where it all came from

Reading last Monday's post, where everything was long naps and sunshine, it's hard to remember the way things were going back in early May, when I told you I was standing on the cusp of several big changes, feeling unsure and afraid, willing my legs to take a step but standing motionless instead. I don't really want to talk about those days now, or about how anxious I tended to be in them, but I will, for one reason: what they gave me. See, what I'm not telling you when I talk about a great weekend, or today when I say, I made homemade cinnamon bread and ate thick slices Sunday morning while I stood in the grass and watched the sunshine, is that those changes---the very ones I'd feared and avoided and tried not to make back in May---while they turned out to be a lot of what I'd dreaded, yes: painful, scary, lonely; they also turned out to be a lot of what I hadn't expected: led by strength not my own, filled with grace I'd been given---the kinds of things that make blue skies and … [Read more...]

with your hands

Once when I was little, one of my teachers had our entire class over for a pizza party. What I remember most was standing on a stool at a counter, spooning sauce onto a circle of dough and getting to top it with white strings of cheese, feeling very grown up. That was probably the best party ever. I kind of loved that teacher but, mostly, I loved that pizza. Here's the truth: I could eat pizza every day. Sometimes I do. I like the fancy ones that cost $15 at a nice restaurant, the frozen ones in cardboard boxes at the grocery story, even mozzarella and tomato sauce heaped high on a bagel. In my book, pizza = good. Always. So as far as pizza goes, it's hard to make me hate one (though not impossible, thank you, Domino's, when we ordered you the second time at work), it's easy to make me like one and it's, seriously, not that hard to make me really like one. Now love? Well, let's just say this: If you can't get to Chicago's best Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant or to the place … [Read more...]

a few excuses

There's a reason these photos are so bleh. Well, actually, there are two reasons, one of which is a little incriminating. So if I tell you the whole story, will you promise not to hold it against me? First, and this is just a fact we must learn to accept, much like regular exercise is a part of being healthy or you can't eat an entire chocolate cake every night in good conscience: Food looks a lot better, generally speaking, when it's photographed in natural light. (Everyone says so, and I finally believe them.) Second, and here's the part where I start to look bad: I may or may not have accidentally almost burned down my kitchen Saturday afternoon, during the last bits of natural light I had left. Here's what happened: That morning, the tart I was making overflowed in the oven and made quite a mess---a mess, which, after I pulled the tart out, I forgot about completely. So a few hours later, when I turned the little temperature knob to preheat the oven again, ready to bake … [Read more...]

Hedged Bets & New Traditions

In my family, Thanksgiving mornings have always been quick, light bites first thing when you wake, as the scent of roasting turkey barely begins to float through the kitchen. In our pajamas, we eat cereal, cups of coffee, maybe a piece of toast. But, anticipating, we stop there. It’s no different than any other kind of delayed gratification, just like working this week means a paycheck next or not buying yourself new clothes---not even the creamy white coat with the 3/4 sleeves---means more money in your savings account or a little extra to spend on Christmas gifts. That’s all well and good, most years. When the turkey is a sure thing, when the stock market is strong, by all means put off pleasure. Look ahead to the later reward. But what about when the long-term benefit seems a little, well, unsure? This year, for example, the economy is in flux. Also, I’d be responsible for getting the Thanksgiving meal on the table. While very different situations, putting all my faith in the … [Read more...]