When I met M, way back in 1995, he had a cat named Jane. She was the living definition of a scaredy cat, hiding on top on bookshelves, slippery as an eel if you dared to pick her up. Jane’s been gone about 13 year now, but I started thinking about her a lot after M died. I realized I didn’t know how Jane got her name. Back when I met M, Jane Says was often playing on his CD player, or in the car, on a cassette tape no less—he drove a little red Toyota Celica back then, and it had a—get this, a benzi box. That was back in the pre-Guiliani New York City; the days when you weren’t always guaranteed to find your car where you left it parked. Continue reading »
I’ve clocked over 1,200 miles in the last week and a half, between my journey home from Cape Cod and the four trips I made upstate to deal with my annoying, and unwanted, house guests. All those hours in the car offered much time for reflection. Not always good when I should be focused on the road, but I mastered crying and driving in the early months after M died. There’s something about the act of driving that is very freeing. Perhaps it’s the feeling that I’m actually going someplace; the perception that I’m moving, doing something. The act of driving is powerful because it’s filled with the illusion that I’m steering my own course, instead of just standing around waiting for life to choose what happens.
I burned a pot boiling water today. I’m not joking, and, thankfully, was able to laugh when I realized what I’d done. There I was, yapping away on Skype with a friend, wondering who was grilling a steak at 10:30am. After I hung up, I looked into the bottom of my empty glass, and remembered I had been in the middle of making more Moroccan mint tea before I got on the Jetson’s version of the telephone. More specifically, I had been in the middle of boiling water—in my little copper pot. So, that’s what it smells like when water has completely evaporated in a copper pot, and said pot continues to cook at medium high heat. Apparently, my brain and attention span have been on vacation too long. Continue reading »
I’m offering an apology before I go any further. The zucchini hazelnut quick bread you see above isn’t making it into this post. I don’t know when I will be ready to share it; I just know I’ll feel it, that moment when I’m ready to cut the apron strings and set my little recipe out into the world. I know, it sounds so dramatic. Mikey would’ve surely rolled his eyes at that one, albeit with a teasingly, mischevious smile, the kind where his thick eyebrows would stretch to the sky.
Then why did I even pop in here, you’re probably wondering, right? Well, someone asked if I could share the recipe for that quick bread, and while I’m not ready to give that baby her wings to fly into your kitchen, I do have a few other favorite zucchini recipes here on the blog. I figure we’re all scrambling to use up, or just plain enjoy, the end of summer bounty. Truth be told, my heart is tightening a bit at the thought of saying goodbye to the summer growing season. As I perused my archives, one post in particular struck me. I wrote it exactly one month before M passed away. It was incredible to read myself talking about the book proposal. Just two years and two months ago, Homemade with Love was still in utero. It boggles my mind to think of all that has happened during that time. Continue reading »
The first time I came back to the Cape after Michael died, it had just been thirteen days. I remember the bay breeze rushing across my face, feeling as though his spirit was enveloping me. I look back on my old posts, and I’m not sure how I got this far. Back then seconds felt like hours, and minutes felt like years. The thought of living a lifetime without him was simply incomprehensible. Still, going to the Cape so soon afterwards provided comfort, and a connection to him.
Last year, I felt hollow being here. Every sunset burned a hole in my heart. I contemplated never coming back, feeling all the good moments here had been used up. I ultimately decided to make the trip back this summer because Virginia really wanted to come. Her memories of Michael are so few, and the Cape is a place she associates with happy family times. So, I figured I’d push through with a stiff upper lip. In my mind, I’d resolved this would be our last trip.
As I stood on the deck watching the sunset last night, something felt different. And then I realized what it was—I was smiling. A real, genuine one. The kind that only happens when you feel happiness in your heart. I wasn’t thinking of Mikey, though. The joy came from simply capturing the beauty of the sun’s warm glow as it tucked in for the evening.
When I woke up the next morning, something else incredible had happened. I stirred from my slumber fresh from a dream about him. I’ve been hoping to see him for so long. We were in an apartment that was unfamiliar, and both packing our bags. I was getting ready to settle into a hot bath, then realized the time. I’d be late for the airport if we didn’t leave right away, so I gathered the girls. Mikey looked at me, and said “I’m sorry I can’t go with you, I have a different flight”.
And then, I woke up.
Just like that, he was gone, again. I’m a little panicked now that he may not be coming back. Ever. And yet, I feel a quiet peace in my heart. As though he has finally accepted the reality of it all, and is ready to move forward, too.
Music Pairings: Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra
The Flip Side: Babe by Styx
The title says it all, well not really. See, the conversation started something like this:
Me: I don’t like s’mores.
Me: Yeah, I’m not crazy about melted marshmallows and chocolate together.
Ten minutes later I inhaled what you see above.
And then I proceeded to toast another marshmallow to dig into raspberry, chocolate-mint s’more #2. In my defense, I’d never been offered a s’more like this one. In fact, I didn’t have my first s’more until I was well into my thirties. I’m pretty sure I can hear the collective gasp you’re all letting out as you read these words. Continue reading »
I’ve spent a lot of time talking lately about the nourishing power of cooking. I’m often on the giving end of that relationship, and it’s a role I cherish. Every now and then, though, it’s nice to step out from my usual position behind the stove, and simply be on the receiving end of a homemade meal. After six weeks of traveling to do publicity for the book, things winded down yesterday as I made my way home from Toronto. What an incredible bookend to what started here in NYC at the beginning of April.
Vittoria made her famous rice balls for my arrival in Canada. Nick contributed homemade dried sausage, as well as red and white wine—both homemade, to our dinner. Mary made the most perfect crostata with a jammy plum filling, and a crust that will haunt me until I have time to get into the kitchen and replicate it myself. Marisa made the main course, and what better way to make me feel welcome than with pizza? I felt so at home being with Marisa and her family, that I sat on the kitchen counter mere minutes after meeting her mom, Vittoria, so I could position myself just right to snap some shots of the incredible spread they had all prepared. Continue reading »
Years ago, when Isabella was a wee little one, we had a neighbor who insisted on counting her son’s age in months up until he was three. Mikey and I laughed so hard at the idea of that. Imagine someone asking how old your kid is, and replying 32 months. It just sounds odd, right? I’m guessing that mom’s rationale was wanting to hold onto her son being a baby as long as possible. I get it. Oh man, do I get it, especially these days. In just two weeks, my babies will turn five and ten. I feel like I blinked and life tapped me on the shoulder, then screamed SURPRISE!
This whole way of counting has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. People often refer to Mikey having died a year and a half ago, or almost two years ago. Me? I refer to it as what it is—20 months ago. Unlike my old neighbor who wanted to cherish her babies early years, I’m trying to stay close to Mikey. The more time that passes since his death signifies the growing distance between my old life and my new one. Continue reading »
The moment I walked out of my therapist’s office and felt the sun glistening on my face, I knew I was in trouble. My needs are simple, yet they often feel complicated. A day spent meandering, somewhat aimlessly, with the sun’s glow warming me, is my idea of a perfect one. It’s also akin to mental quicksand, distracting me from the planned goals at hand. Such is the quandary I found myself in this morning. I wandered into Washington Square Park, intending to just cut through on my way to Soho. The stillness of the park, combined with a clear, blue day were too potent. I found myself gravitating to a park bench, and settled into a phone call with a friend. Continue reading »
To the rest of the world, this simply looks like a bunch of celery. Albeit an incredibly gorgeous, delicate bundle, with a flavor only celery from the farmers’ market could possibly capture. That bunch in particular probably came from Maxwell’s Farmstand at the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market.
I feel the lump welling up in my throat as I write this, and yet I can’t pull my fingers away from the keyboard. I feel crazy even going “there”, but that celery is the last bunch of celery I bought while Michael was alive. It’s celery for heaven’s sake, and it’s capable of reducing me to tears. At moments like this I want to bury my face into a pillow and collapse into a pool of tears. I bought that celery the day before Mikey died. I came across it while looking through my photo archives for a recipe of the Broccoli Rabe & Fresh Ricotta Frittata from Homemade with Love, and suddenly found myself frozen as I inched closer to the photos I took in the days leading up to his death.
It’s not just a bunch of celery, just like these aren’t just a box of matches.
It’s a bunch of celery on the windowsill of our old apartment…in the kids’ old room, which was actually our bedroom before we even had kids.
That celery represents something I can never have again. That celery represents a routine I so loved, and have struggled to get back into the last 20 months. See, before Mikey died, I woke up every Saturday morning at 7:00am, got dressed quietly and snuck out of the house to go to the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza. I would beat the crowds, and get the best of whatever was in season before most people had rubbed the sleep from their eyes. Continue reading »