Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Am Alive

A few days ago, I was on my way home from a meeting and just as we were getting on the highway, a giant bald eagle flew right over us. Low, glorious, potentially symbolic of my death.

Holy. Shit.

It took me a minute to register the moment. It was so perfect and needed at that specific time. I have a thing for eagles, hawks, owls. They are the wild that is etched in the palm of my hand. My heart.

That evening, I came home and I was alone with my cats and my dog. Laura had taken the kids to their Girl Scout meeting. I was home alone, which seldom happens. Let the reveling begin.

I've been reading "Wonder", by Raquel J. Palacio, mainly because Fiona loved it and I wanted to have something to talk to her about that didn't involve apps or Minecraft or can you please clear the table and I love you.

I poured myself a large glass of Chardonnay and sat down to finish this sweet, heartbreaking book.

Scout was sitting on my shoulders, as she likes to do when she's being freaking adorable. I scratched her under her neck and she made eye contact and rested her head on my arm. She's still a puppy and her first priority is to run fast and be high energy, but when she relaxes near the end of the day, she sinks into a sweet puddle of beautiful beast.

I sat in my silence and fretted that everything was just too perfect. The eagle. Scout being so attentive and loving. This silence. Obviously, I will breathe my last breath tonight.

How do I deserve this?

A couple of days later (I was still alive), Matilda or Olive laid their very first egg and I was so thankful for its beauty.

The universe is either fucking with me, or loves me. Either/or.

This weekend, we went to pick out our Christmas tree. We were going to chop it down like the pioneer family we are. But the Fraser Fir trees that were available for chopping were sold out. Still, we found a beautiful pre-cut Fraser tree and we loaded it up on top of the Subaru. The kids were downing hot chocolate. (I think Cyd had four or ten servings). They were feeling the spirit. Or, at least, the sugar.

As Laura and the girls were securing the tree on top of the car, I looked up and high in the sky was a bald eagle, circling over us.

Two in one week.

I will surely die tonight.

It's not that I associate eagles with death.

I get anxious when what I want deep to the core of me actually happens. What if it's a sign that I got my way so I can be done with this life? Game: over. It's weird. It's not a fully fledged thought, but it crosses my mind like a fleeting shadow of perhaps.

As I wring my hands with this crazy superstition, I want to ignore what it is within me that hinders the acceptance of beauty and wishes coming true.

I want to continue.

Peace out.

Monday, August 24, 2015

We Went to the Mountains

Laura and I went on vacation. By ourselves. I generally believe in vacationing with our children. I love being a family of four. We travel well together and I strongly believe that giving them the experience of things outside of their realm of home enriches them. But this time, we were on our own. And, well, it was super awesome. 

I worried about the kids more than was reasonable. But now that we're home and they're still alive, it is obvious that I need to chill much more often. 

I won't bore you with any further exploration of my neuroses. Instead, here are some photos. Also, I LOVE CANADA. Everything about it, especially its people. They're like French people, only friendlier. And they called me "Love". i.e. "Can I get you another drink, Love? Oh, you're welcome, Love."

I'm not even kidding. 

We took a train from Vancouver to Whistler. The scenery was so lovely that I had to put down my book.

I conquered my fear of heights and braved the gondola to experience Whistler's "Peak to Peak." I'm glad I did. I was sweating profusely, but I still got a photo.

Once we got to Blackcomb Mountain, we met this adorable little marmot. We didn't believe he was real, at first. I mean, what are the odds, that the official mascot of Whistler was just sitting here on the edge of a mountain, posing for us. Turns out, he was real. We lead a charmed life. 

Oh, the room service. It was impeccable. The salmon was the best I've had in a really long time. "Would you like anything else, Love?" No, this is everything. 

We went on a bear watching tour. We saw nine bears. Our bear guide was passionate. He knew where the bears hung out.  He knew their names. Their story. I don't typically like strangers, but I liked him.
This photo is blurry, but I'm posting it because of the two bear cubs. How adorable are they? (Very.)

Her name is Ella. And her adorable baby on the left doesn't have a name yet but I'm going to name her Anna. 

Go further. It's my new motto.

Peace out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waiting and Cropping as a Way of Life

When Laura and I decided it was time for us to have children,  so many years ago, we took the necessary steps, we fumbled a little (a lot) but we figured it out and several years later, Fiona was born. And then, of course, Cyd. (Did I ever tell you the story about when I got knocked up with Cyd? One chance. Natalie Merchant. It's a good story for another time.)

We learned about patience, good faith, and mutual wishes. What you truly want takes time. The waiting is full of uncertainty and needless worry. Everything we want happens, eventually. It always does. 

When our little family grew up, we started looking for the perfect place to grow along with it. Laura and I have wanted a wood burning fireplace for 15 years. And we've dreamed about having chickens, and a little land to sow and harvest our favorite vegetables. Maybe we'll have goats and make goat cheese. And we may adopt a dog. The sweet, smiling kind who will wag his or her tail and look happy when we get home. Because our cats, well, I love them more than they deserve.

So we waited, in our little house. We waited a long goddamn time. 

We have lived enough life to know that wishes wait until the stars and thoughts align in the most perfect way. The universe, patient as a flowering plum, gathers everything we think and hope and then -- poof -- here we are 

in our new (still) little house with lots of land and a dream. A giant one. It's the kind of giant that is endless, without rules or boundaries, and too heavy with promise to carry all at once. It's the kind of dream without a dishwasher or central air.

But it sure as hell has the fireplace we've always wanted.

You know how when you come home with all the groceries in the trunk of your car and you have so much to do and you're tired of the scrambling so you just want to carry as many bags as you can so you don't have to waste time taking so many trips because the kids are hungry and cranky and maybe if you hurry long enough it will all get done and you'll get a few moments of quiet time right before you have to start dinner?

This is how I feel every minute of my life. And I know I need to slow the hell down and be present. If we have tortillas and oranges for dinner, it's OK. And the laundry will never get done. Never, ever, ever.

The TV is still on the coffee table with all those disorderly cords everywhere, and the washer and dryer are in the dining room. The dining. Room.

Waiting is often inconvenient.

We have pockets of perfection. Cozy little spaces where everything is in order. Sometimes, I sneak away and sit quietly in the tiny nook upstairs, but they always find me, and usually spill something.

In the middle of chaos that is everyday, I watch the children in their total blissful oblivion, carefree in their play and I can't help but take a photo to capture the moment. And when I crop the dirty socks and Barbie shoes out of the shot, I think, damn, I'm living The Life. The key is to crop out what doesn't fill your heart with joy. Everything else is in the shot.

There. I've just told you how to live your life to the fullest: crop the crap out of it.

The kids don't give a damn about the horrid kitchen with its stupid electric stove and lack of dishwasher. They haven't even noticed the peculiarity of the bathroom, completely devoid of a single hook or towel bar. They like to leave their towels on the floor so, whatevs.

It's past midnight, and there's a fire burning in our new fireplace, and I'm sitting here in the dark after a full day of early morning dance class, and grocery shopping and baby chicken loving and plum tree planting, followed by a casual dinner, outside, of just sandwiches and pretzels and Dos Equis and milk.

It's sweeter than I had imagined. 

And I'm convinced (or at least hopeful) that we've done the best thing.  

If it wasn't for the waiting, what would we have to look forward to?
Peace out.

P.S. DID I TELL YOU WE'RE GETTING CHICKENS?! And one of them will be named Caramia. Mark my words.

P.S.S. Natalie Merchant is NOT the third mother of our children.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Sliver

I was heading out on the road. alone, for a meeting. The sky was blue, my music was shuffling in the most perfect way and I stopped for fancy coffee like some sort of damn professional. I can do this. I am a person. I am more than a whisper.

 I felt my tired body recharge with a sigh of solitude.

Three hours alone in my car with my thoughts and my music. HOLLA! I was happy, shuffling the Indigo Girls and no one else because they are all I need for this sort of sojourn.

I got there an hour early so I stopped for lunch at a random diner I found on Yelp. It was packed. Packed full of gray haired women. I sat alone in a quiet corner.

Everyone was eating chicken salad, contentedly chatting. The waitress didn't know what to do with me when I ordered the portabello sandwich. She never told me the special. I think it may have been chicken salad.

I started to lose my vibe.

The pretending got too heavy.

What am I am doing? I clutched my water glass, lonely, drained.

I made it to the meeting very early, hopeful, sweaty, and there was talk about reach and frequency. It was approved. All of it. I did my job.

But there was one man. One. Seething. Angry. I watched him and could not place his anger anywhere but inside. I was a shell, empty and too easily filled.

I could just leave this place and be back to myself. Why do I have to take it in. But you know how that is. I'm not much different than any of you.

It stays and it festers.

We are sponges and we soak up all the energy and then we move on like nothing has changed us even when it has, in desperate, giant ways.

It was dark and pouring by the time I got in my car to drive home. My windshield wipers weren't working so I couldn't see the road and the semis were zooming past me and i felt his anger all over again and i could not go on.

I could not go on.

So maybe i was crying in the Comfort Inn parking lot. Maybe i had lost.

I wanted to call my mother. But of course, i couldn't.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Brioche: A Recipe for Patience

Have I ever told you how much I love to make brioche? All that smooth, sexy butter and rich eggs, not to mention the slow, sensual swelling of the dough as it reaches its maximum flavor, rising overnight, so sure of itself.

I have a thing for brioche.

It's messy. I don't have one of those fancy schmancy KitchenAid mixers, so I do it all by hand. Just like they used to on the prairie.

 The dough is stiff at first and it takes a while to get the butter incorporated. You have to mash it and squish it and if you take photos while you're doing this, you end up with a bunch of butter on your Canon.
And just when you think the dough will never come together, it does. It always does.
The next day, all you need to do is knead your dough and shape it into the most glorious loaf, bake it, and you're left with a silky, tender bundle of goodness. 
If that isn't enough, use some of the dough to make some pains au chocolat. Holy sh#t, the deliciousness.
This luxury of homemade bread smothered in butter is a crucial salve during the winter months when  the frozen landscape and paralyzing chill leaves me numb and empty of that nebulous something that causes joy. The light is dim for too long and the promise feels broken.

Maybe it's worse this year. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's Maybeline.

I am bursting with anticipation for the first sign of green grass, the first sign of the most courageous crocus finding its way through the stubborn snow for a forgotten taste of sunshine.

We recently bought a little house in town with a few acres and I'm dying to discover the land. I want to grow asparagus and broccoli and garlic. I don't care that garlic is a penny a pound. I want to dig it out of our soil. I'm in the mood to grow, to harvest, to reap. I want fields of lavender and native plants. Rows of sugar snap peas, spinach, and heirloom tomatoes.

I want.

Right now, it's a little house of horrors. But you can't judge a house by its horrors. It has the bones and land we've been looking for.  Laura has a vision for the landscape. I have a vision for the quiche I'll be making in our remodeled kitchen, and the fire we will burn in our stone fireplace.  And the chickens we will raise, alongside our children.

The outbuildings are greenhouses in the making.

And it has the most adorable front door.

But it's still winter, we still have another house to sell. We're frozen in limbo until something gives.

At the very least we have hope and brioche to sustain us until the thaw.

Just when you think it'll never come together, it does. It always does. It's messy and difficult, but it's delicious in the end.


Speaking of delicious, I'd like to give a shout out to Old Crown for the scrumptious valentine's day dinner. The pan-seared walleye topped with grilled shrimp and accompanied by asparagus and roasted garlic red cabbage was impeccably prepared.

Cookies by the amazing Jeannie Porter
Peace and love.