Peeps – The Kiss First Clause

I may have mentioned this before, but it’s still Peeps season.

As far as I’m concerned, it will remain Peeps season until all of the Peeps are gone.

I’m talking about the coveted and cabineted ones. Even with the holiday in my rearview, there’s still time to increase the stash. I’ll be ‘Peep Seeking’ a little while longer in the likely vain hope of a misplaced carton or even sleeve.

I admittedly will not give up until it becomes clear I will not find this year’s coveted flavor. I sadly started the search too late, and was left standing forlornly in Target staring at the empty box labeled “Vanilla Caramel Brownie Peeps.”

I also admit that I might not have believed that was a true special occasion creation, but, as I said, I saw the empty box for myself. In retrospect, I should have photographed it. It would have made a social media plea for them an illustration of frustration and perhaps I would have been flooded with good-willed Vanilla Caramel Brownie Peeps. Sigh.

Sometimes the very thing that makes me happy, makes me sad, and then makes me laugh.

My husband, Jeff, was a man who would not even slightly hesitate to insert his entire arm into a cow’s uterus.

So, how a cute little squishy marshmallow chick could cause him to cringe, shake and gag was always beyond me.

Physically. He’d watch me bite into one, and pull his head back like he wanted to turtle into his own shoulders. He’d wave his hands at waist-level, muttering “yuck” and shivering into goosebumps.

As true love often does, I willingly made small sacrifices for Jeff, and Jeff willingly made small sacrifices for me. One of the sweetest involved the seasonal search and appropriate pre-consumption seasoning of Peeps.

Religiously poking holes in their cellophane habitats, Jeff would clandestinely hide my favorite treats somewhere I was sure never to look. You know, that almost useless over-the-stove cabinet that only tall giant-sized people ever consider an actual place to store things.

He went to all this trouble for two very good reasons.

The first was so that the adorable, delicious candy creatures would be ever-so-slightly crunchy-stale when he ceremoniously presented them to me on whatever holiday it was we were celebrating.

The second was for the kiss he knew he would get after I finished squealing in delight.

The kiss had conditions, though: it had to occur after presentation, before ingestion. I tried it once the other way and Jeff objected.

“Ew,” he’d said. “Don’t ever kiss me after you eat one of those!”

After that, he always insisted on that order, sometimes going as far as keeping them way above me with his outstretched arm.  “Kiss first!” he’d grin. And I would happily oblige.

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 18 Sometimes the very thing that makes me happy jakorte

The Lilac Connection

The lilac connection is a curious thing.

Little by little I am hearing stories I’ve know nothing about. Like this one from Jeff’s brother, Eric:

“Lilacs played a huge part in Jeff’s life. There were lilacs in Papa and Nannee Vincze’s backyard.

We would play whiffle ball, catch fire flies, have parties and learn about life from our Grandparents in a backyard encircled by huge lilac bushes.

When my grandpa had his heart attack and was in the hospital, the lilacs were in bloom.

Each morning, my grandma would awake before dawn to spray water on them to keep the frost from killing them.

When he came home, he was sad to see all the freezer-burnt lilacs on the way.

But, when they pulled into the driveway, he saw all of their lilacs in full bloom…

an act of love.”

That story reminded me of another one that requires a bit of explanation.

Certain moments have stuck with, even as I’ve been oblivious for years. Sometimes, I am in the memory of the moment. Sometimes, I am an observer of events, watching us both make our way through the life we shared.

I don’t know why this one is an observer moment. I’m sure someday it will become clear.

When Sally passed, she was interred in Brookside Cemetery. Waiting at her gravesite, Jeff said he was glad she could be so near her father (Papa) and someday, her mother (Nannee.) It was a source of comfort for him.

I wish I could remember the exact words. I’m not even sure if Jeff was relaying it was Sally’s wish or if it had been his own comfort.

Anyway, there we were, slowly walking away from the ceremony, hand-in-hand, as usual.

Jeff stopped at a spot halfway between Sally and Popa. With a firm down-stroke of his chin and a leftward tilt of his head, Jeff made a nodding point toward a smallish bush.

Maybe he said, “At least…

Maybe he said, “I’m glad…”

But the last part of the sentence was, “… she can see the lilac tree from here.”

(You know, after the memory movie in my head ended, after I’d written it all down and re-read the story, it seems I don’t have to wait for that ‘someday’ answer. Something did become clear. It’s a good thing I learned to type without looking at the keys. I’m not sure I could have seen them through the tears, tonight. Because, remotely watching us standing made the mystery unravel. That spot Jeff stopped on turned out to be his. He can see the lilacs from there, too.)

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 11 We can spend a lot of time asking why or let the universe jakorte

 

Bonus Photo: through the power of Google Maps from my brother who knows how to use it: 2017 view of the Lilac and the Oak from last week’s ‘Lilacs’ blog.

Blackwood Road Screenshot_20170411-205227

via Daily Prompt: Unravel

Sometimes the Story

Sometimes the story just won’t tell itself.

 

There are times when I have nothing to say, but this isn’t one of them.

 

I know where the story goes from here, but tonight is not the night.

 

This night is distracted, blocked; a tumultuous time crying out the truth in tears,

howling high over the whorl-winds, this crucial point:

I cannot avoid the storm, because I am the storm.

When it’s over, again, I won’t feel the same, again,

and that’s ok: I’ve been a storm long enough.

 

2017-02-28-sometimes-the-story-just-wont-tell-itself-jakorte

Furnished, Part 1

For two people in their mid-thirties, neither Jeff nor I had a lot of anything.

I had my first-ever moving sale when I left temporarily Tennessee. It took three trips back and forth from Michigan, stuffing my Volkswagen Golf to the gills with books, and music and chickens. Not live ones; paraphernalia.

My first Michigan apartment furnishings were either free, flea or followed me. Free is self-explanatory. Flea is a bit of a poetic reference to garage sales, flea markets and second-hand stores. Only two items followed me from Tennessee.

I moved a hand-made wooden rocking chair purchased at a yard sale, and a coverta-table. Also hand-made and wooden, the table top swiveled up easily converting it into a chair. There was also a nifty little storage area in the bench for linens.

Both chairs had hand-carved and wood-burned sheaves of wheat. I didn’t think about that detail much back then. All I knew was I like the motif, had purchased them at separate times, and they sort of matched. A year later, in Michigan, I found a close-out entertaiment center with sheaves of wheat to match. I briefly acknowledged that with a fleeting thought of “Hm, what a coincidence.”

Among my early Michigan acquisitions were a second-hand orange and brown plaid couch and a second-hand matching orange velvet chair that were stashed in an empty office where I worked. A wood coffee table that needed some balancing help and an old used-to-be-white dresser and mirror came next.

I painted the dresser a yellowish-white to match the yellowed laminate top, then added a few burnt orange accents. I happily accepted a compliment when the previous owner exclaimed, “If I’d known it could look like that, I might not have given it away.”

I purchased an old wood-boxed TV that must have weighed about 100 pounds. Trying to corner roll that into my new apartment building, lead to meeting the neighbor who would later introduce me to online dating.

I also acquired an old copper dry sink, an old three-tiered wooden sewing basket, and a beautiful piece of stained glass art.

Of all those first run belongings, only three remain. The dry sink sits just inside the door of my current home. It’s where I set my work bag down when I get home, and where I pick it up from in the morning.

The sewing box serves a dual purpose as an end table in the living room. The stained glass rainbow hangs over the bureau in my bedroom.

I guess you could say I don’t hang on to much furniture.

Quote for the Week:

2017-02-14-you-cant-take-it-with-you-when-you-move-jakorte

 

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why DO We: Keep It

What To Do With: Sentimental Pieces

On the Other Hand: Minimalize

 

The String Thing, 1

I feel like I should explain why I am explaining. It’s more now than memories; more toward the end of the story than the middle. Based on past success, it’s a hopeful reminder that I can get there, yet.

So, where were we?

I stayed in Adrian 4 more years before moving to Ann Arbor. During those years, I drove a commuter van from Adrian to Ann Arbor, with one stop in Tecumseh. I started out as rider and by default became a driver. Cost-wise, those 3 years were very helpful to my budget.

As a driver, all I had to do was collect gas money from my riders and deliver the van for regular maintenance. The responsibility kept me going after my loss, and the extra “busy” time meant I spent less time at home; alone.

After I got home, after chores and sometimes dinner, I still had time on my hands. A lot of time. I also had a treadmill, a healthy collection of angry music and International Music Feed.

The more I used it the more addictive it became.  15 minutes became 20. 20 minutes became 30. 30 was always my goal. By then, I usually surpassed that waiting for a song to end or wanting another tenth of a mile to round off the distance. I’d set it on manual so I could control the pace.

Eventually, 30 minutes wasn’t hard, so I challenged myself. I’d use the programmed interval incline. I’d switch it up by using the cardio program. I found myself adjusting the speed down during cardio, but would still follow through with ups and downs.

I also didn’t sleep much. Oh, I’d shower and crash after exercising, but then wake up around 2 AM. I’d wander to the TV and watch whatever happened to be on. A predictable variety of infomercials of questionable integrity aired during these odd hours.  Slicers, dicers, miracle pills, body transformers, pot, pans, and the upside down inversion thing that was so popular, back then.

Cuddling a cup of tea on just another normal after-midnight night, my life changed. A different sort of wee-hour, call-now advert caught my attention. In between sleepy sips and throwing our Jack Russell Terrier Sadie’s favorite red ball down our longest hall, what I was hearing made sense.

I paid a little more attention which left me more awake. It was the opposite of what should have been achieved by watching mindless drivel; boring myself back to sleep. What I was seeing was what I wanted, attainable or not.

The core of the pitch was a “core” building hip-hop dance program regaling the importance of balance and stance.  I stopped playing fetch with Sadie when she plopped down in the middle of the hall, swiveling her cocked head longingly between me and the bedroom, silently suggesting as only dogs do.

It figured; the one night I managed to tire the hyper missy out, I ended up all hyped up .

So, that’s how I learned about the string thing.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-31-the-tired-mind-may-be-more-receptive-01-31-2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Inversion:  Something Like This

That Red Haired Lady: The Infomercial Queen

Know Your Hawker: More Infomercial Faces

Mugged and Gone

Still thinking about how I want to go.

Honeymoon? Snippets? Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.

In the meantime: Cake

I don’t make cake.

I don’t make cake, because I’ll eat cake. Whole cakes. I don’t usually frost them, but a eating a whole unfrosted cake is still not a good idea. Even if it takes me 3 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner with not much else.

Don’t start with the cupcake theory. Cupcakes only make it seem like you’re eating less. Mostly because I sit down and eat one, decide I need another, and count off 25 steps to and from the couch. 50 steps round trip on my Fitbit. At least that burns a calorie or two, right?

Don’t even mention freezing suggestions. I’ve packaged cake slices to be frozen. It turns out I’m not averse to eating a slice of frozen cake. Directly from the freezer. No frosting, no defrosting, at all.

I’ve frozen unsliced cake remnants, since the slice thing was still too accessible. Guess what? Frozen cake isn’t that hard to slice. Just takes some heavy leaning on the knife. Tests my balance, too, so I must be strengthening my core.

A recent thunderous Saturday evening, I craved… cake.

I had almost everything I needed to bake a cake. Except butter. Or rather, I didn’t have enough butter: none in the freezer and half a stick in the fridge.

I googled cake or cookies without butter. The most popular substitution offered was vegetable oil. I don’t stock vegetable oil in my cupboard. I do stock olive oil and I’ve even heard of Olive Oil Cake. I’ve heard they taste of olive oil.

I also have a jug of sometime solidified / sometimes liquefied coconut oil. I just didn’t like the idea of a cake tasting  too faintly like coconut.

A cake should either be totally coconut or not. I did have ½ a bag of unsweetened flaked coconut. In the freezer. Which would require defrosting and then toasting. Last time I toasted coconut was a disaster.

I let it go a little too long and ended up having to take my fairly new, now black smoke spewing toaster oven outside. I left it on a garden table long enough to let it cool down enough to open the door and remove the charcoal contents. I wasn’t quite in the mood for that much work.

This got me thinking about single serve cake. Mug cakes. Cake in a cup. Cake for one. Whatever it’s called, most required only one tablespoon of butter.

Chocolate mug cake calls for cocoa. Of course. Without any, I was momentarily thwarted, until I saw the sidebar listing variations.

Banana cake! I could do that! Even better, the recipe seemed reasonably healthy… for cake.

I altered the ingredients slightly. Not just for the sake of tweaking, but because 3 tablespoons of brown sugar seemed like a lot for one serving of cake. I only used one tablespoon.  Maybe next time, I’ll cut that down to ½.

I used water instead of milk. I had milk. Just call me a calorie cutting aficionado.

I didn’t mix it or make it in a mug. I used my Pyrex measuring cup. I wasn’t sure about the microwavibility of my rag-tag promotional mugs. As it turns out, I think a 12 ounce cup would have overflowed and make a monstrous mess of my microwave.

Since I was still thinking about chocolate, I threw on 8 semi-sweet chips. Yes, I counted them. Why, I don’t know.

Cooking time was listed as 1 minute, adding 10 seconds until it seemed done. One minute went by: nope. Add 10 seconds. Nope, not even close. Add 1 minute. Yep!

It was good, and so super hot that it needed more than a minute and some major fork hole poking, to convince me I could try again.

The beautiful thing was, when it was gone, it was gone.

I’d have to go through the whole process again to make another one. My counter was filled with just as many containers as it would have been if I had baked a true cake. I was just using minuscule amount of each. I really didn’t need another one, anyway.

I’ll unhumbly admit I had another brilliant thought. Why not pre-measure and create little packets of the dry ingredients to make it easier? So next time I craved cake, I’d already be halfway there.

I thought better of that. A little reaching and grabbing and transporting ingredients meant I’d be moving, And I’d be making it way too easy. Cake shouldn’t be a daily affair.

PS. I truly believe it could serve 2 easily. It’s dense and moist and yummy and just a few bites can satisfy the craving. And then, it’s gone!

Knabbled Cake in a Cup:

1 mashed banana

1 egg

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp water

½ tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

8 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, of course.)

Original Recipe: Banana Bread Mug Cake

2016-10-11-banana-mug-cake-jakorte-with-hyperlink

 

10, Not 15

A Year of Memories is almost up. Officially, on October 6th.

So far, we’ve only been through dating and a wedding.

There is so much more.

I really thought this would be a cathartic year.

At the moment, I think I’m going in the opposite direction.

I really believed it would only take a year to recap our limited lives.

At times, I even worried I’d have nothing more to write about, that I would run out of stories too soon.

The thing is, we all know how this story ends.

15 Years Ago, a wedding; 10 Years Ago, a funeral.

Maybe that’s where I’ll go next: the ending. And work backwards.

Quote for The Week:

2016-09-27-sometime-what-you-want-wont-ever-change-what-is-jakorte

2016-09-27-in-memory-of-jeffrey-scott-korte-jakorte