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.