a mixed bag.

Everyone on God's green brown earth has been buzzing with excitement over Autumn's arrival.

Everyone except me.

It's not that I dislike it, but I'm more aware than ever that it signals Winter's imminent descent. He's extra mean here in Ohio, what with the lake effect snow and all.

And dude, I feel like Summer was a total gyp. I had already lost my flip flop tan-lines by late June.

In other Fallish news, our puny, infantile Japanese Maple trees are trying to toughen up as the temperatures dip. It's been pretty cold here at night, and I can hear their knees knocking from my bedroom window. Keeps me up.
I have already started to dream up my Christmas decor.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to just accept that it's fall.
I miss summer.

I'm sorry. I do this every year.
I'm always late to the game. It takes me forever to come around.
And once I do, I like it. I don't want to pack it all up again.

It doesn't help that I feel a little sorry for November. And Thanksgiving.

 My point is, I don't really dig Christmasy things at Thanksgiving. Still I like it all done by then.
November is not Winter even if you can see your breath in the morning and there's talk of flurries by the weekend.

 My other point is...

I'm a slow-poke.

 I don't set out to redecorate for the seasons, it just happens. Very slowly.
Without warning, I realize I need to groove with the new rhythm. So, while I'm not necessarily an advocate for pulling out all the stops and redecorating every time the air changes, change is meant to be celebrated, right? I dig around in the closets and basement. Here's the cool thing about being a human on this good earth: We get to experience all of life. It's all ours, the crazy and the mundane, the parts that squeeze our souls right into our hearts and the parts that cause us to take literal the phrase, "stick a needle in my eye".

Today has been a mixed bag.

It's one thing to tool around when the lights are all on and the trees are flamed out in the fiercest golds and the blushy hot oranges. I've seen the good parts of my life on those days. I can picture myself there, under the glare of the September sun.

It's a completely different thing to drive around after dark, the November wind howling around, chasing itself through the naked trees. Those gangly trees spook me. The streetlights were mostly gone.

It makes me sad. It makes me want to run back to the very beginning, back before I knew what I know. 

The doubts fall around me like the leaves and the rain. 

As I drive through the dark streets, I shove the doubts down, because I know they aren't the truth.

In that moment, I am getting a little taste of real life. But wishing real life could always be a pretty thing doesn't make it so.

I don't know what it is about change of seasons, but it always brings my heart to its knees, at some point or another, with nostalgia as thick as honey.

It's a good thing. It's a bad thing.

It's a good thing. Life can be a crazy-cat complicated. It can be big and nervy and maybe a smidge terrifying at turns, but in the end, you're still there with your heart in your lap.

Life feels too big and too pinchy-tight so much of the time, but I'm still just making my way through, eating cereal for dinner and shaking my head over insignificant things. It takes the pressure off, somehow. I'm only human, and I am frail and often weird. Am I the only one who finds this fascinating and wonderful? Tell me I'm not.

just sayin'.

Silky Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6 to 7
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 1 cup good chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, Slowly whisk in the milk, in a thin steam at first so that lumps don’t form, then more quickly once the cornstarch mixture is smoothly incorporated. Place over medium-low heat and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 10 minutes or so (slower over lower heat is better, to give the cornstarch time to cook), before it starts to simmer, the mixture should begin to thicken, enough that it will coat the back of a spoon. Add the chocolate, and continue stirring for another 2 to 4 minutes, until chocolate is fully incorporated and mixture is quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

If you’re concerned about lumps: Run mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.

Distribute among individual pudding cups or one large serving bowl, and chill until it is cool and set, about 2 to 3 hours.

If you dislike pudding skin: Put plastic on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating.

Do ahead: Pudding is good for 3 days in the fridge but nobody I know would allow it to last that long.


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