Friday, December 24, 2021

You Want Me to Touch What?

I can't think of a single moment in my life, when I've been okay with spiders. Adding a single "pinch" of spiders to my imagination--whether via a news story or someone's spider tale--and the between the shoulder blades shivers start. Yet, over the years of working in a classroom, when a teacher requested, I would take a big breath, dutifully scoop up that spider and (usually) transport it back outside. 

Way, way, back, when I first started with the wee folk in Roseburg, The second teacher, I worked with, brought in a mouse for the class. I cannot remember if it was the classroom pet or if the mouse was for some type of classroom project, because I have a vague recollection of problem solving a maze of blocks in a box with the students. That mouse, was another critter (after the rabbit), I was asked to tend to the feeding and care of, along with fellow IA, Shirley. {shiver}

Imagine, I could've gone my entire life, staying at arm's length from the spiders, mice, rabbits, walking sticks, but once I was asked, I was able to gird my loins (eventually, I assume there was considerable whining to friends) and tend to the task. Maybe that's how we all get over ourselves? Someone asking, needing, wanting, and we're at their elbow, wanting to help, but ... it's something new or something long creeped out by. Yet, there we are, making a teeny tiny step towards getting over ourselves. It's a daily battle. 

Love, K

Friday, December 17, 2021

Critical Thinking or Browsing for Confirmation

While doing my daily Nextdoor duties, I had the unfortunate opportunity, to read a local, looney, school board loser's flawed thoughts about everything covid--amongst other things. And then she added some links to the YouTube sites that indoctrinated her, saying that she wasn't a sheep--she was a critical thinker. I hear you, school board loser. I too, in my youth, thought I was a critical thinker. 

When many of my school buds, were experimenting with drugs, I was researching their effects. Which, to be honest, wasn't easy in the seventies. My buds were dropping acid, adding PCP to joints, doing speed and snorting coke. I was happy with alcohol and weed and shrooms. But .. eventually, my curiosity raised its head and I began to "research" cocaine. 

I don't remember what I read or where I found the information I read--remember, this was the seventies. But cocaine, came off as the drug to try--to see what it might offer you. Thanks, Freud. My "rockstar" boyfriend, at the time, had access to drugs. Which is how I ended up snorting cocaine via a rolled up Benjamin Franklin. 

Afterwards, driving down a twisty, twinny, country road, while under the influence of cocaine, was all it took for me to swear it off for the rest of my life. I broke out in a sweat, as I gripped the steering wheel and uber focused on the curves in front of me, convinced that I'd never make it home alive. So much anxiety, at 10 mph. 

What I experienced was NOT critical thinking. I dove into my so called research, only looking for what agreed with my thinking. That is what is referred to as cherry picking--only selecting the most delectable, alluring fruit--leaving everything that did not agree, on the branch. 

I'm glad I eventually saw the light. Not everyone does. They stay in the dark, where it's most comfortable and surround themselves with only people who are too weak to disagree or those who have fully consumed that KoolAid. 

You're better than that. Don't go out and seek "the truth" you desire. That's always the lie that sucks you under and divides you from the people who truly care about you. All they want is your allegiance and your money. Your family and friends, on the other hand, want you to be okay and sane.

Be more sane. Love, K.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

On Gratitude


By Donna Britt June 16, 1995

"Chances are that so far, you've had a normal day. I have. This morning, I glared at my 13-year-old as he dozed, dawdled and procrastinated before kicking into overdrive to leave the house on time. I called cheerfully upstairs to awaken my 9-year-old -- who ignored me until my ear-shattering screech, "Get up now!" not only routed him but blasted from the window to frighten passersby. There was not a slice of bread in the house for school lunch sandwiches.

Normal day.

I'm learning to appreciate normal days. To savor, between glares and screeches, their magnificent mediocrity.

Most of life is normal days, so to be in love with them is to be in love with life. However much we await their arrival, it can be a long time between epiphanies and perfect vacations, between true-love sightings and our ships coming in.

And a long time between tragedies.

How many of us pass our lives in anticipation? Of the larger homes, smaller bodies and fattened bank accounts of our dreams; of the losses and disasters of our nightmares? We're so focused on what we pray will happen or on what we hope never will happen that we're blind to what is.

What is, for most people, is normal days.

Days when you're aware of being neither particularly sick nor well. When your relatives, friends and partners waver between buoying you up and sitting on your nerves; when you're too busy to notice much of anything -- except that you're too busy. Days when people ask, "So what happened today?" and you pause, think and come up with squat.

Those are days worth loving.

Most of us can't see that. Ours is a culture of complaint, which is ironic coming from a columnist, someone whose job might be described as "professional griper." But more and more, I'm appreciating those who appreciate. Or who at least hesitate to whine.

The other day, I jumped into a taxi and met Mamoun, a cabdriver who 12 years ago came to the United States from Ethiopia, which was for years torn by war. When I asked what's most striking about Americans, he smiled.

"People here complain a lot, don't they?" he said. "I think it's the freedom."

Mamoun's past taught him that wanting things to be better is natural, even necessary. But failing to acknowledge what you have is dumb.

I once knew a woman of 70 who was pretty and youthful-looking, in good health and living close to loved ones, but who never stopped complaining because she was, after all, 70 -- old and fading in a youth-worshiping world. I knew another woman of 70 in similar circumstances who seemed happy all the time because she was, well, 70 -- imagine having lasted so well, so long!

What I'm talking about, I think, is gratitude. I don't know when so many of us lost the gift for it, when it became fashionable to overlook how amazing it is to have food on the table, family members who love you, friends who make you laugh when you need to. When we stopped understanding that whether our breakneck lives have us breathing too fast, or our stagnation has us sucking air in slow motion, it is a blessing to be breathing at all.

But the best reason to treasure normal days is that when they're gone, they're exactly what you wish you had back.

Most of us have lived through periods of tragedy or loss when all we wanted was to feel okay again. Not to feel great, or terrific, but just okay. When my brother died years ago, I walked around in so much pain that feeling fine seemed like an oasis of impossibility. Boredom, it seemed, would be heaven.

The pain passed. But I haven't felt bored since.

Recently, I was leafing through a favorite book, "A Grateful Heart -- Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles," a volume filled with gratitude-inducers, and found this prayer by Mary Jean Iron:

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you. . . . Let me not pass by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. "One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow . . . and want, more than all the world, your return."

I'd quote more, but my awful dog is downstairs yapping, flinging himself against the door. When I let him out, he will once again dive into the local creek, roll around in the creek bed and cover himself with mud. I get to capture him, hold him down and get doused, hosing him off.

Wonderful, normal day."

Monday, December 13, 2021

This Bod was Made for Walking

I have a vague (aren't they all vague, K?), early, childhood memory, of going camping with my folks, and the possible stops along the way to hike--if the trail invited. And by "invited" I mean due to either by its name, the promised site and/or the length. Plus, it seemed that nearly every childhood activity included a walk. Whether it was the uphill (seems like it was often uphill) walk to G'ma and G'pa Curley's house to run an errand, heading to a neighbor's house to play, or babysitting for the family with five sons. 

When I reached adolescence, a friend who lived in town and I, would start walking to each other at the same time. We'd meet in the middle and then head to either my house or hers. I can remember Mom getting concerned about me walking alone. And a classmate's mother stopped one day and tried to give me a ride. Didn't they remember that adolescent feeling of invincibility? 

I will admit to a shady encounter on a walk back home from my friend's house once. And there were probably consequences when I shared with Mom afterwards--though that particular friendship was always a "bone of contention" between me and my parents. My folks were usually open minded people, but they did have their opinions about how some people lived their lives. 

After high school, there were a few classmates who had stayed in town. We started getting together to go on a hike to a favorite waterfall on our days off. It was an unmarked trail that few used--which was probably part of the draw. We could take a small grill and steaks and have a little cook-out, while sitting at the top of that lovely little waterfall. 

Later on, after N and I met and married, we camped and hiked together, sharing our favorite places with each other. When I was pregnant with our first, I'd meet up with my sister-in-law, and we'd walk the "beach road" most days. Sometimes we'd join up with my Mom's walking group, though Mom always made it clear that they went fast and wouldn't wait for pregnant slow pokes. 

Sitting here writing, I've realized that the three years we lived near the coast, I did not walk much at all. There were visits to the beach, but it was different with a toddler. We'd play tag with the waves, look at the shells and play fetch with our Shiloh. 

Roseburg, was a different story. Another house, another hill ... PLUS a neighbor who wanted a walking partner. I have no idea of the length of that road. M and I, would go uphill, then turn, head back down to the bottom and back up again. And any poor soul, who happened to visit, would be persuaded to trek that hill along with me. Yes, even Mom. Neighbor D, drove past Mom and I, walking one day and couldn't help but comment on how our gaits were identical. 

When we finally arrived in Salem, the neighborhood didn't have anyone knocking at the door to welcome us or ask for a walking partner. This "big" city cowed me in the beginning. Eventually, we bought an exercise bicycle that was set up at the end of the couch in the living room. I'd hop on every weekday morning, before the rest of the house woke up, hook up my headphones to the VCR and pedal to All My Children, taped the day before. 

When the bicycle died, we bought our first treadmill. I honestly can't remember if we're on our second or third now. So many miles! Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional walk with a friend at a local park or joining N on a dog walk. My favorite, is still a long walk at the beach, but I like the consistency and benefits of a daily walk. And now? Now I'm digging these long walks, three days a week, with my cousin on a video call. Today, we walked for eighty minutes, but it felt like twenty. Time flies when you're chatting.
Love, K

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Telling a Story on Myself aka "Blogging"

When N and I, were first joining forces with one another, he was also taking care of the end of his prior relationship. It ended, over a year before we met, but he hadn't finalized anything. He'd been stuck with his big feelings, over the disappointment that the person he had formed an early union with, had changed, since they both had graduated from college. End result: So much sorting of stuff and deciding who would get what--even the recipes. 

One of those recipes, has been a long time favorite in the meal rotation, but the funny thing is ... I read the recipe's title wrong the first time and ... it stuck. In the beginning, it was called, "Costless Rice", but I (mistakenly) read it wrong and began calling it Costa Rican Rice ... and it stuck. 

In our early frugal years, this recipe worked well. The discount bacon ends and ground beef (divided into half pound packages to help stretch that dime) bought at the local market, were joined with garlic, onion, tomato sauce, and bacon, to create a tasty, rib sticking meal, for the four of us. And still today, a tasty meal for two that lasts more than one night.

*Update: decided to search for that recipe, by its original name. This is what popped up:

That's it. That's the story. Now ... here's that recipe:

Costa Rican Rice

2 Tbsp oil
1/2 diced onion
2 cloves diced garlic
1 cup of raw rice
2 8oz cans of tomato sauce
2 cups hot water
4 strips of bacon 
1/2 - 1 lb of ground beef or turkey

Heat oil and cook bacon until half way done, add ground beef/turkey. Stir to separate. Once bacon and turkey are nearly done, add chopped onion. When onion turns transparent, add raw rice. Saute until grains turn white. Add diced garlic, stir for 20-30 seconds, add tomato sauce and hot water. Stir to combine. Bring to low boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
Love, K 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Something Smells Delicious ...

I need to browse this cookbook more often. Currently cooking in the oven and making the house smell delicious. Thank you, chiles rellenos casserole!

 In real life ...

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Turning Turkey into Enchiladas

 I've been making this, about twice a year, ever since we lived in Roseburg, though the recipe book was a part of N's collection, when we married forty-three years ago today.

It's possible that the first couple of times I made it, I added more turkey and cream cheese than was asked for. And then there were the years of reducing the fat via low-fat sour cream and Neufchatel cream cheese. Now, I pay attention to the quantities used, as well as minding our portions. Which means more dinners. Winner, winner, leftover, tasty dinner!

Love, K

Wednesday, December 1, 2021