I’ve started imagining that Pepper has many lives and many homes, that we are a silent community of caretakers, filling bowls with cat food and fresh water with an ice cube for good measure.
Disoriented and unsure what to write, but feeling the urge anyway, I’ll settle for theft: a smattering of lines written by friends, colleagues, family, to patch what’s broken and smooth what’s rough, sent from Japan, Somalia and Somaliland, Ireland, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and the US. As well, images of Tunisia, one of my very favorite places, by a dear friend, also a food tour guide extraordinaire, observer of life’s humor and depth and, I can attest, a commiserator of great talent and persistence.
It occurs to me in my first moment of stillness in months, over a hot cup of drip coffee in Mogadishu, that perhaps I don’t need answers. Perhaps I need to find a better way to bear the questions, until the next steps emerge from the murky depths, like so many droplets of milk, poured, sunken, and rebounding from the black to the surface, lending depth and comfort to an otherwise bitter swallow.
Bent of posture, upright snoring, barely living, dawn’s ballet. Cups and saucers trooping forward, toward the kettle, grande entrée. Reach for creamer, gather sugar, bring her boiling, don’t delay. Pour with deference, ground beans twirling, let them settle, birth the day. Spoon-fed symphony, come alive now, sip sweet earth-mud, fresh bouquet. Greet thy neighbor, ’round the French press: chapeau, Brewer– grand plié. Images of cups brewed in Nairobi (Le Grenier à Pain), Tokyo (subway cafe), Hargeisa (Ethiopian coffehouse and La Afrah Teahouse), and Dubai (Mokha 1450).
Set the meditation timer to five minutes. Consider whether you set a low bar for yourself in all aspects of your life. Set the timer to ten minutes. Remember that you have 14 things to do before the day officially begins, and set the timer back to five minutes. Allow all the nagging thoughts of errands and obligations and forgotten tasks to simply fall away… so that deeper fears of self-doubt and wasted purpose can really come to the fore and shine. Glance down at the timer, notice you’ve winningly achieved 43 seconds of mindful bliss. Add the State of Nirvana to your dream destination list, pack it in and get on with your day.
I’ve been cooking for Z for years, taking fundamental nutritional advice from my previous boss in the States who had long prepared food for her pups, and adding in the fruits of my own research, tempered by local availability of ingredients. It’s a labor of love, one shared by old roommates, and one that requires at every meal either proper planning or clever improvisation. Occasionally, the improvisation borders on the absurd, as when all I have to offer Z are extras of what I’m eating, minus the spices or sauces or canine-indigestibles. So sometimes the dog gets a scoop of goat meat ‘n slop from the bucket in the fridge, and sometimes she dines on sauteed filet of fresh fish with a side of chopped Swiss chard. Go figure.