4.17.2015

a life well lived.


She texted me late in the afternoon last early spring.  She and her friend were hanging out in my little town for a bit, just passing through, was I available to see her?

Oh for crying out loud.

Of course I am you dollface. We met when I lived in San Francisco and I hadn't seen her in years, but when I do we are the same 'cause that's the way we decided it would go.  She is peach pie and cream and I wouldn't miss seeing her giggly face for anything.

Many years ago, after walking the tracks with my belongings tied to the end of stick, I decided that a 1965 Mustang fastback does not actually sleep four comfortably.  Humph.  Hindsight.  Who knew?

So they came over. for chili. and a shower. I'm a sucker for house guests... and besties... and WILDLY FREE SPIRITS. I want to know it all. Tell me all of your stories.

She's home based now out of Monterrey, seriously I would never leave, but she piled into a car with one of her friends, some mangoes, bananas and a loaf of bread with peanut butter and jelly to sustain them.  They headed "east" by way of the mid west in search of some adventure in route to Maine.

This one was just a small spring trip, but at the ripe age of 62, she has already hiked the John Muir trail, a venture I believe took weeks to do.  She's done a mission trip in Germany with a side order of China and she recently came back from New Zealand where she worked for three months on one of those hippy organic farm co op situations where you get room and board in exchange for your work. 

She likes to bounce around a bit.  She says she never really worries about growing up stability or getting back on track when she gets home... she just figures it will all work out somehow. And so far, it has.

I love that.  It reminds me to take chances.  Adventure out and make my life an odyssey. In fact I'm a bit jealous.

I have to have reminders because I wasn't really raised with the value of exploration or stepping out into the unknown.  I didn't really have a sense of anything outside of my small community or my limited experiences.  I developed into more of a "safety first" kind of gal. A home body.

I think it's because the mantra in my home when I was growing up was "You can't do that".

Do what?

Everything you ever wanted to try but didn't know how to do or never saw anyone else do (to prove it could actually be done).  Anything that could get you possibly hurt, embarrassed or sounded vaguely like it could be a suggestion from the devil.

It was my momma mainly, while not exactly the Prophet of Doom, she tried to stop adventure in it's tracks.  She meant well.  Adventures into the unknown made her worry about her family's safety plus gave a higher probability of one of us accidentally bringing forth the Apocalypse.

Remember those cockamamie stories you told your parents when you were a kid about goofball things you were going to do?  Like dig to China?  Or walk to the shopping center. Well mine was received with "You can't do that" followed by the geological lesson about the earth's core and the obviously ridiculous inefficiency of digging with a stick.

It will suck the pioneer right out of you.

As I got older my sense of adventure returned with a vengeance.  Life showed me that it's okay to try things that I might get hurt at or heaven forbid embarrassed by.  I've certainly had my share of both.

But, so far dude, no four horsemen.

I can always use more inspiration though.  I need to be around adventurists like my friend and her band of merry women. She has always tried the things I always wanted to do.  Without a care.  She is not afraid or if she is, she's doing it anyway.  She rock climbs and surfs and camps in foreign countries  and hikes and takes vagabond road trips.

My odyssey will be my own.  It won't look like hers or yours.  But I know the things I'm wanting to try.  I know the things that get my blood flowing and make me feel alive and in the game.  That's what I'm trying to achieve.

A life of service and love and moments of pure fright.  A life well lived.

If I had to do it again, knowing what I know now, I would journey out more at a younger age.  I would see the world with welcoming arms beckoning me to unlimited adventures unknown.

I would pack up a car with three of my besties a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and I would make my way south in search of some waves.  I would do it without a care.  Because it really does all work out somehow.

I don't have it to do over again but I do have right now.

Adventure on fellow wild spirits.

Thank you for reminding me.

just sayin'.


BBQ and avocado chicken Quesadilla

2 whole flour tortillas

1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

4 Tbsp. shredded chicken

2 Tbsp. BBQ sauce

1/2 c. avocado chunks


Heat a skillet up on medium heat. Lay 1 tortilla shell in the bottom and sprinkle half of the shell with 2 Tbsp. cheese. Combine the chicken and sauce. Top with 2 Tbsp. chicken. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. avocado chunks on top. Sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. cheese. Fold the shell over and heat for about a minute or two. Flip the shell over carefully and heat the opposite side for another minute or two. Repeat with the remaining shell and ingredients. Makes 8 wedges.

4.06.2015

{sigh}


Today was a breezy kind of day, the kind that made the stack of papers on my desk scatter across the floor when I was not looking, the kind that made me look over my shoulder for a pop-up shower that never came. The kind that chipped off a tiny piece of my heart.

The days are taking on a new kind of rhythm and I'm rinsing the house in air with the perfect tinge of spring. Maybe this is what they mean when they talk about fresh air. Warm air just never feels very fresh. But spring air, perfect. Maybe it's just me.

I went to bed last night a little groggy, a little stuffy, very sure that I had come down with a cold. I woke up dreamy and well, so I chalked it all up to allergies. Blast 'em.

Clearly, things are changing. The light has a little more glare. There's a filter sliding away from it, and we all know what that means, but I'm not about to say it, because for now? It's still winter spring.

Go ahead. Hate me. I will holler about Spring every single day that I am able. It's just that good. It's good in a hoodie in April and it's every bit as good in a three-quarter sleeved cardigan in May.

The garden is calling me. It's a crying shame out there. A lawless place. Even still, there are left over leaves, the errant tough weeds, and tumbling winter weary hydrangeas.

Mr. Weatherman says that it should have been in the low fifties yesterday. Instead, we saw sixties. So I understand, every extraordinary day is a gift. But today I'm here to tell you, so are the ordinary ones.

An ordinary day where I found the limbs of a naked tree against a blue satin sky and noticed knots of red gearing up for a show. Suddenly, it didn't matter that the pipes kept clogging or that the brown makes me crazy. Spring is here, and she makes things better. I laced my shoes this morning and took the long way with the puppies. We took some detours and walked on low stone walls. Around the bend, we found a Pussy Willow tree. It's been way too long since I ran my thumb across one of those fuzzy buds, all bundled up in their little fur jackets. My mom used to clip branches for me so I could wrap them in soggy newspaper and take them to my teacher. I could almost feel the bunch in my fist and there I was again, 63 and 7 at the very same time.

My heart beat faster, fresh air on forearms and cheeks, a prelude of everything that comes next. Once again, I could not help but thinking, Summer's coming! But still, I didn't dare say it out loud. Because for one thing, it could still snow. And for another? I didn't want to hurt Spring's feelings before she even officially landed. There's nothing worse than being relegated to opening act, especially when you're so dang good at putting on a show. I've spent the last three months wondering where I went and if I'd ever crawl back out. Can it be as easy as a sunbeam and a breeze? I tell myself that I'm not that kind of girl, the kind that requires coddling, the kind whose joy is situational or seasonal.

But today I felt that ease. I wish I could tell you that I found it back in January, but that just isn't true. It must have been suffocating under all the layers, hiding out in the dark. I'm too scared to check the forecast for tomorrow, but I'm hoping that today has some sort of a time-release effect. I can already feel the ice dripping off of my cold, cold heart.

Lately, I cannot do perfection. I cannot do striving to live a life that is seen as blameless and honorable to those around me. I can't try everyday-everyday-everyday to balance the scales between successes and failures and hope that fate grades on a curve.

But I can do faith, because above all else, there is grace.

I did not start this post intending to say all of that. I guess that's just what early Spring air will do to a girl.

What I really meant to say was, I miss you Dad.

Three years ago I found myself face down in a life I did not recognize. In truth, I didn't even ask for it. I didn't go looking for the trouble. I didn't understand it, didn't want it, couldn't walk away from it. The details are both hazy and razor sharp.

I chose the worst possible circumstance to abandon some of the control I had clutched until my fingers cramped. I came nose to nose with my own reality, my own heart, and denial was no longer an option. It got a little ugly.

So here I was, the Good Little Girl who always tries to do the right thing, and I was every way but right. Rebellion was intoxicating up until it was soul-asphyxiating.  The dust barely settled, and I knew I needed help. I needed someone to tell me the truth about things, but mostly, I needed someone to hug me and promise not to stop.

I wracked my brain and cried in the shower, for one person - just one, who would suspend judgment and help love me back to life and tell me to get my crap together. that this is going to be a long, long road.

I took an unsaid oath that once I started I would see it through. The problem with that is, well, the fear. It's still there. It's rapping at my windows and it's busting out the panes. Sometimes I make the wrong choice. Sometimes, I make it easy and just open the door.

just sayin'.


carrot cake

4 eggs, allow to stand at room temp for 30 min
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup oil
  1. Grease & flour two 9 inch round pans (one 9 by 13 works too!)
  2. In large mixing bowl ,stir together wet ingredients.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Add dry ingredients.
  5. Stir just until combined.
  6. Stir in carrots and stir just until combined.
  7. Pour batter into pans, dividing evenly.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

frosting
2 packages of soft cream cheese
1/2 cup soft butter
1.5 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Instructions

Beat the cream cheese & butter well.
Add powdered sugar and beat again.
Add vanilla and beat until fluffy.
Notes
Add more powdered sugar if your frosting is to thin.
Add more milk if your frosting is too thick.

3.21.2015

hush light.


If you wonder why I can't stop waxing poetic about Spring's lazy arrival, it's only because it feels like I'm greeting an old childhood friend, like that new girl from 6th grade who had the nerve to show up wearing eye shadow and pumps and didn't stay for long, but whose memory still makes me smile.

I'd still sit and have coffee with you, Dawn, I quite like nervy girls.

Things are prone to changing around here, but the one thing that never, ever does is the teetering stack of to do lists by my bed. And on my floor. And strewn around the entire house.

I'm heart-deep right now in spring cleaning, which I'll have to tell you about in a separate post because right now I don't have enough words for it.

These days, the weather is drippy and impetuous.
Coldish and breezyish.
I'm doing my best to enjoy March as-is.

Under her influence, I'm a wild optimist, a risky dreamer, a friend of the rainy day. By March, in Ohio, Winter starts to wane.  It does not follow that Spring kicks in.  Sun happens, March through May, in small, non-contiguous, lingering bursts.  But it will be two months, anyway, before Spring is here to stay.

April is, after all, no stranger to snow.

March is not ambivalent in the least. It totally has a purpose, and it is called pause.  Respite, re-calibration, ramping up.  It is March's job is to make sure we're sick and tired of winter, and ready and waiting for spring. Roger, that.


And even if March is raw throats and runny noses, sick days and sleepless nights, it seems like last gasps, like end parens, on a season that surely is near done.  Right? Right! Besides, it opened up a Friday to finish an over due project, between tissues and appointments and tea.

March is rain, rain, (snow), rain!  After Winter's deep freeze, its kitty-paw snow, I'd all but forgotten that plip-plop, plip-plop.  It actually woke me up one night.  Then hypnotized me right back to sleep.
Then you send the odd flurry of snow.  The day after Winter is over, say.  It didn't stick around, but still...On the second day of Spring, it is forty three degrees...

I think, March, it's fair to say you also have a sense of humor.


You are crunchy brown earth, too thuggish to dig, too ugly to not at least feel the itch.  Yes, I'm the one who orders seeds after Christmas, poking with a spade, eager to begin.  I recognize that this March moment's important, this awareness that someday soon, something must be done.

You are pre-daffodils I dare to cut, when the buds are barely more bulge than stem.  I know I'm pushing it.  I expect nothing.  They bloom anyway.

And then, there's the light, the last faded light, the final throes of Winter's soft hum.  Raging bright sun is returning with a vengeance, and I'm dusting off my soon-requisite squint.  And doubling down, drinking my fill of the intermittent, exquisite overcast.  The flannel skies, the tip-toe mornings, the pale monochrome afternoons.  Hush light.

In the past week, between clear and glare, I've been gifted a few pigeon-belly grey days.  Oyster shell days.  Damp newspaper days.  Old sock, fresh concrete, dirty mop water days.  Days with light so gauzy and fair that even laundry baskets look appealing.  Full, unfolded laundry baskets.  Did I mention I love this light?   

So while I might not call March my most favorite month, it seems I rather like it, turbulent temps and all.

This, I cannot fix.  It's during this last, long peninsula of winter that I double down, take stock, get serious.  When I pause long enough to pay heed to the daffodils, appreciate the moments, give thanks for a new season.

just sayin'

 

1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 thick-cut slice seeded multigrain bread, toasted
½ teaspoon pepitas (pine nuts)
½ teaspoon sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. In a medium bowl, combine the avocado halves with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Using the back of a spoon, lightly smash the avocado until chunky but not yet a smooth spread. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper, if needed.
2. Arrange the toast on a serving plate and spoon the avocado onto the middle of the toast. Spread the avocado slightly to cover the toast. Sprinkle the avocado with the pepitas, sesame seeds and red-pepper flakes, then drizzle with olive oil before serving.