Nomad by Choice; Musings part 1

The summer passed the colorful leaves on the ground.  My husband Paul and I missed the opportunity for our usual summer RV trek for many reasons that seemed big at the time.  With happy endings to those stories, we once more chose the nomadic life and are on the road again in our rubber wheel-based home.

People ask where we are going this year.  Not intending to be glib the answer is where ever the winds, temptations, people we know, events that lure us in or “whispers in our ears” take us.  What a privilege this free choice.  It is to be cherished.  Nomads are defined in the dictionary as drifters, gadabouts, gypsies, knockabouts, meanderers, vagabonds and wanderers.  We fit all categories.

Letting go of our city life for life on the road is always challenging and the other way around as well.  We certainly anticipate both segments of our life as they come, but love the phase we are in at the present.  Oops, bear with me; An ear worm that just burrowed into in my head from Finian’s Rainbow:

When I’m not near the girl (town, back road, hike) I love,
I love the girl (town, back road, hike) I’m near.

Two thoughts occur to me:  first, that the idea of being “On the Road” has a long history with many colorful characters, and second, that “choice” is the key.  Going without choice connotes dire circumstances and another long history of  people labeled as  refugees, deportees, exiled, homeless=desperate and another whole subject for dissertation.

Grateful to have choice, I ponder those who have gone before me filling bookshelves, photo and film collections , archives and wish lists with the allure of travel less planned.  The legacy of stories  telling of past great explorers, pioneers, gold diggers, traveling salesman, hobos, and more lived nomadic lives enriching world history with the wonders of their adventures:

Typed on an 120-foot roll of teletype paper he called a scroll,  Jack Kerouac re-wrote and revised his earlier versions of  On The Road; an “autobiographic novel based on his 1947 road trip” published in 1957 by Viking Press.  He covered many miles, befriended many celebs and discovered countless treasures.

Kerouac_Map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Road)

John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley in 1960, “a travelogue of his road trip with his poodle Charley.  “Steinbeck bemoans his lost youth and roots, while dispensing both criticism and praise for America. According to Steinbeck’s son Thom, Steinbeck went on the trip because he knew he was dying and wanted to see the country one last time.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Steinbeck

Inspired by Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Charles Kuralt persuaded CBS to let him try his idea to go on the road for 3 months.  The result, he broadcast for many years, wore out 6 motor homes, took back roads and received many awards for his popular program. appearing as a segment on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

So, I too lead a glorious nomadic life, inspired by the past, free to follow a whim, seeking adventure, safe, healthy and free. Unlike the refugee, I am unshackled by politics, strife or deprivation.  Off my husband and I go once again, our wheels under us, our eyes on the road, anticipating the next stop somewhere else.

Ann Carol Goldberg

Inferno; Musings: part 2

Early one morning, lazing in bed against the 20F outside, the grim (Grimm) fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel (Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera version, replete with gingerbread children, night time in the forest and a witch/cum/chef who roasts children in the oven after fattening them up) edged its way into my brain.  I was left with an ear worm stuck in my head; Over and over, I sing “Now I lay me down to sleep, Fourteen angels watch do keep. Two my head are guarding……” until all 14 are accounted for”:  I have learned that the libretto was written by Humberdinck’s sister and is a variation on an old children’s prayer.

I began to wonder if indeed, the witch would fit in the oven as Gretel gruffly shoved her inside.  Ahh, the wonder and haunting grace of Fairy Tales.  Images of many variations on oven came to mind that a fictional witch of an era long gone might possess.  Perhaps it was wood fired, stone or clay or a coal fired contraption.  Most likely not a metal model with a hinged door as we think of today.

The gas propelled oven on our motor home has been retired as it is a bit scary to light.  When I am not stir frying, making soup in a pot, stewing, or assigning Paul to fire up the grill, I use our micro/convection oven, rendering our gas fired oven obsolete; unwanted but not unloved.  It has been re-assigned as a storage vessel for our cache of almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans or popcorn, bread, coffee beans or whatever we can “stuff” into its black interior, complete with two racks and plenty of space.  It does have a front loading door and everything fits neatly inside.

Back to the saga of Gretel punishing the witch. I asked myself, other than our new storage space—former gas-fired oven, “Why my sudden musings on ovens?”  Our son and daughter in law recently had a monster in their house.  It was in the form of their oven, an electric version that took on a life.  One day, it would not turn off.  In fact this evil critter got hotter and hotter, threatening to bake the delectable offering (my daughter in law is a great cook) to a fair-the-well, until she bravely pulled the plug putting the monster out of its misery and if not saving dinner, they were spared a flaming disaster.  They now proudly own a brand new gas range top oven, an item long on their wish list and now in their kitchen; an obedient servant.

Ovens of course, have a history evolving from simple wood fires, into stone masonry wood burning ovens and fire places with accommodation for large iron pots and all of the configurations of ovens, gas and electric in our contemporary lives.  Ovens at times, have been called upon to do horrendous evil. During the holocaust, severely distorted human minds turned the oven in to an evil HELL-on-earth aimed at killing millions of innocent people.

Continuing on the note into Hell, I recently re-read Dante’s Inferno with fiery (and sometimes frosty) visions of  eternity in hellish conditions from the imagination of  Dante Alighieri, where Dante the character is led to pursue the true pathway of life, exploring the nature of sin on a trip though Hell.  Here, oven roasting goes to new extremes. See the URL for more. http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/inferno/canalysis.html

How many desperate  and ill-prepared immigrants/refugees have perished in the extreme weather conditions encountered in desert crossings (nature’s ovens) as they seek to better their lives?

On a more pleasant note, my grandson built a unique and artful stone wood fired pizza oven as his high school senior project.  What an undertaking it was and what wonderful pizza, pretzels and breads he has produced.  He used “Where the Wild Things Are” motif as a topper.  What fun.

joshpizzaoven873

If you have stayed with me this far, here is an strange musing on a form of oven; roasted turkey in a garbage pail. Learn more on the following URL….http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/garbage-can-turkey/Detail.aspx

The recipe calls for these items and Ingredients
  • aluminum foil
  • 15 inch wooden stake
  • 1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • new 15 gallon metal garbage can with lid

If you try this method, let me know how it turns out please.  As a vegetarian, I wonder if Tofurky would work just as well. I leave you now with the ear worm counting guardian angels ringing in my ear and wish you all Bon Appetite.

Ann Carol Goldberg