Apr. 27th, 2009

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insert #1

I have a new technique for cleaning the cast iron skillet. I scrape the remnants out manually, rinse it with the hottest faucet water a few times, leaving a generous swirl behind, then add about 6-8 tbsps of kosher salt and scrub the pan with my fingers. No sponge, no scouring pad, just fingertips and salt. It works brilliantly to grind bits off while also soak up the fats and moistures, leaving the seasoned coating intact. A few more hot water rinses and the pan is gleaming jet black, inviting me to heat it up and toss something in. I love the look of a clean empty cast iron skillet sitting on the stove, like a kitchen in a doll house with empty pots and pans intentionally placed to indicate an air of lived-in.

Now I find myself washing other delicate things by hand as well. Today was the top of a green ceramic jar, brought back from my childhood, by way of my road trip to Atlanta a few weeks ago, visiting my hometown and my parents for the first time in 8 years. I managed to drive back with merely a giant plastic tub of items plus an electronic keyboard and stand. For nearly a month this tub has sat waiting for me to parse through it, to find a reason and purpose, or at least a slot on a shelf for each strange item from the mélange of nostalgia. A plastic magic trick, lost from a larger set that my current friend owns. I’m pleased I can help complete the set, it is a way of bringing my past forward to the present. A lego set that I’ve already put together and it sits on the mantel at the home of another friend who is a lego aficionado. There are a few fragile items wrapped in tissue paper, tucked in among the books and viewmaster slides, a clay bowl from kindergarten arts class and this sage colored ceramic jar I remember as sitting on my dresser but not the concrete details of when in childhood it appeared (middle school?) or the source (birthday gift from a friend?). There are items inside and I open expecting to find cheap jewelry but instead it’s rocks. A collection of different quartzes and…varietals? What is the word for “kinds of rocks”? Is ‘kinds’ the technical term in lieu of something Latinate-esque -- species or breed or strains? So anyway, it is rocks, a small rock collection. I turn around and look at the altar in my house now, and see on the left, a pile of rocks, ones I have been collecting for my adult life, starting in college. I thought it was something I invented for myself, a ritual I created spontaneously and borne out of the wisdom of reaching said adulthood, but no, my spirit has been attracted to the hard elements and rock for awhile. I crave it, even, the sensation of my skin to mineral, it is a cold electricity that warms gently over time and remains even longer. My collection is small, sometimes they get lost, more often I pass them along as gifts to others for their shelves, and I don’t collect rocks from every single place I travel, it is something that arises in a moment, they will be nearby and I will feel them talking out, emitting low hums of conversation and so I walk near them, glancing down, my heart on the lookout for the one who is looking for me. I pick up a few contenders, they are not right, I apologize for interrupting and cast them back to the fray. I walk and poke and skim and walk and then one will find me and I hold it as a test, putting my hand in my pocket, the weight pressed into palms, my fingertips examining the surface edges and texture. It stays. I carry it home in a suitcase and when I unpack, I place it on the altar, onto the pile I stare at now while holding this ceramic jar of rocks from a rock shop gift pack (See Rock City?), examples of the potential of rock variety that is out in the world, in the ground, ready for me to find it and dig it up. So I wash off the lid with my fingertips, rubbing off the collected dust of a decade or more, then find a place in the shelves above the altar for part of my origin.

May 2010

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