first cookout of the season

I took the day off in order to rest and rejuvenate after an emotional end of the work week on Friday. Migraines and insomnia all weekend, cemented my decision about staying home and getting rest on Monday. I think once my body knew that I was not going into work, it finally relaxed and gave me a full night’s sleep. Waking up to a homemade latte, David (he was home to wait for a home appraiser) and I did work together on the couch during the morning in our pjs and I tidied the house a bit in between grading my sky-high pile of essays.

After lunch, we took the pups for a little walk around the block and could not believe how Spring hit the Boston area practically overnight. Tulips were in bloom, neighbors were cutting their grass, and the temperature was amazing. Instantly it became apparent that dinner tonight had to be a cookout!!  We needed to capitalize on this “stolen” day together and the weather.  We cleaned off the grill, got a new propane tank, and fired up the Weber for some chargrilled deliciousness!  Ah….it feels like summer is around the corner.  I cannot wait for a full season of grilled meats, veggies, and fish curtesy of Chef David.

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Cheeseburger “recipe”

Take four 1/2 patties of grass fed ground beef and season both sides generously with black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of salt. Heat the grill. Once the grill is hot, throw the burgers down on the fire.  We also cooked a blueberry chicken sausage and a chorizo sausage.  Close the grill and let cook 5 minutes.  Open the grill (carefully as it will be smoky) and flip the burgers and sausages.  Cook on this side for another 5 minutes with the lid closed. Lift the lid, and add cheese to the burgers.  Once the cheese melts carefully remove from flame and plate. Sausages are ready once they are firm to the touch of your spatula.

poetry month and processing the boston marathon bombing

April is national poetry month. I have dabbled in poetry from time to time but have not produced anything that gave me pause. Thankfully, my school honors the month each year by exposing our little community to live poetry readings by local poets. A part of the school for four years, I have come to expect the month littered with poet visitors sharing their conceptual stories of self, community, work, life, etc. with us during our Tuesday Forums. It is actually one of my favorite traditions, as it allows me to be creatively jealous of these individuals’ abilities to weave a tapestry of images with their provocative word choices. It was surprising then to walk into the morning meeting and see a group of seniors on stage and not an acclaimed poet.  The students were introduced as a Senior Elective on “Poetry in the Air.” Curious about their work, I settled into the meeting.  Each student approached the microphone in front of the entire school community and confidently spoke their poem with passion, interest, and earnestness. A few of them were funny including one on raccoons, one comparing a lover to kitchen gadgets and a series of haikus on the importance of Lululemon to the school’s fashion.  Yet, overwhelmingly the poems were focused on the theme of the “world come undone.” In these poems, students wrestled with their complex feelings about security, loss, power, control, violence, pain and suffering. Not expressing typical teenage angst, these poems spoke to the world they find themselves in, a world devastated by terror.

The last student to present was SW. She approached the microphone and nonchalantly stated, “I wrote this last night.”  I was skeptical of the poem following this omission. When, she started it became clear that she wrote this poem last night because she was grappling with and processing as best as anyone could the recent Boston Marathon Bombings. On a typical day, teaching is a challenging and rewarding profession. There is a rythme to an average day and a normal classroom by the time Spring arrives. It is this rythme that creates comfort and community while reviewing, questioning, and crafting understanding on the various topics discussed. Yet, after an event such as the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt and capture being a teacher is tough. Aren’t I suppose to have the answers?  When asked: What year was the constitution signed? How did the Khmer Rouge come to power? Why did the United States overthrow Mossadegh of Iran? I can answer these questions. I have the primary sources, quotes, stats, maps, videos, and knowledge to tackle these inquiries.  But, why did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother attack the city of Boston, use bombs to target bystanders, kill police officer Sean Collier, hold the city of Boston hostage while hiding out in Watertown…I have no answers, no clue, and nothing but my own personal sadness, fears, and questions.

Today, we sit as a community, we sit as Bostonians, and we are patient with one another while we each process, cope, and question the events. Being a teacher at this time is heart-wrenching as I imagine a future for these students that is riddled with violence and terror. But, then I am reminded of the humanity and strengthen that Boston demonstrated despite the terror and I am hopeful that these kids can continue to infuse love, hope, and kindness into an aching city…and world. So back to SW.  She started her poem and I was speechless. Poignant, powerful, complex, tangible, frustrating, beautiful, and resonating. SW’s poem has haunted me since hearing it at 10:05AM.

The Land Of Things Come Undone by SW

Boom. Boom. Goes the finish line

And I’m on the road

Driving towards the only home I know

And I’m calm

Scroll goes the social media

And I’m home

Clinging to the smells I hold so deeply

The smells that linger on my clothes

Intertwined dog hairs and Momma’s home cooked meals

I’m waiting for panic to set in, but like the trains underground, my mind won’t let itself venture

Click goes the Television

Blurred shots from panicked video men at the scene

Anger sets in as I pick up the shoes which lie, sporadically strewn across the road

as if a bomb hit Foot Locker

and I remember the girl who I will never see at the dance studio again

her legs torn – almost to the point of amputation

and I’m coming undone

But wait..

Static sadness rushes through my veins

And I’m coming undone

Days filled with “i’m glad you’re okay” and “how you holdin up”

But it’s not over

And I’m waiting

Lying awake in my bed I can feel the tension as it boils, entering my heart’s different ventricles I hear it

Soft but sturdy,

Loud but bearable


And I’m coming undone

Blood stirring, heart spinning I count

One, Two, Thr- Sirens

Brain expanding, pins dropping

And it speaks again


and I’m down the stairs, calm and swiftly

Click goes the television

And the chase is on

Clinging to my father’s steady beating

As shots fire blocks away

I murmur the words I never thought I would hear myself say

I don’t feel safe here..

But the search is on and I’m still beating

The search is on and I’m not the only one scared

I must remain calm

Rise and shine and the photos are up

Rise and Shine and the spa music has halted abruptly

Leading me to answer the only other noise that I can bear

Ring, Ring

“I know him”

Buzz Buzz

“He’s my friend”

Click Click

“He’s one of us”

Scroll goes the social media

Killer on the loose Everyone stay inside

But I don’t feel unsafe

Because he’s one of us.. isn’t he?

And my mind is expanding

Neurons are connecting and I realize we can’t be one in the same

But we are Cambridge

We are open minded hipsters and bad mouthing “real talk” rappers

We are Ethiopians, Brazilians, Japanese, Chinese, and yes, Muslims..

And here I am stuck wondering if he’s at his best friends- three houses down from mine

And if so, what is he thinking?

Are you thinking about Ms. Davis and how she always told you you had a bright future?

Are you thinking about last saturday?

How your friends dapped you up and said peace out for the last time

Pondering the words that were ingrained in your mind from the past 4 years

Diversity. Opportunity. Respect.

Are you thinking about izzy’s jamaican patties?

The way your mouth watered as your teeth bit into the after school treat

Lockdown is lifted and I’m still not petrified


my brother was friends with him

And my neighbor had sleepovers with him

And my crushes played video games with him

So he must be one of us..

And I’m coming undone

Bang Bang goes the gun

And I’m back inside

Click goes the television

And there’s his face

Staring at me as if I should have known all along

And I’m torn

Torn between the person we knew from our streets

and the person we now know on the screen

Lying there, bleeding and surrounded- I find myself praying they don’t shoot

Because more than the hatred,

more than the sadness, fury, and bewilderment I feel

I want to know why

And I’m coming undone

Off goes the siren

And I know he’s alive

He’s caught, were safe, and the mystery is over

And yet, as I take it all in,

I am finally unraveled- and the anxiety sets in

Heart pounding

I am left with the overwhelming urge to ask one question

Jahar, why would you do this to us?

mango cucumber salad

David has been outside this morning picking out the field of dandelions that plague our yard and pruning back the holly and juniper bushes.  Spring cleaning is up and running after a quick trip to Lowe’s to buy some pruning sheers, gardening bags, and gloves. While David enjoyed his zen-like garden work, I threw together a salad that reminds me so much of the Spring/Summer weather we are heading into.

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First you start by cleaning and de-stemming some watercress

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Peel, slice, and dice a mango

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Cube up some avocado and also cube up half of a cucumber and toss together in a large bowl

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Once all of your dicing and chopping is complete, it is time to mix up the dressing. Use 3 teaspoons of fish sauce, zest of 1 lime, juice of 1 lime,  1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.  Combine in a bowl.

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Then drizzle dressing into salad right before serving, toss together, and enjoy a tropical treat.

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lockdown in boston

This week has been painful, difficult, alarming, and frightening since the Boston Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 2.56.47 PMMarathon Bombing on Monday.  I cannot imagine being a victim or a family member to a victim as they must be living a nightmare. Not being directly effected is still harrowing. Waking up this morning to the manhunt that is ongoing in and around the city is surreal. While I am safe in my home with David and our puppies, Bella and Buster, it is nonetheless a tense time as we are glued to the television. The images and video flashing on the screen are of some of our favorite places in the city. Friends are scattered throughout the city in their homes and apartments and we continue to call one another and check-in on not only their security but their sanity. I can only pray that the suspect will be apprehended soon and that Boston will be able to begin the long, and for many what will be painful, healing process. Boston Strong.


boston marathon explosions

Waking up this morning felt surreal.  Could those explosions at the Boston Marathon have been real!?!  Yes. Those shocking, devastating, horrific explosions were real, haunting, numbing, and disturbingly real.

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Boston has been my home for the past 10 years and everyday I am proud to call myself a Bostonian. Yesterday was scary and while I am so grateful that my family and friends were unharmed, I ache for those who cannot say that this morning. I pray for them and for those who are providing care to the wounded. I pray for those three individuals who died, their families. I pray for the victims and the families of those still in hospitals.

As President Obama stated last night, Boston is a proud and resilient town. We are fiercely independent as Patriot’s Day is a testament to and celebration of.  Nothing like this was ever expected, let alone imagined in our little city. I pray that nothing like this ever occurs here again.  This attack puts so much in perspective.  Thinking about those in cities around the world who experience this type of violence on a more frequent basis makes me sad for our human family.  We need to stop this senseless bloodshed, take care of each other, and recognize the humanity in us all.

saying goodbye to my family dog

I noticed that there were two missed calls on my phone from my dad. A bit alarmed, I called him back immediately curious and apprehensive. “There is some bad news I need to share with you,” he said.  His voice sounded pained. Someone was dying, I just knew it. “Chloe is at the vet right now, she went outside and when I called for her to come back in, she was unable to walk. She is paralyzed from the waist down,” as these words left my dad’s mouth and entered into my ears, I felt numb. What?  How could that be?

Chloe is a mini-dachshund, a breed prone to this sort of injury. Four years ago, Chloe’s buddy, Ruby, another family dachshund died from this injury. I knew at this phone call that there would be little that anyone could do for her…ultimately, she would be put down. This idea of putting an animal down breaks my heart. Chloe was nothing but love and affection personified.  She has no idea that her little body is irreparable and that while she rests in the vet’s office that her humans are contemplating the options including the one that ends her life.


Thanksgiving break 2005, I came home from college and roped my nanny into going to the mall with me “just to look” at the puppies. The mall was packed with people looking for something to do in the cold winter months and so they settled on walking around the mall and window shopping. We slipped into the puppy shop and made our way to the windowed pens. That’s when we saw Chloe.  She was SO tiny and nestled in sleep with another puppy of some sort as her pen-mate. We oohed and aahed at her tiny features and asked if we could hold her. Holding her was a big mistake.  How does one hold a little sweet puppy and then return it to its cage, seriously? We signed the paperwork, bought a cage, some food, and toys and took little Miss Chloe home with us.  When my dad came home from work that night, I vividly remember wrapping Chloe up in a blanket and bringing her to the front door to greet him.  He was only momentarily shocked by the new addition. As a true pet lover, he smiled, took hold of the blanket and welcomed her to the family.

Chloe was a loyal dog. At 12 pounds (she was a little plump for her size), she cautiously guarded her family. My parents moved from our childhood home in the summer of 2007. This was the same year that a group of my college roommates and I decided to sublet an apartment in Boston together. It was our first!  Needing a place for Chloe while they moved locations, Chloe came to Boston and lived with us from June through September. One afternoon, while walking the city streets together this suburban dog who was skittish around the big city noises, “protected” me from a male pursuer. We walked past this particular man on the street and he let out a cat call, when we turned around to head back home, we ended up walking past him again.  This time, he made a move towards me.  Perhaps to grab my wrist, but who knows. Chloe sprung up on her back legs (a major feat of strength for a pup that is a long hot dog shape), and barked viciously at the man.  While I knew he presented no real danger, I was shocked by her display of loyalty and fearlessness.  The man chuckled and said, “Ah, look at this one foot killer” and walked on.

Once my parents moved to their new house, I only saw Chloe on vacations. As she got a little older, she had the fishiest breath and loved to stick her little stinky tongue out at you while she rolled over onto her back for a belly rub. She crawled into my lap and curled up as I sat crossed-legged on the floor. She was the best cuddle-bug ever. So easygoing and just desperate for affection, she stayed beside me for our visit together. At night, she put herself to bed in her cage.  At exactly 8PM each evening, she would waddle herself over to her cage, burrow under her favorite fleece blanket and go to sleep. She was such a sweet dog.

Now, sitting here in Boston, knowing that today she will be put down breaks my heart. I cannot hold back the tears when I think of it. Death is of course part of life and my friends have been so kind in checking in with me.  They say comforting things like, “She was a good dog,” and “She won’t be in pain anymore.” I know they are right.  These cliches are always “right” in a sense. But, it still doesn’t soothe the situation. We bring these little critters into our lives, make space for them in our hearts and homes, and know that we will inevitably outlive them. We invite this heartache because we know that before we have to say goodbye to them, they will bring love, happiness, and lots of licks and pets into our lives. But, it still hurts…it hurts a lot actually…

Crying over the phone last night with my friend Kellyanne, she told me a story. She said that a vet once went to a family home to put down a very old Irish wolfhound. It was clear that is was time, and the family sat around their dog and cried while the vet prepared his materials. The vet noticed that the smallest member of the family, a little boy, was not crying.  He asked the little boy, “Do you know what is about to happen?” The little boy said, “Yes, you are about to put my dog down and he will stop living.” At this, the vet asked, “Exactly, and are you okay?” The boy replied, “Yes. We are put here on earth to learn how to love unconditionally.  It takes us humans a long time to figure this out so we die when we are very old. But, dogs they already know how to do this, so they are not on Earth for very long.” Chloe knew how to love unconditionally and I will miss her little self forever.

ham and leek “casserole”

Somehow this odd recipe has made its way into our rotation. I never thought David would like it since dijon mustard is mixed in along with a touch of cream cheese.  These are two ingredients that independently outrage David’s palette. Yet, somehow combined with leeks, broth, and ham, he now asks for me to make these on weeknights when we are scrambling in our pantry to figure out dinner.


Start by melting, over medium heat, 4 tablespoons of butter.


Slice up 3 leeks, clean throughly, and cook for about 10 minutes until they are fragrant and translucent.


They should look sort of like this. Then add black pepper for some seasoning.


Throw in two cups of vegetable stock and a ham steak that is cut into small cubes.


Add two tablespoons of dijon mustard and two tablespoons of cream cheese along with one can of a white bean of your choice (drained).


Bring to a boil and squeeze a bit of lemon into the mix.  I usually add more pepper too because well I like a bit of heavy spice in my food. Careful adding salt as the ham steak is quite salty on its own.


Simmer for 30 minutes.


Enjoy a scrumptious meal with a cook and prep time of about an hour.