My heart weighs heavy as I wait in the line; the line that crosses the border between right and the undetermined wrong. What defines fair? Gravity, a law within its own, can’t defend the accusations, the shakiness I have standing over the bridge we’ve made together. I’m praying, screaming, and refusing to let gravity push me into the troubled currents of torment below. Is nothing really as it seems? Can a trust really live up to the responsibility it proclaims to possess? If I search the depths, if I search the questions, which are mutating in my hands, if I search the quest of true repentance like a gentle nobleman, a gentle physician, a gentle inquirer, will I eventually see my Lover’s eyes? My Beloved‘s face? My Admirer’s heart? A heart that beats for only me?
Being from the coast, I remember countless times of being at my grandparents’ house, a house situated right on the beach, and my parents taking their aluminum motor boat out into the depths of the West Coast sea. My sister, grandparents, cousins and all the rest of the family, would sit around the bonfire telling stories. I was quite young, so probably didn’t make for an interesting conversation piece, but never will I forget my foot being scorched by an ember from the fire that was hidden underneath all the ash. My uncle came to the rescue by pouring his cold beer all over my 5 year old foot. My grandma would often collect oysters along the shore and fry them up for the next evening’s dinner. If mom and dad caught a salmon, then it would be there for dinner time as well, with new baby potatoes from grandma’s garden, along with some beans, and last but not least ketchup for Papa. A Vancouver Island dinner, a true living off the land and sea kind of meal. Well, this dinner isn’t so much a Mountain man experience, but Sean did catch the fish I used to go along with this meal, from the West Coast of Vancouver Island this summer. I baked salmon with a smudge of mayonnaise, squirt of lemon juice, a dash of dill, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of grapeseed oil. This is a wonderful dish for a BBQ, a luncheon, or as a simple side platter rested upon fresh cut tomatoes. The Chickpea Medley is from Oh She Glows. When I make this, I find myself eating it for lunch, dinner and then lunch again for the next day. I also prefer parsley over cilantro, but either way, it is super yum.
Green Chickpea Medley
For the chickpea medley:
2 cups dried/uncooked chickpeas (makes 5.5-6 cups cooked)
1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
1.5 cups cilantro, large stems removed (or parsley)
3/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
3/4 tsp kosher salt + ground pepper
How To Play:
1. To cook chickpeas: Soak 2 cups dried chickpeas in a large bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse the beans in the morning and add to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until fork tender, about 40 minutes
2. Rinse and drain the spinach and cilantro (or parsley). Spin until dry in a salad spinner.
3. In a food processor, add the spinach and cilantro and pulse until chopped very small. Add the processed spinach and cilantro, drained cooked chickpeas, and chopped onion into a large bowl and stir.
4. In a small jar, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, maple syrup, and salt.
5. Pour the dressing on top of the spinach chickpea mixture and stir well. Let stand for about 10 minutes (or overnight) to let the flavors develop.
The spring air was particularly warmer than usual, as was the sun, merciless. I felt as though every hour, I had to reapply my underarm deodorant, along with my FCUK toilette spray. I admired its citrus fragrance. It made feel light. I was in a transition. I had been 10 years late of caring about appearance and beauty, but Grace had a way of influence. Lies I had believed in my youth about women being the weaker vessel, the damsel in distress, and used as a mere sex objects, plagued much of my androgynous existence. I was shy. I was insecure. However, over many night talks and after class lunches, an acceptance and repentance began to rest on my lips. It was the beginning of the maturing, the making and the transforming, I was too afraid to confess. To be the girly girl, I was not, but I wanted to be her, in the deepness of my heart, I really did. I just didn’t know how to be become her. I was a girl, I was a young lady, and I was one day going to be a wife, a woman, a feminine incarnation of softness and nurture. A reality I had covered, masked, and veiled, due to fears of rejection, shame, and failure, was beginning to unravel itself before my naked eyes. I no longer wanted the heaviness of these hateful rags defining and identifying me. I was not happy; it was a new time for me to be who I was to be. A process I proceeded to go through, with the leading and kindness of the new season, much like this humid day.
Grace reapplied her lipstick, fixed her charcoal beret in the bathroom mirror. As she walked through a mist of red jeans perfume, she pulled from her bookshelf a wooden, gold embroidered box. She hesitatingly affirmed it and took from its possession, a shiny blue stone. An impressive stone, in which had been a part of her life, laid dormant for the last seven years, was her reminder of a broken heart, a painful loss, and a failed expectation. Perhaps this is why she was grace. She embodied it, embraced it, displayed it and spoke it, but this blue stone was her thief and a cruelty she could no longer afford to hold on to. It held a captivating power in which Gracie no longer depended on. She put the sacred might in the pocket of her denim jacket, wrapped her scarf around her neck, took a deep breath, and then looked up at me. Today was the day; the release of all control, the release of all manipulation. This was the day the fear of the unknown would be forever buried in the bed of the Fraser River.
[Image Credit: Val Robinson]
When I prayed for a husband, I prayed. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed. Gracie and I would cry together wondering how we were twenty -something years old with no potentials in the forecast. She lived in a cedar bungalow in the backyard of a well groomed house. The magnolia I would pass under, each visit would continue to greet me, as it changed with the season. The grass, without fail, faithfully would dampen my feet, as if to say, “You can’t control us, we will dampen your feet one way or another, whether it be dew or rain”.
Gracie’s place was like a fort; a fort amidst the Fort. It was a meeting place. It was a safe place, a place in which we could lay our burdens down. It was a framed structure of antique eloquence; a stain glass mirage of spoken wishes with fairy tale kisses. The ambiance was home. The music was fine elements of mood and classical savory. Fondu, song writing, and Elderflower Presse, these times were fond and life forming.
With the glow from candlelight and with the softness of wine induced splendor, jealousies would at times rise up like the incense burning on the stove. Was one favored? Was one more beautiful? Perhaps one desired more attention, while the other demanded it. Said to be the center of attention, I didn’t ask for it. I longed to be loved and appreciated. Deep down, I know I was, but misunderstood was a party favor I was often given. Outside of this life of familiarity and simple commonness, was another life of spirituality. My life friends these were, but on the other side of the Valley’s hills was the birthplace of my spiritual family. The family that would shape me, challenge me, and display for me; over and over again, the grace of God.
[Image credit: Ginette Callaway]
Sometimes it gets incredibly boring making dinner, right? Over the summer, Sean told me how I was slipping. Not the kind of words you want to hear when you are one who likes to take dinner, or any meal at that, seriously. Was I slipping? Not really. What is wrong with protein shakes and cereal? Ok, ok, I was super BORED! I admit it and yes, dinners were kind of the last thing I was really thinking about. Last week, however, I was able to visit my favorite restaurant in Victoria, Rebar. Inspiration has once again come forth. I love Rebar and my Rebar cookbook. It has been sitting on the shelf way too long. So here we go. Here is a new staple dinner for us. So long protein shakes and cereal, we will just be seeing in the morning now.
Rebar Caesar Salad
(inspired by Rebar)
1 bulb roasted garlic (see below)
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp caper juice
1 1/2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp cracked pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil (I used less)
extra Parmesan cheese for garnish
How To Play:
Combine all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender or food processor and blend. Add olive oil in a slow, thin stream. Correct seasoning to taste.
Serve, toss the dressing with washed , dried and torn romaine lettuce, or any one you fancy, add fresh croutons, garnished with Parmesan, fresh cracked pepper and lemon wedges.
Whole Roasted Roasted Garlic:
2 garlic bulbs
2 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of cracked pepper
How To Play:
Preheat oven to 400. Using a sharp knife, slice the top off the garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the garlic flesh. Center each bulb on a square piece of aluminium foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the bulbs securely and pop them into the oven.
After 45 minutes, test the bulbs by slipping the sharp point of a paring knife into one of the cloves. If is slides effortlessly or the bulbs are starting to poke out of their skins, then the garlic is ready to serve.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets:
Boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in chunks
1 cup brown rice GF cereal, blended finely
dash or two of paprika
2-3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
salt and cracked pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp Flax Meal
1/4 cup almond milk
Grapeseed oil for frying
How To Play:
Make the crumb coating by mixing blended cereal, spices, and parsley and cheese, place in bowl. In separate bowl, combine flax and almond milk, stir and let sit for a few minutes. Dip raw chicken pieces in flax “eggs” and then dip into crumbs. Place on a heated skillet and fry away until no longer pink in the center.
Again, I am reminded of Georgie. She had sparkled cold blue eyes. She was winter and wore it well. She embraced the season with purity and integrity. Her friendship meant well, I know it did, but 25 held a dark place in her heart. She needed to leave this scene. To get away. She had been too long and too many began to see her and her colors. They weren’t all put together like a promise, but a broken child, unleashed against the weasels, stoats, and ferrets. When she left, her books and memories stayed behind; all of them, tucked away unharmed, in a box in the attic. They are pieces of her in words, her words, her sayings, written by her favorites: Tolkien, Lewis, and Montgomery. Sadness belonged to my dear friend, but there was hopefulness, as well. A vessel lost at sea, lost in transition, lost in process. Community and communion, a longing and desire, she taught this well. In her heart, she could not rest. She could find no contentment. She could find no home.
I am not bitter. I used to be, but through time, bitterness has become a forgotten person, an old story, a vintage headline. Today I am in a continual process of learning and accepting. I am embracing, and yes, let’s be honest, sometimes rejecting the ongoing whirlwinds and twisters of an identity, a destiny, an image, and a stereotype, and all the misconceptions and misunderstandings that go along with that of MOTHERHOOD. I am the mama in the hood. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine life before all this, before life became so practical and inconvenient, so easy, but yet so complicated. I like to watch people. I am fascinated. What compels or leads, influences or helps-whether past or present- to choose the choices we choose to make for the day? Is it an image we are aspiring to be?- Or not to be? Some folks appear gravely lost in thought, while others are engaged in silent conversation through iphones, smartphones,blackberries-oh my! While others carry the weight of their world on their faces.
For myself, I cannot escape the thought that each one of us has come from somewhere. As I am a pioneer for this life, I am paving a path for my children. Those before me, like great grandmothers and grandfathers, did so with such limitations. They had limited resources and linear dimensions. Our 3-D omniscient society has become the big brother it fought so hard not to be. George Orwell was right. 1984 has come and is not going anywhere, anytime soon. There are times I want to escape and build a cabin in the woods, like Thoreau. How inviting it would be to live off the land, to bake fresh wholesome bread, hearty stew, and paint autumn skies with fallen leaves with the resources at bay. To have the heat from the fire soothe the dampness from the children’s faces as they lay on their multicolor earth-tone oval wool rug, drawing their favorite things. My love would be outside in the mass of solitude cutting wood and carving pieces of it to make furniture for our quaint little life. But life isn’t quaint. There are meetings and deadlines, agendas and commitments, interruptions and phone calls. There are places to go as well as places to be. It is history repeating itself in full force. Nothing is new, this has all been done before and this will all be done, once again. However, how wonderful it is I am doing this- this life, this journey, this age in year, with the people I have grown to know and to love so deeply. My busy life may not be the cabin in the woods, but in my heart there is a solitude unquenchable.
As I drive through the somber streets within my mind, I am reminded of the 11th week. The October air was crisp and cool. Breathing the air was as strict as wintergreen, blasting into my lungs. I enjoyed this, though. Running was my favorite. Air forced into the vulnerable air pockets that encouraged me to keep going, keep breathing and keep living. I wasn’t running today, but sharing this hour with three of my favorite people. Once a month we celebrated our love with a breaking of bread, a pouring of wine, and a moment of stillness. It was communion with each other. It was communion with our Maker. We decided, linked in arms, to head to the pier and lay our backs to the water with our faces towards the sky. It was almost 11 pm. It was the 11th hour, an hour before the break of a new day. It was the moment the stars became ours as we named them.
Mysteries, confusions, and fantasies would stir as we tried to envision what our lives would be, where life would take us, and how we would turn out. A mother, victim to mental illness, a mother hard to read, a mother on a mission, and a mother not allowing the unfailing distance to interfere with her deep longings.
Were we just walking the paths engraved or more so welcomed by our own mothers? Were we to follow in their footsteps? Was that our fate? Were their lives the blueprint for our very own? We just didn’t know, but what we did know, it was getting colder and there was more wine to drink. Sometimes to not think was a blessing, but for some of us, it was the daily challenge we faced and continued to face.
As the candle gave warmth and glow, an invitation for us to speak candidly and openly, we did. Crossing lines only bosom buddies, kindred spirits do, we joined our hearts together and acknowledged life as a philosophical debate in which no one has an answer for; only an opinion, something we unsurprisingly are all unrestricted to.
I imagined as I grew up, well, like in my thirties, I would have the brain of a 30 year old. However, as I converse with others, I realize our brain can sometimes remain stopped at a certain age. It just stands still and observes the process of aging from afar. It is as though mine has dissociated from reality; the reality of age. My brain says it is 28. The funny thing is, it has been saying this for the last 6 years. My eyes tell a different story, though. They have not stopped. They continue to go from right to left, up and down, checking out people here and there, reading, watching, imagining, and visualizing. They have pressed through the inconceivable and have seen the births of the impossible. My eyes have witnessed the unspoken, and have seen the cries from relationship disparity. Even when there was nothing to be seen, my eyes could see their wailing screams. They refuse to ignore and stand in denial. They have seen truth and can’t go back. Sometimes it is a war inside. My eyes reveal what is real, yet my brain tries to justify, downplay, pretend, generalize, and even at times, tries to shut herself off to the outside world. It is pain. She just can’t handle the pain. She can’t handle the disbelief. It hurts too much. Perhaps this is why my eyes are in relationship with my heart. They have an understanding, a commonality. They aren’t afraid or influenced by thought. Ideas, doubts, or the need to try to figure things out. These don’t intimidate what my eyes can see and what my heart can understand.
When Georgie said she rear-ended someone, the first thought that came across my mind was, “Again? Didn’t she just rear-end the girl with the porcelain skin just 2 weeks ago?” There was a heaviness about her, in more ways than one. She carried drama around her like her favorite shoulder bag. Annoying? Yes. Time consuming? Of course. Ridiculous? Always. But I loved her. She was my friend, my archetype, and the one that saved me from the glares and whispers that creeped about my 5”7 complicated frame which went hand in hand with my complex emotional state of mind.
We had known each other only a few days, but our friendship was instant. Timing was everything. It was the life preserver before the perfect storm struck. The love of my fractured life was disintegrating before my eyes and at the time he was the only thing I knew. I didn’t know love could feel so good, taste so real, and capture me wholly. Time seemed to not exist; however, it was everywhere, but nowhere to be found, especially when it ended. If only time could have stopped or ease the pain somehow, anything before the darkness hit, but it just didn’t work that way and nor will it ever.
Meeting Georgie, though, time came through in a positive. But here she was again, the result of another situation; another, only to be followed by a few many. Her mother was a concern, her father and step mom were a concern, there were concerns everywhere, and everywhere Georgie went, she took with her all the concerns of those around her.