Because all experiences are valuable.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Lasagne

So, do you spell Lasagne with an "e", or with an "a"? I prefer the e. I also prefer to spell grey with an e.

To me, Grey is romantic and charming. Gray is dull, depressing and lifeless. Funny how one little letter can make that difference. Anyhow, the 15 pounds of lasagne were a success. I use a mix of beef and sweet Italian sausage, and a mix of ricotta and parmesan. But I do not add mozzarella cheese. And of course, I make my own sauce.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and magical. Mine was lovely, with the snow falling all day in wet clumps and sugary sprinkles...

actually only one of three pots of sauce I made and used

the noodles always fall apart at the end, so I use the curly edges on top. It is cute.

Say Cheese! 
Lasagne...with an "e"...hahahaha

My adorable Reid

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Day

It seems that strange, potentially life altering events happen every day.  Is that different for others; is that something I attract? Or do I just notice when others do not?

Today is Christmas Eve Day. My packages are wrapped, dinner for tomorrow is planned. Christmas Lasagne.
There are seven pounds of beef and italian sausage in my fridge and four pounds of cheese. Reid and I just aren't big turkey or ham eaters. Besides, he gets a turkey or ham sandwich nearly every day for lunch.

I feel a little like I'm waiting...waiting for several things to happen. Waiting to see if I get my return credit on an item lost in the mail, waiting to see if Jason gets better from his infection- or if tests are needed, waiting to see how scheduling for tomorrow works out with two teenagers and two dads. Should be entertaining. Waiting to see if the hold on my tuition check clears at the bank in time to pay the tuition off my credit card so I don't pay interest on ten thousand dollars. If not, I will have to trundle to the bank on Monday and do some account scrambling. I am not paying interest on that! Waiting for my beloved sister Christin and her husband James to visit next week. Waiting to plan a get-together for my friends to meet her and sort of pre-New Years gathering. (I'm thinking of overnight express Portillo's Italian Beef from Chicago for the party). Waiting for Di and Ike to get back from Antarctica, so I can hear all about the penguins. Waiting to see Black Swan with Abby. Plus the annual Taco Mac gathering on Sunday, and getting together with my sister Leigha (the biological one) on Monday. There are more things, too!

But it is a happy waiting. A pleasant expectancy. I feel rather Jane Austen, writing to you of the things I am anticipating with pleasure. And that is a wonderful thing at Christmas.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve, everyone. Tomorrow is supposed to bring snow! And I may sit, Elizabeth Bennett style, and write some late Christmas cards with a candle and a cup of tea....

Friday, December 17, 2010


Today someone called me a catalyst, and it was not a compliment.
The person was saying that while I am not to blame for things that happen in this person's life, that I am a catalyst.

I wasn't at all sure how to take this, or how to interpret it for truth. Just having finished college chemistry and anatomy&physiology, I know well what a catalyst is. From two different directions....those being, biochemistry and inorganic chemistry. Life does not proceed without the presence of catalysts. There are a vast number of things that proceed at such an almost immeasurably slow pace without a catalyst, that essentially they don't happen at all.  Without catalysis, we all die, and quickly.

It is almost like the definition of catalyst has two parts, and people who use the word, only think of the one part, whereas in chemistry, the second part is absolutely paramount to the definition itself. Our chemistry professor challenged us at the end of class to come to the next class able to tell him what is the defining characteristic of a catalyst. Not that this was hard to find out...here is a definition:

cat·a·lyst  (ktl-st)n.
1. Chemistry A substance, usually used in small amounts relative to the reactants, that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.
2. One that precipitates a process or event, especially without being involved in or changed by the consequences.

Well there it is isn't it? Without being consumed in the process, and, especially without being involved in or changed by the consequences.  I wonder if this person knew what they were saying. Entirely possible that they did, and equally possible that they did not.

Is that me? Hmmm. Yes, I have always been an agent of change, even in small quantities. I make things happen. I am a big do-er of things, and this rubs off sometimes. I think big thoughts I guess. I attract talented, gifted, special people. I encourage people. I definitely speed things up.

But, you know, this wasn't a compliment. Am I to blame for this person's crises? Do I speed them up?
I'm not sure, really. Maybe. I look at all that goes on in this person's life and I see a thousand catalysts, all operating in their own theatre...things and people that truly play a small role, then are gone on unchanged, as the definition requires. How can one point to just me...just me...and assign me as the ONE thing...?

I've been ruminating on this off and on all day when not busy with other things (like paying 2800 $$ to fix my damn Jaguar yet again FML on that one, 'scuse the language.) I think it is the second part of the definition that gets me...the essential part...because something can be an agent of change, but if it is also changed, then it is not a catalyst.It really is an accusation of just causing things willy-nilly, without a thought for the consequences.
 Because if one is unchanged, indeed even uninvolved in the results, why would one really care? Dr. Greene told us that platinum and palladium are very good catalysts. Being used a lot now for fuel cell purposes, etc.
Very expensive, not that easy for the average person to obtain....I don't know, just musing.

I was also told that I, my opinions, my reactions, my judgments are set in stone...that I am a rock. That word was used, a rock. Hmmm again. In my view of myself, nothing is further from the truth. In the opinions of others, as far as I know, no one thinks this of me. I consider myself extremely malleable (ha- a property of metals like platinum!). But I am aware that no one suspected Jeffrey Dahmer. All thought he was quiet and shy. Look how that turned out. What does it mean to be a rock? A lot of times that is a good thing. People certainly rely on me. I do what I say I will; I don't let others down. I don't go back on promises. I get things done on time and under budget. I am there for everyone in times of crisis, as much as I possibly can be. But do I fail? Sometimes I'm sure I do. I'd bet that I don't always perceive that someone needs or wants even more than I can give, and so I think I have helped fully, when I have only partially helped. Sometimes my schedule just won't permit things. Sometimes someone is so endlessly trapped in the same loop of tragedy that I just can't listen that day.  Sometimes I get exhausted and emotional myself, and am not much use to anyone. I wish I had a rock to lean on. I wish I had one person who I knew would always always have my back. (In fairness, I do have one, but she is young and a newlywed, too, and it would be a travesty for me to ask any more than the support and love she offers already.)

There isn't anyone asking me at the end, or the beginning, or the middle of every day- how I am doing, if I am ok, if I have anything I need to share or get off my chest. Or if anything hurt me today, or if anyone was unkind to me, or if I am disappointed in myself, or if I did anything I regretted, or if I dreamed any good dreams, or saw any good movies, or met anyone new, or read any good articles, or heard any good music, or wanted to throttle one of my children, or how my sandwich was at Schlotzky's that they make special for me even though it isn't on the menu any more. Or any of a hundred and one things that could be asked about someone's day. Just one or two questions and maybe a simple heartfelt goodnight each night. I have become one of the wandering lonely people doing what they can for others and loving their children and friends and looking forward to sleep so that the next day comes.

I had a husband who didn't do any of those good things, from the moment we married. He was very bad to me. It was a short marriage that produced a phenomenal son. I had a husband, then, that did do all of those things, and ask those questions and more...and then he stopped...and then in an effort to demand the love that used to pour from me freely, he became bad to me as well.  He became bad to himself. And not there for our other phenomenal son. I know the mechanics, but really- in a deep fashion, I don't know why. I had a boyfriend before either husband that I loved greatly, maybe unhealthily; again, I try to understand, but maybe a lot of that will remain a mystery as well. What do we really know of other people, even our dearest and most beloved mates? A lot...and nothing.
  I am going to be so bold to declare that I have given everything...everything I had to give. Not that there isn't yet much more, but that I have held nothing back.  I've been as utterly devoted as any person could, I believe...

I don't know. To me, this is not a rock. And this is not an unchanging, uninvolved catalyst. But heat and pressure does produce beautiful diamonds, just as it produces black coal- from the same substance. What am I in the end? Maybe this...platinum and diamonds...     

Maybe this...

Maybe something else entirely, a chimera, a dream, a phantom, a muse, a lover...
that once belonged to someone.

Monday, December 13, 2010

For This Life...

and this was the last
on a night
almost too cold to name,
a walk,
the dog,
the stars,
I knew in that moment that
He was always with me,
He had always been with me,
He had always known my name, my birth, my smile,
the very hour of my death and rebirth again,
and everything no one else ever noticed,
or wanted to see,
was recreated many times over,
as many as I chose,
and under his protection,
Whatever I call Him,
Her, the power love joy life energy,
thank you Jesus
for this life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spanakopita and Kalamata

There are some things that just make me think of Greece instantly. You know that whole thing about how smell is the only sense not processed by the Thalamus- the "sensory switchboard" of the brain? Smell, if I recall correctly, goes right to the amygdala. You would think I would have just gone over that in Anatomy, but we talked about the cranial nerve that ennervates the olfactory sense, and the dendritic villae that pass through the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone...but we didn't actually discuss the amygdala. I think I remember that bit of knowledge from when Guy did this amazing pop-up book project for AP Psychology.

Anyway, the sense of smell has special access right into the memories. Which I didn't need to tell you, because even if you didn't know why, you knew that anyway. Everyone does. Just open a can of play-doh near them...

Tonight I made Reid dinner, and it was of a sort (I didn't really do any cooking, actually) that made Reid say all we needed to add was some wine and cheese and a couple of friends and we had a lovely party! So, in the vein of combining two topics, one is basically an ad for Target :-), and the other is a story from Greece.

I went shopping tonight at BJs Warehouse Club (I know, lol) and Target. I had gotten Havarti cheese and Stacy's Italian Herb Pita chips (new flavor!) at BJs. I had Red pepper hummus from Publix grocery, and at Target I got the grape tomatoes, the spanakopita and the chicken and kalamata olive pita triangles. They are in the freezer cases and are styled to be hors d'oeurves, but really they make a lovely dinner. The dinner was about 12.00, so easily less than a fast food dinner for two! Reid really enjoyed it. Now we are watching Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull on TV, which neither of us had ever seen. This plot is surprisingly reminiscent of the plot of the Phantom starring Billy Zane. Now it is just getting weird.

So, the smell of spanakopita (which is spinach and feta cheese in fillo dough) always brings back a memory from Delphi, Greece. One of my favorite places on the planet. The tour we were on included breakfast each morning at the hotels we stayed at. Athens was particularly delicious with a great many unusual choices, but things I grew to love quickly in Greece, like huge bowls of dried apricots in greek honey, and spinach everything!! Out in the country, and to the north of the country, the breakfasts were more spare, but still delicious. Everywhere there were always hard-boiled eggs. Which I adore, but am too lazy to make. Isn't  that pathetic? It may be that I used to always call my mother to remind me whether you put the eggs in the cold water and allow them to heat with the water, then plunge them in cold water as soon as they are cooked to stop the cooking inside so they don't turn green at the yolk. But I don't remember how long to cook them, and I can't ask her any longer...

The whole time we were there, the country (Socialist) was striking at random times, and there were major riots on Athens. Intrepid travelers, we journeyed on, largely not even inconvenienced. But in Delphi, the power "workers?" were on strike across the country. As it got dark, there was no dinner to be had, and shopkeepers were selling their wares to tourists by candlelight. It didn't deter us, either. But we were thrilled when the power was restored in time for the street side gyro grill to open. Mmmmmm. The next morning, I think we got to breakfast late, and they hadn't prepared much, thought the power was on. Somehow the kids didn't get anything to eat really. ( I was eating the boiled eggs and apricots again!). Let me digress to describe a family that we had been on the tour bus with  for days already. Father- about 50, as quiet and taciturn as you can imagine. Mom, about 32, pretty, but mousy in her cowed demeanor. Son, about age 4, bouncing around but very very well behaved and kept quiet by mom so as not to disturb dad, And, Grandma, about age 75, and silent as a sheet the whole way- not even a facial expression. Grandma and Dad spoke Greek to each other. It seemed to be a present for her, the trip I mean. So there we are at breakfast, a few minutes till the bus was to come for our exciting day at the actual Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and Jason says to the kids hey lets run to that bakery down the street and grab some food for you two. I said I wouldn't let the bus leave without them...

As it turned out the bus was late anyway. They came back with several hot, fresh pastries, and several crisp and ropy stuffed pretzel-like things full of spinach and feta. They literally were just out of the oven. We cut them into pieces, and still had a lot left after we each had some. The family was still in the dining room. I took the other pieces over and offered them to the family, because they hadn't eaten much, either. I was concerned they might be taken aback, I mean, they were sort of leftovers. The Grandma looked at me for a minute, and I showed her we had cut them first, not eaten off of them. Then she took them, and she smiled at me. The first facial expression I had really seen on her. They seemed to really enjoy them, they were so fresh. After that, the Dad smiled that day, and the little boy wasn't kept so silent, and Grandma talked more in English, and they "joined" the crowd a lot more as the tour progressed. It was truly magical. The power of shared food.

This holiday season, why not go get some food that brings a memory, or share some food that has a story. I can recommend Target's line of appetizers, and they are inexpensive, too. Make some new memories. I have some plans for a huuge batch of cookies I'm making this week....