Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Potato Bake, with Fennel and Artichoke
6 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 2 large sweet onions
2 bulbs of fennel
2 12oz bags of frozen artichoke hearts (Trader Joes)
16 oz grated Gruyere
16 oz fresh whipping cream
6 oz Kerrygold butter
2 desert spoons of crushed garlic
1/2 cup of Pernod
Chop the fennel and onion into thin slices. Bring a large frying pan to extreme heat, and coat the bottom with butter and a high-heat vegetable oil. Dump the onion/fennel mix in and caramelize. And set aside
Defrost artichokes in microwave. Drain liquid, and allow to dry and cool. Slice the hearts length ways. Heat a pan (like before) this time with butter only, a shake of celery salt, and a mist of paprika. Brown the artichokes, and set aside.
In a big deep saucepan, heat remaining butter (4 oz) and add the garlic to seal it. Add the 16oz of fresh cream, and heat. Add the caramelized onion/fennel mix, and stir to blend all together (throw in a good desert spoon of horseradish too). Add the sliced potatoes, and stir regularly to a boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste. Add Pernod last.
Grease a Pyrex dish (13 X 9 X 2.5 inches) and fill it two thirds the way up with the creamed potato mix. Take one third of the grated cheese and layer evenly on top. Then, layer all of the browned artichokes over the cheese. Then layer another third of the grated cheese over the artichokes. Then, top off the dish with the remaining potato mix, and finish on top with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 375 for about 90 minutes. Hey presto!
Monday, December 02, 2013
“I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”
-- Joan Didion, from Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Sunday, December 01, 2013
I'm reminded by my friend Vivien, who lives in London, and has an innate wisdom of which I'm envious, that patience is a virtue, not because our pedantic teachers told us so, but because we're not all the same and we don't think the same way or act the same way or make decisions at the same pace as other people, and that if indeed we did, or they did, the world would be small and dull and predictable and boring. What makes life interesting, however you look at it -- whether with abundance, or through a too-small myopic lens -- is our ability, still to be surprised. Think of baskets of eggs. We line them up -- one over here, one there, one around the corner, just in case, one hidden in the cupboard for a rainy day, an array of possibilities, each one measured and shaped and ready to go, but then the one that smashes in your face is the one you didn't see and hadn't prepared for. This is what we call serendipity. And the best things come from serendipity, or the unexpected.
I am impatient by nature. Waiting makes me anxious. I think the worst. My imagination is filled with deliciously macabre scenarios, each one more bizarre and complicated than the next, and I find myself fretting and worried and miserable and ready to chuck in the towel. What Vivien reminds me, and this is woman who is a fan of Chopin's nocturnes and French poetry, is that rhythm is subjective. We each have an inner tempo and we can but dance to that beat, not anyone else's. The happy accidents occur when tempos collide and for one moment, for one glorious second or minute or day, if we are lucky, two different, subjective rhythms hit each other at the right place, the right time, and with the same intention. If these things were easy to predict would they be as transforming? I doubt it.
And so what can we do but wait, and not plan, and live in faith? That word faith again..."Faith: an abiding conviction in the openness of tomorrow" is a definition that works if you do or do not believe in the divine. I think of faith as staying on track, as not veering away from the road, and knowing, somehow, that the road is the right one.
A film adaptation of a book takes out the boring bits, or leaves them in to be signified by a little photo montage...the passing of time. But life itself has boring bits and we're called upon to be patient and at peace with waiting for things. A highlight reel would get old very, very quickly. (Or so I tell myself.)
Thursday, November 28, 2013
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
~W. S. Merwin
Monday, November 25, 2013
Can you imagine? Can you imagine having those words said to you? The unconditional nature of those words? Imagine that. I blew my nose and threw on pajamas and a big old sweatshirt from BATES which I wear in the mornings now and made myself a quick cup of tea. I am so proud of my friend. I am so damn proud of him.
Is there anything more sexy than a man who has the balls to put it out there like that?
So we're kicking about on the hillside as we do at seven ayem. The dogs snuffling and rooting. Me with my cup of tea, and my glasses, and my iphone, answering emails, trying to get ready for the day. And the sky is cold blue. And the sun is up and all manner of birds are singing, and I realize that the world is a beautiful place, on a Monday morning, just before Thanksgiving, on a day when I'm about to see hundreds of children singing "What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love." It's bloody epic. That's what it is. That simple, sweet act of commitment. I post my daily "Good Morning from Laurel Canyon" picture on Instagram (click here) and this time it says: "the future looks bright."
If you're home with your loved ones, or about to go home, or in touch by phone, or text, or whatever you use, remember to hug those you love. Remember to shower the people. It's all we can do. And Happy Thanksgiving my lovely ones. xo
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again.
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.
The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.
The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.
The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.
And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.
The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.
-- Joyce Sutphen via Writers Almanac
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
And I thought that Joni explained it very well, but sometimes we're just up against our own demons. Sometimes when things are really sweet and perfect and all is well in the world, you find yourself unable to tolerate a situation. It's a bit like having an allergy. Imagine sitting in a big field, full of tall grass and poppies, listening the birds, watching the larks, blue skies overhead, puffy clouds, and suddenly a histamine attack. All is well. All is sweet and then you realize your eyes are streaming from hay fever. And so it is, I have discovered, with life. There's a glimpse of a possibility. A tiny light, just flickering a little, a wee bit tentative, just needs some warm hands cupped around it so that it can take hold, a tiny bit of nurturing and it will glow. And then you burn your hand. There was a moment, a small, clear moment, when everything in the world felt connected. Your feet are attached to the earth and your head is soaring through the universe, and everything is full of abundance. There is a real human connection and every single cell is zinging with it. And somehow, through old neuroses, or fear, or lack of trust, or not believing enough, or just plain damage, you can't hold on to it. It just slips through your fingers.
It's raining now. The first big rain we've had in Los Angeles in weeks, maybe months.
I know this is temporary. I know it will go. I know tomorrow everything will be brighter, and there will be yoga to jog the cells and open the heart, and there will be walks and dogs and a new kind of greenness that always comes after the rain. But tonight my heart is heavy because I've closed a chapter on what could have been because I didn't have enough faith and I hope that I have made the right decision.
I dreamed about my father the other night. It was the first dream I've had about him in a very long time. He was lovely. Gentle, kind, and sewing. I don't know why he was sewing, but he had a needle and thread in his hand and he was hemming an old pair of khaki pants, surrounded by his dogs, and my friend and I spoke to him and he was old, but not infirm, and he was wise, and filled with light and glowing, angelically. And we were at the old house where we grew up, the house that felt like another parent to my brother and me. And it was was warm and there was a fire in the grate and my father was smiling.
Nothing really changes. We age but we still desire love, we still don't want to be abandoned, we still expect miracles. We wish we could change other people so that they think like we do, but we can't. Human beings are frail, paralyzed by their own limitations.
"I look at the world with abundance," said my friend C on the phone this morning. And that is the only way to look at it. It is beautiful, and bountiful and it gives us what we need. Kinda the opposite of the parasitic island in Life of Pi. So by that definition, I've made the right decision, because it is the only one that I can make, bound by my own limits.
There are hours in the early morning spent on the phone to London with two friends; one my oldest girlfriend with whom I do a killer a capella version of "Sorrow" by Bowie, and the other an old male friend who is having girlfriend issues. We vent to each other and he advises me with the male perspective. I rather enjoy it when I hear him, panting from riding his bike, complaining about the latest text from his love interest. We are all in this together.
But I leave you with the words of my friend Wendy, who is about as elevated a human being as you can get:
"The only thing we can do is give love. It's the only thing that matters."
It's the ONLY thing that matters. Fight everything else and stay with the love.
Can't you tell I've been listening to George Harrison?
Sleep well my lovely ones. xx
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
But today it's hard to resist the charms of the beautiful day. Yves Klein blue skies. Swooping hawks. The bright green fronds of the pepper tree. Tiny yellow birds darting amongst the canyon oaks. A warm breeze. And it's the sixth of November. London is cold and grey and drizzly. It's impossible not to be grateful.
My oldest girlfriend in the world who lives in London texts me this morning, early, like at 5 when I'm barely awake with a picture of a sparkly golden dress. "Just bought this. So guilty" she says. We talk about feast or famine, acronyms, french sexual terms, roast chicken, bandy about some song lyrics (we can harmonize almost any Bowie song you want to throw our way -- and well), giggle, giggle some more, and decide we should have a radio show wherein we banter. I don't know what I'd do without her. I really don't know what I'd do.
I am grateful for serendipity, for spotted dogs, for the birdsong that greeted me this morning, for kind and good men, for girlfriends, for the fact that Thanksgiving is just around the corner and my baby girl will be home.
Thank you, dear readers, for being on this journey, and for your wise counsel and support and love. It's incredibly lovely. What a long, strange trip it's been.