The Cornbread Lesson

There’s an obvious family trait passed down from Nannee to Sally and then to Jeff, and Eric and Nicole – having a purpose was and is important to each of them. I don’t know that it’s ever been acknowledged, but the way I’ve seen it, that purpose was always to be sure everyone was treated as if they were the most important person in the world, and to do everything in their power not to be a burden to anyone else.

Jeff and I talked it over and knew Nannee was independent enough, and that she’d be stubborn enough, to not accept our permanent hospitality. We didn’t kidnap her, we just kindly informed her she would be coming to stay with us for a weekend… or so.

The first time Nannee stayed with us was only for a day or so. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit but had to get home to attend to her laundry.

The next time was 2 full days and we brought her laundry with her. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit, but had to get home for her mail.

The third time, Nannee said she had the flu, and welcomed a little more extended stay. She lasted an entire week, and by the end of her visit, she was up and about, doing our laundry and helping cook dinner.

I arrived home about an hour later than normal one Friday night after another long week of 9 ½ hour days and 2 ½ hour vanpool commuter roundtrips to find that they hadn’t waited for me for supper. I was overly tired, unreasonably disappointed and very hungry. There’s a common name for that now: hangry.

They were watching TV, Nannee on the couch and Jeff in his chair, when he called out to me from the den, “There’s chili on the stove and corn muffins on the counter!”

I walked into the kitchen, took a look at the counter and yelled, “What the hell, Jeff?!?!”

“What?” he asked in that hurt and hesitant voice I wish I hadn’t induced many times and wish I could forget now, as well.  “What the hell did you do this muffin pan?” I raged.  “There’re gouge marks in every cup!”

When I peered through the pass-thru, Nannee was looking concerned. Jeff’s eyes were huge. He was shortly shaking his head and doing an abbreviated version of the hand-jive, which dramatically finished with the universal finger across the neck sign for “Stop!” I immediately assimilated what that meant, burst into tears and ran into our bedroom.

When I didn’t come back out, Jeff came in after me. “She was just trying to help out,” he said. “She really wanted to do something nice for us.” When I just kept crying, Jeff continued, “She’s feeling pretty good. We had a fun time cooking together.” I felt like a heel and told him so. “It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not!” I wailed. “Give me a minute and I will come apologize.”

By the time I got myself together and changed my clothes, Nannee had decided to go to bed. I felt even worse about that. “It’s ok,” Jeff said. “She understands. I told her you were sorry and she said that she’s glad you feel like you’re able to be yourself around her.”

Saturday morning, Nannee decided it was time to go home, again. “It’s the weekend,” she reasoned. “You should be able to relax and spend some time together without me here.”

I apologized profusely. If I had known she’d been the one to ruin the pan or even if Jeff had been responsible, I had no right speaking to either of them that way. They’d made me dinner and I behaved poorly.

Nannee just pshaw’d me. “Life has bumps,” she said. “.. ‘t doesn’t make the love any less.”

In this case, it made the love even more.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 23 life has bumps jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Say It: Hangriness

Don’t Say It: Biblically Speaking

Eat This: Cornbread

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

2 Fries Short

My first encounter with a treadmill was 2001. Jeff and I purchased one mainly for him. His diabetes was starting to swing high and he was logically advised to lose weight.

As recommended, we went to a one-on-one meeting with a nutritionist. After discussing Jeff’s eating habits and work schedule, it was suggested that he continue to go through whatever drive-thru he would like. My eyebrows began to draw together.

The remedy was to downsize from large to medium. I squinted a little.

The last instruction was to leave 2-3 fries uneaten. Then, throw them away. I was not amused. The experience created another descriptive Jeffism;  a few fries short of a full bag.

Joining a gym didn’t make any sense with his unpredictable work schedule. So, we bought a piece of equipment just a few months before we moved from the Tecumseh townhouse to Adrian. We each used it a few times, and then it became a cliché coat rack.

Hindsight is interesting. I’m not going with that 20/20 thing, but I will admit now, there was a bit of merit to the advice Jeff was given. I was more than extremely unhappy when Jeff passed, a bit before that, too. When it finally hit me, 5 years after the fact, I needed assistance. I told the therapist I really wanted to take advantage of the gym that came with my Ann Arbor apartment. It seemed monumentally impossible, though.

The solution offered was to start by placing my sneakers at the apartment door. Then maybe in a week or so, I could put the shoes in a bag, add some socks…..  At some point, I would actually put a shoe on and tie it. Then in a few days, maybe I’d be able to put two shoes on.

That’s where I scoffed and interrupted and said that was ridiculous. If I’m going to put one shoe on, I’m also going to put the other one on.  As soon as I heard myself say that my frown turned into a teary smile. I got the point. It was French fries, again.

Start small, or start micro small, but start somewhere.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-17-two-less-fries-start-small-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Leave a Little:  Food on the Plate

Healthiest Fast Food:  If You Must

Beginner Walking:  10 minutes

Unresigned

To be quite honest, what absolutely attracted me to Jeff later irked me.

No matter what, he continued to believe in the best, in the future.

He cooked, he cleaned and I was happy just to come home to him. It was true on our wedding day, the days leading up to our wedding and for our shared life, always. The lyrics of our first dance said it best: You are my best friend, and you are where my heart is, and I know at the day’s end, I get to come home to you.

So, the part I couldn’t deal with was his acceptance of his situation. I was angry. I was hurt. I was terrified.

Jeff was not. He’d shrug and say, “There’s no point in worrying about what you can’t change.”

It’s taken me an awfully long time to figure out that I have not accepted that or much of anything, ever. My stance has always been, “If you don’t worry, you don’t care.”

To some extent we must be accepting of situations that are out of our control, and when appropriate, we must be averse to acceptance, as well.  Acceptance is an action, not an emotion. It need not be unhappy.

I am, however, currently admittedly resigned.

That happens when I find myself in a situation I do not like but am self-required to balance the spreadsheet that is my life. I really shouldn’t shuffle formulas or apply new variables. I can’t afford radical change, anymore.

That sort of change won out a few times in favor of fresh starts, great experiences. NYC, Nashville, MI – all the moving around and job changing would gently push me into a surface type of hope. After a while, a new unpleasantness would rise from my utopian vision, dragging me back into complacencies.

The latest unknown looming on the horizon, a river’s uproar, has sucked me back in. I am holding  just above eye level. 90% submerged, taking in big gulps of air on a down swell.

It’s good to know yourself. I know I tend to head toward the negative connotations of complacency. I over buy into the acceptance of this isn’t what I want (or like or need) but it’s too scary, too much effort too alienating to change.

Not wanting to go through the cycle again, I slide into resignation.

My New Year’s resolution isn’t tangible. It’s not measurable, calculable or quantitative.

It won’t change where I’m floating in life. There won’t be a “new year, new me.”

I plan to properly remove my emotion from my acceptance.

My resolution is to be unresigned.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-27-my-news-years-resolution-unresigned-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Acceptance vs Resignation: Secular Buddhism

Accepting That:  Be Choice Making

When to Accept:  … or Reject