What’s your “go-to salad”?

According to Jeff Elder: “You must have a go-to salad in your life

And by this, he means:

“a collection of fresh ingredients you can get in most stores, which you will never tire of, and can eat twice a week for the rest of your life.”

“We’re talking about building muscle memory here. Marines must be able to assemble their weapon in minutes in the dark: You must achieve that precision with your salad. It will save your life. You must be able to fix it without thinking. It is your go-to salad, and no one else’s.

If someone else has the same go-to salad, you must hunt that person down and avenge your salad.”

He then goes on to share his go-to salad ingredients. So that got me thinking about what my go-to salad is, and I realized I have two:

The super simple, Cyprus-inspired chop:

  • cucumbers
  • red onions
  • tomatoes
  • lime & dash of olive oil, salt & pepper
  • if i have it: crumble of feta
  • (and in a pinch, i’ll swap in either/or/and chopped avocado, red pepper, green apple — i like the red, purple, and green effect)

The casual green:

  • arugula
  • sliced pears or apples (orange slices, if I’m feeling crazy)
  • thinly sliced red or orange peppers
  • avocado (b/c I think it’s my spirit fruit-getable)
  • pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • lemon juice & olive oil

So my go-to recipes are more conceptual than married to particular ingredients. Guess that works, too.

And, because Elder mentions having a go-to suit, I’ll share my ideal go-to work/casual/anywhere uniform: jeans, tee, cardigan (long or short-sleeved), and comfy canvas sneakers. It’s a no-brainer.

To learn is to…

It is relatively common knowledge that Socrates liked to ask questions, to ponder, to unsettle more than arrive at conclusions our resolutions. (Ironically, the Socratic seminar, as it is sometimes practiced in educational settings, bares no resemblance to the person for whom it is named.)

I’ve been thinking about Socrates a lot recently, and taking refuge in a way within the quote attributed him: “I know that I know nothing.” To my ears, there is tremendous freedom and power in these words. How wonderful to remember to enact humility as human beings at the realization that even when we arrive at a conclusion, questions lurk in plain sight.

Or, put more artfully by Emerson: “Every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.”

It’s that last bit that I especially love and that is simultaneously the source of much angst — wherein it is still a shock to my system to encounter people for whom these words hold no meaning… those for whom bottom line refers to a dollar amount and excel spreadsheet and not the last line of a poetic stanza.

Who bends & sways, only to be interpreted as inchoate, and thus left alone to wither?

Whose rigidity, read as conviction, is rewarded?

Is it disappointment that has settled in me (perhaps the sentient experience hardest to make sense of)? It is for this reason I have long resisted identifying heroes, yet am not immune apparently to expectations; tis a burden (even as it is a gift) to be human.

So the best we can do in response to disappointment is to take a learning posture.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” — Lao Tzu


The gifts of solitude

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke


“The WPA was a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, which provided 10%-30% of the costs. … [It] was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people..to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In much smaller but more famous projects the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.” (more here)



The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.

– Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.

— from “Sandpiper“, by Elizabeth Bishop


The allure of a soft boiled egg

For Christmas, my ever-clever, thoughtful, and quirky mother-in-law gifted me with two beautifully painted egg cups as part of my stocking. I repacked them carefully for their transport back to the city when I returned here at the end of our winter break, and they have sat on the side of the cabinet above the sink ever since, not yet used. But each time I opened the doors, to retrieve a ceramic dish or dessert bowl or lemon juicer (reamer?), I would steal a glance at them. A longing glance… not because of any particular fondness for soft-boiled eggs, but because of the practice they signified — of having breakfast with my uncle and aunt in England, of a beautifully laid out table, of village life (with London close by).

Finally, last weekend, after reading an inordinate amount of information about the “perfect” timing and method for cooking these buggers just right, I attempted the process of preparing and consuming soft boiled eggs. My results:


Eggs and soldiers is one name for them, although I’ve never heard an actual Brit refer to them in that manner. The “soldiers” are traditionally slices of toast that have been cut into strips for easier dipping in the warm yolk (this pic makes that point). My version, as you can see, involved toasted pita strips instead of toast, but festive nonetheless. (Thank goodness I’ll be back in the land of proper tea and cress sandwiches in a few short weeks!)