As I walked up the stairs from the basement today, I decided to do something I haven’t done the last three summers. I piled beach towels on the bed, found our raincoats in the attic, and began gathering my kitchen essentials to start packing for our Cape trip. We leave in three days. This was my routine for many a summer. I would start preparing for our annual trip to North Truro a week in advance. We waited all year for those two coveted weeks to escape from it all. Back when we first started going, cellphones were just coming into popularity, and we didn’t yet feel the need for them. A few summers later, when we finally had them, reception was very intermittent all the way out there. It was easy to unplug. As time went on, it became more challenging, but we were determined to preserve that old Cape magic. Continue reading »
There are moments when I still can’t wrap my mind around it all. I’ve traveled miles I never imagined. Seen and done things, I never thought possible. And yet, today as I drove over the bridge to Rhinebeck, all I could think about is what I was doing at this time three years ago. He was still alive, and the idea that he could be gone in an instant, forever, seems inconceivable, even to this day. I suppose the wonder of it, even reflecting back, knowing what I know, the notion that it could still surprise me—I think that’s called hope. Hope is the fuel our minds need to function even when the rest of our system shuts down. Continue reading »
The girls are rather good at keeping tally over everything being even-Steven. Inevitably, the scales tip more in one’s favor on certain days, although I’m quite sure it will balance out to an equitable share over the longevity of our lives. Try explaining that to a six or eleven year old, though.
Most days, I’m pretty sure I’m messing everything up. I wasn’t always sure of what I was doing when we were a two-parent family. Now, on my own, left in charge of raising these girls into strong, confident, happy, loving young women—I think it’ll be okay, but sometimes I wonder. These last few weeks have left me sleep-deprived, anxious and short on patience as I watch moving boxes pile up, and ponder the change about to happen in less than three weeks. Continue reading »
Spring has finally sprung upstate. It was a long, cold winter, and many of us thought it would never end. The wonderful thing about living in the Northeast is that we have seasons. The not so great part of that gift is that the contrasts between summer and winter are brutal. Spring and fall aren’t always a guarantee. Often, they feel like blips on the radar of Mother Nature, and yet there are people who still question the direct correlation of how we use our planet with climate change (a conversation for another day).
Everything around is coming to life. The raspberry bushes are snaking their way through the side garden. I’ve been told they’re like weeds, and indestructible. I hope that’s true since I have much to learn, and my thumb is far from green. There’s a single rose bush along the house, too. I can’t help but think of M when I see them. He took such loving care of the ones we had at our old apartment on Henry Street.
“Let me get this straight. We’re driving to Philadelphia for doughnuts.”
That was Isabella’s response when I told her about my road trip plans for the weekend. The sun had scurried behind storm clouds, and raindrops began to dance upon the windshield as we rolled out of Brooklyn. My mind was divided between concentrating on the stop signs and streetlights, and my real reason for driving 95 miles for doughnuts.
It’s been a while.
Over the last month, I’ve found myself starting a post, deleting, starting again, and then just moving onto something else. I feel a bit jumbled inside, and haven’t really been sure how to say what’s on my mind. Some days I’m not even sure I know what’s going on in that cavernous space; it’s such a swirl of activity. Recipes are overflowing, but the words…well, those seem to be in short supply.
The kids are snuggled in their beds, fast asleep. Much as I should be in bed, too, I’m wide-eyed after a cat nap. It’s become part of Virginia’s bedtime routine. After we read books, I usually curl up with her, to help her fall into a peaceful slumber. This wasn’t always our pattern; certainly not when Michael was alive. Then again, I was always firm about bedtime, knowing that a cuddle on the couch was my reward after a long day. The daytime was all about the girls. Nighttime was a standing date with my guy to catch up on our day, relax, and enjoy curling up in the corner of our L-shaped sofa together.
I love everything about coffee; the ritual, the scent that fills the air as the oils release while the beans grind. The aroma that wafts up the stairs, as it brews on the stove top. The way the steam tickles my nose, as I bring the cup to my lips.
It happens every few months, though. I wake up, and no longer feel an affinity for my usual temptress.
For weeks, I’d been craving Moroccan mint tea. Mint usually a hardy herb, can’t survive this past winter unless taken indoors. Mine is a shriveled pot of twigs on the front stoop. I’m not particularly worried because I know it will come back. Past years have taught me that while winter batters it into submission, spring has a way of reviving it. That mint plant is quite special, too. It’s a holdover from my old apartment, and my old garden, the one I shared with Michael. Each leaf I pluck connects me to my past. It may be dormant now, but it will soon awaken to a new season.
The last two and a half years have felt a lot like the cycles of that mint. Grief is a never ending marathon, the emotional hurdles a bit further apart as time passes. The height of the hurdles, however, seems to get higher. The energy required to jump them, feeling almost insurmountable. Almost, but not completely.
I found myself craving brownies the other night, which rarely happens. I must confess that while I love baking chocolate desserts (they generally make everyone happy!), they are not my first choice for eating. I reached for my copy of Homemade with Love to make the walnut fudge brownies on page 185. Honestly, it still blows my mind, and humbles me, every time I pull my own cookbook off the shelf. A quick scan of the ingredients, and I realized I didn’t have any espresso granules in the house. I decided to brew up a small pot of very strong coffee in its place. While I was at it, I swapped in whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose, and used less, too. You can use regular all-purpose flour if that’s all you have on hand, and it’ll be fine. I just figured I’d fool myself into believing the whole wheat would make them healthier.
What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
These words sit atop a vintage blackboard in my kitchen. They’re written on a little pencil box I found in Anthropologie a few months ago. I was never one for inspirational messages, but the last couple of years I find myself clinging to them. Even inscribing them onto my skin, as reminders in my darkest moments. Continue reading »