The Absence Of Color


I always thought I hated Winter with such a passion just because of the harsh, brutal temperatures, the raw wind and the mountains of snow and the biggest evil, ice. For someone with no balance looking down at a sheet of ice and having nothing to hold to grip, is pure terror. Those reasons alone are enough to hate Winter but I figured out recently there was something else that I hadn’t put into words before.

 

English: A digital photo that used to be in co...

 

Winter is gray, black and white, while the other seasons are filled with vivid colors in various things. I miss the bright bunch of wildflowers popping up in the meadow, multi-colored and alive, the rich crimson of roses trailing down a newly painted white trellis. The bright green of a neighbor’s lawn, glossy and spiked like army soldiers standing at attention.

 

Nate, our neighbor, spends hours on his lawn, every Spring, Summer and Fall to make sure that each blade of grass is equal. I know that in the Winter he is just longing to be outside, as much as I am. I have dubbed him “The Mayor,” the unofficial mayor of our little neighborhood.

 

It’s a very long Winter here, the snow will start falling any day now and it will last, at least, until late April. I don’t like it but I have no choice so this year I am accepting it, not fighting with it. Moaning and groaning about it hasn’t helped before and it only makes ME feel worse so why bother? I will keep myself happy doing something else, I will learn to bake or cook new things. Maybe, I will write a book.

I guess after the long Winter I appreciate the Spring even more. Oh, when the first bud of a purple crocus  pops up, sometimes even through the snow we know the end of Winter is near. Soon the budding yellow leaves of a forsythia bush in our backyard will slowly begin to show themselves and I cut some stalks to bring inside the house. I put them in a tall, dark blue vase, the only one I will use, loving the contrast of dark blue and yellow. They stand proudly waiting to burst, happiness from the outside proud to bring us joy inside our home.

In the Spring and Summer the sun is out shining brightly against a baby blue sky. Colorful birds sing to each other, we listen to their songs, we watch their beautiful, petite bodies flash in front of our eyes with different colors. I will try hard to let the absence of color in the outside world not strip the color of my world as well. I’m sure I can do it, it will be fine. I’m looking at Winter with a different attitude. I’ll find color inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking For Cousins

It’s been a rough week, I’ve started about twenty new posts and never finished any but last night I talked to a new friend and it felt refreshing like biting into a piece of lemon cake on a hot summer day. Sometimes, when things feel black, an unexpected opening, like a crack in a window, appears from nowhere and you can finally start to breathe normally again.

Open Window

It doesn’t solve your problems and It may not last,  but at least it makes you remember that “normal” really isn’t the deep-down, below the ground hurt, sadness and resentment you have felt for the last few days. It’s as if you have been given a “time-out” to think about your marriage, your grown up children, your family and friends, your Life.

It’s like taking a break without traveling. It’s NOT dreading the barbeque at your house that you felt two days ago but happily making food. Slicing the mozzarella and the tomatoes, drizzling olive oil, and balsamic glaze and scattering chopped pieces of fresh basil on top.

English: Guacamole in a bowl. Photograph taken...

I’m making my daughter’s favorite, everyone’s favorite, guacamole with avocados that have ripened in a paper bag with two apples. I will squeeze fresh lemon on them, add chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, salt and a few grains of sugar (my secret recipe) to undercut the acidity.

 

My mouth is beginning to drool. My husband and son are at the supermarket buying meat for the rest of the carnivores, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Mostly, I am hosting this barbeque, to see the four cousins together which never ceases to delight me. Jon, Anna, Tim and Jillian. All grown up but still as close as they were when they were young and building forts in my living room with “Milton.” (Don’t ask)

banana bread!

Our house was the favorite, of course, because my sister and her husband were much stricter about food than we were. Hence, when the cousins came over, they said hello, gave us hugs and went directly to our pantry. I loved every minute of it and still do and even though I swore I would never bake another banana bread again…there are two freshly baked loaves waiting for them, on the granite counter.

One with raisins, one with chocolate chips, both with love.

 

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My Name Is Nobody

When my sister and I still lived at home, many years ago, we would look at each other sadly and randomly say: “Nobody cares.” It is in fact, true on some level. People don’t seem to care the same way anymore or maybe they are just too busy. Too busy to show that they care? Yes. Sorry.

Life

Life (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

I used to be Somebody but not anymore, I don’t feel like Anything or Anyone anymore. I just Exist.

A very long time ago I was a little girl who played dolls, went to school year after year and I was a Student. I was known for always Smiling by my teachers but I seemed invisible to my classmates.

When I was in college I became a Young Woman, an excellent student, also able to cut a class for an outdoor concert with good friends, under the sun. My camera draped around my neck like jewelry, it did not get better than that. Of course I didn’t appreciate it then, does anyone? No, there is no frame of reference until you look back. Those WERE the BEST years of my life.

I always worked, every summer during high school,  I started working right after college but my world was still centered around Me. That wondrous place in time, the narrow window of fun, between college and the real world, now in today’s world fraught with unemployment. I had my apartment, I learned from good experiences and bad; mice running over my arm and leg at night or crawling in the walls and utter fear to getting frozen at knife point by a gang and the guardian angel who saved me. I learned that sometimes it is easier to say no, than it is to say yes. Eventually, I moved.

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a wi...

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a window. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to travel for barely nothing, to visit a friend, to fly across the ocean, to visit different countries. I was lucky, Dad worked for the airlines. Then, I was a Traveler, a Tourist. I learned to eat new food in Greece, jumbo shrimp staring at me with watchful eyes, lemon-egg soup, and everything tepid, I loved that. Food was not served burning hot. I walked up winding white and blue steps in Greece on a tiny island, where there were no cars, just donkeys. My family traveled to Portugal and I refused to eat sardines that the fishermen just caught. But, our family drank wine together outside in a beautiful garden, near a forest.

I learned to trust MY instincts, not my sister’s, the daredevil, with no common sense. We ended up on a canoe, going to on an island with two fishermen.  I had never been so scared in my life. No big deal, she shrugs it off, grinning. Yeah. Right.

Then, I was a Working Wife and Mother, I had a title again, a meaning for my Life,  the most special one. Being a Mother did not feel like a job but it fulfilled every one of my dreams, it was all I wanted to do my whole life. I wanted to have two babies, a boy and a girl and bring them up to be good, conscious, wonderful people. In that, I know I succeeded; I did my job well, I am proud.

My life has no meaning anymore. You can’t argue with something that is true. My kids are adults, they don’t need me anymore, my husband and I are very best friends, he could manage. My friends, the real ones who care, are sincere but have their own lives.

I need a new Life. I am so sick of the old one. I want to peel off my skin like I peel bananas for the banana bread I bake. I need to do something new with the second half or even quarter of my life. The end of my life, where did the first half go?

It left like whispers in the air, silent passages of time, I blinked.

 

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F Is For Food, T Is For Tuna

When I have nothing else to do, I think about food. I always think about food. Some would say that its my downfall but others who know me well would say its my savior. I love food, all types and even though I used to be scared to try new foods I am getting so much better except for icky textural issues.

I will not eat raw oysters and slurp them down my throat. The mere thought of doing that makes me want to gag so no, I stick tight to being inflexible. I would say “Not for a million dollars” but to me, a million dollars is a lot of money so I could be bribed, potentially. Sushi, raw, same reaction, it’s the slippery texture that I can’t seem to get by though I have tasted it in tiny bits a few times. Not my style, at all. Chicken teriyaki and rice please, I am not ashamed.

raw oysters @ Sway

raw oysters @ Sway (Photo credit: dionhinchcliffe)

I am proud to say I do eat mild fish now which was a big leap of faith for me, I never ate any fish except tuna fish that came out of a can (which to me was totally unrelated to real tuna.)  Yes, I did have a real disconnect but it worked for all the years I didn’t put it together. Tuna and tuna were very different, one was for a sandwich with mayo and the other one was disgusting. I know, I know. I’m a little slow.

I know I am fussy and crazy but I have tuna-approved places like the diner in the next town where I regularly order it. It’s perfect, not too mushy, not chunky at all, the right amount of mayo. It is a tuna-approved lunch place. If it looks, smells or resembles dark cat food it is not for me. That is why I have

7dd_3176208-tuna-the-cat

7dd_3176208-tuna-the-cat (Photo credit: Wolfgang Lonien)

friends and family to order things first and I will taste it and decide later if it is okay to order next time. (Except for Sarah my bff who will not share her food, not even a bite but that’s okay.)

Another place in town sells “Spa Tuna” with apples and raisins and just a hint of mayo that is wonderful as well. I will not eat tuna in an unknown diner or restaurant, I stick with safe foods like scrambled eggs or a ham and cheese sandwich or soup. An adventurer I am not.

Beverages, to me, have to fit the food. For example: a tuna sandwich goes well with either a Diet Coke or Coke or hot chocolate. Period. Never would I drink orange juice or water with it, it needs the sweet balance. Likewise, I have to force myself to drink plain water to keep hydrated, so my kidneys don’t flop and fail on me instantaneously. I add lemon or lime juice to the water to pretend it isn’t water at all. Epic fail.

Growing up we never drank water. It was Hawaiian Punch or Lemonade or Grape Juice or other sweet beverages. But, water? Never. Luckily, my daughter drinks a lot of water but not my son. He also doesn’t drink enough water either but he does drink organic fruit juice which is better than nothing.

When you have no control over anything in your life you either lose control or you need to have control over something. For me, it’s food. In the beginning I wanted to lose weight and I did, I also kept it off. After that, I got into a major dessert phase where I needed a good, yummy dessert every single night.

Phish Food

Phish Food (Photo credit: Vanessa (EY))

I am trying to pull back from that now because I feel I am getting hooked ( HA HA I know I’m hooked) on sugar. So I am down-sizing my dessert (sigh) and will only have them intermittently. I will miss you jelly doughnuts, Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food, and Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Cake. Not to mention you my darling Orange Hostess Cupcakes…I have a whole blog post just about you!

I’m not making promises on how much I can deny myself dessert. I will try having less. I made banana bread yesterday with raisins, funny how that does not appeal to me at all. I will try, that’s all I’m saying…

 

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A LOVE LETTER To Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Pound Cake

English: Starbucks, Cathedral Square, Peterbor...

English: Starbucks, Cathedral Square, Peterborough, UK. A typical sales area in a Starbucks coffeehouse. Showing the till, preparation areas and sales displays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Starbucks,

I love you. To pieces. Well, to pieces of iced lemon pound cake. On this I swear.

I read that Starbucks got rid of a few of its very popular items, but not for long; there were many customer complaints. One of the items they said good-bye to was one of my favorites, the iced lemon pound cake. Gone, Adios. Bye-bye. WHAT?

Yes, you heard me, it vanished from the clean see-through shelves of your local Starbucks’ establishment. Horrors. Excuse me?  MY FAVORITE ICED LEMON POUND CAKE FROM STARBUCKS WAS TAKEN OFF THE MARKET? DEAR GOD, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

I assumed that since my husband and I have been on a strict budget and we don’t have the money to buy anything special like Starbucks coffee everything was still the same. In the very infrequent times that I did treat myself to a latte it was probably in the afternoon when I just assumed they were out of stock of my all-time favorite, deliciously iced lemon pound cake.Yes, I am salivating.

The winter was so LONG and hard that I didn’t go out much, having Fibromyalgia it’s hard enough to get out of bed not to mention get dressed and go out, imbalanced in the snow and ice.  Sometimes “ignorance is bliss.” I didn’t miss my tangy and sweet pound cake because I didn’t know it was gone.

But, there are times when mistakes have been made and corrected without a fuss (not often, I know.) I have to give it to Starbucks, not many companies listen to their customers and right a wrong. YOU ROCK!! I am proud of your establishment and I am saving up money. I don’t know exactly when the lemon pound cake will be coming back but I will be on-line to buy it with a latte just to make me feel good and to give myself a treat. A company that actually LISTENS to their customers and wants their customers to be happy? THANK YOU.

Having not thought about the yummy sweet/tart lemon cake, you know what happens to me. I NEED It NOW. I may have to visit my local Starbucks immediately and ask when exactly it is coming back, date/time/place. I will be there, I promise. Thank you, Starbucks for everything that you do, I would work for you anytime especially if I got a discount on dessert.

My confession: I’m a slut for sour and sweet desserts. Oh fine, I’m a slut for desserts.

For those of you who bake ( and bake well) I’ve LEARNED OF a very good substitute from the delicious Ina Garten. It’s a little too advanced for me. She has a wonderful recipe for a lemon pound cake:

For those like me, who are not advanced bakers come join me. You will find me on-line at the nearest Starbucks, waiting, patiently and with LOVE.

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That Darn Fantasy Scone

English: They baked up into a wonderful tender...

English: They baked up into a wonderful tender and flaky scone! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finally found the scone that I had fantasized about last week,( see post ” Cranky Is As Cranky Does, I’m Hungry…”) in a Viennese Pattisserie, where I’ve been to once before. At that precious moment, I did not have any common sense. I mean after all, this was not a British Bakery.

They had delicious looking pastries, cakes, and bite size mini-desserts. Once they had a plate of samples out but we were not in luck this particular day.

I see scones and I literally squeal with joy. I asked the lovely woman who worked there what flavor the scones were (of course only the one with the baked sugar frosting) and she told me: apple. Done. I ordered it and for the rest of the evening I dreamed about having the scone to go along with my one large, white mug (out of my favorite, well-fitting mug, the right thickness for my lips) of very strong coffee in the morning.

Once out of the bakery, my husband, looked at me as if I were out of my mind. “You’re not eating that now?” he asked. I stared back at him (you know “THE LOOK” implying after 25 years of marriage don’t you know me by now?) Of course I wouldn’t eat it on the spot, I was “Saving It.” Yes, I am one of those people. It’s neither right or wrong, it’s a style. I would never say he was right or wrong (I am always right.)

Maybe it was too much anticipation but my first taste of the scone in the morning was so hard and barely “chewable”, I thought my jaw would pop out again. I tried to soften it up in the microwave which helped a little but frankly not that much.

The last time I had scones was in England with my parents when I was a child and that was the real deal, of course I remember the clotted cream, the afternoon tea, the scones and small sandwiches which were without the dreaded crusts and the fresh sweetness of the strawberry preserves.

Yes, leave it to me to associate place by food only. That’s my job (and passion.) I’m on the look out now for something “breakfasty” to either buy or make (easy only) that’s soft like a muffin but doesn’t have as many calories yet a TINY BIT firmer like a GOOD scone, raisins are a must. Vegetables are okay, but I don’t have a chopper thing, delicious factor desperately needed..Simple and easy, a must. My stomach thanks you.

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Cranky Is As Cranky Does…I’m HUNGRY

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that might be found across cultures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HELP WANTED: LOOKING FOR A SCONE ASAP OR EASY RECIPE

Yes, it’s true. I AM CRANKY and I don’t even need to explain it. I know. That’s enough. I don’t want pity and I can’t change the situations. My physical health, sigh, I have to accept. I’ll live. However, when my life’s joy, (vice,) hobby and life’s work is limited then it gets darned serious. No, I am not on a diet. That would be easy. I wish I was on a diet because there would be a reason and an outcome and a desired result.

But, with my bad luck, I have to be the one whose jaw blows out whose sound carried through the house leaving me shrieking in unbearable pain and crying that my husband came running. I knew I should have gone to the ER.

I saw my dentist, an oral surgeon and now I’m supposed to see a TMJ specialist. I’m not surprised, it was just another thing to heap on but for me, this was a personal tragedy. Not being able to EAT?  I don’t like drinking or smoking or anything else, I have no hobbies but one thing I love is food and now that has been taken away from me. I’m yearning for real food that is not mashed, white, banana-like or blended.

A fresh batch of homemade buttermilk scones.

A fresh batch of homemade buttermilk scones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And even if I tried to like drinking I have recently been informed that my kidneys are in bad shape too. Surprise!

I’m sick of chicken soup, vanilla milkshakes, rice and bananas. I long for warm, crunchy French bread dripping with butter, a large sandwich, basically anything I am now denied. I still want scones, pizza and a great big salad and did I mention scones?

I can’t bear to call another doctor tonight. I’m in no mood. It’s almost time for dinner, home-made chicken soup with mashed up Saltines in them, I learned that from my kids. Luckily, we have cupcakes from yesterday, they better taste good. I need something before I start to scream.

The oral surgeon also said that this pain will come back that some internal bleeding happened when the disk in my jaw slipped. He’s a nice guy, a really nice guy, he didn’t even charge for the five-minute consult but I wish he hadn’t said what he did.

I’m hungry, I want to eat real food, Last night I rebelled and tried (the operative word) to eat teeny, tiny bites of pizza with fork and knife (a la Diblasio ) which really was no fun at all and of course the pizza WAS BURNED.

Out of pure desperation I ate my husband’s filet of sole drenched in egg and butter:  I don’t even like fish but it was something different.

BUT, I want scones, surely I could eat those, sweet scones made with love and wild blueberries, I see them dancing beneath my eyes.

I wish I could bake with ease. With all my illnesses I just may have to acquire a new skill: baking. No more liquid diet. ‘Eat as if you were a three-year old” the charming doctor said. I will listen to him, cutting everything up into tiny pieces, everything for a taste of variety.

I’m stuck on muffins and stones. Any kind. Soon. Help me. Please?

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I Dream OF Cupcakes

Just the other day there was a persistent knock on our front door and a neighbor, who has cupcake1two young girls, was there holding out a plate of pink cupcakes. It was Valentine’s Day and school was  canceled because of yet another snowstorm so she was hoping to give them away to her neighbors.

My husband took two in and when I came downstairs and I saw these two mounds of sweet perfection I nearly wept. I wish I was dramatizing this but I am not. There, right in front of me were two vanilla (my absolute favorite flavor) with pink  icing and little white mounds of frosting on top  cupcakes. Shown to the right. I get happy just looking at the photo I took of the cupcake, yum.

I dreamed about them for the rest of the day, my saliva glands in overdrive, thinking about my pink cupcake, when I should have it, where I should have it but knowing for sure it would need an icy cold glass of milk to go with it. This was serious and I wasn’t going to muck it up for anything.

Sweets are very important to me and these, like angels from Heaven, gifts bestowed unto me, meant so much. There have been so many rough days behind us and I fear an equal amount of rough days ahead of us. These cupcakes were a respite from all that was bad and scary and unknown.

The randomness of a relative stranger, walking down the street in the snow to share her  cupcakes with her neighbors because she didn’t want to waste them was such a loving and kind thing.

Pink cupcakes. A random act of kindness. I will pay it forward…

Dedicated to A, J, and B

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Mellow Yellow Monday

Noodle Kugel

Noodle Kugel (Photo credit: ShellyS)

My goal is to try new things so I decided to bake a “Noodle Kugel” which is made with yellow egg noodles

milk, sour cream, eggs, cottage cheese, sugar (brown and white) cinnamon and raisins. It’s a very warm and comforting

dish; my sister has always made them before. While not perfect, for the first time, it came out very good, indeed. I

actually made it because my son, 20, loves it so much; needless to say he wasn’t “hungry” last night!

Noodle Kugel

Noodle Kugel (Photo credit: cjbakker)

Fall, No, Autumn

Late summer

Late summer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn just sounds so much lovelier than Fall, doesn’t it? Autumn is my first cup of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte that I treated myself to today, it’s the addition of an extra cotton sweater tied around my waist, recycling an old handbag from the closet to get rid of that “summer bag.”Autumn is the name of a friend’s beautiful daughter, with her glossy, red hair and her bright, shiny, smile that I have seen in photographs. As much as I hate winter (and I do) when I think of Autumn, I can only smile.

I’m trying to stay in the moment instead of jumping seasons like I usually do. I may like Autumn but I don’t like what follows; Winter devastates me. Physically, everything hurts more, my joints and muscles cringe as if attacked, my body always feels cold no matter how many thick layers I have on, my low energy level plummets even lower. It is an accomplishment just to get out from the warm down comforter in the morning. I am going to have to take it day by day and not anticipate a problem. Maybe we will have another mild winter…

I’m looking forward to the changing leaves, dancing in the sun like a ballet performance, skipping back and forth on the stage. Hues of orange, gold, red, yellow, earth tones that make me want to slip in to nature like a groundhog. When my children were very young, they played in the leaves and covered themselves with the dancing leaves in a huge pile, my husband and I took photographs of them one year and used one as a Holiday card. I can still remember what it looked like.

Summer is slipping away, slowly into the night. We had a few extra days of sunshine and water when we vacationed together in Narragansett, Rhode Island, a beautiful place to visit. It ended the summer with wonderful memories of fresh blueberry scones and inexpensive lobster rolls and Brickley’s ginger ice-cream eaten ever so slowly so that it would last a long time.

I dread the winter and I am trying not to, I am trying to think of things that I can look forward to this winter but none come to mind. Perhaps I will pick up reading that I have completely dropped this summer, I have many dusty books on the shelves to read. I will make my fabulous pea soup that is heavenly and I will learn a few new recipes to add to my old classics. I will learn to bake a few more things too. I will volunteer somewhere or do something for others and give back to my community in some way and instead of dreading the upcoming winter storms I will feel grateful that I am alive to be going through them.