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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sunday Slowly

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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