Saturday, December 31, 2011


I woke up to grey and cold this morning. The weather called for muffins. I have made muffins from scratch more than once, but Trader Joe's Pumpkin bread mix makes amazing muffins, and they more than suited my purpose, so as the coffee brewed, I stirred together the batter and put the muffins in to bake. I ate an orange, juicy and sweet, tingly to the tongue as the spicy scent of cinnamon and nutmeg filled the kitchen. I waited to drink my first cup of coffee until the muffins were ready. I pulled the paper from the bottom and split the muffin, inhaling the sweet steam. Cream cheese is best on pumpkin muffins, so I spread the insides with cream cheese, prepared my coffee, light and sweet, and sat to truly enjoy my meal. The muffin was perfect - warm and comforting, tasting both of sugar and spice, with just a slight tang from the cream cheese. I savored the quiet and the content. A perfect beginning to my day. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy eating my muffin.

I started a new book last night - "The School of Essential Ingredients". The story began slowly, but I became engrossed in the characters and their tales. What I am most enjoying, though, is the way the author describes food. I can taste and smell everything, and I am hungrier at the end of each page, even when the food she is describing is something I don't like. I don't care for sausage or clams, but when she describes making a red sauce with sausage, or Pasta del Mar, it is exactly what I want to smell and taste at that moment. Reading this book made me want to sit and take notice of my breakfast this morning, which is why I decided to write it all down.

Happy New Year! May all your meals be noteworthy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quiet celebration

My Girl and I went to a dinner to celebrate the solstice tonight. It was lovely to take a break from all the Christmas craziness to celebrate such a quiet and natural moment as the return of the light. One of the women there read a poem that really spoke to me, and I want to share:

Winter's Pause
by Kaaren Whitney
Dark like the mole's black velvet back,
dark like Gaia's womb,
unwrapped as from deep boroughs of excavated earth,
Winter slows to the pace of a moon white icicle
as sun completes its final exhalation, and stops.
Savouring the pause, the freedom of emptiness,
the solstice half-yearly turning begins again,
revived, breathing in fresh rays of light and life and love.
A very blessed Yule to you all.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The 3rd grade did a wax museum project this past week - they had to choose a historic figure, do research, write a 1-2 minute speech, and costume themselves. The Girl chose George Washington Carver. Fascinating guy - doesn't she look just like him?

I was pretty freaking proud of the mustache, though. I made it my very own self, from felt and elastic. And I made a very nice peanut pin out of felt, because, you know, he discovered over 300 different uses for the peanut.
It was a pretty cool project.
Tonight we had our annual Christmas celebration with one group of relatives, and tomorrow we go up for another annual family gathering. Lots of family fun this weekend. I hope you are all enjoying your's.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ways to stay warm

Today is cold and dark, with occasional wet, sleety snow. Sometimes this is the sort of day I want to curl up on my couch, under the sage gaze of my Yoda tree topper, snuggling with cats, drinking coffee and reading a good, if mindless, book.
Other gloomy days, however, call for coffee and conversation, and snuggle time with gorgeous, chunky babies. So when A called me over for coffee, how could I resist. She makes the loveliest coffee - light and sweet with vanilla-scented sugar. And these ladies are the snuggliest, most scrumptious babies - and they grin at me like I am the most amusing person on earth.
This was a very nice way to spend the morning.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Some thoughts on a very good Sunday

Two posts ago I talked about religion. The next day I visited a Unitarian Universalist church, and enjoyed the people and the message very much. Today was my third visit, and my first time hearing their minister speak. She was a little fidgety, which drove me nuts - she kept messing with her mike, her necklaces, her hair...I wanted to tie her hands behind her back. But...she was an excellent speaker. Her sermon had me thinking the whole time, which is the point of a sermon, right?
"Half the fun of travel is the esthetic of lostness." Ray Bradbury
She began her sermon with this quote. The gist was, when you travel in a place where you are foreign - whether you don't speak the language, or the customs are different, or even just stepping out of your comfort zone - you are reminded of the very hugeness of humanity, and your own smallness in the midst of that humanity. It reminds you that you are only one of many, and this being "lost" is a reminder that you are not the center of the universe. She asserted that if people were to travel and become "lost" more often, perhaps there would be less war, because while when we are "lost" we are reminded of how very different we all are, we are also reminded of how we are all the same in very essential ways.
I haven't traveled much. I like to think I would be a good traveler - I respect most people and their cultures, I like to make friends, and I am pretty flexible. I would like to travel more than I have. I began to think, though, about how very lost I feel in a crowd. Most people who know me think of me as a very gregarious, outgoing person. The word "shy" is a word almost nobody would connect with me, but that is only because those people probably met me when I knew someone else in the room. If there is another person around with whom I feel comfortable, I can relax and talk to an entire room of strangers, and walk out friends with most of them. I'm not saying I'm the coolest, nicest person on earth - but I am ridiculously friendly, and I'm interested in what you think. That being said, if I don't know anyone else, or if I know half the room, but not well enough to be comfortable, I will shrink into a corner, blush a lot, and not talk to a soul. I found myself doing this very thing last Sunday - my friend A went with me to church the first week, and this week, and both weeks I felt very comfortable, went up to people and talked to them, and enjoyed myself very much. Last week, however, I didn't know anyone there, and after a few minutes of awkward half-smiles at perfect strangers, I turned around under the ruse of examining the row of bookshelves in the room. Thank goodness for bookshelves. How many times have I been saved from dying away from embarrassment by the ability to peruse somone's bookshelves. And oftentimes, a shared interest will spark a conversation, which kills the reason I was poring over the shelves so intently in the first place.
Anyway, I never relaxed. I said hello and goodbye to a few people, and nobody was rude to me, but I was ready to leave right away last week. I felt "lost" in a room full of people who spoke the same language and had the same sort of culture. This is such a common feeling for me, and I wonder if it's this very thing that has perpetuated in me a very liberal mindset. I very rarely feel myself the center of the universe, because my own shyness makes me so very aware of the existence of the vast rest of humanity.
She also remarked upon the fact that criticizing someone else's accent is another way of making ourselves feel superior, and making the other person feel lost, and so I suppose I have to stop constantly correcting my brother-in-law's grammar. Which will, of course take all the fun out of our interactions.