Weekend Reading
April 11, 2020

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

On Wednesday, I learned that John Prine had passed away from complications of the coronavirus. A couple hours later, I sat down to read Gabriella Paiella’s raw and heartfelt tribute, “When I Get to Heaven” playing on my speakers. And I had a good, long cry.

I’m not the most knowledgeable of fans, and I never saw Prine perform live. But I’m the un-casual fan that Paiella describes in her article in that my memories of Prine’s music are all personal and profoundly nostalgic.

When I hear “Angel from Montgomery” or “Please Don’t Bury Me,” I’m transported back to my late teens, driving around with my best friend, Chloe, in her car. More accurately, being a passenger in my best friend’s car, because between the two of us, she’s the one who knows how to drive. And ride a bike. And play sports. And win people over. And throw parties. She’s much, much cooler than me, and among her cool traits is the fact that she’s got great taste in music.

Between high school and college, Chloe gave me an education in contemporary music. I’d only grown up with classical music and show tunes, so literally all of it, from the Rolling Stones to Nirvana, was new. Any knowledge I have of any artist after the year 1920 is thanks to her, a series of musical discoveries scattered throughout Friday night summer car rides up to the Hudson Valley.

When I heard that John Prine had passed, it all hit me at once: missing my oldest friend. Missing those young adult years, which weren’t always happy but were uncomplicated in ways that true adulthood isn’t. Missing the freedom to be with friends, to go places, to roam. The sadness of losing an artist whose work has meant something special, and the fact that he is one of so many people who have left us because of the current pandemic. It was, for a moment, overwhelming.

This is why all of the reminders to slow down, to give ourselves grace, and to take care of ourselves in the midst of this crisis matter. Sticking to a routine is helpful, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re all living through a period of suffering and loss, and we don’t know when it will end or what life afterwards will look like yet.

On any given day, I can be busy enough with simple household tasks and work and keeping in touch with people that I get lost in the flow of things. I don’t forget what’s going on, but I don’t feel afraid or sad, and this is a good thing; it would all feel paralyzing otherwise.

But every so often the seriousness of the pandemic hits me, and when it does, I become aware of the fact that my body knows what’s going on even when my mind is occupied. I was so tired on Thursday that I had to take a day off from everything: my regular quarantine “schedule,” work, responding to texts. All of it. The only thing I did was to listen to some John Prine (the more upbeat tunes—it was helpful to be reminded of how funny his lyrics are).

I’m glad that I let myself do this. I’m going to keep doing it whenever I need to. And I wish with all of my heart that anyone reading will find ways to take care of body, mind, and spirit at this moment, too.

Happy Saturday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

These key lime overnight oats look so refreshing for springtime.

Kathy’s vegan chili mac not only looks delicious, but I love the presentation (usually I mix my chili mac all together, but it’s pretty with the chili part piled on top of the mac).

A crunchy, protein-rich vegan edamame salad.

This batch of seared vegan mushroom and carrot dumplings from the Milk & Cardamom blog looks so delicious.

Finally, I can’t believe how adorable this Easter bunny cake from The Little Blog of Vegan is!

Reads

1. I’ve been taking a lot of comfort in poems lately. “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” by Adam Zagajewski is one.

2. “Joy,” by Stuart Kestenbaum, is another.

3. Passover began on Wednesday, but this article on hosting a virtual seder is still making me smile.

4. I also smiled to read about Oregon’s “Dear Stranger” annual letter writing project, which seems more poignant and important than ever right now.

5. I really appreciated this Taste roundup of writers on what to cook and how to give back during the COVID-19 crisis.

As you can see, I’m posting Weekend Reading on Saturday this weekend. I woke up this morning calmer and more at peace than I was through much of this week, and that’s given me the thought to post a favorite Easter recipe tomorrow. We’ll see if it actually happens—I treat all intentions flexibly lately. But with any luck, I’ll be back soon 🙂

xo

 

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    5 Comments
  1. Dear Gena,

    Just taking a moment to say ‘Thank you’ for all the wonderful work you’re doing. I’ve been enjoying your ‘Weekend Reading’ posts (and your recipes, of course) ever since I discovered your blog a couple of years ago. In fact, it was one of the first blogs with vegan recipes that I signed up for, and I’m still looking forward to every newsletter I get from you. 🙂

    Btw, I’ve listed ‘the full helping’ in my article ‘100+ vegan food blogs you need to know! (English, German, and Romanian)’:
    https://plantydelights.com/vegan-food-blogs/

    And now I’m excited about your latest recipe, the vegan carrot cake. I think I’ll make it for the Orthodox Easter Sunday, which is coming up (I get to celebrate Easter twice :)).

    Once again: Thank you for sharing your insights on life, your yummy recipes, and the weekend reading with us.

    Sending you kind regards and loads of positive vibes from Germany to get you through these weird lockdown days
    Ramona

  2. PS: LOVE the poems. Always have liked Ted Kooser’s poems, and this other one in translation gives us another avenue into joy that is so profound and so achingly beautiful. Thanks. xox

  3. Dear Gena, what a beautiful evocative post. Thanks for sharing your grief. I first learned of John Prine’s wonderful songs as a teenager too, through my adoration of john denver. I had some of his albums and the most interesting songs on them turned out to be by John Prine. Angel from Montgomery remains one of my favorites, not matter who sings it. All are memorable to me and I would sing along at the top of my lungs. I so enjoyed the comfort food selections and the lovely Easter Bunny cake! So fun and so important to have comfort and fun in such a sad and challenging time. I also loved the post about the Oregon Dear Stranger project, which I hadn’t heard of, even though I live here. It occurs to me that writing my blog posts is not unlike writing a Dear Stranger letter. Love you ((hugs))

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