I couldn’t be any closer to paradise right now. There’s a bunch of fresh lilacs on the table and raspberry tea in my cup. Outside the air is honey-like, as if the mountain forest was playing at being tropical. I half expect to see a monkey trot by any moment, but for now it’s just deer.

A turn of the wheel has brought me here to Ulster County, nestled in the gentle curves of the Catskills–New York State’s smaller of two mountain parks. It’s a two week house-sitting gig that with my husband off teaching in Manitoba was just too good to pass up. I’ve never been afraid of solitude, and we’ve been out of contact for quite awhile now. These next few stretched out days will be reflectively, restoratively mine.

Right now I long for only one thing: the moment. And what the moment now brings is getting tagged by sister food blogger, Julie. For the moment, I am only at the command of reflection:

What was I doing ten years ago?

June 1998. Seventeen years old and only days away from graduating Springfield Collegiate, in the small town of Oakbank, Manitoba:

  1. dreaming about my first formal, and wearing a princess dress
  2. studying for final exams
  3. basking in the innocence of living under my parent’s roof
  4. spending 97% of my time socializing
  5. caring little about the specifics of the future

What are five non-work things on my to-do list for today? (note: since I’m on retreat, these are different from what they’d normally be in Syracuse!)

    1. run with Boona, the resident black lab
    2. do yoga here:

  1. make BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Collard Rolls from my new cookbook (a gift from my new friend June in Berkeley)
  2. clean and re-lube my bicycle chain
  3. hot-tub + birthday suit = happy Jen

Five snacks I enjoy:

  1. halva
  2. Finn Crisps (from Finland)
  3. Whirley-Popped Popcorn
  4. my mom’s sour cream coffee cake
  5. olives

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  1. be ridiculously generous in as many ways as possible to those in the greatest need
  2. get a debt-free Master’s degree
  4. build an environmentally sustainable home somewhere pretty, complete with an organic vineyard in the backyard and an artisan bakery in the front
  5. travel, the way I always have, just to more places and with more lucky people in tow

Places I’ve lived:

  1. Syracuse, NY
  2. Vancouver, BC
  3. Bow Lake, AB
  4. Allada, Benin
  5. Manitoba (Oakbank, Gimli, and Winnipeg)

Jobs I’ve had:

  1. writer
  2. barista/muffin girl
  3. server/bartender
  4. youth ministry leader
  5. lifeguard/camp counsellor

…and because I’m a food blogger, I had to add one more food themed one…

Food related books on your wishlist:

  1. Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook
  2. The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
  3. The Bread Bible
  4. Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food
  5. 660 Curries

and now for the tagging business: Tag! You’re It!

  1. Dawn of Bitter Sweet Sour Salt
  2. Jennifer of Cookin’ in the ‘Cuse
  3. Megan of Back on this side of the Door
  4. Gillian of Arbitrarily Predictable
  5. Rachel of Atoms Arranged Meaningwise

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