A Grief Moment In Time

 

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Once in awhile I am briefly pulled down in to a dark moment in time that leaves me hanging by a thread. Maybe the sudden loss of my oldest brother last month, or the upcoming holidays or even learning that a dear friend needs surgery has had much to do with my latest anxiety. A big loss on top of a big loss. Now two empty chairs at Thanksgiving dinner. Waiting on a pathology report. Oh, the many ups and downs of grief can be frustrating. Just when I thought I had stabilized like a perfectly whipped cream I am deflated.

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For the most part, the demands of every day living have allowed my grief to settle down. I certainly no longer mourn 24/7. Having a taste of normal only makes the resurgence of grief more intense and thought provoking. What the hell? Grief can flare even years later. Lesson learned. Be strong. Hang on to that thread and pull yourself up.

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Turns out that thread is my heart-string. It’s always there, it’s ever strong and no amount of grief can ever cut me loose. That invisible thread is attached to everyone I love, both living and dead. It took a simple children’s book to remind me of that.

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If you have never read the book, The Invisible String written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Geoff Stevenson you should. “Written to calm a child’s fear of being apart from the ones they love” this book is just as appropriate for adults. It reminds us that we are never alone and always connected and bound by the power of love. Where does your string go?

It’s All Golden

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Golden Milk Bread

Following my emotional visit to CT two weeks ago I went into full on kitchen therapy Inspired by what was in the garden I made jams, pickles, everything tomato, everything zucchini, breads and cakes. It was all golden.

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Golden Tomato Jam and Dill Pickles

As it often does, grief relief finally came in a vivid dream.  In my slumber I am walking up the driveway to retrieve the morning mail. Waiting at the box, in the golden sun-light, is William. I say, “What are you doing here?” He replies, “I just want to make sure you know I am still here.” Whoosh! I am sure a psychiatrist would have a fun-filled day with my brain, but these dreams are so much better than any happy pills one could prescribe.

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Golden Dreams

I will be missing in action from time to time over the next few months. First and foremost I am super busy having too much fun with these two. Oh, the miracle of life! I did not know my heart could get any bigger, but there certainly is a new chamber filled with love and awe. Besides, Annabelle loves hanging out in my kitchen. Imagine that! I am pretty sure she loves the smell of fresh baked cookies and garlic.

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Golden Days

Second, the test kitchen has officially opened for preparation for the World Food Championships which takes place in November. Once again I am competing in the sandwich category and being sponsored by the fabulous Saucy Mama. Suzy Barhyte is the creative mind behind the delicious sauces, dressings and mustards that I will be incorporating into my sandwiches. Like Suzy’s my recipes must be family approved. I am especially grateful to have Caitlin assist me in sandwich development. She has an incredible palate. The Cubano has been built and now on to my signature dish. Hopefully I do myself, my family and Saucy Mama proud in the competition.

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Golden Mustards

With my game face on I won’t be blogging as much. To keep you occupied I challenge your creativity in the kitchen with this fantastic baking opportunity. The National Festival of Breads is one of the best bake-offs I have ever been privileged to win. Not only will you bake with the best products on the market, but you will learn so much about the wheat industry and the farmers who feed us and the world. Support them. Be inspired by those you love and bake some bread.

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Golden Wheat

The National Festival of Breads is included in the list of best cooking competitions by Delish! Online entries accepted Oct. 1, 2016 – Jan.16, 2017. National competition in Manhattan, Kansas, on June 17, 2017. Amazing recipes, finalists and baking contest for youth and adults! Go to www.nationalfestivalofbreads.com for rules and prizes. Sponsored by King Arthur Flour Red Star Yeast & Kansas Wheat.

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Golden Milk Bread

4¼ cups (18 oz./510 gm) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

1 (1/4 oz/21 gm) package Red Star Platinum Yeast

1¼-cups milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

4 (25 cent size) pieces of fresh peeled ginger

1-teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup golden raisins

In stand mixer bowl, fitted with paddle, combine 4 cups of flour and yeast. In small saucepan, over medium low heat, combine milk, butter, maple syrup, salt, fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and pepper; bring just to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes or until milk mixture registers 120F on an instant read thermometer. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; mix on low speed until flour is fully incorporated. Remove paddle and replace with dough hook. Knead dough on low speed for 5 to 6 minutes adding additional ¼ cup flour if it seems too sticky. Add raisins to dough during last 2 minutes of kneading time. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, cover and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Press down dough, divide in half and shape each piece to fit a lightly greased 9-inch loaf pan. Place dough in pans; cover and let rise for 1 hour. Heat oven 400F. Make 3 slash marks diagonally across each loaf. Bake loaves for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and internal temperature registers 200F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

 

The View From Will’s Bench

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Greeted by the lovely Joe-Pye Weeds at Lake Elise

It happens every time. That sudden overwhelming sadness. It’s just a sign off the highway that reads “Middlebury”, but it causes my chin to quiver and an ache in my jaw as I try to fight back the feelings. First stop always is Lake Elise to sit on Will’s Bench. It’s been a year.

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My heart is racing and I feel like I can’t breathe. My jaw is killing me by the time I step out of the car. I can’t take it one more minute. No one is here except me, so I let it go. It’s just the way it is and I am surprised, after all this time, I still can’t control it. Maybe that is why I have not been here since last summer. A place I used to call home.

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There is relief in the hot tears and the shade of the trees. There is a whisper in the wind. I tell him how sorry I am for crying. “I miss you so much and if you can see me from whatever world you are in I hope my obvious grief in this moment doesn’t cause you any pain.” Imagine that. Can our deceased loved ones see us grieving and with that do we cause them to suffer even more than they already have in dying? I quickly change the subject and tell him all about the joy of Annabelle and being a grandmother. A text from Caitlin reminds me that William is her guardian angel. Yes, he absolutely is and just like that I am OK.

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left behind by a young boy the bench remains a favorite fishing spot

There is a second bench I must visit. It’s over at the Taft school. As I gaze at the pond I see a handsome young student with a grin a mile wide fading into the water. This time I hold back the tears, but the yearning in my heart to turn back time is very present. No denying it will always be this way year after year after year.

Thanks to everyone who shared some time with me this weekend. I loved seeing each and every one of you. Your simple presence in my life means more than you will ever know. When this oppressive heat lifts I hope you, too, will take in a view from the bench.

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