courage withstanding

tonight the moonlight is bright enough to make my front lawn gleam with just a little blueness; it is bright enough to glint off the hoods of cars parked in our driveway, to pass through the leaves of the trees that line this street and lay watery shadows on the pavement. it makes the thinking easier.

i am mulling over some difficult things tonight. by this time tomorrow, i – courage withstanding – will have closed a chapter i have meant to shut for months now. leaving is rarely ever easy, and i never seem to have the right words or the poise to put them forth just so. but it’s time.

i think tomorrow i’ll need another one of these.


anzac biscuits

i first heard about these cookies from an article printed in the los angeles times food section quite a few years ago, before i even knew i’d find myself in their country of origin. the article paired two recipes from australia – these hearty rounds of oats, coconut, and golden syrup; and spongey, chocolate-dipped lamingtons – extolling in particular the virtue of their portability. the anzac biscuits were sturdy (enough so to be shipped to world war I soldiers, according to popular belief) and the lamingtons’ coconut-dusted coating served as their own built-in travel insurance.

i have yet to go through the labor of baking up a sheet cake, cutting it into cubes, and dip-dipping the plunks of cake to make the lamingtons, but anzac biscuits – they are a cinch. easy enough for a school night, even.

the only challenge here might be getting your hands on a jar of golden syrup. golden syrup is the color of molasses and has the viscosity of honey, but it has the faint taste of toasted sugar – like the top of a crème brûlée. it gives these cookies a richer, more complex sweetness (and apparently is an ingredient in those much-loved tim tams, too). but i’ve never seen it in the states.

just in case you won’t have a chance to fly to australia and back in the near future, the recipe below offers corn syrup as an alternative, and this lovely post suggests swapping in honey. the flavor will be different, yes – but in any case, you will end up with a set of chewy, hearty cookies good enough to eat for breakfast.


ANZAC Biscuits
Cooking Light, April 1997
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup regular (“old-fashioned”) oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup stick margarine butter, melted
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons golden syrup or light-colored corn syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Add butter, water, and syrup; stir well. Drop by level tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets.
  3. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes {mine took closer to 20} or until almost set. Remove from oven; let stand 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from baking sheets. Place on wire racks; let cool completely.


i spend a lot of time complaining about my job. i whine. i mutter. i grit my teeth and say mean things in my head. but one thing i get to do at my job that i really quite relish is read books. i canvass the internet for suggestions, compile reading lists in my excel spreadsheet, make morning trips to the library and check books out by the armload, and then stack the novels and picture books on my desk in the office.

and during those precious moments when i have the room to myself and there is but a slim chance that someone is going to pop in, i stop planning lessons and slide a story from the top of the stack and read – just for the pleasure of it.


over the weekend, i stopped over at a used book store in town and picked up an old copy of james and the giant peach, “$2.50” stamped in ink on the inside cover. i had never read the story as a kid, and i’ve now only read the first 24 pages, but i know already that this is one i’ll keep close to my heart.

the edition i found had black-and-white versions of these original illustrations done by nancy ekholm burkert for the book’s first printing in 1961. little james himself, unfortunately, gets a rather disturbing rendering (don’t look too long into his black-hole eyes) but the other scenes are utterly enchanting.



they are pen and ink drawings that have just the merest blush of color, but they are enough to bring my imagination to life – and likewise life to my imagination. what a bit of mercy on an otherwise mundane tuesday night.

{all images come from this lovely children’s illustration blog}

it’s such a gorgeous sight


he’s got the dance moves of a four-year-old, and it’s all so delightfully weird. happy friday, guys.


it’s been hard.

the days are long, but still the sunshine never lasts long enough. i am thankful for the windows, which i can throw open and watch the light shift from where i stand at the head of the classroom. but that is never the same as bringing a cool drink out to a gentle spot in the evening air, knowing your best work is done, the hard work behind you.

in a sense, this song is for a moment like that.


now most days i can’t wrap myself around a song this gentle or sweet. my musical tastes have veered off course as the cynicism has set in like cement.

but if i can get myself to sit still for long enough – sometimes that means in the driver’s seat of my car as it speeds down one very long road home – i can remember what it was like to hear this song for the first time. i had just ended a relationship, and the cd arrived at my doorstep in that precious window of time that sometimes occurs after a breakup – when there is a quiet peace about what you have finished. the wreckage hasn’t come to show itself yet; the new silence is benign – just another part of some bigger, more poetic story.

i am trying to remember that part of me – the one that twisted every reality into a more elegant version. for the past year, it has been difficult. i have put in hours and hours but come out feeling neither proud nor particularly like myself. i have bowed to the pressures and in the process lost the parts of myself most worth keeping. perhaps not lost them completely, but i have certainly set them down and walked away. i’m afraid it will be a long road back.

long roads call for sad songs. and so tonight, this one’s also kind of nice.