We are still loving Kid Made Modern over here, and while we’ve designed our own t-shirts before, this was our first time using paints and homemade stamps. It was a blast. We made a few different stamps with the make-up sponges, but in the end, they wanted exactly what was in the book. Sometimes it’s like that. I gave the boys a couple of old t-shirts for them to go stamp crazy with, then gently guided them as they made their legit one.
Where does time go, I ask? With my last post over a week ago, I feel like I've been neglecting my space here. No real reason either, other than the busy–ness of my life and trying to document something and not ending up completing it, which makes me not want to post it. That photo of the cinnamon rolls I made is a good example. Nice shot of the dough, but where's the money shot? Nowhere. It will just live in my memory, I guess.
I've been embracing change lately, maybe as a way out of the seasonal funk I sometimes get into (yes, even here in sunny LA.) I've stopped straightening my hair, I've been pushing myself to learn new things, to change up my routine, to begin to think a little more than the moment that's right in front of me. Funny, not long ago, I would have written how I needed to stop thinking so much about the future and more about the present moment. Well, whateva.
Mateo may have been thinking the same thing when he came to me one day after school and said he wanted a haircut. Okay, that's weird, I thought. I've never heard those words come out of his mouth. "You want a trim or something?" I asked. "No," he said, "I want it all off." and then, "And I want them to put a Z on the side. Z for Zoro." Well okay then.
So we went to the barbershop, and I watched with a little bit of joy as the stylist pulled out the clippers and all his curls went buzzing to the floor. There seemed like hundreds of hairy little C's piled up under his chair. There was almost a crowd of women around him either saying, 'Wow, you look so handsome!" or "Wow, what happened to all your beautiful curls?" It was a funny scene I wish I had a picture of (which serves as yet another example of my recent lameness in documenting.)
Anyway, he loves, loves, loves his new cut, and I have noticed a little shift in his attitude. He walks a little more deliberately, and he certainly seems to hold his head up more. To watch how something so simple as a haircut make such a difference to my little boy was enough to lift me up. What change is next to come?
With so many days of rain, there was an instinctual urge to go inside and not come out until the clouds parted. Not entirely realistic, but we stayed in as much as we could. There was something very comforting and novel about it, given our perpetually lovely weather here in Southern Cali, and how much of our lives is spent outdoors. One afternoon we built a fort based on Todd Oldham's very cool book, Kid Made Modern. Once it was done, the boys and I crawled inside, covered ourselves with blankets and listened to the rain. It may have been a tight fit, but it was cozy indeed. Not long after that, they took to their rambunctious selves and proceeded to turn our lovely little hideout into the Deathstar. But it's gotten some pretty serious use since, and I've had to reinforce it more than once. With more rain on the way this week, perhaps I can steal a little more time inside of it with them.
The rain stopped just in time for the weekend, and I was delighted with the clean air and clear skies that come to us after a storm. On Sunday there was not a cloud in the sky. We ventured to Lake Shrine, a place we hadn't been to in some time, and walked the lake and fed the birds, and picked up some very good wisdom along the way. The ground was still moist, the flowers were bright and still glistening, the air was sweet, and after such ferocity in the air, all seemed calm. It was a perfect contrast, and a great way to begin the week.
So to lift my spirits, what do I do?
Make roasted cauliflower soup. Yes, it made me feel better. And it made me feel even better to watch Mateo eat three big bowls of it. It's a simple, lovely thing.
2 heads cauliflower
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 shallot sliced
5 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 425. Cut cauliflower into bite size florets and place in a bowl with 3 tbsp. of olive oil, sliced shallot and a generous pinch of salt. Toss, making sure each piece is coated. Place cauliflower on cookie sheet or roasting pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so.
About 10 minutes before the cauliflower is done, saute the onion in a heavy stock pot with the rest of the olive oil until slightly caramelized. Add cauliflower to the pot with broth, white wine, and garlic. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender.
Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pot and add heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
We are bracing for a some serious rain here in Southern California this week. In our world, this is winter. So this weekend here was lots of baking in an attempt to keep our insides warm. There was No-Knead Bread, a chocolate cinnamon coffee cake, and a wild mushroom and ricotta savory pie. The last two did not get photographed for some reason before they were promptly eaten. Oh well. Guess we'll just have the make them again.
We also braved a pretty crazy rainstorm for the MLK Jr. parade yesterday. We were all soaked, and the parade left a little to be desired (it seemed to be mostly for the LAPD and LAFD), but it still meant so much to hear his words at one point echoing down the route. Leading up to today, the boys listened to a handful of Dr. King's speeches, and as I expected, there were lots of questions about who he was, where he is now (Nico kept waiting to see him at the parade), why was there segregation, and why a group of people didn't like a different group of people because of what they looked like. We've had some children's books on MLK waiting in the wings for this very moment in time when they were old enough to begin to understand what he was about. Amazing how powerful Dr. King was and still is, in that he can capture the imagination of even the littlest of people.
This was the scene at my house this morning, Mateo taking a peaceful nap as he worked his way through a pretty mild stomach bug. While I lie there with him, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with sadness for all of the people suffering such extraordinary losses in Haiti. Each day the stories just get more bleak. This morning there was the reporter who broke down while covering a woman who was wailing in the streets after she lost four of her children in the quake, and lost her fifth at a hospital sometime later.
There was a piece in the Op-Ed section of the NY Times this week by Pooja Bhatia entitled, “Haiti’s Angry God.” In it she writes, “If God exists, he’s really got it in for Haiti.” How could this be true? How can a people, who already existed in what had been declared the “Slum of the Earth”, had just survived the crushing aftermath of a major hurricane, now be faced with the almost complete destruction of their lives? Where do they go from here?
We’ve donated money to Partners in Health, in hopes that it will make it there. This morning, the boys and I lit a candle in recognition. I try to send out some healing energy. Such small things, but I’m told it all matters. We shall see.
In August of last year, The New York Times ran an article on the front page of its Sunday magazine called, "The Women's Crusade," written by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. I was actually drawn to it at first because of Nicholas, who is one of my favorite reporters/columnists. He's someone whose opinions I always seem to agree with, and is one of those brilliant, intrepid people who stalk the globe pulling the veil off of its dark corners. As I expected the article was enlightening and sad, but it was also very galvanizing. He and his wife wrote tale after tale of women who were not allowed to educate or support themselves because of their poverty and female suppression, but came through to tremendous circumstances when they were helped by people who sponsored them.
I remember closing the magazine and walking right to my computer to register as a sponsor at Women for Women International, an aid organization where they specifically assist women war survivors. If a woman is matched with a sponsor, they said, she will be enrolled in a group of 20 other women and will learn a trade skill which will hopefully bring her family more prosperity.
Not long after that I received a package with information about my new "sister." Her name was Felicite, she was 43, and lived in Rwanda. She had two sons and a daughter, none of whom were in school. She lived with no electricity, she cooked by fire and walked 7 miles each day for water. She lost almost all of her family in the genocide. By joining the program she hoped to,"improve her economic situation" and "become more active in her community." I could only hope that my little monthly contribution would help her reach that goal.
I wrote to her, telling her about us, and I included a photograph. I thought it would be an easy letter to write, it was basic information after all. But even at my most basic, there is more abundance in my life than she'd ever understand. My western guilt, I suppose, began to creep in. But I finished it and sent it off, not knowing if I'd ever hear back, and then yesterday I did. It was a card she had made herself, and I could still smell the raw earth that had imbued into the paper and the glue. It was like a sweet kiss that had traveled thousands of miles to land itself on my cheek.
For her 60th birthday this year, my mom wanted to head down to Baja in search of whales, one of her passions. There were whale watching excursions, and lots of reconnecting with family and friends we hadn't seen in a while. Everyone was beside themselves about the fresh margaritas and mixing bowls full of guacamole and pico de gallo, that we gorged until even I had my fill of what I consider one of my favorite foods. But it was a sweet little trip that capped a very full winter break. Perhaps too full, as I succumbed to a wicked, wicked stomach bug that has had me in a deep Mexicoma since we returned. But all will soon be well. I will miss my little ones as we go back off into our own worlds of school and work. But it always makes the time we spend together so wonderfully precious.