The Rain Gods

 

 

They (whoever “they” are) say it’s going to rain this week. So  I’ve resisted the urge to wash my car. But I looked out the front window yesterday afternoon and saw my neighbor washing his car, so “they” must surely be right about that rain coming.

 

And why is that? Why is it that as long as I drive around in a filthy auto, the skies will refuse to flow? Yet, as soon as I break down and clean my ride, the clouds will gather en masse and throw down a rain party to beat the band.

 

I blame Murphy – that dude and his law.

 

In the meantime, I’m grateful to my neighbor for summoning and triggering the rain gods. Someone had to do it.

Easter Weekend Belly

 

 

 

As I recover from this amazing weekend, I am aware of my need for stretchy pants. I haven’t felt this way since my last trip to Italy…

 

Saturday: a 10-course (!), 4-hour (!) extravaganza at a French restaurant. Did someone say “wine pairing” to boot? Yes, someone did say that.

 

Sunday: a table full of fabulous food, covering all imaginable Spring and Easter bases. Did someone say “mimosas”? Yes, someone did.

 

If you see me waddling down the street, huffing and puffing my way back to health, throw me a wave and some good vibes. This Weeble needs all the Wuv she can get.

Easter Sundays Past

 

 

 

 

So many traditions are centered around holidays. Growing up, my family gathered in the north Georgia country at a Webb family member’s home for not only Easter, but also a reunion. It moved around a bit, and I suppose that was based on the elder matriarch and ability to host. With time, that changed, as this reunion has been taking place for almost (if not fully) a hundred years.

 

My father didn’t care for my mother’s side of the family (and she reciprocated in kind), so we didn’t go to this reunion every year. Actually I only remember a few of those gatherings from my childhood. As an adult, Mister and I attended probably the same number. But when you divorce someone in your family, as I have, sacrifices are often made. The reunion has been a sacrifice. But that’s not my point.

 

My point is this: Easter holds tremendous memories for me. Many are from those family reunions. There was my great aunt Nelle (third from the left), who has now passed…

 

 

Growing up, she was nicknamed “Beauty” and I believe it. Caroldyne is on the far left. She’s the only sister still with us. She is now the matriarch.

 

 

And that’s an interesting thing about my family. There have been strong men, to be sure. But the women! With few exceptions, the women have been mighty! And gorgeous. These women are the reason I choose to age naturally. I mean, look at them!

 

I do miss the family reunions. I miss the food. (Good Lord! The food!) I miss going to the country church and hearing the choir’s Easter Cantata. (But that ended years ago, after the youth of that tiny church immersed themselves in American Idol and decided they could do better. I only witnessed that once, and they did not do better than the choir, folks.) I miss the gi-normous egg hunt, where children look for Easter eggs…

 

 

…and adults look for money eggs. It’s a really big deal!

 

 

I miss the softball game, where I have witnessed 80-year-olds swinging bats and running bases better than I ever have. I miss Nelle calling the cows — Hoo-Hoo! I miss traipsing off into the woods to visit the little house…

 

 

And I miss being in the country, with the family I adore.

 

 

I may not always spread my wings, but I surely have them. It’s times like Easter, though, when I miss my roots. Whether this day holds religious significance for you or not, I hope it finds you in the soft greens of spring, building your own roots, stretching your own wings, making your own traditions. Happy Easter.

 

Mister’s Birthday

 

 

Tomorrow is Mister’s birthday. Tomorrow is Easter. Coincidence?

 

 

Duh!

 

Happy Birthday, Mister. Really.

Breakfast Italiano!

 

 

Some days I wake up and cereal just won’t cut it. I need hot food. And as much as I love oatmeal (and I do), a gal needs variety. This, friends, is fabulous, hot-food-for-breakfast variety!

 

I’m not the first to make this, but it did come about in my kitchen as a result of limited, on-hand ingredients. And now it’s somewhat of a staple. Here’s what you’ll need…

 

 

Marinara Sauce, French Bread, Eggs, Parmesan Cheese and Fresh Basil.

 

Place the marinara in a saucepan, wide enough to give the eggs some breathing room (as they’ll “poach” in the marinara). With the lid on, heat the marinara to a simmer.

 

 

While the marinara heats, cut the bread into 1-inch slices and toast. You may, of course, use any bread you like (or have on hand). I like French bread because it retains some softness after toasting.

 

Crack each egg (separately) into a small dish, then slip into the simmering marinara. Be sure to give each egg enough room to cook. Replace lid and cook on low heat (simmer).

 

 

While the eggs cook, grate your cheese…

 

 

and chop the basil…

 

 

Check the eggs. The whites should be cooking up nicely. At this point, spoon some sauce over the yolks and replace the lid. Cook for a few minutes more, or until your desired level of doneness. Yes, my stove-top is splattered in this photo. Don’t judge, y’all.

 

 

Now it’s time to put it all together. Place each slice of toast on a plate.

 

 

With a large spoon, ladle one egg atop toast slice, and spread extra sauce over. Sprinkle with cheese…

 

 

Garnish with chopped basil and eat!

 

 

This is really hearty, really quick, and really good. Use as much or as little cheese as you like. Please do use a good amount of basil. It adds a lovely freshness to the dish and it’s pretty! For the record, sometimes I butter the toasted bread, sometimes I don’t. When I don’t, it isn’t missed. This is simple food at its best. Give it a try!

 

Here’s the printable…

Breakfast Italiano!
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

A delicious, easy, hot breakfast!
Ingredients
  • Marinara Sauce (1/2 to ¾ c. per person)
  • 2 Eggs (1 per person)
  • French Bread (1 1-inch Slice per person)
  • Parmesan Cheese (as much or as little as you prefer)
  • Fresh Basil (1 T., chopped, per serving)

Instructions
  1. Place the marinara in a saucepan, wide enough to give the eggs some breathing room (as they’ll “poach” in the marinara). With the lid on, heat the marinara to a simmer.
  2. While the marinara heats, cut the bread into 1-inch slices and toast. You may, of course, use any bread you like (or have on hand). I like French bread because it retains some softness after toasting.
  3. Crack each egg (separately) into a small dish, then slip into the simmering marinara. Be sure to give each egg enough room to cook. Replace lid and cook on low heat (simmer).
  4. While the eggs cook, grate the cheese and chop the basil.
  5. Check the eggs. The whites should be cooking up nicely. At this point, spoon some sauce over the yolks and replace the lid. Cook for a few minutes more, or until desired level of doneness.
  6. Now it’s time to put it all together. Place 1 slice of toast on a plate. With a large spoon, ladle one egg atop toast slice, and spread extra sauce over. Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with basil.
  7. Mangia!

 

The Cool Kids

 

 

Yesterday morning, I hiked with a friend and one of her sons. I’m not gonna lie, he slowed us down a bit. But he brought a lot to the hike, too. He told us about serial dreams and various nightmares, all in such detail as to give me the heebie-jeebies. This kid, whom I adore, is incredibly creative in ways I can’t even imagine. And he’s cool, to boot. Way cool.

 

On the drive home, I encouraged him to write down these wacky dreams. I told him to just put it all on paper and then push the notebook away. I told him he may find a brilliant nugget in those pages, when looking back at it in years to come. Hey, it worked for Tim Burton.

 

I don’t care that he slowed us down yesterday. Why should I? I got to hang out with one of the cool kids. And it was awesome.

Up In The Sky

 

 

I am quite fond of urban architecture. I can’t readily identify or label any of it, but I certainly do love admiring it. And I tend to take a lot of photos of buildings. I do this when I travel, no matter where. But I’ve yet to do it at home, here in L.A.

 

Why is this? Why is it that I haven’t taken a camera downtown, not even once? When I’m exploring the world, you couldn’t pry that camera out of my hands. I’ve aimed up in the sky in city…

 

 

 

After city…

 

 

After city…

 

 

After city…

 

 

That’s right. I’ve gotten around a bit. And I have spent a great amount of that getting-around time looking up. So why am I not doing it at home? And why haven’t I even considered L.A. architecture as photo-worthy? For friends, it surely is.

 

Okay. Now that it’s spring, I think I just have to circle a date on the calendar and stick with it. I’m thinking a train trip into the city, camera in tow. Who’s with me?

The Art of God

“Nature is the art of God.”

Sir Thomas Browne

(1605 – 1682)

As much as I love Los Angeles, I often feel as if I’m enduring Los Angeles. It’s a city. It’s a crazy-ass city, at that. And parts of this town and its environs are breathtakingly beautiful.

 

 

Saturday morning, Mister and I hiked a trail that was mostly deserted. There was a fine mist in the air and the ground was soft beneath our feet. For that short two and a half miles, we were able to “get away.”

 

 

But it didn’t quite do the trick. And it must be showing, because on Sunday morning I was talking with a cuzzin in Georgia and she responded to a big chunk of what I was saying by telling me it sounded like I needed to get a good dose of nature.

 

 

Nature. I think about it. Sometimes I dream about it. I imagine how it smells. How it sounds. I imagine the weight (or weightlessness) of the air. And the taste of that air.

 

 

Just last night, I saw a commercial for America’s Gulf Coast. The cities didn’t pull me in. The resorts? No, thank you. I just wanted to sit on that white sand, with my feet in the water. For a moment, I imagined the quiet of that beach. The solitude and the bonding betwixt myself and the shore. It was a lovely mental moment.

 

 

I don’t have a vacation on my calendar any time soon. And that’s okay. But I do believe I might have to plan a little jaunt into the nearby mountains. As much as I love this city, I need to see the art of God. And Nature is the museum of choice for those great works.

My Weekend With Mehmet

“Food, glorious food!
We’re anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day – 
Our favourite diet!”

Lionel Bart, writer “Oliver!

(1930 -1999)

 

 

For those who don’t know, I love food. Foie gras or chicken wings. French fries or radicchio gratin. As long as it tastes good, I’m in. As someone who’s aware of health, I try to factor that into my diet as well. Generally, I manage to keep fairly balanced. You know, everything in moderation.

 

Anyway, I sometimes go a little too far in one direction. And I have been known to drag Mister along for the adventure. Be it a fried food spree or, well, ahem…

 

So I read about Dr. Oz’s 48 hour cleanse (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/48-hour-weekend-cleanse) in “O Magazine.” It seemed simple enough, and not at all about weight. To my understanding, the whole point is to cleanse a few major organs and help them function better. Sounded good to me, so I presented the idea to Mister. He wants to be healthy, too, so he gave his endorsement. I did the shopping and we began to cleanse.

 

The 3 meals (and snacks) were the same each day. The shopping was easy enough. The prep wasn’t much different from other meals, but there was a lot of chopping involved in the dinners (which did equal a lot of time). I don’t have a juicer, so the snacks were whipped up in the blender. I’m telling you this so you’ll know that I wasn’t put out by the preparation of our food. No, that didn’t put me out at all. The food on the other hand… That put me out quite a bit.

 

Breakfast was filling, yes. And it did have flavor. No salt, but fresh ginger and nutmeg almost made up for it. The snacks tasted like they looked: green. I would have liked more pineapple, but that wasn’t the recipe. Instead, I got a lot of kale. Lunch was a fruit smoothie. It was okay, though the ground flax seeds took a little getting used to. Dinner was a vegetable broth and it was pretty. (That helped.) The fermented sauerkraut and apple slices didn’t bother me either. It was all fine. Nothing more.

 

 

 

Mister and I made it through the first day okay. Considering we had hiked first thing that morning, and didn’t feel hungry or weak at day’s close, I thought all would be well. And it almost was. I didn’t sleep well that night but Mister didn’t report any problems. The next morning, I got up and made the quinoa with prunes. I didn’t enjoy eating it, but I downed it all. Then I got some exercise. I was only gone 30 minutes, but when I got home I couldn’t stop watching the clock. When would it be time for that damned fruit smoothie?

 

Lunchtime arrived and I made the smoothies. And just like that, it was gone. I had some kale/pineapple juice. It didn’t move the chains. I was hungry. I was tired. I started feeling weak. I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t what I’d signed on for. Dr. Oz had written that one shouldn’t feel hungry or weak. So what was I doing wrong? I started feeling worse.

 

 

 

 

At some point, I looked up the cleanse on Oz’s website. That’s when I realized “O Magazine” had left out quite a bit of information. Little things like you can eat all the veggies (from a given list) you want. That was a bit of knowledge I could have used from the beginning. I checked the fridge and the only thing I had on the list was a couple of cucumbers. I prepared them as described and Mister and I wolfed them down in seconds. I hoped that would save me.

 

But it was too late. My body had gone too far toward flipping out and I couldn’t stop the downward spiral. I started shaking and getting a little dizzy. My head was hurting. Still, I was determined to see the cleanse through.

 

And that’s when the service porch flooded and I absolutely lost it. For about 30 seconds, I was yelling and shaking and probably not making any sense at all. And I broke. I absolutely broke, friends. So I called the bar down the street and ordered a couple of cheeseburgers. Since I didn’t trust myself to drive, I walked there, picked up the food, hit the local market for a Dr. Pepper and walked home. Much like the cucumbers, I hoped my non-cleanse dinner would save me. Alas, like the cucumbers, the dinner was too late as well. I had gone and made myself ill.

 

By the time I went to bed, I was just hoping to get some sleep. Some time during the night my body recovered. When I woke the next morning, I felt great. And for the record, Mister was hungry and dissatisfied, too. But he didn’t flip out.  That honor was reserved for me.

 

Here’s what I missed: fat. I missed salt. I missed meat. I missed variety. I missed having enough food, too. A lot of us have too much to eat. This experience reminded me that just enough is just enough.

 

Dr. Oz wrote that he felt more than a physical satisfaction after his first time doing this cleanse. He wrote of feeling a spiritual satisfaction. I can’t speak to that. I only know I’m glad it’s over. This cleanse was a bummer. My liver, kidneys and lungs might claim otherwise, but until they start typing for themselves, I’m in charge. The closest thing I got to spiritual during this experience was when I felt my body taking in that heavenly cheeseburger and fries.

 

Though I’m disappointed in “O Magazine,” I won’t be canceling my subscription. (I won’t cancel my “Esquire” subscription either — they feature Dr. Oz columns, too.) But I will try to remember to take everything in moderation, friends. Everything. Even Mehmet Oz, MD.

Old Soul

“There is, nevertheless, a certain respect

and a general duty of humanity that ties us,

not only to beasts that have life and sense,

but even to trees and plants.”

Michel Eyquem, seigneur de Montaigne

(1533 – 1592)

 

I love trees. I always have. Since I was a kid, I’ve believed trees have souls. That may have come from an unusual experience in my one-horse hometown.

 

There was this beautiful, old Live Oak on the edge of town. Everyone knew it, and we all called it “Old Soul.” People said it was aged at least 250 years and was the oldest thing in our community. We respected that tree. Most of us loved it.

 

One day, the banker’s family decided they’d like a new lane heading out to their fishing pond. As Old Soul was in the way of their proposed path, they decided to cut it down. (The ancient tree was located on their property.) They called on every able man in town, and not one agreed to cut down Old Soul. Times were hard, so turning down a paying job shows just how much that tree meant to our community. As no locals would do the destructive work, the banker started looking outside our town for willing men.

 

Soon, a couple of brothers turned up with their equipment, happy to be working. They hadn’t anticipated the entire town turning out to protest the job. They hadn’t anticipated the size of the tree itself. And they hadn’t anticipated one other thing.

 

As they first put steel to wood, there was a strange crying sound on the wind. The brothers heard it and stopped. The banker heard it. The gathered townspeople heard it, too. No one had any idea what the sound was. We only knew we’d never heard anything like it. The brothers again commenced their work and the sound grew louder. That’s when everyone in attendance understood: the crying was coming from Old Soul.

 

The brothers were frightened and refused to cut down the tree. The bankers pleaded, but the terrified brothers fled. We all would have cheered, but the truth is, we were in awe, confused and a little afraid ourselves.

 

Word soon spread of that day’s strange event. After several more failed attempts with different workers, the banker’s family gave up on cutting down the tree. By the time I moved away, the desired, paved road had been built to that pond. The road curved around Old Soul.

 

If only it were true. You see, this is one of the many stories my great-grandfather used to tell when I was a child. I never actually saw that tree. I’m not sure he did, either. But when I sat there on the floor in front of him, wrapped in the aroma of his Prince Albert tobacco smoke and warmed by the gas heater and the single bulb suspended from the high ceiling of that old, rickety house, I could see that tree as clearly as if I’d met it myself. And to this day, I believe trees have souls.

 

 

This month’s FREE mp3 download from Love & Honesty is “Holy Waters.” Here’s the link:  http://www.mikkibrisk.com/music/   And remember, I’d love for you to forward the link to everyone you know!

 

Happy April-

Mikki