15 December 2010

bowing out

"I am never proud to participate in violence, yet, I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed."
~ Maya Angelou

03 December 2010

friends on facebook

Cole and I walked into a living room of strangers and settled into a spot between two women I met earlier in the week. I accepted the invitation to the playgroup that morning in a half-hearted effort to make connections in our new town.

After brief introductions and a bit of coercion, Cole eventually left the circle and went to play with the children in another room. I was on my own to take up space and make my place amidst this group of young mothers. So dutifully, I inquired about names, about spouses, about pastimes and children, then leaned back against the couch, settled into my spot atop the cheerio-laden carpet and purposed to do what I do best: to listen and to learn.

The events that followed were unexpected, however. Nothing happened. Conversation ceased once I stopped talking, and save the soundtrack of our children playing in the distance, I sat amidst eight friends-of-one-another for 1 1/2 hours in virtual silence. It was a curious, confounding... and painfully awkward thing.

Every once in a while one woman would briefly speak into the chasm and the others would smile, nod or respond. Then, as quickly as it departed, the heavy hush would return. I began to welcome and to look forward to the frequent interruptions of snot-nosed toddlers with needs for snacks, affection, interjection and Kleenex. In all honesty, I couldn't wait to leave. To my shock, these women had nothing to say. They had already said it -- posted it, rather -- earlier that morning.

I was in the midst of friends on Facebook.

"Facebook is where it's at..." I've heard it countless times before. Now, more than ever. My increasingly conspicuous absence from this book of faces is neither philosophical, nor religious. It hasn't been a choice, really. You see, my life has felt full -- overflowing most days -- without Facebook, so honestly I haven't given it much thought. Until now.

Last night, Paul and I spoke about relationships and connections between people. Inevitably, Facebook made its way into our conversation. Paul loves the chase and making connections. He loves to network and loves Facebook for the access to all these things that it affords. I compartmentalize and over-analyze. I love the distinction between relationships in context and I value presence and quality of connection above all.

Instant access, limitless resource, one more way to fill up free time and more "friends" than one can count are just a few of the compelling reasons to frequent Facebook. For me, however, these are a few of the reasons I've opted out. I'm not on Facebook for the same reason I don't wear a watch, forget my cell phone, infrequent Trader Joe's and Target, abstain from Costco and have not returned to that playgroup: way too much, yet not nearly enough.

I am not a Facebook-hater (neither Costco-, TJ's-, nor Target-). I have never tried it, so I can't in good conscience knock it. I can only speak from my own experience and observation. But it's become harder to see. I have observed haze, fuzz and interference. Hard lines have been crossed and become blurred. Meaning has been obscured.

The things is, Facebook is not friendship. This, I think, bears repeating. In the same way that the Bible is not faith, a calculator is not mathematics, the internet is not knowledge, Christmas gifts are not love, and marriage cannot make perfect strangers a family, Facebook is not friendship.

In my opinion, its lines have been smudged and it is sometimes misused. How can I deny what an amazing resource it has been for so many? But the operative word here is resource. Facebook -- like the bible, a calculator, the internet, a gift and a marriage -- is a tool. It is a means by which to connect, to understand, to end or to begin. To become rapt with the pen and to miss that which was penned is a tragedy.

I don't know the words that were exchanged on Facebook the morning before that playgroup, and I can't judge the quality of the relationships of the mommas I shared that morning with. I can say, however, that something was missing.

For me, the beauty of friendship and of faith is the present, the face-to-face and the conversation that comes from lives intertwined; connection is everything. I live and ache for it. To me, that morning and those women seemed disconnected. In that moment, it was as if creation -- a reflection of something so much bigger, sweeter -- took over and was all there was. It wasn't enough.

I don't have any friends on Facebook, and it's more than enough.

22 November 2010


it's SNOWING!!!!!

17 November 2010

com panis

For several days, I’ve had bread on my mind.

I haven’t been eating much of it lately -- an obvious reason to ponder it, I suppose. But honestly, I think the substance of these thoughts resides in more than just bread’s absence in my life of late. Actually, it’s the choice that’s been on my mind. With bread, I am almost always forced to choose.

This ubiquitous staple, with its varieties and complexities, is so often boiled down to a choice. But clarity, context, character and color can be compromised when I am asked to decide between white and wheat.

For me it’s not that simple.

It’s not that I wish to consider every variety on every occasion. There are far too many options for me (and especially for the poor guy in line behind me) to choose from: oat, corn, multigrain, sourdough, pumpernickel, rye… whole grain, seven grain, sprouted grain… quick breads, slow breads, French breads, German breads… loaves, rolls, biscuits, baguettes, croissants, bagels, matzos, pitas, tortillas, focaccias, challahs, naans, chapattis… some mysterious, foil-clad, holiday loaves bound by fruits, nuts, seeds and spices… still others free of salt, high-fructose corn syrup, flavor… oh, and gluten.

For heaven’s sake, it’s BREAD, right?! And there’s not much to bread, really. It’s just water, flour and energy.


But as I've been searching my heart this week -- trying to understand and to make sense of some things and some folks -- I've settled my mind at the counter of a proverbial bakery. A particular loaf of bread has commanded my thoughts enough for them to become words this afternoon. I get this bread. Hell, I am this bread.

This bread has heart, texture and depth; it is not easy. It is dark, rich, and it requires time – to chew and to digest. Its substance and sweetness are subtle; its flavor, strong and distinct. In contrast to its smooth, saccharin, carefree and easily-digestible counterparts, it can be overlooked or overpowered. But when the tenderness beneath its crisp crust is experienced and well-paired – with creativity, care and intention – this bread is far more than flour and water.

But is there really a choice?

Let's face it: as long as long as we live in a world with school lunches and Thanksgiving, Wonder Bread and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls will take the enriched-white-flour cake. Further, when faced with a simple choice, kiddos and carnivores worldwide will opt for either of the latter over the earthy alternative twenty times over. My bread will never make the same kind of dinner roll... ever.

So why exhaust any more energy baking hearty, wholesome holiday rolls? Perhaps it's time to let wheat be wheat, to let white be white, and for me to be true to my bread nevertheless. For today, I'll just ponder the wonder of bread.

I think bread is a wonderful thing, indeed. I am consuming it less, valuing it more and discriminating about the company it keeps. This has made a difference.

13 September 2010

happy hour

Do you hear that?

Neither do I.

My belly rumbled; the fridge hummed. A fly buzzed by. The leaves beyond the open doors rustled, and someone -- something -- in the distance was singing a happy song.The keys beneath my fingers went tap, tap, tap, and then it ceased. For a moment, all of it ceased.


This morning, after THREE MONTHS of summer vacation, my children returned to school. Cole is now in Kindergarten, Maya is in first grade, and I am in heaven. The sun is shining, fall is in the air, and save the rumbles, hums, buzzes and taps, my house is quiet. REALLY quiet.

Any minute, Paul and the kids will return home with stories, lunch pails, jackets and volume. I will welcome them, and I will be mostly glad. But until then, I fully intend to quietly sip this moment from the lap of my chair.

Bright light from outside fills the room and warms my face. I hear nothing but my tapping, and I can feel that I am beaming. There goes that fly again.


06 August 2010


Today is day 371.

I have no idea
how or where to pick up where I left off. Maybe it will happen, but likely it won't. I need to remember, but I also want to forget. It wasn't all bad, but it got damn hard. And then there was grace. Oh, sweet grace.

I'm smiling again. And gum-chewing too.

This morning I ran, and I felt free. It felt so good. Lisa and I spoke on the phone over dishes, and I felt like I was home. Here I sit in this old familiar chair, six days into our second year. I'm missing home and finding it too.

Mostly, I'm glad about it.

16 June 2010

on target

I heard once -- I think in church -- or perhaps I read it somewhere, that one can quickly discern the idols in her life by looking to see where the money goes. For me, for most of my life the money's gone to Target.

Sure my money has also gone to family and friends, to church, to charity, to the government, to lenders, to utilities, to grocers and to department stores, but the payee that has most frequently appeared in my check register and on my bank statements over the years is good ole' Big Red. For me, Target has been a pillar.

That reminds me of the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who solved all problems with Windex. And of my own father: he was and remains a proponent of peanuts, bananas and Tylenol. And in my memories, my mother prescribed antibiotics (which I never finished) to cure all things. Take two of these, and call me in the morning.

I was about ten, when construction began in the lot at the corner of Buckley and Quincy Rd. Biking-distance from my childhood home, a monument, which changed the face of my neighborhood and the course of my life, was erected; Target moved to town. And ever since, it has been my own panacea and the recipient of my tithes and offerings.

I found everything I was looking for, save produce, at Target. In fact, I found everything I wasn't looking for there too. I remember joking with friends in college about how impossible it seemed to leave Target less than $100 lighter. That was in the 90s. And then, in the genesis of the 21st century, came Super Target.

When I eventually returned to Colorado, a few things had changed: I was a little older, a little wider. I still lived in a suburb of Denver, but this time, on the other side of town. I was homeowner, rather than tenant; parent, rather than the child. And over 20 years, I had been to California, to Europe and back. But history often repeats itself and some things remain unchanged.

In 2005, at the corner of Church Ranch and Hwy 36, construction began on yet another monument -- a super monument just biking distance from my new home. I'll take two of these and two of these, and how about three of those... Problems solved.

And then came Whidbey.

The ubiquitous red temple and its affordable, expedient convenience is now a ferry ride away. These days, it takes time, planning and cold, hard cash just to get to Target's parking lot. It is no longer possible for me to "run to Target" or to "just stop by" on my way home. Real life has ransomed that I learn to let go, to hang in there, to look elsewhere and to live without.

Yesterday, the kids and I shopped at Target for the first time since early December. We left home at 8:16 a.m. (a minor miracle), walked through the crimson trimmed, sliding glass doors just before 10, and headed straight for the loo. Just like old times.

"It looks like the Target in Colorado," Cole noticed. "It smells the same too."

(Note: this is one of those things about Target that I can take to the bank. They always have clean, sweet smelling public restrooms. I SO appreciate this).

For two hours, the kids and I got lost in this strangely familiar Target store. Returning to Target was like meeting up with an old acquaintance after a long while. It looked the same as I remembered, but something was different. We picked up where we left off, sort of. So much and not much had changed.

As we strolled, the kids and I found things, misplaced things and found more things -- ALL things. We grabbed things and eventually, we put some things back. In the end, we left Target as one tends to leave a Thanksgiving feast: more than satisfied and exhausted.

Fortunately, I stuck to my budget... and my list... at Target (potentially a first). Unfortunately, however, I neglected to include the primary item I went to Target to retrieve on my list. It got lost in the periphery, so we returned home without it. Yeah. It wasn't until we'd traveled over the river (ocean), through the woods and back down to my house that I realized the oversight. ARGH.

At 2:22 p.m., after stressing and obsessing, I consulted the Board (aka Maya and Cole) and made the executive decision, to pile back in the car, to travel eight miles down to the ferry dock, to catch the 3:00 boat (thankfully there was no line) back over to America, and to drive eight more miles once we disembarked. Mmm hmm. For the second time since December, we visited Everett's one-stop shop.

(Note: This is another one of those things about Target: Somewhere between the parking lot and my drive way, I invariably remember at least one thing I forgot to grab while I was there. I'm faced with a decision: do I do without, or do I run back?)

On this occasion, I chose the latter.

The kids and I high-tailed it through aisle upon aisle of anything and everything in less than ten minutes (another first). Miraculously, we made the 4:30 ferry, and we pulled into my drive way at a quarter past five.
Ever since, I've been thinking about Target.

Yes, Target is a little like a Thanksgiving feast: it boasts larger than life platters of every variety. On Whidbey, there are two choices, really: expensive and more expensive. At Target, on the other hand, all things are affordable and choices abound. Colorful displays of strategically-placed products entice and beckon me to liberally and hastily partake. If I don't pace myself, I run the risk of leaving the feast spent and stuffed.

Recently, I read that withdrawal increases sensitivity. I've also heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Tried and true. After seven months away, I appreciate Target more than I ever did when it was a biweekly habit. That said, however, I returned home yesterday over-stimulated and absolutely fried. By 8:30 p.m., I was in bed.

The thing is, infinite possibilities aren't necessarily a great thing for me. I often feel overwhelmed and paralyzed when faced with too many choices. Moderation has become a panacea. It has become a plausible, probable option as I have slowed down and eliminated possibilities.

Everything costs more and takes more time now. I can't “stop by” anywhere anymore, and very little feels "convenient." Yet on the whole, I have more time, and I spend far less.

Nevertheless, Target remains a good thing (and Super Target, a grand one) in my mind. I imagine I will remain a devoted fan for the rest of my days. But as I think about our trip(s) yesterday -- while they were well-worth the wait and the effort -- I suppose Target's absence in my present is a good thing as well. In the space and time and resource afforded by its absence, my life is being lived more intentionally -- more peaceably. I may not be back for a while.

07 June 2010

page one

I began writing my book today.
It's been thirty-three years.
I feel weepy.

02 June 2010

a crossroads

"At any rate, that's how I started running. Thirty-three -- that's how old I was then. Still young enough, though no longer a young man. The age that Jesus Christ died. The age that Scott Fitzgerald started to go downhill. That age may be a kind of crossroads in life. That was the age when I began my life as a runner, and it was my belated, but real, starting point as a novelist."
~ Haruki Murakami

26 May 2010

ctrl + alt + del

Let's be honest. I don't love change, and I am a good five to ten years behind the times.

I am a girl who prefers to write with pencils on paper, to borrow and browse books from the library, to shop inside stores, to listen to CDs and yes, I still rely upon my land-line, fold-out maps and the US Postal Service.

I am marginally -- at best -- connected to a social network, and since "America" (as Islanders affectionately refer to the mainland) is now a ferry ride away, it's only gotten worse (or better, depending on who you ask).
I washed and have not yet replaced my cell phone, I lost my watch nine months ago, and I stopped watching the news and reading headlines altogether.

Nevertheless, my laptop remains a centerpiece in my life and in my home.
For years, we have met on this chair over a cup of tea at least twice each week. Here, I have confided many of my innermost thoughts and entrusted the only evidence of many memories. My computer serves as a means by which to make sense of -- and a conduit of connection to -- people I love, to myself and to the world. It provides entertainment, distraction and background noise for my family. It DJs our dance parties and leads my biweekly Pilates class.

In spite of my emerging independence, I depend on this machine for its many hats and roles. It's like family or a classic black pant or this chair I've settled into. It is comfortable, appreciated, but too often overlooked. It's beloved and still useful after all these years -- mostly functional, but sometimes misunderstood. I engage a fraction of my computer's capacities and capabilities, but beyond its surface lies a world I will neither master nor fully comprehend. I am growing more and more OK with this fact.

Not often, but from time to time, my computer freaks out. For reasons I don't understand, it bogs down, slows down or completely checks out. I'm left guessing about what went wrong -- a glitch? a bug? processing too much information at once? I'm unsure how to proceed. This can feel frustrating, confusing and sometimes debilitating. I suppose that's the blessing and the curse of knowledge, relationship and dependence.

A little time and space can help. If I can let my expectations go, close down a few programs and step away for a while, things often work themselves out. At minimum, I gain some perspective. But this computer is complex. When I return to a comatose computer, I sometimes start freaking out too. I just start pushing random buttons: Power. Space Bar. ESC. Q,W,E,R,T,Y; I call upon the holy trinity: CTRL+ALT+DEL.

And then there are those days -- the few and far between that seem to be a little more frequent lately -- when nothing seems to work. My computer is frozen in time and either unwilling or unable to budge. To the savvy, the trendy, the cosmopolitan, the techie and the preteen, my computer confirms evidence that suggests it is a dispensable dinosaur.

When all else fails, I unplug my computer, remove its battery and look the other way. Naive? Detrimental? Prolonging the inevitable? Perhaps. But, extreme measures have always worked for me. When I eventually plug in and power my computer back on, things settle back to normal.

I touched (and was captivated) by my first Ipad while we were in "America" over the weekend. I don't think it even has CTRL, ALT or DEL.
I got the hard sell on the countless reasons why a Mac will serve me better in life. Probably.

Whether I wish to face the music or not, times and people are changing. Connection is instantaneous, and it matters. Computers are no longer computers, and in some cases, neither are people. Newer, faster, smaller, sleeker models are ever-present. Upgrades are always available. Space and time are shrinking. And in the absence of effort, insight and intention, little remains sacred.

I'm sorting through what it means to retain, to regain and to relinquish control. I'm considering and reconsidering realistic, practical, sustainable and communal alternatives. I'm contemplating what (or who) to delete. And I'm still trying to discern when it's appropriate to escape and when it's time to restart, to plug-in, to upgrade or to move on.

I learned a thing or two from my computer this week. I was spinning, and honestly, it felt good and necessary for me to freak out, to unplug and to reboot.

Sometimes, in order to restore optimal functioning, you just need to disengage completely and to begin again, right? Sometimes you sell your stuff, move to an island, hack off all your hair with kitchen shears and start over. And over. And over.

For me and for now, this big 'ole laptop works. The Ipad is pretty amazing though.

something old. something new.

Last week, I salvaged my sewing machine, a few yards of old fabric and my craft bin from storage. Since then, I've moved some things around and made room for them in my creative space at home.

Yesterday, I hemmed (I hem!!!) some hand-me-downs for Maya, and the day before, I made a bag.

This morning, I'm feeling glad about it.

20 May 2010

amazingly graced

thank you.


Every once in a while I'll read something that sticks, grabs hold or stands out. Words that not only bear repeating, but ache to be unpacked or recorded on my blackboard or written indelibly in a journal, a notebook or eventually on my mind. These were words I read yesterday:

"The best way out is always through." So, SO true, Mr. Frost.

I am halfway through my 34th year and three-quarters of the way through this year on Whidbey. I am at rest on the other side of the haze of the last five days (marked by my presence, but mostly my absence, a Farmer's Market, a 2 a.m. living room dance party with a bunch of moms I just met, anxiety and worry about next weekend, and mindless consumption of baked goods, a boatload of Cliff Bars and consequential flatulence).

Today, the 12th of May, is my half birthday, and I am pleased to report that I am back. My stomach and spirit are settled and the stinky fog has lifted. I do believe this is just the occasion to write and to do as I do.

On Sunday, Mother's Day, I slept in and awoke to sunshine and handmade gifts: hand prints and a paper-clip-secured drawing in permanent black ink.
I called all of my moms, read stories to my kids even though we were still in our jammies, took an extra long shower, sat on our deck in midday sun and enjoyed lunch for breakfast.

And then came the question, "What do you want to DO for Mother's Day?" Haven't we been through this before?

By the time the question was posed, we were already halfway through Mother's Day, and memories of who and where I was this time last year returned. I believe I spent most of that day alone on my throne, royally pissed off. This year, with no big plans, no pedicure, no massage, no housekeeper, no job and in the absence of world peace, it appeared to be more of the same.

Eventually, my family and I made it to the park. Together, we enjoyed soft serve ice cream cones on a blanket atop lush green grass. I was surrounded by books beneath blue skies and bright sun. At my side, my sweltering, fair-skinned prince endured a cloudless sky in my honor. Rather than retiring to the shade, he remained with me on my blanket in my bliss. Atop the hill, my children giggled and climbed and made-believe with that day's new friends. They stopped in for periodic water breaks, and eventually retired with Paul and me on our blanket to laugh aloud and hear stories of hiccups and space and a little princess.

Basking in the glory of more of the same, I was home. This space has become my home, and perhaps more than anything, I love to be here.
I am confident, content and secure when I am in my element. My environment. My routine. And when I am away, I ache to return.

The red canvas tote, which accompanies me
up and down the stairs of my house numerous times each day is my home. The contents beneath my neatly folded, beloved blanket of muted browns -- a dictionary, a bible, a book of crosswords and another of Sudoku, spiral bound journals of the artist, gratitude and morning-page variety, a gratitude rock, a lavender sachet, my rice pillow, a mechanical pencil, two Pilot EasyTouch Fine point pens in blue and black, and books -- memoirs, fiction, non-fiction, humor, education, inspiration -- these contents fuel and ignite me. Paul refers to this beast as my Kindle. Mine is an early model. It is bulky, cumbersome, old-fashioned and heavy laden. But happily, comfortably -- gratefully -- I bear it, because it is my peace and my joy. It brings me back. It brings me home.


A week has passed since I began this post. My sister has officially become an M.D., and I have officially done Kansas City. My trip was inspired and an honor, yet it also felt difficult to be away. Home was far too large and liquid-laden to carry-on, so I left it -- with my husband, my children, my composure and my comforts -- behind.

It is written that perfect love casts out all fear. Perfect love scares the hell out of me sometimes. No, it has never forsaken me, but it has often called me forth to step out in my skivvies for a while into the nondescript and the unknown. For me, this space between is a scary place.

In the time that has passed since this post's genesis and its revelation,
Grace drew me away, transcended and took me along a scenic route. I have departed, laid over, checked out, checked back in, and I've once again been moved and unfurled by this perfect love. Oddly, it hardly resembled perfection. Rather, this love was awkward and simple. Comfortable and uncomfortable simultaneously. Neither black nor white; Nigerian, nor American. It was both-and. It lingered with neither pomp nor circumstance. It was rainy and gray. Bulky. Cumbersome. Familiar. Beautiful. I would choose it again.

On my last morning in Kansas City, I walked in the drab day's spittle along State Line Road. For days and miles I lingered in the space between Kansas and Missouri -- a curious thing. I am back home now and just over halfway through, right? Still, I miss home. My hair is shorter, the days are longer, the clouds have parted, but little has really changed.

What do I do? What have I done? Nothing and everything.

Yes, Mr. Frost was correct; I am pushing through. But the longer I linger, the less I want out. I'm in, and I'm alive. I am in-progress, unsettled, old-fashioned, dehydrated and feeling ten steps behind where I was when I left. I'm hovering. Recovering. Tingling. Inching ahead and settling back in -- slowly, sloppily.

My keyboard is on my lap. My Kindle is at my feet, and thankfully, Grace has brought me home. I'm neither out nor through, but I'm here, and I'm in.

10 May 2010


There are no words...


(Steel Cut Irish Oats, Mango, Avocado, FROZEN Blueberries, Lime, Cilantro, Coconut Oil, Pistachios, Toasted Coconut, Cinnamon, Salt. Serve with or without milk).

05 May 2010

found it!

6,7,8,9, watercress and 10.

16. Watercress, check.

I didn't get a picture of my watercress before it wilted, but may I just tell you how much I enjoyed watching these Upland Cress greens stand at attention for days atop their roots each time I opened the fridge a few weeks back? Watercress, it is a lovely and light green -- like spinach, but sexier. Say it with me... Watercressssssss.

I primarily pampered wraps, salads and sandwiches with watercress in the stead of spinach, sprouts and green leaf, but also in their company. Sadly, since my fridge was simultaneously occupied by three of these four, my cress (grrrrrrrr) didn't make it into a Roxanne-style stir fry before it began to droop. Mmm, but it was good, and now I know. It will definitely assume pole position in my fridge once

And though I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, beloved breakfasts also continue...

#6 Banana Berry (4/18)

(rolled oats with bananas, blueberries, dates, roasted pepitas, cinnamon, sea salt and hemp milk)

It was silk. The bananas were over the top. Yum-meee!


#7 The Promised Land (4/20)

(eight grain cereal with milk and honey, cinnamon,
butter and a dash of sea salt)

Simple. Sweet. Two thumbs up from my kiddos.


#9 Blueberry Mango (4/27)

(eight grain w/ blueberries, sliced mango, cinnamon and sea salt, topped w/ flax oil and hemp milk)

"Exquisite," I actually observed three times aloud, before it was over.


#10 Olde WADS (5/2 and 5/5)

(Walnuts, Apples, Dates and Soy milk atop rolled oats, cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt and flax oil)

I dreamed it up on a run, rushed home to shower, to create it, and then I happily partook. I was halfway through before I remembered about the picture, so this morning I decided to recreate it. Once again, about halfway into construction, I remembered that I used the last of my dates on Sunday. I was forced to improvise: Olde WARS. Hmmm. 'Twas also good with raisins, but not quite the same. The dates afforded unmatched subtlety. I think I'll stick to the original.


Some time between 4/20 and 4/27, I think, came #8: Maple Barley (barley with butter, sea salt, cinnamon, hemp milk and a touch of maple). This was the bless-ed love child of #7 and leftover cooked barley from a soup I made the night before. I didn't get a photo of #8 either, but I know I liked it. A lot. I distinctly remember celebrating the potential of leftover barley and looking forward to the day when I have more.

There was also another we're-low-on-groceries dud in the mix somewhere. I guess I blocked it out. It was the first oatmeal I've made so far that was just blah. Good thing I don't remember.

Finally, after a brainstorming session with Cole, the buttery delight of #6 and my growing list of still-to-be-experienced veggies, I have visions of incorporating avocado and branching beyond sweet into savory breakfast porridges (somebody, stop me!!). I admit, this departure is radical -- uncharted territory -- so I promise to pace myself and to tread lightly. In the meantime, I plan to play with a few of Cole's ideas... apple blueberry (intriguing) and peanut butter surprise (ok, son. I'm listening. Dis moi).

More to come.

oh, captain

In a brief exchange, as Paul got out of the shower this morning, and I got in, our thoughts intersected with words...

PAUL: What was the name of that Michael Jackson thing at Epcot Center.

ME: Hmm?

PAUL: Captain Nemo? Neo?

ME: Uh... Captain E-O

PAUL: EO? Oh, I thought it had an N.

ME: No, I'm pretty sure it was EO. I don't imagine it's still there.

PAUL: Why not?

ME: Well, I don't know. Hmm...

And then our exchange was over, and I shared my shower and my thoughts with a man I have not considered in a long, LONG time: Captain EO.

What was that whole thing ABOUT? I wonder if it is still at Epcot Center. Does anyone still go to Epcot Center? Or was it Disneyland? And Michael Jackson, I wonder how that guy is... Er, was. Where is he? Does he still have thoughts wherever he is? Does he ever wonder about Captain EO? "What was I thinking," he might still be thinking. I hope he's not. I hope his soul is at ease and his mind is at rest.

To the contrary, my mind was racing as I massaged shampoo into tight curls and swayed in and out of lukewarm water considering this captain. EO was born around the same time as my vivid, sequential memories -- in or around 1983. '84? Those were good years.

Naturally, I was left guessing about my water heater... and about the early morning train that departed Paul's dream and stopped at an amusement park in Florida...
and about exactly when it happened that I became someone who wistfully says things like "those were the good ole' days..."

Captain EO... hmmm...

Paul is re-reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea... Captain Nemo... ah hah. In another post-shower exchange, he (Paul) confirmed my suspicion (obsessing). Mmm hmmm. So why am I not only still thinking about our conversation, but recounting it in great detail?

Well, I don't know. I suppose it struck me as... well, funny. Rich. This is the stuff that mornings and marriage are made of. And I suppose to me, it mattered. It matters.

Captain EO started a train of warm thoughts that traveled through Washington to Florida to Germany to California to Colorado and back to Washington. It trekked the terrain of 30 years of my history (Michael had an album called that, right? HIStory. Clever) and back to the present.

This morning I remembered the Michael Jackson poster my dad brought home for me from London. The one where his eyes
(Michael's, not my dad's) are lined in mysterious kohl, he is wearing white pants, a canary yellow vest and a matching bow tie. I loved that poster. I used to kiss that poster. And now I kiss Paul. And I feel thankful for him (and for my dad... and for Michael).

I wondered what he (Paul, not Michael... nor my dad) was like the first time he read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Did he actually read it or was he of the Cliff's Notes variety? I haven't read this book, and although Paul is rapt in it, I have little to no desire (definitely leaning toward no desire) to pick it up. I am intrigued, however, that he did... again.

Paul is enamored with the water. He lives near the sea once again and smiles a lot more. A few weeks ago, he went sailing... perhaps this is the journey that led him back under the sea. I wonder what he (Paul) was like when he first encountered Captain EO. Did he ever have a Michael Jackson poster on his wall? If he did, I am pretty certain he never kissed it, but I also wonder if he had a poster that he did kiss in the early 80's. Madonna perhaps?

Paul is reading 20,000 Leagues and countless other books on his Kindle -- another mysterious thing -- another difference between my husband and me. This past Christmas, when the Kindle passed through my hands and landed in his, he began reading again. Voraciously. Incessantly. I too love books and most things classic, but I prefer to experience life with pen and ink, on paper and in pages. I always have, and reckon I always will. This perplexes him.

Books and this man who reconsidered Captain EO this morning -- he who is re-reading stories of Captain Nemo and who may or may not have kissed a poster of Madonna, but most assuredly kisses me -- these are the things I think and thank about. They have shaped me.

I've spent fourteen years of my life with this man (you know the one), and for reasons still unknown, our random exchange this morning reminded me that I still love him, I still learn from him, and I still wonder about him. And I wonder about Michael Jackson. And I wonder about that poster. I loved that poster.

14 April 2010

past a simmering pot

#5 - Banana Walnut* (inspired by Juli).

I ran my oatmeal challenge idea by the kiddos over the weekend, and they dug it. They even agreed to participate by way of research, idea-conception, and periodic taste testing. We decided that in the interest of their willing participation, and of moderation, balance and good digestion, all whole grains would be welcomed to the challenge with open minds, arms and hearts (mmm, whole grains, they are SO good for our hearts!).

Further, I've come up with a few ground rules for myself:

1. I welcome and will graciously receive suggestions.
2. I will try at least one new hot breakfast cereal variety each week.
3. I will limit my oatmeal consumptions to 2-3 days/week.
4. I will compliment each breakfast with a fruit, a veggie and good protein, and thus, plan portions accordingly.

Part of the fun will be the issue of use. How can I use what I already have in this little challenge? What will I do if key ingredients run out? What else might I use?

These are seemingly simple questions, but the latter in particular
has great power. Variations of this question are keys that have unlocked doors to stairways we've ascended to the highest of heights. This question not only has the power to bring joy into a kitchen -- my kitchen -- but it has the power to open eyes, to transform lives and to change the world. At minimum, it affords the possibility for good oatmeal, yes?


Monday morning, I discovered that in a weekend Grape Nuts feeding frenzy -- namely two straight days, at least four square meals and one late night cocktail -- Paul consumed the last of our (my stash of) raisins. In a momentary panic (ok, I'm exaggerating), with no plans of shopping until some time next week, I was forced to begin my project with a look beyond oatmeal's most obvious companion.

In mornings and day times and evenings of late, I've been reminded that 1.) any time I am in harmony with perfect love, everything I need, I already have, and 2.) anything I need, but do not have will come my way in perfect time by way of this melodic love. These realizations have disarmed many past, present and even future disappointments, and gently placed them on a back burner to simmer.

And then what?

What would happen if rather than immediately reacting with, or stewing in disappointment when grace runs out, we trusted that grace is what stirred the unexplained craving for Grape Nuts in the first place? What if we stopped stashing and instead made use of and freely shared what we have until it is gone? What if we trusted that once it was gone, this same grace would relentlessly replenish, recharge, refill or lead us elsewhere -- to the fridge or the freezer or within -- to provide something as good or better than what we once had? What then would become of that simmering pot of disappointment? Might its contents eventually burn off under a low, constant flame to nothingness. Might we eventually be empowered to turn off the flame from this empty pot and appropriate our valuable energy and resource elsewhere?

Mid-Monday morning, with the leftover pumpkin puree on the top shelf of my fridge in mind, I went to baskets in my pantry looking for raisins and oats. I found plentiful oats, but only a handful of dried cherries and a small baggie with shredded coconut. I paused (a minor victory) before I retraced old steps to that simmering pot. On the way back to the stove, I considered (a second victory), I reconsidered (another victory), and then I trusted (a monumental victory!!). I listen to the small, sweet voice calling me toward the freezer, and there, I uncovered and rediscovered a bag full of dates.

Bob's Date Crumbles have been sitting neatly in my freezer since some time last fall. I've used them a handful of times since then in muffins and tossed them in a salad or a trail mix from time to time, but I have never thought to add dates to oatmeal. You see, I almost always have raisins. Unexpectedly, thankfully, this week I did not.

Those crumbles led me to the maple syrup in the door of my refrigerator. I love the marriage of these two key ingredients in corn muffins, why not in oatmeal? Why not in my oatmeal?

Well, it's Wednesday morning, and I've already had oatmeal twice this week. I just finished a steamy, creamy bowl that evoked audible "Mmmms," "Ahhhs," and many other sighs of unadulterated delight. It was so delicious, in fact, that I skipped the breakfast dishes and came straight to my computer.

Already, I'm having fun. I'm LOVING this project, and by God's grace, the pot on the stove is nearly empty, and we still don't have raisins.

#4 Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (inspired by Lauren)

(with pumpkin,
crumbled dates, toasted walnuts, cinnamon,
all spice, sea salt, hemp milk and dark amber maple syrup)



*For breakfast this morning (#5 - Banana Walnut Oatmeal), I cooked my standard base - 1/3 c. rolled oats, 1/8 t. sea salt and lots of cinnamon, then added slices of half a small banana, about 1 tbsp. toasted raw walnuts, about 1/2 tbsp. brown flax seeds and a five-fingered pinch (aka "a paunch") of date crumbles. Finally, I doused it with 1/2 cup of hemp milk and drizzled in 1/4 tsp of maple syrup. WOW. Thank you, Juli.

**Neither my belly nor I are fans of cow's milk, so I've turned elsewhere. A friend suggested I try unsweetened hemp milk, which I tasted this week, and I LOVE. It is a light, creamy milk alternative worth considering. I plan to use it interchangeably with soy milk, but if cows (or goats or almonds or rice or butter...) are your thing, do your thing!

*** I used leftover canned pumpkin in #4 (thank you, Lauren). A little, a heaping tablespoon (not the measuring kind, but the eating kind),
goes a long way . I loved the way when blended in, it tinted my cereal a rich, autumn creamsicle color. It swept me away to a crisp morning with falling leaves and the balm from a wood burning stove in the air. I intend to frequent this variation when cool nights linger long into morning and fresh pumpkins come back into season.

**** In excess, I find maple syrup can be overbearing, can drown out other flavors and can quickly turn breakfast into a saccharine soprano. If you are like me, and you prefer more tenor to your oatmeal, consider drizzling with rather than pouring maple syrup into these two breakfast bowls. I used 1/2 tsp in #4 and 1/4 tsp in #5. Mmmm, good!!