love what you love

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That’s what the sign said… Let your body love what it loves. The words resonated through me as I gazed at the chalkboard, sinking in and reverberating.

My body? My body loves shoulder rubs and hot baths and snuggles and tea. It loves warm blankets and ice cream, kneading dough and digging in the dirt, swimming on hot days. It loves long embraces and holding hands, and kisses on the cheek. It loves holding the ones I love good and close to me.

So does my heart, as a matter of fact. And my head. And my soul. Really, I think all the pieces of myself work rather nicely together & they’re pretty much of one accord on all that.

There’s a dear friendship in my life that feels like it’s gone a little awry, and I’ve been carrying guilt and angst about the whole thing. I’ve been trying to convince myself to need the friendship less, to care less. And while letting go a little might not be a bad thing – it might ease my heartache – my body, my self, my soul… loves what it loves. I can’t help it. And I shouldn’t.

So, darling friend, I love you.

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remembrance

Our tree is, as I like to call it, a mutt tree. It’s covered in the mishmash of our history, in every color under the sun, randomly hung with the love one can only give a beloved family mutt. Instead of a tree topper we have a star being clung to by the Abominable Snowman – Jeff & I found him our first year of marriage and he’s now an indispensible honored guest. Inside, near the trunk of the tree, is nestled a teensy bird’s nest inhabited by a sweet little red bird and her eggs, simply because in my mother’s family it is a tradition to have a nest in the tree. There’s a walnut shell painted like a strawberry and a cookie Santa head, made in my extreme youth. There are random plastic icicles, vestiges of my childhood tree that I am fiercely protective of. There’s a brass angel from the year of my birth, engraved with “Beth, 1977” because my parents were still convinced that I would be called Beth at that point in my young life.
My mother had a tradition of making (or, occasionally, buying) an ornament for each of us four kids each year. Then, when we grew up and flew the coop, we were presented with a box of all 18 ornaments, plus the ones we had made or been given  over the years. I still get misty every year when I open that shoebox and relive the memories of each one – and I can still tell the stories.

Yet, despite all these beautiful relics of earlier versions of me the thing I think I treasure the most is something a little newer, a little less family oriented, a little more ordinary – or extraordinary, depending on how you look at them: a collection of hand sewn & starched snowflakes.

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On September 11th, 2001, I boarded a plane in Baltimore and flew to Detroit for a quick stopover on my way home to San Diego. We reboarded, taxied to the runway, and sat. And sat. And returned to the terminal, where all the televisions were turned off. There were frightened phone conversations, and then we all crowded into the bar to watch, on the only TV available, planes crash into the Twin Towers.

23, unemployed, I was heading home from a visit to a dear old friend with nothing but change in my pocket. I had wisely left my credit cards at home so I couldn’t spend more than my budget – which I had, of course, spent in full. I had no cell phone, no computer, no way to contact my family who knew only that I was flying from the East coast to the West coast that morning. I was terrified. I sat down, alone and penniless, sobbing.

Two women were immediately at my side – two women who, when sitting next to me, looked like they could have been my mother and grandmother. Mary and Sadie.  They stayed with me all day, as the airlines brought us lunch and offered us toiletry kits. They paid for my phone call to my mother to assure her I was alive. They rode with me to the hotel the airlines provided free that night and were my roomies, washing our underwear in the sinks and sleeping rolled up in sheets since they wouldn’t give us access to our luggage. They paid for my meals and the hotel the next night, and waited in endless lines with me as we attempted to get to San Diego. They watched endless CNN with me and we railed together against commentators who said impossibly offensive things. For three days, until we made it to Southern California, those two ladies were my family.

Mary, my pseudo mom, was from Buffalo and was headed to San Diego to see an ailing aunt. Sadie was a north county San Diegan. I talked to them both within hours of getting home – checking in, laughing over how good it felt to FINALLY have our luggage and clean clothes. I sent them both thank you cards and some money to cover what they had spent on me over the three day ordeal. And then there was silence.

That Christmas a card arrived from Mary, stuffed to the brim with gorgeous lace snowflakes she had made herself – because that was the only snow I would get that Christmas, she said. She wanted me to have a little white in my holiday.
For the next few years, I would get a card from Mary each September 11th with a pressed pansy inside – for remembrance, she said. But what brings her to mind the most – what reminds me of the whole thing, the planes and the fear and the community and the hope and the love – is the sight of those snowflakes on my tree, hanging in my window, pretending to fall.

I don’t know where Mary is now, or Sadie either.

But I remember.

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>food lovin’

>So, I’m completely taken with sognatrice’s blog, bleeding espresso, and am dying to try about oh, ALL of her recipes. Could help, of course, that I’m half Italian and could eat pasta everyday from now till eternity and be utterly blissed. But honestly, I’m ready to go home and get cooking – which isn’t too helpful at 7 in the morning.

Here is a foodie meme from one of her posts… I couldn’t resist.

1. Can you cook? If yes do you like to cook?
A hearty yes! to both.

2. When does your whole family come together to eat?
Growing up, the 6pm hour was sacred – friends knew not to call then or come by, because the Adams family would be EATING DINNER. Of course, if you were there before 6pm, you would be invited to stay and eat, because my mom was a true Italian in that she always cooked for an army and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to feed someone. As for my little nuclear family now… with Jeff’s and my opposing schedules we don’t eat together super often, and I usually am doing something else (cooking, canning, blogging) while Olive eats because it’s the one time she’s still and content to not have my undivided attention.

3. What do you have for breakfast?
I am not a huge breakfast fan. Generally I wait till at least 10am to eat anything, and then it’s just a cup of coffee, a yogurt and/or a banana. On weekends I like to make pancakes and such, but only after sleeping in (or making an early morning trip to the farmer’s market for fresh berries and other yummies to go with).

4. When, where and how do you eat through the week?
Breakfast (what there is of it) is at work. I generally skip lunch, too, and just snack with Olive throughout the day. Dinner is often close to 10 or 11pm as Jeff is getting home from work, and then we eat watching Seinfeld. I do miss those first few years of our marriage when we ate together every night at a normal hour! And at a dining table to boot!

5. How often do you eat out?
Not very often. Usually only when people come into town to visit – generally I’d rather cook. Home cooked food is always better! Unless it’s something I don’t yet know how to make, like Thai, really good Mexican, or sushi.

6. How often do you order in or get take out?
Not very often.

7. Re: 5 & 6 – if money were no object would like to do it more often?
Maybe… a one-night-a-week-out system would be nice. But mostly I’d shop at shishi stores and buy the best ingredients and kitchen gadgets I could find and just cook a whole lot more.

8. Are there any standards that make a regular appearance at your table?
Pasta & curry.

9. Have you ever tried a recipe from another blog?
Yes – I love to. I found a fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe and one for a to-die-for blueberry butter. To be honest, I’m not the best at “American” cooking (meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese, burgers, fried chicken) so those are the recipes I have to go hunting for.

10. Are there any quarrels because of food?
Nope – other than every once in a while Jeff gets on me about making too many different recipes – he wants things he really liked to show up more often. But what can I say? I love to try new things, and I very seldom make meals that bomb (to me, this is the mark of a good cook – being able to pick out good recipes and then make them your own).

11. Are you a vegetarian or could you imagine living as a vegetarian?
I could imagine it… but there are things like carbonara and sausage and peppers that I would just yearn for. And at other people’s houses I just always eat what’s put in front of me (unless my hubby rats me out as not liking it), so I would have to make exceptions.

12. What would you like to try out that you haven’t dared yet?
I really can’t think of anything – other than, as I’ve admitted before, the deep-fried candy bar at the Minnesota State Fair. It’s embarrassing to write, but it’s true. Curiosity is killing me.

13. Would you rather cook or bake?
Cook. I love the results of baking, but I don’t enjoy the process as much – it’s too precise. Unless it’s baking pasta, like lasagna or manicotti.

14. What was the most terrible mess you’ve ever made in the kitchen?
This depends on what you mean – messiness happens all the time because my kitchen is the size of an Altoids box and I have a one year old. In terms of cooking disasters, I’d have to say the pumpkin pie debacle of 2003 – I used the wrong sized can of pumpkin so it was tasteless and mushy. This was at a Thanksgiving celebration where people had been beforehand raving about my cooking. See what I mean about “American” food?

15. What do your kids like to eat best? What would your kids never eat?
Olive eats everything. It’s fabulous. She loves pasta (that’s my girl!!) and all other carbs, bananas, and all things spicy. When we were home visiting SoCal, she ate salsa by the spoonful.

16. What do you dislike most?
I worked for a dear pastor in San Diego who invited me over one night for dinner with some visiting missionaries. His darling wife had cooked all these lovely things – and it was a nightmare. It was like she has reached in my head and pulled out the list of all my least favorite foods ever and then cooked each and every one. Pork chops. Cranberry salad. Scalloped potatoes. Cabbage. Of course I ate it all, anyway – even had seconds when offered- and pretended in every way that I was enjoying it. Then time for dessert came and I thought Hooray! There is nothing I don’t like on dessert menus! WRONG! She brought out pecan pie, which I simply cannot stomach.

But I ate a piece, anyway.

In all honestly, though, I can’t think of much I don’t like. Mostly because if there’s something I think I don’t like, I keep trying it cooked different ways to see if there’s one I do find tasty. Or to train myself to like it. Recently I’ve learned to like walnuts, and oranges are getting to be not so bad. Jeff always says there isn’t anything I really dislike…I just pretend periodically to seem more interesting.

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>meme rhymes with mean (sort of)

>Katie (of lost in translation, which is one of my all-time fave reads) tagged me for a meme about FOREVER ago (sorry for just now finishing my post!!) – I have been tagged before and knew what a meme was in theory but couldn’t figure out the actual definition to save my life (besides the obvious – a cheesy vocal warm-up used by fake singers, esp. in movies). This one came with its very own already-affixed, ready-to-go-Webster’s-variety definition, so I am forever grateful to Katie yet again for making me more savvy and techie all at once.

So, definition: As it pertains to blogging, a meme is an idea spread from blog to blog.

Mmm-hmm. That’s all. I’m regretting the bated breath of anticipation I wasted on that one, let me tell you.

Anyway, the rules:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So… here goes…

  1. I am a Democrat, which I learned watching The West Wing (one of my favorite TV shows of all time). Seriously, that show (and simultaneously reading both Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright’s autobiographies in amongst the seven seasons of WW on Netflix rapidfire) made it clear to me that I fall into that camp. Despite fearing my brother Brett’s reaction, I will now admit that I am [mostly] a Democrat. Hurrah. Oh, and the other thing I learned from West Wing? I want to be C.J. Cregg when I grow up.
  2. When I drive I look at every license plate around and make a word out of the letters in it, and they have to stay in the order they are on the plate…for example, DVR471 would have me thinking driver, diver, divert. MVI782 would be movie, moving, marveling. I cannot help it – my brain automatically does this.
  3. I’m glowing today because I was told that my ensemble was fabulous… I believe the words were slinky, urbane, and perfect getup. Yes, that’s all it takes, folks. Flatter away.
  4. Give me a car battery to change, a light to install, some Ikea furniture to put together and I am in seventh heaven. Especially if I have never done it before and have no idea what I’m doing. I sooooo want to take an auto shop class somewhere so I can change my own oil. I mean, how cool is THAT!?!
  5. I was on the Academic Pentathlon team in elementary school and junior high and the Academic Decathlon team in high school, and yes, it is every bit as nerdy as it sounds. To balance it out, I was a sorority chick in college (Alpha Delta Pi, OBIC). I think that makes me cool neutral.
  6. O magazine seriously makes me rethink my life every time I read a new issue. It’s scary how much I love it and how my life has changed as a result of Madame O, which makes me fit into some crazy female pop-psychology-loving demograph, I know. I humbly and mildly-embarrasingly confess – I love Oprah.
  7. Childhood nicknames: Meatball. Skinny Link. Little Bit. Frizzy Ferina. Sir. Sweet Pea (that one my mom still uses – for all four of us kids. I think it’s so she doesn’t have to remember our names).
  8. There was a time in college where I went in for a haircut and said I wanted to go shorter… the lady gave me a look a la G.I.Jane. Shortly before this (or maybe after – who remembers?) a sorority sister decided my eyebrows needed plucking, and suddenly I had about one hair over each eye. I somehow managed to survive this near-bald experience, which I think means I can do anything.

So, now I have to tag eight people…. I don’t know if I even know eight people who blog! Let’s see… Embrace Mystery, Little Miss Eva, Fast Talking Dame, that’s three… Nowhares, Tangents, The Life and Times of Danielle… I seriously think that’s everyone I know. So if anyone reading this would like to volunteer to be my friend and cover those last two slots, let me know. I’d be muchly beholden to ya.

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