Veggie Chili Cheese Mac on a brisk autumn day.

I have been away, but (always) here.

Words don’t seem adequate lately. I realize I have a tendency to over-express, and I long for concision. With that in mind, rather than writing the novel of my time in Chicago that the zine was starting to become, I decided to make more of a collage. Short, descriptive interludes of what my life was like then.

And perhaps that’s what this blog should be for what my life is like now.

My life at the moment is like chili cheese mac on a brisk autumn day. So easy to make, and so delicious. Around here, we have “chili week.” I make a couple of huge pots of chili (onions, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, jalapeno, tomatoes and beans and beans and tomatoes…seasoned with chili powder, salt, pepper, plus maple syrup and cocoa powder. cook the veggies, throw in the beans & tomatoes, season and slow cook for as long as possible. We stock the house with fritos for frito pie; macaroni for chili cheese mac; veggie dogs and buns for chili cheese dogs; and, of course, tortilla chips for nachos. I’m actually thinking about making chili enchiladas this time around. Or maybe a chili omelet? Chili potato. Hell, throw it in some queso. It’s chili all week. In celebration of chilly weather.

I’m recovering from overextending something…ligaments or joint or something…in my foot. We have these giant bur oaks on our property that drop acorns that are slightly larger than golf balls (as I typed that, one hit the roof and rolled down, loudly, into the leafy grass…making that sound that things make when they land in a pile of crisp leaves.) For as long as I can remember, we’ve called them ankle-breakers and joked about how careful we need to be to avoid stepping on them wrong because they are ALL OVER THE PLACE. So, you’d think I would know not to step on one. But it was pretty spectacular when I did…because I totally did this graceful barrel roll into the street, right back up to my feet. Ta-da! I was on my way out to a movie, so I got to rest it for a couple of hours, but I knew it was bad when I was limpy after the movie.

So, I’ve been sidelined. It healed pretty quickly past the tender phase, but it still starts to hurt after long periods of use. So it’s been week of minimal walking and maximal ¬†hyperactive dog activity. It’s been difficult to manage her, but understandable that she is restless. I’m looking forward to re-establishing our routine.

Tonight we did about half of our usual walk. A route I have walked for many, many years. As we walked, I thought about Wendell Berry and some of his essays about the importance of being able to live in one place for long periods of time. How having a sense of place allows you to mark time against time. Like measuring the healing of an injury by the distance I am able to travel today versus the distance I was able to travel yesterday or last week. Or even marking aging by measuring the difficulty with which I travel the same distance today that I traveled much easier 10 years ago.

Those markers don’t always have to be geographical, I suppose. The same thing can happen when listening to music, and remembering songs from certain periods in your life. Or, of course, smells…or foods. Like chili.

A few months ago, I met a new friend. He is a very nice man who shares a lot of my interests and has a very relaxing way of being that I appreciate a great deal. We went to a forest together in the middle of summer and laid in a field and told each other stories about our lives, and it was very nice. In telling my stories, I was reminded that when I was the age of my eldest son, my goal in life was to live out in a trailer on some land somewhere. Just me and maybe some dogs and cats and a typewriter or something. I would be a writer, or I would run an animal sanctuary, or something. But I wouldn’t let my work define me and I wouldn’t have any men or children holding me back.

It occurred to me at that moment that my dream, aside from the not having any children holding me back part – which, I guess, is negligible, is 99% attainable at this very moment in my life.

I have now lived in this house about as long as I lived in my mother’s house growing up. If all goes well, I will be in this house another 4-6 years. After that, I’m thinking my life may be a little more transient. I have plans. I have ideas. I have vague outlines of goals, and I have dreams.