They Say Bread is Life

Homemade Bread - Photo by Allison Profeta

Homemade Bread – Photo by Allison Profeta

It’s difficult to watch someone suffer.  I never seem to find the right words, especially when a friend is a long way away.  I want to spring into action and get in the car and drive to where I need to be in order to fix things.

But that isn’t a possibility right now.

I listen and oftentimes I cry and we text and message and life keeps moving . . . and it doesn’t seem like enough.

So this post is for friends who suffer.  I don’t have the answers to a lot of things, but if there is one thing I do know how to do – it is feed my feelings.  When I discovered this bread recipe I jumped all over it.  It seemed very straightforward and the accompanying pictures were helpful.  To my surprise, the finished product actually came out looking exactly the way the loaves were supposed to look.  I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since.

I’m not a baker.  I love to cook, and have always found the act of cooking to be therapeutic.  Baking?  Can’t stand it.  It’s too precise.  All that measuring, all those extra dishes to wash . . . it just sucks all the fun out of cooking.

So why am I recommending baking two loaves of bread to my friends who are struggling right now?

Because there is something meditative and soothing about this recipe.  Yes, you have to measure carefully.  But then you get to rest for an hour as the dough slowly doubles.

Return to the kitchen to punch down the dough and shape into two balls that then rest for 10 more minutes.  You should sit with a cup of hot chocolate.

Shape the dough into two loaves (follow this advice on how to do it – it’s like folding a huge, yeasty envelope) and allow them to rest for another 30 minutes.  Go put your feet up and watch an episode of your favorite show.  (I’ve been binge watching Louie when I can’t sleep.)

Come back to your bread and pop the loaves into the oven for 30 minutes of filling your home with the smell of love, and goodness, and comfort.  You should read a book while this happens.

When the timer goes off, remove the loaves from the oven and completely ignore anyone (including the recipe author) fool enough to tell you to allow them to cool for a few minutes in the pan.  No.  You pop those crusty babies right out onto a cutting board and use an oven mitt to hold it while you slice into it with a large serrated knife.  Ease a thick slice onto a plate and immediately put at LEAST two slices of butter onto it.

Stand and watch the butter melt.  You should hug yourself while it soaks into your bread.  I know that sounds silly.  Do it anyway.

Now.  Go find the most comfortable seat in your home and eat your slice of bread.  It’s OK if your eyes roll into the back of your head with your first bite.  Don’t fight that.

I recommend baking two loaves of bread to anyone fighting depression or anxiety because the steps are small enough that they won’t overwhelm you but the process is long enough that it will get you through a large chunk of your day.  I recommend it because afterwards you will have something warm and soothing to enjoy.  I recommend it because you can take hunks of bread with you to work or with you to the bathroom (if you’re hiding from kids) for the rest of the week and each time you enjoy a slice you can think to yourself “I did this.  I put one foot in front of the other and I did this.  I nourished my soul and my palate and my tummy and my nose and my hands.  I kneaded and measured and folded and baked.  I did it.”

The next time you feel as if you may not get through the day, or feel alone, or feel lost . . . bake two loaves of bread.  And save some for me.  Because I will be there for you.

This is Childhood

Childhood - Photo by Allison Profeta

Childhood – Photo by Allison Profeta

This is childhood.

The first warm day after weeks of arctic cold and one (hopefully) last huge snow storm.

Charging from a homemade fort into the bright light of a sunny afternoon.

Toy guns blazing, ready to chase down the bad guys that might be lurking around any nearby corner.

Pumping your little legs as hard as you can in order to keep up with your older brothers.

Free to run.

This moment is childhood – frozen in one frame.

“Flores Para Los Muertos . . . “*

Thorn Rose Cemetary - Photo by Allison Profeta

Thornrose Cemetery – Photo by Allison Profeta

A friend of mine asked if I would take her daughter out to shoot some photos for a project she needed to complete for a college photography course.  I suggested local Thornrose Cemetery.  I’ve driven past it so many times since being here in Staunton, and it looked so gorgeous, but I hadn’t yet had a chance to explore.  Lucky for me they thought it was a good idea as well.  It was so fun to join her – I felt like a college kid again myself for several moments during our excursion.  Here are some photos I managed to take.

They really don’t do the cemetery justice.  I could spend several days there exploring.  I don’t know why I find cemeteries so peaceful, especially since I am so fearful of death.  I think I’m just fascinated by the stonework and the stories.  Because ultimately, when we’re gone, our story is all we leave behind.

Our Sally - Photo by Allison Profeta

Our Sally – Photo by Allison Profeta

Behind this small, white tombstone stands a large monument to Sally’s father.  General John Echols was a Confederate Army general who, after the war, settled in Virginia and died here in Staunton.  It was the “Our Sally” that caught my eye.  She was no other Sally, just theirs.  It made me think of my own boys, and how there is no other Tucker, or Garrett, or Jackson . . . . just mine.

Forever Children - Photo by Allison Profeta

Forever Children – Photo by Allison Profeta

His little knickers and her little bonnet.

What Was Right and Good - Photo by Allison Profeta

What Was Right and Good – Photo by Allison Profeta

There was no other information on Mr. Larner.  But his story was a good one.

I can’t wait to go back once the weather warms up!

* Shoutout to A Streetcar Named Desire

Things I Love: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One of favorite shows premiers its new season today.  Please tell me you’ve been watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee!

Jerry Seinfeld’s online series is a simple premise.  Each episode he invites a different comedian into a different car and takes him or her to a different place to eat.  Here’s why I love it so:

The Cars: 

I’m not a car person.  I know less than nothing about them.  I know how to start them.  Most of the time.  If it has keyless start I’d probably be confused for a moment or two.  Beyond that, it’s a guessing game for me.  So it’s not the cars themselves that I love.  It is the manner in which Jerry introduces them that I adore.  Each episode begins with a voiceover.  Jerry describes the car he chose while we are treated to video of him driving it, ostensibly to go pick up the featured comedian.  This is usually also when you hear the recording of Jerry calling the comedian to invite him/her out for coffee

Occasionally, he will briefly describe why he chose a particular car for a particular comedian.  He tells Seth Myers that the reason he chose a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS for him is because “This car is no-nonsense.”

My favorite description so far is this – please note that the words in all capitals indicate where Jerry shrieks in excitement:

This is an eyebrow-frizzing, retina-melting, absurdly gorgeous 1969 Lamborghini P400S Miura.  Just 43 inches tall, it is painted in “arancio borealis,” Italian for “orange.”  It has a mid-engine 360 horsepower V12 mounted sideways.  And its got EYELASHES on its HEADLIGHTS!   JESUS!  It’s incredibly masculine and incredibly feminine at the same time.  It is, in my opinion, the most beautiful car ever designed.

Here’s an image of the car from wikipedia:

Photo credit Andrew Bossi

Photo credit Andrew Bossi

This vehicle was used to pick up Chris Rock.  Spoiler alert – they get pulled over and Chris’ reaction is hilarious as well as an eye-opening commentary on race.   Check out the full episode here.

Jerry’s Laugh:

I looooove that Jerry cracks up so often.  It’s clear that this man is a true fan of comedy.  How he interacts with the various comedians is interesting to see.  It varies from reverence (check out the Carl Reiner episode – after they eat Carl invites Jerry to return that evening to have dinner with Carl’s frequent dinner guest, Mel Brooks) to a comfort-ability that can only be achieved through true friendship.  You have to watch the Michael Richards episode (he played Kramer on Seinfeld), which turns into a touching conversation about selfishness, selflessness, and forgiveness when the two friends discuss the 2006 incident in which Richards went on a racist tirade after being heckled in a comedy club.

The Comedy:

So far in the 2 seasons there have been tons of noteworthy comedic moments.  I have too many favorite moments to list them all here.  I do, however, have a favorite episode.  And that is the Larry David episode.  Why is this one my favorite?  Because it is so clear to me when I watch it that I am watching two geniuses at work.  It’s evident that Jerry and Larry had an amazing symbiotic working relationship.

The conversation they have could be a Seinfeld episode.  Whether they are discussing what Larry typically orders for lunch (Larry: “The lunch at a normal American restaurant is very problematic for me. I don’t like to have hot foods for lunch”), the problem with two people drinking tea vs. coffee (Larry: “Look, I got it in a cup. You don’t know what it is. So if this is tea rather than coffee, a person should find that so disturbing?”), or what they eat when they lose control (Jerry says he can eat 6 slices of pizza, Larry says when he loses it “it’s half a bag of raw cashews”) it’s a conversation that I never want to end.

I refute the claim that Seinfeld, the TV show, was about nothing.  It was really about the human condition and the tiny, day to day moments that make up the whole of our lives.  These moments are the meat and potatoes of what we live through each day.  And these tiny, ridiculous moments pass us by so quickly, and for the most part quietly, that we hardly notice them.  The genius between Larry and Jerry is the magnifying glass that they hold up to those moments and the giant screen on which they project, and ultimately dissect, them for all of us to see.  They helped us notice just how ridiculous, and humorous, and magical these tiny moments really are . . . if we stop for a moment to examine them!

Start off 2014 with a laugh!  Here’s the trailer.  For the love of Pete, he’s going to have Tina Fey, Patton Oswalt, Howard Stern, and Louis C.K. among others.  (I’ll leave out Jay Leno because I think he is a douche.  Hey, they can’t all be winners.)   Enjoy!

Here’s to a Quiet 2014

Sunset 1 - Photo by Allison Profeta

Sunset 1 – Photo by Allison Profeta

It’s been difficult to write lately.  To be honest, it’s been difficult to do much of anything.  The Christmas holiday season has never been a favorite of mine, but the holidays in general just seemed . . . less.

Halloween was lonely.  Thanksgiving was lonely.  My mom came to visit between the two and I was so sad to see her go.  We spent Christmas with family, but there were some people missing, and here we are again back home.

The first part of the year was filled with huge changes for me and my family.  I quit my job, we moved to a new state, my husband started a new job, the boys started new schools.  The second part of the year has been spent reeling.  There is no way to predict how a decision you make will affect those around you.  There is no way to predict how your decisions will ultimately play out for yourself.  I still believe that we made the best choice available to us.  But it still leaves me reeling.

The past few weeks I’ve focused solely on getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other.  And all that focus has led me here – 6 months in our home.

It’s such a weird place . . . this moment right here.  I’m halfway between where we were and where we will end up.  This halfway point also ended up being on New Year’s Eve.  A time where I usually reflect and plan.

I think this year there will be no resolutions.  I kept enough of them in 2013.  This year I think I’ll just let quietly pass without promises to keep.  I will try to focus more on the people who sustained me through 2013.  I will give to them more of what I can and show them how much they mean to me and how much I miss them.

I will allow myself the space to be sad and quiet.  I will allow myself some forgiveness.  Then I will, eventually, plow ahead into 2014.  If there is anything I learned from 2013, it is that plowing ahead with hope and perseverance is the best way, perhaps the only way, to live our lives.

I hope 2014 brings joy, good health, and success to all of my loved ones, family and friends alike.  Here’s to a year of quiet hope.

 

The Pillow Fight

Photo by Allison Profeta

Photo by Allison Profeta

It starts with just a pillow.  A tiny, handmade gift from his cousin.  He loudly screams “MYYYYYY!!!!”  You don’t need to be a seasoned mom to know what that means.  He has declared the pillow “mine” and shall protect it as such all the days of his life or until Finding Nemo ends.

Photo by Allison Profeta

Photo by Allison Profeta

Off he runs, daring you to take what is rightfully his and his alone.

Photo by Allison Profeta

Photo by Allison Profeta

You give him a headstart.  It’s only fair given his height-to-chub ratio is a handicap.  And before you even decide you’ve granted him a decent enough amount of time, he’s calling for you.

“Where could he be?” you shout and in the next room you stumble upon the valiant hero, clutching the sacred pillow to his chest.

Photo by Allison Profeta

Photo by Allison Profeta

The hero gallantly says “Still mine, sucka!” and runs.  Not really.  But his face conveys just such a sentiment.

Photo by Allison Profeta

Photo by Allison Profeta

Alas, our hero runs towards the light, only to discover it’s a trap.  For this door is locked and his legs are short and while his tippy-toes could perhaps prevail, his still-developing fine motor skills cannot.

Photo by Allison Profeta

Photo by Allison Profeta

Do not fret.  For our hero prevails by utilizing the last weapon left to him . . .

He hoists the pillow to his head, points a dimpled digit at the evil witch, sticks out his silky baby belly, and blinds the witch with a heat-seeking cuteness missile.  He then whizzes past her, pillow aloft, leaving behind the shrill echo of baby giggles.

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful

November 2012 - Photo by Allison Profeta

November 2012 – Photo by Allison Profeta

 

December 2012 - Photo by Allison Profeta

December 2012 – Photo by Allison Profeta

January 2013 - Photo by Allison Profeta

January 2013 – Photo by Allison Profeta

February 2013 - Photo by Allison Profeta

February 2013 – Photo by Allison Profeta

First Steps in March 2013 - Photo by Allison Profeta

First Steps in March 2013 – Photo by Allison Profeta

June 2013 - Photo by Allison Profeta

June 2013 – Photo by Allison Profeta

August 2013 - Photo by Allison Profeta

August 2013 – Photo by Allison Profeta

November 2013 - Photo by Allison Profeta

November 2013 – Photo by Allison Profeta

 

Because when I’m trying to express how thankful I am . . . . I just can’t find the words.