Memorable

The first time we went to church, Jeff was reluctant to ask if anyone knew our caller. I’m not sure why. When I asked about it, he just said, “Next time.” I didn’t push it, because, well, I wasn’t the reason we were there.

The second time we went, I encouraged him to ask. Jeff said, “Ok.” He slid down the pew to ask a woman he sort-of knew. He remembered her name from years ago, as a friend of Nannee. Surprisingly, she remembered Jeff quite well, and enveloped him in a back-slapping hug.

It was surprising, to me, at the time. You’d think after about the 100th time someone he hadn’t seen in 30-40 years recognized him, remembered him and was happy to see him – that I wouldn’t be astonished.

I never got used to it, certainly never expected it. It happened a lot. Like the time Jeff and I were standing in line to pay at the food auction. When we were just a few people back from cashing out, Jeff left me to pay while he went to get the car. The woman behind me tapped me on the should and asked, “Is that Jeff?” I confirmed and she lit up with a huge smile. “I was his teacher!” As she told me he was such a nice young man, I was picturing a junior high connection.

When Jeff came back in to load up our purchases, he was greeted with a hug. He explained that she was one of his early grade-school teachers.  (3rd grade, maybe?) That surprised me because I’m sure he was a little shorter and had a lesser amount of facial hair at that age. I’d never seen him sans mustache ad beard, and momentarily wondered if I’d recognize him at first glance without them. 

The final recognition surprise came a few days after Jeff passed. I received a phone call from the coroner’s office. It was the medical examiner offering personal condolences with the explanation that he had been Jeff’s pediatrician when Jeff was very young. He wanted me to know that he remembered Jeff very well and fondly, too.

Thinking about it now, so many people saw something in Jeff that could easily be dismissed as recognition; but I think what they were really remembering was his never-changing soul.

(And the fact that his laugh was so distinct, someone an aisle over in the grocery store would rush around the corner and exclaim, “I knew it HAD to be YOU!” Happened. More than once.)

Quote for the Week:

2018 02 06 faces are easily recognizable jakorte

Bonus School Photo Collage (a gift, compiled by my niece):

Jeff school photo collage 20180206_190706~2

 

Called

I answered the call because Jeff was busy cooking, and said, “Hey, could you get it? Please?”

He also added that he didn’t want dinner to burn, which added a little extra unspoken urgency as to why I should. I don’t like answering the phone. Never have. Teenage girls on phones for hours? Not me. Music for hours was my choice.

I don’t like talking on the phone. My timing is always off. I adore text even though it sometimes takes me a good ten minutes to write out what could have been said in three. Phone calls also require you and the person you are planning to talk to be available at the exact same moment.

Anyway, the point is – I didn’t often answer our phone. The guy with the gift of gab usually handled that.

But, that night, I acquiesced. Because, dinner.

Everything that followed “Hello” was a bit awkward and odd. I was told upfront that I was talking to a complete stranger who was offering kindness and support. I wasn’t clear why and I had no idea what to do with this situation, but Jeff was unavailable and so I listened.

She introduced herself as some sort of committee member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church. She was just checking on us after our most recent loss; said she was just seeing if we needed anything, offering her support, extending an invitation to visit the church.

We talked for a few minutes, or rather she talked. I said, “Oh,” “Ok’” and “Thank you” a lot. Then she asked if she could call us back in a few weeks, just to see how we were doing. I thought it’d seem kind of rude to say no, so I said, “Sure.”

When I hung up, Jeff asked me who it was. “I don’t know her name, but…” I started. (although I 100% believe she must have told me when she introduced herself, I’d found the whole thing befuddling)  “… she’s from… the church,” I finished, referring to the church where Sally’s funeral had been.

“Well, what’d she want?”

“Um,” I said. “Something about a committee that checks on people after someone dies and wanted to know if we were doing ok.”

Jeff listened intently to my sketchy, scattered bits of recall, nodding his head like everything I was saying made perfect sense to him.

“Hmm,” he said, with an accepting nod. “Supper’s done.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 23 There seem to have been more leaps of faith jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Phone: Pro

Phone: Con

Phone: 1990 Argument that caller ID invades privacy

 

Gingerbread with Broccoli Trees

One of the requirements was that the house be only constructed using edible items.

We’d already purchased chili-shaped red cherry gummies, so I ran down to our store. Of course, as long as I was there, I eyed the stock; evaluating each item for inspiration. Super-Hot Tamales, spicy Red Hots, old-fashioned Fireballs, cinnamon flavored licorice twists and mango-habanero gum, and dried chili peppers piled up on the kitchen counter. I also grabbed a few packets of blueberry habanero cookies and two spicy chocolate bars, for dinner.

Next stop was Country Market. In the baking supply section, I basketed powdered sugar and food coloring. Intending to pick up a few cute mini-tubes of icing, I saw an easier way. Colorful packages of hard icing letters! I grabbed two sets of those, thinking I’d use them to add ‘Michigan Hot Sauce Club’ to the roof.

In the candy aisle, I slowly evaluated every red or green item in the candy aisle. It was disappointing to determine there wasn’t anything especially unique or anything I didn’t already have. I’d seen some adorable trees made by stacking Hershey Kisses, though. I thought they’d be cute even though they weren’t ‘hot’, I picked up one bag of white chocolate peppermint kisses . Just in case I came up creatively short, later. And, in case, I felt like eating some.

“Ok,” I thought to myself. “What food looks like a tree?” Years ago, a young lady who recently became engaged, used to call broccoli ‘little trees.’ When I got to produce, I stopped in front of a bin full of green stalks and crowns. I stood there a while wondering if broccoli would hold up for a week or so, or for however long the house would be on display.

Thinking it probably would wilt, or worse, I also realized I hadn’t come across any broccoli trees on any of the many, many gingerbreads I’d found online. Logically, that made sense. I mean, no kid’d want vegetables on their candy-covered house, right? Still, since my mind was already headed that way, it leaped to jalapenos.

Jalapeno peppers seemed to sturdy. We bought them in large quantities and they lasted a long time at our house. I contemplated that pile and figured out that jalapenos look nothing like trees. I couldn’t even imagine a way to make them into trees, so I sighed and turned the carriage around. That’s when I had an ‘aha’ moment. If I drizzled white icing on them, the wrinkly little habaneros in front of me could turn into snow-covered pine trees. Yeah, it was stretch.

I miss judged how much décor a candy house would need. So, I ran a little short on the idea of using the licorice ropes to resemble logs. I arranged, rearranged and shuffled candies around on the kitchen table for a few hours before I came up with a sweet plan. Done with the decorating, I stood back and shook my head. The Hot House looked nothing like I’d imagined. I knew I wasn’t going to be entering it into any contest, that was for sure.

When I revisited the mess the next evening after work, it honestly didn’t look as horrible as I thought it had. The structure had held together, was kinda cute and definitely unique.  I knew there wasn’t going to be another theme’d like it. I knew it wasn’t likely I’d be winning any awards for construction or beauty, but, maybe, it would at least be amusing. I know Jeff would’ve laughed, so I took my entry downtown.

Somewhere amongst my belongings, is a red ribbon that reads, “People’s Choice Award” and an old camera card with a color picture…

Jeff Hot House Gingerbread House

 

Gingerbread (Hot House)

I can’t place the timing, which always irks me. I wouldn’t even be questioning the timing, if there hadn’t been that recent ‘50 years ago’ today newspaper story. That startled me into a memory, too.

I know what happened, but I’m not always sure how or why what happened, happened. So, on that note, I confess: I’m not at all sure how I got to the beginning point of the story I’m about to tell you. Obviously, some things had to have happened first.

Like the conversation, Jeff and I had. That’s easy enough to recall, because… Wait, wait. It could have been something that came up in a BNI meeting, but it would have had to occur at the end of September 2006. I can’t help thinking that would have been pretty far in advance. I suppose, though, as area business were looking ahead to the holiday season, it might not have been unreasonable announce plans for an open-house and contest.

It’s something Jeff and I talked about, were excited about and planned to do: enter a gingerbread house contest at a local, main street yarn store. I’m sure they carried more than yarn, but the first time I entered the shop wasn’t to shop. I was there to drop off our creation. Near tears, I didn’t linger.

Physically, it was only my creation, assembled in the weeks following Jeff’s death. I didn’t have much time, and I’d never made a gingerbread house, before. The ideas and enthusiasm were just as much shared as everything in our lives was.

Jeff started it, so I expected Jeff would be making it, too. But, there I was, a few weeks into widowhood, thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together. Perhaps, well probably, I was still in a sort of shock. Functioning and trying to keep moving along. I decided to keep the plan, and set out into the internet world of gingerbread and patterns and royal icing.

My edges weren’t straight, my technique was terrible. My royal icing either didn’t harden fast enough or hardened too fast to use. Eventually, I baked and sugar-solder assembled on a plain cardboard base something that happily looked like a lot house. I stared at the pile of decorations I’d amassed and the naked shell for a while wondering, “Now, what?”

I decided to let the structural bones set-up overnight and dragged out the top of our Tupperware cake carrier to protect it.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 01 02 A good overnight set could either make a lot jakorte

Bonus Photo & Story:

Tecumseh Herald Gingerbread House Jeff and Eric 1967

 

 

Keto Parking

So, I didn’t fall off the wagon. I wasn’t involuntary tossed. I didn’t jump for fun. I simply parked my luge along the trail and wandered off believing I’d be keto-back shortly.

By now, a snowfall of sugar in various forms has covered up my tracks. I haven’t slid far enough away to lose sight, though. Which is one of those blessing-curse situations. It turned out to be a comfortable sleigh as far as rides go. I guess you could say I didn’t realize the smooth way an adaptive lifestyle works.

I thought the things I missed the most were good summer fare. Fruits and vegetables way too loaded with sugars and conversion complexity. I ate a pear one week; I bought 3 bananas the next. I added an apple, after that. As silly as it seems, initially, those things are truly cheats.

I can’t say I’m cheating, now. I can only say I’ll walk right by any piece of meat if there is an available cookie. Because, cookies are temporary. At least, they should be. Yeah, they are, actually, but not until I run out. The beauty of running out is non-replenishment. Unless, of course, you’ve got another oven ready round.

Then, it’s decision time. I’ve learned this much: if it’s there and easily available, whatever it is, it will be eaten. So, here’s how it’s going to go. What’s going to go down is all about what’s going to go down my gullet.

I was absolutely resolution-less last year. On purpose. I mean, I made an effort to come up with the resolution to just not resolve. I won’t be doing that again. 2018 will be my vague resolution year.

I don’t know that it absolutely necessary to buy into time/action/result formalities. Mostly because they haven’t helped all that much. Setting even a realistic goal, then realizing despite full-out effort from the outset, you’re not going to reach it too easily degrades to disincentive. Knowing where I want to be is pressure enough without adding a finite end.

Besides, an end isn’t the goal. The goal is just beginning. I don’t doubt I’ll make it back to the place I left it all waiting. Sometime soon. After New Year’s, of course.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 26 It is absolutely easier to resist temptation jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Food Spend:  Increases After Holidays

Detox without Gimmicks: Naturally, Seriously

The Cycle of Carbs: Processed and Processing

Jalapeno Puppy!

My holiday seasons rarely lack spice. I know a lot of folks who like it somewhat hot, and some weirdos who like to see how hot they can go for equally weird bragging rights. There’re stories there, but ….

First let me introduce, Sadie the Pepper Pup. As hyper as she was, she also was terrified of weather an sounds. Not just rain and thunder, winds and motorcycles were equally scary. While having her nails clipped at a Lenawee Humane Society fund-raiser, Sadie shook a bit. When we said she was scared of a lot of things, we were advised that she should own a thunder shirt.

We eyeballed each other and seemed to silently agree to give it a try. On our way home with a pink camouflage doggie hoodie and a clipped puppy, Jeff mentioned he was kinda surprised I wanted to buy one. He thought I’d be doubtful. I was absolutely doubtful. I only went along with it because I thought he believed. We chuckled about that. As soon we got home, I sat Sadie down, and said, “Here goes nuthin…”

To our mutual surprise, she didn’t balk. It was surprisingly easy to get her in and out of it. And it was surprisingly easy for her to get it dirty. Instead of washing it every day, I went back and bought her another one.

After which, “I got to thinkin’” as Jeff would put it. I figured I could go to Salvation Army and get her some kids clothes. “What?” Jeff raised his eyebrows, “You’re gonna put her in pants?” “No, no. Not pants!” I shook my head. “Dresses?” he asked. “No, no.” I squinted in his direction. “Not dresses.” Just cheaper shirts so we didn’t have to do doggie laundry every other day. Just enough to get through a week. Jeff crinkled his eyebrows; his face and forehead followed. “She’s gonna have seven shirts?” he tried to clarify. “No, no.” I grinned at our silly conversation. “I’m thinking eight or nine, so she’ll have one to wear while we hers are in the washer….” “Geez,” he teased. “That dog’s gonna have more shirts than I have!”

Sadie’s (and my, our) fondness for shirts meandered easily into to holiday outfits. An American flag t-shirt for 4th of July, red with hearts for Valentine’s day, green for St Patrick’s day.

I was amazed when Jeff found a dog store on-line that also had  a wide selection of Halloween costumes. They were all so cute. As he was scrolling quickly, one in particular caught my eye. My crazy-chicken lady-ness kicked into high gear. “I want it!” I squealed. “That one,” I pointed – “that chicken dog-fit with a matching chicken head hat!”

Jeff said, “Oooo-k…, but what I really want to show you is… THIS!” he announced in a ta-dah flourish. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but an obviously, divinely, inspired red satin chile suit with ‘just picked’ greens as the neck.

“Ooooo,” I leaned over to get a better look, touching the screen as if I thought I could feel it. Both were definitely higher priced than the second-hand toddler shirts I’d been collecting. For some reason, though, the hot pepper was way more expensive than the chicken.

Leaning on Jeff’s shoulder, I decided out loud, “Well, we’ve just got to get that one!” “And the chicken, too?” he turned to ask. “Umm,” I pondered. “No, not right now,” I said. “Let’s just get this one. Maybe, we can make it a business expense…” Jeff just arched his eyebrows at me.  “You know…” I shrugged with a little smugly smile. “A business suit… for our new mascot!”

And that’s how Sadie the Pepper Pup came to be.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 19 there seem to be more misunderstandings jakorte

Bonus Pictures:

2017 12 19 MHSC first year store Christmas card and santa and Sadie bonus pix jakorte

 

ps… would you please let me know if you’ve read this? all feed back welcome.

believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman