How I Am Liking 2011 So Far…..

Happy Valentine's Day Flickrites!

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I’m Ready For February

 

One step forward, two steps backwards and on and on we go. My husband, after 18 months finally got a job! That was the sweetest day of the new year and he starts next week. Yes, there will be changes, a new schedule, new demands and adjustments but to see the old easy, grin on his face again is worth more than ten times his salary. At the same time because I have a chronic illness (Fibromyalgia) I know I will need to do more and try to handle my pain the best way I know how. It will not be an easy adjustment for me, especially when he travels, but I will find my way. Our children are now 16 and 18 and they are at the ages where we expect them to help us if we need it. They are no longer children and while they may not offer help indiscriminately, they will never say “no.”

The weather in the year 2011 so far has been as bad as the last month in 2010, snowstorms and blizzards every other day at times. This is the winter of our collective discontent when the only thing you could do is stay indoors. Hopefully, we will get a break and Spring will come early this year. (I know, I don’t believe it either!)

Creativity is high on my list not just with writing but I am planning to make a new collage and I haven’t done one in years. The last unfinished collage was on thick black paper with small pieces of broken glass glued to it. Not hard to interpret. My new background will be pink. Friends ask me what it is going to be about or how will it look? I laugh, because I never plan what I am going to write, cut, draw or paste; it puts itself together and I am looking forward to sitting at my old blue folding table and working, surrounded by music.

I’ve learned to define and understand something very important: “Friendship” know who your true friends are and accept what they are able to give you and not expect more of them. In the same vein, I know that family members are not my friends. I’ve worried about my mom’s health, had my own health scares but all is well and I am ready for February. Bring it on! I’ve got my boots on my feet and my brown winter jacket hugging me tight. I’ve learned, little by little, how to ride the waves, whether they are frozen or not.

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Mint Chip Ice Cream Does So Taste Like Toothpaste…..( A Crazy Foodie Blog)

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste

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Tonight I had left-over pizza for dinner. It was dry, it had that too- long- in -the- refrigerator smell and the fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil disappeared. I warmed it up but nothing changed. I had to make it taste better, we were out of food so I did what I have done since college (yes, I have witnesses) I put jam on my pizza. We only had Dominoes pizza way back then ( don’t worry, Dominoes, I’m sure your pizza is better now.) I was out of luck,I did not have Welchs’ grape jelly at home. I knew there MUST be something to help me out.  Two minutes later, I saw it gleaming and sitting on the side of the refrigerator door practically winking with a come-hither look.  A jar of peach preserves sat unopened. It gave the pizza the texture it needed and if I closed my eyes it was like eating French bread with jam. Thank you for saving my dinner.

There are questions that are just unanswerable: For example: why is it that I love peanut butter but hate peanuts? I don’t like chick peas but I do like hummus.  Could texture be an issue? Keep me far away from raw oysters, mussels or raw tuna. Tuna from a can mixed with celery and mayo does not count since it was YEARS before I associated the canned tuna with  real fish.

I’m s little fussy with my food, I admit it.  I also have the nose of a foxhound and if milk is even contemplating spoiling I sniff it out immediately and throw it away . “Dear Grocery Store Stocker, don’t think you’ll ever fool because I know not to take the product in the front and I check the expiration dates. I am on alert at all times, always saying  out loud “Did you think you could fool me? Amateur!!!!”  So what if I get a couple of weird looks?

I love eggs in any form but if I detect the tiniest bit of egg-shell in my food, crunching in my mouth it takes enormous self-control not to vomit, especially if I am in a restaurant.  IF I have been brave enough to swish it away in my mouth with juice or soda, ( can’t do it with plain water) there is no way that I would eat anymore. Also, if the egg white is not cooked through I can’t eat it (see texture issue). It’s almost as bad as  finding a hair in my food (again, think restaurant) which I think is also appalling. That is why, I sniff and explore my food before my first bite.  I think of myself as having certain food requirements: no egg-shell, spoiled stuff, hair in food, oh, and dead insects.

The last time I had a Greek salad in my favorite tiny Greek restaurant it was served with a dead bee lying right on top. Is it too much to ask that people look at the food before they serve it? I haven’t been back to that restaurant in two years now. I know about the chances of having it happen again but still….This is why when I go to a restaurant I face away from the kitchen. As you can tell,  I did read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and it both saved my life and ruined my life at the same time. Blame him.

Good-Bye 2010; I Won’t Miss You.

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I know it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m supposed to have some quirky, funny wrap up of the year we have almost left but I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I can’t wrap up this last depressing year into a neatly wrapped Christmas present tied with a big, red sparkling bow. This last year has been horrible and I can’t wait to see it leave us alone and go away. I don’t care about the Times Square ball dropping and the countdown. Nothing says partying to me more than having two cups of non-alcoholic eggnog, a few Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownies, slipping into my monkey night-shirt and deeply sleeping through the transition of one year to the next.

I admit that I was never much of a party girl for New Year’s Eve before but I do have a legitimate reason not to feel festive these days. My dad died on New Year’s Eve ten years ago. I can’t remember what I had for lunch today but I can’t forget that my mom called me on the phone ten years ago at 10:20pm and told me bluntly “it’s over.” At first I really didn’t understand what she meant. I can’t forget the look of my eight -year- old son screaming “NOOOOO” and  the innocent look in my six-year-old daughter’s bright blue eyes. I remember my husband storming into the room as I started wailing and rocking back and forth, for a very long time, sobbing and holding on to myself and to him. The next thing I remember I was in the fetal position on the bed, moaning.

Mornings after that were the worst for me. I hated waking up each morning, knowing that something was terribly wrong and needing a minute to remember what it was. That in-between state of dreaming and awake was like cruel punishment.  I had a husband, two young children and a puppy that needed me, that saved me and I needed them even more.

In the last few weeks I have felt the best in my life and the worst. My heart has been open and trusting and giving and it has been crushed, cruelly like a sharp ice pick  through young, vulnerable skin. I can see the blood dripping on the beautiful untouched, glittering snow but I can’t believe it. I don’t know what’s real and what’s fake these days.

I’ve grown-up quite a bit this year and I have made amazing progress about boundaries with my extended family. I am no longer the public defender, I have stepped down from that role. I will only comment on what happens between me and another person and everyone else is on their own. For me, this is huge.

Once in a while you take a step forward and then you stumble backwards, sometimes falling straight down to the black ice and breaking bones, sometimes lucky enough to catch an extended, sturdy, warm hand and walk away. It’s all we can ask for. Hope, Trust, Friendship, Love and Health. This is my wish for you.

Thank You, Erica

Candlelit Table for One

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I am not a paid restaurant reviewer so I am writing about my love of eating good food (not making it.)  I also have great admiration for those who cook incredibly well. Our friends, Mike and Erica, hosted a reunion a few weeks ago and old friends from the East Coast and the West Coast gathered together.  Erica made a divine appetizer of stuffed mushrooms based on Ina Garten’s recipe. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten and this is NOT the Food or Cooking Channel. We ate those amazing stuffed mushrooms with our eager fingers and never have I eaten such different tastes and textures in one appetizer. The sausage, olive oil, cheese, bread crumbs and mushroom appetizer combined with seeing old friends, talking, hugging and laughing, was a highlight of 2010 for me.

It felt like the kitchen scene from the movie, The Big Chill,  except no one died (although one person did leave the dinner table, head to the living room, wrapped himself up in a blanket, appropriated two pillows and apparently fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours.) I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Presently I fantasize about eating my favorite things in an expensive restaurant.  My husband and I would be seated inside a small dining room near a beautiful fireplace. A small bouquet of red and purple flowers sit prettily on the thickly starched white tablecloth where a soft candle would be burning.

To start, I would have jumbo prawns with cocktail sauce and a wedge of lemon (that had a paper coverlet on it to protect it from seeds.) In some circles the prawns would be the delicacy but in our family we have named the shrimp as the vehicle to which we get to eat the cocktail sauce. Another example of this would be that lobster is the vehicle to get to the melted butter sauce. You get the idea.

After that I would order a salad made with a lemon/olive oil, vinagrette salad dressing (the words truffle and champagne could be added although I don’t know exactly what they do.) Ripe cherry tomatoes, julienned carrots, red cabbage, and chopped parsley and chives would be on top. I love adding sweetness to things so for me, some craisins would be tossed in there as well.

The table is laden with “everything” flat crackers and warm, soft, dinner rolls with butter, room temperature (I hate hard, freezing cold butter)  shaped like sea shells. My entrée would either be the outstanding chateaubriand, like it is prepared at the  restaurant X2O or the divine filet mignon served at the Crabtree Kittle House, both amazing restaurants are located in New York. Rice pilaf or mashed potatoes would work nicely with this meal, but nothing fried and undignified as french fries and ketchup (those go with cheeseburgers only.)  Grilled brussel sprouts paired with a hint of maple syrup glaze and slivered almonds would be our vegetable.

Blood orange or lemon sorbet served in martini glass would be our palate cleanser. It would be served to help settle our wonderful meal and to leave room (not that this has ever been a problem for me) for dessert.  I am a sugar junkie and I like a variety of things so because it is my fantasy I am picking two desserts: a fresh fruit tart served in a marzipan shortbread crust with vanilla custard and a fluffy (never flourless) milk and dark chocolate mousse cake with real vanilla bean ice cream.

Thanks for joining me in my food fantasy. Here’s to 2011, with good friends and great food.  Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy and delicious New Year.

poor sad little girl

Sadness

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my heart aches for someone i have never met. poor sad little girl is in a hospital and i didn’t even know it, she never told me. little clues started appearing that didn’t make sense and she finally said “i guess i’m good at hiding things well.” i do not know this person yet i feel so sad for her, with her.

it’s nearly christmas and the new year and i wish poor sad little girl had a place to go to, or something to look forward to. i asked her to think of one teeny tiny thing that makes her happy, a book, person, or a television show, a food or a thought and she said she would have to think about it and would get back to me. that is heartbreaking; poor sad little girl should be able to say one thing at least that brings her even a tiny bit of happiness but she can’t and i understand that, i do. my life is far from perfect but i could in a minute mention silly things like eating multi-grain toast with butter, honey and cheddar cheese or the smell of a mug of jasmine tea or i could say that my husband and two kids and my dog make me happy but i was hoping she could find something all i wanted was for her to mention one thing but she couldn’t come up with one right away and she probably can’t but she will one day soon i hope.

i want to nurture everyone, save them, make them happier, it is just part of my personality and it comes naturally to me? perhaps it is because i am a libra or because i am intuitive and sensitive. sensitivity is not necessarily a good thing really. you feel things strongly but you don’t just necessarily pick up on other people’s feelings you feel them too. too much so that it ends up affecting your own life and you need to find a delicate balance and shake yourself back to your own reality and know that there is a difference.

don’t give up poor sad little girl, and all the sad little girls out there, don’t ever give up and please try to remember that things will get better, really they will. there are people who love you and  each of you have a purpose in this life just sometimes we all get lost a little bit and we need to find our own way. and i know that you can and that you will, just hang on tightly all of you.

poor sad little girl, i am glad this year will end in a few days time. and i wish, like magic, that you wake up in the year 2011 with twinkling eyes and soft white hands and at first a tentative smile but then a broad smile like a slice of fresh pink watermelon.

this is my prayer.

DEDICATED TO MY SWEET GIRL, ALI and for all the Ali’s in the world. Love, “MUM”

“Because I Am”

Black balloons

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Tonight I am having a pity party for one; I am the guest of honor. You are welcome to join me but motivational speeches and happy clichés are not allowed. I’ve learned that the sun will probably not come out tomorrow, it will be cold, dark and windy just like the last few weeks. Some of my friends with chronic illnesses seem to be feeling the same way: Is it the weather?  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Pain and unhappiness? Other friends that don’t have chronic illnesses are also fed up and feeling down. I’m wallowing in self-pity and I am allowing myself to do so. Wallowing and venting are the main attractions in my self-imposed symposium.

1) Both my husband and I have been very discouraged because of the job market; he has been unemployed for a long time. He is always the best candidate, the one they love, the one they want. We get excited, euphoric even, and then the final news hits us like a tsunami: “We would love to have him but there is no funding approved for this job now” or “There’s a hiring freeze that just  started.” We plummet, like rapidly deflating black balloons.

2) I need to protect myself from future painful disappointments. While, in the past, I have tried to feel positive and hopeful,  I am now keeping my defenses up because it is too damn painful to feel excited and then let down over and over again.I am tired of feeling bad and blue and not having anything to look forward to. Yes, I have tried to be positive, I count my blessings and I list the things that I am grateful for: nothing works. A good friend of mine told me she was depressed last week and I asked her “why?”  “Because I am” she said. I now understand that completely.

4) Physically, I have no energy. I’ve been over-eating and sleeping way too much these past two weeks. I’m trying to sleep straight through to May but the chances of that are pretty slim. I stopped taking the autoimmune drug that was helping my energy level because it made my legs ache continuously and I wanted to rid myself of extra pain. This is what happens when I try to rid myself of drugs and toxins in my body. I end up asleep. I made the wrong decision.

5) The holiday season is not joyful for me. After my father died, the holiday spirit died with him. We go through the motions for the children. I’ve accepted this but each year after his birthday in November things start to go downhill fast, straight through to New Year’s Eve, the night he passed away. Why can’t I prepare myself? Why is it only familiar when it is happening again? Think of it as a long, a really long extended period of situational depression.

6) I’m having a default Thanksgiving in my house this year. My mom broke her wrist and I just couldn’t let her have it in her house. She is also depressed because of her broken bone and pain and having to be dependent on others, this affects me too. I feel bad for her. I can’t begin to talk about my self-involved sister, there is too much to say and at the same time, nothing to say. Thanksgiving is in one week, I have nothing prepared and I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I will rally for the holidays because I have to; it’s a necessity not a choice.

Let me tell you directly what I want:  Accept how I feel and allow me to have the emotions I do have. Don’t analyze, debate or criticize me. Try active listening. Help out during Thanksgiving and be kind to one another. I would truly be grateful if you could do just that.