To Reunite (And Not Without Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies)

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This weekend marks the pause between two weeks of giant planning meetings at Dhagpo. The “Réunions d’automnes,” or autumn meetings, as it were. I’ve never enjoyed PowerPoint presentations so much as this last week. But when you fill a room with diverse, yet likeminded people devoted to a shared cause, and then spend three days straight, six hours a day, talking about how to further that cause…even PowerPoint takes on some vigor and joy. It also makes me giggle to see a room full of professional, well-educated people discussing infrastructure and finances, all the while sitting on the floor. With cushions, of course, but still. There’s a certain inherent humility there.IMG_2252

Is it dopey that I gush about management and organization? It blows my mind that I want to. To be so enamored of a place, of a vision, of a community, that I’m interested in PowerPoint and excited about Excel. Math makes me cringe, and yet I’m looking forward to reviewing the budget. I want to know everything about how this place works. I want to help it work. What are the blood and bones of building inspiration?

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That is what this community means to me. To be grounded and lifted at the same time. To talk about how the bills get paid, how the flowers get arranged, whether we’re really going to have lentils twice a week for the rest of our lives. If we’re doing our best, if we can do better, if we’re happy, if we need help. To be honest, to be supportive, to be critical when needed and with kindness.

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And then to exhale and let it all go for a moment. To sit under the stars and share a glass of something warming, toast a marshmallow over a candle, eat oatmeal cookies, and revel in the wonder of good people, good times, and good work.

These are my favorite twist on oatmeal raisins cookies. I typically make them at Christmas time, but we had a little regional dinner party, where everyone brought something from their neck of the woods, and it felt like the right time to break out the bag of cranberries I toted back from the States. This cookie dough is fairly simple and versatile. Bake them right after mixing for lacier cookies, or refrigerate for a couple hours to have thicker, chewier cookies. Bake for a few minutes more or less to have soft cookies or crispy edges or crispy cookies. Either way, you will have the perfect balance of toasty cinnamon, tangy cranberries, rich chocolate, with all the oat-y, caramel-y goodness of the traditional American “koo-kie” (as the French say).

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To Stay And To Go

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It is morning. I am sitting next to Lama at the Lama House. He is slurping tea with godspeed…and now he’s out the door. Presumable to the temple, to practice. Amen.

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I am sitting at the Lama House by myself, listening to music written by a friend across the world (this makes me cry–listen!), and thinking about movement. In slightly variable ways. For instance: As humans, we go places. Three weeks ago, my guitarist friend was sitting next to me with his own bowl of French muesli. Now he’s in LA, maybe eating Pop Tarts while waiting for a visa to India. It is bizarre how we can traverse the Earth these days. It is also natural to move with changing times and seasons and necessities. Weather moves. Animals move. We move.

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Also, though, we sometimes decide not to go places. Sometimes, staying put is a new form of movement.

I am the closest I have ever been the Venice Biennale, one of the largest and easily the most esteemed curated art fair in the world. And I’m not going. I thought a lot about it, and talked it over with friends and teachers to double check my decision making.

I used to daydream about the Biennale. When I was a teenager, Ed Ruscha covered an entire room in chocolate wallpaper for his exposition. The decadence! The cultural commentary! The rush of creation and dialogue! I wanted in. Not to mention the canals and cappuccinos and cobblestoned streets under autumn skies.

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Those things still interest me. They still seem lovely and rich. But actually, they seem like luxuries. And lately, my heart wants home and simple and stability. Luxury sounds…like something that would be pleasant to save for another day. I used to chase adventure and newness and things outside to shift what is inside of me. Today, it seems right stay put and let what’s inside shift in its own time.