Meet Me in the Woods for Cake and Wine

Had breakfast here today with just the sweetest people ever. Surprising how some folks become friends almost without you realizing it’s happening. All of the sudden they’re just part of your life and it is effortless and beautiful. I’m so grateful that I have friends who’ve become family and for my family who were my first and best friends.

Craft Kafe

To be honest, it has not been completely without effort. I read this book a bit back that was all about how the energy you put out into the world comes back to you, so I’ve been working very hard to put out positive energy. The theory is that, by doing so, I’ll attract positive people. So with that, should I be at all worried about the consequences of acting as a kind of happiness pump or the false virtue inherent of moral desert?

M’kay, I didn’t think so either.

On the topic of books and family, I have this Reader’s Digest anthology of “The World’s Best Fairy Tales.” This book has been in my family longer than I have and over the years, I’ve read it through a time or two. Along with my grandmother’s cookbooks and my mother’s silverware, it’s one of my dearest possessions.

I’m always a little surprised at the difference in the stories Disney tells when compared to the way the Brothers Grimm crafted them. The stories by Grimm are way brutal and quite a few are missing the requisite happy ending. I do love a happy ending. But at least the name “Grimm” sort of gives you an idea of what you’re in for. When confronted with the habitual and rampant slaughter of blood relatives and loved ones by the talented writers of Disney movies, I wonder just how exactly Disney is the world of laughter and cheer they advertise. Is it because the Disney stories end happily that makes all that carnage okay?

Today I reread “Little Red Riding Hood,” because that song Meet Me in the Woods by Lord Huron makes me think of it and has been rolling through my playlist since my sister sent it to me in response to my sending her The Night We Met a couple of weeks ago while I was on my way to meet a friend for dinner at Ocean Prime. All families partake in this sort of dueling song sharing, right??? BTW I highly recommend both the songs and the restaurant. The sea bass is money.

Okay, so back to Red and her story.

Let’s dissect how this story goes down: First of all, Red Riding Hood was taking her sick grandmother cake and wine, which I’m pretty sure should have warranted a call to child protective services by a concerned neighbor. I mean, right? So as Red’s traveling through the woods alone, with booze and cake, she comes across a creature that she doesn’t recognize as the stranger-danger wolf it is. Red – oversharer that she is – tells the stranger that she’s on her way to Granny’s house.

Then the wolf distracts Little Red Riding Hood by sending her off to pick flowers for her grandmother while he travels ahead, eats the grandmother, and when Red shows up and starts asking questions, he eats her, too. Soon after, a huntsman swings by to poke the head in only to find the sleeping and very full wolf. The huntsman cuts open the belly of the wolf to release Granny and Red. Then the three of them fill the belly of the somehow still sleeping wolf with stones trapping it in place… and well, blah-blah, happy ending for everyone except the wolf.

In all this, here’s what rings true to me from the story: the girl didn’t recognize the wolf for what it was.

Have you ever found this to be true, that you just didn’t recognize the type of person with whom you were dealing until they’d already become enmeshed in your life? I think it happens because we, like Red, only want to see the good, the positive, in people. We send out positive and expect that’s what we’ll get back, and mostly we do. But, sometimes, in projecting positive, we fail to see someone’s true character until we’ve already let him or her close. Then, we have to go through the painful process of cutting them out of both our life and our heart, with the latter being a bit harder for most of us, I’d say. When we finally do, though, there’s that sense of relief, a surprising knife-like slash of sadness, but gratitude, too, that it didn’t go on longer or cut deeper.

And I think we should just focus most on the gratitude piece, don’t you?

In a way, didn’t Red get off easy that these events unfolded as quickly as they did? Discomfort was quick, over soon, but the lesson learned will linger. It was a narrow escape for our girl but one that’s left her much wiser. While not exactly happy, perhaps that’s the best ending for situations such as these – for any of us.

Morning Sunshine!

I ran this morning at a local park. It was EARLY and I was able to catch the sunrise. It’s not what I intended when I set off on the trail, but as best I could I recreated a run I took with a friend about a year ago sans the stops for push-ups, random dog petting and getting lost in the woods. He’s someone who’s not in my life right now, and that’s probably for the best. But I think, too, that it’s important to remember friends who are gone, however they’ve left, and the things they brought into your life both good and bad. There’s a time to mourn.

I was listening to this oldie by Concrete Blonde and found myself reflecting on the things that have changed in my life in the last year, that despite the carnage and even with no happy ending in sight for anyone’s version of our story, how much further along I am in some ways because of this person. I’m grateful to him for that. I think he knows that. I hope he knows that. After all, we got lost together in those woods. Didn’t we?

I wonder why I hold on so stubbornly sometimes to things I should let go. Why when something hurts, I avoid it with silence, obscure it with a smile or a joke or hyperbole. Don’t we all disguise ourselves, though; hide those things that we don’t want others to see? Distract them with something pretty when they try to look too close. Just how complicit are we in these situations when each of us plays at this sort of mutual deception? Self-deception, really, in the way to which we cling to the idea of the fairy tale in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Which of us is the wolf? Is it the one who upon waking finds herself filled with stones that trap a body, a mind, a heart here in this place that despite its darkness is still so beautiful? And those people we let in, that we finally do let come close, with those eyes that are big enough, and all the better to see us with, can we hold them harmless for devouring our idea of what we believed they were any more than they can forgive us for not being what they imagined us to be?

Vanilla Cake with White Wine Buttercream Frosting

3 cups flour (equal parts cake and all-purpose flours)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups whole milk, room temperature

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9-inch round baking pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment or wax paper, or dust lightly with flour.

SIFT together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

BEAT butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color.

ADD eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition;

STIR in vanilla.

ADD the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.

STIR until just blended.

POUR batter into prepared pan.

BAKE at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.

White Wine Buttercream

1 cup unsalted butter
4-5 cups confectioner sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup white wine

BEAT butter until creamy.

BLEND in the confectioner’s sugar, cup by cup, until well-combined.

FOLD in vanilla and white wine.

BEAT frosting until fluffy. Do not overwork, but if the frosting is too stiff, add more wine –  almost always the correct answer to every problem –  one teaspoon at a time

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