spices inside. Bones he had no more time to think about for now, so he ran over to butchers, and retrieved some out of garbage. Sickened by the sight and smell, he washed the bones off carefully, and finalized preparation of his first vegetarian Duck Wing Hood. :D In future weeks, in his spare time he begun making duck skeletons out of pieces of wood and bamboo until he mastered it. Master Chan was more than pleased with the old taste and smell that took him back to childhood, and forgot that Xi ever even made a delay in learning to prepare it. His mind could again peacefully roam around with river, winds around the mountain, his good luck in life and memories of family that is now gone forever, and only he, most humble and simplest of them all, survived, living in wealth and prosperity, never learning anything more difficult and painful than this nostalgia in which he pampered himself as a baby would in a comforting, pacifying blanket...


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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