The Sweet Life

by Maria Theresa Maggi on October 23, 2020

"Low Tide Facing North," charcoal memory sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Low Tide Facing North,” charcoal memory sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

Tuesday mornings, as early as possible, are the most solitary and quiet times on the beach. It reminds me that while I’d be hard pressed to say our beach is ever actually crowded because it’s nothing like popular beaches in California, Hawaii or Florida, on Tuesday mornings, especially as Winter approaches, it’s a pretty good bet that if the tide is low enough Cotton and I will have a wide open field of  sand for him to run and play on. It reminds me that before the pandemic anyway, Tuesday was also the most common “day of rest” for coastal businesses, who would close their doors on that day after the rush of weekend visitors. The descent down the steps to the expanse of sand before us is one of joyful release and we both enjoy it, as evidenced by these photos a neighbor took of us playing a while back for a “something in motion” assignment in her photography class.

This particular Tuesday morning, there was no one around close to us, but way up the beach I saw people small enough to look like specs as they wandered the edge of the tide. The view of people as tiny specks on the long stretches of sand at the edge of the roiling ocean is one that humbles me.  It  compels me to feel benevolent toward our predicaments as humans, and even potentially tenderhearted toward those whose beliefs stupify and astound me (like the ones who insist the thus far not to be found parents of the 545 children who were separated from them at the border are somehow themselves to blame by trying to save their lives in the first place), because it reminds me how truly vulnerable all of us are, and that some of us choose fearful ways of addressing that vulnerability, hiding it by demonizing others as the cause. Everyone on the edge of the water, made so small by its vastness, is in a state of wandering, reflection, or lost in looking for a lovely stone or shell to take with them as a keepsake. At this distance I can’t see how old they are, how young, what color their skin might be. In a way it reminds me of what the astronauts describe about how it is to look back on our earth as a whole,  and see how beautiful it is, beyond the collection of countries and borders we reduce it to all too often. Tenderness toward people in general in this trying time, even if it has to be generated for me at a far distance, is a welcome feeling.

Like so many others during this pandemic, I, too, have turned to the solace of baking. Baking is in my genes; my grandmother’s big brothers ran a bakery, and I still have a pastry cloth they used that was given to me by her long after their deaths. I’ve always loved the process of making pie crust, cookies, jelly rolls, breads, rolls, largely encouraged my grandmother when I was growing up. When I switched to eating low fat and plant-based (and gluten free) I learned to bake differently. During the time I spent with my son and daughter-in-law during and immediately after the fires, I got the opportunity to teach my son how to make pastry crust (not low fat but definitely vegan) when he wanted to have some homemade pop tarts. I later tried a recipe from Allergy Free Alaska that was both vegan and gluten-free and now I have a go to for a special treat.

Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t tempted to eat a lot; in fact I only had a taste of  each one of the two flavors (raspberry jam and peanut butter chocolate). But what did draw me in was the chance to work with dough again. Suddenly, I was wishing for cinnamon rolls and went looking for a gluten-free vegan one I could try. I found this one on Detoxinista, which uses pumpkin and chia or flax seeds in the dough. I substituted applesauce for the coconut oil in the dough, and apricot simply fruit jam for brushing the insides, and I was off to the baking races.

But once again, though the results are quite delicious and relatively healthy, it was not the eating that is my favorite part (though it’s nearly my favorite part). What drew me to make them twice now, is the experience of making the dough: carefully letting the yeast bubble, carefully folding it in with the warm pumpkin applesauce mixture into the flour mixture I have curated and sifted, and coming up with this soft flexible ball to gently press out into a rectangle and then fill with a jam lined cinnamon brown sugar (with a kiss of flaked coconut and chopped hazelnuts) mixture. But the best part of all is the gentle process of rolling it up, oh so carefully, so the soft, sticky dough comes up and over itself to make that wonderful cinnamon spiral. The tenderness of handling the dough is what really draws me to the whole process: that in these harsh times, there is still room for tenderness, for being careful, for caring how I move something, how I change something, how I prepare something, how I help things transform.

That spirit of tenderness, and the opportunity to  manifest it in this ordinary way, is indeed a sweetness for me beyond sugar. It is a treat I treasure because it keeps me human. Once I roll up the dough and cut it into what will rise into the cinnamon rolls, I am also shepherding a final transformation. Going through these motions is more than baking a treat for me. It is connecting me to my ancestors, and reminding me that acting out the motions of tenderness can send waves of it out into the world where it is so badly needed, perhaps encouraging even more of it to grow.

That is a sweetness I can never have too much of.

Maria (moonwatcher)

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An Invitation

by Maria Theresa Maggi on October 15, 2020

“God’s Eye,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

My Dear Readers,

I wanted to invite you to check out my new website on Substack called Maria’s StarGarden. There you will find my first post, LIBRA NEW MOON HOROSCOPES for October 16, 2020, with Musings and Art from Maria’s StarGarden. This new venture is a space for me to express my astrological insights in a way I once did on the radio, as I described in my recent blog post “I See The Moon, The Moon Sees Me.”  This is a passion that has found me once again in these unprecedented times, and I am compelled in a way that feels blessed to answer the call to write these again.

This blog will also continue here, but since my readers here did not sign up for my astrological insights, I felt it would be more fitting to create a place specifically for those, which still come in the writing style so many of you have graciously read and enjoyed over the years. So if you are interested in the cycles of the moon and my take on how the astrology of those cycles feels and works from my point of view please click on the links above and check it out. There will be two time sensitive posts a month, one for the new moon and one for the full moon, and each will go up a couple of days before the actual date. If you like what you read, please subscribe, so you can be notified when I put a new post up, and I know I am gaining some traction with creating an audience. It’s free. I hope at some point to be able to request a nominal fee, something like $2.00 a post, to help compensate me for the hours I do spend writing both here and there. But at the moment I am just jazzed that I figured out how to start, amidst a myriad of technical setbacks induced by the regional fires and other not so  fun stuff. If you are a person who loves the moon or who is curious about or follows astrology, I hope you’ll join me.

And if not, no worries. I will still be writing here from time to time about what happens in my life that is healing and how the plant food I eat contributes to that. As always, I am ever grateful for your kind and insightful readership. I’ve learned so much from you over the years, and am blessed to have found my voice to describe here things important to me in my life, and to my surprise, discover how profoundly those things have resonated with others. I intend to keep on doing that, too.

Many blessings, my friends–

Maria (moonwatcher)

 

 

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