How is it possible that October starts tomorrow?
Frankly, I’m still a little flummoxed that summer came and went so quickly (I guess we were all so distracted with pressing matters on the home front) and the fact that it hailed in Portland two days ago (!) really has me confused.
Clearly there’s nothing to be done about it, and as sad as I am to see the hammock packed up (and with it the promise of icy refreshments alongside),
it’s time to wrap my mind around the fact that autumn is more than nipping at our heels and we have a big month coming up.
David gets his second immunotherapy treatment this Thursday. We won’t really know if it’s working until possibly our scan mid-October. Or we may not know for a while.
Unfortunately, David is now struggling mightily. His pain in his chest continues and he’s slowly losing weight and strength. We don’t know if this is a foreboding sign of things to come– or just part of the brutal recovery post-operation.
The fear, uncertainty and heartache surrounding watching one of your dearest loves — and this case, my life partner with whom I will share a 20th anniversary on Wednesday of this week– fight this evil disease is devastating and demoralizing.
Knowing I am largely powerless to alleviate his suffering, provide security or offer up solutions, all I can do is fixate on three things.
ONE. I’ve been distracting myself with games, crafts and giving to others.
One thing you may not know about me is I’m obsessed with fantasy football. Yes, I know — it seems improbable for the gal who hated football a couple years ago. Oliver got me hooked on the sport a few years back and I’m incredibly competitive at games so combine these two — and the most desperate need for distractions right now — and there you have it.
Before I knew it, I’m game managing 18 different fantasy football teams and trying to keep track of them all — and win in as many leagues as I can!– keeps me very busy.
Doing anything crafty makes me happy, too, and I especially love when my passion for cooking/baking, vintage and crafty endeavors align.
Take a look at this tiny little calendar I found at the Bins.
This sixty-year old relic was found in a random bin of housewares and once I saw the inside pictures I knew I’d have to bring it home.
Each month had a tiny panel with the prettiest script and cutest images so I cut them up, pasted them and color copied them onto sticker paper (also found inexpensively at the Bins).
Aren’t the stickers so sweet?
Packaging treats are part of my favorite part of the process — and these labels will are a fun way to share some vintage love seasonably.
And like I mentioned earlier, getting out of my brain and reaching out to others in need of help or love helps me, too.
So that means more than a few care packages have gone out of late — to either those struggling with their own challenges or to someone who’s shared a lot of love or encouragement with me and mine.
(Isn’t that vintage pine cone paper a hoot?)
Here in Portland I know one particular family who’s struggling even more than mine is so I asked the husband what he was craving because I wanted to drop off something that he wanted.
He told me lentil soup and something decadent.
There’s little more restorative and comforting than a homemade bowl of soup.
Here’s another drop off this week that employed soup made earlier and frozen for occasions just like this one.
TWO. I’ve been filling my cup by allowing others to lighten my load.
I love this particular expression; caregiving is done with love but is so depleting, and early on I’ve had people tell me how necessary it is to bolster myself up any way I know how so that I will have the strength and courage to support those around me.
Saying yes or being on the receiving end of generosity is difficult for me, but I’m now learning how necessary it is sometimes so that I can keep on track.
So when a friend asks me now if I’d like some homemade bread?
I say, yes Ivy, I would love it.
Do I want to go to the farmer’s market? another friend queries.
It always energizes me to be surrounded by so much opulence and beauty.
It’s so interesting to note that summer’s bounty of reds and yellows has morphed into the inky purples and greens of fall’s harvest.
How apropos that this week’s tomatoes — probably the last of the season — flaunt such interesting hues.
Knowing that the eating situation with David is so precarious and fraught with worry, I’ve also had a number of girlfriends lure me out to eat.
I’ve had a number of coffee dates and lunch meet-ups.
I’ve been to Joule, a local spot with scads of options for healthy eating and unusual drinks
like this mango lassi with coconut whip and cardamom.
All their food is deeply flavorful and colorful.
I’ve also met up friends at Bitter Rose, a wonderful coffee shop three blocks from my house that makes spectacular lattes.
And then there’s one of my most favorite bev spots in town — Tea Bar.
And when dear pals Elizabeth and Gillian told me they wanted to treat me to somewhere I’d never been, I was powerless to say no.
Pardon the light — my Iphone was giving me starts but you get the idea.
We embarked on a sumptuous feast starting with Buffalo mozzarella agrodulce
and all kinds of spectacular salads
(the corn, peach and hazelnut was my favorite)
and a corn agnolotti entree was so delightful that I forgot to take pictures of it (that’s perhaps the highest praise when my gluttony precludes documentation).
Ava Genes, you’re a beauty!
Thanks to all of you who’ve lured me out with the promise of gastronomic goodness.
THREE. Lastly, so much of my life is beyond my control but I can surround or immerse myself in as many small joys as possible.
Once or twice a week I’ve set aside time to bake up treats for both Charlotte’s early mornings
and to share with neighbors.
Ah the smell of fruit and vanilla baking in my oven!
Sometimes joy takes the form of making one of my favorite meals: Thai turkey larb with cashews, lime and cilantro.
Or one of Charlotte’s favorites: a Tikka Masala/Butter Chicken hybrid.
I try to get out of my head and regularly take notice of beauty in small corners
and then go out and procure more of it to prolong the pleasure once back at home.
And so as difficult September slides into an unsure October, I’m constantly reminded to try to be in the moment, as difficult as that it is.
I’m trying to take stock of what it’s right in front of me and really enjoy it with gratitude and the acknowledgement that it is what it is. Things might get better, but they also might get worse, and nothing lasts forever.
Is there a better edible reminder of the life’s bittersweet impermanence than tomatoes right now?
So that’s life right now.
Caramel bars and cancer.
Girlfriends and grief for dreams dashed — with a bowl of something spectacular alongside.
And then there’s the humanity in the form of little gifts left on my porch, (sometimes with notes, sometimes not)
and heartaches and worry galore.
We’re all at a crossroads but I couldn’t be more grateful for those of you on the journey with me.
Here’s Peace — and Pork Chop!– to all of you.
But October? Really?
(May the Trick or Treat table planning commence.)