Taking The Temperature

Have you ever had times in your life in relationships that required you take the emotional temperature of another before proceeding to engage in interaction with them in any given moment?  I have.  I remember growing, up, 🙂 upon entering the house after school, I and my siblings became adept at doing a flash analysis of where the maternal parental unit was emotionally within herself before announcing our arrival home.  Was it safe to say hello or would it be better to quietly retreat up the backstairs and straight into the land of homework?

Our mother was not a bad person, just not often found genuinely happy in herself.  She had quit working a job she enjoyed and excelled at (teaching special education) and made the choice to stay home full time as a mother after I was age 5.  I think this was a mistake.  I don’t think she overly enjoyed lots of what it meant to stay home and to mother (she definitely did not overly enjoy cooking! -no finger pointing with blame though, because no matter how you cut it, it is a challenge to cook 3 meals for 11 people each and every day).  I believe she would have been much happier and fulfilled in herself (and thus with her children) if she had stayed working.

Later, long after I had been launched into the world, my mother did get better about taking care of nurturing the self she was outside of her role being a parent.  When I was in my early twenties she ran for and and was elected to the school board in one of the largest school districts in the USA.  She was fabulous at this. Very quickly she was appointed the president, and although this took her away from home more often, when she was there, I think my younger siblings benefited because she definitely was happier.

In my world it has been a long time since I have had any relationship in the home environment that I have chosen to create that required any need to regularly do this taking of temperatures before interacting.  A long time ago I mastered most of the lessons provided by the opportunity of walking on egg shells at home, and since then, I have never looked back.  Smooth, smooth sailing these past years.

Well, it had been.

With my move last fall however, this changed.  In my new space I encountered a challenging relationship.  Now, for those who have been reading here on this blog for awhile, you might recall that the kitchen and I have always had a bit of a tenuous relationship.  I have always deeply enjoyed the results of what goes on there, but I myself have not taken the time or had the inclination to dip into the artistry of activity available in that space.  I have long been an admirer of the culinary world, but as an observer of and not participator in it’s creational alchemical mysteries.  ( Those interested in a peek at a few attempts shared before can be found here X & X )

However, this last particular move of house provided my life flow with such a beautiful and inspirational space to cook in that I decided to approach this area of my home again with an olive branch of peace and friendship.  I would cook at home.

Now I will not lie and attempt to disguise the fact that this arrangement was partially arrived at due to our new, more isolated location on the coast.  Without the plethora of outstanding food choices within walking distance right out the front door in the foodie city of Portland, what is a human who still needs to eat to do?   So…

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Hildegard…my oven.  She is a beauty.

Hildegard(Didn’t think it could hurt to christen her after one
who could interact with “the shade of the living light” 🙂 )

My first real opportunity to enjoy formal introductions with Hilde was this past Christmas.  Armed with the magic making gift of well blessed potholders sent by a dear friend (received with so much love straight to give support to my non-cooking heart), I made my first attempt to bake making Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread.  I took this picture at the time to email to my precious MT who graciously gifted me courage to “keep calm and bake on”.

monkeying aroundWhat I did not do at Christmas was to follow this photo up with the finished baked product, the one where all the bit in the center went into the trash because the bread remained doughy 😦 .

My next attempt to do a little dance with the oven was for a small dinner party.  I had somewhere caught a little blurb about Julianna Margulies and the simple salmon recipe that she said people invited themselves over with instructions specifically for her to cook for them.  I thought how hard is it to open a bottle, marinate and bake?  Well, apparently harder than it seems.  After following the instructions to the letter, the middle of my filet remained in the land of kissing cousins with sashimi.


What was going on?  Why did Hildegard not like me?  What was I doing wrong?  It had to be me.  You see, I can’t cook, right?  Hilde is a top of the line Whirlpool Gold with Accubake System, a “-hello, and yes you do not even need to be able to read to operate this-“, state of the art “-I will do everything but mix for you-” miracle of a modern appliance.  So it MUST be me?!!  Right!??

I left her untouched for months.

Then one day it dawned on me.  There really only ever are I won’t statements.  Thoughts we believe become real experiences.  Testing this understanding, it was time to quit walking on eggshells and actually to take the temperature in my relationship with the Hild-ster.  Result?

temperature set tothe actual temperatureVINDICATION !

Martha Stewart, prepare to share your crown.  Culinary magicians ain’t got nothing on one Mrs. seeingM Salmon.  😉

Emotion is infused into all we create in the living of our lives, so remember to always kiss the cook. Our thoughts about what is happening in our emotional kitchens help support their creations of our reality.  When love and happiness is present in the human home with a can do, will do and want to do attitude, culinary disasters in the kitchen of our living are usually not ever the cook’s fault.

– – – – –

Hilde (& Mother),

Thank you for your lessons in living.
You are still loved so.     -x.M




This entry was published on April 20, 2014 at 9:27 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

11 thoughts on “Taking The Temperature

  1. ::
    Sorry, but I couldn’t resist…


    Which makes me think about what is just around the corner again…

    Hildegard and I might just have to try this at home this summer!

  2. “A menial task which must be mine, that shall I glorify and make an art of it.” Walter Russell.
    I cannot find where Michael posted this quote, but I posted it up at work by the phone for all, while also internalizing it for me. Reminds me of you, for of all incarnated beings I know, you do make an art of “it”, whatever “it” may be. Even kitchen flops make for great abstract art and laughter (and blog shares).

    xo! m

    (thank N for the “Withnail and I” lead:)

    • Thanks M. You take the time to see and be. I feel incredibly loved. Anything is possible with the magic of ones who help navigate the heat in the kitchen gifting such beautiful, artful tools to help do the holding we all need from time to time. Keep calm an bake on indeed!

      The artist I am bows to the one she sees reflected in you. Blessings on your head.


      (and for anyone else reading and following the trail of threads, this is the origin on that way of thinking: )

      • Perhaps we are all just doing our best, both humans and appliances alike, to achieve the high standards we set for ourselves, which always seem to be accompanied by a few performance missteps. I love that you have brought insight, humor, and forgiveness again to humans and appliances. Perhaps you and Hilde shall dance your way through the kitchen, now that she has confided her secrets and you have established honest communication. 😉 I can very much relate to this story. Many a meal has been over seasoned, undercooked, and mismeasured under my chef-dom. 😉 Luckily, I have a very forgiving family, and a decent Mexican restaurant close at hand.

      • Chef-dom…I LOVE IT! I have come to a place of making friends rather than an enemy of high standards. How liberating. It has become not what is done (action and outcome) but the focus on how it is done. Food prepared may still be disasters in my kitchen, but they will be results of the ingredients mixed with love. -x.M

  3. Like any relationship, you and Hildegaard simply need to get to know one another. Then when you read the recipe and it says “bake for thirty-five minutes at 350F”, you two can wink at each other and dial her thermo-convector engine up to 375! Everything is such a beautiful teaching, and I thank you for the reminder. I have a few things around me that would benefit from the same sanguine approach you have mastered…


    • I am not sure about any mastery, however I have had such amazingly gut wrenchingly hard times that in the now, when I wake up into my life today, it is with a smile and really knowing and celebrating that the small things can be so good. -x.M

  4. Absolutely marvelous! I loved this story and how you told it. I never thought about my relationships with my kitchens — just sort of took them for granted. I am a good cook and enjoy cooking, never more so than here in Morocco. I guess I’ve naturally had good relationships with these rooms in each place I’ve lived. Thanks for your candid and humorous depiction of this emotional and physical temperature taking. Blessings, Alia

    • Loving getting a peek at Morocco through your eyes. I just learned that one of my best friends has been sent to Rabat for the month of June for work. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tempting to hop on a plane. I don’t think I am going to be able to pull it off right now, but if I do, I will let you know as I would have space available in a whole empty checked bag to bring any hard to find US things. Going to make a decision next week about this, so I will let you know. -x.M

  5. IAM so glad you found a way to extend your onward journey together with Hilde.. Barbara

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