Sweet Pea

I’ve always had a little trouble remembering Jeff’s birth date. I always got April, but I’d get confused about whether it was the 24th or 25th. Pretty much every year, I would pride myself on getting it right, and end up getting it wrong again.

I’d give him his card first thing in the morning, or maybe stealthily add it to his lunch bag. And then he’d look at me or text me, “Thank you. My birthday is tomorrow.” “I know,” I’d respond. “I just wanted to be the first.” Of course, Jeff knew better, but he never embarrassed me by saying so. I’d just make sure to run out for another card for the next morning.

In 2012, I did something that I felt required notifying Jeff’s family. It was after the fact, but still important so I broke the ice with a short email. “Thinking of you and Jeff today,” I wrote. The response I received was graciously humorous and something to the effect of, “I’m sure Jeff will be having lunch with Dale Earnhardt in heaven, tomorrow.”

Early on in our relationship, I started calling Jeff ‘Sweet Pea.’ Always privately, mostly on the phone and mostly at the end of our week night conversations. I’d say, “Goodnight sweet pea, love you.” He’d say, “Goodnight, I love you, too.”

If you think that would sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth, it did. And, it came out with an accidentally adapted light pseudo-southern/Nashvillian accent to boot.

I never thought much about how he’d feel about it. But, he never objected or said anything about it, either.

About two years into Michigan, Jeff pointed out to me my accent wasn’t as bad. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Your accent,” he repeated.  “I don’t speak any differently than I ever did,” I protested.

“Uh, huh,” Jeff nodded, retrieving his cell phone from his pocket.  He dialed emphatically, and handed it to me. “Just listen…” he advised.

And there I was listening to a two-year prior version of me deeply twanging my way through a typical voicemail greeting.

At a Flea Market one afternoon, I noticed an oversized cup with a flowery design and the words ‘Sweet Pea’ in an equally flowery font.

“I think I’ll buy you this cup for your birthday,” I teased. Jeff laughed, “Well, it is my birth flower.”

“Your what?” I asked. “My birth flower – it’s the sweet pea – it’s the April flower.”

“Really?” I countered. “I didn’t know that!”  He laughed again, but stopped short a few steps later.

“Wait,” he said as he turned to face me. “Why did you call me that then?

“I don’t know,” I said. “It just … popped out. Must have been that southern influence…”

“Well, I like it,” He confessed sincerely with his usual wide grin.

I smiled, too. I’m still smiling, actually.

Even as I say out loud tonight, “Happy Birthday in Heaven, Sweet Pea.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 25 the greatest gift you can give someone jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

There’s a flower for that: Actually, there are 2

Don’t Eat Them: Truly

Beautiful:  But, finicky

Evolution, Part 5: Wind + Down

I wouldn’t say I was feeling down. I couldn’t call it disappointment, either.

It was a very good day. It just wasn’t the day I had imagined.

I was pleased to have kept my commitment; pleased to have made a small difference.

The spiritual service moved me to tears. I managed to hold back most of the lonely decompression that follows the end of a mission.

Community disengagement is a let-down; leaving, returning to steady, known apathy.

The short-set mingling morphed into tired walking; across the street to cars, and rest rooms and t-shirt purchases.

 

I cannot tell you it was a well-thought out thought; it wasn’t.

I cannot tell you why I said what I said, feeling the way I did.

I cannot tell you I knew the person just a step behind me.

I cannot tell you I recognized them; not from work, not from lunch, not from praise.

I just skipped a step, falling back a foot, turned and said, “This may have been one of my best birthdays, ever.”

I didn’t realize we’d stopped walking; we were talking.

Quickly: about birthdays and kites, tulips and art, a fight two sisters had in their mother’s hospital room.

The leaving chill evaporated; son-powered enthusiasm soaked in.

Suddenly we were last in line, thanking GOD and Jesus for a beautiful day.

Followed by a question with the only possible answer: Yes.

 

We sat down there, in a day-safe neighborhood, in the dwindling late afternoon, deep in portfolio.

A simple medium; graphite and recycled paper = pencils and abandoned pages.

I’ve never mastered the achievement of negative space in any medium.

Pencil, pen, crayon, watercolor – all take foresight. A clear tear is not easily added to a pencil portrait.

Devils that didn’t look like devils, doorways to the wrong place, wallpaper with eyes, a gang logo, a sister, a mourner, a life; questionable looks from passersby.

 

I stopped when I saw her, speaking to me of loss and prayer and grief and release; echoing loneliness caught by loneliness.

I didn’t ask who she was; simply served a compliment.

A few pages later, the counterbalance caught me. Separated, two portraits sharing one instance, one hand on each shoulder.

I knew they belonged together. When offered, I cried.

I knew they belonged together. Speechless to the insistence, I cried a little harder.

 

“If it’s going to make you sad, make you cry, I won’t ask you to take it. If it will bring you joy, please…”

 

I looked up from the shadows, buildings by setting sun; patience was waiting, not signaling time to go.

But we knew it was, so carefully, the gift was rolled; secured, presented.

We hugged and hugged again, and when my breath came, I grasped for more –

With nothing to offer, except for this; “I hope to see you again, someday.”

To which was replied; “It’s all up to Him. GOD’s will be done.”

 

So, I fought the breeze, and crossed the street, and wiped the wind tears away;

I could not, then, and still cannot answer; “Whom was ministering to whom?”

 

Quote for the week:

Sometimes we must plan in advance barry curry art oct 1 2014

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Beginning Charcoal:  http://www.artinstructionblog.com/charcoal-drawing-basics-techniques-for-beginners

Detailed: Interpretation of Art; http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/36433/art-philosophy-of/36256/The-interpretation-of-art

Art as Therapy: http://medicalarttherapy.com/using-art-as-an-outlet/

Evolution, Part 4: Horchata + Quakers

Dinner was another adventure. Taqueria Mi Pueblo on Dix greeted us with a huge cement chicken (rooster, whatever) silhouetted against a summer blue sky. We had an adventurous group at our end of the long table. Gorditas, Tostadas, Gringas, Rellenos were all ordered with enthusiasm. I don’t think anyone ordered the same meal. I also discovered a new treat. Actually, I overheard it requested by a young lady as her beverage, so I asked about it. The best way I can describe the taste would be liquefied, drinkable rice pudding. Perfectly spiced, watery, yet creamy, Horchata is rice milk made by steeping white rice for 24 hours, adding vanilla, nutmeg and lime, among other variations. I checked the recipe. It’s labor intensive due to straining, but still easy enough to conquer on a snow bound winter day. In Michigan, we save stuff like this anticipating days when we’ll need something to prevent all the cold whiteness from freezing our brains.

Three more surprises came along. First, our meal was paid for by our youth group hosts and hostesses. Next a sweet surprise (and yummy) piece of Tres Leches arrived with fanfare, requested by my sweet friend. The third surprise was the hat. Actually, it was a sombrero: a big, heavy, red velvet, silver embellished festivity designed for someone with a much bigger head than mine. Truth is almost everyone’s head is bigger than mine, except for most children. Truth. Most of my hat buying most occurs in their kiddie section of department stores. In any case, the singing waitresses and the cake triggered additional surprise among my day-long companions. “How did we not know it was your birthday?” one asked. The fault there was mine. I did not advertise my predicament. Ok, predicament may not be the correct term to use for the routine occurrence of growing older. It was a mindful choice for me to be there on that particular day. It’s how I chose to spend it; doing something that I love – volunteering.

Post dinner, back at Cass, we headed back into the warehouse for Wednesday Praise. We weren’t the first to arrive and we weren’t the last, either. But, we were required to split up, taking seats wherever we found one. I found one at the end of a row or two of boisterously happy strangers. Their joking and laughter was contagious, even throughout the message. The Ambassadors entertained in a way that defies entertainment. Their inspiration was contagious; their song choices uplifting and inspirational. A few 1960’s songs even took on a different meaning for me that afternoon. Something amazing happens when mainstream is turned into praise. “You’ve Got a Friend” was one in particular. There was a brief introduction of the many groups that had volunteered that day. Again, I was surprised, but this time it was to learn that I was sitting with visiting, volunteering Quakers. Proving, once again, stereotypes are rarely ever accurate.

The end of praise left me teary. Not surprising really.

Regular days are exercises in emotional containment.

Special days stretch the limits.

That’s when everything changed….

 

Quote of the Week:

 stereotypes all roosters crow at daybreak taqueria rooster july 23 2014

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Mexican Cuisine: http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/mexicanfoodglossary/

Defining Praise: http://www.wadetaylor.org/William/2014/2PraiseinEverydayLifebyWilliamTaylor.pdf

Quakers – introduced with a bit of Humor: http://quakerinfo.org/index

 

 

Nutritional Upheaval

I’m not that old, but like many others I’ve been through countless diets, life changes, recommendations, scientifically based sort-of facts-for-now stuff.

Along the way I have discovered a few things I probably could have gotten large government grants for. Too strict does not work. Too lax does not work. Reasonable works. Reasonable works even better with exercise.

Results are even more pronounced when everything else is in order: chakra, auras, spirits, godliness, centering, being comfortable in the universe. I have a hard time believing anyone is 100% comfortable in or with their own being 100% of the time. The odds just aren’t in that scenario’s favor. But, as long as we are operating with a more-good-than-bad mentality, things can mostly go well.

Five months into an enthusiastic recommitment to my own well-being, well…  I experienced a nutritional upheaval. Not in a good way; in a birthday-triggered sort of way. Celebrations tend to derail me. Luckily they are mostly scattered among weeks of normalcy. Last week, I abandoned normalcy. Back on the “food is fun” band wagon, I barreled straight through the swinging kitchen door of delights and kept going.

Monday: Max & Erma’s, lunch with friends, and a little pre-birthday celebrating last year plus one.  Economically, it didn’t make sense to avoid the lunch special – tortilla soup and a cheeseburger and fries and a cookie. About half of the fries were abandoned. Afternoon sluggishness isn’t uncommon when I indulge. I argued myself out of my evening walk, and took a 4:30 PM intentionally short nap. I define an intentional short nap as one that I set an alarm for, fully expecting to be productive later on.

Waking up at 6:00 pm is disorienting. My two most common mistakes are napping and not eating. I wasn’t hungry for dinner, so I grabbed a homemade chocolate-chip Miralax muffin. There’s that age birthday-connected thing again. Fiber: I need the stuff. Might as well enjoy it.

Tuesday: The Buffalo Wild Wings experience: Margarita, Salted Caramel, Honey BBQ and Fiery chicken flappers, split 4 ways with one basket of onion rings, and an iced tea. One took a slippery jump and did a terrific tumble down my dress shirt. While unsuccessfully attempting to minimize the disaster, I slapped the iced tea sending a wave across the table into a lap, and ended up letting the sticky blob plop onto my pants. Coincidentally, I had difficulty dressing for the non-Michigan summer-fall routine we have going on here. I grabbed an extra, slightly heavier, long sleeve shirt just in case the air conditioner didn’t get the 65 degrees in July memo. The change left me too warm, but less embarrassed. Tuesday is a dedicated non-walk day, and I didn’t. I also didn’t eat much again. I was excessively thirsty. I was also up stumbling around a few times taking in and letting out liquids.

Wednesday: Rising earlier than usual was harder than usual after my interrupted evening. I noticed my ankles weren’t looking like ankles. I couldn’t even see my ankle bones. Obviously retaining fluids – the wings were covered with sea salt, so that made sense. Still, I was sore and headachy and unenthusiastic. I mustered.

Long, unusual, and unpredictable days demand early morning substantiality. At 7:30 AM, armed with a Sausage McGriddle (no egg) and a diet coke (no hash browns) I parked in my usual headed-to-Detroit ride-share spot at Sam’s. The first three hours of paper sorting, cardboard piling and kilo-watt generating were followed by baked ziti, a nice salad, a glass of sugary punch and a cookie. I skipped the roll and butter. The second three hours of learning, watching, doing were interesting and a bit nerve-wracking. The wind-down dinner break was a planned roll to Corktown’s Taqueria Mi Puebla (on Dix.) The headache never really cleared, and I didn’t have the energy to care.

Hard work makes me less hungry, but I know by now I have to eat even if I don’t feel like it. The big meal thing wasn’t going to happen but splitting one meal and adding a small dish seemed like a good idea. Even shared, there was still plenty of food. I didn’t finish my halves, and experientially ignored the rice, mostly likely, because I was introduced to Horchata. Ordering a small was a good call on my part, as was adding a request for water. I loved it. It was creamy and sweet, and would have happily helped me avoid dessert, except for the even sweeter kindness of a friend and the cooperation of waitresses. One 30 gallon red-velvet, silver embellished sombrero, a serenade en Espanola and half a piece of Tres Leches cake, I was pretty happy. And pretty buzzy, too. And a little teary-eyed. And achy. And sore.

Before falling into bed, I munched on another convenient homemade chocolate-chip Miralax muffin.

Thursday: I woke up with donuts on my mind. Actually, I woke up a little nauseous and carb-crazy. The only way to get out of bed was to slither to the edge. My ankles were still pretty solid. My rings didn’t fit on my fingers so I didn’t wear them. An incoming call about the availability of vase, determined that I would not be stopping for donuts. I did, however, stop for a medium iced Mocha, and a diet Coke. The diet Coke wasn’t for me.

Donuts. I can never resist donuts. It’s well-known enough that I am frequently offered post-meeting baked goods. I know I ate two donuts. I think I might have had an extra half. I know I added jittery and spacy to my list of growing symptoms. But, that didn’t deter me from the boarding the next celebration train. Pulling into Red Lobster, I decided to eat sensibly. Another round of round-shape inducing food ensued. One cheddar biscuit, two cheddar biscuits and a “can’t count this as vegetables” creamy Caesar salad later, I realized I wasn’t even trying. After the side potatoes, salad and biscuits, only 3 coconut shrimp (no pina-colada sauce) were consumed. Dinner, 3 more shrimp.

Friday: Disgusting. That’s how I felt. My previously control fibromyalgia was solidly uncontrolled. Every joint was swollen, every limb puffy, and my tummy uncomfortably bloated. My mind was cloudy. My head was approaching migraine achy. I did not pack a lunch. I had nothing readily available to eat in the house, and I was out of those easy-eat muffins. I’m really not that fond of smoky burgers, but it seems Burger King has turned into a semi-regular Friday lunch run with a few women I don’t see very often. So, of course, I went with justification. There are always coupons to be used. A Whopper with cheese, a small fry, a small diet root beer and what I considered to be my last fling of unreasonableness, a rather small hot fudge sundae, filled my eat-in tray.

So, there you have it. A week in a non-dieting mode had ended. Voila! Done with the episodic nutrition-lacking stupidity!

Shortly after sluggishly returning to my desk, a coworker arrived with a salad bowl full of individual ice cream cups from Stucchi’s. Luckily, I didn’t care much for the flavor I was offered. Unluckily, I was feeling feisty enough to go back to the break room and trade it in for another flavor. To my food-dazed credit, I realized that it probably wasn’t in my best interest to have another round of ice cream.  I stuck it in the freezer, for the moment, and then lugged it home at the end of the day. Why? I guess, because, I could.

Before that, before I could make it safely home, before I even left the office, there was one more opportunity for obstinate denial. The birthday celebration cake: Busch’s really does make a tasty sheet-cake. Have I mentioned my birthday? Yep, I went for cake. By the time I got there was no longer a determinable decorating theme, but it didn’t matter. There on the counter, cut into unusually large pieces, were dozens of pieces of cake. I did not choose the petitest marbled piece. It went down quickly in a completely unmemorable kind of way and left me with a sugar cough, incredible thirst and a deep blue melancholy tinged with a little anger.

I hadn’t even made a serious half-attempt at control. So, I rounded it out for good. Dinner was the 4 remaining left-over coconut shrimp, the last homemade chocolate-chip Miralx muffin and the formulation of a repair the damage plan.

Saturday: I spent a lot of time prone. Switch the laundry; lie down. Make the bed; lie down. Empty the dishwasher; lie down. That’s when it occurred to me. I had food poisoning. Not the traditional kind, but my special brand of “keep ignoring the signs and symptoms, dummy.” Within one week, I exacerbated every quirk physical quirk and concern I have: high sugars, low sugars, rampant FM weakness and pain, headaches that turn into migraines, thirst, exhaustion, fluid retention. It was also hard to breathe after one staircase, and more than once a leg felt as if it would buckle. I dropped a lot of things. It brought back memories of 298 and misery.

I weigh myself Monday and Friday each week. Monday, at the start of this debacle, I was something something 4.2. Friday, I was something something 8.6. In one week, it seemed I had lost almost everything I had accomplished in the last five months.

I also devoted two days to detox. Not in the traditional way, but in the chicken-fruits-vegetables-antioxident tea and water routine. Two days of reasonableness helped somewhat. Monday, I began to feel less cloudy; more awake. I almost ruined the day with a sweet coffee drink, but saved it with a veggie laden lunch at Leaf and fruit salad and more chicken for dinner.

Tuesday: today. I made myself walk to work. After work, getting out the door to make the short loop around the neighborhood took longer than the trek. 40 minutes to mentally prepare for 26 minutes, 1.2 miles, 19:33 pace and a measly 180 kcal wasn’t a bad restart. It also isn’t the 42 minutes, 2.47 miles, 19:13 pace or 336 kcal of the dance/walk two weeks ago.  I delayed weigh-in by one day. This morning I was something something 4.6. Net, not so bad – everything else, not so good.

Sometimes, when we do unintelligent things, we console ourselves with the thought that we will be too intelligent to ever make the same mistake again.

Sometimes, we aren’t. More importantly, sometimes, we are.

Quote for the week:

You are strong when you know your weaknesses. You are beautiful when you appreciate your flaws. You are wise when you learn from your mistakes. ~ Unknown

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Links:

Determining Pace: http://walking.about.com/od/measure/f/howfastwalking.htm

“Fibroglycemia”: http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/effect-of-carbohydrate-consumption-on-fibromyalgia

Drop the Fatitude: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1366

Sometimes, when we do unintelligent things 07 29 2014