Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sucked in by Beauty Thanks to Martha Stewart & Venus

Somehow a copy of Martha Stewart's "Living" addressed to me ended up in my mailbox recently. Upon making it past the "cover turkey" surrounded by gigantic sage larger than any grown in my garden, I ended up feeling more like dying than living. Surely this wasn't the effect the sender intended.

At first as I scanned the photos, I was completely taken with a pie. It wasn't just any pie. The recipe read: Apple-Blackberry Pie with "Fall Leaves" Pate Brisee. I wanted to add a visit to Davis Cookware in Hillsboro Village to my 'to do' list in hopes of finding tiny leaf shaped cookie cutters. Yes, the top of the crust was made of beautiful fall leaves cut with a leaf cutter then the leaf veins were etched with a knife. Reading further, I discovered something called an egg wash is involved. I suspect this is not a facial moisturizer for the cook while the pie bakes. Upon reading the fine print, "a pate brisee is the pinnacle of pie-making" I realize I might truly metaphorically end up with egg on my face if I try this. The pumpkin pie with a shortbread crust ranked as 'easy' is probably where I should start.

Thanks to "Living" I want to move to one of Vermont's farms, where I can be part of the process of making cheese alongside little goats and Jersey cows. Martha's mag offers me a way to visit rather than actually have goats in the country of which I've been dreaming.

Page after page, I was sucked in by the beauty of what I saw. Rachel Lang, my astrologer friend, says I've a chart loaded with Venus meaning I love beautiful things. Martha obviously knows Venus too.

Earlier that very day while perusing a stack of childhood related odds and ends, I found some glittery pieces reminding me of how mesmerizing glitter was. I wondered if glitter still existed. Wonder no more. Glitter does more than exist. Glitter rocks. In the middle of "Living," I not only learn about a technique called "Glitter painting" but see Vivaldi and Sharkey, glitter painted portraits of Martha's cat and dog. (The photo conversion tool's available at I know what I'm getting Mystery and Bogeysattva for Christmas.

As Venus-filled person prone to excitability, I knew I was in trouble. To calm myself, I went to the front of the magazine where I probably should have started. Tucked between an internet and an insurance ad was a page titled 'Martha's Calendar' which included a list of things Martha does around her house. Written upon each day were two to four things I should be doing in November, things like clean out the gutters and winterize the beehives, organize the potting shed, apply bone meal to the bulbs. Just writing about it, I feel the fringes of panic. I'm not including yoga, working out and stocking the liqueur cabinet for entertaining. Yes, reading Martha's list made me want to find the liqueur cabinet, but wait I don't have one. Does this mean I have to build one?

If I'm doing all these tasks how do I have time for glittering, goats and egg washes?

A week from Friday I'm to bathe the cats! or so reads the calendar. Been there and done that on first cat. I still feel bad about the traumatizing her with the noisy hair dryer and that was twenty years ago. 'How does Vivaldi react to the dryer?' I wonder.

The only thing I had done in the prescribed first ten days of the month was dig up a few gladiola bulbs, but I hadn't even done that right. According to the calendar, the bulbs were to winter in the basement. I relocated them to a sunnier location in the soil.

The basement though was another matter. Periodically, usually when avoiding a writing project, I think of painting my basement floor. "Living" this month devotes an entire article to making one's basement livable. My armpits begin to sweat as my heart beats faster. Creating a "Haven Below" would be the ultimate of creative U-turns, possibly the final one since "Living" was making me feel more like dying.

I read on, on to feeding the birds in winter. There's Martha smiling, filling at least twenty tube feeders hanging from what appears to be the eve of a barn. I've a hard enough time ensuring the birds have food at our two bird feeders. She stands smiling, not a hair out of place, wearing snow white gloves while holding a long pole by which she removes each feeder. Around my bird feeders, the birds see me without a hair in place, often in a housecoat or holey pants and a sweatshirt sans gloves. As for the pole, the one I'm fussing with holds the feeder or is suppose to. The feeder keeps falling because clay soil is virtually impossible to sink the pole into not to mention the squirrels that try to climb the pole and the chipmunks that jump from the carport to the feeder to eat then jump down when they see me coming.

If this is a gift, the giver's intent I suspect was to make me feel good. Instead I'm reminded of the Halloween years ago when I had the impromptu idea of creating the "House of Martha Steward." I vaguely recall changing the last name to avoid a law suit and the house was really just a table with a screen and me behind it. The table held an assortment of holiday items. The mother's got roses because I thought it was Mother's Day. There were Easter eggs, a fake cake with firecrackers for the 4th of July and of course a Titan's pompom and banner (there's that cheer leader theme again). The parents loved it and the kids thought I was just plain weird. Finally I retrieved their candy from of course, a Christmas bag. The whole idea being that Martha, like so many many of us, fall prey to the commercialism of the holidays that one event bleeds into the next. My character was on the verge of a nervous breakdown or that's how the sign read.

I realize after finding the photo that I appeared to be having lots of fun. I was living like the magazine title suggests. Maybe this is part of Martha's intent, to increase beauty, joy and fun in the world.

My external world may be very different from Martha's but some part of our internal worlds aren't that far apart. Whether I'm glittering over the weekend or reminiscing about glittering days gone by, I want to be present in living rather than just existing and dying. I want to be mesmerized by glitter and fall shaped leaves atop a pie and curious as to the origins of pate brisee and how Vivaldi really feels after his cat bath next week. I want to feel the stretch as I reach to clean out my gutters and wash my windows. I want to enjoy goat cheese whether I make it to Vermont or not as well as relish talking to the birds watching as I fill the feeders housecoat and all.

I want to embrace the shift of being sucked in by beauty. Thank you, Venus. Thank you, Martha.

-Dawn!, The Good News Muse