My body rejects the simple and necessary act of falling asleep. Of anything in this world, it is probably the one activity one does not have to have a skill to do, because eventually, we all do it, gracefully, easily, or fitfully. How we fall asleep is a many-varied thing from person to person.
Perhaps one reason why I such a terrible sleeper is that I like to watch others sleep. Specifically, I like to watch my children sleep. It doesn’t matter what kind of day we’ve had, full of parks or art projects or teetering on a hellish ride of Jekyll and Hyde tantrums, watching my kids sleep is pure pleasure. Peach still sucks her finger and snuggles with her bebe blanket. Grub, thick and mop-headed, sprawls out like some chubby, sweaty butterfly. Sky-girl grunts and wiggles in her pre-sleep tiredness, finally settling into a frog legged position, fat mouth slightly open as if to catch flies. But each one, soft golden skin, dark haired, each is still. Still enough for me to study them, each fat, tapered finger, each feathery eyelash, each dainty nose with and without boogers, and each voluptuous cheek overflowing. And I study the almost translucent eyelids, delicately veined in purple, and transiently furrowed brows when I gently swipe my finger across each child’s cheek or nose.
It is this quiet time when there is no questioning me, no picking on each other’s siblings, no complaints about what the dinner menu is. There is the slow faraway hum of night traffic and the occasional chirp of insects as I watch. And I remember how to refresh from the day wishing this moment would just hang suspended in time.
Mothering and working outside the home turned me into a shell of a person at times, boring and waxy, sleep deprivation carving out that exciting part of my soul and leaving it for dead in some dreamy, hazy limbo. This semi-wakefulness, this inbetween, calmed by my sleeping children, catches me in a surge of creativity sometimes. If illicit drugs work for some as a method of boosting some creativity, I think lack of sleep may be my potion. I write foggily, crusty eyed, distracted by the mound of baby cheek next to me. I often type furiously on my iPhone when an idea surges, emailing myself the idea. Later I try to carry that thought, though it seems to have lost muster, leaving the glitter and color off in that previous hazy pre-Dreamland. Lucidity hovers over me each morning and I sometimes replay odd dreams in my mind to try to remember, knowing that if I get up to write them down, they’ll vanish. I recall dancing with peanut butter. Perhaps there was a train full of tabby cats wearing birthday hats. You know, the typical.
And in these periods of semi-wake, I often think about my life now compared to six months ago. I made the decision when we moved this summer to take a break from my career as a physician, to launch Eat’s dream job in Atlanta. It is a welcome break in some ways, but also was extremely emotional for me to leave Kaiser. I miss my workmates, our vast differences yet respect we have for one another, the fun that we had. I miss the team mentality. I miss meeting so many interesting people, patients and staff, that I normally would have never met otherwise.
There is the woman who came in with her husband of 64 years, happy and bright, the husband flipping open his wallet and showing me their engagement photo, taken the day before their wedding, when she turned 18 years old. He still carried that photo after all of that time! Or meeting the older gentleman who traveled on various National Geographic trips and told me of the beauty of Antarctica. Or the woman I saw multiple times as pain worsened severely when other crises in her life ravaged her, and how she hugged me before I left, like an old friend. Or the warm thanks that some people pass on, after I’ve done something simple, but appreciated, for them. I see the breadth of the human experience in these contacts, the array of lives so different yet so linked, and wonderment of it all. I am lucky to have had this experience at all.
People question my decision, citing that someone with my “training” and “profession” should work. I do work. At home. Raising my kids. I made the decision to stay home this summer because I knew Eat would not. I am happy at home and at work outside the home. He is not. I’m not going to find a job to pass my time just to “prove a point” that I work outside the home right now. My life is rich with my family, hobbies (e.g., blog, music, books). My student loans hang like a gray shadow, a weight I am so accustomed to carrying, that I might just float away with excitement if they disappeared. I will work again as a physician, when I am ready, when Eat’s job has calmed, when Sky-Girl is ready to de-cling herself from my body, my other shadow. Those student loans will be paid. We visited Maine this summer to see family, and this sour cream cinnamon pie recipe appeared. Eat was busy getting accustomed to his dream job specs; I was busy decompressing from work and thinking about desserts and my next step. Life goes on, no matter. And so I think of these things, often during my trying to sleep, watching others sleep, processing the days events, reviewing the flip chart of my mind, and excitement of what is to come.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy the weekend, relaxing and sleeping, turkey-induced or not. This pie will surely push you over the edge if you are unable to commit to a turkey-induced coma.
One year ago: orange cauliflower soup
Three years ago: fuyu persimmon, pomegranate, and apple fruit salad and homemade root beer syrup
Today’s recipe from the beautiful book Pies and Tarts by Kristina Petersen Migoya
- COOKIE CRUMB CRUST: 1¼ cup finely ground cookie crumbs (7 ounces) -- I used graham cracker crumbs. I used 28 "squares" of crackers to equal 7 ounces.
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- SOUR CREAM FILLING: ¾ cup (5.3 ounces) sugar
- ¼ cup (1.2 ounces) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole milk (4.3 ounces)
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups (12.4 ounces) sour cream (not low-fat)
- 1 cup (4.75 ounces) golden raisins, plumped (see below)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped and barely sweetened or not at all (I prefer no extra sweet as the filling is so sweet)
- cinnamon, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a pie pan and dust with flour. Set aside.
- Mix crumbs, sugar and melted butter in bowl. Mix until all crumbs are moistened. If the mixture holds together in a clump when squeezed, it's ready to use.
- Press the crumb mixture into the prepared pie pan.
- Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until firm. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool.
- SOUR CREAM CINNAMON FILLING:
- First, plump golden raisins if they are dry (if moist, skip this step). Place in small bowl, cover with warm water, then drain off water immediately. Cover bowl and allow raisins to sit for about 4 hours to rehydrate. This step helps prevent weeping of raisins.
- In a medium bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Add milk and eggs and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan on medium heat, mix the rest of the ½ cup of sugar with the sour cream, continuously stirring until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot.
- Slowly add ⅓ of the hot sour cream mixture to the egg-milk mixture, whisking constantly to temper. Return the tempered egg mixture to the rest of the sour cream mixture in saucepan and cook, constantly stirring again, to a boil. Cook, boiling and constantly stirring, for 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in raisins and vanilla.
- ASSEMBLY: Pour the filling into prepared crust, smoothing the top if needed.Press a layer of plastic wrap over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Allow filling to cool, then refrigerate the pie until set, about 2 hours.
- The original recipe gives instructions on piping whipped cream over the top. I was lazy: I whipped the cream and just spread it on top of the set filling with a dusting of cinnamon. I let the pie set again for about 2 hours after the whipped cream blanket.
- This pie keeps well in the fridge for a few days, but best in 1 to 2 days.