autumn

autumn jewels

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The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves”…
Jack Kornfield.
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”… John Waters
this autumn has been an especially colorful season on a few levels. the late excessive rains in colorado followed by an unseasonably hot indian summer has produced the most glorious red, gold, and orange foliage that i can remember since my arrival in colorado in 1989. each day in october i am still awestruck by the majesty these colors bring. 
along with this is new level of trust and perspective to which i have ascended with my vocation. i have run headlong into my own dissonance between how i want to feel and how i actually feel. i am still working on resurrecting some sense of balance around all this. 
today of fb, i received a note from a former neuro psychiatric resident that i have spent time with at the clinic. although he was working in a different department, we shared office space and many lunches and coffees. i must say i was gobsmacked by the tone and the purpose of his words.

Rod, I’m not exactly sure how to go about this, but I wanted to apologize for not informing you I wasn’t going to be able to make the Rally. I’m not going to bother with the excuse for my absence, because it doesn’t matter—I promised I’d be there and I didn’t show. I also didn’t bother to let you know either before or after the fact, and for that, I’m sorry. I thought about reaching out over the past year and came close a couple of times, but I was never quite able to muster the courage to do so. Even though I’m glad you reach out, I wish I had been the one. 

I’ve since left Chicago and moved on to my official internship at a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey. It’s a different world out here on the east coast, that’s for sure. My experience working at a psychiatric facility brings along with it many pros and cons. Regarding the latter, I find myself oftentimes discouraged with the complacency I see in the staff. The treatment of patients, at times, lacks the compassion and sense of humanity one needs in order to foster growth and help develop a sense of self-worth and agency in others. Anyway, I bring this up because I realized a huge part of the reason I even understand what it takes to connect with someone in the first place is from quietly observing you in my corner cubicle for 10 months. I’ve worked with several psychiatrists, psychologists and neuro psychologists who did not teach me as much as you did about how to treat patients. You do great work, and I never took the opportunity to tell you that before I left. I’m sorry for that, too.

 I’m assuming you read that last piece and started feeling a little uneasy. My guess is that you started to immediately minimize the hard work and long hours you put into giving your patients the best care possible, or perhaps you deflected it by attributing it to someone else. Don’t. It bothered me you couldn’t take a compliment–it always felt like you were depriving yourself of feeling good because you thought you didn’t deserve it. Thanks for setting the bar so high, Rod. And thanks for the beats..… (click on beats to hear some sounds from my 80’s alma mater laid down in 1988 by jonathan scrappy gilbert.

but more in keeping with my emotional state… here is a selection of arias by one of the best our world has ever known.    

celery root salad… quiet delight

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reprinted from www.maatikaarts.com
this weekend i am headed to the mountains and will be making dinner and breakfast. i have been looking forward to it especially because i will be cooking 2 meals. i plan on making pork tenderloin with pomegranate and apricot accompanied by celery root salad for tomorrow’s dinner. i haven’t had this salad for at least 5 years and it has always been one of my favorites. i decided to put the recipe here for any of you. for my money, this is regional cuisine at its best. happy halloween.


Some things are so classic, so perfectly right as they are that it seems like a total disgrace to “reinvent” them. There is a reason some dishes have been around for a long time, on and off restaurant menu’s, but always there. There is a tricky knife edge here though. You can fall one way in to classic stardom of a recipe – something so good, so simple that it should never be changed. A quick shake on the edge however and things can fall drastically apart. The dish can be flat, boring, dated.
Celery root (or celariac as it is often called) remoulade when done with care falls head first into the first category of classic stardom. But like all things simple, the devil is hiding in the details. If you coarsely chop a celery root, mix it with store bought mayo, season with table salt you are going to think I am a grade A idiot for even suggesting this dish was a classic never to be changed. If, however, care is taken to create perfect little matchsticks of clean tasting celery root, and mixed with just the right amount of characterful homemade Dijon mayonnaise, spruced up with fresh lemon and herbs the you are on to a winner.
I first got thinking about celariac remoulade towards the end of last year when we had a family vacation to southern California. We rode bikes along the strand, all the way to god knows where (well at a guess close to LAX, given the fact I nearly fell off my bike being buzzed by a 747). We stopped and were hungry. There was a dicey looking “Italian” joint, a dive bar (we had our son with us..) or this crusty old French place that looked like you could blow the thing down.
Everyone knows how much the English love the crusty French, so we obviously headed straight there. Locking the bikes up next to the outside toilet one thought was going through my mind – “this place is either going to be fucking good, or I am going to be hoping to god that I can cycle back to out apartment in time before the lunch really hits home..” No fast cycling was required that afternoon I am happy to say, quite the contrary in fact.
The place was genius. I don’t think the decor or menu had changed since the 30s. Nor had the server (most likely the owner too), who must have been well in to her 80s, walked with a huge stoop, and berating the other younger waiter for not doing things right. The whole place just oozed old French. Sitting down I still had the same thought I did when we locked the bikes up. We ordered. Danika had some salmon, I had a roast lamb open sandwich, and a salad.
This was seriously one of the most perfectly prepared meals I have ever eaten. The salmon was ridiculously perfect. The lamb sandwich was fantastically balanced – rich, a little sweet, then a pop of cornichons. Nice. The highlight however was the side salads. A perfectly simple green salad, with just the right amount of fines herbs, dressing and salt. It was so fresh, clean and perfect. Just like the little heap of Céleri Rémoulade that sat unassumingly next to the roast lamb. You know they had been making these for decades, could do them in their sleep and them down right perfect.
A couple of hours over lunch (80 year old hunched over servers aren’t fast), a glass of wine, and a tired 4 year old meant that we rather reluctantly had to leave the place and cycle back past the noisy airplanes, and in to the rush of city (well, OK.. vacation) life again.
So back to the celery root. Whilst you might think it is the root of the celery stalks we all hate to eat raw(seriously, who enjoys chewing on a stringy celery stick?) it is different. It is a kind of celery, but harvested for the root, not stalk. Often I end up either roasting them in a bit of duck fat, or making a puree from them, with a little potato for body. Celeriac soup is lovely too, especially with a tiny dice of fresh tart apple and pancetta.
The French would absolutely argue that the classic of chopped celery root and mayonnaise cannot be improved upon, and I pretty much agree (as per my first statement in this blog post – keep it simple, don’t muck it up). I do however like to add just enough chopped fresh parsley and tarragon to make it even fresher. This time I finished the plateful with a sprinkling of Piment d’Espelette really just because I had bought a new jar and wanted an excuse to try it out.
Turns out it is great on this remoulade.
So there you have it really. A very simple clean French winter raw vegetable salad.
Raw celery root salad recipe
NOTE: this salad uses a lovely pungent homemade mayo based on a recipe from Anne Willian’s lovely “Country Cooking of France” book. It uses raw eggs. People get squiffy about raw eggs, mainly thanks to poor quality eggs from chickens on an incredibly cruel battery farm. Use good quality farm fresh eggs. The taste difference is incredible, and they are safer too.
Be sure to use a good quality Dijon mustard, and clean olive oil. Personally I like the Dijon from Trader Joes very much.
2 medium celery roots
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil (scant)
small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, hard stems removed
a few stalks of fresh taragon, leaves picked
Piment d’Espelette to taste (optionalish)
salt and pepper
Start by making the mustard mayo. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Whisk together the egg yolks, mustard and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Whisk until this thickens a bit. Slowly start adding in the lemon juice, pretty much a drop at a time, whisking constantly. After you have added about a tablespoon of oil this way, it can be added a little faster – in a slow stream – but whisk that arm of yours off. If at any point it looks like you have oil to whisk in, then slow down adding the oil, and whisk like mad. Now whisk in the remaining lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper.
Trim the skin off the celery root. A wash to remove any excess dirt. Slice the celery root into 3mm slices. This is best done on a mandolin or deli slicer. Stack some of these slices up and now slice them in to thin matchsticks.
Cover the unused pieces of celery root with a damp towel, to stop them from going brown.
Once sliced put in a large bowl. Add the mayo a tablespoon or so at a time, mixing the celery root in well. Add just enough to liberally coat the celery root.  Finely chop the fresh herbs and toss enough in to make things interesting. Season well with good sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Let this stand, covered in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the celery root soften a bit. When it comes time to serve, dish it up, and sprinkle each plate with a little Espelette if you like.
and so a friend on facebook (who actually posts more music than i do) shared this link. i hadn’t heard of her before. but i know i like the retro sound and i like the quality of her vocals. 


watching the colors change

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~ Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile. ~

this october has seemed to be one of the more golden ones in my memory. there have been many many beautifully warm days. the colors came early in september in the mountains, but in denver as well as here in chicago, there are massive natural displays of autumn color. the trees, the skies, the warmth, the vibe has been spectacular and memorable.

just like this, life is evolving and i am evolving as best i can to keep up. i am reminded here that i am remembered, and that it is with laughter and joy. i don’t necessarily see myself like this. but this is how i am seen and this is as much truth as my own perception. go figure.

dinner and some fun with friends last night, a friend tonight, tomorrow, and the next. each day, no doubt, will peel back another layer of hidden treasure and light a corner of my soul. i loved. i didn’t really remember that i loved. i still love. i didn’t think myself capable. i didn’t think.

Why Leaves Change Colors


If you are lucky, you live in one of those parts of the world where Nature has one last fling before settling down into winter’s sleep. In those lucky places, as days shorten and temperatures become crisp, the quiet green palette of summer foliage is transformed into the vivid autumn palette of reds, oranges, golds, and browns before the leaves fall off the trees. On special years, the colors are truly breathtaking.
How does autumn color happen?
For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that happen to trees and shrubs in the autumn. Although we don’t know all the details, we do know enough to explain the basics and help you to enjoy more fully Nature’s multicolored autumn farewell. Three factors influence autumn leaf color-leaf pigments, length of night, and weather, but not quite in the way we think. The timing of color change and leaf fall are primarily regulated by the calendar, that is, the increasing length of night. None of the other environmental influences-temperature, rainfall, food supply, and so on-are as unvarying as the steadily increasing length of night during autumn. As days grow shorter, and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint the landscape with Nature’s autumn palette.

you can read the rest of “why  leaves change color” here

notes from the equinox

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Autumnal Equinox Special Nonetheless

The length of day and night may not be equal on the equinox, but that doesn’t make the first day of fall any less special.
(Related blog: “Saturn Equinox Arrives.”)
The spring and autumnal equinoxes, for starters, are the only two times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west, according to MacRobert.
The autumnal equinox and vernal—or spring—equinox are also the only days of the year when a person standing on the Equator can see the sun passing directly overhead.
On the Northern Hemisphere’s autumnal equinox day, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, signaling the start of six months of darkness.
On the same day, a person at the South Pole would also see the sun skim the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight…. from nationalgeographic.com



the thing about autumn in colorado is that it comes a couple of weeks earlier than the rest of the nation. because of the altitude, the aspens are already changing color and will probably be done by the beginning of october. native coloradans always make their fall treks to the hills in september because that’ when nature’s paintbursh is in high tide.
on the drive up highway 40 on thursday evening, i almost cried as the sunset was so amazing as i was about to enter winter park. a distinct yet pale pink orange sky was the backdrop for the gold and rust hues of the aspen leaves that speckled the hills on the westward drive.  as is usually the case, words can’t seem to even echo nature’s wonder.





grand lake is a beautiful setting. we are staying at shadowcliff lodge which overlooks grand lake and and pays homage to shadow mountain. there are 14 of us here this year. i know about half and not quite sure where the other half hail from. i keep forgetting that denver is a larger city than i think it is. not huge, but humbling none-the-less, because i certainly don’t know everyone. i have been taking photos of texture and color this time around. i don’t consider myself a photographer at all, but i want to extend my activities and put more of myself on here. i actually love photography and have been hijacking photos found on gayya kuyusu.  the soul who shephards that blog has an incredible eye and a vast outreach. i am consistently amazed at the images i see.  but mine do not and most likely will not measure up to the offerings there. taking photographs is an art and i am not even in the infancy.

autumn is always a powerful time for my heart. i have come to realize that major changes happen in me at this time of the year. it’s as if some hard shell on my exterior cracks and out from the inside comes the beginning of a stronger creature. i feel as if my heart is opening to a level i have never really known. i am allowing myself to feel anger when i used to deny it. and in this allowing comes a grace i never knew existed. because the receding of anger brings with it a calm and a release. something that stifling that feeling never revealed. and just as the tide uncovers new patterns and artifacts left on the sand as it rolls back to its ocean home, so does the absence of anger reveal so much in its wake. this is a true gift for me this september.

i don’t remember if i mentioned watching irina bettencourt on oprah this week. she had been held captive in the mountains of ecuador for 6 1/2 years, but managed to stay alive. the interview was compelling to me as she didn’t come across angry or bitter, even after all her trials and tribulations. she somehow had gotten to a place of acceptance and forgiveness. some of her fellow captives had even done interviews vehemently claiming that she was the worst person on the earth and yet she was blanketed in kindness and warmth. for me, it was remarkable and inspirational. i believe that i want to live in this light. many miles left to travel, but i know there is a direction in which to go. gratitude, peace, love, and light.

i have finished the autumn issue of the TEN newsletter. You can read it on the “On The Ten” blog. Each edition seems to evolve and even get perhaps more grown up- definitely  more inclusive. i do find myself feeling pride with regard to how far it has come in the last 3 years. if you are interested, you can see the history of the issues at OnTheTen 

a friend from work burned a copy of the new santana cd “guitar heaven” for me. i love, love, love it.. this is definitely one of the standouts for me…. high school, led zeppelin, and head banging… baby…