Herb-Cheese Scones

Warm, cheesy, delicious.

Warm, cheesy, delicious.

Every third Thursday of the month, I participate in a Kickstarted cheese club here in Portland. It works like this. When that month’s cheese is announced on Kickstarter, you buy a ticket to the cheese party or a ticket plus a pound of cheese. If the Kickstarter gets funded, the restaurant owner and cheesemonger, Sasha, buys the whole wheel of cheese, and puts on a pick-up party for everyone involved. If it doesn’t get funded, Sasha tries again next month. (It has never failed to get funded.)

At the pick-up party, Sasha explains what the cheese is all about, the cheese is usually prepared into a delicious recipe for you to try, you get your pound to take home (if you paid for that Kickstarter level), and you vote on next month’s cheese.

Every single cheese that has come out of this cheese club has been completely mindblowing; these are top quality cheese from all over the world. I think my favorite was Harbison– a brie-like cheese with a very creamy texture, aged in pine bark– but Brian seemed to prefer the Burrata.

Anyway, Last month’s cheese was a French Comté, which we decided to use for herb-cheese scones. The recipe is adapted from a similar one that Sasha emailed out many months ago for a tea-rubbed cheese called TeaHive, but it goes well with any grate-able, sharp cheese. An English Cheddar (the cheese for the month before last) would probably have gone very well with this recipe. We are hoping a Dutch gouda (this month’s cheese) will do well with it too, since we have company coming and would love to share these amazing scones.

2 cups white flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick (2 oz) cold butter, cut up into small chunks

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

5 oz sharp cheese of choice, grated

1 teaspoon each of basil, dill, and/or other herb*

*I found that 1 teaspoon or so each of basil and dill worked well with the comté, but depending on your taste preferences and your cheese, you may want to pick different herbs. I recommend slicing off a thin piece of the cheese and trying it with a small pinch of each herb to find the perfect combination. Once you find the herb(s) you want, mix them in with the dough mixture (see below) until it is lightly speckled with the herbs. You may want to use a little less or a little more than the amount I listed, because you don’t want your herbs to overpower the flavour of the cheese — as always, your taste is your best tool!

To make the dough, combine 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Put the butter chunks in and mash with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Then mix in the sugar and cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1/2 cup of milk. Pour most of the mixture into the dough, setting aside just a little for the glaze if desired. Knead the dough with your hands into a rough ball. The dough will seem dry and shaggy, and may take a moment to come together. If needed, add a little bit more of the egg/milk mixture. Once it sticks together, turn the dough out onto a board and knead 10 or so times, just enough to get it to stick together without overworking it.

Flatten out the dough into a round about 2 inches thick. Cut it up into 8 wedges. Place the wedges onto an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the wedges with the reserved egg/milk mixture, or if you used up all of the mixture in the dough, whisk together 1 egg for some glaze, if desired.

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

That’s it! Super easy, and very tasty. They can be frozen for later consumption or otherwise held in a covered dish at room temperature for a couple of days. Enjoy!

Note: To give credit where it’s due, I want to say that this recipe was adapted from a recipe sent out by Sasha Davies of Cyril’s Cheese Club, and was written by Laura Birsham for TeaHive cheese scones. However, Ms. Birsham adapted that recipe from a recipe by Molly Wizenberg, which may or may not have involved cheese. Anyway, scones are great!

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Free to Play, Free to Learn

Language learning has always been a big part of my life, and increasingly so has language teaching. It is always difficult to find motivation to start a new activity or language, just as it is difficult to instill enthusiasm in new students. So what better way than building off of an activity you already enjoy?

My fiancé and I are huge gamers. Between the two of us, we have played every genre on every device capable of running games (including the tabletop). So when I suggested we launch up the free to play (F2P) version of Russian World of Warcraft (WoW), he seemed intrigued. As a heritage speaker of Russian, I rarely get the opportunity to acquire gaming lingo, and as a beginning second language learner of Russian, my fiancé rarely gets exposure to the language at all, let alone “in the wild”. This was going to be fun.

After downloading the massive 22GB client, and getting past the inevitable start up hiccups, we began making our characters. Already, my fiancé was enjoying reading the Russian translations of menu options and race names. These were not our first WoW characters, and the extra grounding in a familiar setting seemed to help him navigate. He modified his character’s appearance, chose a name, and hit завершить (accept) followed by вход в игровой мир (enter the game world).

A declension table for my character's name.

A declension table for my character’s name.

Bam! Name declension table, in your face! When you first create your WoW toon, the game needs to know how to address you, and how to talk about you. So before you complete your toon, they give you a table to read through with the grammatical cases and some short sentences using your toon’s name in that case.

It’s been a while since my fiancé’s last Russian class, so we took this opportunity to do a mini refresher course in case. The sentences were great reading practice, and they were simple enough for us to be able to focus on the key concepts. We made sure the provided declensions sounded right, and logged into the game.

At the end of the intro sequence, we predictably found ourselves in the starting area for our race, with one combat ability on our action bar. After running around for a few moments and talking to the starting quest giver (whose on-click speech was voiced by an absolutly epic voice actor), we decided our interface needed some tweaks. Incredibly, many of the addons my fiancé had dumped over from his other WoW client were already localized into Russian, and Just Worked on this client. He stumbled a bit through the menus, mostly going on memory with a little bit of translation help from me, until we got it all set up. I have to give huge props here to the addon creators for how seamlessly their addons were integrated and localized. For many of them, you would have never guessed that they didn’t originally belong in the Russian version of this game.

Ok, our UI was set up, what next? Well, since we were playing together, we wanted to group. But that requires deciphering the target right-click menu. Reading the menu items, we recognized some words he had heard before in very different contexts. Шепот (Whisper) was the name of one of my old cats. Запомнить цель (focus target), осмотреть (inspect), обмен (trade)… приглошение (invite)!

Now here comes one of my big dissapointments with the free to play version of this game. They cut out a lot of functionality for this… you can’t play certain classes, you can’t get above level 20, and so on, because they want you to buy the full version to do those things. You can’t trade with another character, probably because of gold farmers. All that makes sense. But most crucially, they cut the ability to group. Why? I have no idea. WoW is a social game. Peer pressure is a great way to leverage people to buy things (not that I condone that, but it is a fact). If one of your friends continues on to the full game, you may be more likely to buy it as well so you can keep playing with them. If all your friends are having fun grouping together, you may all want to pick it up so that you can keep playing together. In the meantime, it’s more fun, as well as more evocative of the full game’s social focus, for you to group with other players. I have no idea why they would cut this central feature out of the starter version. That really sucks.

Well, there was nothing left to do about it. We could still sort of play through the starting zones together, even if we weren’t grouped. And so with my sword drawn, and my frostfire bolt prepped, I headed down to where the first mobs were for the starting quests… only to realize my fiancé hasn’t even loaded his crossbow. “Hold on, I have to read my ability names!”

This was probably the coolest part of the night for me– he initiated the continuation of our Russian lesson on his own. We logged on originally to play some WoW, but by the end we spent nearly two hours total just practicing and learning Russian.

We went over the powerful sounding ability names, reading their descriptions right up to the points of damage they do, including a brief refresher on counting amd numbers for that part. We got to talk about roots and suffixes too. Since he had made a hunter, many of his abilities mentioned shooting. Стрелба (the act of shooting), выстрел (a shot), and стрелять (to shoot), all share the same root “стрел”, and in the case of the suffixed and prefixed version, he did not recognize that they were the same. Overall, we really went through a lot of Russian and very little WoW… what a great way to learn for free!

Pardon my UI, it's a bit slapped together right now.

Pardon my UI, it’s a bit slapped together right now.

For my part, I have to say, I was very impressed with the Russian localization of WoW. I have played a few other games in Russian, including some of EverQuest2, and have always felt that the translations were somehow forced. It was always clear that the game you were playing was not intended to be played in Russian. Some of these concepts in fantasy and magic are very difficult to translate into Russian culture in the first place anyway, but WoW does this nearly seamlessly. The quest text is rich, the voice acting is amazing, the community is active (so that even addons are masterfully localized), the visuals are lovely as ever… and best of all, it’s a great free language learning and language teaching tool for beginners and experts alike. It’s a shame they took out the grouping functionality for the F2P version, as I feel grouping really is a cornerstone of the social gaming genre. I don’t know if we will buy the full version, the cost is pretty steep when combined with all the expansions, but if nothing else, we have 20 levels of Russian left to learn… well, 18 now. =)

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Spicy-Creamy Thai Curry Soup

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Spicy, creamy, hearty.

Difficulty estimates on recipes don’t make much sense to me. Anything can seem easy once you know how it’s done; until then, it seems hard. Some recipes look easy on the outset, but take years to master (such as the perfect white rice). Others look complicated, but only because of their long ingredients list (stir fry is as straight-forward as it’s name suggests– cut, fry, and stir). Time estimates are also misleading. They don’t account for the procurement of materials, nor for the reader’s experience.

For the longest time, I was afraid of Asian soups, because they seemed very difficult. Now I have made a couple, and I have to say, not only are they are more than manageable, but the preparation was well worth it. I crafted this recipe from a few different concepts and ideas, and once it was ready, my professional taste-tester, a.k.a. the fiancé, told me it tasted like something you would get at a swanky restaurant for an exhorbant cost. Does it deserve such high praise? I will let your taste-testers decide.

- 5 cups chicken broth (make Fried-Egg Soup one day, use the remaining broth the next)
- 1/2 can coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 stalk lemongrass, sliced
- 3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms
- 2 japanese turnips, sliced into thin rounds (substitute with a different root vegetable if needed, such as a yukon gold potato)
- 2 avocados
- 2 inch piece of ginger root, grated
- 2-3 sprigs cilantro, chopped up
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon powdered  coriander, or whole coriander
- chili oil or dried chili flakes to taste (I used about 4 teaspoons)
- 2 cups shrimp (raw is better) or cooked chicken (such as the remainder from that Fried-Egg Soup broth)

As usual, your own taste will dictate exact amounts, particularly of the spices. Taste as you go!

Combine vegetable oil with lemon grass, grated ginger, and red curry paste in a large saucepan or pot, and cook for about a minute or so. Pour in chicken broth while stirring. Add coconut milk while stirring until the color is more pastel and the texture is somewhat creamy.

Now begin adding chili oil, lime juice, brown sugar, coriander and fish sauce, as you taste and mix. If it isn’t salty enough, add more fish sauce. If it isn’t sweet enough, add sugar. Too spicy– some more coconut milk and a little more lime should help. Or maybe it’s not spicy enough?  ; )

When you get the right flavor, add the mushrooms, and turnips. When the mushrooms are soft, add the raw shrimp and/or chicken and bring to a beief boil, all while stirring. The shrimp should turn red and only be a little translucent. If using pre-cooked shrimp, keep in mind, it’s very easy to overcook, so don’t boil it for too long.

Finally, slice up half an avocado for each bowl, and garnish with a bit of cilantro and green onion (I also added enoki mushrooms in the above picture, and they took on a bit of a pasta-like texture). Serve with a side of plain cooked white rice, which each person can add to their own soup bowl as they please. This recipe should fill about four bowls. Enjoy!

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Mixed-herb pesto

Despite months of neglect and mistreatment, my poor herbs have been clinging to life in their cramped little pots, their roots desperately reaching for the last few drops of water in soil that has been parched for weeks, their leaves reaching into single beam of sunlight that shines through the balcony fence, like a convict grasping through prison bars for his last meal, their stalks shuddering against the raging wind, even as their fellows are viciously cut down, one-by-one, all in the name of… pesto!

Yes, pesto. I have been perfecting my pesto recipe all summer, and am now ready to share it with you.

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Those herbs never stood a chance…

As you read the ingredients list, keep in mind that this pesto recipe should not be followed step-by-step. Pesto is all about the fresh herbs. I have given options, so that you can substitite what you may not have, and if you have something completely different, feel free to toss in a bit of that too! Taste your pesto as you go, and add more or less of the ingredients depending on the flavour. Treat this recipe as merely a guideline while you work on creating your own glorious method to the perfect pesto.

- olive oil
- 4 carrot greens, or 5 sprigs of curled pasley
- 3 sprigs of leafy basil
- 3 green garlic stalks, or 2 cloves garlic
- 5 sprigs lemon-thyme
- 1 cup pine nuts, or 1 cup shelled roasted no-salt pistachios (pine nuts will give a creamier texture, pistachios will give a nuttier flavour)
- 1 cup shredded parmesan
- a pinch of salt
- a teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)

Put the pine nuts or pistachios in the food processor with the garlic, and chop up for about 5 seconds. Toss in the herbs in equal parts, however much will fit in your food processor, and chop some more. Keep adding herbs and chopping until you’ve fit them all in that little food processor! Give the mixture a taste. Does it need more garlic? Probably– garlic is the best! Is it too bland? Toss in that salt and add in more thyme/green onion. Too grassy? More basil. Too sharp? Add a little bit of lemon juice. Keep chopping and tasting. Also keep in mind that some of the grassy bitterness will level out as you add olive oil.

Now that you’ve got a good mix of herbs, it’s time to start adding olive oil. Turn on the processor and slowly pour in the olive oil until you get the right consistency. Most recipes say ypu should keep adding oil until you get an emulsion. I prefer less oil, but instead a thick creamy mass of spreadable pesto. When you have it how you want it (keep tasting it as you go), add the parmesan, and give it one last pulse, and you’re done.

The pesto takes about 10-15 mins to make. I usually make it with one box of rotini pasta (I like the kind made with spinach), which can feed up to 4. I have the water boiling and  pasta going as I’m doing the pesto. I also like to throw some cut up  cherry tomatoes and crimini mushrooms into the pasta as well. Sometimes I add some green olive swai on the side for even more deliciousness. Since it’s just the two of us right now, that makes enough for dinner and lunch the next day for the both of us.

Enjoy!

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Holes in my shoes

I feel like I should start this post with “Dear Diary.” Well here goes. I try not to talk about it too much, but a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a form of hyperthyroidism called “Grave’s Disease.”

It sounds really scary, but actually, a lot of people have it, and the rate of incidence is higher in women. The gist of it is this… Your body over-produces a hormone called TSH which is meant to stimulate the thyroid to create another hormone called Thyroxine (or T4), which is supposed to regulate your metabolism. For hyperthyroid people, the body produces way too much TSH, making your thyroid overproduce T4. This leads to all sorts of bad symptoms — overly fast metabolism, weight loss, goiter (i.e. swollen thyroid gland), constant hunger, heat intolerance, heart palpitations, excessive sweating, anxiety, ophthalmopathy (thyroid eye disease)… the list goes on, but those are the main ones I have experienced. Fortunately, my symptoms were not as bad as some other people have experienced with Grave’s disease.

Anyway, it turned out I was allergic to the main medication that people go on in an attempt to regulate the thyroid, methimazole/tapazole. I went on propylthiouracil (PTU) to try to regulate it. PTU has some nasty side-effects, the worst of which is potential for liver damage… so when my thyroid failed to be regulated 18 months later, my doctor recommended a more final treatment. The options were surgery to cut out the thyroid (or part of it, I guess) and taking a radioactive iodine (I-131) pill.

The main thing about doing one of those treatments, is that your thyroid is now destroyed… essentially you are giving up on the possibility of getting it regulated again. So this means that patients almost always go hypothyroid (i.e. since your thyroid is now partially destroyed, it doesn’t produce enough T4). The treatment to hypothyroidism is just to take a hormone supplement pill every day for the rest of your life… not so bad, considering the supplement is super easy to manufacture, cheap, and available just about everywhere.

Additionally, each of those treatments have their own potential for side effects. For the surgery you have to take a week off. The surgery has all of the risks that any surgery has: scarring, anesthesia, bleeding — 1/500 people have to go back under the knife if the blood vessels they tie up get loose and you start bleeding internally. Plus, since the neck is a delicate area of the body, there is risk to the surrounding glands if the surgeons mess up. Mainly, the risk of damage to the parathyroid glands, which regulate calcium in your body, and the risk to the vocal cords (i.e. you get to be hoarse for the rest of your life).

The radioiodine, on the other hand, is a much simpler procedure. You just take a pill on Friday, stay home over the weekend, and then head back into work on Monday feeling mostly fine. There are some minor temporary “feeling shitty” type side effects, but it’s not so bad. There is risk also of thyroid storm– your thyroid cells die all at once, releasing a bunch of T4 all at once, which can be very dangerous– but this is very rare. One concern is the worsening of thyroid eye disease, but my thyroid eye disease wasn’t really that bad, and my ophthalmologist said it was ok to go forward with it.

However… and you might have already guessed this… but the radioiodine is, well… radioactive. Taking radioactive materials into your body has the potential for cancer in the future.

So here’s the thing… They give radioiodine to people who already have thyroid cancer to try to kill the cancer off. When they do that, they give way more than they would give a patient with Grave’s (I have heard 10x more, but I am not sure about the accuracy of that number). Studies have been done, and it has been shown that the amount they give to cancer patients does increase the risk for other cancers by a small amount. Studies have also been done on the amount of radioiodine they give Grave’s disease patients (around 30 millicuries), and as of press time, they haven’t been able to conclusively show that this amount of radioiodine increases the risk for cancer — there is too much noise in the data to prove this.

So, after consulting at length with my doctor and my ophthalmologist, under their recommendation, I went with the radioiodine treatment. It seemed like the safer option. The idea is they give you enough to kill off enough of your thyroid so that you go hypothyroid. This reduces the risk of a relapse of hyperthyroidism, and since hypo is easy to treat, it’s not a big deal.

I think they gave me around 25 mCi. They wanted to give me more, but I had a very large goiter and they were worried about thyroid storm.

So here I am half a year later, in a new location (moved for a job), with a new doctor… I have relapsed, and I am hyperthyroid again. I am facing the same decision once again: surgery or another dose of radioiodine… only the potential cancer-causing effects of radioiodine are cumulative, and another dose raises my chances of getting cancer in the future. With that said, they still don’t actually know if the cancer risk has gone up or by how much, because even at two doses, there is still either too much noise in the data, or not enough data to know for sure.

I haven’t been able to come to a decision on this. I have talked to my new doctor, as well as to a surgeon she recommended about the risks of the two treatments. I’ve talked to friends, family, I’ve been trying to contact my old doctor to get her opinion, I’ve done research, I’ve paced around in circles wearing holes into my shoes…

…and I’m no closer to a decision. I’m afraid that talking to a million more doctors won’t get me closer to a decision. And all the while, I am anxious, not just because of the decision I have to make but because of the hormone imbalance in my body. I am super sweaty and have occasional heart palpitations. I feel like my work is suffering– I nearly started crying at work today for no reason other than I also have these crazy random mood swings. If I don’t make a decision soon, I will need to talk to my current doctor to get onto the PTU again, just to keep the symptoms down. Thank the stars Portland is cool and rainy, because my sweatiness and heat intolerance is… er… intolerant.

I know it’s not that bad. Like I said, some people have had way worse experiences, both with Grave’s Disease and in life in general. That’s why I try not to talk about it much… I feel bad complaining, when so many people have such great difficulties to overcome. But I can’t help but fret and wear holes into my shoes.

EDIT: After talking to the doctors and weighing the risks, I decided to go with the radioiodine treatment again. Last time, I was temporarily living with my parents for this part. I remember my mom following me around the house, wearing one of her flowery shirts, clinging to my dad’s old soviet Geiger counter, and gasping every time it beeped. This time I’m living with my boyfriend, so I expect it to go smoother. They are giving me 15 mCi… very little, but hopefully just enough.

Posted in Frustration, Grave's Disease, Life | 5 Comments

Fried-Egg Soup

Today I made “Fried Egg Soup” from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis. I’ll let you in on a secret… this is probably the third soup I have ever attempted to make. I love eating soup when I go out, but somehow, homemade soup (at least homemade by me) doesn’t quite appeal to me; however, I think this recipe has completely changed my position on the matter. It was so amazing, and so easy too!

I made a few very slight alterations to the recipe. Most notably, I quartered the original recipe since I was only cooking for myself today. Even quartering it made enough broth for me to have dinner tonight, breakfast tomorrow, and to freeze some broth for later. Maybe I don’t eat very much.

Below is the recipe as I made it, although I highly recommend you take a look at Mr. Tanis’ book for both the original recipe, and for other amazing recipes and techniques!

Fried Egg Soup with a round of toasted baguette, and white ginger-pear tea from Tea Forté.

Fried Egg Soup with a round of toasted baguette, and white ginger-pear tea from Tea Forté.

This soup starts out with the light broth:

1.5 pounds raw chicken wings
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 leak, slivered
1 thyme branch
1 bay leaf
cooking oil (I used canola)

Warm up a large saucepan to medium heat. Put a little bit of cooking oil into the saucepan, and then toss in the onions. Cook uncovered until they are see-through (about 2 minutes). Put in the chicken wings and let them cook until they are no longer pink (I think it took me about 15-20 minutes). Pour in 6 cups of cold water, throw in the carrot, leek, thyme, and bay leaf. Optionally, add some peppercorns. (If all that stuff doesn’t fit into your saucepan, just transfer the onions and chicken to a big pot and use that– I don’t happen to have a big pot right at the moment, and the saucepan was big enough.) Bring to a brief boil, then turn down to simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Instead of straining and skimming the broth, I decided to leave it as-is for my soup. I don’t mind avoiding chicken and leeks to ladle my broth, and I like the extra flavor from the carrots and onions directly in my soup.

The next part is adding the aromatics:

2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 inch ginger, finely chopped
1 cup of baby bok choy leaves, slivered (or use adult bok choy or spinach)
salt

Add garlic to your soup and simmer for five minutes. Then add ginger and simmer for five more minutes. Add salt to taste. Just before serving, add the slivered baby bok choy leaves. They will take a minute or two to wilt.

Next comes the fried egg:

1 fresh egg per bowl of soup
salt to taste
cayenne (or black pepper) to taste

When you put the garlic into your soup, while you’re waiting, begin frying an egg sunny-side up, leaving it mostly runny. Season it with salt and cayenne pepper to taste (or black pepper if you prefer). This is also the time to drizzle some baguette slices with olive oil and give them a good toast, as well as to start steeping some tea. A white tea will go well with this recipe.

He likes food even more than I do!

This guy likes food even more than I do!

Place the fried egg into a shallow bowl. Ladle over the soup broth, making sure to pick up some of those carrots and bok choy leaves. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve immediately!

By the way, once the food was ready, I pulled my chair out onto the balcony, and ate it in the afternoon sunlight. Here is the view from my balcony….

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Portland 400

Portland 400 miles.

I’m on the road, and over halfway there. The wide, straight freeway has changed into a crooked mountain pass, as sunny inland pastures have given way to snow-dusted pine woods. Maybe it’s the change in terrain that does it, or maybe just the thought of the distance I’ve traveled, but the music blaring on my radio can no longer drown out the confused mixture of emotions that I have been struggling to contain– I am moving far away from all I know.

Coming around a bend, black rows of pine studded hills suddenly split open ahead of me. The early morning sun illuminates the pure snow-clad face of a great mountain. Mount Shasta? Like the crater-pocked face of the moon, it seems to glow of its own light. Like the moon, it is at once comforting and cold.

I’ve moved other times, of course, even traveled to other countries, but this time is somehow different. Someone told me yesterday it’s because in the past, there was always the assumption of return, even if there was no set date– this time is forever. Beyond anxiety and uncertainty, the light of understanding shines as brilliantly as the morning sunlight on the mountain’s face. Sometimes, the truth is a source of comfort. Sometimes, it is a curse.

Weed 5 miles.

What kind of a deranged soul would name their town “Weed”? Perhaps an old, bow-backed hunter, clinging to his cabin hermitage, as he cleans his father’s rifle by candlelight. Damned be any man who attempts to uproot him from his ancestral home. We cling to what we know.

I grew up in a house of books. My parents clung to them like the hermit to his father’s rifle. Overstuffed shelves lined the walls, but there were not enough walls. Books lay in stacks on the floor, on nightstands, on the kitchen table, on the kitchen counters. Any available surface was covered in books. Sometimes there was more room in the house for books than for us trying to live there. Yet “home” is neither a house, nor a city, nor a book. Home is that feeling of comfort and security that comes from knowing you are cared for. In that sense, it was still home.

It’s hard leaving everything you know, but not as hard as clinging to an outlived past. If I were to be a weed, I would choose to be the dandelion. I would not wear down the path beneath my feet, but I would travel on the wind, each new breeze guiding me towards a new life.

Portland 300 miles.

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