Tuesday, December 19, 2017

mostly meatballs, some Garlic Soup, and a bit of spice.

the dentist sent me home with painkillers, and instructions to wait until the insurance company allows him to please do a root canal, because he doesn't want to have to pull my tooth.  this should be a fun story to tell as it unfolds...

I'm staying tuned to that 'inner work', my writing, my being all of who I am, which requires my remembering who I am.  who am I?  my random tellings of parts of that story are both interesting and funny, I've heard.

I had a lovely Hannukah!  I keep repeating this like it's some kind of weird occurrence, but it just seems to have been extra-bright this year, and I find myself wondering if it's the first time since we moved here (7 years) that we managed to have friends over for latkes & suvganiot?  I don't feel like looking through my journals to figure it out, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's true.  well, then, that's why it was lovely, and I'm happy to have that be the reason - sharing special food ceremonies and seasonal rituals with friends!  next up is Solstice, and I'm looking forward to seeing who comes for that night of magical connection, and what we'll manage to share through our gathering.  what foods to make?  what decorations?  what gifts to give?

in my quest for winter nourishment, I made up a simple weekly menu to follow, made up of the few things I know how to cook - chili, tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, stir-fry, roasted veggies, broiled chicken...  the spicy black beans and rice I made last Monday were pretty good, and the spaghetti & meatballs on Tuesday were So delicious!  I told myself to write about that because my meatballs are something that I'm kind of proud of, I guess.  I mean, I won't be entering any cooking contests or anything, but I think it's a mark of accomplishment on some scale or other to be able to make a serviceable meatball.

 I don't remember the first time I decided to give them a try...surely not in my first apartment, that kitchen sparse with Ramen noodles, Why Pay More brand mac & cheese, bargain basement pb & j fixin's.  surely never over my camp stove, or any of the kitchens I passed through as a roaming wanderer.  I have no recollections of meatball-making on the West Coast, or while cohabiting with one boyfriend or another, though I do believe it commenced before the birth of my teen.  let's say, at some point in the last 20 years, I said to myself "Self, I'm hungry for some of Mom's meatballs".  because that's the root of it, you know - I didn't just want 'meatballs'...I could have gotten those at any sub shop or Italian restaurant - I wanted MOM's meatballs.

I loved my mom's meatballs!  they were so good, I'd eat the leftovers cold out of the fridge the next day as an after-school snack.  delicious...that taste of home, safety, security.  the flavor of everything being right in the world.  I am so incredibly grateful for my childhood and adolescence - even with the relatively normal level of bullshit that went on in my life, I had things like my mom's meatballs to sustain me through the 'hard' times.  so at some point in my life, when I felt like I needed a good dose of Mom's meatballs, I closed my eyes, and conjured a memory of myself helping her make them in the kitchen of the last house we lived in together.  I generally tended to avoid the kitchen, as it was Her domain, and she was my arch-enemy when I was a teen, but for meatballs, I enjoyed opening the spice jars, and didn't mind turning on the hot water for her, so I was called upon to assist.  and so I witnessed.  and so I learned:

one hand squishes the beef in the bowl while the other pours in seasoned bread crumbs, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, and an egg.  she would turn the pan on low before she started the squishing-together process so it was warm when she started rolling the balls, and lining them up around the inside edge of the pan, then another row inside the first, and another, until the pan was full, and the last few meatballs would have to be placed on top of the wider spaces between the ones in the first layer.  when they were mostly cooked, she'd pour a jar of marinara sauce over them, and simmer it for awhile, maybe until my dad walked through the door from work, stirring occasionally.

whatever kitchen of mine I originally made them in, I'm sure they didn't taste as good as Mom's, but I'm willing to bet they were a good approximation.  over the years, I believe I've gotten better at judging the texture, or the 'feel' of the meat that produces a meatball that will hold up in the pan (some of my earlier attempts weren't firm enough).  my spice blend remains true to Mom's, minus the mustard, because I don't care for it, and don't tend to ever have any in my fridge.  the last time I made spaghetti & meatballs (a week ago), my teen went for a third serving, and emptied what was left in the pan, nearly challenging me to Dare stop him - they were His!  he Must have them!  no worries.  my meatballs are now 'Mom's meatballs' to someone who will one day decide he needs to taste that feeling of home, and hopefully feel grateful for a childhood and adolescence free from all but the relatively normal amount of bullshit one might expect.

it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to hope for, to me.  last night (getting back to my quest for winter nourishment), I made garlic soup!  I saw the recipe somewhere, it was all stuff I had in the house, and it looked relatively non-intimidating to the eternal kitchen novice I tend to be.  it tasted kind of blah (needed more garlic), but it was a quick, healthy meal, and it passed the 'teen test' in that he drained a bowl, though didn't go back for seconds (I did).  tonight is supposed to be broiled chicken (possibly on skewers) with peanut sauce - I LOVE my peanut sauce!  I got the recipe when the teen was a baby, and with the few healthy tweaks I made to it, I could drink it like water!  the teen doesn't much care for it, so I'll have to think of some other sauce for him...maybe pesto?

in other news, I recently realized that my estranged brother will be having his 50th birthday in a few days, and I feel a need to acknowledge it in some way, but I don't think I can communicate with him without making sure he knows exactly how much of an asshole I think he is, birthday or no birthday.  would a handmade 'happy 50th, you prick' card serve, maybe?  or do I need to say more, like 'I wanted to acknowledge your special day, which in no way makes up for all the shitty things you've done and said (or didn't do or say) over the years, to me (your sister), and my son (your nephew).  way to treat family, you bigoted misogynist fascist'.  that's a tough one that I've been wrestling with, along with the loss of our beloved Thomas O'Malvin the Alley Cat in the context of the wintry weather, but he deserves his own post, so I'll save it for another time.

thoughts?  feelings?  criticism?

Monday, December 11, 2017

making space for what matters


      there's simply no space for me to free myself on the page.

for instance, I'm at 'work' right now.  I'm at the home of an elderly friend of mine, getting in a minute of internet usage while she sits on the porch, and I wait for the dryer to - there it goes - finish so I can make her bed (her blanket is in there).  I already did all the dishes, ran the wash, folded the dry laundry, cooked brunch, cleaned up around the house, yada yada...and I'm taking a minute to sit down and get some of this swirling Mess OUT of my head, and see if that doesn't help things a bit.  gotta go check the dryer --- fold and put away laundry --- cook dinner ---

*a week passes...*

 here I am again.  in the exact same place.  I let my friend sleep in so I could 'internet', though now that the teen has set us up at the house, it's more like a 24/7 addiction I need to get away from, which is the subject of today's attempted post.  social media...don't even get me started!  this, of course, is a stupid thing to say, because it's sometimes all I talk about, or what fuels my disjointed conversations, or the very thing I said I was going to post about, duh...where?  On Social Media.  today (everyday) I want something different.  something other than the media-frenzy of facebook, the mollification of youtube, or the 'omg, so cute!' of etsy.  I want to see something beautiful, and I'm trying to remember how to use the internet to find it.  I saw this great video yesterday:

it was important to me for so many reasons...I love the cultural stuff, and exploring your own people's history to find answers about what you need to be doing with your own life.  I love the connection to nature.  I love bringing in the youth to inform the future of community.  I love the 'real world application', financially, and philosophically.  I'm hungry for so many of the same things.  and with what do I feed that hunger?  junk.  facebook and youtube, and pizza and ice cream.  there was a time when life was vibrant, and these addictions get in the way of my ability to hold on to the colors these days.  remember astonishment?  remember awe?

I'm once again listening to the dryer spin, sitting in a quiet kitchen (I feel lucky that this is my day, honestly, and I usually go home with cash in my pocket), with laundry waiting to be folded, and dishes waiting to be done.  a meal or two and some conversation to be made.  it's peaceful, which is all I really want out of life.  peace.  to sit in quiet places, and be at peace.  I often forget how much of a blessing it is, with 'our crazy work-a-day lives' - mine being decidedly less crazy than most - how often I get to do just that.  and it never quite seems like enough.

somehow, this leads into my rant on food, exercise, meditation, blah blah...bored now.

so earlier this summer, back when my feet were still swollen and itchy, red and raw, even oozing at times, and I was going through untold numbers of little glass jars of herbal salve, I decided finally to go to the doctor, which is something I try and avoid doing for several reasons.  in any case, I told her that it is my belief that the red, itchy patches of skin on my ankles and feet were due to my body having a reaction to something I was ingesting, and I just didn't know what it was, or how to figure it out.  she suggested a detoxification, which I agreed with, though she gave me no guidelines to follow, past no dairy, no wheat, no sugar.  I did a bit of online research (yay internet), which for me, means looking at about 5 relevant websites (and when I say relevant, I mean I may have to look at more than 5 sites to get 5 credible sources of information), and cross-referencing the information I find into a workable system for myself.  this I did, and I share with you below:

*just to keep abreast of the situation, my elderly friend finally came out of her room, and I made her breakfast, and got her dressed so I could get another load of laundry started.*

for 3 weeks, I ate nothing but brown rice, and vegetables - mostly sweet potatoes and yams, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower -and drank 80-100oz. of water a day.  after about a week, I was Really starting to think I needed Some form of protein in my diet, and after consulting the doc, I added turkey to the menu (it was already there, but I don't ordinarily eat it, so I hadn't been), which made a world of difference in my ability to feel like I had enough energy to get through my days.  the things I noticed happening were that I was sleeping better, I had more energy, my joints hurt less, the swelling in my feet went down and the rashes cleared a bit, I felt generally better, and I lost 15 pounds. wow, is all I can say.  not a thing wrong with any of that!  the thing is, after a detox, you're supposed to do a 'reintroduction' process when you start eating other foods again one group at a time, to see where your sensitivities stem from.  unfortunately, I went on vacation, and skipped the reintroduction process, going straight back to eating crap for the convenience and affordability, justifying it to myself by saying I would do another detox - a particular 'system' the doc had mentioned to me at my follow-up appointment just before I went away - when I got home.  well, that was back in July, so...3 months ago, yeah.

*she's now on the porch, and I've folded the dry stuff, and moved the wash over to the dryer.  also, heard from the teen, who is home from school.  no homework, asked him to do a sink-full of dishes, pick up his room - especially his desk, and help me carry in his laundry when I get home.*

*made a snack, washed all dishes, made the bed, cleaned the mop and bucket, mopped, emailed my teen's besties' moms to make plans for the dance this weekend, and for Halloween weekend.*

I also decided to go see a dermatologist.  I'd seen an allergist once, the last time I broke out in some weird rash, but he surprisingly told me I'm not allergic to anything, which I think is kind of cool.  I've gotten these rashes on and off for like...25 years, now.  and I've had hives, too.  my issues show on my skin, I guess.  anyway, he called it psoriasis, and wanted to prescribe a pill, which I nixed, so he gave me a cream, instead.  I was hoping the detox would clear up the issue, but at this point, I figured 'why not just use the horrid pharmaceutical until it clears up, then stop?'  I mean, I'm not gonna smear this crap on my feet twice a day, Every day, forever...  which is mostly where I'm at, now.  the rashes are gone, but my skin still looks scarred...and I haven't been using the gross petroleum cream for awhile, now.  so the other day, my feet felt itchy.  then they felt Really itchy...

*guess what?  another week passed.  dishes done, laundry spinning, food cooking, she's on the porch while I type...*

and where I'm at now?  home, on a Monday, which is a day I like to take off in general, but it would have been nice to have been working, too.  oh well.  none of my recent employers has need of me, today, which suggests I should be working on my own thing.  which is how I ended up over here, catching up on an old post.  what Was the point of it all?  that I used the horrid petroleum pharmaceutical, and forgot about the detox, and now my feet are itchy again, and my right elbow is all chewed up as well?  I can't even begin to talk about what's going on in my mouth, because that would be admitting to a daily pain that is on the verge of being a serious problem, but I have a dentist appointment this month, so I can stick it out...I'm falling apart, physically, and it's not at all necessary.  it's always possible to put the brakes on, pull in the reins, and pause for a moment to regroup.  on this particular Monday, it's two months later than the last time I wrote here, and I have a decidedly more 'December' feeling about these issues at the moment - it's almost winter.

do whatever about the feet, talk to the dentist about the teeth (and yes, just hurt in the meantime, and say nothing), and turn my attention to my inner work.  inside my head, my heart, my soul, my house, my body, my life.  the cycles of the seasons, what gets us through.  it's Hannukah tomorrow night, and I'm having people over for fried holiday food, and festivities.  there will be more guests for Solstice, but then we'll be celebrating New Year's with friends.  Next comes my birthday, then my teen has a birthday, and at that point, it's almost spring!  I need soups and stews this winter, good hearty meals to keep the energy up for shoveling, staying nourished through the cold, and enjoying the growing daylight.  tonight, it's spicy black beans & rice - recipe taken from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.  I just need to get the 14.5 oz. can of some kind of tomatoes, and I'm good.  tomorrow is spaghetti & meatballs...maybe I should write about that. 

in any case, I'm always striving to 'get back on track', or pick up where I left off, and I think this post is a bit all over the place because of it.  there's So Much I've been needing to get down, and simply not making the space for it, so it gets all jumbled up in my head.  I feel just like I did last year at this time - like I needed to get something down, quick, before the year was out, and it feels like it was just yesterday.  more on Everything in a bit ~