about bliss

Monday, November 30, 2009

daily haiku: 69/100

driving home from work
darkness enfolds me broken
by colorful lights

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

daily haiku: 66/100

post pie day breakfast:
maple bourbon pecan tart
a dollop of cream

Thursday, November 26, 2009

daily haiku: 65/100

family and friends
gathering at the table
so much gratitude

daily bliss: thanksgiving

Tom Turkey, happy to be alive and stalking photographers.

My Favorite Holiday.

A day dedicated to food, family, and fellowship.

What's not to love?

(well, the cruelties inflicted on millions of turkeys, but I will save my vegetarian rant and happily eat my squash boats instead of turkey;))

I'm blessed with many happy memories—Thanksgivings at my parents' house, the little cabin up north, and my grandparents' home; a Cajun thanksgiving in the Florida panhandle; southern holidays with J and her family; and, of course, an early harvest feast last weekend with G (post pending. i promise!)

I love the rhythms of the holiday at my parents'. After breakfast, Mom and I tie on our holiday aprons (which mom made several years ago), make pies, and prepare stuffing while Dad and L go hunting. The kitchen warmth contrasts with a typical chilly, grey world outside. Grandma and Grandpa arrive shortly after the hunters return, and the guys watch the Lions win, er, lose, while we continue our kitchen deliberations and sip a little sparkling wine. After the game, the table full, the conversation lively, our hearts happy, we give thanks and eat.

This year, I was looking forward to one more typical Thanksgiving before traditions shift yet again next year...however, our table will be smaller, as Grandma and Grandpa are en route to Arkansas for my great aunt's funeral. I miss them already.

Traditions anchor us to moments. They provide a sense of history—who we are as individuals, as families. And, as life unfurls, they adapt as new roads are traveled—my aforementioned vegetarianism altering my meal, for instance—and new people—G, though he's with his family today—arrive to share in our history.

This afternoon, as candles flicker against the darkness, I'll revel in the company at the table, and also give thanks for those who aren't seated with us but are here in spirit, in our hearts.

"For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

daily haiku: 64/100

enshrouded in mist
city of big shoulders stands
proud along the lake

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

daily haiku: 63/100

promote peace and love
learn to live with everyone
practice tolerance

Monday, November 23, 2009

daily haiku: 62/100

smooth with molasses
fragrant with pungent spices
crisp with raw sugar

Sunday, November 22, 2009

daily bliss: midnight movie premiers

Ten thirty p.m. on Thursday night. I bundle up, grab a travel mug filled with steaming earl grey tea latte, drive six blocks, and head into the chilly night.

Moms and daughters rush past me with homemade fleece blankets and folding chairs, stowing their camp-out accoutrements back in their cars.

The line snakes down the sidewalk, swollen in places with groups of ten or twelve pre-teens and teens, wrapped in Twilight blankets and wearing shirts declaring their chosen team: Edward or Jacob.

Rumors of passersby throwing eggs float along the line. Must be some teenage boys jealous of Edward Cullen's indefatigable hold over teenage girls' collective romantic dreams...

I spot my students scattered throughout the line, and join one group. Only 30 more minutes before the doors open, so we chat. Other young women wander over to say hello, share details about their lives, and wander back to their place in line.

The doors open.

The girls clap and scream.

We filter in, offering our pre-purchased tickets. I buy a small popcorn and water, and find seats for a few students and myself. We chat for an hour, my students eagerly sharing stories from their lives. So open, and so optimistic about lives so very different from mine. They juggle school, children, new relationships, part-time jobs.

The theater darkens. The previews show. The movie...

begins. Clapping. Breathy anticipation.

We wait. For him.

And there he is, in his pristine pallor, his red lips, his changeable eyes.

Screaming ensues.

The movie continues, following the contours of the novel much more closely than the first iteration. Verdant northwest scenery and angsty-emo indie music seduce this viewer.

The rival appears, with shorn hair. He lifts off his shirt...

audible gasps and palpable wanting fill the theater.

The story unfolds, the viewers entranced.

A few moments before the final scene, and I know what it will be.

The romance scholar in me grins.

The scene unfolds with an unanswered question.

The audience's frustration at that ending fills the theater as the credits roll and the full house leaves a fantasy world behind.

It's 2:10 am. Colder. Quieter.

I start my car and the movie soundtrack picks up where it left off, with my favorite track: "No Sound but the Wind" by the Editors. Help me to carry the fire, we will keep the light together...it will light our way forever.

I think back to last January, when I devoured all four books in the span of three weeks. The days were long, the daylight short. The story culled forth memories of awkward teenage years, seeking—and never finding—perfect—or, for that matter, imperfect—love. Longing for something that seemed so impossible. I listened to the soundtrack obsessively. I thought of my literary crushes: Gilbert Blythe and Mr. Darcy. I dreamed, hoped, wished that this might be the year that I would find him...

And, as I settle into bed, I think of him, sleeping twenty minutes away.

Sometimes dreams really do come true.

daily haiku: 61/100

cartwheels on the beach
dodging waves and honking geese
mid football day stroll

Saturday, November 21, 2009

daily haiku: 60/100

cooking together
sharing a reflective meal
our first harvest feast

Friday, November 20, 2009

daily haiku: 59/100

screaming gasping girls
line sidewalks fill theaters
dreaming of one love

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

daily haiku: 57/100

friendship: rebuilding
bridges spanning troubled
waters, calming woes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

twd: cran-apple crisps

Despite my unparalleled love for all things cake-ey (tall layer cakes, cupcakes, babycakes), there's something alluring about fruit desserts. They seem somehow more wholesome. Virtuous, even. Unassailably nutritious...or at least that's what I tell myself, especially when said fruit desserts feature cooked apples, which I can no longer eat raw due to allergies. 

Last Wednesday night, I decided on a whim to make the crisp. The topping blended together in less than five minutes. I snagged a few apples from my mom's stockpile—an assortment of Ida Red and Jonathans. I removed a bag of Wisconsin cranberries, a treat from G's mom, from my freezer. I mixed together the fruit in the buttered pie plate, added the topping, and baked the crisp.  

I love the tartness of the cranberries, the mellowness of the apples (oh, how i've missed you!), and the tangy sweetness of the dried cranberries blanketed in crunchy, spicy topping. I might play around with the amount of butter next time, and not use all the topping, in order to truly feel virtuous eating this dessert. 

Thank you, Em, of The Repressed Pastry Chef, for selecting such a seasonally appropriate recipe for the TWD bakers! Check out her blog for the recipe. 

daily haiku: 56/100

soft warm flannel sheets
norah jones on npr
wanting to linger

Monday, November 16, 2009

daily haiku: 55/100

resplendent guileless frolic
depthless verdant bliss?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

daily haiku: 53/100

twilight descending
homes glow with simulated 
life insular worlds

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

daily haiku: 50/100

flirty eyebrow raise
steady hazel gaze, wry grin
sinking deeper in...

daily bliss: raking

At a certain point in every semester, most everyone grows weary of the relentless pace, the neverending assignments to craft and grade, the frustration with too many tasks of varying importance, the insistence on measuring time by syllabi

Usually this weariness is compounded by seasonal woes—the everpresent grey skies of November, the lingering snow of early April. 

This autumn, November is awash in sunshine, in unseasonably warm temperatures—a stretch of balmy fifty degree days! The semester ennui annoys because everything about these days, from tempered blue skies to gentle breezes to sun, glorious sun, calls me outside. Whispers, "This won't last...enjoy now."

I can almost remember those halcyon summer days when I lived purely in the moment. 

And, on weekends that seem at once to stretch beyond two and a half days and to fly by, I begin to remember this other way. The bliss of a moment unfolding. The purity of full embodied mindfulness translated, magically, into a kind of self-forgetting, as the world simultaneously shrinks and expands. 

Then Sunday evening descends, the work week beckons, and long goodbyes are said. I'm tempted to rush through the week, focused ever ahead, on Friday evening. On recipes to bake, laughs to share, walks to take, gasp—football to "watch." 

This is no way to live 5/7 of a week. And so...I throw my whole self into my work. I make crazy gestures and silly analogies to motivate students. I dispense unconventional life advice. I share baked goods. I take time to laugh with colleagues. I try, my best, to overcome that frustration, that weariness, that ennui, by being where I am. 

I drive home, after a challenging and fun day at work, determined to use the scant hour and a half of remaining daylight to power walk my neighborhood and rake the front lawn. I leave my iPod inside, listening to the zoom of passing cars, the brash voices of teenagers, the scrape of my rake. I watch the sky burn golden in the West, and fade to pastel pink in the East. I feel the seasonal chill set in as the sun melts, and wrap my scarf closely around my cold nose. I comb, I lift, I scoop piles of dead leaves into the street. I don't think of verdant blossoms nor glistening snow. 

I think of here. And now. How this moment contains everything. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

daily bliss: pom cocktail

About a month ago, I received an email from POM Wonderful asking if I'd like to sample their product.

Having never a) tasted POM Wonderful and b) been chosen for product review, I accepted their offer.

A week later, a box with eight eight ounce bottles appeared!

A week after that, my Cooking Light magazine arrived (is anyone else extremely disappointed with the changes to this once venerable magazine? that deserves a post of its own...), with a recipe for a rosemary-syrup pom champagne cocktail.

This Saturday evening I decided to improvise. I poured about a quarter teaspoon of my favorite organic natural cane sugar in the bottom of a pink martini glass, added about one ounce of POM juice, and then filled the glass with some sparkling rose.

The color, reminiscent of the signature Sex and the City drink, brought cheer. The sweet tartness of the POM juice and the tiny bit of sugar refreshed. And, the effervescence of the sparkling wine giggled.

A fine, fine cocktail. Simple, elegant, and delicious.

Do you have any suggestions for my remaining POM juice?!?

daily haiku: 49/100

combing still green lawns
the detritus of summer
fills these city streets

twd: all in one holiday bundt cake

November usually descends with grey skies. Cool temps. Naked trees. Snow flurries. Early darkness. 

I usually respond to these changes with increasing gloom. Extra introversion. Hearty meals. Seasonal desserts. 

I planned a weekend of baking such hearty meals and seasonal desserts, tucking into November with culinary comfort. 

And then...sunshine, glorious sunshine! Unseasonably warm temperatures! 

I eschewed a weekend of baking, and settled on making just one of the delicious picks for this month, the All in One Holiday Bundt Cake selected by Britin of The Nitty Britty

Late Sunday afternoon I mixed up the cake, using canned pumpkin, a grated Ida Red apple from my mom, and a cup of local cranberries from G's mom. My two bundt pans, rose and sunflower shapes, don't seem to match the seasonality of this particular recipe, so I made two loaves instead. They baked for about 50 minutes and perfumed the house with spicy warmth. 

After the loaves cooled, I topped them with the optional maple glaze and chopped pecans. G and I enjoyed thick slices with cups of hot vanilla green tea as our weekend came to a close. 

Both of us were impressed by the density of the cake and the interplay of flavors. Delicious! I wrapped up a slice for G to take home, placed the partial loaf in the freezer, and set aside the other whole loaf to take to coffee hour at work tomorrow. 

G raved about the cake and how the flavors improved overnight. While his direct comments are off-the-record, his overall impression of this cake is *very* favorable. A perfect autumnal cake, suitable to November days in all their manifestations. 

Monday, November 09, 2009

daily haiku: 48/100

one perfect pink heel
shiny, seductive, slingback
flying through the air

Sunday, November 08, 2009

daily haiku: 47/100

dark way too early
sunday night blues descending
waiting for the moon

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

daily haiku: 45/100

whitecaps heave and wail
crashing pluming over piers
gales of november

Thursday, November 05, 2009

daily haiku: 44/100

watching the sun set
a lone tree burns golden orange
against all the grey

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

daily haiku: 43/100

friendships ebb and flow
lives move at varying speeds
hold them together

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

daily haiku: 42/100

honking geese fly south
dry leaves pile on frosty lawns
something in the air...

Monday, November 02, 2009

daily haiku: 41/100

driving endless miles
crisscrossing states our laughter
filling the warm car

Sunday, November 01, 2009

daily haiku: 40/100

perched in the roar zone
drunken virgil leads the crowd
lions inferno