I used to have a boss who would say, “It’s a good day to have a good day.”
She said this angrily. She said this staring at everyone in the room in turn, daring us to contradict her. She hung this mantra, decorated with daisies, in the staff room and bathroom. She did not smile upon seeing us in the morning. She did not celebrate any victories. She demanded good moods and good cheer, while belittling her staff.
She was not my boss for very long. She was soon replaced, for a myriad of reasons, by a woman who was eminently competent and eminently kind. Boss #2 never made any demands upon my mood but I was happier at work than I had been at any boss.When it became clear to me that I was in the wrong field I was flooded with deep melancholy. I enjoyed my work, was reasonably skilled at my job, and Boss #2 was the best I had ever worked under.
I recently saw the movie “Inside Out”, and I’ve been turning it over in my head ever since. I had expected to fall in love with the movie, but I didn’t. It didn’t have the whimsical delight of “Ratatouille”, or the emotional sucker punch of “Up”. It wasn’t as beautifully animated as “Brave”. When I walked out of the theater I would have given it a B, maybe a B minus. But the film’s message won’t leave my head- that sadness is essential for growth, that the impulse to always be happy no matter what can be damaging, and that our anger, fear, and disgust are all useful tools as long as we control them.
Today was a good day. And that good day included the frustration of driving through downtown traffic with a deadline. It included the meditative monotony of pulling weeds in my community garden plot. It included the grief-and-gratitude touched sadness of using a pie dish that I inherited from my uncle. It had short tempers and impatience and kindness from strangers and beer with friends.
It was a good day. I am grateful for today. And there is no shame in hardship.
Red Fruit Crumble
This crumble is the perfect size for a nine inch pie dish, and makes a generous amount of topping. If you like a scant amount, then a half recipe should be perfect. The fruit combination can vary in any way you like, just aim for around 4 cups. The small amount of sugar makes a lightly sweetened crumble, which I prefer. If you like a very sweet dessert, you can amp up the sugar. Conversely, if you do not use rhubarb, you may not need any sugar at all.
1 cup rhubarb, sliced
1 1/2 cup sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cup strawberries, roughly quartered
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped.
Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl combine the fruit and the sugar. Stir to combine. In another bowl mix together the spelt four, oats, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, using either two knives or your own hands, until the butter is in pieces smaller than peas. The crumble should just hold together when it is squeezed into a ball- if it doesn’t, make sure the butter is small enough and evenly incorporated.
Turn the fruit out into a nine inch pie dish. Cover the fruit with the crumble topping to your preference- I enjoy a lot of crumble topping, and so I heap it on generously. Sprinkle the walnuts over the crumble. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden, the walnuts smell toasted, and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or room temperature.