Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Vow to Save All Tomatoes

Vertiginous path with nodding onion
Yes, it's Jeanne back today, Tashi being closed out of the room, because she eats the blind cords. She hates to be closed out.  I hate to think what she may write about that next time she gets access.

As it happens, already this morning my e-mail has brought me two posts from people who feel over-whelmed. As I told both, I understand. At this moment this morning I feel okay, fine, even.  Last Friday was a different story. An hour from now could be a different story.  You can always analyze why this happens to you, and you hope you can learn from it and avoid it in the future, though sometimes it is all unavoidable.  And all you have to work with is now - what to do now?

As for unavoidable, one of my friends has the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes coming on in her garden.  (That's an actual movie, by the way.)  Of course this year, crops doing so badly with all this weather, you have to love a decent tomato. But in the past, in mid-America, one was always deluged with the damn things, not only in your garden, but in everyone else's too, so people would give them to you, and other people would refuse to take them. There they all were, a flash mob on your kitchen counter-tops and table and the dining room table, too, crying out, Save me.  It was a sort of ugly version of what happens when you take the Bodhissatva Vow to save all beings, and you look up and realize, wow, there they are.  A sea of people drowning in their suffering.  Only it's a sea of good food that will die unfulfilled unless you do something with it.

I wonder if it would be helpful to think back on what was going on with me at that time in my life when I was deluged with tomatoes.  This was about ten years ago, when we lived in the Cape Cod in which I had creatively, haplessly, installed thirteen gardens. One of which was heirloom tomatoes from the seeds of last year's heirloom tomatoes.

At this time I had gotten myself overwhelmed with too many projects and responsibilities outside the tomato realm, all of which I took very seriously.  Now, there was the problem, right there, beyond my difficulties with time/impulse management. I believed - I had been conditioned in my upbringing to believe - that it was very important to always do what you said you were going to do.  I had not learned that it was no big deal to call someone and say you have to cancel.

Add to that, it was important to do it perfectly.  Not just okay, not just show up, but give it your very best, excel.  Looking back I see this belief contributed to my father's insanity, and thus to that of everyone in the family.  I don't want to spend time remembering what it was like, my childhood.  Anyway, I think that way under these ideas was a terrible sense of insecurity, of trying hard to be good enough. But look at it another way and you can see that an idea like that will make you feel inadequate.

Now, in practice, you can bag up the tomatoes and take them to the food pantry.  You can leave a box of them at the door of the church Sunday morning, and people will probably take them home.  You can just say the magic words, "I can't."  I can't.  This is a kind of surrender.  Looking back I can't believe how hard it was for me to do.  I just can't.  It seemed like caving in, giving up.
Next day: Yesterday I had so much more to say on this, oh my.  Then I had a too-busy day yesterday, too much stimulation for sure in going to a 3D movie, that cave thing.  3D is not like reality at all, and scrambles your brains.  I didn't care much for the movie, either, though it did make me feel like getting out my charcoals and seeing how they would do ensos.  (Hello, Genju.)  It amused me to imagine someone asking me my opinion afterward, which would have enabled me to say, "I haven't seen 3D in fifty years."  Thus.


  1. Did you know you don't have to do anything with tomatoes other than toss them in the freezer whole? I'm going to try that with my afflictions. Into the freezer with you, Skandhas! I'll get you when I need to pulverize something for dinner!

    Thanks for the insights... that need to be all to everyone always trips me up!

    Love to see a firebrand enso, btw!

  2. How could I not have known that about the freezer? But then you'd have to cook them down and run them through a ricer to get rid of the skin and core, right? And I always found that very hard - never had strong arms.

    Firebrand. Is that how they did it, then?!

  3. ah for abundant tomatoes, here in this coastal climate, they are only a fond memory from prairie days.

    and those tomato skins just slip off and can be composted once cooked or the whole thing whizzed in the food processor.

    so many things to remind us of our "not good enough" self, resisting this is the work of a lifetime!

  4. You are so right. Getting a little detachment from the many mental jerks and twitches of this Wun.

    You can chop up the skins and all? Why not. I didn't even have a food processor back then. And don't know when I've last seen a ricer. And furthermore, lots of tomato isn't good for me when I'm in high fire, which I tend to be in tomato season.