the long way home.

It's 3:27 am and I awoke with a start. again. I heard someone call my name. (I know). Downstairs I left a load of clothes in the dryer and forgot to turn on the dishwasher. again. My desk is piled high with stacks of bills, a recipe ripped from a magazine from Tuesdays dental appointment, catalogs, yoga magazines, junk mail, journals and calendars. all unopened. unread. The aroma of the dinner I'd been so proud of for a hot second still hangs in the air.

But the dawn was gentle! So, let's linger there.

I lace my shoes, leash up the puppies and head out into the fresh air. but life is for surprises, and some of them are lame. Piling out, I notice five deer meandering in the front yard and I think, here we go...

Molly's supposed to be an introvert. It shimmers up to the surface at times when she zones out-of-range in her normal everyday, but it seems we have different ideas about active listening and rules of engagement. when it comes to unexpected deer, she wants all the dirt. The deer scatter ahead of us, running hard, finally, we walk.

The air hits from a new direction as we round the bend. the puppies' hair pushed straight up by the wind, and I pull up my hood, grateful to be anonymous, grateful for the buttermilk clouds and my puppies, grateful for the sun barely awake throwing pink sparks.  so far away that I only half-trust that's actually what I'm seeing. 

I have a song stuck in my head. I try to sing a few bars but I can't remember the words. and I know I've got the tune right because I was made for music. Still, I can't place it. "Sing it again," I think, and I climb the octaves as though they're a clean, straight line.


I'm not sure where I had my ear tuned, if somewhere in my past there lived two songbirds with silky hair and a knack for seeing inside someone's heart. Sometimes when I look long and quiet at the daylight breaking out the window, I can hear them singing in the distance, and I feel it. I don't know. But I remember important things like the lyrics to Adele songs. I like the lady singers, the ones who can sing high and low. My brain processes things in warp speed, jumping tracks without cause, splitting and pitching and landing in a song I heard one time. I'm always whistling and humming, singing things back to myself without words. Today, it's clear. Of course I need to hear it together, right now in the cool morning air while the sun is half-out and I'm racing the clouds to the other side of town.

Have I ever told you about my love for early morning skies? It pre-dates my love for sun sets by decades, a fondness I never saw as a promise.

I step up my pace and fall into the melody while the puppies steer our ship. It is so beautiful my eyes well up.

We bump over the tracks, past the church on the corner with its chiming bells. We turn the corner and like each time before this one, I remember the day I learned this was where the tragedy happened, I don't know if it's true and I honestly I can't remember. But I always stare hard. Which house was it?

It doesn't matter.

The chorus in my head times evenly with the freight train screaming down the tracks, one just as loud as the other, not competing at all, while the cool wind whips my hair. This is the soundtrack to my entire life, steel-on-steel, horn in my ear, singing along with the ones in the back. I feel every heartbreak I've suffered and dealt. I feel the ones lying in wait for my loved ones. They know pain now, but they don't yet know the half of it. They don't need to know that they will one day have their hearts ripped out by someone who has loved them. They will wound someone they love. They'll sob. They'll be forced to move on. They will endure the throb of unsaid words, shoulder questions that won't be answered.

But they will keep on moving.
And with any luck, the ones they hurt, the ones who hurt them back, will be the ones who heal them. It's well past dawn, and the streets are waking up. The arched windows of the school gymnasium are lit in gold and everything becomes art. Brick and stone, patchy grass, splitting wood. The sagging porches on the century homes whisper defeat, but the lamps lighting them tell a different story and that's the one I want to read to the end.

Hello from the outside.

My eyes still brim and I'm grateful the song is long. I am still learning the words and I know I'll never be done telling my story. Maybe it's the first kiss of spring that's doing me in. Maybe I'll recover. Maybe tomorrow I won't guzzle life like it's my last chance, or I'll spin back to a heart that doesn't feel the low pulse of beauty in what looks to the untrained eye like despair, or regret.

I hope not.

This life is a mosaic of jagged edges made smooth as a whole.

This is my place, and I choose it every day. Tonight, I'll choose it with my windows down, the house smelling like fresh picked flowers from my garden, the mess that waits and the mess I bring. I choose the bedtime rituals and the phone that keeps ringing past dark. I choose the hard Yes's and the harder No's. Why wouldn't I?


just sayin'.

This past week-end I got it in my head that I should post more non-dessert recipes, so while recently perusing the produce section I remembered this mind-blowing recipe for veggies in a herb nage. Who knew veggies could be so exciting, so simple and yet exciting. Am I alone in feeling this way? Or does everyone know the awesomeness of veggies. I love this time of the year when all the beautiful spring veggies are popping up, they are so purdy.... Hmmmm. Where am I going with this? Oh, right, spring vegetables in a herb nage...

This recipe is adapted from Shane Osborn's book Starter's, it is one of my all time favorite cookbooks. This is not a 30 minute meal, it is a tad on the high maintenance side [but definitely worth it]. The herb nage is made a day in advance, so plan ahead. [What is a nage you ask? basically a veggie stock with herbs simple, no.] You may use any veggies that are in season, this is a great recipe to muck around with, imagine the possibilities, the bare bones excitement of all the different combination's!

Please forgive the annoying measurements, as this is a translated recipe.

herb nage
3 onions
6 carrots
3 leeks, white parts only
2 fennel bulbs
3 celery stalks
3 shallots
6 tarragon sprigs
6 parsley sprigs
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
12 black peppercorns
4 star anise ( I do not use these)

spring vegetables
120 g podded peas
120  g podded broad beans (I used edamame)
1 bunch of asparagus (about 12) trimmed
1 bunch of baby carrots (about 12) trimmed and scraped
12 new potatoes, scrubbed
a few young celery sticks or baby leeks, trimmed

to finish
100 g butter, cut into pieces
squeeze of lemon
chopped parsley, chervil or celery leaves

to make the herb nage
Peel and roughly chop all the veggies, place in a large stock pot and add enough cold water to cover. Add the herbs and spices. Cover the surface with a piece of greaseproof paper and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and leave to infuse in the fridge overnight.
The next day strain the nage through a fine sieve, discarding the veggies and flavorings. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

blanching the vegetables
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the veggies separately until al dente (do not over cook) Drain and immediately refresh each veggie in iced water.

to serve
When ready to serve, pour 500 ml nage into a stockpot and bring to a boil. Whisk in the butter, a piece at a time until emulsified. Season with salt and add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Add the blanched veggies and warm through for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped herbs or celery leaves. 


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