Every time we drive home to Ohio or Chicago, we make a pit stop in Louisville—but it wasn’t until Tim’s birthday that a stop became a visit. Arriving Thursday afternoon and leaving Saturday night, here’s what we did with just over 48 hours in the city that everybody’s talking about.
Archives for April 2013
Today is Tim’s birthday, which makes it the perfect time to tell you how another year of living life with him—cooking together, working side by side, analyzing the nuanced details of relationships with each other, budgeting, traveling, laughing, yelling, learning about each other and from each other—has been such a gift. What is also a gift is that today’s post is not from me, but from him. He had something he wanted to say, and I cried when I read it. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
Today is my birthday. Ordinarily you would be reading a post from Shanna, and so I apologize today, because I know it sucks when you don’t hear from her—I know because I enjoy reading her writing more than you do. But for some reason, every now and again on my birthday I get strange feelings to do something out of the ordinary. I think it stems back in part to the kind of birthdays I had with my mom. My mom always let me skip school on my birthday, and it always felt like such a great gift, since I disliked school so much.
There is something about the security of the ordinary days that gives you the strength to have the extraordinary ones. There is something freeing about structure and rules. My mom was the type of mom that made you feel like you could ask her anything and she would have a helpful response. Even if she didn’t know the answer and said so, it was the manner of her presence that made you feel like she could be trusted with your questions. She cared and, because she cared, the everyday routines and happenings provided a place of safety and growth, with protection for that growth. Self-control is a wonderful gift and parenting in such a way that helps to instill self-control, while also allowing expression, is a balance that comes out of a heart that is balanced–something my mom had. [Read more…]
The other day, I bought fresh fennel at the grocery store.
Fresh fennel, if you’re not familiar with it, is awkward and big, not unlike many of us were when we were back in junior high. Undeterred by the way my two bulbs wouldn’t fit inside a standard produce bag, their dill-like fronds poking out on top, I carried those towering bodies proudly to the checkout line, along with the other items in my cart. Then, I took them home to Tim, laying their bodies across our cutting board, where, together, we deconstructed them, like vegetable surgeons working as a team: The tops, we chopped for garnishes. The stems, we boiled into broth. The bulbs, we cut to wedges and sidled along onions to cook slowly on the stove. An hour or so later, in return for all these efforts, we ate the braised bulbs for dinner, and, as we did, I made a discovery. This past week, or specifically, this particular moment sitting across from Tim at the table with plates of fennel as our meal, I learned I hate, and I mean, hate, cooked fennel (or, at least, cooked fennel that tastes anything remotely like the version we made). Since there are weeks, nay, entire months, of my life where I can’t remember learning anything notable, particularly between the high school years of 1996 and 2000, I guess you could say this was not a complete waste of time.
Besides the cooked fennel, our kitchen has seen a revolving door of new recipes this last week: sesame tahini cookies, chocolate banana smoothies as thick as ice cream, homemade honey mustard with roasted sweet potatoes and a seriously unusual raw lemon tahini pie. Nothing was as shockingly memorable as that batch of fennel. Nothing was as good as this bruschetta.
Hi, gang. Today’s post is something of a bonus for the week because it’s actually a guest post published over at the ever beautiful, truly inspiring g0lubka blog. While they’re in the midst of editing an upcoming cookbook (set to publish in 2014!), Anya’s been gathering a series of guest posts from fellow bloggers for her site. The first, published last week, featured truly stunning lemon tarts from another talent you may recognize, the lovely Laura of The First Mess, and it had us salivating.
Anyway, we’re so honored to post at g0lubka because it is a site defined by beauty, whole foods and a wonderful perspective that embraces the idea of trying new foods and knowing when to be flexible. In our post today, we’re sharing a super simple garlic onion veggie dip, which was truly Tim’s brainchild. The base isn’t sour cream or yogurt, but, are you ready for this, cashews—and, trust me when I tell you, it’s good enough to eat with a spoon!
Read the post and check out the recipe over at g0lubka, and then set aside a little time to look around—if you’re like me, you’ll find plenty of recipes to bookmark and try.
I heard about the marathon bombings on Twitter. I hear about most everything on Twitter. I had been cleaning the house, vacuuming under chairs, tidying up stacks of papers, when I checked in at the computer. Then, there I was, along with much of America, sitting, glued to the screen, Googling for more information, clicking over to the Facebook page of a running friend who’d flown out with her family for the event (and later rejoicing that she was okay). I hate hearing about tragedies like bombings almost as much as I find I can’t pull myself away from the stories once they come in. Who would do this? Why? Who was hurt? And then: Oh, God. A child died. Another lost a limb. And in Boston.
Every spring, when the ground brings new life and the trees turn every shade of green, I think of Julius.
Julius and I met in grad school. He wore silver-rimmed spectacles, ironed business shirts and dress pants and a neatly trimmed reddish-brown beard that was quickly going gray but lush and full nonetheless, I suspect proper use of beard oil. He came to class with his work I.D. still on his shirt pocket and a bag or briefcase carrying his books and papers in his hand. When he spoke, you’d hear an accent, betraying the Eastern European setting from which he’d come, but, he told me, he and his wife had lived in America quite a while. The first class we took together was a Travel Writing course. It was a workshop class, meaning we’d turn in copies of our assignments to each other and then discuss them, as a class, together. I’d write short, sweet pieces about places like the Wisconsin Northwoods; he’d write long, flowering tales about dining with locals in Morocco.
One October, walking from the fluorescent lights and metal chairs of our night class out into the crisp, cool air of Chicago fall, I told Julius how autumn was my favorite season.
“Do you feel this air?” I asked him as we walked side by side, breathing in deep for emphasis. “I mean, is there anything better? I wish it were fall all year.” I might have talked about pumpkins and apple-picking and Halloween.
“Yes, it’s nice,” this man, 15 or 20 years my senior, responded, almost as if to appease a child, with none of my enthusiasm.
“And I bet you didn’t know this,” I began, my volume increasing and my words coming fast. I was about to share with him a rehearsed party anecdote, a standby that, at the time, was finding its way into any conversation I had about the colors of fall, sort of the way I’m always jumpy today to tell people that dislike for cilantro is a genetic trait. “When leaves turn colors each fall,” I said to him, “they’re actually shedding a layer, revealing the true colors that were always there, underneath. People think the leaves are turning but really they’re just showing what they always were, down in there, but we couldn’t see it! How amazing is that? ”
I waited for his elation and surprise, for him to join me in proclaiming fall’s glory. Instead came counter argument.
“Actually, that’s sort of how I feel about spring!” he said to me, his eyes growing wide as his volume raised to match mine. “All the green! The emeralds, the pale greens, the yellow greens! Everything becomes so alive!”
I hate to say it, but I think at that moment, walking with Julius to our cars in a dark parking lot, I saw spring for the first time.
I was thinking about that conversation, some seven years ago or so now, last week, when Tim and I walked through the park on a 70-something-degree day in Nashville April. There were white buds on branches, pink flowers on trees, leaves of all different shapes and sizes sprouting along a lazy creek.
The sky was fiercely blue—bluer than the bluejay we’ve seen around our house lately, bluer than the ocean hitting white sands—and the smell of grass was in the air. I was thinking about it when we brought home bags of greens from the grocery store and set plates of arugula on our table for dinner one night, streaming sunlight falling on the table.
There’s a verse in the Psalms that exclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” and another in the New Testament that rejoices, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
This spring, with salads like this arugula one, that’s what I’m thinking about: the wonder of a created world with ordered seasons, the kind we can count on to come, and how noticing them, while walking parks and while eating dinner, makes me rejoice.
For a person who is regularly bemoaning the complexities of adult life, a three-day juice fast provides a wonderful simplicity. When you remove the daily tasks of buying, storing, preparing, eating and cleaning up after meals, you find yourself with this new and unusual void of time—and in it, a surprising clarity about the rest of life. In those borrowed hours, while you toss a football in the park, while you paint for hours at the table, while you read novels in bed to your heart’s content, all when you normally would have been cooking or eating, you realize something about food you’d never before seen. Because food, in all its forms and flavors, is such a constant, consuming, captivating part of life, even the not eating of it carries weight and significance. [Read more…]
Tim and I came home yesterday from a quick weekend visit to Chicago. The first time we’ve been back since Christmas, this trip was a whirlwind of loud, excited family conversation, the kind that leaves you out of breath, with everyone talking over everyone else; long, lazy mornings, the ones you almost forgot how much you loved, complete with a certain white, fluffy dog breaking down gates and waiting outside your bedroom door until you let him in; a blog meetup downtown, organized by the just-as-lovely-in-person! Nicole of Eat This Poem, whose months-ago idea for extending her work conference led to a Saturday lunch made up of six people who’d driven, taken trains, walked city blocks and navigated parking garages to come out and share a few hours with some of the Internet voices they find dear. [Read more…]