Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Urban Memorial Garden

While they planted, I supervised and remembered. Our urban beautification project and the anniversary of my father-in-law's passing crossed in time. To plant living things and nurture them while they take root is an act of patience and love. As it turns out, so is recalling the memories. 

It takes patience with yourself that the grief is not past. I read a book that said it takes 3 years to move through the grief process for an unexpected death. I more recently read Anne Lamott's Stitches and I think I agree with her. You never get over it. It's a visitor that can come unexpected and sometimes doesn't visit as frequently, but you're never quite rid of him.

It takes love to actively engage in the memories despite the pain. Love and beauty intertwine in whispers of faint laughter and new buds struggling to open. I find it difficult to straddle time this way. To recall the past and keep the memory alive, while also looking straight into a future where those memories will never be repeated or experienced again in the present.

We didn't set out to plant a memorial garden, but in the afternoon of togetherness, that's what it became to me. The foliage and flowers have bloomed, re-bloomed and some fallen away. When I step past it on my way to work each morning, I think of it as Harry's garden. And I think I would like to spend some time there, fortifying the memories.

WeVerb 2014 - Fortify
I'm loosely participating in WeVerb 2014 as I catch up on several saved posts and reflect on last year! Join in the fun: http://www.weverb14.com/

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Arroya Seco Tubing Adventure

A friend of a friend suggested a tubing adventure. Adventure is our middle name we all collectively said. So we found ourselves equipped with Wal-mart inflatable chairs and two Gatorades each. The friend of the friend had given careful instructions on the type of chair and size of Gatorade. We began the day intrepidly, darting up the fire truck path, deep into Los Padres National Forest, along the Arroya Seco river.

The Gatorade, which at first had seemed like overkill, was quickly drained as we trekked to the drop-in point. Dipping into the promised pools motivated every step.

It was all fun and games in the first large pool. Dogs splashed nearby and teenagers, with less common-sense than us, leaped from the surrounding cliffs, showing-off for the girls below. Winded, breathless, we filled our chairs until we nearly fainted. It took an hour to recover.

Of course, it wasn't quite the adventure we had envisioned. Afterall, nearly everything we had done so far could have been done at the public pool at the YMCA. We followed the river, anxious to happen upon a waterfall.

We picked our way through shallow, moss-covered river beds with all but the most sure-footed of us landing upon our tushies. The round, smooth river stones somehow always transformed to hazardous jags right where we landed. Just ahead, there must be a pool, or some fun. And there was. Secret hideaways, with no one for miles. Rapids that tested our resolve. Deep, dark waters hid unknown fearsome creatures that the ophidiophobic among us was certain were nipping at his feet.

We rested in other pools, the careful stepping along the river, the diminishing Gatorade reserves and the zapping strength of the sun, all taking their toll. The hours passed and our uncertainty grew. Where did the friend of a friend say the exit point was? Did this bend look like it could be the bend?

Paddling. Searching. Adventuring. Unlike the amusement park, you couldn't just get off the ride. We pressed on until the way became clear. Dragging our wet bodies up the steep and dusty ridge, eroded over centuries of the Arroyo Seco biting down upon it, we saw the last obstacle. A rope lay in front me, the top grounded 10 feet above. The only thing between me and the civilization of the car loaded with Gatorade reserves was this bit of climbing. I wish I could say it was without trembling, but my knees were knocking every step. Hand over hand I pulled, unable to close my eyes to the height and control the fear of falling.

Back at the car, we commiserated. It was a bit more adventure than perhaps we could handle. Masking our disappointment with exclamations of "We're too old for this shit!", we resorted to comedic relief. Later at the hotel, under the 1970s original motorcycle artwork, we recounted the fun and the terror. We nursed our bruised feet, our sunburned bellies and wounded pride.

WeVerb 2014 - Remember
I'm loosely participating in WeVerb 2014 as I catch up on several saved posts and reflect on last year! Join in the fun: http://www.weverb14.com/

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bernalgrams - Reflecting on 2013

Sometime late in the summer, I started a 30 day photography project that I had been ruminating about all year. I was working from home and often found myself marveling at the variations of the same scene from my kitchen window. Bernal Hill loomed in the back ground in the morning when I started the coffee maker. Through the coffee maker steam when I got another cup. Behind a thick veil of summery fog. Doused in the blue twighlight. Bespecked by flurries of clouds. In the dawn, while the street lamps still shone.

I concluded my project after a guestimated and non-consecutive 30 days. Above you can see the slighter variation and below you can see some of my favorites.

I'd like to do another series, perhaps on my commute. Follow me @palindromeathome on Instagram to follow along! #onceadaybernalhill #frommykitcehnwindow

WeVerb 2014 - Capture
I'm loosely participating in WeVerb 2014 as I catch up on several saved posts and reflect on last year! Join in the fun: http://www.weverb14.com/

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stone Fruit and Grilled Chicken Salad with Lemon Champagne Vinaigrette

I made a gorgeous salad this summer with fresh berries and darling little apricot look-a-likes, the name of which I'd never heard before, and haven't heard of since. The organic corner market on the far end of the park was selling them two for one before they turned to mush. It called for using them straight away.

I also happened to have some lemony grilled chicken leftovers and this salad came together as most do with a rifling through the crisper drawers. For the rest of the USA experiencing the remnants of a deep freeze, I shouldn't make you any more jealous of California than you already are. But I will. I believe I could replicate this salad exactly today. Perhaps a bit of tangerine instead of the forgettable named stone fruit. Such is life in the salad bowl of America.

I used my lightbox, gifted by a dear friend, for the first time. And while it all turned out with a bit of a blue tinge, I had so much fun playing stylist and photographer. I had an unforeseen summer sabbatical and didn't mind playing with my food. No conference calls chirped in the background. No urgent emails popped into my inbox. It was just me and my salad.

And you-know-who.

He found the whole set-up irresistible. The new smell! The swaths of fabric to test! The tempting chicken!

I caught him right before he taste tested it.

Stone Fruit and Grilled Chicken Salad with Lemon Champagne Vinaigrette

Mixed spring greens
Strawberries, halved
Stone fruit that calls your name at the market
Grilled Chicken (my leftovers were grilled in a lemon/rosemary rub)
Blue Cheese, a healthy heaping of crumbles

2 Tbsp. Meyer Lemon Olive Oil (I use the local Stonehouse - such a weekday indulgence!)
1 Tbsp. Champagne Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Apricot Jam
1/2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

WeVerb 2014 - Savor
I'm loosely participating in WeVerb 2014 as I catch up on several saved posts and reflect on last year! Join in the fun: http://www.weverb14.com/