Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Southern Food, African Food

My southern heritage has given me a love for okra, squash, sweet potatoes, rice, tomatoes, corn, watermelon. These foods grow well in the south, grow well in our garden. I have been dealing with vegetables nonstop on a daily basis, I have also been piling up cookbooks around me, searching for recipes to prepare and preserve all of this food coming in to my kitchen. I have a huge collection of cookbooks from the South, church cookbooks, Junior League cookbooks, cookbooks from restaurants in S.C and New Orleans, etc. 

One thing I have noticed as a repeating theme in many of my old cookbooks is how "White" they are. White women discussing recipes and food preparation that mostly originated from slave owners that learned these recipes from their Black cooks. Many of the foods I love and the way they are prepared came to us through the slave trade, they are gifts from Africa.  Michael Twitty writes so eloquently in his book about the origins of the foods I love and reading this book gives me an even greater appreciation for these foods and how they came to us from Africa. 
For instance, yams (sweet potatoes) were found to be a good food to nourish people that were just hunted and captured and put on boats for the long voyage to the United States. The enslaved could not eat the food that was initially prepared for them, it did not sustain them, but the sweet potato did.  Before these humans were loaded on ships, the ships were stocked with yams and these yams ultimately found their way into our culture. My grandmother and Gerry's dad make the best sweet potato pies, both of them knowing how much I love a sweet potato pie, almost always had one for me when I came to visit. Knowing the history of this vegetable gives it an even deeper and more profound meaning...... we  really should think more about these origins of our food instead of just picking up a package at the local grocery. Food is the most important thing for our survival and yet we take it for granted like we do the air we breathe. 

I treasure my cookbooks and read them like most people read a good novel. I take them to bed at night, I read them in the afternoon, sometimes in the morning to get an idea of food planning for supper. They would be the thing I would want to save from fire.

My mom gave me this Colored Wo-Men's cookbook for Christmas one year. It was produced as a fundraiser for the Colored School museum. Many of the women featured were mothers or grandmothers of girls I went to school with. Myrtle Beach did not have a school for Black children in 1930. This first colored school was created for them. In 1973, our school system became integrated, and I was bussed to Carver Elementary, which was the replacement for this first school. As they moved white children in, they changed the name to Central. It was a big deal in this community for everyone. I first met these women at that school. This cookbook is filled with all the foods I love and I am grateful for their knowledge of good food.

This cookbook is probably the one that has had the most use over the years. My mom gave it to me when Gerry and I got married, it is how I learned to cook. Mrs. Frances was well known in the community, Prince's Place was a tiny restaurant near the school I mentioned, and was in the "colored part of town" as folks would say back in the 1970's (seriously!) Since I went to school in the "colored part of town" I had no issues with also eating there. I worked for Belk Dept store in the '70's and every day for lunch, we would go to Mrs. Frances' to eat. Her beef stew and collard greens were like none I have ever had since.

I can still vividly remember every single thing about this place.  Gerry and I ate at Fearrington one year for an anniversary and I'm sure the bill was over $200.  I can't recall what I ate, but I can still taste that beef stew at Prince's Place. Mrs. Frances and the restaurant are gone now, but will live forever in my memory.

One of my favorite foods to cook in summer is okra. It is coming in like crazy right now and we are picking it twice a day. It literally grows that fast! It is to me, what southern food is about. Michael Twiity has a good post as a guest blogger here about the origins of okra and a recipe for okra soup.

It had not occurred to me until the BLM movement, how many of my cookbooks are from Black food culture. Even my very White church cookbooks have their origins in African cooking. We are all so connected by food and yet we are so separated by judgement of race. It is such a shame that we cannot come together and celebrate each others differences rather than judge and hate because of those differences. How would we have good food if not for the contribution of Black culture!? What the hell would I eat!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Mrs. Duke's Pound Cake

 I don't really remember any of my birthdays as a kid. Probably lots of reasons why, but there is one thing I do remember. Mrs. Dukes pound cake. Every year she would bring me one for my birthday. It was the best pound cake I have ever tasted and I remember it fondly, as I do her. Before she passed, I asked for the recipe and this is what she sent me.

As you can see, there are not a lot of details! I have never been baker, I can cook, but I am still learning to bake. I had to teach myself to cook when we got married, my mom did not cook and I had more experience eating in restaurants than boiling water.

Back when I first attempted this recipe, my skills were no where near where they needed to be to follow a recipe like this. The cake was a disaster and I never tried again...... Until today.

I have been cooking every day since March 15, watching the Great British Baking show with Wesley, reading all of my old cookbooks, and my baking skills are improving. What else am I going to do in COVID isolation!?
So today, I dug out this recipe and tried again. For some reason this pound cake has been on my mind and I wanted it.

Can I just say..... it tasted exactly like I remember it!!  Right down to the chewy parts of the crust. It was moist, flavorful and just perfect. It even came out of the bundt pan with only one tiny chunk sticking. I have felt pretty pleased with myself today!

Since I was on a roll with the cake success, I decided to try this tomato soup recipe I came across in a book I have, Dinner at Mrs. Lady's. This is an absurd book, I can't remember why I have it, but it does have some interesting recipes.  

I have been on a quest for years to duplicate my mom's tomato soup that she only made when I was sick and home from school. I don't know why one of the only things I ever liked that she made was a soup she only made when I was getting over a stomach bug..... I have asked her several times to tell me how to make it, never really got an answer that was helpful, so I have tried on my own. I did find one recipe that was very close, but couldn't find it again. This one is not it, but it is very good and very close. My mom put cream in hers and Wesley doesn't like the cream part so I left it out and it didn't matter, it was still a great soup, if you like tomato soup. The trick is, the tomatoes have to be good. Ours are very good!


 This coronavirus has been a terrible thing, it is a terrible thing. But I must say, it has given me precious time that I am very grateful for. Time to slow down, time to do things I never took time to do before, I get to spend more time with Wesley instead of her moving to Charlotte. We have the best garden we have ever had. I finally learned to can food properly, I can bake insane bread, and now I can bake Mrs. Dukes pound cake!

The three of us have dinner together every night, something that has not happened since Gerry and I met in 1980. We all have had crazy schedules and have worked around it for years. Now its almost normal around here.... almost. Gerry still missed Father's Day for a golf tournament assignment.

I don't know what life is going to be like on the other side of this thing, but life right now is calm and quiet and we are all learning new things and life is slow. The pantry is full of pickled cucumbers, beans of all sorts, carrots, vegetable soup, salsas, tomatoes, jellies and more.

I just stand there sometimes and stare at all the jars. They are so pretty and it has been so much fun producing all of that food, and eating it! We have to make more banana pepper jelly, I can tell already it will not last long, it is that good. Sean Brock's recipe for bread and butter pickles are quickly disappearing and the pickled okra is amazing. The garden is waning and there won't be much more to can, except tomatoes and peppers for freezing, but we have a lot. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts....

Why I waited so long to do this, I do not know. Except I was working, traveling, being a mom, being an artist, being an AP photographer's wife, etc. There was just never time for everything. Now, there is time for lots of  things. But mostly, it seems, time for eating!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Kitchen Medicine

The smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen is the first thing that greets me in the mornings, I pour a cup, wake up my brain and my day begins.... in the kitchen. That's pretty much where you will find me most of the day, or outside in the gardens bringing in more things for the kitchen. I have two looms that sit quietly, a sewing machine that is neglected in the corner, a pottery wheel in the shed, art projects for "someday" and shelves of books that want to be read. I used to have a job I liked a lot. Until "the virus". 

Now, it is all about the gardens. We are bringing baskets and baskets of vegetables in every evening and in the morning I find useful things to do with all we are growing this year. Flowers need pruning, herbs need drying, there are chickens to feed, a dog to walk, family to be with. This is my new full time job. Growing and preparing for winter and a possible worse second wave of the Coronavirus. 

This year we stepped it up, we did not grow hemp or flowers, instead we decided to grow as much as we could for our food supply. We prepped the soil with compost, sowed an early cover crop, we laid down Lumite fabric for weed control, we decided to let the grass grow in the paths and we mow them, (a great decision after last year's muddy paths in the flower rows).  We spend very little time dealing with weeds, we are growing organically and have super healthy plants. We just go out in the mornings and evenings and pick beautiful vegetables. Early on we patrolled for pests, found just a few, controlled them with organic methods and have been successful keeping them in check.

In addition to all of our vegetables, I have herbs growing in beds around the house. I planted 5 varieties of basil and we have 4 varieties of mint coming back from last year as well as hyssop that really wants to take over everything. I am loving all of them for teas and flavor additions to our meals. I made this tea today from the Herbalist Kitchen cookbook. It is described as a tea to stay focused and centered during times of relative high stress.... Yup.

Centered and Focused tea:
1 tsp linden leaf  ( I still have herbs left from our store's apothecary)
2 tsp dry or fresh basil (I used a mix of cinnamon and lemon basil)
2 tsp dry or fresh mint (I used peppermint)
1 tsp fresh or dry rosemary
1 tsp fennel seed
boiling water

We have our large utilitarian garden out in the field now, but I also like a pretty garden. Wesley and I planted a small kitchen garden behind the house, which used to be our main garden. We grew kale, onions, garlic, spinach and lettuces in the early spring and have switched it over now to herbs, peas and beans. We also have a fig tree that has finally decided it will produce and I will be canning figs for days pretty soon. We harvest and eat blackberries every morning from a bush we gave Gerry three years ago for Father's Day and blueberries are just coming in. We also planted two pineapple ground cherry plants that are coming along nicely. I love these little ground cherries for snacks in the late summer. The pineapple variety is new for us.

When I was a kid, my favorite summer past time was reading. I loved going to the library and getting arm loads of books to take home. I would read under the covers at night with a flashlight, read in the backseat of the car on trips, read on the beach. Always a book with me....

 These are my go to books right now. So many great summer recipes. I search them every day for new ways to prepare squash, zucchini and cucumbers. Why we planted a 100 ft row of these plants is something I ask myself every day now! These are my current favorites and we have had some really great meals from them.

I'm glad I started collecting cookbooks years ago, I have such a great resource library now and I finally have time to sit and read them and prepare meals from them! My mom used to lay on the sofa in the afternoons and read cookbooks. She didn't do much cooking, lol, but she read the books. 

I have been harvesting and canning and pickling and freezing and baking and cooking and eating. That's it. That is what my life has become. Tracey's Diner. Funny how a scary thing like this pandemic has given me better cooking skills, given us time as a family to eat dinner together, something we never got to do in the past with all of our crazy schedules and given us time to grow healthy food. In so many ways, I am very grateful for this time. I hate it and I have constant anxiety, but growing our food and preparing it is the medicine we need for this pandemic right now.

For me, summer is a porch railing with tomatoes ripening in the sun. I love to pick a warm tomato off the porch and make myself a tomato sandwich. I will eat tomato sandwiches this summer until the last one comes off the vine. I dream about them all winter. We planted around 10 varieties of tomatoes this year so I am clearly in heaven!

I continue to stay home, only going out for necessary groceries. Our one quick trip to the mountains was great, but stressful and I am beginning to think I am developing a nice case of social anxiety, just the thought of going to visit someone or having a conversation with someone totally freaks me out and causes me great stress. I am happy at home, happy alone, happy in the kitchen, happy in the garden. This is all I need right now. I wonder often what I will be like a year from now when hopefully this virus is under control and life can begin again at some level of "normal". 
Who will I be? I wonder.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

104 Days

 I have now been isolating myself, staying home as much as possible, not working, practicing safe COVID avoidance techniques, screaming at the stupid president, mourning the despair in our country and generally becoming a sociopath for 104 days.

Life is a blur. Days run together, I put an X on the calendar each day to recognize the passing of that day. I move more slowly, generally feel no sense of purpose other than to hunt and gather food, like a squirrel, like the cavemen. Morning coffee is required to get me moving. I sometimes wear the same thing three days in a row, hair is rarely brushed, just pinned up.

I am cooking more than I have cooked in my life, enjoy it for the most part and don't really miss restaurants, because I like the food I am making. We eat the food we grow now. The garden is just coming in and already it is plentiful.

I am canning, preserving, preparing. I sense September looming closely as a marker for more ominous times and I want to be as ready as possible. I have accepted the notion that I will be in this house, on this land at least until the end of the year and I am settling in to that idea.

We have celebrated Wesley's birthday, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and our anniversary at home under COVID guidelines. It was nice. Gifts were creative and heartfelt, meals were good, time together was more precious. We even managed to take a small trip for our anniversary and travel safely away from the crowds that refuse to follow rules. 

Gerry made this beautiful bouquet for me for Mothers Day with flowers from our yard

I even treated myself to my own gift from a favorite weaver/potter (Anna Brnner)

We celebrated Father's Day a day late since Gerry had to cover the PGA tournament in Hilton Head. While there, a golfer tested positive, Gerry is uncertain of his contact with the virus and so we are now wearing masks in the house and being even more diligent than we were. Now we wait and see....

I have cleaned and organized every corner of the house. Our pantry was a hodge lodge of shelves I made out of crates and repurposed wood from the shed and nails in the wall. I finally took everything out, scrubbed every surface, and bought new metal shelves. I am so happy with this new organization! Grateful in a way for this time to check off boxes on my mental to do list.

I even sorted and oiled all of my wooden spoons. Like, who ever has time to sit down and oil their spoon collection, I ask you!?  I love my spoons, I use them every day, and I care for them so they will last me for as long as possible.  One was a gift Wesley brought to me from Morocco, one was made my my friend Chance, the rice paddle a gift a friend brought back from her trip to India. All of them have a special place for me. 

The fruits of our labor are plentiful. We have a beautiful garden, with food we can preserve and enjoy in the winter months. We are growing organically, no chemical pesticides, so there is more work involved, but hopefully that will save on cancer treatments later in life! So far, the garden is healthy, with only a few sightings of bugs. We did lose a couple of squash plants yesterday, but the freezer is filling up with squash so no great loss there. Just please leave my tomatoes alone!

We had a beautiful onion harvest this year. I probably pulled them a little early but I like the smaller onions. I cook with onions at least once a day, so I'm very happy to have this harvest!

My bread baking skills continue to improve and I have some mad baking skills now. The levain is fed every day and that is something I am close to being less than enamored with. Throwing out all of that hard to come by flour is challenging. At first I tried to use up the discards, some I have frozen, but good lord, the yeast around here! I sort of overdosed on yeast products the first couple of weeks and my stomach paid for it, so I have backed off and am now baking minimal quantities. I can't believe I have managed to stay at my Weight Watchers goal weight, but some how I am staying on track. 

Last on my list of things to mention- Walmart shoppers. This place. Why is something I despise so much such a necessary place sometimes. I needed a few things that I seem to only be able to find at Walmart. Last week was the first time (and probably the last time) I have shopped in Walmart since March. I am not a frequent shopper there anyway, but avoiding stupidity seemed even more of a challenge than usual in this store. It stressed me out so much, I left vowing to not go back. I will do without or I will pay shipping, but I am not walking through those doors again until there is a vaccine for ignorance!

I truly understand all of the posts on FB for supporting small businesses, I had one, I know. But here is the thing, you DO NOT have what I need small businesses! I don't need a candle, or soap, or cute farm decor or another antique. In my community, there is a street of shops and nearly every single store carries the same thing. They all copy each other and try to out do one another and there is absolutely nothing I need there that is worth the risk of encountering all of the republicans and the racists that live in that town. There are some lovely shop owners, don't get me wrong, but one of the reasons I closed my store was because of all the "not lovely" people there. I do enjoy the lattes at the local coffee shop and the employees are very special, but we now have a monthly coffee club subscription and a great coffee maker, so I don't even risk that.  I have so much sympathy for shop owners who followed their dreams of independent ownership, but the reality is, I have found out how much I can do without and be just as happy. Food. We need food.... and shelter. 
That's about it....  And Art! I need art in my life, must have that! 
Stay safe everyone, please wear a mask. This virus is a mofo.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

COVID Vacation

Going away from your safe house during a pandemic is challenging. We used to always plan a trip the first week of June since our anniversary is June 1. We decided when we got married, that instead of giving each other anniversary gifts every year, we would take a trip. We have done lots of fun things, snorkeling in the Virgin Islands, driving cross country and camping in National Parks, Maine was a favorite trip and Alberta Canada was one of the best.  

This year, Gerry put in for vacation a week before the protests started. Thank God for perfect timing!
Traveling far from home was not an option for us, in fact a couple of days were spent at home just catching up on garden work. We also wanted to stay away from people. We almost always want to do that anyway! Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway seemed like a good choice, it has been a favorite destination for us since we first met forty years ago. It never disappoints and there is always something new to find. This year was no exception.

The most surprising thing we found this year was an empty parkway the first week of June! All of the campgrounds were closed, the visitor centers and craft shops, closed. Trails were open thank goodness, we did a lot of hiking. The first day, temperatures were in the 60's and it was drizzly and cloudy. My favorite mountain weather! By Saturday, the section of the parkway close to towns started getting more and more crowded, cars parked everywhere. The sun came out, weather warmed up and everyone with cabin fever was out and not social distancing at all! We headed north away from the crowds!

This lodge was a sad discovery. I have always loved this place and thought one day we might stay there when we tired of camping. We found it in a terrible state of decay. It was closed up and as we walked around, we could even smell the mold that must have been inside the rooms. Is this what has happened during the trump administration? Our parks are just neglected. The roadsides were not mowed, they used to be pristine, the roads had pot holes, downed trees were everywhere from the winter storms and had not been cleaned up, the facilities all looked shabby and run down. Its really sad to see such a national treasure look so bleak.

I guess they pulled all of the picnic tables in the park, all of the picnic areas were closed.
The hiking trails were virtually empty. We had the woods to ourselves and the quiet space was so healing. We both needed this more than we knew. Just to be in nature and listen to the stillness is medicine for the soul. Avoiding people has become our number one priority, even more than it has been in the past!

Since the campgrounds were closed we stayed at a Marriott. I did a lot of reading about covid hotel stays and Marriott is going above and beyond on protection. There were hand sanitizers on the walls, even in the elevator, the front desk was plexi-glassed, although we did see a guest leaning around it to talk to the staff, idiot. They did not have food service, although there was a Starbucks in the lobby so we did get coffee at least. It was also nearly empty, so we felt relatively safe here. The rooms were clean and sanitized, I could even smell the bleach in the linens. We took the stairs instead of the elevator, and just made sure we were being careful, washing hands and using hand sanitizer.

Eating was a whole other challenge! We brought a lot of our food, tailgating for lunch (missing the picnic areas), fruit and bread in the room for breakfast, snacks in our packs when hiking.

We had the Door Dash app and used that for room service at our hotel, ordering pizza from a local shop. The delivery girl showed up with a mask and held the pizza box far away from her. No contact. Easy Peasy and the pizza was great!  We supported a local business and an essential worker (delivery person) Bonus!

Also supported the local coffee shop in Boone. They were doing a fantastic job keeping everything safe. Doors open, tables removed, everyone wearing masks and keeping a proper distance. The barista announced from time to time that there was sanitizer at the register and to please use it, gave instructions on the one way in one way out doorways, and the coffee was much better  than the hotel Starbucks! Win Win.  We have been to this coffee shop many times, usually long lines, lots of people sitting around on their laptops or students reading books, visiting with friends. It was eerily quiet, but pleasant anyway.

Also a must for any travel is a breakfast biscuit from Bojangles. Again, masks, no inside dining, and limited contact.

On the way home, we stopped for Mexican food. We did not want to dine in, even though NC is now open for limited inside dining.  We did go in to place our order, sort of regretted this, but we tried and tried to call and the line was busy. The restaurant had arranged for curbside pickup, but how do you do that if you can't get through on the phone?  Anyway, all staff was wearing masks, all diners were not. To be fair, how do you wear a mask and eat? It was packed though and I don't see anyway they were practicing social distancing, and I for one, could not have eaten a bite in there. So we ate in the car. It was hot as hell outside, 92 degrees, we stopped at a park, could see the picnic tables but the car was cooler. You do what you gotta do in these weird ass times!

We found some quiet places. We hiked, fished, read, ate good food, had good coffee. All the things you do on a restful vacation. It was sort of normal, we just took extra measures to be safe and virus free. We watched the protests on the news at night in our hotel room, watched the Jeffrey Epstein documentary which was fascinating and creepy. We drove down gravel roads, mountain roads, took lots of photos, and just enjoyed escaping reality for a week.

The cicada hatch was also in the mountains and we were reminded of the insane sound of them years ago when they hatched in Chapel Hill. I hope they stay in the Mts. although this little guy tried to hitch a ride home with us, found him in our car after searching through the back for the sound we kept hearing!

This was Boone NC on a Saturday morning in June. I have been going to Boone all my life, hate the traffic in that little tourist, college town, and this was something I have never seen. An empty main street. Guess some people are taking the Governor seriously and sheltering at home. Even though we were not "sheltering in place", (we had already done so for 70+ days), we took extreme measures to be safe, stay away from people and enjoy a trip away for a few days. It was good to get away, a good break from the virus and nice to see we could get out and enjoy our beautiful country without too much trouble. Vacation is possible during a pandemic, but you should be smart, not only for yourself but for others that want to get out as well. Challenging times, for sure!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Never too old to learn

I have now been home for 80 days. A few trips to the grocery store, and just recently Gerry and I took a mini vacation, although a very edited version of a normal vacation for us. I have been to no coffee shops, no restaurants, no retail stores, no visits with friends. Just groceries. We did go quickly into a coffee shop in Boone last week and we had our first take out meal. Its been a baffling, confusing, scary, angry, emotional time. But it has also been a time to slow down, reflect, eat good food together, read, exercise, and learn some new things. 

Wesley gave me the gift of bookmaking for Mother's Day and we have been making books. She has made books to draw in, I have made books for things I collect. Leaves, feathers, ticket stubs, pieces of paper, poems, cards.....  it has been fun to sit together and glue and cut paper and paint and talk. 

Recently, blogger Michele Hastings posted a video on her FB of Paulus Berenshon
I forgot how much I used to love reading about him as a potter. He talked about making paste paper, so Wes and I explored that, so much fun! and we used these papers for our books.

I also got a bread making book for Mother's Day: Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. I have been reading this book since I got it, trying to understand the process of bread making clearly enough to attempt a good loaf. Finally after a week of feeding my levain, it was ready and I mixed up a recipe from the book. 

The oven was preheated to 475 degrees, I did not know it even went that high! I preheated my Lodge cast iron dutch oven, tucked the dough in and closed the lid. The heat, the learning process, the waiting..... all reminded me of pottery, especially my gas kiln, turning up the burners, waiting for it to cool before I could open it. The butterflies, not knowing what I would find when the lid opened.... and then the elation when the bread was perfectly baked, it had that desired hollow thump, crisp crust and spongy interior. I did it!

It tasted amazing! I have baked bread for years, always disappointed in the results. Often under baked with a slightly soggy middle, or over baked and tough, or just a blah tasting bread. I knew there had to be a way to get a good loaf. Of course there is, you put in the time, like most everything that is made well.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been putting a little food aside here and there, not hoarding exactly, but preparing for a "just in case". We are growing a LOT of vegetables this year, more than we ever have, I bought a freezer, though now I think I should have gotten a bigger one. And I bought a pressure canner this week. Like many people my age, I bet,  my mom put the fear of God in me about pressure cooking. When I was a kid, she tried once to can tomatoes with a primitive pressure cooker pot. She didn't do something properly, something blew up, tomatoes shot all over the kitchen. My dad had to repaint the kitchen ceiling, and she never canned again. Nor did I try.

 I have canned tomatoes in the summer in a water bath, but that's about it, except for last year's crop of muscadine grapes (we still have jars of jelly from that).  I wanted to get serious this year, bean soup, vegetable soup, tomato sauce, salsa..... and so today began many days to come of canning for the fall/winter. I can't wait to open the first jar of vegetable soup on a cold winter night!!

I have been cooking so much. Gerry gave me a master class with Alice Waters that I absolutely loved and we have had meals from her menus. I have picked challenging recipes in many of my cookbooks, sometimes a great success, sometimes a not so good result. Today, I mixed up a rye/wheat bread and will bake that in the morning. Wesley has learned the coptic stitch for bookmaking and I have a book that needs binding, so another thing to learn. The dishwasher is full of quart size ball jars waiting for soups to can. The squash are coming in like there won't be a tomorrow. We counted TWENTY tomatoes on one of our plants. There is a 100 ft row of those plants! We are looking at a very busy summer ahead!

The virus lingers in the background. Al Sharpton's voice still lingers in my mind (did you see his eulogy for George Floyd? It blew me away!) the images of the cities on fire with anger and grief and all the people just plain fed up are in my dreams at night. There is the constant frustration of that stupid president in the white house and the incomprehensible behavior he and the rest of his supporters continue to bring to our lives. It just makes me burrow in to my house, cook, grow food, and keep my hands busy. 
Always busy hands, that is what has alway soothed me, even as a child in a very dysfunctional family. Just the making, it is necessary.  
What are you making?