Lost Sunday 

It’s 7:06 AM as I write this. I’m on my 4th cup of coffee, and contemplating getting things done around the house that need to be done, but that I have no desire to do. It’s quiet, dead quiet, and I really enjoy that. At my work it’s very loud, very noisy, lots of air hoses, and people talking, so I love a quiet house when I can just enjoy it.  Dearest is working today so I don’t have to listen to the TV, or anyone hollering for a meal, and I can just kind of do my own thing.  So at the moment, I’m enjoying my last cuppa coffee, and getting ready to eat a chewy nut butter bar, from Kashi. 

They’re not too bad. I’ve been eating one on the way to work.  Processed, yes, but not as bad as sugary breakfast stuff like donuts, muffins and pastries.  And not loaded with fat like bacon or sausage.  It has monounsaturated fat, the so called “good” kind.  


At least I can pronounce the name of every ingredient, though that “natural flavor” has me raising an eyebrow. Still, no high fructose corn syrup, whole grain oats are the first ingredient, and they’re low in sodium.   

Well, the coffee is gone, and I’m facing a mountain of tasks to do today. There’s a pile of dishes in the sink, there’s a pile of laundry in the bedroom, and I have two packages of chicken wings to cook and sauce for dinner tonight.  See: Sunday BBQ Chicken

I also have a few gardening chores to do, dead heading the Petunias and SuperBells, moving the basil and oregano to the garden, as they’ve outgrown their pots, choosing daughter strawberries for the berry bed and clipping off all other runners, some weeding, and everything needs a dose of fertilizer.

It is now 12:20 PM, and I have managed to tackle the mountain of dishes, do two loads of laundry, and look through several cookbooks I got from the library and decided I didn’t like any of them.  Still haven’t fried up those chicken legs, and gotten them ready for dinner tonight. In all seriousness, I really feel like I need to just go lay down and take a nap.

Update: Did just that!  Took a two hour nap, finally woken by the chiming on my iPod and an angry and upset husband on the phone.  I was in such a deep sleep that I missed five cell phone calls (my ringer was off) and three home phone calls from him.  He was frantic when I didn’t answer, and was imagining the worst.  After all, I did have a mild heart attack Memorial Day weekend.

It’s now 6:40 P.M., the wings are cooked and ready to be sauced and frozen for later in the week.  Time to go water the tomatoes, and get things ready for work tomorrow.  

Till next time, friends!

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~~~Anxiety~~~

I have finally found the best way to describe anxiety: It’s like walking a tightrope made eggshells, (up on your tiptoes, cringing all the while), over a dark, roiling sea of panic without a safety net. You feel like you’re skittering dangerously on ice, and no one sees or understands the heart pounding panic seething through you.  It’s all you can do to keep your mask in place and act normal when others are around.  All you can think is: “Please go away I need to be alone my mask is slipping stop talking go away oh god don’t ask me how am”. All the while, you’re feeling the panic ramp up another notch, and you’re doing your best to keep it contained. 

Anxiety is weird.  Often times, the more you try to calm down, the worse it gets.  You could be having a great day, then get totally broadsided by the freight train that it is without notice.  It just comes out of nowhere.  

Anxiety is cruel.  It makes you worry unnecessarily about even the most inconsequential things to the point that it triggers a panic attack at worst, or keeps you on the edge of tears, off balance, and skittering on that ice again, at the least.  

Anxiety doesn’t care about your plans, your work schedule, get togethers with family and friends, errands, appointments…not one damn bit.   

In fact, it revels in broadsiding you out of nowhere, thereby ruining your day.  It delights in every hour you spend in sick dread, on the verge of tears, feeling weak and vulnerable.  It is the most common form of mental illness, as, in its various forms, it affects around 40 million people age 18 and older. It develops due to complex risk factors, such as genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events.  Women are twice as likely to suffer from it, and it’s common for anxiety sufferers to develop depression.  Additionally, PTSD and OCD are closely related to anxiety disorders, so can also suffer from those, as well as the depression. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.  Try the breathing/grounding techniques, get therapy, take the meds. Do what YOU need to get better.  Don’t just do nothing. There’s no one way to treat anxiety disorders, so be your own advocate, and get help-see your doctor.  I cannot stress that enough!

I had my first panic attack about seventeen years ago.  My husband had been in a horrendous wreck, and I’d been caring for him as well as working full time, and three or four days a week, I’d have to race home, get my husband, and go right back to town to get him to his physical therapy appointments.  Everything was on my shoulders.  When he was released to go back to work, it felt like the weight of the world was lifted from me.  So much so, that I fell apart.  

It happened one ordinary Spring evening.  We were done with supper, I was cleaning up the kitchen, my husband was on the phone with a buddy, and our daughter was watching tv. I remember telling my husband I was going to go lie down for a few minutes, as I was just exhausted.  

I lay down on the bed, and immediately  started feeling weird. I could feel my heart pounding, my chest felt tight, and my breathing became erratic.  I sat up, rubbing my chest, thinking, omg, is this a heart attack?  The more I tried to calm myself, the worse it got.  

I jumped out of bed, ran to the front room, told my husband, “I don’t feel right”, and promptly lost all strength and started shaking violently.  My husband and daughter got me into bed, sat with me, and I immediately started feeling better.  I put the incident out if my mind, and life went on. 

After a couple of weeks, I noticed I felt really fidgety, my right eyelid would twitch, and I just felt off.  When I went for my annual, I mentioned it to my doctor.  I went home with a low dose, mild antidepressant.   

I did feel better, no anxiety, no twitching, nothing.  And that was the problem.  I. Felt. Nothing. I didn’t care about anything.  You could have told me the world was going to blow up in ten minutes, and I would have just shrugged.   I took meds for a year, and spent that year learning the signals that my anxiety was ramping up and how to calm and distract myself when I felt them coming on.   I describe the way it made me feel then, and still does occasionally, as “the vomity blackness”.   I felt that if I were to fall to my knees and vomit, it would be all this blackness.  

I dealt with it pretty well over the next few years, using techniques I learned during the year I took the meds; deep, slow breathing, grounding, distraction with something requiring focus, writing…and, for the most part, I had few episodes.   

That all changed in 2008, when I came home to the front door kicked in.  Fortunately, they only took my husband’s pain meds and an old .22 revolver from the 50’s that was my dad’s.    

This set off a new round of anxiety, which, after about six months or so, developed into a fear of leaving the house.  It’s something I still deal with, not as much this past year, but I know that if I get over tired, I’ll have an episode.  

It was really bad for a while. I would  generally use up all my PTO within the first few months of the year.  I would be ready to leave, had my coat on, purse, lunch, totebag, truck running…and there I’d be, standing in the kitchen, tears streaming, feeling shaky and sick…as soon as I made the decision to stay home, it would be like a huge stone being lifted off my shoulders, and I would feel better immediately.  Other times I’ve left for work, late, my pace getting slower and slower, until, about a mile from work, I’d turn around and go back home.  

For me, meds are off the table.  I don’t like the mindlessness of them.  I deal pretty well with my anxiety these days, though I still don’t like leaving home, and sometimes social situations, even with people I know and love, flip me out, and I stay home.  In the crazy world we live in, home often feels like the only safe place.  

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A Quick Note About My Blog & Recipes…

I started this blog with the intent to express how I, personally, saw life.  I started noticing though, that more and more of my creative writing was ending up getting posted and then a lot of cooking posts.  In an attempt to bring some order back, I’ve started a second blog, and I’ll be moving the recipes posted here, along with all future cooking posts, to their new home over there, but for now, they’re still here. 

As for the new cooking blog, it’s not going to be fancy.  I’m not a chef, I’m just a woman who loves to cook, here in my simple kitchen, preparing food with love and efficiency, getting the most out of my food dollars, and I’m willing to bet, many of you are, too.  Check it out here: https://thesavorytoothedcooker.wordpress.com/ 

Till next time, friends!!!  

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Face It, Winter’s Coming

It’s hard to believe it’s almost the last day of November and I’m outside, and it’s  61°F.  I’m enjoying the last few hours daylight and tending to some last garden tours that seemed to slip my mind or got put by the wayside until today.

As I sadly carried the window box planters,  with green and still growing strawberry plants,  from the front porch around to the backyard, and pulled my two year old sage and lemon thyme plants from their pots, I realized why I’d put off this last garden chore…denial of the approaching Winter.   These last bits of greenery greeted me every morning on my way out the door and every afternoon when I got home since Spring.  It was bad enough when the baskets of petunias were done and put up for the season.  Now, without the lovely ceramic flower pots and planters brimming with trailing strawberries, the front steps look bereft, barren, naked.  And lonely.

Despite having a couple of  heavy frosts over the last week, the herbs were holding up remarkably well, and the strawberries have new growth.  However, overnight temps in the teens next week, will most likely put an end to that.

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The plants will overwinter in the small, heavily mulched kitchen garden.  Once the frost kills them back, I’ll mulch them with straw as well.  Funny thing, after the sage and thyme died back last year, I yanked them out of the smaller pots they were in, and tossed them by the compost bin.  There they lay, all Winter long, roots exposed, so it was very surprising to notice new green growth one day, when taking scraps out to dump.   I’ll be putting them in much bigger planters next year, planters that won’t freeze up and bust, like the ceramic pots they were in.

There’s weather coming in, darker clouds are rolling in, and the wind has picked up a bit.

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Probably should head inside and get dinner started.

Till next time, friends…

Have a wonderful evening!

 

 

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What Is Culture?

via Daily Prompt: Culture

What is culture?  When you hear the word ‘culture’, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  Does it differ from when you were younger?

Growing up in the 70’s, culture, to me, meant things like the opera, the ballet, museums.  I had a very narrow definition of culture, largely because I was a farm kid, and my introduction to “things of culture” were books and the classical and vinyl records my mother had.   As I grew older, I understood it to mean differing beliefs, traditions and ways of life among different races, religions, and countries.  I discovered that even within individual countries, regions often had their own cultures.

Here in America, we’ve begun to use the word in another way, a way that doesn’t have such an enlightened meaning behind it.   We use it to describe negative things, like “rape culture” or “culture of greed”.  Increasingly, it’s used as a derogatory term, as if cultures other than white Christian American are somehow wrong and not worthy of even the barest understanding.

I would like to know where respect for others’ ways of life went.   Was it ever really there in the first place?  Or was it just lurking in the shadows until now?  Something to ponder, for sure.

 

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Saturday Afternoon~Late November

On this peaceful Saturday afternoon at 2:40, I’m in the kitchen, tending to laundry and kitchen chores while nursing a tender lower back that still feels as if it could lay me low at any moment.  I’ve already done ice packs and stretching, and, with the addition of a muscle relaxer, it’s holding its own.

I woke up early again this morning, well before daybreak.  Ever since the time change a couple of weeks ago, I’ve consistently woken up around 1:30, sometimes 2:30, every morning, restless, anxious, and uncomfortable.  For some reason, (I suspect Seasonal Affective Disorder), the “fall back” in November is particularly hard for me.  About the time I get adjusted, it’ll be time to “spring forward” again.

I had a yearning for some classical opera this morning, so I’m currently delighting in this lovely piece-

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-which was preceded by this-

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-and it’s just making the afternoon feel a bit more peaceful.

As I listen to another selection by the incomparable Pavarotti-

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I’m reminded of the mother of the main protagonist, Dave Stoller, in the movie “Breaking Away”, which was filmed locally.  (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it).   I’m thinking in particular of the scene where she is doing the dinner dishes, lip syncing to an Italian opera, very much in a far away place, as she sways and gestures, while up to her elbows in suds. That’s about how glamorous I feel, in old longjohns, battered old tshirt and a denim shirt over that, sleeves rolled up, gloves in hand, ready to tackle the dishes-

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Yes, my dishwasher is old, about ten to fifteen years or so old.  But it works, and that what matters.

Heres a handy kitchen tip: I’m sure you’ve seen the new cleaning strength vinegar from Heinz-

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This stuff is awesome!  I use it in the rinse dispenser instead of pricey rinse aids, and quite often, pour in a 1/2 cup during the main wash. We have hard water, and by using this, with it’s acidity percentage of 6% vs the 5% of regular white vinegar, it really keeps the limescale from building up on the heating element, plus it makes the dishes sparkle!!

Fresh out of Turkey Day leftovers, (having frozen what remained for enjoying some cold Winter night), I settled on ‘Sketti. The Italian sausage is cooked-

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-and, I’m cheating a bit on the sauce (thank you Emeril)

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-and I didn’t grate fresh Parmesan, I used store bought shredded-

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But after all the from-scratch cooking I do, not just on holidays, but most days, no one’s going to complain about some semi-homemade comfort food, especially when it’s been a cold November day, and this dish is quick, hot and comforting.  Feel free to adjust spices and herbs to your liking, use good ground sirloin, a mix of beef and Italian sausage, or make it vegetarian.

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If you’d like to whip this up, you’ll need:

1 jar of spaghetti sauce of your choice

1 lb. browned Italian sausage

1 T. Italian Seasoning

1 t. Oregano

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 lb. pasta of choice

grated real Parmesan

Brown the sausage, add sauce, herbs, salt & pepper and simmer while cooking the pasta   Drain, add to meat/sauce mixture and throw in a couple-three good pinches of grated Parmesan.  Heat and eat!

It reheats well, and it’s even better the second day.  Can also be frozen in bulk or individual servings for a quick meal later on.  Pair with a salad, bread and a beverage for a meal.

Till next time friends

~~~Have a happy Saturday!!!~~~

 

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Thanksgiving 2016

This has to be the most relaxed Thanksgiving of my adult life.  Nowhere to go; my in laws holiday dinners are largely a thing of the past.   Those big get togethers started unraveling several years ago when my father in law died at the end of September 2009.

Since then, a couple we lived next door to when our daughter was born, who “adopted” us, have died,  so there hasn’t been that family get together in several years now, though we are still very close with their daughter and her husband.  More recently, my brother in law’s son, who was killed in a head on collision barely three blocks from his home.  No one felt much like celebrating this year.

My mother in law decided against having thanksgiving dinner at her house, as hardly anyone showed up last year.  We couldn’t go because Dearest was sicker than a dog, much as he is this Thanksgiving.  Since she went to my sister in laws, we opted to stay home and have our own little Thanksgiving dinner.

I bought a small, boneless fully cooked half ham, because, let’s face it,  a forty dollar spiral sliced ham for two people is a bit much, when the one I got was only a bit over twelve dollars.  It’s currently heating up in the oven-

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-accompanied by a brown sugar & pecan topped sweet potato casserole.

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Parkerhouse rolls (from scratch) are done-

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-as is a huge  bowl of homemade potato salad –

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-Fresh green beans are gently simmering in a bit of bacon grease and a few slices of bacon-

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I decided against any dessert, neither of us wanted any, and I would have been hard pressed to fit a from scratch pie into everything else I prepared.  I plan on making something tomorrow, something with apples, maybe.

“Thanksgiving with The Duke” is on AMC, bringing memories of my dad, dozing in his recliner, and, as The Sons of Katie Elder and El Dorado play out on the tv, I can’t help but think of him, as I’m bustling around the kitchen, slicing, chopping, mixing, stirring…memories, some uneasy, from my childhood.

My mother, using a turkey baster to get pan drippings to make giblet gravy from the drip pan of the Farberware electric rotisserie, set up out in the linoleum tiled breezeway of our ranch style home, dutifully turning a fat turkey, slowly but surely, turning it to a delectable golden, crisp brown.

This isn’t to say it was a warm and happy family time, not in my teen years, anyway.  By the time I was 14, it was fully a house of volatile rage, waiting to explode on the slightest nudge, fueled on one side with an immovable, unforgiving nature, and by whiskey, disappointment and anger on the other.  Another story, just not for today.

I shove the bad memories aside, and this leaves me to dwell on the parents I had when I was very little.  Back when we were a happy family.  When I felt safe and loved, not caught in the middle of a war, very often bearing the brunt of it.  Not a good path to be wandering down, as the holidays make me weepy these days.

Dearest and I both woke up headachey and with very stiff shoulder, neck and back muscles, courtesy of a weather front that moved through yesterday, making it a chilly, gloomy and rainy day and most of the evening.  After some stretching and use of a percussion massager, I felt better, and fixed us a small breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.  After cleaning up from breakfast, I started cooking our dinner, doing cleanup as I went, like I was taught in Home Ec class.  (They need to bring that class back).

Six hours later, most of which Dearest spent in bed, we sat down to a wonderful dinner-

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-Neither of us dressed up, him still feeling puny and weak, in flannel pj bottoms and paint stained tshirt, hair rumpled and needing a shower, me in an equally ratty tshirt and zip up hoodie, an old pair of Nikes, and a cast off pair of his old thermal longjohn bottoms-

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-My hair, though braided and tucked in a clip, is in it’s standard state of disarray.

Though we don’t say it out loud, we have much to be thankful for, and we are, every single day.   Just being together, he and I and the precious Baby Girls, in our little home, is enough for me.

I hope wherever you were today, you were happy and loved, and with family or framily.  I hope you smiled, had a good laugh, shared hugs and had a contented heart.  I hope you recalled, fondly, those no longer here, and cherished the ones who are.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!  Enjoy those tasty leftovers tomorrow!

 

 

 

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