Monday, January 6, 2014

Goodbye to the Cafe

With a resigned heart and a mild sense of failure I am writing to acknowledge the obvious: the Hotchpot Cafe has run out of steam. It's been ages since I posted here with any regularity, and the happy energy that used to surround the blog has dissipated.

Despite my intention to return to blogging (as variously stated over the past months), I realize now it simply isn't going to happen. This year I'm determined to resolve those parts of my life that are stuck in limbo, freeing my time and energy for what's to come.

Supporting this new period of growth is that fact that I have fallen in love with a wonderful man who shares my worldview and my passions. We plan to make a life together, one that will be filled with travel and outdoors pursuits. I have no qualms about simplifying my commitments to make more room for the happiness, excitement, and comfort of a coupled life.

Even so, I'm a little sad to renounce this electronic diary. It certainly reflects my varied experiences over the past 5 years, and I'm very proud to have written some of the posts.

Most importantly, it has been great fun to get to know the blogging community. I hope to still visit, even though I'm not posting anymore.

To my fellow bloggers, I say: I'm in awe of your creativity and insights and passions, and the interesting lives you lead. May you fare well in 2014 and always!

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Could Be Good

No-dish apple pie for crust-lovers. It's nearly flat like a frisbee and adapted by my own laziness from a recipe in the King Arthur Flour catalog. Tomorrow will tell the tale of the taste.

Oh, and: next time I berate myself for not having any willpower, I'll remember that I didn't tap into it tonight, hot from the oven. Not that I wasn't tempted. Numerous times.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cloud Shark

Even rush hour has its moments. These clouds were extremely three-dimensional in a way that only "Florida's mountains" can be on a late summer afternoon, when a thunderstorm is building.

I only noticed the lurking shape to the left a bit later.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Moment


Today, September 11th, is my generation's Where Were You moment. Other generations have Pearl Harbor, or JFK's assassination, or maybe Bobby Thomson's home run. We have this.

I'm proud to say that although we were a long way from New York and Washington, and didn't have any apparent disaster plan, at the solo law firm where I worked, the boss got it exactly right.

He made a practice of taking uninterrupted time in the mornings, until 11:00, and our instructions were not to disturb him unless the building was actually on fire. On this morning he emerged around 9:30 and called us all together, saying, "I only want to have to say this once." He told us about the planes. He then asked one of the staff to drive him to the local Best Buy, where he purchased a large t.v. He set it up in the conference room, and we watched the morning's events.

About 11:30, when the scope of the thing finally sank in, he sent us home for the day. I returned a few phone calls before I left, and remember discussing an overdue bill with a vendor. Both of us remarked that the missing $75 payment suddenly didn't seem all that darn important anymore. Our perspective had already shifted.

There are a lot of stories of courage that day, not only from police and firefighters, but from ordinary citizens who rose to the occasion, some of them losing their lives in the process. Here's one example, by the excellent Florida writer Michael Grunwald: Tower of Courage, about lawyer Rick Rescorla.

These people and their stories are on my mind today. Because of my work and my mindset, I spend a lot of time feeling that we as humans fall short of the mark: in how we treat each other, in how we engage in our professions, in how we live in and care for this beautiful world. We are selfish. We are cruel. We are corrupt. We exploit anything and everything and everyone for our selfish goals.

September 11th doesn't change that. In some ways it highlights it more than ever. But it also reminds me that among us are many - sometimes unnoticed - who shine like the sun in the right circumstances, which are often the worst circumstances. That's the lesson I choose to take from today.

Blessings upon those who act with courage and generosity when the times demand it. May we all be among them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Reintegrated Life

A while back I started a separate blog that was intended as a place for my nature adventures, which were calling up a creative side of me that didn't seem to quite fit with the tone and variety of the posts here at the Cafe.

That blog never really took off. I posted photos and some minor thoughts, but it never gathered much energy, and I didn't work on it very often, as time went on.

Meanwhile, the Cafe also languished (and has continued to do so). I've struggled with whether to continue it.

Recently I've spent some time thinking about how our lives go through phases. Maybe it has to do with where we're living, the work we are doing, what hobbies we become interested in, or who we're in a relationship with. Maybe this doesn't happen to other people -- although I suspect it does. How many times have I been catching up with a friend and asked, "So how's __________ these days?" -- only to hear that they don't really go there/do that/see them anymore.

I guess it's the waxing and waning of the natural cycle, manifest in our own daily lives, pastimes, and loves.

Along those lines, I've come to think that the lack of content here at the Cafe is due to my feeling that there were certain things I "couldn't" say. Having two blogs made me feel fragmented and self-censored, and kept me slightly off balance.

Instead of being an easy and joyful snapshot of whatever I was thinking about, having two blogs required all sorts of intellectual decisions -- that had a chilling effect on the ease of the creative process. At least that's what I'm thinking now. We'll see if returning to the idea of one blog with varied content restores my consistency here.

I'm also hoping that this is a sign that nature adventures aren't something separate from my so-called Real Life, but something that's fully a part of it now. My adventures outdoors are still special, still magical, but much more part of who I am.

They don't need a place of their own. This place, where I also talk about books, cats, domestic details, and the funny, amusing, frustrating, surprising events of the day, is their place, too.