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Reflections in the Silver Cup


With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez



Some Things I've Learned about Cooking


Even, or maybe especially life's trials, even something as horrific as this pandemic, can have its uses–in this case, lessons that can be learned. I loved to cook—way back when—before I had a child whose Like-repertoire was extremely limited, and cooking became more of a Have To than it ever had been before. I got into the habit, or maybe I always was, of buying only what I thought I would need for the meals I planned to make. Then, a few weeks before I went into self-quarantine, I started stocking a few non-perishable food items at a time, figuring the time was coming. Suddenly I had overflowing cupboards. I had choices! I didn't have to make what I planned out before shopping. There wasn't a plan, and there were many things I could make. Suddenly my level of cooking expanded. I know a lot of people are cooking more because they're not going out to eat, and they're staying home more with more time on their hands. But that's not it for me. Except for errands I needed to run or walks or hikes, I pretty much was at home. For me, it's more cooking because: more choices. It probably means I'll shop somewhat differently when this is over.


I had a craving for cornbread but no cornmeal or flour or milk or baking powder. My brother and his wife did some shopping for me, and the shelves were empty of a lot of things—regular flour included. There was, however, coconut flour. "Sure," I said. How different could it be? Luckily, I took a look at the back of the bag before mixing everything and putting it in the oven. It said, "Coconut flour is highly absorbent. This means you need substantially more eggs than when baking with almond or wheat flour." Hmm. There was no hint as to what "substantially more" might mean. I use my mother's recipe, which calls for one egg. I've used two for years to yield cornbread that's lighter and also holds together better. So I decided on three for this recipe. I had to bake the bread about 2/3 of the time again as long as called for, possibly because I used my toaster oven and a smaller pan. It came out rich, held together nicely, was quite moist and dense, and had a coconut-y flavor that was okay but took a little getting used to. I also made lentils and added something I don't care for in salad dressings—balsamic vinegar, which made the dish superb.



Kindness. Just witnessing and receiving the kindness of others


• Cheyenne's friend's husband, who is predictably young, went to the homes of the elderly in their neighborhood to ask if there was anything he could do for them.


• A Sikh community in NYC cooked hot meals for more than 30,000 isolated people.


• Starbucks gives free coffee to healthcare workers.


• A friend's son's teacher wrote chalk messages of love on the sidewalks in front of her students' homes.


• A neighborhood message board suggested a "bear hunt" for children in the vicinity of an elementary school, asking people to put stuffed animals in windows for children to "find."


• The Columbia Sportswear CEO cut his salary by $10K, so retail employees could continue to receive their regular pay.


• People made music from their balconies, porches and windows, creating community in the process.


• We check in on each other by phone, Face Book, and emails, and suddenly it is with much greater frequency than before and perhaps with people we don't often reach out to.


And so it goes. There is kindness everywhere. I have seen more evidence of kindness than of anything else.

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With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez


The trees are greatly in flux, altering their appearance from one day to the next. One locust tree in the whole place, in one morning, put forth fat budding clusters of leaves. The other locusts all have bare branches still. Why is this one so far ahead of the others? Could it be because there are bushes around it putting out their new red leaves, reaching to the sky above the older green ones? Did the bushes tell the locust something? The old elms are in full, furry seed. The young elms are seeding and also beginning to sprout tiny, tender leaves. They live together in a grove of twelve. Why are their stages different? Could it be that the older trees are giving the saplings space, opportunity to flourish? Scientists have learned that trees and plants speak to each other. They nourish each other, and warn one another of imminent danger. One species even dies for its young, so the young may be graced by the sun, not shadowed by the mother. Trees are about forest, about community, not individuals. I see these things in the morning and am wonderstruck. Read The Overstory by Richard Powers if you want a book to strike you with the wonder of trees, of forests.

There are small pleasures, ones you perhaps don't think of as pleasures. Or maybe you do. Bringing order to my small space, moving one thing to where it belongs, brings me pleasure. Hand washing small items of clothing is purposeful and purpose brings satisfaction, and in the morning, when they are dry, I am ridiculously delighted by the miracle of evaporation. I sweep the dry pine needles off my porch, set up the little aluminum camp table, and unfold the two blue cloth chairs. Then I sit and smile at the plum tree's blossoms. Today I will repair some earrings, and I will remember the woman, the friend, who made them and lies beneath the ground now under an oak tree. I will remember the times we spent together laughing and telling stories and drinking coffee rich with Berkeley Farms cream, walking the paths of the marina.


These are times for remembering and pondering, letting the largeness of life be seen in the small, the ordinary, the not-so-ordinary. For trees and friends are miracle enough.


LOGOS by Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early


Why wonder about the loaves and the fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don't worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

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