Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thoughts in early May

On my dresser I have one of my mother's first business cards. At Home Antiques and Interiors. The business address was our home at the time, a nineteenth century farmhouse outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  The card features her sketch of window with shutters and iron hardware with a few bricks askew giving the impression of a house-front.  This must have been before she moved her wares to a booth in a large antique warehouse called Kudzu.  That building is enormous in my memory and smelled of old books, varnish, and filled with cool, wet air.  

I hold this card as a clue.  With it I try with some amount of desperation to unlock pieces of wisdom she might have shared with me today. We are all filled with such complexity that I don't claim to understand who she was fully, wholly.  But once a person leaves us we have a fixed number of memories to work with, to replay, to comfort and torment us.  As I revisit the moments I had with her, countless ones, I have to believe that I can continue to know and better understand her.  And the memories become clearer.  Scenes where she was once void I now can place her. Conversations that I didn't understand then, I do now.  I know what you mean, mom. Just not then. 
I don't know..


We went to New York City recently and part of me was excited to go and another part of me worried that it would be too painful to enjoy a city she loved and knew and a place she shared with me.  But it wasn't that way.  You have to be strong there and know your own mind and go your own way, and then the beast becomes friendly and magical. 
I don't know..

Monday, January 22, 2018

Reframing Lentils in 2018

Recently I realized that it wasn't lentil soup I was weary of, but of the label "lentil soup". It had taken on a stigma in my mind. Tired. Winter. Dreary. Hopeless. But I've reframed and reinvented the soup that we all enjoy filled with wonderful nutrients and flavor.  "What are we having for dinner?" Don't you dare ask me that question.  Hmmmm, why do i hate that question.  But now I say vegetable soup.  Now I say soup, winter soup, hearty soup.  With a baguette, ideally.  Lately I've been substituting the onion for a leek to begin. Always tomato paste.  Less cumin. Farro went in the other day and it thickened up to be more of a dahl to serve over rice. Yes there are lentils added for old times' sake.  Last week I added a big pinch of saffron that I had been saving for no reason in particular. Afterward I realized that mushrooms was the thing it lacked.  Next time.

Snow day.

Once we went sledding. 

Birthday Burritos.

Prolonging Joy

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 15, 2017

Hello. This morning I had this really wonderful, tragic poem drifting through my head. A poem about loss and love and heartache and anguish. Anguish is a good word. Fitting. I said to myself that if they wrote on my gravestone -the girl who never got over her mother's death- I would not be a disappointment. A tragic existence is my fate and that has a touch of romance to it which is helping me through this day. Today I will be in my little world of desperate and morose thoughts and they will keep me company. Because today is my mom's birthday. I went to Whole Foods and bought big delicious cupcakes for my children. And sushi for myself. Tonight I'm meeting my sister to wallow and wonder and wander together. I think I've written that line before. May we accomplish nothing but only mark the day. With every year that passes I realize what a wee babe my mom was when she died. She was still in her forties when she was diagnosed. 52 when she died. I had no idea how young that was at the time. I miss her every day. I miss her when i see a free range duck in the grocery store. I miss her when the leaves change color and when I see my daughters and niece perform in a play.  And I miss her on her birthday and dream about how we would have celebrated. 

 Afterschool afternoons.
 Abel cooks.
  I take comfort in knowing there is an Ian in the world. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Oh geez, I mean I know it's been a while but when I saw my last post -yikes.

I won't do you the discourtesy of apologizing for the distance that has come between us, but I haven't forgotten you or this space. Like an overdue phone call that gets harder and harder to make so it is the same for me with writing in whatever realm of a public forum this one is.  Nor will I even claim that I'm back!  But I am still here.  I'm thinking a lot, reading some, being my best self occasionally and my worst self more than that. I had planned to check in with you all back in June for many reasons but I had no words to write.  And I still don't know what I want to say.

But as I hee and haw and cope and summon courage and strength and exhaustion the days never fail to pass. Some of them are magical and most of them are ordinary, a number of them I'd like to forget and there are more than a few that I would like to try to remember. Abel turned two in September. Verity turned five on Friday! And Naomi is patiently waiting for her day to turn seven in January. I have so much to be thankful for and complain about. Do you know when I'm trying to be funny yet?

I will tell you that the bakfeit is still seeing lots of action which brings me joy.  This summer we moved to what feels like the suburbs of Cambridge and so we take to the bike a bit more to get a few of our favorite places.  The home was advertised with a note that the kitchen is in need of updating. Correct. Which leads me to share my next update.  

My meal plan is currently in shambles.  This does not bring me joy.  Recently my meal planning role models were in town and I learned that theirs spans close to two years now.  She started plotting hers out with no grandiose vision over 30 years ago by going through her cookbooks and picking out the recipes she wanted to try.  Simple enough right?  If she can do two years then by golly I command myself to getting back to a week at the least.  And I am doing that barely but it's not very gratifying because the haphazard approach and execution...and the kitchen.

I'm also selling houses. Which I know I haven't mentioned on this space and is the real reason why I've been called away on leave from here. Just kidding. No, but it's true. I'm pounding the pavement out there in the real estate world and seeing success and lots and lots of learning moments. It's been a challenge to have a legitimate reason to look at my phone. But I do not need to be looking at my phone while a child gets off the bus, ahem, or while they practice violin or when I first wake up in the morning. Good grief.  Boundaries woman.  I've also established that I don't like the word boundaries. It has a negative connotation in my mind.  But I am getting better at taking care of myself as my thirties continue to blossom.  For one i just downloaded Headspace.  Like literally just before sitting down here. And I'm buying another jogging stroller after giving my last one away because endorphins are mandatory these days, so says my PCP. I completely agree.  xo


And meet Henry George, the latest addition to the cousin army! Courtesy of little brother and superwoman Courtney. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Yellow school buses. 
Graffitied dumpsters and gravel roads.
Telephone wires and clotheslines.
Lumberyards and silos.  
Heaps of autymobiles.
Rusty swing sets and sailboats sleeping. 
Smoking bonfires and white-fenced pastures.
Tractors and trees and rivers and oceans.  

Train travel.  There is nothing like it.  

If you get on board in Boston heading south sit on the right-hand side to have an uninterrupted view of the Atlantic Ocean.  Any compass can tell you that but it feels like a secret.  The clarity of thought I stumble upon with a glimpse of the wide open sea from my polyester, cushioned Amtrak seat catches me off guard every time.  All your hopes and dreams and the possibility of it all overwhelms you with distinct suddenness.  All your questions of why and how and why not and when bombard you with a peace that does surpass your understanding.  And then in just a moment it flits by your window and you cross over another border and pass in and out of the next tunnel with no chance to look back.  The landscapes constantly change.  The backsides of towns and the lives lived there -one can only wonder and marvel that this world really does exist and we are such small, little things.  

Sure there are delays and dirty bathrooms and the always grumpy cafe car employee ready to heat up your Hebrew National hot dog and roll your eyes as you try to decide between a Cliff Bar and Nature Valley Oats and Honey.  You might even for a second believe you are behind the Iron Curtain travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway when they tell you that bagels are unavailable this day.  I wonder which ruler is feasting at our expense.

But it's a wonderful thing this train, with leaky cars and a scattering of wet seats.  Kings and Queens traveled this way with crowds lined up to wave them along.  It's a lot easier to imagine your royal lineage here than from the coach car at the back of a plane or leaning into the back seat to reach a fallen toy.  And these children I'm travelling with -I can even imagine at certain vague moments that they are fellow passengers whose destination is unknown.  :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Meal Plan: Different These Days

The Meal Plan these days looks a little different.  It's simpler.  There's more repetition and less lengthy recipes.  More trips to the market for a fewer number of items.  A chicken roasted with potatoes on Wednesday means chicken soup on Thursday and a thermos of soup on Friday for lunch for a few.  I've rediscovered tortellini and gnocchi.  We eat lentils though not as many for now.  Butternut squash over rice is back as a seasonal mainstay.  Naomi despairs.  However she has made peace with it after I warned the table that we were going to be seeing a lot of it over the next few months.  And she can't help but taste it's sweet, satisfying flavor.  I serve more polenta and roast vegetables.  I turn to the back of boxes for recipes and search less on the internet.  I'm buying more salted butter.  And when I make bread I use less yeast and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.  I learned this method from a neighbor after I tasted her "traditional german" bread.  There is batch cooking when possible.

Here's my latest back of the bag recipe found on the back of Bob's Red Mill shredded unsweetened coconut and adapted slightly.    

Munch Bars

1/4 cup of butter
40 large marshmallows
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs brown flaxseeds
2 tbs cocoa powder

melt butter and marshmallows.  add vanilla.  remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, mix well.  press into greased 9x9 pan and chill.  Cut into squares and serve.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer's End

Recently I spent a few moments going through the heap of papers piled high on our china cupboard.  I emptied the drawer of its contents - dozens of halfway drawings and penciled scribbles.  Little mounts of scissor clippings with crumpled and chewed up paper.  I put most of them in the recycling bin.  For a winter stint Naomi drew and designed napkins which were small rectangles colored in various ways.  I kept a sheet of those.  Not much time has passed and the heap of papers has mounted again.  Naomi brought home a crow's nest made out of a paper plate with these foam eggs that I keep kicking around the floor.  And yesterday she brought home a small book that she made at school with a tiny drawing on each of the first few pages.  She told me I may not like it.  I told her that I certainly did and wondered why she might think I wouldn't.  Maybe because of the complaints I registered about her bird's nest and eggs?

Verity keeps squirting my nice handsoap into the bath water.  And then she squirts the hand lotion in there as well.  This tries my patience very much.  If you can read between the lines I think you would agree that this is not worth yelling about.  I told her it was my soap and my lotion.  And she disagreed.  Don't get into an argument with your 3 year old.

But, DO go into Lush next time you can and buy a bath bomb for your child or yourself.  Cheap thrills.  It cures all ills, truly I tell you.

The first morning I had to myself, with Abel, after school drop offs, I made cookies while he slept.  I added one too many scoops of sugar accidentally and burnt two batches.  Today I'm trying again with a recipe for Saffron-Vanilla Snickerdoodles I found on Heidy Swanson's beautiful blog.

I told Naomi to make sure she brought back her book to school so she could finish it.  And she told me that she needed to finish it at home.  Why can't she finish it at school?  It seemed like the perfect piece of work to pick back up during the next "choice time."  Hurry up, keep moving, on to the next, grumble grumble.  But this one I'll keep.

Last day of summer.