Where do I start? With more than 2 months of silence here in my food world, it's kind of tough to know where to pick up. I think the best place to go is back to 1988. I was a 5th grader in a new school. Newly moved from a rural, northern Wisconsin woods home, my 5th grade year was the only one of my life at home with my parents that I spent in a city setting. There wasn't a school bus that picked me up a full hour before classes began, there was my Dad behind the wheel and my brother and I in the back seat. And every day, as far as my memory serves, we listened to Los Lobos' La Bamba soundtrack on cassette. Each morning, we would start at the beginning of side A, and most mornings we'd arrive at school somewhere around the time Charlena began. Every single day, my Dad put that in for us at our request; I don't recall that he ever just got plain sick of it. It was just that year, 1988 - and after that I was sold on Los Lobos for life. By the start of my 6th grade year, I sat in the back right hand side of a big, yellow school bus at 7:10 each morning. In the years that followed, I had a Walkman and could listen for that hour before school started to La Bamba or whatever else I had on tape as we wound along through the country roads, catching sight of foxes and cows, rolling hills. But for the minutes between our city house and school in 1988, my father let us listen to the same dozen songs over and over and over.
This hit home as so much change in my world has me taking my boys to spend their days away from me. Late in the school year, in my oldest boy's new school, his music teacher introduced him to Bob Marley. He came home one afternoon singing Three Little Birds, and by the first day of summer camp at the new center where both of my boys are fortunate to go together, we put Bob Marley into my CD player - I've spent so many years behind a wheel of a car with a broken CD player that I forgot I could use it once again. "Mom, can we listen to Three Little Birds?" After a couple weeks of that request every single morning as we hopped into the car, I started to question why I even had a Bob Marley CD anyway. Again? There are hardly any words in that song. Maybe in the third week in I actually thought about those few words - my littlest baby singing in the back seat: " 'Cause Every Little Thing's Gonna be All Right". And it's true, it is. The days go by, I feel like I'm marking time in a world I don't belong in any more, but every little thing continues to be all right.
I have had to drastically change my approach to a homemade life. What I make is still homemade, I just make a whole lot less, eat a whole lot less, and cook much less frequently. But often, when my world looks dim in the evening, when the weight of things seems overwhelming... Friday nights especially when that crown jewel of the work nights comes to a head and the weekend looms over like this 48 hours of workweek armistice or something... I stand around my kitchen perplexed and overwhelmed and when I throw onions in a pan and start heating them up, something happens to my sorry state. Something marvelous. Because that is all cooking really is for me, even more than the means to eating well and enjoying the company - it is certain truths I know to be true. My memory of my old self comes back, and things become orderly on my plate once again. My boys ask to put Three Little Birds on in the dining room, and I say that it's fine and we all sing along. Because it's good to remember that every little thing is going to be all right.