Skip directly to the week’s recipe recos.

It’s cold as hell out at Ye Olde Lake, getting down below freezing every night. The geese don’t care. Here are two of the three families who pay us a visit from time to time. The third family had scooted away; they have 5 goslings. In the pic, the family above has 7, the one behind 6. Good year for geese.

The little guys are so cute, and they grow really fast. This morning, they looked about a third bigger. By the time I grabbed my phone to take a pic, they’d skedaddled.

Mothers Day 2020, and Other Ones

Before we go further, my sincere prayers for the many who are mourning their mothers for the first time this particular Mother’s Day. COVID-19 has dramatically increased the rates of missing mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, friends. May you find peace and healing.

My first Mother’s Day, in 1991, occurred just a few weeks after my daughter was born. Her father—we never married for sound reasons—sent me a gorgeous bouquet. I was living my parents, and for some reason, my mom was furious about it. On top of which, she was frankly kind of nasty to me all day. It was weird.

Since then, at least a dozen years have featured some kind of bad news on Mother’s Day. My own mom (we’d made it up long before, though at the time of her death we were less close than we had been in times past) died two years ago just a week before.

Before she died, I had sent her this cool 3D card. We had left for Germany in late April, so I sent it early, with a note, “Don’t open til Mother’s Day!” When she died, I kicked myself that I’d written the note. I knew the card would have given her a lot of pleasure.

It was open on her dining room table. She either didn’t see my note, or ignored it; both were in character. Her husband told me she’d gotten a huge kick out of it. It is the only time I’ve ever felt deeply grateful for my mother’s impatience.

Closure

It was difficult for me to get closure with my mom’s death. I did not have a huge sobbing release until a year after, when I dreamt of her. In the dream, she seemed small, somewhat forlorn. The dream ended with us embracing, and a feeling of complete love woke me up. I was crying hard enough that my body shook, but Steve slept on. I was glad. I prefer to do grief solo.

Mother’s Day 2019, just a week later—it hadn’t dawned on me that the dream had occurred exactly a year from the day that I’d heard of Mom’s stroke—we were in Switzerland, in Appenzell. It was a gorgeous day, and we ended up in a beautiful cemetery, the Alps clear in the distance.

Far from depressing, Swiss and German cemeteries are beautifully maintained. Not exactly joyous, but peaceful and with a sort of quiet contentment in the air. I have always regretted that we didn’t bring Mom to Germany; we planned to, but then she remarried and the logistics got complicated.

I said out loud, “Oh, Mom, I wish you were here.”

A butterfly flew by. I’m not someone who hears voices of the departed, but that time I heard Mom say, I am.

I could hear the smile in her voice.

Let’s Talk Food

For a while, I’ve wanted to link to recipes that made me happy during the week. Now I’ve found that, thanks to the quarantine, I’m cooking a lot more diligently and not really minding the documentation process. So just in case you’re in a food rut, these were my dinners this week.

Monday: I made up these sandwiches from Half Baked Harvest, using stuff I had on hand, like goat cheese instead of Brie and rye bread instead of sourdough. On the side, I made a great dill and ginger slaw; the recipe’s in the Recipe section.

mothers day 2020

Tuesday was Cinco de Mayo. Chili is NOT particularly Mexican, but it was a cold day and it seemed just the thing. I tried a new version, which I made in the crockpot. It was super easy and super tasty. The recipe’s adaptable so you don’t have to add any meat at all. Furthermore, my son, on the picky side, proclaimed it Delicious.

mothers day 2020

Wednesday, I was really craving a tuna pasta salad. I boiled pasta, made a lemon oil vinaigrette, added stuff I needed to use: cherry tomatoes, avocado, green beans, arugula. I had also made some White Bean and Dill Hummus, but haven’t gotten the recipe up yet. It was my week to use a lot of dill, so I did. There was a lot, and that ended up being dinner Thursday as well. I normally don’t like leftovers, but leftover pasta tends to make me happy. You honestly don’t need a recipe for this one, you can just throw everything in a bowl and chow down.

Friday, it was time for meatloaf. I cooked a dill-flavored one, though I will be the first to admit its awkward appearance. On the side, I made some zucchini-potato pancakes, but the recipe’s not ready for prime-time. But if you eat meat, or if you’ve had success with the plant-based ground meat sub, do yourself a favor and make this homely (in every way) yummy comfort dish.

Saturday was our second sibling chat day; another great time. I feel so fortunate to have 4 siblings, all of whom are so different and just overall pretty awesome. We laughed a lot, but we also had a kind of beautiful reveal. My oldest sister, Julie, naturally remembers the most stuff. She remembered something my sister Becky had once said and, well, it was a pretty amazing moment.

I fixed this Blueberry Smash and earlier had made these meatballs. Both were pretty good, though my improv measures on the meatball sauce weren’t optimal. Still, highly edible.

Today, Sunday, I have no kids near. But I talked to both of them at length yesterday. And honestly, I have had so much to write, I’ve been happy to just work all day. For my own meal—I would always rather make my own Mother’s Day meal than have someone else cook it—I’m making this Orzo pasta and Strawberry Bourbon Cobbler. So far, I’ve snuck a little cobbler. It’s the only time I’ve ever liked bourbon.

Wishing you all a wonderful week and a lot of love. Nurture yourselves, ok?

The Marcus Aurelius Moment* of Mothers Day, 2020

From my sister Lisa, that loyalty and love are equal parts fierce and beautiful, and that pain is a gift and a teacher. The sharp stones in the path are diamonds.

*In the first part of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman ruler details what various people in his life have taught him. To read the full intro to why I care about Marcus Aurelius, click here.