Saturday morning I met my old roommates for brunch at a newish place in 12 South, the three of us gathered around an enormous round table that had me leaning in to listen and talk. We’ve been doing these get-togethers…
Good morning, guys! Well, I say good morning, but, technically, it’s about 11 AM over here at my parents’ place on the day after Christmas. While I am freshly showered, I am also typing these words from bed, so morning seems appropos. This is a lazy morning, the kind with little on the day’s docket, the kind that define the term “holiday” to me. I love mornings like these—slow breakfasts, unhurried schedules, time to sit and think. And I figure as long as I’m sitting here thinking about mornings from here in my old room, now might be a good time to talk about Megan Gordon’s new breakfast book, Whole-Grain Mornings, and about the first recipe Tim and I made from it: buckwheat crepes.
I love Thanksgiving because I need thanksgiving. I need to practice gratitude, and I need to do it every moment of the day. I need to see my full hands. I need to stop and offer thanks. I need thanksgiving because I need to taste joy—oh, how I need to taste joy!—in the midst of the days that don’t go my way and the days that do.
You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—-the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—-to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:43-48, The Message
It’s been one of those weeks. Rich blessings, steady work, hand pies with my old roommates Wednesday night—but with a few mean-spirited people thrown in, too. Most mornings, you know what I’m fighting for in my heart? The ability to stop focusing on, and sinking into discouragement over, the mean-spirited people. Tim and I were talking about this yesterday—about the friends you can’t share good news with because they’ll be jealous, about the miserable people who spit out meanness because of how unhappy they are inside, about what interacting with unkindness and spite does to our own hearts (namely that seeing hatred in someone else always makes me see it in myself, and seeing that doesn’t feel good). You can eat ice cream while your heart is sorrowful, you guys. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
Earlier this week, I read an Anne Lamott article in which she says a few things so well, I don’t think anybody again will ever say them better. (“There were entire books written on the subject of the overly sensitive child. What the term meant was that you noticed how unhappy or crazy your parents were.” // “Any healthy half-awake person is occasionally going to be pierced with a sense of the unfairness and the catastrophe of life for ninety-five percent of the people on this earth.” // “One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that I was going to need a lot of help, and for a long time.”) As a writer, there are two ways you can respond when you read an article like that. You can be happy such good writing exists, resonating in different sentences with what you’ve seen to be true, written in a way that cuts to the point—or you can be bummed out, because, hello, you weren’t the one creating it. This, of course, goes for more than writing.
A few notes from here in Nashville, here in this first week of October:
1 / An autumn that’s all big mums and our neighbors’ porches filled with pumpkins, right alongside bare feet and sundresses.
2 / A few blog updates, some obvious (design changes) and some not (new hosting). If anything seems wonky when you stop by this space, it probably relates to one of the things we’ve changed, and we probably don’t know—so please tell us.
3 / A a new library book I’ve been waiting for, an interview with its author (posted here) and my favorite quote from that interview: “My description of this room will differ from your description of this room will differ from everybody else’s description of this room because we are limited and graced by our own pair of eyes, the things that we notice in the foreground versus the background—That’s the beauty of creative work.”
4 / A good chunk of time thinking about this story, especially because of one line about always wanting everyone to understand what you do, and why you can’t and they can’t, so just stop: “For several years I felt this overwhelming need to explain ourselves and the decisions we made as a family to other people. I hated that I lived in that trap, and yet I couldn’t seem to get out of it. But God slowly freed me of that in Oklahoma.”
6 / Extra work hours, new projects, more social activities and several upcoming trips—and how all of these things, with the tighter schedules they bring, are good things we are being given right now.
7 / Remembering August, when I cried in the middle of Wal-Mart, by myself, walking the aisles to buy copy paper so we could print out paperwork to try to get back earnest money from a house we thought we’d buy, but lost.
8 / Remembering last night, when I cried in a Goodwill parking lot, next to Tim, out of sheer and overwhelming joy at how shockingly we have been comforted and encouraged since then.
9 / Words like these, from Naomi Shihab Nye : “I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back. I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.”
10 / A mug filled with creamy, frothy pumpkin pie you can drink—recipe below.
A few days ago, Tim and I rearranged our work hours to go to the pumpkin patch in the middle of the day. We never found the pumpkin patch. Instead, where the map said the patch should be, we found a sweet little house and a lot of open land and, well, this:
Sometimes I forget how close you live to the country when you live in Nashville. The entire time we drove those sunny back roads, we never saw another human being. We saw the friendly guys above, some horses, a dog I thought was a llama and a large parcel of land with a big “for sale” sign, but there were no signs marked “pumpkins,” no arrows directing us a different way, so we drove the winding trail back to town, just us and the animals and the blue sky.
Back in town—Watertown, that is, population 1500—We found an antique store where the shopkeeper not only welcomed us in, but also told us about her daughter, talked about Maine, invited us back (“Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days”) and recommended another shop to check out. “Just before that old brick building, you see it? The open sign?” We visited a roadside stand with mums as big as toddlers, two of which now grace our front porch. We passed a high school marching band, practicing off Main Street. Then, I listened to Tim tell me about growing up in a small Ohio town where he and his brother would ride their bikes to the grocery store for their mom and where, when a person wanted Chinese food, he’d have only one place to pick.
So we didn’t come home with a pumpkin, but we did come home refreshed, which was essentially the point of the midday errand. Also, as everybody knows, you don’t have to visit a pumpkin patch to find pumpkin. And that brings me to today’s pound cake.
I like the idea of pound cake. It’s a name that sounds like what it means! According to What’s Cooking America, pound cake became popular in an era when many people couldn’t read and so being able to say “Use a pound of everything!” made a lot more sense than telling someone to memorize a series of steps you couldn’t write down.
The concept got me wondering about using flours besides all-purpose in a pound cake. Would einkorn still maintain the same proportions true to pound cake, provided I weighed it to measure rather than scooping out cups?
I am pleased to report it did. What’s more, incorporating a little fall flavor into the basic formula only took things up a notch. Below, a recipe for a true (half-)pound cake, based on a method that’s been used since the days when all towns were small towns and all cakes were baked at home.