and Flying

and Flying

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I’ve finally accepted I don’t handle big, celebratory life events like most people. So I wasn’t jumping up and down excited the day we got the keys to our new house. Actually, I was wishing it would go away, the moving, the moving-on from the town that is home and the many special places there that I consider mine. My high school students asked my age the other day, and when we started talking about it, I shared how I won’t consider myself “grown up” until I reach 30. They laughed at me but were also surprised because as teenagers eager for freedom, they think becoming grown up happens at the exact turn of the clock to 18.  Moving on from Corvallis means much to me for so many reasons, but at the bottom of it, it is the place where I’ve done all my formative growing up, where I belong to and am invested in the community, where my work is, and many individuals have shaped my life perspective.

William’s grandma accused me of not being very happy about the new house over the Christmas holiday. I explained it away with, I’ve only been in it once so it’s a little difficult to love yet, but I was well aware my lack of enthusiasm went deeper. Since then, many people have asked me if I love it and I can tell by their tone of voice that my honest response will burst all their happy-for-us excitement. Ultimately, loving a place (or person) comes from deeply knowing it, and this little space and I are only just getting acquainted. So no, I do not love it yet. But knowing we were eventually moving, I prayed about it for a long time. Finally, just a few days before William brought up the idea of purchasing instead of renting, I felt the peace with relocating that I had been asking for. Later, a couple days before we got the keys, I felt very strongly that there is work for me to be done in this new place, that He is calling us to Eugene for a reason, that it is okay to have little clarity right now.

 

 

A week and a half in to being a Eugene resident, I told William, I’ve skipped straight to the angry stage of culture shock with this town. I prefer a community a little smaller, a little less busy at 5:57 am, a little friendlier to my idea of getting across town, a few less barking dogs in our neighborhood, and many more cats(!). I was complaining, irritated, and aware of it. In other words, I was adjusting.

I have still to figure out which will be “my” grocery store, where I will enjoy running on a regular basis, how to take all the quiet(er) little shortcuts to where I am going. And I’ll have to meet and make some new local friends.

Corvallis taught me these things take time. But even though I’ve felt a little upended this last month since moving, I’m diving in to learning this community in the ways I tend to, with running and with food:

 

 

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A couple weeks into the relocation, I was out running out at the edge of Alton Baker Park, near where the river gets a little wild and Eugene becomes Springfield. I remembered being on my pony, Angel, back at the ranch, about a mile from the house, on the road between the creek and the calving shed. I was around nine years old.

I remember leaning forward over Angel’s neck, letting the reins out, the hairs of her long mane tangling into mine, and feeling her fly, as fast as her legs could carry her. And I remembered that wild, heady freedom that a nine-year-old feels, completely absorbed in that moment, no fear, no coulds, shoulds, if-thens, but just there, all there in that rush, that moment, going as fast as we could go.

I relived that memory a moment and then I turned to run back towards home and my car, and my nine-year-old self and Angel faded behind me.

 

Back at that exact same spot a couple weeks later, the memory came back, just the same as before, unexpectedly, as if waiting for me. And then I connected the dots. So that’s why I’ve been running all these years, I thought. That’s why I love running fast especially. Perhaps I’ve been searching for that part of me I experienced with Angel all those years ago, that wild, carefree little girl who wasn’t afraid to go all out and live.

 

And then I smiled. This little city and I will get along just fine, I thought. There will undoubtedly be some growing pains, and I do miss the comforts of home in Corvallis, but I can tell there will be good things for me here.

 

So when friends ask, do I love the new house? my answer will likely continue to be hesitant. I don’t know that I will ever love the house, as I’ve never grown too attached to a building before. But I do get especially attached to places. And I’d like to tell them, in time, that I absolutely love this new place.

 

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Broccoli, Collards + Kalamata Salad, serves 4-6

inspired by Sara’s Emerald Salad

William is on a broccoli kick lately. He asks for broccoli in everything. I had no idea he is partial to this vegetable until now, but glad I am because our school-garden-broccoli was such a success last year and I’m now planning on upping my broccoli-growing game in our new home garden this spring. Planning has already begun!

2 lbs. broccoli

1 large red onion

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

zest of 1 orange

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

3-5 cups collard greens (or other winter greens), thinly sliced

red pepper flakes

3 Tbs. orange juice

1 small handful flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup kalamata olives, sliced

¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

 

– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

– Chop the broccoli into 2-inch pieces; include the stems but discard the large, tough ends. Roughly chop the onion into large pieces. On a large bar pan lined with parchment paper, mix the broccoli pieces, onions, 2 Tbs. olive oil, orange zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Once all the vegetables are nicely coated, roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is starting to brown on top. Rotate the pan or stir halfway through.

– While the vegetables are roasting, remove the tough center stem and thinly slice the collards. Put them in a large mixing bowl. When the vegetables are roasted, pour them atop the collards to soften slightly and give the mix a good stir. Add the orange juice, pepper flakes, remaining tablespoon, if necessary, and toss with olives, parsley, and hazelnuts.

– Serve warm or chilled.

Apricot Orange Tahini Porridge

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There is a certain peace in morning rituals, in knowing every day is going to begin relatively the same. The same comforting breaking of a night’s fast, the same checking in on what is happening in the world. In the space of a week, there is the cyclic rush of getting out the door on those first five days and then settling in on weekends.

Shower, breakfast, listen to news, check email, out the door.
Run, breakfast, shower, listen to radio, out the door.
Strength train, breakfast, shower, listen to news, out the door.
Breakfast, browse internet, plan recipes, write or journal, settle in.

Merely variations of the same until the day has truly begun.

Listen to my breath. In. Out. Slow down. Each moment for a time. 
Morning rituals.

At work, when I’m not in a hurry, I drop my bags, stow my lunch, prepare the computer, put on the kettle for tea, and sit in relaxing silence with the steaming cup while catching up on early morning emails. I double check my day’s plan and lock my to-do list into a strategic hierarchy. This too, is a ritual. I’ve managed to keep it through more than a couple job changes.

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The smell of porridge oats wafting up is a thing of great comfort. I’ve been eating them since I can remember eating, and they are essential in this routine. There are, habitually, minute shifts in the details of the porridge which are largely driven by the weather, the season, or waking up in a daringly adventurous mood. There are only odd days that the meal veers off to become muffins, muesli, waffles, egg tacos, or toast. Rarely, though, is the deviation dramatic or for any length of time.

“There are surprisingly few of these patterns of events in any one 
person’s way of life, perhaps no more than a dozen. Look at your own
life and you will find the same. It is shocking at first, to see that 
there are so few patterns of events open to me. Not that I want more 
of them. But when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to 
understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my 
capacity to live...”
 -Christopher Alexander

Every once in a while, I have an exact list of ingredients that I will pour in, as in this rich and creamy bowl of comfort. I’ve become obsessed with adding tahini since the weather turned last September. Originally, pears were the accompanying fruit that opted in on a daily basis. Like clockwork, I turn more heavily to citrus this time of year, perhaps as a way of desperately clammering for more light. Oranges and tahini pair beautifully anyway, and the addition of a small bit of dried apricots somehow ties the two together. Eating this, I can imagine being in a warm and sunny place where oranges are ripening on a tree. I am reminded, too, of summers past when those apricots were whole and sweet, and how the apricot trees are even now clamoring out of their winter slumber to begin the cycle anew.

Listen to my breath. In. Out. Slow down. Each moment for a time.

These visualizations, the slow bites and drawing in of breath before the day begins, are also part of my morning ritual. What is yours?

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Apricot Orange Tahini Porridge, serves 1
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup water
1 Tbs. tahini
3 dried unsulphured apricots, diced
1 orange, thinly sliced and then diced
orange zest
1/2 tsp. orange blossom water, optional
stevia drops or choice of sweetener, to taste
  • On the stovepot, put a small saucepan to boil with water.
  • Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn down to medium and stir in the oats and apricots. Let cook until it is soft and nearly all the water has been absorbed, about four minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the tahini, mashing it with your spoon until it is spread evenly throughout.
  • Take off the heat, and zest about 1/3  of an orange peel over the mixture. Stir in the orange blossom water and diced orange, including the juice from the cutting board.
  • Turn the whole mixture into a bowl and sweeten to taste. Enjoy!

good-morning (almost summer) sunday muesli.

 

I’ve admitted it before, perhaps more than once.  I have a fondness for oats. and breakfast cereals.  and muesli.

And perhaps because I’ve woken (for a second day in a row) to sunshine and a blast of warm air, I’m in the mood for a light, cool, refreshingly summer-y breakfast.

Cue the pineapple, blueberries, oranges, and oats!

Pineapple, Orange, Blueberry Muesli
2 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup flax seed meal
~2/3 cup dried pineapple, candied orange peel, and blueberries
~1/3 cup raw cashews, toasted and chopped
  • Toss all ingredients into a container to mix evenly.  Use your hands to separate the mixed fruits.  The candied orange is especially sweet, so use a light hand.
     
  • Serve with yogurt and more (fresh) fruit, if desired!