Gratitude

Waking at my mom’s house, I find myself filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the downs that help the ups be up, for friends to laugh about it all with, for great food, and for all of the little clues that continue to lead me, daily reminders that it is truly all about the journey, not the destination.

What better way to remain present than to roll out a pie crust, chop potatoes, and notice the great combination of smells coming from the kitchen?

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving, filled with gratitude and joy!

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Pear Tree

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Eight years ago a friend gave me a tiny pear tree to plant in the yard of my new house. Its trunk was not much thicker than my thumb and it stood about 5′ tall. We planted this twig of a tree on the NW corner of my house.

Within the first year it was producing huge, green, Bartlett pears, much too large for its small size. Branches drooped and sagged under the weight. I picked dozens early, trying to ease the weight.

It survived years of my being on location with random renters/housesitters forgetting to water it. It made it through a house renovation, standing like a small tree island in the middle of a yard of trenches. And it continued to produce bushels of pears.

Yesterday, upon returning from a quick trip to LA, I looked at and realized how attached I am to this tree. I worry about it when I’m away and call neighbors to check on it. It makes me happy to leave bags of pears on their doorsteps afterwards.

Initially pears confused me. Never ripening on the tree, I wasn’t sure when to pick them. Finally I realized that it was simple, all I had to do was put my hand around one and it would either come off easily or not. Then into a paper bag they went, ripening within a week. Cut up with some cheese or baked in a tart, there’s really nothing better than the perfect pear.

Feast

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I read a horoscope last week that said to watch for books that jumped off the shelf at me, wanting to be looked at and read.

Well, it wasn’t a book that jumped out, but a poem. I heard it in a documentary called “Free Your Mind”, directed by Phie Ambo, and made a mental note of the title, wanting to look it up later. Then, yesterday, this same poem was handed out in my writing group, to be read and discussed.

I think it is really beautiful and relevant in the way it talks about the stranger we all periodically let ourselves become. The self who is always there, awaiting our return, never judging, wanting just to love and nourish.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott

Farmer’s Market

Last night my fridge was looking a bit bare. I hadn’t been shopping in almost a week and what was left wasn’t looking that appealing. But, not wanting to go out, I decided to make something with what I had.

I pulled out kale that had gone from dark green to a lighter, yellow color, but was still good, a huge zucchini, some chicken sausage from the freezer, Parmesan, sage and rosemary from a flower bed outside, salt, pepper, and olive oil. These were all chopped, poured, and sprinkled into a pot and allowed to simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Initially I thought I’d mix it with some pasta, but in the end it seemed at once both light and substantial enough on its own. With a glass of Pinot Grigio, it was quite delicious.

This morning I rode my bike to the downtown farmer’s market to replenish the goods. Though I try to branch out periodically, I am lured by the same farmers and items almost every week. I went for the mix of yellow and red cherry tomatoes, summer squash, kale, sunflower micro greens (!) and a loaf of cardamom fig bread that sounded too good to resist.

Upon returning home, I heard a story on the news about a stomach flu being linked to a salad mix grown in Mexico and served at several chain restaurants in the Midwest. It made me glad that the produce I just bought is produced on a small scale by people I see every week and only has to travel a few miles to be sold.

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Sandals in the Subway

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I just returned from a quick and delicious weekend in Manhattan and Brooklyn… Almost two years since my last visit, I was craving a quick jolt of the energy only that city can provide.
While packing I realized my normal season for visiting is autumn, and scarves, sweaters, and boots are all I want to wear there. But, instead I tried to pack for hot, humid, dirty urban, which meant black skirts, dark tanks, and the sturdiest sandals I own. Though sandals in the subway just seem wrong.
I spent my days wandering, eating, and drinking with friends, agenda and plan free. Some highlights included Bryant Park iced tea drinking discussions, Le Labo Tubereuse, donuts on the lower east side, great black squid ink pasta with king crab and lemon, and a quick walk on the Highline.
For the first two days, a cool breeze blew as the sun shone, with a sticky humidity holding off until Sunday. Though to my parched desert skin, even that felt great.
As a child, New York was the only city I wanted to live in. The anonymity it allows people appealed to me, along with its inherent attitude and style. But now, as I watch my friends navigate lives and careers in the city, I realize that for me, it may only ever be a place to visit, to read about, and to soak up, once a year.