It's the weekend. As a result of slacking off during the week I found myself working half-heartedly, reading papers while doing a host of domestic tasks such as watching mould grow (literally, on my tempeh, which WORKED. YAY!). We made a simple apple pie with storebought frozen puff pastry. Bakuteh with ready-packed herbs, and a stirfry that contained beansprouts that I had sprouted myself from mung beans.
By all accounts it is quite a chill Saturday. Towards the evening I picked up a book, Larry's Party by Carol Shields, which I bought from a clearance sale in Tintabudi. It's quite a good read, about the ordinary life of a guy named Larry. Any book that makes me want to write is a good book, I've figured. Sometimes you encounter that in a live performance, or a painting, or a cookie, that is so jam-packed with creative force that inspiration fairies spring forth and make you want to create too. It's like somebody lived very intensely for a while and that urge to live spreads. Like a virus. Metaphorically.
I've realised that everybody's baking during lockdowns. It's what you see in Instagram stories, and what you talk about in Whatsapp groups. With my enthusiastic but basic puff pastry apple pie I've been joining the conversation but rapidly cowed by experts baking hot cross buns and loaves of banana bread. I don't think I'm quite at the bread-baking level yet but perhaps I could do other things like make pizza dough from scratch.
My strive for food security continues, despite setbacks. The one seed that sprouted is starting to look more like a sprightly weed than the Hong Kong sawi that was supposed to be in that container. But maybe its function was to prompt me to sow another batch of new seeds (which I did yesterday), and I should say thank you after all, for giving me hope even though it was not the vegetable that I had hoped to get. We operate on nature's whims and not mine. The best I can do is to keep trying.
Speaking of nature, I've been seeing pictures of how beautiful the skies are without air pollution, now that humans are being locked up at home. Also rivers are starting to run cleaner. I feel a mixture of hope and pain. Why do we have to choose between living and destroying the earth? Already pollution levels in China are rising again, after their months-long lock down, now that production is resuming. On one hand I'm thinking, it's great that people are returning to normalcy again. But on the other hand, normalcy sucked donkey balls (as my friend Marten would say). Why should I be forced to make the moral choice, of either hoping for the economy to hit rock bottom so that it impairs significantly our ability to consume and produce, or to have our planet heal and function again like it was, before we trashed it?
In a parallel universe I am now somewhere in Europe, a week early for the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, probably toasting with Eva who's flown from Brussels because it's a long weekend. It is probably Rome that we're in, because I wanted to see Bernini's sculptures. We are stuffing our faces with pizza and pasta.
In that universe my landscape painting would still be at the rudimentary stage it was a year ago, I would not have had a delicious dinner with tempeh that I made myself, and I wouldn't be thinking of puff pastry or food security. My garden and my house would still be in a mess. I would have been in at least three countries within a month. My mental health would still be in a gentle but steady downward trend.
I think I'm happy in this universe.
Times are very uncertain, but I'm planting seeds.