05 February 2012

… and the livin’ is easy (July 2011)

The days stretch long, work has shrunk to a trickle, and I’m enjoying every moment of every day, even more so when the sun deigns to shine upon our coastal clime. It is okay, I have decided, to play. And to paraphrase Cat Steven’s, “oh Lord, how she plays and plays, for that happy day, for that happy day.”

Summer in Humboldt is bursting with activities. Within the past two weeks, I have paddled kayaks in the bay, laughed myself silly at not one but two showings of Dell Arte’s “Mary Jane: The Musical,” picnicked atop a craggy rock overlooking wooded valleys and distant mountains, explored a 30-mile-long back road through undeveloped woodlands and fields, attended a Crabs double-header, and danced at the free Thursday night concerts on the boardwalk. This coming weekend I join friends for a showing of the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s annual free play in the park down in Berkeley. (For those of you who don’t know, they do not perform mime; they are one of the country’s leading political theater groups). Later this summer I’m joining another friend for a few days at her cabin in Kirkwood. And I’ve got tickets to see Willie Nelson in early September. (Yay!)

I’ve been playing at home, too. The chickens, of course, provide endless amusement, as do the cats. (Yes, I’m easily amused.) The garden offers flowers for arranging and vegetables with which to devise tasty dishes. The library keeps me supplied with mind candy (I’m still on a Terry Pratchett run), and my friends gracefully and repeatedly whoop me at Scrabble. Even hanging laundry out to dry provides delight, as does walking 2.5 miles most evenings as the light moves through its golden stage into dusk and the skunks skip at a safe distance through nearby pastures.

And then there are the things I’d still like to do: camp along the Mattole, kayak at Big Lagoon, catch a few more plays, and of course see the new Harry Potter movie when it arrives. Summer is so brief; already the days are shortening, although I am practicing fervent denial of this fact. And life is short. So I encourage you to play, too, whatever play looks like to you. And if you’d like company, give me a call. I may just be free to come along.

Tip of the Month

Summer vacation often means travel. I am not going to tell you how to organize for travel (although I can talk you through how to organize your car if you’d like). Rather, I’d like to share the most important lesson I ever learned about traveling: let go of expectation. Every single time, no exceptions, that I’ve gone into an experience with expectations, I’ve been disappointed. When I’ve been able to go in with an open mind, however -- when I’ve been able to simply experience a situation or person or place as it is -- I’ve enjoyed the experience. The best travel tip I can offer is to go with the flow and accept things as they are, see the beauty and joy and blessings in what is instead of what we’d hoped would be.

Quotes of the Month

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude. -- Etty Hillesum

Why fill the heart with hopes? Leave it empty for God. -- Robert Mertens

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise. -- Alice Walker

It is simple. We are where we should be, doing what we should be doing. Otherwise we would be somewhere else, doing something else. -- Richard Stine

Mistakes are the portals of discovery. -- James Joyce

For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Recipe of the Month

Peach Galette

Preheat oven to 375

Prepare a crust using:
1 cup flour
½ cup cold butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
about 5 Tablespoons of cold water or milk
(Optional – a small sprinkling of cinnamon)

Roll out and place on a cookie sheet.

In the center of the rolled crust, artfully arrange peach slices in concentric circles, leaving about 3 inches of the crust uncovered. You can sprinkle the peaches with a bit of sugar, or not, depending on the sweetness of the peaches and your preference. I find this comes out fine without any sugar.

Fold the crust on top of the peaches, leaving the center fruit uncovered.

Bake until a rich golden brown, probably about 45 minutes.

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