Quiet the Night Descends

My dinner was eaten in solitude this evening. No one to ask, “What would you prefer?” No one to set the table for, other than myself. A small square plate, a napkin, fork, spoon and knife, a water glass and wine glass. If it hadn’t been so humid and still, I might have lit the beeswax candle in the hurricane lamp at the center of the table.

There was no one to interrupt the audio book I played as I prepared a salad, boiled water  and then cooked the gluten free pasta, sautéed mushrooms, and then the minced garlic, baby spinach and a few shrimp. And as I sat down and began to eat, no one to mind my watching a bit more of the documentary about Joan Didion, whom I have yet to actually read. (Yes, that’s a sad fact, I know.)

fullsizeoutput_141c

Afterward, I washed pot and plate, put the salad and dressing back in the fridge, and slipped into my shoes waiting at the back door. The sun had already set, the grass was wet and heavy after the rain, like a green sea reaching to my knees in places. Cicadas and crickets, their brassy rhythmic choruses completely in sync, were the only sounds I heard. The air was stagnant; not a branch stirred.

fullsizeoutput_141b

This year, the farmer has planted corn all around the periphery of our land as well as in the fields across the road. We are walled in by corn, much taller than I am, crowding out the view of the lake and the lower fields, and making me feel a bit claustrophobic. That sounds silly, because the sky is so big and expressive, yet that’s how I feel all the same. The past two years the fields were sown with either soybeans or potatoes, so this is my first experience with the corn’s ominous presence.

fullsizeoutput_141eI stood staring at the corn and the cloud-filled sky, took a few pictures, then trudged through the grass to see the garden. I must pick lettuce tomorrow; its red and green leaves looked luscious and ready to be eaten.

fullsizeoutput_1427I walked to the fruit trees beyond and around to the gazebo with fairy lights twinkling, a touch of welcomed civilization amidst the dripping grass, the darkening trees, and the unrelenting army of corn.

fullsizeoutput_1426After getting the mail, I went up the front steps, saying good evening to our two reading gargoyles, and in through the front door. Dorothy said it and it’s true: “There’s no place like home!” Home, a refuge against whatever my wild imagination conjured out of the settling darkness.

 

 

 

A Scone For Tuesday

If you are a person who eats gluten free and dairy free, you know how rare it is to find a cafe or restaurant that offers pastries and baked goods that you can indulge in. So often places may offer a gluten free option, but it contains dairy. Or it’s vegan, but it contains wheat or spelt flour. (I’m looking at you, Greenstar!) I keep hoping things will change, and that chefs everywhere will discover that it is very possible to create interesting and fabulous things to eat without gluten and dairy. Anyway…the next best thing is to make your own and bring it along when you’re meeting a friend for coffee, so you won’t feel left out of Normalville.

Here is an easy and delicious scone recipe, in case you’ve been hankering for one like I was. These are gluten free vegan scones adapted from a recipe found on the blog Sarah Bakes Gluten Free. It’s a great starting point, and I’ve been known to add lemon or orange zest, cinnamon, pumpkin, nuts, dried fruit to make all kinds of scones. Last time I made them, I doubled the recipe and then made half of the dough with blueberries and half with chocolate chunks.

IMG_6952

Gluten Free Vegan Scones

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for scone tops

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter (I use the soy free version)

1/2 cup almond milk plus more for scone tops (or other non-dairy milk of choice)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or chunks or a combination

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in vegan butter using a pastry cutter until the butter is pea-sized. Pour in the milk and stir to combine. Add in the fruit/nuts of choice.

On floured surface and with floured hands, shape dough into a 12 inch circle. Cut dough into 8 triangles and place on lined baking sheet. Dip fingers in almond milk and wet tops of scones. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on rack before eating. Store in airtight container.

IMG_6951

Sunday Slowly

img_4627.jpg

What do you do when you have a long list of to-dos, a schedule that screams at you, and the pressure of needing to produce and accomplish? Usually I move faster, or try to, while my mind races to the next thing and the one after that.

This summer has hustled me along, day after day full of more than I can handle. Now, I’m seeing back to school signs. Kids in other parts of the country have already left the beach, pool, backyard swing set, and sandbox for the classroom.

I had a meltdown after dinner the other night thinking about how this summer has been all work and no play. “But we didn’t even do anything fun yet this summer!” Starting a business and trying to keep financially afloat is no joke. And although I’m not surprised by what it takes, I still need a break from it from time to time, like anyone else. Yet I feel the incessant need to invent, create, promote, improve, sell, etc.

IMG_6339

While listening to an Etsy Success podcast yesterday, I heard the word “burnout” more than once and knew that was where I was headed. So I’ve made the decision to take this Sunday to reflect, write, read, paint, walk, to notice and discover–anything that is nurturing to the soul and doesn’t add to my stress levels. I cannot solve all of my problems or think creatively while already at my wit’s end. Seems silly to even write it, but sometimes it takes writing it to make it true for myself.

IMG_6999

So, wherever you are and whatever you do today, I hope you also take time to rest from the race, hide from the hustle, and blend your being with birds, the blanket of earth under your feet, the breeze playing with your hair. As Mary Oliver wrote in her poem “Look and See”,

“Oh, Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we only look, and see.”

IMG_2391

This Day is Ready For You (Book Reviews)

IMG_4962.JPG

I recently read The Day Is Ready for You by Alison Malee. This delightful collection of poetry is fresh, sharp and fiery. Emotion sings from every page. Sometimes they are angry, at others singing a tender love song. Sometimes full of everyday life and then they soar into possibility. Sometimes all in the same poem.

Most of the poems’ subjects focus on relationships: all the highs and lows and newness and mundane. Others have to do with being a woman or how life seems from her perspective. She has a definite rhythm and voice that distills life in a perspicacious manner all her own.

Get this book, poetry people! Get it if you don’t think you’re a poetry person. I highly recommend it.

*I received an e-copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Links I Love

IMG_2315

Here is where I will share a few links of podcast episodes, blog posts, websites, TED talks, new books, etc. that I favorite each week. Refresh your imagination and fill up your inspiration tank.

What can I say about these past two weeks except “I NEED A VACATION!!!” OK, deep breath and moving on…Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas! I plan to enjoy the day out away from kids and chores, and not being a taxi service. Alan and I are going to take a picnic lunch (he’s making me sushi!) with us and stop at a few wineries for tastings and to enjoy the views of whatever lakes we end up at.

So, what have I found interesting and inspiring this week? Several great podcast episodes, plus one new-to-me podcast.

First, here is a podcast that I love because it gives me ideas and inspiration for my self-care and home decor Etsy shop and local business, Delicata House. Etsy Success Podcast features a different successful Etsy shop owner each episode who presents solutions and ideas and shares her or his own story.

One of my favorite episodes from a few months back featured the owner of Betsy Farmer Designs, a jewelry shop, sharing her tips on excellent customer service. Check it out on SoundCloud or iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Second, Anne Bogel had a super fun episode of What Should I Read Next where she interviewed a young woman from New Zealand who now lives in Bath in the UK. Since I want to visit both New Zealand and the UK, I was thoroughly absorbed in their conversation. And the books they discussed had me breaking my “read ten, buy one” rule and adding to my TBR list.

IMG_2312

 

Third, also through Anne Bogel’s podcast, I was introduced to another podcast which I am thrilled to have connected to. It’s called Reading Women and the two young women who host it are committed to interviewing authors who are women and discussing books written by women. One of the latest episodes is an interview with Chibundu Onuzo, author of Welcome to Lagos: A Novel. This was a fascinating, intelligent, and upbeat conversation that left me wondering why I haven’t already read this novel and the others she’s written. (Sad fact: I hadn’t heard of her until now. Happy fact: the whole reason this podcast exists.) I’m now in the middle of the episode with Maggie O’ Farrell, author of I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death and This Must Be the Place: A novel which I’m loving as well.

And, finally, since my last post focused on inspiration, it’s a subject that is staying with me this week, so here is a post on living inspired on Medium. Look for the great Jack London quote about not waiting to be inspired.

OK, cheers to the weekend and to all the mothers in our world!

 

Input Equals Inspiration

fullsizeoutput_eb7

Last week I felt like my brain had abandoned me, taking all ideas for writing along with it. Each day blurred into the next and consisted of appointments, meetings, and short car drives to pick up or drop off kids. (If you happen to have school-age kids then you know what I’m talking about.)

To deal with the stress and frustration of not getting any significant amount of work done, whenever I was driving or cooking or doing chores, I just listened to a mystery on Audible. It’s a book from a favorite mystery author and I’m loving it.

Nothing whatsoever is wrong with listening to audiobooks for entertainment! The only problem was, I allowed it to chew up time that I could’ve been receiving food for thought, a challenge, or a kick in the pants through reading books and blog posts or listening to podcasts. When the ideas stop flowing in, I stagnate mentally.

As an introvert, I thrive on this style of learning, as opposed to learning in a group setting. Absorbing the advice and wisdom of smart, successful, innovative, and creative people through reading and listening sets my own wheels turning creatively and gets me thinking from different viewpoints. Suddenly I can approach a problem from another angle and consider another possibility that I didn’t see previously.

That said, on occasion I will take a class and push myself to learn in a group setting. It is completely unnerving–terrifying even–but can be a positive way to make new connections and learn. Like the Cob Therapy workshop I participated in back in June 2016 at Hawk Meadow Farm. That was definitely super scary to begin with, being an introvert and knowing nothing about building anything. But by the end of the four days, I made new friends, had a basic understanding of cob oven building and the satisfaction of having helped to build a beautiful and useful oven with twelve other people.

 

IMG_0505

Next week, I signed up for a Sustainability Forum in our village. I’ll probably feel nervous beforehand, but I’m pushing through because I’m hoping to learn a lot and connect with people in our community. If you live in Seneca County, you should sign up too!

So, how do you learn best? On your own or in a group? How long does it take you to realize you’re stagnating mentally and get back on the learning track? I’d love to hear how you learn and are inspired.

fullsizeoutput_ebb

A Silly Poem

This is a list poem I started concocting while in traffic one afternoon. It’s silly, short, and random, just like my thoughts that day.

Things I Want To Know

 

What are the best words for good SEO

Where did the Finger Lakes Spring go

Which herbs should I decide to grow

 

Why does the grocery store move things around

Who is making that terrible sound

What is the name of this rock I found

 

When will you take me to salsa dance

Why are mom jeans a kind of pants

When am I going to England and France

 

Who is the one who made this mess

Why is there drama when I dress

Where do atheists go to confess

 

What was the name of my great-grandad

Why did you have to get me so mad

What can you do with a voice that bad

 

Where will I live when I’m ninety-two

What will you say if I miss my cue

Where else is there such a great view

 

Why does my mind go tripping along

Who would like to hear my new song

When will we find out if we belong

 

©4/20/2018/by Kim Zimmerman/All Rights Reserved