"Launch into the deep, and you shall see." (Jacques Ellul)
The world lost one of its best last week. Ruby Clark Demyen, a gem of a human being, saw 100 years of life. She lived deep, she sucked every bit of marrow out of life; Ruby would have made Thoreau proud.
I am one of those counted lucky enough to have known Mrs. Demyen. Her son, Clark, was one my dad's longest and dearest friends. Dad spent a lot of time in the Demyen home growing up. Clark was the kind of person who left you breathless with joy and hope. He lost his battle with pancreatic cancer about a decade ago. His wholly beautiful wife, Jan, stayed near her mother-in-law -- a kind of modern Ruth.
A couple of months ago, Mrs. Demyen celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends in Coles Point, VA. I had a sense that it would be the last time I saw her. When I spoke with her, she declared that her life had been a full one, but that there were so many more things she had hoped to do. A prolific writer, she still had many stories she wanted to tell. Her eyesight had diminished almost entirely at that point. It seemed so cruel that the sight be taken from a woman who had seen so much, who saw more clearly than most. I have realized, however, that Mrs. Demyen's clear vision had very little to do with her eyes and much more to do with her passion, her wisdom, and her good humor. She saw clearly because everything she did, she did so wholeheartedly. Ruby Demyen loved deeply, worked incessantly, laughed heartily. From what I know of her, she pursued life's good stuff with every ounce of her being.
I've been thinking about her a lot in the last few months. One of my earliest memories is of a weekend my parents and I spent with Ruby and her husband, Andy, in the mountains of North Carolina. I remember the flowers surrounding her lovely little home, a large garden, and seashells. I also remember playing with Uno with her, having been warned by my parents that she was known to cheat. Cheat she did, her perfectly achieved, wide-eyed innocent stare baffling my five year old mind.
On my wedding day, Mrs. Demyen gave me painting of flowers. It was a water color that she had painted in 1989. She had painted it that year for me with the intention of giving it to me the day I got married. What can I say? To know that a woman with such strength, skill, and beauty loved me with so much resilience is completely and utterly astounding. Few things in my life have made me feel so empowered, few people have made me feel that life is so worth living.
I debated whether to include this little ode to Ruby as part of a recipe post or as a post on its own. Ultimately, I realized that Mrs. Demyen is one of the people who, directly and indirectly, challenged and encouraged me to pursue my passions, follow my dreams, and be myself. I'll let you in on a little secret. Some (most) days sharing my words, photos, and recipes is terrifying. I don't know who all of you are, but I know that the little group of you who read this blog is growing slowly, but surely. Occasionally, I get a supportive email, text, phone call, or comment. I cherish those. Most of the time, however, I just throw all of this out there, hoping someone will catch it and cradle it for a moment or two before gently setting it down and moving on. Ruby Demyen embraced herself and her interests, sharing her life with anyone and everyone, in failure and success. I only hope I can be half the lover, learner, and teacher she was.
Vegan Chocolate Chip, Almond, and Oat Bars
- 1/4 cup milk (almond, soy, hemp, or your milk of choice)
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
- 1/3 cup Earth Balance (melted)
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour*
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 cups chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with coconut oil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flax meal, milk, and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for five minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil, butter, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and oats. Create a well and pour in flax mixture and oil mixture. Mix together thoroughly.
5. Fold in almonds and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, pressing into shape. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.
*I used 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all purpose flour in this recipe.
With (all my) love, Lindsey
**recipe heavily adapted from Vegan Pecan Blondies