The Fêtes, With Aah-mazing Chewy Gingerbread

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So Christmas happened. Happy Christmas, y’all! (And late Chanukah and Solstice and other meaningful winter happenings).

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I did the road to Bordeaux with friends and a lunch stop at their family home. So many creches from so many countries! Guatemala or possibly Peru above. There was an old-fashioned American pinball machine too…we may have played a couple rounds, and I may have done not horribly. All those years of pizzeria pinball and early computer game versions apparently paid off.

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I did Bordeaux with the sis. We stayed at one of Dhagpo’s sister centers, Dhagpo Bordeaux and got the best welcome ever. Warm beds, homemade bread, and sole meunière with good humor. All of these families that aren’t actually my family somehow made me feel like it’s family Christmas after all. It doesn’t made me any less nostalgic for my actual family, but it makes me appreciate them even more for how they have taught me to love and to share.

There’s a sweet old cemetery by the center and we went to visit the departed. Could seem creepy, but it was more peaceful than anything. The wrought iron alone merited the visit.

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Things got pretty real too, as far as actual family goes. I realized it’s been a year since I’ve seen my sister, the longest we’ve ever gone. We know each other less well than we used to and we have less things in common than we’re used to. But we still know each other better than any one else in the world (except maybe our parents) and there’s a commitment in that. To promise to keep track of someone, to follow their story, to face their disappointment, to own up to what we could do better and what we simply cannot yet do for the love of them.

My sister makes me appreciate how often the best relationships are the ones where you don’t agree on everything, but you care enough to figure out why and understand what the other believes.

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We visited some gardens. Saw some lollipop trees and spiral hedges, the odd castle in the mist.

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History, people. I think it matters. To understand where we come from, how we came to where we are now.

Tomorrow, the year end course at Dhagpo begins. Jigme Rinpoche will talk to us about meditation, and we’ll try to listen and get wiser. Another year is passing, has passed. Time is precious. This is good to remember. To cherish and to share it.

This is obvious perhaps, but it strikes now as the time comes for resolutions and reflection: I want my heart open. I want to love with all I have and embrace the whole of the world. Forget the smallness of my self and remember the vastness of connectedness. We are causes and conditions, and we depend upon each other. All we can do is look after one another.

Happy New Year people; I’m thinking of you.

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And um, cake, because apparently I’m on a cake roll again. This picture is terrible and usually I try not to post recipes with truly deplorable photos, but I’m doing it mostly for myself. Because this cake is so good that I need to have the recipe recorded somewhere easily accessible. You don’t have to make it or be convinced; this is a simple, humble cake. But if you’re curious, I’ll tell you: it’s like a hug from some one you have been missing a long time. You feel their arms around you and it’s like plugging in a light; the current runs down the line and the connection is direct. You know you’re in the right place and you are grounded.

This cake is all molasses and spices. It’s chewy like a brownie with a deep, enveloping flavor. For me, it’s comfort and it’s definitely the taste that goes with the hearth at wintertime. Also happens to be friendly for gluten and dairy sensitive people because I’m on that kick too.

Recipe…

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One Week In

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It’s been a week since I set up the project to to go to Nepal for Shamar Rinpoche‘s cremation, to illustrate, photograph, and narrate the journey, and to ask for every one I know and pretty much any one else I can reach who might care to connect and support this endeavor, by giving money, by spreading the word, by following along.

Even though I know this sort of thing is pretty normal in the realm of human activity–it’s how books, films, businesses, organizations, technology, pretty-much-everything-ever gets created–it’s new to me. Producing work so regularly, sharing it immediately after, asking people to pay attention, care, and invest–it’s freaking intense. I guess this goes back to the whole root of the project, being willing to believe I can offer something useful to people, and being willing to get in their faces to offer it.

That’s the interesting thing about offering. You have to find a way to reach the people who can use what you’ve got. Connecting with people I know who already seem to care and shouting at the top of my internet lungs are pretty much what I’ve come up with. It seems to be working, actually.

In logistical terms, the project reached fifty percent of its funding within this first week, which is incredible and awesome. I’m grateful and stunned and simultaneously relieved about what’s already happened and anxious for whatever comes next. It’s all very emotional, this whole being-in-contact-with-other-people business.

I keep thinking about non-duality. We are not separate; we are not one; we are interdependent. I think I’m learning something about that. So thanks. Thanks for your support and your help and your excellent, interdependent presence in this world and in my life. Cheers y’all.

And if you’re into it, keep the music playing. Go ahead and give and share (link below).

**This post is part of a larger project culminating in a week of creative journalism in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal chronicling the cremation of the Tibetan spiritual master Shamar Rinpoche. To find out more or make a donation to this project, go here.