Sitting in front of my computer, eating a messy late lunch out of a serving bowl, the thought occurs: I didn’t eat enough figs this summer. Thinking back, there is only one that is memorable, which seems a shame. I am grateful that that fig was an exceptionally good one.
It was plucked off a heavily laden tree while on a meandering walk with my cousin Serena and her baby Lamar. I was in California for a weekend of professional happenings and booked myself a little extra time to see these particular members of my family.
Serena spotted the tree first, it’s branches reaching out from a fenced backyard. I pulled a sticky fig off the tree and offered to share it with her, but she had found her own. We stood there in wordless companionship, eating these ripe, impossibly sweet figs, and feeling appreciation for the wonders of Oakland.
*The picture above was taken on that walk, but is not of the fig tree. I was too engrossed in the eating of the fig to take a picture.
For the last month and a half, I’ve had a note on my to-do list that reads, “Apt. 2024 post.” Each time I rewrite the list, I carry it over to the fresh page and work away at all the tasks around it. Still, I keep it there as a reminder that this blog is here, waiting for me.
When I do eventually make it to this space, I am grateful and feel such relief in allowing myself to tumble onto this virtual page.
The last few months have been intensely full (substitute the word years for months and that statement would still be true). I turned in the first draft of my next cookbooks in early May and have now made it through two rounds of edits and the photo shoot. I have one last bit of editing to do and then I won’t see it again until galleys.
There is a part of me that still can’t quite believe that I’ve now written three books. The person I was when I started this website would be amazed at the future that lay in store for her.
Scott and I are still living in the apartment, but have been looking for a house to buy in West Philly. The market is tight and inventory is low, so I keep my eyes peeled for possibilities and hope that they don’t go under contract before we can see them.
I feel like I function on two levels these days. On one plane, I am focused on all the things I hope for – a bigger space, the chance to grow a human, the opportunity to write more books without quite so much hustle in the selling. But on the more mundane level, I let all of those hopes go in order to be satisfied with where I am and what I have. It’s a tricky balance to maintain, but works nonetheless.
I walked to Rittenhouse Square earlier this week with my camera, hoping to find some sign that winter was on the way out and spring might soon be on its way. All I found was ice, snow, and thin patches of sunlight. Despite the cold, I found that I could still take pleasure in being outside on a day when the sun was shining.
It is brutally cold outside. According to my phone, it is currently 18°F and it will drop down to 16°F before the day is done. I ventured out earlier today to meet a friend and pick up a few groceries wearing my second heaviest coat (the very heaviest one is hard wear while walking) and have no intention of setting foot outside again today.
I am drinking hot, milky tea, have put on a heavy, army green wool sweater that has been with me since college, and have even turned the heat on for a little while (the heat that drifts in from our hallways is often enough to keep the apartment comfortable).
I feel intensely grateful for the tea, the sweater, the heat, and while we’re at it, the cozy home. May we all be so lucky.
You know all those resolutions I mentioned over the weekend? Forget ’em. My real resolution for this year is simply to keep up with the dishes. I cook a lot and so the tide of dirty things in my sink seems never to end (and I’m even in possession of a functional dishwasher).
Because my kitchen is small, I have no option but to clean as I work. If I don’t, I quickly run out of places to put things and my ability to make dinner or test recipes for the current blog/book/freelance project quickly grinds to a halt (you have not lived until you’ve seen me spinning in circles with a hot pot and no place to put it. Truly, it’s a sight).
I do a fairly good job keeping up with the daytime flow. The place where I falter is with the final round of dinner dishes. So often, by the time we’ve eaten, I’m just done with the kitchen. One answer might be to get Scott to do some dishes, but that doesn’t always go as hoped (we occasionally have different definitions of the word clean). And so in my late night haze, I leave dishes in the sink to deal with the next day.
Trouble is, I hate waking up to a pile of dirty plates and pots. This comes in large part from my early childhood training. My mom couldn’t go to sleep until the sink was emptied and the counters were wiped. While I’m not as severely afflicted as she, I do end up indulging in a little self-flagellation on the nights when I leave pans to soak.
As I’ve written this, I’m starting to think that maybe the solution is just to come to grips with my imperfections instead of holding myself to an impossible standard. Who knows. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some dishes to do.
It’s the beginning of January, which means it’s the time of year to open fresh journals, attempt to start new habits, and take to the internet to declare the many ways in which you want to change yourself in the fresh, new year.
I am not immune to this instinct to resolve. This blog turns tens years old next month and it includes an impressive archive of hopeful, goal-oriented posts published on the first or second of the year (2008/2009/2010/2011/2014).
I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about my intentions are for the coming year, and I realize that more than anything, I want to keep it simple. I deeper into the specifics I get, the more opportunities for stumbling I create.
- Focus on the goodness – I am the type who can get a barrel of praise but still manages to fixate on the one negative comment. I’m working on turning that around.
- Let go – Of physical stuff, obligations that no longer serve, comparisons, and shame.
- Enjoy – I worked really hard over the last year, had a number of really amazing experiences and successes, and didn’t manage to relish it nearly enough.
- Move – Keep walking, running, and stretching. Not to lose weight or get fitter (though if those things happen, great), but simply to feel good and get more oxygen into my lungs.
- Create – Writing is my work, but it started as something I did because I loved it. Time to do a little more of it for me (here, perhaps?).