Category Archives: pleasure

I have a lot in common with Goethe

“Nothing is worth more than this day.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

20150123_122044I truly believe there are only two kinds of people – those whose reality check precludes seeing what those whose ‘romanticism’ of the world makes things ‘more’. They are not exactly in conflict but a glaring dose of frustration with one another is easy enough. I fall into the latter category of people. I am a person to whom life’s most basic and wonderful magic happens frequently, unexpectedly and with which I also feel like I am functioning in a state of heightened grace. I am not unrealistic (I don’t think) but it frankly doesn’t occur to me to dwell on the less attractive aspects of our life here on Earth except to try and change things for the better where possible.  This is not about change. This is about small pleasures that people (everywhere, regardless of culture or country) miss.

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

This afternoon I was in the town of Gospić, Croatia. I will be honest, painfully so, realistically so – 20150123_123402it is a down on the heels small urban area with not much in terms of attractiveness to draw one to it (I can write this being from the Rust Belt). You will have to pass through it to reach Nikola Tesla’s birthplace in nearby Smiljan or to the breathtaking mountains of Velebit with its 1/2 million acres of pristine UNESCO protected wilderness and home of Linden Tree Retreat and Ranch (from where I write this post, the wood fire gently crackling, tea mug beside me holding steaming ginger root tea).  It is not Zadar, or Split, Trogir or Šibenik in terms of ancient decaying prettiness offered by sun-bleached stone from Brac (or is it Hvar?) and crystalline blue, aquamarine and emerald waters of the Adriatic.  Nevertheless I found beauty – just as I often do – because through the lens in which I view the world it is infinitely more pleasant to live in fullness of being, in a state of joy in discovery, of delight over the mundane (to others).

My friends know that I am a freak about open air farmers’ markets (okay and those actually housed with arcades). Today was market day in Gospić; ordinary people selling or buying carrots, beets and sausages, lettuce and eggs, Brussel sprouts and oh, thick naturally coloured wool, hand-knit socks.  I had a short list in mind but not written down – in such an environment shopping is about what looks good, whose smile meets yours, what in taking a long view inspires you to cook as a result of what is offered for sale. Sometimes purchases result from a semi-conscious decision to stretch completely and utterly outside of your comfort zone – that happened to me today. A lovely man wearing perfectly coordinating shades of Loden and olive 20150123_110641green had a roll of made-at-home luncheon meat, the renderings from pig fat, homemade bread and pressed at home apple juice (not cider). I said Dobar dan and he reciprocated and smiled.  He took his knife and sliced off a piece of his bacon fat and offered it to me to try; in Croatia this is the way most people eat this – it is considered a delicacy. Now it would be incredibly rude of me not to accept this despite it being beyond comprehension to consume in the States where I am from.  I do not have a Poker Face – and he burst out laughing, which of course made me laugh at myself and I said “I think it is an acquired taste” which made him laugh harder. He spoke no English but he seemed to understand every word I said. At this point the luncheon roll, which seemed to be some variation on Head Cheese, was being sliced and offered to me. My stomach is having a conversation with my head along the lines of “oh, dear!” but my head is telling my stomach to shut up and just go with the flow despite the lingering taste of bacon fat on my tongue. I confess I enjoy Haggis (am actually lamenting the fact that I am not anywhere near Scottish soil to celebrate Burns Night this year) but it’s only 20150123_110807because I prefer to pretend that I don’t actually know what haggis is made of because on my first tasting I didn’t know and I enjoyed it enormously; when in doubt fall back on such an experience. The truth is that this is likely a one-off; it wasn’t so much about how tasty (or not) it was, or whether the sum of the parts was more appealing than the individual contributions of the various parts of the pig that went into it, for me it was the experience of sharing what this man had made, and his clear desire to be in this moment with me. So for 20 kuna ($2.92 USD / 2.60 Euro) I bought a piece about ½” thick and he gave me the end of the loaf of bread he was offering for sampling, and something my erstwhile, globe-trotting, Scottish chalet mate Calum thought disgusting when he tasted it, a handful of what remains when pig fat is rendered. I will have this for lunch tomorrow. I will enjoy it “for the experience of it” and I will be happy with the memory shared with this lovely man.

I also bought some sausages that my chalet mate Calum had requested I pick up – a kilo 20150123_110159requiring a couple of extra links added to the scale, mirth and another couple of photos.  But by far the purchase that will stay with me the longest, serving to remind me of this most pleasant hour and a half of my life, is a new pair of ridiculously soft, thick, hand-knit, wool socks. I forgot to take 20150123_161600a picture of the woman that sold them to me (she also knit them) so I went back – to both of our delight, and hugs and Croatian kisses goodbye.

Who is richer? The realist or the romantic? Goethe wrote a lot of truly wonderful things – but I end with these words:

“If you’ve never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the value of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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So much more than… bread

For people that know ‘what goes on in my kitchen’ the fact that I had never made bread from scratch before coming to Croatia might come as a bit of a surprise. But in the 74 days I have been here I have taught myself how-to one-double-rising-round-loaf at a time with yeast cakes, 20141208_100938honey or crystalised brown sugar, pink Tibetan sea salt, millet, golden flaxseed, dark chia seeds, hemp hearts, stone ground, organic rye and whole wheat flours and a bit of conventional white flour by hand.  Some loaves are better than others. I was recently taught that it takes a ratio of two yeast cakes to every kilo of dry weight – but without a scale this remains elusive and, thus, the reason why though tasty I often don’t get much rise as the millet and other seeds are disproportionately heavy.

Making bread is elemental. It is an exercise in patience. It is 20150121_162508something I never imagined I would enjoy doing. It is all this and more. The bread has become an extension of my life philosophy that what comes from my hand in the kitchen is to offer a hug for the insides. What I absolutely love is the response to this bread… the eye closing 20150121_162454inhalation of the scent accompanied by a beatific smile, the unbridled sighs of contentment which issue forth from the tasters of my efforts, the epic praise that comes from the loaf disappearing in one sitting of a meal (if I want some for my brunch I must set aside my portion so that I can slather fig or apricot preserves on toasted slices to accompany farm fresh eggs, thick, flavourful Croatian bacon, tea and lemonade made from organic Dalmatian lemons).

As an American here to determine if this could be the right thing for me as a permanent relocation there is so much I am utterly clueless about – this is good (it challenges me to adapt, to be more sensitive, to listen more acutely) and bad (faux pas are inevitable, but learning to express Molim te and Oprosti, pardon me and sorry, and genuinely meaning it helps). In the United States I rarely eat bread – largely because of additives, sugars, and the carbohydrates I don’t need or crave.  Culturally, I didn’t understand 20150121_174838what bread meant in Croatia – believe me, it’s not just bread. Perhaps it is a cellular level lack of awareness (I am trying desperately to overcome) resulting from being born in a country that hasn’t experienced war on its soil in more than a 150 years, a country whose population represents a mere 5% of the worlds’ yet creates more than half of all global waste, a country where a single American will consumes 53 times more goods and services than someone in China, a country disconnected from ourselves as individuals and those we supposedly care for because we are always too busy to be deliberate in our thoughts and actions. This is why I am very consciously here in Croatia, to continue to strip away the superfluous, to be humbled, to expand, to be genuinely grateful for and to live with much less.

20150122_092109

View this morning from the porch of the Dancing Moon Chalet at Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch – Velika Plana, Croatia

I learned the cultural nuance of bread from the tender explanation offered by Megi Yerkovich at Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch a couple mornings’ after arriving here two weeks ago. I had made a loaf of ‘my bread’ to share which we had enjoyed with dinner the night before. Independent of that loaf, Megi explained that across the Balkan region (she is Bosnian) hospitality comes down to two critical points, no matter how little you might have you must have an extra cup in the house to share tea or coffee with a visitor and to have bread to offer them; “Therefore eat of what Allāh has given you, lawful and good (things), and give thanks for Allāh’s favor if Him do you serve” (Qu’ran 016.114) and the lesson of the Widow’s Mite (Gospels of Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4) as each possible kind of nourishment.  My eyes filled with tears at the acknowledgment that, once again, the universe chose to guide me to the precise place and time to offer me knowledge that would expand who I am – in this human life.

I am happy to share the slice I set aside for myself and make you a cup of ginger root tea, come 20150122_123712sit with me and tell me who you are, what you hope for, enjoy what I have to offer – it is yours. Namaste.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Dalmatian Echoes

rain drops, sun-bleached stonedalmatia

darkened seas tossed in violence

terrifying gods ignite the sky, scream angry words in unknown languages

windows shuttered, stories bidden

flickering light, something held at distance, now in proximity lovers

decay, renewal, one – or both

kneel, clutch, embrace, drowning that rescues

her shuddering response beneath his surrounding, burrowing warmth

discovery of self in the other

parched. hungry. greedy – like the earth

primal continuation, cognitive exploration, Tantric at-one-ment

in waves, nourishment came – yet again and again

fingering Spanish chords, his thoughts echoed through her body

a thousand years of her words stilled, caught, unexpressed

fingers entwined

racing hearts in syncopation, quieting to soft harmonies

with hair like Samson, he anointed himself with their sex

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The shifting trajectory of kisses

“You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart.”
— Louise Erdrich

For the first time since 2005 I am dating again. No, I wasn’t in a long term relationship. No, I didn’t have a traumatic (or tragic) experience. And no, I don’t hate men. I have been on OKCupid for a bit shy of two years now. But in the last two weeks, finally being in Croatia after a year of deliberation, I have migrated from online and video Skype conversations to actually sitting with a man face-to-face over hot chocolate, over dinner, and going for walks.  I have kiss quotekissed all four of these men. Nine years is an awfully long time to have not done so, some I wanted much more with, with some, perhaps the kisses were actually too much to have shared.

This morning the (very loving) husband of a dear girlfriend, in the most subtle way imaginable, expressed his energetic protection for me. In my new life’s chapter, taking place far from practical intervention and rescue should such be necessary, David’s love is not the kind of love I am unaccustomed to having in my life; at first I was puzzled by why he would choose to Tweet the content and Cc me on such.  This dating thing is fraught with perils that every woman experiences, even when you are in a committed relationship rape happens. David’s genuine concern expressed for both myself and my best friend (as we were both mentioned in the Tweet and are both now actively dating again for the first time in many years) is soft focused and filled with light in a world with harsh realities. So David, I am sending you a huge hug, and a slightly insufficient thank you – message received.

Back to the dating thing.

In the last year a very wise man, and an equally wise woman, have both expressed the same thought about applying caution to sharing our physical space, and (any kind of) our energy with others. Every encounter with another (physically and energetically) leaves residue on the participants and in the domain of space inhabited, as such it’s incredibly important to understand this before sharing either with another. I suppose, if I am truly honest, protectingintentions myself from giving too much of myself away, harming another against their future or having the negative energies of others zap me has kept me from dating, and eventually becoming intimate, for so long. Because I noticed, boy-oh-boy have I noticed, how I have felt after each encounter with these four very different Croatian men. Not that it is all important but it is of merit to note that each of these men is at least 14 years younger than I am.

With the first man it was like ‘coming home’. Safe, protected, a sense of continuity that felt ancient, comfortable in both silence and in conversation, with him (and this is hard to explain) I kiss youfelt an extension of my greatest self, perhaps, because in many regards we are both rather unconventional. And when it came to expressions of passion, the kiss I will remember and draw energy from for the rest of my life seemed ripped from a romance novel. The second man to win my kisses had, by his own admission over the Thanksgiving dinner table, not kissed (or done anything else with) a woman in six years. There was considerable alcohol involved and some energetic ‘egging on’ because another man nearby was being dismissive of the former man’s rationale and (what I sensed) deep pain and his own admitted fear on behalf of his son. And so, initially I shared three, not passionate, kisses with him to remind him of the pleasure that can be had from such. He seem both confused, delighted and ‘warmed’ by this – eventually taking the initiative and seemed to enjoy himself to the point that he asked to have me spend the night with him. (um, no.) Man number three, one of my two dates yesterday, is exactly half my age – still a man in chronological years, and sufficiently so to have actively pursued a date with me. We had fun. Enjoyed amazing hot hot chocolatechocolate together on the Riva in Grad Trogir. He (easily) agreed to my request to rescue the remaining pomegranates on the tree in front of the abandoned house in Trogir in which I have fallen in love.  I now have a lovely bag full of these jewels which otherwise would have found themselves rotting on the ground as a result of yesterday’s Bura and todays’ rain storm.  He is very sweet, and earnest, but in many ways he really is too young in terms of life experience for this to be ‘anything’.  My second date yesterday is 18 years my junior, but sufficient experience to not feel any lacking. His candor and overt sexual interest in me was palpable from moment one.  He kissed me within 15 minutes of our meeting (and he was really very good at it). The best kiss of the evening took place against a 400 year old stone wall in a narrow alley of Seget Donji – his hands both cupping my face and then in my hair (where, as a great many terrific lovers know the nerve endings in our scalp make us particularly sensitive to erotic stimulation). His sexual energy is very much like that of Mickey Rourke in this scene from 9 1/2 weeks too dangerous to maintain one’s sanity and certainly not sustainable.

One thing is for certain, I need to recalibrate as I can tell that my trajectory has been influenced by the sharing of this tender intimacy in ways that are very uncomfortable to who I am. Like a hangover for my energy I have allowed myself to get swept up ‘in the moments’. Making up for lost time? Squandered resources? No, not either. I feel very much like the meme above about kisses being like drinking salt water. I can’t undo this, and some I most certainly would not change because in these experiences have offered me a greater cognition, and with such I come closer to completion. Still, a little discernment going forward would be a very good idea and a practical consideration worth embracing.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Heart of home – (any size) kitchen

20141127_151933Let’s be honest about how spoiled we are as Americans; our kitchens, whether we cook or not, are enormous by the standards known and embraced by the rest of the world.  We have stuff for nearly every task – even if we only do this task once a year for Thanksgiving.  My new friend Ellen, who came for homemade roasted chicken and dumpling soup a couple of days ago, gave up on ‘being American’ more than a decade ago, she moved to Croatia a year ago, recently moved to Split to be with her fiancé. Over lunch Ellen was trying to explain this dome-shaped electric oven thing she has to cook in which came with the flat of the man she is engaged to (which belonged to his parents before he occupied it and near as I can figure this “thing” must date to Tito’s rule over the former Yugoslavia). (Incredibly enough she managed to make an absolutely brilliant Thanksgiving meal from ‘this’ shown at left.)

On the flight from Washington to Munich The Lunchbox was amongst the offerings to be watched – and I was struck by the size of the ‘kitchen’ from which the heroine worked to create lunchboxIndian culinary magic.

I am currently living in a holiday flat. It is outfitted with flatware, dishes and glassware, a spatula – better used for the grill, a slotted spoon, two wooden spoons, one ice cube tray, two cutting boards, a grater, a ladle and a handful of knives – thankfully sharp – and some perfectly functional cookware. There is no Cuisinart, nor charming Hohner harmonica outfitted Chantal teakettle, no measuring cups and spoons, no antique pottery bowls nor German knives, and certainly not a four burner gas range with an oven large enough to roast a 25 pound turkey, with room left over for the chestnuts and Brussel sprouts, stuffing and sweet potatoes. But as someone who cooks – I am relearning how to without the convenience. While I thought to pack my lemon squeezer, and despite hauling more than 150 pounds of luggage with me, I neglected some rather practical considerations and my various girlfriends scattered across the United States responded to a dismay posted to my Facebook wall at neglecting to pack Demerara sugar, celery seeds, Miracle Whip, Coleman’s Dry Mustard with an offer to send these things. There are gorgeous cabbages everywhere and fresh fish – coleslaw is in my future! To Christina (Kiki) Kelley and Jan Wheeler I can’t thank you sufficiently – copies of the book I am supposed to be here writing will be yours once it’s published.

My landlords have given me license to their citrus trees – mandarins, limes, and LEMONS! So the prudence of packing my lemon squeeze has turned into glorious sunshine to drink.

DSCN9841 DSCN9843 DSCN9844 DSCN9849This morning I tackled a leek tart, as much like a quiche as I could make it without the “right pan”. What I had to work with were truly gorgeous eggs, (world famous) Pag cheese, a large leek, ground golden flax seed and Tibetan sea salt that I brought with me, some whole milk, butter and flour purchased in Trogir.  I found a medium size plastic bowl and an enameled pan with a handle in the cupboard, and my landlady let me borrow her rolling pin (mind you no waxed or parchment paper).  I had a leftover 500 gram yogurt container, this chart, and my eyes to guide the process. I managed to outdo myself. My friend Ken Herron maintains that I create food porn – this blog is the only way I can share with him, (sending you love Ken!).

You don’t have to be the Barefoot Contessa to make beautiful food. You need to carve out a space of time to provide nourishment that is authentic and close to the earth and the sea, you need desire and you need passion. Whether a neighbor is next door or thousands of miles away our world contracts or expands according to your beliefs and attitude. You go to places outside of your normal experience to live deliberately – like Thoreau.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau

Namaste.

If you enjoy my blog please considering ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via Paypal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my first book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Dalmatian Echoes

rain drops, sun-bleached stonedalmatia

darkened seas tossed in violence

terrifying gods ignite the sky, scream angry words in unknown languages

windows shuttered, stories bidden

flickering light, something held at distance, now in proximity lovers

decay, renewal, one – or both

kneel, clutch, embrace, drowning that rescues

her shuddering response beneath his surrounding, burrowing warmth

discovery of self in the other

parched. hungry. greedy – like the earth

primal continuation, cognitive exploration, Tantric at-one-ment

in waves, nourishment came – yet again and again

fingering Spanish chords, his thoughts echoed through her body

a thousand years of her words stilled, caught, unexpressed

fingers entwined

racing hearts in syncopation, quieting to soft harmonies

with hair like Samson, he anointed himself with their sex

 

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the value of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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No expectations. Realising two, for less than one

The life philosophy that is so perfectly captured in an ancient Scots expression of “what’s meant for you will not pass you by” is how I have always chosen to live. Everything either is, or, it is not. NothingThere might be a desire but there is not expectation – expectations carry the potential for disappointment. No one likes disappointment. No, I would rather live in a place of delight when something wonderful happens than be disappointed by people, events or life itself. In such a mindset the glass always is at least 1/2 full, if it isn’t overflowing! Within this is also the deeply rooted principle that there is nothing that I have to have. Absolutely, NOTHING.

As a six year old child my beloved, adopted, Aunt Dorothy had a price tag on every single thing in her home (and in the log cabin behind it) – she had an antiques business. I recall being allowed to pick up luminescent carved jade Buddhas only to discover a (shocking amount) tag on the base. Such embeds in a child’s mindset that all possessions are transient and that we are only their temporary guardians – this carries you through life with a certain ease of not holding the bouquet of life too tightly about anything.  Of not trying to control or worrying, of rarely angering and not certainly screaming when I do, of living in each precious moment, of being able to let go of things (and sometimes people, and definitely jobs) rather than have resentment consume me. Doing this ensures that nothing becomes a burden, or impedes my personal journey toward enlightenment. In life there are many things that will ‘no longer serve’ and in releasing, while painful, is (eventually) liberating. That is not meant to read as being heartless but I truly (also) believe in the profound words of Ecclesiastes 3:1 as found in the 1967 song by The Byrds – to everything there is a season.

I love estate sales. I am sure the idea of poking through the possessions of the dead will creep some out, but for me (and quite of few like me) it is a source of unlimited potential of discovered (often inexpensive) material happiness. Last week my girlfriend Kanikaa and I went to two estate sales. Having over the course of the last year sold off ALL of my various chairs I wanted but one thing at the first one – the armchair frame in the French Louis XVI style (to cover – at least the front of it – in this totally DSCN9828wild 1940s vintage Chinese silk brocade that was once a long, full skirt).  Assuming I was lucky enough to get it, I had set a budget of $65 for it.  The chair frame was anomaly – the rest of the house was decidedly Mid-Century Modern. Even arriving by 7:30 AM for a sale that started at 9, Kanikaa and I wound up with temporary numbers 14 and 15. I believe in ‘putting it out there’ if there is something I would like to manifest. Thankfully I will talk to anyone. At 8:30 I approached the vehicle with the two women who had given out the temporary numbers with Kanikaa. It turns out that Arielle and Amanda have a shop, they had arrived at 5 AM to be the first two in the door, and they were only interested in Mid-Century Modern. Also thankfully they were more than happy to put a sold tag on the chair frame ‘for me’. You can imagine my delight, Chairswhen we were let in in the second group, to discover that it wasn’t simply one chair, but a matching pair! And, AND, each chair was priced at a mere TWENTY-DOLLARS! So, while I might have been delighted with one, to get a pair for less than what I had budgeted for one? WooHoo! would be putting it mildly. But here’s where it gets even better – ultimately the frames became FREE. How Etegereyou say? Within hours of arriving home I discovered that an étagère that I had listed on eBay would definitely sell – recovering of what I had spent on it in the first place after five years of enjoyment and a modest profit which completely covered the $43.20 expended on the chairs. 😀 These are not fine French antiques, rather they are vintage hardwood frames from a now defunct furniture company in Grand Rapids, Michigan – the original paper labels are on them – I don’t believe they have ever actually been upholstered.

My girlfriend Doris, who also spent many years with a bona fide antiques business, offered her congratulations and expressed “Sometimes I wonder about you and how everything always works out.” (For other examples of these minor victories over material things please see the posts Pursuit and An utterly incongruent story of six lamps.)

Kanikaa asked as we returned home – me flying higher than a kite with happiness – how I would have gotten to the sale if she hadn’t driven, and I said I wouldn’t. But, she said, but you wanted the chair. Yes, I replied, but there is absolutely nothing I have to have, and there will always be another chair. Still, I am thrilled with the gift of the universe saying yes – once again – and everything working out for me – without expectations. The bonus is the ridiculously happy memory shared with my girlfriend.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book ‘all that I need, or live life like a dog with its head stuck out the car window’ below, thank you! 

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