Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

19 March

Home: Making Friends With My Emotions

by Jon Katz

(Tonight, I’m putting this photo up for sale on Maria’s  Etsy Shop.)

I love train rides, the trip to New York City from Albany takes about three hours, and is a gorgeous ride along the Hudson River. I love the feel and sound of trains, they are hypnotic and mystical to me.

I had this idea that Maria and I need to take the train to Montreal, which is about the same distance, for a weekend.

If she likes the idea, we’ll start saving up.

On the train, I meditated, and the teacher suggested emotions as todays’ topic of thought, – there is one for each meditation.

“Emotions are a part of life,” he said, “giving color and feature to our experience. We don’t need to be free of them, we only need to befriend them.”

I have always seem my emotions as something I have to work on, something I need to control or push into the background, or simply stop thinking about. Something I need to stuff into a corner.

I learned early in life to hide my emotions, as it true of so many men.

In meditation and in life and thought, I have always turned from the fear and anger that have driven so much of my life.  I always try to run from these emotions.

I saw them both – resentment and regret and some bitterness – as things I need to shed, and I have worked very hard to do that. In mediation, whenever I felt anger or fear – or the countless grievances and resentments I carry around in my head sometimes – I focused on my breathing, or some other object or thing to distract.

It never occurred to me that I ought instead to stop running from the emotions inside of me, but simply accept them as a part of me, of my life, love, creativity and my writing.

Emotions have plagued me about also been of great benefit to me, they have made much of my life – the farm, my books, my love for Maria, my photographs, my love of dogs – possible. They have, in fact, shaped and colored my life.

They are not my enemy, in accepting and understanding them (which I have worked hard to do for years) I have also learned to have perspective. Anger and fear rarely, if ever, shapes my life or decisions now, and when they do, I recognize them right away as something I need to understand and accept, rather than act upon.

In one sense, they are real, in another, they are just strong echoes of the past.

Looking out at the beautiful Hudson River, I turned off my Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace”album, which I have been listening to for hours. Instead, I thought about seeing my strong emotions as my friends, and I instantly felt a great sense of liberation and freedom, a great relief, a load lifted from me.

The meditation teacher said would be liberating, and it was, almost instantly.

I have often felt anger and fear and grievance, but also love and passion and strength. They have not stopped me, just slowed me down, and caused some pain.

My work is not purging myself of the emotions that are me, but of simply nodding, and saying, yes, those are things I feel, that is a part of me,  but that is not the way I need to live. I don’t need to run from them anymore, or purge them. Another gift of meditation.

I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. One of my emotions is a tendency to berate myself and feel stupid.

I don’t really need to do that. I just to nod, and say, “hey, there,” this is a part of me. It doesn’t control me, I just need to shake hands, say hi and move on.

19 March

Home Again

by Jon Katz

I’m home again. It was a meaningful trip, full of love and walking and hanging out with my granddaughter and daughter. Maria picked me up at the train. I missed her, I got a joyous greeting from the dogs, lots of bills, messages, packages.

I need to make a good dinner tonight, Maria ate soup and bread and cheese, which is what she does when left alone. I want to write about the grandfather thing once I unpack and eat.

17 March

On To Brooklyn. Life’s Journeys, Big And Small

by Jon Katz

I have always seen life as a series of journeys. Some, like going to the hospital for open heart surgery, are big. Some, like going to Brooklyn today, are smaller.

I love the energy of New York, especially Brooklyn these days, and I love the peace of coming  home. This is a curious journey for me, in part because Maria isn’t coming. She’s staying behind to make are and care for the farm.

But there are few few trips we don’t take together. In a sense, I’m going into strange territory, even though it’s family. I don’t see Emma and Jay and Robin often, that makes the trip all the more necessary and important.

They are all that is left of my family in many ways, and it is important to know them and be with them. My life on the farm, is deep and rich and full, and it is hard for me to leave my farm, Maria, the dogs, my photos and my blog. It’s silly, really, I’ll be back on Tuesday.

But in a large sense, you are my family now, complete with all of our adventures and spats and lively conversations. There is a lot going on in my life, which is the way I like it, and I value the great dialogue we have together. I also value the good work we are doing together.

I’m excited to be getting on the train, seeing some different things, clearing my head, getting a good look at my charismatic granddaughter, meeting her dog, re-connecting with my daughter.

Her husband and I are not close, we rarely communicate when I’m there. But he is a gracious and warm host.

He is a great husband and father to my daughter and granddaughter, that’s about all any father could really want. So another journey, perhaps bigger than I think.

I’m off to the train, which I love riding on. I can’t wait to absorb some of that New York energy. I can no longer live without nature and animals, so two days is about right. I am excited to be taking Emma and Robin to see the Frieda Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, I hope to bring something back to Maria, who I will miss a lot. I have my earphones and a good book – the memoir Small Fry by Steve Job’s daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs.

It’s beautifully written. Soon I’ll be looking out the window at the beautiful Hudson River, chugging along on another journey.

16 March

Maria’s New $65 Metal Mystery Desk

by Jon Katz

Maria and I stop by Shiny Sisters, a “Repurpose and Re-Imaging” shop that is a combination antique, restoration and just odd and amazing things. I got my desk there, and we got our neat nightlight/lamp there, Leslie is a lot of fun, and the place is so full of things I want that Maria sometimes makes me stay in the car.

The minute I walked in, I spotted this very strange heavy metal desk on one side, Leslie had just gotten it from a farm and put a $65 price tag on it. I saw Maria staring it at, an as sometimes happens, it practically screamed “I am Maria’s Desk.”

I said we have to get this, and she said she thought it was right for hear. It is a curious thing, I can’t quite imagine how old it is, but I know nobody makes metal desks like that, complete with a row of bins for papers or flowers or whatever.

Since it came from a farm, I’m guessing it might have been used to keep records in a milk house or sheep farm. It would make  perfect desk for Maria in the living room, she usually does her writing and paperwork on a sofa.

The price was sort of unbelievably good, Leslie’s price are always low. And she is a lot of sun. She is great salesperson as well, helpful and a good listener but never pushy or too intense. She absolutely loves what she does and there are always a bunch of things we love – old tables and chairs, curious lamps, dresses, I got my beautiful bankers  desk from London there, it was about $200.

Because of my Dyslexia, I am forever struggling to keep my study from being overrun. Because I can’t remember things I don’t see, I’m always piling books and papers near me and in plain sight, otherwise they don’t exist for me.

The result is chaos on one end of my office, barren space on the other. Leslie says she can help, she got the issue right away. I don’t think it is soluble, I’ve been trying for years.

But I’m thrilled that we got this desk for Maria. When it warms up, it needs a good deal of work, lots of hosing and scrubbing, and perhaps painting. It will fit perfect in our house. I am resigned to the probability that we will never know where it came from, what it was really used for or how much it was worth.

We will just have to use our imagination. It’s parked under the roof on the side porch until we can get to clean it up. Maria will get the drawers later in the week. I can’t wait to see what she does with those filing spaces.

16 March

Spring Pizza: Chopped Clams, Mozzarella, Cow Cheese, Kale

by Jon Katz

Tonight, a chilly and windy and cloudy night, I launched one of the first of my Spring Pizzas, simpler, mostly meatless, tasty and healthy meals.

I got wheat flour for the crust, and used fresh Mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, chopped fresh kale, small bits of cow cheese, a can of chopped clams, and some vegetable sprouts.

Plus my signature pine nuts for crunch and flavor.

I par baked the crust for 10 minutes at 475, then added the ingredients, then cooked the pizza for ll minutes at 475. The crust is crispy, I love this one. The farm stands open around Mother’s Day, I’ll have fun exploring different veggie combinations.

Except for  occasional slices of sausage, I’m going meatless until Winter.

I love the simplicity of this pizza, and the flavors mix beautifully and it is a light and healthy Spring meal for us.

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