heat

Having just finished another yoga training weekend at the tail end of this most recent heat wave, I am now enjoying the cool moist breeze that is coming through with the sound of steady, much needed rain. It has been a long three weeks of beautifully sunny days with searing temperatures. Not one to complain about too much sun after growing up in Rochester New York (and endless days of lake effect gray), I have been grateful for this quintessential summer weather. And even though I feel the effects of heat very clearly, I tend to avoid air-conditioning and otherwise cooling measures… except for the gallons of ice tea I make. It has been a non stop production of boiling water and steeping large quantities of the red roobius chai that is a current favorite, or mint tea infused with fresh mint from the garden, or fresh brewed nettle tea, each bottle prepared for the refrigerator sweetened ever so lightly with maple syrup…

And even though the soft rich earth colors typically evoke warmth, there is something about the quality of clear translucency of these fresh brews that evoke a passing wave of cool through me. And provides an easy and delightful go to in the refrigerator, poured over a glass full of ice, during the relentless heat…

It was during our training practice session this past weekend I finally felt the impact of so much heat. It was a rigorous session and Iooking around it seemed I was the only one in a full dripping sweat. Judgement came up immediately, and it was almost debilitating enough to have me completely let go. Choice point. Will and ego wrestling with acceptance. That place that is a defining feature of yoga, of being in a moment where the choice is to accept and rest where one is, or to push forward and keep moving from the center of where one is. And what I have come to learn is that either choice requires the same awareness for it to be a supportive experience; the awareness of the cool, quiet, stable, and very connected center of our core essence.

And now that the rain has finally come, I consider that the parched earth is finally able to absorb what she needs to release her heat too, and I wonder how much rain it will take to cool and quiet her center this time….

then and now

It is the time of summer that I typically am getting ready to go to ‘quilt camp’. It begins this week and I feel the pull of wanting to be there even though I won’t be this year. No coincidence of course that in the past few weeks, I have been drawn to complete the quilt I began in a class entitled “Faces” with teacher Rosalie Dace last year and has been sitting quietly under a cloth on my sewing table ever since….

As part of a series I call ‘the mandala’ series, the design for this quilt has been organized around a center and is full of curved pieces that I have chosen to applique by hand in finished turned under edges. There is a tactile quality to all the quilts in this series, inviting the hand to trace the spirals and curves that weave through each one. Working now on this fourth and last of the series is inviting me to reflect on what happens in the space of a year, what I see differently that changes the piece, and how seeing these differences only reinforces what has always been there….

Now I am back in my garden ten years ago where my journey to quilt camp began. It is a new garden, only a few years old, and this is the first year that it actually looks like a garden, with discernible clumps of things like lavender and day lilies, with smatterings of color added by the annuals throughout. A novice gardener, I am thrilled with the emerging diversity and substance of this new garden and take many photos that become inspiration for the quilt I will begin in my first workshop at ‘Quilting by the Lake’ …..

The piece that I make this summer of 2002 is an equally thrilling experience for me. First time working with raw edge applique, I discover the freedom of working quickly and spontaneously with fabric and thread. Like the newly emerging garden that inspires this piece, I know I have found my foundation as an artist and almost complete my first ‘art quilt’ in the weeks time of the workshop with teacher Joan Colvin, and call it ‘Energy Garden’….

Now ten years later I stand out in my garden and take in the growth….

The once small clumps of things just taking root then have literally gone wild. The bee balm is now a field of its own, with coneflowers and wild flox mixing with black eyed susans and daisies and the mexican sunflowers. They tower over my head and assert their mastery over time by completely claiming the space of this garden as their own….

And now after a year, I regard where in fact the ‘faces’ that inhabit this quilt have also rooted and taken hold. Inspired by portrait photographs of my mother, me, and my daughter each taken at the age of four years old (as shown in the order below),

the quilt is structured around the energy that these faces share, embodying the foundation and expression of feminine as passed from one generation to another and what emerges is the archetypal face of ‘mother’. Now a year later, I am able to finally complete the form of this archetypal face while taking the time it takes to sew each connecting curve into place by hand, and while so securing the foundation of this quilt, can also honor how passions have played out over the past ten years: my mother now a potter gone wild,

my daughter an anthropologist gone wild,

and finally me, a quilter gone wild…

fourth of July burgers

I am actually relishing my alone time this 4th of July and anticipating eating exactly what I want whenever I want.  So why am I obsessing about burgers?  It started the previous week.  I find a recipe for quinoa burgers and make a big batch, they are yummy but a little hard to manage, not quite ‘burger enough’ to actually grill and so need to be cooked in a pan with a little olive oil.  No, today I want ‘a burger’, more specifically a veggie burger, more specifically a veggie burger homemade with the fresh vegetables at hand, that I can cook out on my grill!!  smile.

I consult with Google and find a recipe for red lentil burgers with aioli.  Perfect.  I have the end of a bag of red lentils in the cupboard.  I even have a container of leftover egg whites (recipe calls for 2) from the custard I made the other night.  I make some homemade bread crumbs with my seven grain sprouted bread (for 1/2 cup required) and begin finely dicing the onion (1 cup), carrots (1/2 cup), garlic cloves (3), and mushrooms (2 cups) while cooking 3/4 cup of the dried red lentils in 2 cups water and salt.  The lentils take about 15 minutes to get soft and mushy and I put them in a strainer to cool and drain off the excess liquid.  I decide to finely dice some broccoli and walnuts to add to the mix too.  And a handful of fresh cilantro.  All the vegetables are sautéed with just a tad of oil, I add a splash of the dark stout beer I am enjoying, and some ground fennel seed, cook it all until the liquid is gone and put in a bowl to cool. Mix everything together after a few minutes of cool down with on tablespoon fresh lemon juice.  Then form the burgers.   The feel is right, and they certainly do look like the real deal…

Since it is just me, I decide to taste test by making just one for me now in a pan on the stove and wrap the rest to freeze for grilling another time, and it sautes perfectly crisp brown on both side just the way I like it.  I layer it with the aioli (mayonnaise + lemon juice), lettuce and avocado on a slice of sprouted bread, garnish with freshly made refrigerator pickles,  and take the first bite….

And it is not at all what I expected!!  Hmmmm.  And I realize that, even after all these years of not eating beef,  what I expected was the taste and feel of a real hamburger.  After all, it actually looks and feels like one.  Hmmmm again.  This is humbling to say the least.  And takes me out of my experience of this lovely veggie burger in front of me.  I am not completely enjoying the unique texture or the strength of the lentils, surprisingly present in the mix after all, even stronger than the vegetables it is mixed with.  I am still clinging to the memory of what the lentils are substituting for, and as soon as I realize this I am able to let it go and settle in with the wonderful meal in front of me with relish.  Whew.  Happy independence day….

describing

Now is the time of summer when the harvest of all colors begins, and I arrive home from the farmer’s market with a full basket of gorgeous fresh food…

It’s all I can do to get from one meal to the next without wanting to experiment with the freshness of it all. One of my favorite things has always been to make a bowlful of crunchy fresh things with a light easy dressing, to be eaten as is, or added to a grain for a full meal. Today’s bowlful begins with the abundantly fresh cucumbers (first thing put in the bottom of the basket!), then some seasonal snap peas cut into pieces (they’re there too, also hidden!), a large firm organic fuji apple that is calling from the bin, a handful of fresh basil from my kitchen garden sliced into thin ribbons, some walnuts, the leftover avocado half, and the half can of garbanzo beans in the fridge. It is tossed with the lightest amount of good quality olive oil (the good stuff that gets sent to me from The Olive Press in California, an annual gift I receive from my brother Rob each year) to just barely cover, a liberal squeeze of fresh lemon juice, some sea salt & pepper…

It is delicious! Each part is distinct and contributes robustly. The snap peas are plump and full of flavorful moisture, the cucumbers supremely crisp, the avocado perfectly green and soft, the walnuts simply deliciously raw, the apple surprisingly sweet and juicy crunchy fresh, the garbanzo beans adding a bit of soft contrast, and the basil, subtly pungent in smell more than taste, completes this particular foray into the world of fresh….

I am now a child and have just finished describing some delicious meal at our family table. All eyes on me as I wax poetic about the taste sensation of whatever is there and I then see my mother’s smile and father’s amusement at how passionately and unabashedly and expressively I offer my description. It has always been this way and memory simply reinforces how easy it is now still to express the joy felt in connecting with and describing something as simple and profound as a perfectly fresh apple or cucumber…smile.

The beauty of these crunchy ‘chopped’ style salads is that the leftovers are as good the next day. Adding some cooked quinoa adds both taste and texture and makes a complete and satisfying meal. And up close?

A bowlful of art, of complementary shapes and colors and textures, a tapestry of food that couldn’t possibly be anticipated until this moment in the making….and then realize that seeing and describing food this way is what brings me back to an innocence that simply feels good….