Monthly Archives: February 2016

Home Cooking

Place Pigalle

Place Pigalle



Home Cooking

I was always afraid of something
And even after my youth’s epiphany
I’d look at my new reality
And sure it called like something pure
And it did smell of home it’s true

But I was afraid of it too
It was still as if I was told to die
And trust to some resurrection
But lately it’s just choices
Cut and dried choices

Choices between something obviously
Fraught with pain and angst
And something so good I can’t accept it
I guess

Because I don’t feel I deserve it
But I am trying to be able to
Say okay I do love home cooking
I do and yes
Yes thank You I will have a care

And just a little slice of that
Wonderful smelling pie
And I’ll just sit over there
With my pie
And cry


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”


Gentle Readers–

First, to set the tone for today’s overarching metaphor, I suggest this from the wonderful singer, Judy Collins:


At last a new post!

Here’s how it came about:

But I must first ask you this, were you ever trying to take a nap but your foot was starting to cramp? And coincidentally just before that, you had a blog idea which had kept at your psyche?

Well, sometimes in my cosmology someone or something is trying to tell me something. Maybe in the Robert Frostian sense about walls (“Something there is that doesn’t like a wall”)

Or God knows why but just now I was wondering about my stalled blog post output. (Though not stalled poetry-writing wise, as my Facebook friends will attest)

And as I lay there, words just kept coming like a recurrent surf and somehow were aligned in a sort of why not try something off the top of your head configuration? Why not indeed since some possible opening words kept coming at me.

Let me give you an example. Which also segues into the theme of this post, another biographical musing.

I have been cooking all my life* but about twentyish years ago I decided to throw away the cook book. Sure, I would consult to make sure I had the right amount of baking powder to flour ratio, and such.

And maybe a bit about oven temperature. But maybe also because it freed up my creative juices, my improvisational acting skills**or such, but I suddenly really enjoyed cooking. For a while I could do no wrong. My specialty became breads and vegetarian soups. (The secret turned out to be to add high quality veggie bouillon cubes until it had a rich taste.)

My bread then I called “red bread” because I used so many steamed and squashed-flat (blender emulsified) beets, that it came out red. Or at least the dough did. Though it did tend to turn brown in the oven. But always with leftist twinges around the edges.

I even extrapolated this idea to an idea of a cookbook based on improvisational techniques whose specialty was using up whatever was handy in the refrigerator. I was either gong to title it “Fry by the Seat of Your Pants” or “Drive-By Cooking.”

People started saying I should open a restaurant. And I even got an idea of specializing in soups, salads, fresh bread and rolls, and desserts (I could make a mean apple pie, though most people raved more about my bread pudding.)

For instance when I lived in Antigua, the erst capital of Guatemala (before the terrible terremoto of 1789) about ten years ago, I had a friend, cierta Sharon, who would come over for lunch insisting on a bread pudding dessert. And in exchange, she would read and comment on about forty of my latest poems. (She had been a high school literature teacher).

Anyway the idea was I wouldn’t need waitresses because it was serve-yourself all you could eat (I was going to give it a fancy French pun for a name: “Place Pigout,” based of course on the famous Paris Street, Place Pigalle.)

See, I used to be a finish carpenter whose specialty was adding charm to a superficially funky situation. For instance reusing old used hard woods like the ripped-up dance floor in the being-remodeled old Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. I inherited it as a carpenter working on the remodeling, and used it to restore the let’s call it vintage old Bay Area house I later sold to enable me to move to Guatemala.

I figured I could do the same to an eyesore of a restaurant.

The idea was to rent a funky dump and transform it a la Cinderella, and have nice art prints on the walls, hanging plants, and soft romantic lighting. And keep costs down by only serving soup and a salad bar, and all the fresh bread you could eat. Dessert and wine of course was extra. But it was mostly serve yourself so I wouldn’t need any servers besides perhaps me and (If I got lucky) a girlfriend/wife kind of deal.

A chic but cheap romantic night out was what I figured.

But in the spirit of a favorite John Lennon quote, (“Life is what happens when you are making other plans”) I never got around to it, my theory as to the why of that being that’s because I would have been too successful and so would never have given it up to be a poet. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it.

You could call that a failure I suppose, but life is funny that way. My old Sufi Murshida used to say, “Failure never let anybody down.”

In my case, for instance a succession of “failures” whether in romance or for instance having tried to become a nurse, had (like falling dominoes) the upshot of me escaping to Guatemala and devoting myself to my metaphysical poetry and blog posts. Indeed I wrote about this series of events in several of the missing blog posts. But as I keep saying, I have back-ups, at least as in word documents, and I am gradually reintroducing them.

So Gentlefolk, I have finally written a new original blog post (as opposed to reposting something from the past which was as I keep mentioning, unaccountably erased from my website).

After all, as faithful readers from the past almost three years know, I do often digress to situations from my life. Always of course with some set of Sufi themes involved.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*When I was a child of four, (speaking of flour) I had a natural curiosity about cooking and I asked how muffins were made. No doubt it was mentioned about flour but from that I’d got it into my head that you put a flower in each space in the muffin tin and mirabile dictu! next morning it had segued into muffins.

**When I was a Walnut Creek Sufi in the seventies, we had a Sufi club of improvisational acting aficianados. Every month we would meet under the aegis of one of our Sufi members, who was a professional all-around theater person. (These Sufis, as befits our Sufi-section derived from Moinuddin Chishti–that is to say, those whose route to God went through the arts–featured a large percentage of artists, e. g. poets, singers, musicians, composers, dancers, actors and allied performing artists, painters, and even a puppeteer.)