Getting Ready

081615You look at the week ahead like a patch of ice you will cross but not without sliding a lot, not without a stumble, a fall, a spin that takes you in the wrong direction. And not without looking upward to be dazzled by the scenery. But focus. Balance carefully. Look ahead. Students and registration and phone calls and pizza and stacks of books and rosters and child care and parking. Somewhere in the midst of it, writing and exercise and eating. You care a lot about eating. So you head out early Sunday to the store and spend the afternoon listening to podcasts while you chop and stir and simmer. Veggie stew. Vats of salad. Jerk marinade. You ponder containers for carrying it all, seek the missing cap for the water bottle. Then fill a canister with granola, this one cooked with only nuts, toasting on low heat until the house smells golden. If you’re lucky, it will fuel you to the other side.

August 16, 2015

Poem in the Kitchen Cabinet

060215I taped the poem there so long ago I forget it, though I open that cabinet door daily to grab a plate, a glass, a ramekin. Before you know what kindness really is / you must lose things. In this room where so much of life happens, where we land in the morning and in the evening, often in between, where we discuss schedules and finances and the finale of Mad Men. You must see how this could be you, / how he too was someone / who journeyed through the night with plans… I believe in poems in pockets, poems pasted into the covers of daily planners, poems on cards pinned to bulletin boards. I believe in poems wherever we place them, wherever we find them. Feel the future dissolve in an moment / like salt in a weakened broth. I taped this one in the kitchen cabinet because it was the one we needed, would still need, would always need as we went forth as human beings trying to make our way in the world. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore. I taped it there to remind us when we would inevitably forget.

June 2, 2015

Read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness” here.

The Earth Asserting Itself

052815It was a week of waters coming in, homes floating away, mud washing across the streets. We are woken in the middle of the night by thunder, then the human responses to thunder – cell phones sounding alarms, blaring messages of flood warnings. It could have been me. It could have been any of us off in those houses in Wimberley. I was shopping cabins on Airbnb only days early. And all of this writ small on my kitchen table: CSA tomatoes and a ladybug. (Earlier this week Julie announced a centipede in the radicchio, the sentence like a secret code.) The earth asserting itself, reminding us we are not separate, we cannot be separate. By morning the bug had crawled to Chris’s side of the table. He picked it up and carried it outside again.

May 28, 2015

Praise Song: Getting Through a Hard Week

It’s true, each day I found something to praise. The focus of students writing around a table, the sweetness of the restaurant where we held our rehearsal dinner almost seven years ago. Amid an endless headache and doctors’ appointments and traffic that didn’t want to release me from its hold, I snapped pictures of the CSA baskets and the dinner I came home to and kitchen shears on a wrinkled towel that deserve a song for the satisfying snip that they make. I found what was tender and worthy in a week that tested me. So praise the practice of praising, even when it’s hard. Praise three meals a day and a husband and friends who look after me. Praise three years of Amelia at Free Minds and how proudly the writers read their work on Tuesday night. Praise a headache subsiding and a blog still alive and how I took those kitchen shears to the garden, Saturday afternoon, and clipped a small bouquet for the kitchen.

April 18, 2015

Praise Song: Spanish Tortilla

040715Praise how they sit on every counter at every bar and every restaurant — city, country, tiniest village where one single man stands at a machine steaming milk. Tucked into crusty bread, heated or not, this simple combo of egg, potato, and onion can fuel you through a morning, or an evening, or hundreds of miles on the Camino. In Rabe de la Calzada, the town where they prepared for the feast of Santa Maria de los Milagros by carrying a giant paella pan across the square, I ate tortilla at an oil-cloth covered table with other pilgrims. I had seen the hospitalera cooking the tortilla from a side door to the kitchen. Praise her easy shrug when I asked if I could watch. Praise her powerful wrist as she turned the tortilla from skillet to plate then slid it from plate back into skillet. Praise how she tried to give me the recipe despite my faltering Spanish, then served it to us brightened with strips of red pepper. Praise how I remember her each time I make a tortilla, which I do most weeks. Tonight, after teaching, almost 10pm, Chris and I sat down together to this one, last of the CSA leeks tucked in. Praise the brown edges of the potatoes, the perfect slice on the plate.

April 7, 2015

Kitchen with Four Annabellas

032615Dinner at home for Gary’s visit means chicken roasted with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme; salad with the sharpest blue cheese; carrot cake with birthday candles. Maryjean brings Apothic red and canvases. She’s been playing with painting Annabella, seeking the images less posed, more true. But the hair goes from blonde to red, from red to black. We nosh on olives and salami, Swiss cheese cut into little squares, and Annabella watches us–younger, older, shot through Maryjean’s imagination, her brush. Meanwhile, the real Annabella is in LA, doing we know not what, watching we know not whom.

March 26, 2015