Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Mother's China

I still can't believe she left it to me.  Not that I didn't read her detailed, hand-written will, but for some reason, it just hadn't registered.  Not until several weeks ago when baby sis said, 'I'll be happy to take that china off your hands if you don't want it' did I understand that my mother's china - one of her most prized possessions - was now mine.

Growing up in poverty, Mom tried all of her life to escape its stamp on her identity.  She was beautiful, well read and gracious in ways I will never be, but growing up poor scarred her.  Marrying my dad was her ticket to a better life.  I can only imagine all of the hopes and dreams she had while working to save money for her wedding china.  Its pattern and functionality suited her well and she used the large casserole dish often.  The rest of the china rarely came out, but when it did, the occasion was instantly made special.  We grew up knowing that Mom's china, and all it represented, was treasured.

B-man went with me to pack the china and bring it home.  He owned this task as if he was born to do it, wrapping everything carefully before fitting it perfectly into small boxes.  Once home, we realized that some rearranging was in order before it would fit into our cabinet. So the china sat, still boxed, in our dining room as we planned one day after another to tackle the project together.

Yesterday, I arrived home from work to see towels spread all over the counter in our kitchen.  I knew immediately what had happened.  B-man had taken the afternoon to gently wash each piece of my mother's china and arrange it in our cabinet.  He was placing the last platter as I walked in.  It's even more beautiful than I remember.

I wish I could tell Mom how much her china means to me and how this last gesture of her affection touched my heart.  I wish I could express to my husband, beyond just words, how much he means to me and how deeply he has changed my life.  What I truly understand now more than ever before is both simple and profound: I am well loved.

Photos my own

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gluten Free June

Today's gluten free lunch
My body likes it better when I don't eat wheat.  It's not that I have a gluten allergy, although I fake one to B-man occasionally just to get an extra back scratch, which he cheerfully gives even though we both know I'm bullshitting.  In my world, preference toward something is just a hop, skip and a jump from an allergy to something else.  For example, I prefer clothing that is comfortable, which is a pretty clear indication that I have a full-blown allergy to business suits. 
So yeah, let's run gluten allergy up the flag pole.
Last spring - then again last fall - I stopped eating wheat and felt so much better.  Apparently it didn't improve my memory, because I'm 'experimenting' with it again now.  Fortunately, it's easy because I love rich, oily, fatty food like cheese, olives, avocados and hummus.  Deprivation is not on my radar, so wheat is the only thing I'm eliminating in June and perhaps beyond if my theory holds true once again. Clearly, martinis and wine don't cause any allergic reaction.  B-man knows that, too.
So what perfumes go with gluten free eating?  Nomaoud by Comptoir Sud Pacifique is a clear winner with its perfectly non-sweet rose, oud and incense.  So is Un Jardin en Mediterranee by Hermes with it's fresh greens, mint & tomato vibe.  I guess that means June will be 30 days of Mediterranean food and Mediterranean perfume. 
Day 8 and all is well.

Photo my own

Friday, June 6, 2014

How I Pick My Favorite Food Network Stars

It's Freedom Friday here because I'm trying to give myself more time to relax and do nothing.  One of my favorite 'nothings' is zoning out to Food Network.  "Chopped" is my NFL.

Rachael Ray was my first Food Network crush years ago.  She was energetic about all things foody and got me saying EVOO and YUMMO to the point that I annoyed even B-man, which is near impossible (we call him 'Jobie' at home because he has the patience of...well, you get it). Plus, she was just the right amount of chubby to be both cute and legitimate as a chef.  About my level of chubby, as I remember.

Since then, my size has fluctuated in both directions and I've noticed an interesting pattern: My body size determines my favorite Food Network star. 

For example, Giada De Laurentiis gets on my last nerve unless I'm feeling quite small, in which case I love her.  Right now, she's a skinny little bitch.  Maybe one reason she's so skinny is because she makes itty bitty hors de oeuvres that have 25 steps resulting in a bite the size of a dime.  I get anxious watching the process and can hardly get through a show without saying out loud, 'just eat it fer chrissake!'  Her big smile scares me.

When I'm feeling larger, I warm up to Barefoot Contessa, in spite of her gremlin giggle after everything she says.  It's not that funny, Ina, and we don't enjoy your show more if you're laughing. At least she cooks for people who actually like to eat, and her husband, Jeffrey, keeps it real by eating nothing but chicken.  Plus, she makes being fat okay.  Oh, come on, she's successful, she has a killer house in the Hamptons and you know she's got a great wine cellar.  And Jeffrey comes home fromYale every weekend to get a little sumthin' sumthin' and keep the magic alive.  In order to sleep soundly, I'm going to assume that's food.

Nigella Lawson is my favorite star of the moment because it looks like she could go either way by getting smaller or larger.  But maybe she's found her groove, who knows?  I love that she relishes food and eats with her hands and licks the bowl and takes big bites.  No dime sized food for her and no gremlin giggle.  Plus, she survived a divorce scandal which must have been traumatic now that we all know she got choked and smoked marijuana, not necessarily in that order.  This might account for the bowl-licking.  We're both post-trauma middle aged women finding comfort in food.  Nigella is definitely my favorite Food Network star. 

Until she's not.

Photo from

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Has to Suck Less Than May

Paige hanging out on the deck

May sucked.  So many things about it sucked that I can't begin to list them all.  For starters, I gained back the four pounds I lost in April plus one more for good measure.  Who knew that carbs count as a legitimate religion? (Let me know if you find a loaf-on-a-cross necklace 'cause I want one.)  We're not talking sweet carbs, but stuff like crusty bread dipped in olive oil or bread dipped in hummus.  Basically bread dipped in anything.  And kettle chips with melted gruyere on top, each nacho-like layer drizzled with olive oil and hot sauce then pulled apart and generously loaded with French onion dip, clam dip, fiesta ranch dip or any combination of dip and hummus. 

I want some now.

In addition to the carb fest, I've been very sad (which - hello - is why I needed the carbs in the first place). More sad in May than the first few months after Dad died, like it took this long to really sink in.  Holding in the sad and functioning day-to-day takes a lot of energy, by the way.  And grief shows all over me like a mask that I can't take off.  Visiting the farm for the first time without him on Memorial Day emphasized the loss even more.  From last Tuesday until this morning, I've been on the edge of tears constantly, had regular stomachaches, chest tightness and total exhaustion. I've had fears of dropping dead suddenly and then found myself wishing I would so I could stop pretending to be okay.  In the middle of all of this, I was preparing a 1-hour presentation for a large group of regional health care leaders that I delivered on Friday.  Apparently, it was the last straw.

Yesterday, I woke up crying and cried all morning as I sat on 'Squid,' the small patio at the bottom of our back yard. Paige sat with me, getting up occasionally to come lay her long nose on my leg before resuming her folded down position where she could watch every move I made. When I had cried all the tears I could possibly eek out, I felt almost paralyzed, like I'd had an out of body experience.  The rest of the day was a fog, although B-man and I managed to clean out our dining room pantry.  We put stuff on the table and floor so we could stare at it and wonder how in the hell we 1) accumulated so much stuff that we have never and will never use and 2) fit it all into this small pantry.  As soon as we were done rearranging, I left B-man to box up the giveaways because I could no longer think and had to channel surf until happy hour.  Thank you, God, for happy hour.

Today is completely different.  Not great,, I guess.  My sadness has lifted some and I feel more ready to go on with life. This morning, as B-man and I were on the deck enjoying coffee together, I was thinking about the one year of grieving I have allowed myself.  I almost felt Dad lean over and say to me in his gentle, reassuring voice, 'you know, Kate, you don't have to grieve for a whole year for me.  Let yourself feel better now and enjoy the life you have.'

Maybe I'm ready to do that and maybe I'm not, but it gives me comfort to know that whatever I need to do is okay with him.  We have plenty of bread and chips, just in case.

photo courtesy of B-man


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