Hiiiisssss, gurgle-gurgle, ping, ping, ping, bubble-bubble-bubble....
I sighed at myself and lifted my old tea kettle. It wasn't a fancy kettle, but it beat boiling water in a pot and risking the dangerous into the one-cup-funnel pour which I frequently used for hot-chocolate.
The kettle used to be a creamy, gray-buttery porcelain. Now it just looked like a really well-loved tea pot. It had a nice brown-blackened belly from sitting directly on the fire, it's smooth surface shiny and comforting. The bamboo handle was warm from it's copper hook attachments to the clay body, and it felt sturdy and solid as I went towards the cup; none of this sloshing around from having a handle on the side business.
I poured the not-quite-boiling water over my loose-leaf green tea leaves, or 'yerba-mate.' The smell of hippy... I love hippies... I kinda' am one... earthy, fragrant steam wafted up to my nostrils.... mmmmmmm... smoky, roasted, warm and with delicate leaf, flower and amber notes. This tea would accompany me nicely on my walk this morning.
Okay: Scarf? Check. Hoodie? Check. Awesome fuzzy-hooded gray coat with thumbholes? Check. Hot beverage? Check.
I muttered to myself about my ridiculous idea of taking a shower this morning instead of the way I usually do: at night, as my damp hair whipped out of the two hoods and into my face; effectively blocking my view as I tried to make my way carefully down the sidewalk... which was covered completely with ice...
Marching briskly to the end of the sidewalk, glancing left and right, I prepared to cross.
SNAAAAP. CRACK! ShhhhhhhhhHHHHHH!
"MARTHA STEWART LIIIIIIIIVING!!!" I shouted. The road had just attempted to kill me.
[Yes, that is often the way I curse; I used to teach dance to small children (actually ages 3 through 18) and swearing is not really welcomed by parents. I also say: Sugar Plum FAIRies, SUBaru, FUSter-CLUCK, Mother-Trucker, Sweet BARnaby and anything else mundane that jumps into my head, such as book titles, the names of famous people, horse breeds, and many other random nouns that can be used as adjectives.]
When a body hits ice, it's not like hitting dirt, or even concrete. It feels harder, colder and more unyielding. Concrete at least has a surface texture; you don't notice the impassive strength underneath. Ice just freezes you, and helps to remind you you're alive, by pressing your bones against your softer parts and meeting them forcefully through the tissue, like a hard, cold, too-tight pinch. Ice bruises, and burns, and as if that weren't enough, it further humiliates it's victims by sliding them farther along it's surface after they've fallen down.
However, this morning, my 'Martha,' exclamation saved me. I just slid forward and waved like an idiot, dancing the way most people who aren't penguins do when they're about to fall, and awkwardly recovered my balance.
Well, that was it. I'd had it. Sometimes the universe is telling you something. If you wake up and you feel like staying home, do it. Everyone needs time off. Never mind that I hadn't walked in the morning since Thursday, if I ventured outside in the A.M. and took a few steps, that is by definition a WALK outside in the MORNING. So there.
I carefully turned around, puffing slightly at this point; my frozen hair sticking to my cheeks, and gently goose-stepped back over the distance I'd just traveled without moving at all, and back on to the comparative safety of the sidewalk. Even the little squares of concrete weren't really safe, after all. Everything was knobby, crunchy and SLIPPERY as all get-out. I paused, and took a deep sip of my tea. The warm fragrant liquid slid down into my belly, instantly warming me and comforting me. It was at that moment that I thought to myself,
"This counts. I walked. A short walk, but still, a walk nonetheless. I can now go inside and drink my tea without danger of falling and spilling it all over myself."
Through the gate. Crossed the yard. Tediously tiptoed up the steps to the front porch. Unlocked the door and,
WHOOOOOOOOOOSHHHH, warm air hit me full force as it escaped from the house. Our thermostat is set at 68 degrees. That tells you how COLD it was this morning. Tossing the door shut behind me, I sank onto the sofa, closed my eyes, and breathed in the aroma of my tea again.
I love tea. I love coffee too. I love just about anything hot and drinkable that goes in a cup. My cold beverages, however, cannot simply be cold. They must contain ice. Iced-water has ice in it. It's not just water that you happened to have sitting in the icebox (and by icebox I mean, refridgerator. Icebox is more fun to say, and I grew up with it, so :-P).
I don't understand this phenomenon of people wanting "chilled water," when it tastes so much better with real ice-cubes in it. However, this practice of mine may stem from the fact, that in Oklahoma, where it gets over 100 degrees in the summer, things simply "chilled," don't stay that way very long.
My cousin N and I used to argue about this ice-cube preference, especially when our family was headed to the movies. N thinks that ice is the way consumers get cheated by restaurants, theatres and food-service places, because the more ice they put in, the less drink you get. He likes to watch carefully while the concession-attendant in the movies is filling the cup with ice, and holler, "THAT'S ENOUGH," so that he gets his full allotment of sugared, fizzy water. He's probably right about the whole ice costs less than the soda they charge us for thing, but I still think drinks taste better when they're really, really cold and slightly diluted.
Each to their own, whatever floats your boat, and I don't give a hoot if you want ice or not; I'm ordering it. This brings me to how people like to eat other things. For example, I cannot eat commercial ketchup, being allergic to corn and therefore high fructose corn syrup, so I like the organic stuff. Annie's is my favorite. I like to mix it with hot sauce, and vegan aioli (garlic, sunflower oil and lemon juice) so it has a sort of creamy Heinz 57 steak sauce taste. This mixture is what I enjoy on my french fries (which I don't often have, but find quite delicious).
My partner, J, finds this disturbing. He doesn't like the way I constantly 'doctor,' my condiments. I don't like that when he's at work he cooks his eggs in the microwave (he has to if he doesn't have enough time to eat breakfast before he leaves) because it smells funny and he comes home smelling faintly of eggs-in-the-microwave. Besides that, microwaves bother me in general. If pregnant ladies aren't supposed to be around them, what makes my uterus safe around it? So we don't have one in the house. Nor do we have reusable plastic containers. Besides, microwaves are a P.I.T.A. to clean, and they always smell of whatever was last cooked in them.
All my nalgene bottles from college are now spare change collectors. I'm serious, they no longer serve as my water carrying receptacles. I hate the way plastic tastes and I don't think it's meant to be reused as many times as most people do. We use mason jars. I also reuse our bhakti chai jugs and glass containers that have proper screw-on lids. All of this may seem impractical, but dammit, I detest plastic; the way it smells, stretches, leaches, deteriorates... and it makes food and liquids taste extremely strangely.
Ok, enough about containers. Back to the way people like things. Everyone likes things the way they like them: plain and simple, or flavored and complex. J hates pickles and olives. I love them. I don't like the smell of raw meat or eggs, it doesn't bother him in the slightest. However, we both love each other and get along and that's what life's about. Part of being with someone means accepting that disagreement happens all the time, over everything. It's the fact that you love someone ANYWAY that matters.
J will never understand why I hate immediately cleaning out the cast iron pan we have designated to cook eggs in (it smells too strongly, I have to wait until it's dry.... and harder to clean) and I will never understand why he forgets to clean out the coffee grinder after he's put the fresh coffee from its well, into the filter.
Life. Goes. On.
Plus, having learned each other's little quirky idiosyncrasies we now have things to sweetly tease each other about (ONLY good-natured teasing of course) and we make allowances and compromises for each other all the time. I actually love compromises; it keeps me from becoming too set in my ways.
He keeps me on my toes, and if I wasn't on my toes a bit, I'd have shitty balance, and who wants that?