feelings surrounding loneliness, solitary
are drowning me. i was sitting on the porch
staring at the starry sky, suddenly very aware of where i was
what i am {not} doing.

i came across this stunning video.
a beautiful reminder to my current now.

{originally posted on swiss miss}


hello september.  hello day 41 from the cornfields of nebraska.  i cannot believe how the days are colliding into each other and fall is standing around the corner.  it’s been nice to have a summer break.

the days have been full of canning, weeding, babysitting, cooking, baking, landscaping, and roofing (!).  in fact as soon as i walk away from the computer, i will go pick tomatoes, start the tomato soup canning process and carry up one last wheel barrel full of mulch.  the best part of coming back home this time of year is that there is no lack of work and so i can stay busy.  physically busy, a welcomed reprieve after work in seattle.

but one of the reasons i did come home too was for time to write and process, which i admit, has been a struggle to follow through.  i wanted to play the piano more but haven’t played for 2 weeks now.  only this week did i write my first hand written letter to the outside world.  it is so easy to fall instep with preoccupation.  i also forget how much one can squeeze in a day.  i needed time.  but i also need interaction.

people ask what is next. i brush it off, smiling a “who knows?”  then adding “but it’s nice to be here.”  i’ve put little thought about actually staying here (or in nebraska at large) though i do have some charming friends, and it is nice to be close to family.  but whenever i consider staying here, i only feel its out of obligation and nothing in my body dances at the thought.  then again, whatever and wherever i go next, is a start over, is transition, is choosing to put roots down.

i really don’t want to keep moving.  i feel done.  i moved out to seattle with the intention of staying a year or two but it turned into four.  maybe part of the reason it was an easy decision to leave was that i had never put down any lasting roots.  i never fully committed to much.

in two weeks (12 days) i am flying out to washington d.c.,  a city i never saw myself residing.  a little background story:  i was living in wyoming with intentions of relocating to virginia but last minute decided that wasn’t the best option and found myself in nebraska. after a month and a half, i realized that my anxiety about staying in the midwest was overwhelming and on a whim decided that seattle would be good.  so two weeks later, i packed my car and drove back out west.  a week before the move, i was at my cousin’s wedding in michigan.  mind you i hadn’t slept in days.  but at that wedding i met billy haley, the wedding officiator.  we shared the l’abri experience which opened up a conversation of how i currently was falling apart.  at that point he invited me to join a community in d.c. where he and his wife were working.  i took his information but knew seattle was where i needed to be next.  and it was.  but when things in seattle came undone, that conversation with bill haley ran through my mind when i was least expecting it.  and i knew i needed to email him.

i really can’t tell you what the 2 1/2 weeks in d.c. will entali.  but i know i’ve been counting on them and i’m expecting….
well something….
some sort of direction…
an answer to be able to move forward.

There are certain foods in the summer heat I crave: corn on the cob, tomatoes (which are finally coming in and are they tasty!), cantaloupe and refrigerator pickles.  Even people who scowl at pickles change their mind when they have just a small taste out of the jar.  Basically you can’t go wrong with pouring large amounts of sugar and vinegar over vegetables altering flavors into pure goodness.


{family recipe}

1 cup vinegar
2 cups white sugar
1 T salt
6 cups sliced cukes
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup green peppers

heat vinegar, sugar and salt until sugar dissolves
pack jars full with cukes, onions and peppers
pour brine over cukes. needs to sit in frig at least 24 hrs.

Growing up in small town prairie land creates for a rich history in pioneer living. My grandma has a wardrobe full of pioneer dresses, aprons and bonnets, which was a dream to wear and made recreating Laura Ingells Wilder’s excitement in receiving her new calico dresses a reality.
I went to a L.I.W. day camp where we made rag dolls and butter. Sarah, Plain and Tall and the Oregon Trail computer game were a part of our history curriculum.  Replacing the cultural experience of metropolitan art museums were school field trips to an old one room school-house where we dressed up,  wrote on slates, read from primers and ate lunches out of tin pails.

One cannot learn life on the frontier without learning about its hardships and tragedies:  People dying of starvation, being attacked by Indians and dying of dysentery (thanks Oregon Trail) or typhoid. A memorable field trip was to the Farmer’s Valley Cemetary, a few miles outside of town, down a dirt road, over a one lane bridge, tucked between cornfields. The oldest gravestones around are found here as well as the results of many hardships including Mary and her son Otto who froze in 1873 Easter Blizzard while her husband sought to get them help.

I hadn’t been there since the 4th grade when we went and did grave rubbings to read the epitaphs on the old mossy stones.  “Remember friend, as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I now am, so you shall be, prepare for death, and follow me,” reads Mary and Otto’s double headstone.

I took my nieces and nephew there for a picnic.  It’s a quiet, serene resting place along the Big Blue River (a very small stream), but maybe a river appropriately named to reflect the beginning of many homesteads.

a perfect summer evening, apart from a sunset and a bbq, is the one experienced on the farm, complete with soundtrack. (apologies for the poor sound quality. as usual, somethings are better experienced live)

[because henderson is low on the list as the next hipster mecca]

dear seattle, today i’m missing you.

the day begins early because the whole idea is to beat the heat.  (did i mention it’s 115 heat index around here).  the corn has to be picked, hand picked, to make sure ripe enough ears make the list.

no, we aren’t feeding the 5000.  as we say in these parts: we’re doing corn today.  (it’s been pointed out to me that in farm language pronouns and possessives are often dropped or used loosely.)

mother of my mother. mother of my father.

and it’s a family affair, the putting up of corn.  all ages are expected to help for anybody and everybody is of age.  the more the merrier…well actually the more the quicker we can return to the air-con.  but as my 4 year old niece is signing for her second year of service, I too have been doing this as long as I can remember.  corn day is another picture of community life on the farm, helping prepare for the harsh winters, the reality that many tasks cannot be done alone.  it takes the hands of many.

four year old niece

after the picking, comes the shucking, silking and washing. (kaylee BEGGED to wash. so did six year old alex.)  next comes coffee break, an essential to any work day that begins before normal waking hours.  only then can the corn be carried to the kitchen where it is blanched in pots of boiling water for 6 minutes then transferred to a sink full of cold   water.  the corn is carried back out to the waiting cutters (my job of choice).


cousin. father of my mother.

cutting is actually a trick….cutting too close to the cob makes for a disappointing bite in january, cutting too far away leaves the sweet juices behind.  the sign of a true cutter (which I haven’t quite attained) is the swift move of finishing the cut, eating the end kernels missed by the knife and pitching the cob into the buckets without ever missing a beat to pick up the next ear.  the piles of fresh cut corn mound, the bagger comes in to play.  notice the white board behind my mother.  that was a new addition this year to track progress or for the satisfaction of crossing names off a list…everybody who wanted corn wrote their name, how many bags wanted and how many cups per bag…the total came around to 170 bags of corn, 2 cups each.  (you do the math)

corn day concludes. when I was younger, my cousins and I were dropped off at the pool.  but now, I go home and take a short nap.  tomorrow is peaches. then green beans. then tomato soup………

plan {a} seemed so logical. practical. i took a train ride down to portland. wearing my favorite cranberry sweater. graduate school. portland state. an mpa. a new city. new routine. a step towards, well, the great future.

but then a week before i received the letter of non-acceptance, i began having doubts. not really just a week prior; i had been doubting the path for a while but they became stronger, revealing to myself that myself was not in plan a. my head spinned and

as the saying goes, i put some irons in the coals. and many of them are still heating up.

i have a logical/practical side which i tend to lean on for guidance when i am unsure of how to proceed. it looks at the general population, my general interests and makes a plan. but those of you who know me, know that is not my true self, as exhibited my many years of what seems like aimless wandering, endless moving, constant introspection. at the very last minute before giving into practical self, wildly rash self fights to make its thoughts heard.  wildly rash because though its seems irresponsible and inappropriate there is a level in which the wildness understands and challenges decisions that put me into box.

silencing my voice.

i have been fighting my silence for years. and it was been a brutal journey to listen to the foreign noise clamoring in my head only to discover its passion and liveliness was a sweet voice belonging to me.  this is coming across a bit as self proclamation and do understand there is also an outside presence strongly influencing my life. thus, preserving my voice had begun to take precedence.

which leads me to where i am physically:

“When despair for the world grows in me…I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief…For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”  Wendell Berry

the farm, henderson, nebraska, in the home of my youth.  picking, canning, storing up, running, reading, piano playing and yes,

i had wanted to come back to spend time with my family, with nieces and nephews growing up too fast, to be able to drink tea with my mother, to play skip-bo with my grandmother, to sew with my other grandma and mother.  to be near the support of my parents. and then i also needed to come home to make the next step. i needed to be somewhere i could let words catch up to my voice, allowing me to speak.  to take the time needed to process the last two years, making a decision that is a product not a bi-product of what has wearied my body.  finally allowing my words to become my stepping stones onward.

yesterday i was summoned from my office as a woman desperately needed to speak with me about entering treatment.

ok so i’ve seen some crazy things in my office.  one time a girl took off her hoodie, only to be wearing a sheer/mesh burgundy tank. nothing else. another client told me she was living in a barn taking care of the horses. i opened her bags only to discover an abhorrent amount of hay stuck to her clothes like cat fur.

it is quite sad what i see. but there are times when things come through that are so ridiculous, you can only laugh (more on this at a later post).

i find it most hard to stifle my laughter when the lies become more grandiose and i have to bite my tongue from yelling “liar, liar, pants on fire” as if I were a 3rd grader on the bus ride home.

anyways, back to my arrival in the lobby:  a girl sitting in a chair with blue hair. and smelled like she hadn’t showered in a few days. but held my attention because of her make-up choices. she was wearing blue lipstick that wasn’t quite all on her lips and a dark grey eyeliner placed thickly through the middle of her eyelid out to past her eyebrow. and then bright pink eye shadow smudged in the general vicinity of her eye.

i find it very hard to take people seriously when their make-up is louder than their tears; like watching a clown cry, one tends to feel more bemused than sympathetic.

honestly, i’m not trying to be mean,  but i do find it intriguing how i and most of my friends tend to stay on the same plane of fashion and trends. whilst in other groups, trends thrive that we put negative labels on.  which further begs the question are those whose fashion sense would send them to “what not wear” trying to mimic what they see via the media or are they really unaware of how to pull off a sophisticated (even if going for an alternative) look?

things i wonder……which brings me to my own love of red lipstick. (did you follow that random jump?) its been a true love for about 13 months and a look i am pleased to say, i pull off well.

currently my top 3:

lancome: steamy (my new coral red for spring)

vintage red from clinique

dare devil no. 7 from boots

i’ve been wanting to venture more outside of my normal cooking/baking routine ie. introduce new techniques.  maybe inspired a bit by ‘julie & julia’ but mostly just wanting to make foods that WOW or over WOW the crowd.

so last month when i went to see j&h in lubbock, texas, i embraced the challenge to throw down with my favorite foodie friends. on the menu: braised beef short ribs courtesy smitten kitchen, recommended by my good friend c.  being short a few ingredients on valentine’s day, h & i made it out to the market to pick up what we needed.

now everybody in lubbock, texas at the united supermarket is polite and helpful.  after 20 minutes of walking up and down and down and up the wine aisle looking for port, i began asking for direction to which i was finally referred to the kitchen manager.

apparently the alcohol content is too high and cannot be sold in supermarkets and it also being a sunday, i needed a quick alternative. the kitchen manager looked at me and said

“i know this sounds crazy, but the i would highly suggest I-talian dressing”

i tried to conceal the outbursts of laughter i felt starting in my stomach. trying to return the politeness as well as considering h has to continue shopping there, i decided to protect h’s reputation.  don’t worry i kindly declined the I-talian dressing as well as the plum chipotle she tried to sell me on next as the 2nd ingredient was that scary modified corn syrup.

all that to say, the short ribs were, (ahem*) amazing. the meat fell off the bone. it was much to talk on and on and on about.

last night i decided to try my 2nd braised meat: chicken. i tried a recipe from the art of simple food.  once again: meat. fell. off. the. bone. and there was much to talk on and on and on about.

Braised Chicken

{from Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters}

6-8 pieces of chicken (legs/thights/backs)
3-4 garlic cloves
2 onions
12 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c chicken broth
2 fresh sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper

heat olive oil in dutch oven.  fry chicken thighs and/or legs with skin on until crispy, about 12 minutes. remove and set aside.
add onions, sliced thick and garlic cloves, also sliced. add a bit more olive oil and saute for 5 minutes. add the chicken skin side up in the dutch oven and cover with diced tomatoes, chicken broth, fresh rosemary and salt and pepper. cover. bring to boil then simmer 45 minutes on stove top or in oven at 325 F.

skim fat and eat over rice, polenta, straight out of pot, ice cream.

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