Loose Ends

Loose Ends


Another year lingers to an end;
Heaven sends a bitter frost.
Fallen leaves cover the mountains
And there are no travelers to cast shadows on the path.
Endless night: dried leaves burn slowly on the hearth
Occasionally, the sound of freezing rain.
Dizzy, I try to recall the past —
Nothing here but dreams. 


–from One Bowl, One Robe the Zen poetry of Ryokan


How do we ground ourselves when there is so much uncertainty? How do we stay mindful and in the moment when each new text coming in is reporting on a new COVID case? How long do we quarantine, how do we know what to do about any of it?  How low are my white blood cells i.e. how serious will it be if I get COVID? No one knows. Chemo is ongoing and I’m pretty weak though my scans are stable and even improving. But the days drag on as I recover between each infusion. 


I feel unmoored. My cognitive challenges, thanks to whole brain radiation last fall, make it hard to read, or actually remember what I just read. My hands are shaky making cooking and writing challenging, yet here I am! I’m not nauseous, I haven’t vomited in 10 days. My appetite is good. My husband and son are well and care for me in countless ways. The delicious meals continue to show up delivered by smiling, masked faces. 


Time stretches like well-kneaded pasta dough. It feels fragile yet full of possibility. What can I do with my late afternoon? By this time I’ve worked as much as I feel I can but it’s not time for dinner. I could meditate. I could always meditate more and I resist, am bored and distracted all at once. When will the mail arrive? Will my son need another snack? How can I make myself useful? There is plenty to do but there’s that stretchy time again. . . It should be wonderful to have so much time but my mind wanders and I check the mirror to see if the 6 eyelashes on my left eye have finally come out entirely. I don’t feel as sick as the bald head and missing eyelashes make me look! I wonder if I’ll ever have hair again–I think I will!:) I keep my wool hat on to stay cozy in the meantime. It’s cold being bald!


And now, having actually sat down to write, even this stream of consciousness, I feel less unmoored, more connected to my fellow humans. I will write more blog posts and hopefully they will include a recipe! Meantime, happy new year! May you be healthy and happy!


86 thoughts on “Loose Ends”

  • Nice to see your smiling face on here! You, and your family! Thank you for the update. Happy New Year to you as well! I hope your treatments continue to work! Love, Laura

    • naomi mihelic says:

      I have been following you for years but do not know you personally, other than reading your posts. You are an inspiration to me as I have very peripherally witnessed your journey!! Just a few days ago I recognized that I had not received an email from you in what seemed like a very long time. And then there it was, your post, such beautiful words. You and your family look lovely and I thank you for your New Years wish. May your strength and health improve, albeit slowly, but continue in a positive direction!!
      Much love and admiration,

  • Katherine- That was uncannily timely for me to have that come in my inbox just now, given the news I just received this week. I would love dearly (desperately) to talk with you. Can you please email me directly when you have a chance? Thanks. Big, gentle hugs.

  • oh Katherine, this fellow human is right there with you, meine Liebe! So happy to hear from you today. Greetings from happily drippy, muddy NorCal… xo L

  • Marilyn Henderson says:

    You have given so much to so many. We all are thinking of you, sending you hugs and well wishes. May your healing continue in a positive direction.

  • Seanette Lancaster says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey! You’re beautiful as always, and such an eloquent writer. I wish I lived closer to bring a meal or social distance visit. You are such an inspiration to all of us. I’m here if you need a friend to cry, laugh or just be silly with!

    Much love and continued prayers for you and your beautiful family! ❤️

  • I enjoyed your stream of consciousness. The stream carried lots of information! And I smiled at waiting for the mail … I look forward to it every day, and god knows why since the days of something “real” arriving are so rare!! Hmm, think I’ll write you one of Joan’s cards right now. Expect it.

  • Chris Pieratti says:

    You are still stunnngly beautiful and surrounded with light and love. Healing prayers to you in the new year. Ciao, Chris

  • Thank you for the update, Katherine. The words “stable” and “improving” sound very positive! I continue to hold you and your family close….would love to be on the meal train that stops at your house. Maybe you can just visualize the best meal ever and pretend it’s from me!
    Love and hugs, Pam

  • Renee Niquette says:

    Hi Katherine
    Your eyes still sparkle and live your smile.
    You have amazing strength. We all need to remember to count our blessings no matter what.
    Thank you for your inspiration and cooking talents that you’ve shared over the years. I pray her will be more.
    My thoughts and jesters are with you as we géniture into what I hope will be a bright year for everyone .
    Take care of you most of all.
    Hugs and Happy New year to you and your family.
    my apologies if this listed twice I was kicked out probably user error 🤔

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts friend. I think of you, Brian and Ellis often. It’s so fun when I sit down for dinner and Matt says, “This is Katherine’s recipe.”😉Sending strength, hugs and ❤️

  • Katherine,
    Sending healing thoughts, virtual hugs, and hopes and wishes for total healing and full recovery of your strength and your energy, (and your hair and eyelashes) in the new year. You give us so much with your wonderful recipes and thoughtful blog posts. Stay strong and be well 💕 and keep meditating!

  • Dave Glenn & Laura Curtis says:

    So wonderful seeing you all!!! Sending love and positive vibes your way daily!!! Thanks for including us in your lives!!

  • Jill Brothers says:

    You bring a light even on a not so good day. You look beautiful in the picture with your family, glowing even. You impact many of us in ways you dont even know. Much love and white light to you friend. I lift you in my prayers for more peace and comfort with your family in this new year.

  • Jennifer Allen says:

    Katherine, I am so glad you wrote, it’s lovely to hear how you are and see you and your family smiling. Quick (seems random, it’s not) question – what are a few of your favorite songs? Longtime or just right now…

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Hi Jennifer, as to songs here’s an assortment, old and new. Anything by Tracy Chapman, When Tomorrow Comes by Eurythmics, Come Down by Anderson Paak.

  • Kristin Bishop says:

    I’m so grateful for your willingness to lay bare the truth of your experience- so clearly your own, yet it resonates with so many of us as we struggle with simply being human. Sending you love, and healing thoughts. And when you find the secret recipe for a quiet mind and being okay in the heat and now, you can share it with all!

  • Thank you for sharing the poem and the update. There is so much uncertainty now- and yet I am committed to a more optimistic viewpoint of the future. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, the hummingbirds silly, territorial combat in my back yard, my snoring dog, and moments that I feel at peace for no practical reason other than it sustains me – It’s all there for the taking, as long as I don’t get my socks too wet walking through the puddle of despair.

    I love you, Katherine.

  • Ashley Henry says:

    I am so grateful to be able to hear from you, Katherine, and to see the kind smiles from you and your husband and son. I am also grateful for our connection through your experience with xxcelerate and also the dearest Britt H. There is so much love out there in the world, and you are such a huge part of it, Katherine.

  • Katherine (it’s still a bit hard for me to write that, I’ll probably always think of you as Katie from our high school years 😉 although Katheryn is definitely more classy and you always have had a lot of class so I guess it does fit you well!)
    Thank you for writing and sharing your journey. I haven’t seen you in years but I still care deeply about you and sincerely love to hear your updates and how you are doing. My prayers are offered on your behalf that He would not only heal you but He would enable you to continue to shine as you do. ❤️
    Love, Tina

  • Ericka "Calliope" Crane says:

    Thank you for the update. In attempting to create new rhythm and flow in DC, I spent a good part of yesterday implementing “tools of the trade” I learned from you in a cooking class many many moons ago at Zenger and reviewed some favorite recipes of yours I have saved over the years. You have been on my mind. Im grateful for you and appreciate this update.. You’re so stellar and magnificent. Your light shines. Be well. Feel the love

  • Dear Katherine, danke für deine lieben Wünsche an uns alle und die Gedanken und Hoffnungen, die Du mit allen deinen Freunden teilst, so wie die wunderbaren Rezepte und ihre Geschichte! So schön, Euch im Familenhaus zu sehen mit Giebelhardt und Bruderherz: ein schönes und starkes Trio – alles Liebe und Umarmung – alles Glück der Welt für Euch! Tina und UF

  • Valeska Wiese says:

    Liebe Catherine,
    thank you so much for sharing, for the beautiful picture and for the update!
    Love to you all,
    Immer wieder bei Dir/ Euch in Gedanken…
    Sei umarmt und gedrückt,
    Deine Lessie

  • I am always so happy to see your newsletter in my inbox – always something thoughtful and hopeful (and delicious) awaits. This was no exception. Thank you for sharing your tender thoughts and that perfectly-on-point poem – they both took my breath away – and sending you so much good wishes now and always.

  • Ingse Wikstrøm says:

    Dearest Katherine, so wonderful to read your wise and thoughtful words, and to see your smile, again! With your charming family! You look so nice and united, the three of you😍 I love you and keep praying for you, every night. Admire your combat strength combined with your gentleness⚘Thanks for the poem, as well😚 Keep on smiling and cooking when you feel up to it! I am sending you support and energy and warm hugs from a snowy Norway.❤

  • Katherine,
    This is a beautiful description of the reality of our human minds. It feels wonderful to be connected to you in a community of farming and cooking and, generally, love. We are thinking of you and love you.
    Polly and James

  • Louise Adams says:

    Lovely family pic! Thank you for sharing your experience and words of wisdom. Wishing you continued success in your treatment. We feel the fragility in so many ways these days, but connecting keeps generating hope!

    Love to you and your family,

  • Thank you, Katherine, for the poem, your eloquent update and for sharing your beautiful family photo. Your words are truly inspiring and uplift my soul in these trying times. I pray you find good health and comfort in your treatments and that your strength will overcome any weakness you may face.
    Take good care.

  • Apollonia Heisenberg says:

    You look so beautiful, Katherine, just face is pure!
    Ryokan loved grass, animals and his mountains, but he also was lonely. Meeting people revived him.

  • Jonathan Radmacher says:

    Thank you so much for your sharing and wonderful insight. I hope you fully understand the strength and motivation that you give others (i.e. me).


    Dear Katherine,
    As always, your words (just like your food) soothe and inspire those who love and respect you. The photo of your family is exquisite–bright eyes, strength, and smiles in the midst of it all. Here’s to warm heads, the connection with community, flavors, colors, floating, focusing, laughing, resting, and the next moment that follows. Tim and I send our love to you 3 and the family.

  • Hello Katherine, I have just stumbled upon your blog via the Umi noodle website. I moved to Hood River from Boulder, Colorado a little over a year ago to be closer to grandkids in Portland (didn’t want to live in “the city” and didn’t want to get underfoot). Your blog post moves me. I “retired” from chef-ing/culinary instruction when I started endometrial cancer treatment
    https://cookteachgrow.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/10-cc-10-day-chemo-countdown/ I remain committed to supporting local farms and the folks who support them! I plan to read back thru your blog archives and check out all you have done here and will join you as a member! Kudo’s! Sending you heartfelt love and support in your treatment😘

  • I wish you much strength and courage and love, Dearest Kathyrn!
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your journey and beauty and resilience.
    You have been and continue to be an inspiration to me.
    Hugs, Debbie

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