Archives

The Girl Who Married a Bear

Lately, I’ve been re-inspired to try blogging again. I’m not kidding anyone but myself to say I wouldn’t like to engage in conversation with a kindred community. I love it in the real world, but I realize it can also be enjoyable in the virtual world. However, finding bloggers who resonate with me is sometimes difficult. There’s really only a handful. And sometimes, the ones I once liked I outgrow, usually because I find the writing voice becomes hollower, echoing more and more as their popularity soars with a particular audience’s voices, until soon, they all start sounding the same. I get bored quickly (and somewhat uncomfortable) with too much of that. I love sharing the things I get excited about, be it a book, a blog, British comedy, local travel, women’s history, life. Which brings me to Milla. She’s a Finnish girl who married a Bear and lives with him out in the great northwest woods. She’s a real person, writing about all the things I like — basically just sharing the sh*t friends share without getting into marketing what is essentially the role friends once played in our lives. What I wore, what I baked, where I went, oh the stars are beautiful on this brilliant winter eve, what I believe, what I read, listened to, thought. All that was real and true before it became about a brand and money. Because, unlike what the title of the book proclaims, I do care what my friend had for lunch (but more especially, breakfast, because, you know, I like breakfast more). I might not remember it by tonight, but I do care.

The time flew, the time crawled

“What you preserve is the cheeriest memento mori. It is a way to say and mean: of everything that passes, this is what I choose to keep. It is a clear reminder, there for the tasting, of where and when and how you have lived.”

Suzanne’s been gone a month today. She was my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom. A person who loved well and who was well loved. I think of her daily. I think of her boys daily, my girl and all the people heartbroken by her loss. When she was on the last leg of her dying journey I would turn for solace to one of my favorite bloggers, Hannah, from Inherit the Spoon. In between writing about food, her boys, and home, she writes of memories…in the making, and those made, of her mom, who died a few years ago, a lady who sounds like she was also about 59, same as Suzanne.

Recently, Hannah posted the above quote from a book I enjoyed reading a while back, An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler. It made me think of Danny, Brian’s older brother, Suzanne’s firstborn. Both boys left work last March to come home to care for their mom. Danny left San Francisco, where he was a chef at Outerlands, Brian took a leave of absence from his job in Boston. Time seemed to crawl for me as I held my breath, hoping, praying for miracles.

And when the miracle didn’t happen, the time that was left for them seems like it flew. A whole lifetime. Not nearly enough for any of us, glib as we may want to be with our easy platitudes about grief and loss. I just try to remember the Dr. Seuss quote Suzanne included in her obituary, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” So like her to want to comfort from beyond. Suzanne, wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying an everlasting meal. We miss you.

Learning the art of napping

The learning curve for this wordpress blog is steep, but not so with my lessons in napping. I have never been much of a napper, even as a toddler. My pregnant mother would put my 2 year old self down for an afternoon nap, only to wake up from her nap and realize I’d been up playing as soon as she fell asleep. Putting our heads on our desks for an afternoon snooze in elementary school? BOR-ing!

But lately? I’m realizing it is an art, an acquired skill, and like many skills, takes practice. I’m self-taught and sometimes it’s hard but I am trying. And when I am successful, it is a delight to arise refreshed and ready for some new moves. A successful nap for me means rest and a return with no guilt. Nature rests, my dog naps throughout the day, the Spanish have their siestas, great uncles have naps on their recliners, hammocks, basement sofas and beach blankets. It’s about time I pay attention and learn from their examples.

Sunshine

Another day of glorious sunshine, my mom is resting in the back room; her respirator hums and puffs. I am enjoying a quiet patch of morning sunlight, my dog in the picture window, my cup of chai on the table next to me. Blessed mornings, how I love them.

This blog will not become a Sarah Heartburn blog, but occasionally I must share my difficulties here.

Can I talk to you tonight?

Our tear ducts are our soul’s pressure valves. A friend told me that years ago. I’m not one prone to tears because my dad always told me when I was little that big girls don’t cry. But I’ve cried streams this month, April, the month of showers. I’ve tried to save my mother all of my life, but I can’t. I know it. I just have to try to save her stories. And no, she’s not gone yet. But it has been so hard to watch her decline over the years. I’m tired and she seems tired too.

Gather

Gather. Prayers, family, friends, flowers, memories, sorrow. Gather.
Children, moments, days, love, hope. Gather.
Sunshine, seasons, a cure, the moon. Gather.
Together. Remembering. Grieving. Ourselves. Gather.

Earth, ashes, dust. Scatter.

Breads

I told my daughter yesterday I’d send her two bread recipes from my family files. One’s a super easy yeast bread I dubbed Irene’s bread after our Burlington neighbor who gave it to me. It’s a simple sandwich bread and tasty. Makes great French toast, too.

The other is the perfect Granny banana bread, this from a nurse I used to work with. You could call it Nana bread because it actually is her gran’s recipe!

The recipes:

Irene’s Bread
Combine 2 1/2 c. hot water, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. salt, 1/4 c. Oil. Add 2 scant Tbsp. yeast, cover and proof until foamy.
Stir in 6 to 6-1/2 c. Flour total (so 4 to 5 c. white if using whole wheat, too). Knead for 3 minutes til smooth and springy.
Oil dough and let rise in bowl in warm place for 45 min., punch down, let rest for 15 min. Put in 2 greased loaf pans. Put in oven for 10 to 20 min. for last rise. Turn oven to 400* & bake from that time for 35 min. Loaves are done if they sound hollow when you tap them — you’ll know. Cool on racks if you have them. Slather with butter or good olive oil (I like Trader Joe’s Greek Kalamata Olive Oil), and sprinkle with some flaky Maldon sea salt. Enjoy!

Jenn Gratton’s Nana Bread
3 large (or 4 small) very ripe (black is good) bananas
1 c. Sugar (I use a bit less)
1 egg or if veganizing, 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp. water
Eggshell full or @ 2 Tbsp. oil
1 3/4 c. Flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Mash bananas, add sugar, oil and egg or substitute. Stir. Mix in flour and baking soda together. Don’t over mix, a few lumps are okay (makes a lighter loaf). Bake in greased loaf pan at 350* for 45 min. When knife inserted in loaf comes out clean (no gooey batter on it), turn bread out of pan onto cooling rack to cool. Another yum!

Role Reversal

When did it happen? As I left the rehab center the other day, I turned and waved to my mother from the walkway outside. She waved back to me from the window of her room. All I could think of is how it must have been for us when I was 5 years old, waving to her from the window of the bus on my way to kindergarten, as she waved back to me.

Ordinary

I’m happy to be blogging again but am aware of the risk of narcissism, self-indulgence, and ego creeping into my posts. I want to be careful of that but sometimes it’s hard. We all want our lives to count for something, to stand out from the crowd, to matter, to transcend our history (hopefully), and we’re here this go round for such a very short time.

We want to be special, not just ordinary like everybody else, and yet that is where I feel most connected to another, when I learn I am not alone in my feelings, that they are common and ordinary and shared. My life is beautiful in its everyday ordinariness, and I am happy to share it with others who are struggling with the ordinary too.