Reflectionless

It’s been a rather reflectionless week. I’ve been busy planning again. You know; lists and lists of lists and trying hard to accomplish one thing at a time while multitasking.

It goes that way. Starting out organized, calmly reflecting on prep, feeling like I’ve got this thing under control. I should know by now control is relative, and no matter how much far-ahead, careful planning occurs, things will shake themselves up at the last minute.

Dodging curve balls, reaching for the fly’s, bringing along the last thing someone might think they need and being able to pull it off. For some reason, I love that problem-solved feeling.

It isn’t a spotlight crave; and it never has been. It’s simply the joy of facilitation. It’s being able to move things along, assisting, and the satisfaction of help. I’ve long been unable to describe the pleasure of doing; for family or friends, for strangers, or why it feels more natural to give than to receive.

I’m a follower of Joel Osteen’s blogs and posts. Relevant to modern lives, somehow, he answers questions I didn’t know I had, and explains my unexplainable. I’ve been staring at a beautifully presented revelation parked on my desktop for a few months now, remaining confused by the norm-opposing declaration, and wondering if something was lost in translation.

I don’t know where I heard it, or when I learned it, if it was culturally instilled or just an assumption I’ve carried, but I have long subscribed this simple sentiment:

“If you have people in your life who love you, you are blessed.”

I’m not alone in this belief. Humanity spends a great deal of effort on being lovable, judging self-worth on the sharing or withholding of others’. Recent horrific news of revenge methodically carried out by a young man of so few years, fully believing he’d been denied. Tragic and life altering, hard to grasp.

Suddenly, in a single flash of lightening, intense enough to provide direction away from an impending storm,  I understand.

So simple, so true, so enlightening; so not how I have lived.

Although wonderful, it really doesn’t matter if you have people in your life who love you.

It only matters that you have people in your life to love.

Quote for the Week:

people to love.

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Joel Osteen: http://www.joelosteen.com/Pages/Home.aspx

All that goes into lightning: http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/lightning.htm

The Key to Efficient Multitasking: One Thing at a Time: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fallible-mind/201203/the-key-efficient-multitasking-one-thing-time

à la (turtle) mode

Despite the common characterization of game-play turtle mode as weakness; in life’s arena, it is not.

Hard-back turtling lessens the effects of external impacts, but offers no relief from internal storms.

Without the disadvantaging noise of detractors, non-quiet leverages irrationality and self-criticism to an adversarial elevation.

Over-offering, repeatedly, in a situation that hasn’t yet and isn’t projected to change, depletes.

What begins as tiring escalates into exhausting.

 

Adding layers to overshadow error is akin to covering a souring store-bought pie in hand-cranked ice cream.

Of course, it will taste better at first bite, but the snap bites back.

Not even the sweet, creamy temporariness of ice cream can drown out the decomposition of our restrained relationships or the bitterness of rejection bile.

Insisting on internalizing the obvious rottenness of turned fruit leaves us sicker than pure abstinence.

 

It takes immense strength to assume a position of self-coverage; to willfully withdraw outside influence.

As bodies rest from over exertion, so must souls, and hearts:

“Commune with your heart upon your bed and be still.” (Psalm 4:4)

 

Staying engaged to circumstance for the sake of affordability and ease is an attractive solution for many, though rarely solid and often lacking longevity.

Is it easier to be the one who pulls in to avoid encouragement of feeding or fueling pain, or the one who remains out desperately wanting back in, against their nature willing to embrace any change?

Neither, really. Each comes with its own unique bad-tasting backwash of turtle-soup flavored doubt, pain, fear, and loss.

 

Often uncredited, José N. Harris’ internet-splashed prose plucked from the pages of MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love: offers confirmation.

 “There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it.”

 

When walking away isn’t immediately possible, employ another self-worth protecting, but truly temporary option.

Turtle: pause, but do not remain suspended: do not allow indefinite prolongation.

Be aware and beware: the heart and mind and GOD-given soul wane without ebb and flow.

Turtle: safely resurface, and continue as Harris contends, to,

“Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

 

Quote for the week:

Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause. – Bruce Feiler

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Turtle Soup: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/turtle-soup-recipe.html#  (I tried it: in New Orleans, after the person who ordered it assumed a remarkably turtle-like face on the first bite, and pushed it away.):

Jose Harris:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4631437.Jos_N_Harris

Bruce Feiler: http://brucefeiler.com/about/about-bruce/

à la mode: not only ice cream: http://www.answers.com/topic/la-mode

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a la turtle mode

small talk, lies, plants, and butterflies

 If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

The near-complete library of hardback editions has been on various bookshelves for almost a decade. Ordered and re-ordered with each move; readying for the reading – someday.

Someday started on a wicked winter evening a few months ago, and ended today, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

This morning, it became apparent. I remembered correctly: full sun never fills the courtyard. My boggy, spongy, two-yard square could be usefully transformable with pavers, but that won’t help the lack of sunshine. I do love the large trees that filter the just-over-the-horizon-and-rising early morning streams of light. Their leafy widths provide cooling canopies for the large living room windows, but block the tiny outdoor space where I was hoping to spend most of my summer early evenings. The situation also casts doubtful shadows over the veggie garden I was plotting.

Below the tall privacy fence, one sliver of sunlight, six inches wide, sneaks in; lasting a mere two hours. Even if two hours were enough to sustain a garden there would still be a  problem. Critters; making the probability of any plant’s near-sunless survival slimmer. Bird feeders attract birds, of course. Quite a few squirrels are quite happy on our bird-seedy block. That is why I planned to garden on poles centered in my mushy square; to ensure unreachability by squirrels, and hopefully to be ignored by the feeder-fed aviaries.

There are rabbits, too, but since I’ve never seen one that could climb a pole, I haven’t consider them much of a threat. I also haven’t figured out what I’m going to do about all this. But, it does explain how I came to be sitting outside my garage, deeply engaged in a book. Knowingly, at the potential conversational mercy of whoever might come along. Traffic is rare back there, so the odds were seemingly in my favor. I figured the worst that could happen was any one of my three quiet neighbors might come around the corner to find odd little me positioned as if I were setting on a sea-spray lightened, white-washed portico porch within sight and hearing of my truly missed , sandy-edged Atlantic  Ocean.

In all fairness, I brought it up first, sort of.

She wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. Vaguely aware that she is a student, but unsure if she was also a mom, I awkwardly asked if she was able to spend time with her mother today.

“No,” she said,” I’m from California. I’ve made lots of calls, though. Mom, Grandma, my Aunt…”

I suppose smiling back and silently nodding encouraged conversation, because ours kept moving in a familiarly tricky direction.

“Have you made any calls today?” she asked.

It’s boggling how a second can hold such an incredible amount of mind-scrambling projection, yet appear to be without hesitation. Two truly different seconds; one neighborly, the other a social trapping, the sort I am constantly fearful of.

If I said, “No,” there’d have to be more to it. Announcing my mother and mother-in-law have both died surely wasn’t going to make her day.

If I’d said, “No,” perhaps, considering I could be a mother, she might have posed a second question hoping for a more pleasant answer. “Did anyone call you?” Nothing good could come of that either.

So, I continued to smile, and for a truly untracked number of times, re-made a split-second decision to follow a path that’s becoming uncomfortably easier.

“Yes,” I lied. Shrugging, “….’m from Connecticut.”

She went on to excitedly share she was getting her bike ready for summer, and soon headed off with her male friend.

I headed back indoors, sat down to finish my book, and promptly welled up. Partly, because the conclusion of The Crossroad was emotionally moving and partly because, it’s never gotten easier.

There’s no easy way to get around explaining who I am without causing distress. Answering normal get-to-know-you questions, all reasonable conversation starters; none designed to harm, is troublesome. With universal politeness and a seemingly standard unwritten checklist, greeters, welcomers, and the inquisitive friendly, begin at the top and move down a one-size line of questioning that fits almost all, but doesn’t fit me.

Honestly, none of my past honest answers were ever meant to cause distress. It amazes me that I haven’t figured out or settled on one short, pat, encompassing explanation. It isn’t a newly assigned definition. It’s been this way for a while, but nothing is settled, and sometimes, I pseudo-pleasantly, purposely redirect into a lie.

Genuinely, I never said I called my mother; I just agreed that I called someone. I never said where I called; I just imparted I have lived in Connecticut. Even so, the guilt and worry that come along with trying to spare, isn’t pleasant. It crosses my mind to fess-up upon our next chance meeting, or maybe even seek her out so that future conversations won’t find me dancing around some half-truths, deeper in.

Much like the complex and struggling Rachel Yoder, I find that perhaps I am not being fair to others, or myself. Perhaps straight-up is the way to go. Perhaps mainstreaming difficult conversations will impact others positively, after they’ve had a while to digest.

The Crossroad ends with apt consideration – accurate for where I’m striving to be:

“After years of enduring darkness and pain in a cocoon of my own making, it’s ever so gut to gnaw out of the protective covering – through the scars – and open my new wings. Some days, they’re a bit fragile, even doddering, but one thing I know for sure and for certain, the Lord has daily granted me a “speckle of pluck.” Not a full measure of confidence just yet, but I’m trusting for that as I take one flitter of my new wings, a day at a time.”

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Quote for the week:

Pretty words are not always true

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Ten Shady Veggies:  http://organicgardening.about.com/od/vegetablesherbs/a/shadeveggies.htm

Moss and Pavers: http://voices.yahoo.com/growing-moss-between-patio-pavers-7364800.html

Marcus Tullius Cicero: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/117565/Marcus-Tullius-Cicero

Hello Grief: http://www.hellogrief.org/

 

Pesto, Bingo

Some sales are harder to resist than others. Take for example, Kroger’s recent super deal on packaged spinach: 3 bags for $5.00.

In an unusually realistic move for me, I recognized that I would not be eating that much spinach in one week.

I could surely go through one bag in a week, but three? Not likely.

I supposed I could spike my consumption rate to a bag and a half within seven days by successfully incorporating spinach into at least two out of three meals a day.

Truly, I could probably find some way to the stuff even more of the stuff in if I reclassified it as an acceptable breakfast item. I already add 1 oz of cheese, and sometimes 1 tablespoon of pre-cooked crumbled bacon to my morning oatmeal. Why not spinach, too? As interesting as that thought was, it seemed a little ridiculous… even to me.

Besides, marathoning spinach would, at most, only deplete somewhere close to just shy of two bags.

Inevitably, I would run into a slime situation. I know this from experience culled purchasing romaine in multiply-packed bundles of three or more.

The likelihood of successfully chomping through the bargain load, was looking dismal.

Steaming and freezing fresh greens has never produced an effect I would enthusiastically eat.

I found simple instructions for freezing without blanching at the site listed below.

But, what really caught my eye was the pureed spinach.  I thought it was pesto, and got pretty excited. It wasn’t, but a way over-excited revised search for spinach pesto yielded recipes in many shades of green; some with basil, some without.

I chose to go with. Mostly, because the pep of basil would be missed; but also because I just couldn’t consider calling it a pesto if there wasn’t any.

I also chose to skip the pine nuts. Partly because I so focused on the spinach I forgot to buy some. Partly because I was too lazy to trek out to the market again, and partly because I could never regret a little less fat.

Admittedly, kiboshing a key ingredient was a gamble along the lines of playing only one bingo card while the rest of the place is jam packed with players playing no less than four. If it’s not a good one, you’re pretty much limited, and there won’t be any options for saving your game. Still, I felt I would be able to offset the loss by using top-notch Romano, which I conveniently had on hand. Romano is my golden-chip, go-to fixer. If anything isn’t quite up to par, adding a little taste-bud glitter of this glorious cheese makes it palatable. Because not every meal is a rousing success, I’ve managed to save quite a few really-shouldn’t-even-make-it-to-my-dinner-plate disasters with this method of disguise. Because, waste not, want not.

Spinach improv has taught me learned a few interesting things.

When changing a recipe from 1 cup of leaf greens to 3 cups of leafy greens the natural result will be heavier and pastier than a light, delicate pesto.

I’m not disappointed. In fact, I think it will be more adaptable that way. Still, at the time, I had two recipe’s worth of super-bright pseudo pesto to preserve somehow. Most sites recommended use of an ice cube tray. I’ve found it to be tried and true with extra tomato sauce, chicken broth, or even pureed watermelon.

I now have a dozen cute little, big-on-taste, thick and tasty spinach pesto cubes. I will use them all.

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas. Others I’ve already experimented with.

I added one just-made tablespoon of Spinach Pesto to one tablespoon of bottled Kraft Sweet & Complex Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. It was nice and mellow, and didn’t override or clash with my dinner-sized baked chicken and spinach salad.

I also envision creaming a defrosted cube with sour cream or naturally sour Greek yogurt for a snappy, savory dip. I suspect spooning over chicken before baking, will be lovely. I’m growing fonder of an oven baked, crispy chicken wing scenario. A water-thinned drizzle will perk up the plain things.

I’d like to try it on rosemary crackers with a sprinkling of additional cheese, or as an unusual sandwich condiment. I’ve seen rational suggestions recommending adding a cube to tomato or Alfredo sauce before warming.

Of course, it would make an awesome plain-old bread dip –paired with a little splash fresh olive oil, a squirt of lemon, and cracked black pepper.

There you have it, and here’s what you have to know to succeed at kitchen bingo:

Only take advantage of sales that make sense.

Do what you can, with what you have.

Fix it up with cheese, if necessary.

Adapt. Create. Enjoy!

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Quote for the week:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

― Julia Child

 Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Blanch-less Freeze: http://momonamission.me/how-to-freeze-fresh-spinach-2-ways/

Spinach’s surprising benefits and drawbacks: http://n-h-metclub.blogspot.com/2012/08/pros-and-cons-of-daily-spinach-diet.html

Julia Child: A Little Advice on Cooking and a Lot More on Important Stuff: http://leitesculinaria.com/76678/writings-interview-with-julia-child.html

Happily Romano: http://www.food.com/library/romano-cheese-496

Adapt Create Enjoy  05 03 2014

(Click to enlarge recipe)

Spinach Pesto Adapt Create Enjoy  05 03 2014(Click to enlarge recipe)