“This being human is a guest house.” Rumi
The Rumi poem The Guest House is one of our favorites. It’s fitting I mention this as I get to the 11-year anniversary (August 15, 2016) of the stroke and that I think about the future but I equally honor the past. I mentioned a few months ago that I love those Hallmark Channel movies. I saw one recently that took place at a charming inn. That reminded me of a bed and breakfast that Matt and I used to go to in the town of Gualala. It’s on the California coast between Mendocino and Sea Ranch. It was called The Old Milano Hotel. It was a hotel from 1905 that had been remodeled for private residential use several times, usually with little sympathy to its origins. Historical research, restoration drawings and phased construction converted the house back into a country inn and obtained it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic Old Milano Hotel burned down completely in 2001. While that whole thing really saddens me, I am thrilled and honored we got to share it. It puts the guest/guest house thing into perspective.
My favorite Mexican dish is Mole Poblano. Somebody recently asked me about a translation for “mole” and I wasn’t sure but I said sauce. I looked it up. Mole is Mexico’s national dish and it is simply a sauce. Although many believe the word comes from the Spanish word moler meaning “to grind”, it actually comes from the Nahuati (Aztec) word molli meaning sauce or mixture. The flavors are sweet, nutty, roasted and slightly bitter. I don’t ask Matt to fix Mole, not because it’s complicated but because it takes a lot of ingredients to make that flavor. I describe it as a chocolate sauce with hot peppers that make that complex savory flavor. Mole comes from the southern region of Mexico where there is a heavy Amerindian influence and chocolate is used in both sweet and savory dishes. However, the frequent translation of mole to mean “chocolate sauce” is incorrect, as only a small percentage of moles use chocolate. Although the mole has pre-Columbian roots and the word comes from the Aztec language, it is highly doubtful that the Aztecs ever would have used chocolate in a savory recipe. Experimenting with chocolate came in the seventeenth century, after the Spanish conquest. It’s served with chicken traditionally and it’s a party in your mouth! My mother used to fix it for us when we were younger. These are flavors that you would not normally associate with each other. My mother tells me that these days you can find the mole sauce in the grocery store that is already prepared! I love this idea. It may be easier to see the value of new things when we have the mindset of a guest in the guest house!
Matt got me the book Big 50: San Francisco Giants by Daniel Brown. He is a local sports writer. It’s an amazing look at the 50 men and moments that have made the San Francisco Giants. I probably would have picked the same 50. When I got the book, one of the first things I did was look at the Table of Contents to see what someone had as their 50 items. While it’s important to focus on the future and present, we also need to acknowledge those things that have made the past significant. History is an important part of who we are! The first chapter or number 1 is Willie Mays (of course)! I would have had that as number 1 also. The chapter includes a story about Willie that most fans know, in that “he always wore his cap size a little bit larger so it would fly off when he was running” the late Giants pitcher Stu Miller said. “But that’s what his idea was — to please the crowd.” Now that is a great image! When most people see Willie Mays running in their mind, they always see that hat flying off. He had style! Another chapter is on Willie McCovey. How great is that? The Giants have two great Willies in their history. This is part two of that Wille Mays autographed baseball story I mentioned a few months ago. My parents had a neighbor who said her business was sponsoring a day for Willie McCovey to go to Fresno to sign autographs. She asked them if they wanted his autograph because she thought she could get it. My mother told her about the Willie Mays autograph and she said she would take that ball to Willie McCovey and see what she could do. He took a look at it and remarked about Willie Mays’ signature and autographed it. A baseball with both Willie’s autographs. How cool is that? Two Willies! I know the whole history thing has been a big part of my attraction to baseball and the SF Giants. I love that the team has maintained the whole important part of history. It’s also a major thing for me how baseball uses their farm system to maintain an active roster! I know it’s a drag when somebody gets hurt, but I’m impressed with how teams use the farm system and disabled list to maintain the active roster. Just like a stroke and brain plasticity.
I’ll share a significant pre-stroke memory. I used to have dreams of flying in my car long before I had the stroke. So we know that’s not realistic (cars only fly in Harry Potter movies) but nevertheless it is a memory that I have. I know many will analyze this but today I don’t drive so being in a flying car is an amazing feeling. That memory always makes me think of memories that stroke survivors have. Remember how I mentioned the fact that we get so exited when we are on a roller coaster? There is no difference in our bodies’ reaction when we are excited or we are afraid.
A big part of these 11 years has been focusing on how life is/can be now after the stroke. It may not be this way for many people, but for me history is a big part of the future. I have great memories of myself prior to the stroke. It was a treat. But it is the past — good and bad. Mary Engelbreit has a quote that says “let’s put the fun back in dysfunctional”! I have always loved this saying. It’s important that we keep perspective.
Being a good guest is important to me.