September 18, 2014

THE END OF SUMMER



This is what the end of summer looks like: roasting (or drying) pan after pan of must-go tomatoes and peppers from our garden and the farmer's market. Stockpiling them in the freezer, next to all the berries and peaches. Leaving the windows open at night (and in the morning, but only until I'm done with my coffee and the sun strengthens). Making the first soups of the season, with the first squash. Planning where the kale, carrots, and autumn greens will go. Cautiously removing sweaters and coats from their off-season storage to air them out.

Fall doesn't officially begin until next week. But sometimes the end of one thing can be just as fun to celebrate as the beginning of the next.

September 15, 2014

THIS IS THIRTY



Today is my thirtieth birthday. It's a number that throws many people in to a quarter/third-life crisis, but I'm relieved to jump up to the next decade. Maybe it's an over-achiever, oldest-child thing, but I feel like thirty means I'm finally sitting at the "big kids'" table, like my number finally reflects more of the age I actually feel (which has always been, very old).

The last year has been... full. Full of change and growth, lots of questions, and a few less answers. I bought a house with Micah, celebrated a year working at Braid, got engaged, became the primary breadwinner for our little family, successfully grew my first root vegetables, became a godparent, learned how to tileeloped, and spent a record-breaking six weeks in Michigan.

I bought myself the most adult birthday present ever: a new (larger) mattress set, and all-new bed linens. !!! It hasn't been delivered yet, but it's already improved the quality of my life. I spent yesterday painting our bedroom black in preparation, and deep-cleaning the house. Tonight Micah is taking me out to eat and drink at all my favorite Durham spots. We'll do what we always do: recap the last year, dream about the next one... and then get to work on making it happen.

September 13, 2014

MASTER BEDROOM, BEFORE



We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of buying our house, and it's made me reflect on how much we have – and haven't – updated / renovated / changed since we moved in. One room we've kind of neglected, is our bedroom. We painted it white... and that's about it. It's always felt clean, but kind of... meh. Even more so once that the master bathroom was re-tiled and re-sinked.

So, change! I've decided to spend the last day of my twenties (more on that soon), painting the entire bedroom... drumroll... BLACK. Sexy, warm-cool, sleep-cave pitch black. I can't wait to see the subtle contrast created by all the dark grey furniture. And then the crisp contrast of walking into a white bathroom.

I'd eventually like to layer in some rugs, plants, wood, etc... but it begins with black walls. It begins with these meh "before" photos (today was overcast with equally "meh" light, but time is of the essence, and these will just make the "afters" look that much better). And it begins, tomorrow.

September 10, 2014

QUIET MOMENTS



My favorite part of staying in Michigan for six weeks, was all the quiet moments. The "off times," when the beach was deserted (more so than usual), when there wasn't anything going on, when I could just truly absorb and enjoy the place, and accompanying mental space, for what it is.

August 30, 2014

WILD BLUEBERRIES REDUX




I bring back the same souvenirs from Michigan every year: pieces of perfectly rounded driftwood, perfectly frosted beach glass, imperfectly perfect feathers. And in the last few years, cups and cups and cups of wild blueberries.

I wrote about it last August, and don't really think I can improve on that post (I did, however, improve on how much I brought home: 17 cups, to last year's 13). The zen flow of picking, the reward of highly-seasonal, highly-regional, highly-FREE food, and just the very miracle of this place – literally rising from the ashes.

I used the blueberries fresh for about a week in salads and parfaits, then froze just short of a gallon for use over the winter. I've got big plans for them: ice creams, tarts, sauces, popsicles. But regardless of what I make, they've already done their job – reminding of my six weeks on the lake, and allowing to relive a bit of that whenever I want, throughout the year.

August 24, 2014

POSTCARDS FROM CHICAGO



My parents and I drove to Chicago to visit my brother and his girlfriend, and celebrate their recent engagement. We spent three days walking the city, eating, drinking, looking up at architecture, and looking over Lake Michigan (Lake Superior's tenacious little sister). We visited my brother in the kitchen to which he's given the last few years of his life – an experience I need to write about soon, but am not quite prepared to yet.

I'm glad we took my FujiFilm Instax Mini to capture our tourist-ier moments. There's something about instant prints that just screams "all-American family vacation!," and I still find it's lack of exposure options utterly charming. We took over-exposed selfies on the architecture boat tour... and underexposed family portraits at dive bars. I guess we're redefining the all-American family vacation, too.

July 24, 2014

LAKE SUPERIOR



All of these photos were taken in a single six-hour window, leading up to and right after a pretty normal-sized summer storm.

Sometimes I forget exactly how large and powerful Lake Superior is. The bay we're on (Waiska, pronounced "whiskey," no lie) looks and feels huge; sometimes I forget that it's not the entirety of Lake Superior. But in reality, it compromises less than 0.5% of the lake's total size. I get glimpses of understanding what that means whenever a storm is rolling in from "the big lake." The water is pulled out and in to feed the cell's movement with seemingly thoughtless ease. It's kind of menacing if I'm in a dark mood, like looking at your pet and realizing that while you may think you have some sort of implicit agreement, they are actually just a wild animal, capable of really hurting you if they ever felt like it. (The list of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes is fascinating yet horrifying in it's breadth.) Sometimes it feels magical; our lake is doing ocean-things, cosmically-sized things, mimicking the tidal power of the moon. I want to put my toes in the waves and absorb some of it's crazy energy (which makes sense, considering I am Scorpio Ascendant).

Regardless of how I'm feeling (which is sounding pretty crazy, now that I've typed it out, but no less real), it's big. It's powerful. It's - Superior. We build houses next to it and brave insane, endless winters because of it's seemingly tidal draw. It feeds us; it sinks our ships. We swim in it; we drown in it.

...and I decide to spend a few weeks here each summer. Working, yes. But also admiring the lake, watching it warily, dipping my toes in it to absorb enough crazy energy to last me until next summer.