I’m back from a few unplanned weeks in Jersey just in time to make cake and comfort food. My best friend and father share the same birthday, which means I never forget either of them. Cooking birthday meals makes it easy to imagine the pressure of preparing someone’s last meal – it ought to taste how they picture it in their head. Right now I’m giving a pep talk-slash-prayer to a pot of collard greens, basket of corn bread, baked mac and cheese, mashies with cashew nut gravy and some weird looking barbecue tofu (all but the collards are GF and vegan). Please taste like I swiped you from someone’s southern grandma’s tasty kitchen.
Jersey, Jersey, Jersey. Good people. Beautiful places. And one more empty home.
Last month was spent trying stop my relative from losing his house, but the five year fight ended in shock last Friday. Shock because you try to be optimistic and believe that banks don’t really want to take somebody’s home. Not when it’s the home he built with friends from blueprints twenty-eight years ago. The home completed six months behind schedule because he fell off the roof and broke an arm. Actually he rolled off it in slow motion. I know that because the neighbors chuckle about it to this day. Don’t drink and shingle.
My brief mountain climbing career began and ended on that front lawn. Construction sites were my playgrounds, but none were nearly as fun as this one because this one was ours. After they dug out the site to pour the foundation and basement, we got to scramble up the mountainous mounds. It was a race to the peak that ended in skinned knees and pebbles embedded in my palm after a twig cut through my hand and almost came out the other side. My first scar! The next day he dug steps into my mountains, perhaps killing my true calling. Unless they have steps on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Anyway. I know the same has been happening to many many many people all over the country for years, but until now I never understood the toll it takes. A house becomes more than a physical place over time. Rather than think about it too much we instead took a few days to look at rainbows in my sister’s town:
and watch shore town re-building. Here’s the Christmas tree piles ready for dunes:
They still smell all piney:
And once again the shore left us with no shortage of freak storms to dodge:
There’s still plenty of help needed in communities impacted by Sandy. It looks like the Red Cross is taking volunteers again. The Occupy folks have weekly muck outs, clean ups and food crews going out all over.
JBJ’s Soul Kitchen in Red Bank is a breath of fresh air. Volunteers get to help kitchen staff and anyone who can’t afford to pay can always volunteer to earn a voucher for their meal. Check it out if you’re in the area, especially if you find yourself in need of healthy distractions.