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29 January 2010

Coming To A Dinner Table Near You!

Grocery shopping is my household duty.  I have gladly taken it on not because I love to shop, which I don't, but because I love the whole planning your meals for the week deal.  Hmmm, what sounds good this week.  Do I have a lot of time to create a dish from scratch or do I need fast cooking and pre-packaged?  Usually it's a little of both.  This weekend, I was meandering around the frozen food section when this colorfuly delicious box of spanakapita practically jumped into my shopping cart.  Oh man, I haven't had spanakapita for years and I mean, years.  When I was a poor starving college student, my friend, Fariba, cooked up a graduation dinner beyond compare.  One of her main dishes was her family recipe for Spanakapita.  Fariba, a lovely cook, someone to which I'd never even compare my culinary skills to, prepared it with utter perfection.  The philo dough was light as a feather, flaky and buttery.  The spinach melted in your mouth while the garlic and feta left a satisfyingly strong aftertaste, making me wish I could take the whole casserole dish itself, hide in her closet, and eat it all - with my fingers.  So when I saw that frozen box in the store, I did not hesitate as it found an immediate home in my grocery bag and then into my freezer at home. 

Thursday was the day to cook it for dinner.  We weren't busy and I"d have time to cook it properly and then savor each bite with a bottle of wine.  As it cooked, I could literally taste the smells eminating from the oven.  As I sliced it into large square pieces and onto our dinner plates, I marveled the stunning green of the spinach.  It looked impressive.  Proudly, I brought our dishes to the table.  My savory dreamy fog was soon parted as my husband wasted no time to announce that he was horrified by 'all that green'.  He laughed nervously as he cut a bite and put it on his fork.  Tentatively, he brought the fork to his mouth.  Then as if doomed to drink from a poisonous vile, he took a bite.  He chewed, slowly at first, testing his tastebuds.  Then he started chewing faster and faster until finally he swallowed.  I sat there wondering to myself if he would find it as delectable as I.  He opened his mouth but then hesitated.  Yes, he must be trying to figure out how to put into words how wonderfully amazing this was.  How he couldn't believe that spinach could taste so good.  Then he found his voice... "It tastes like grass clippings rolled up in philo dough".  Ok, I have never laughed so hard and been so pissed off at the same time.  What followed was a hilarious exchange of remarks pertaining to my grass clippings meal and his picky taste. 

Was I mad?  Not really but I did offer to make hime something else.  In fact, I had a can of something in the kitchen that I could cook up really fast.  He looked relieved that he may be off the hook.  I got up and opened the pantry and reached for a can.  I put the can in the pan with a spoon and brought it out to him. Huh? I think he was confused so I cleared things up for him.  I was serving him up  a steaming hot can of whoop ass. 

Well, to make this long story a little shorter, I'll sum it up by saying, he went to a drive through and picked himself up a burger, laughing all the way about me and my 'cooking'.  I let him go, happily, of course.  Just because I'm a freakazoid when it comes to worldly dishes, doesn't mean he has to be.  Yeah, part of the fun though is trying to get him to try it and see him shudder in response.  But it was a really good laugh and I will certainly never forget and neither of us will ever let the other live it down!

Coming to a dinner table near you!

26 January 2010

The Forbidden

For every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing.   ~Friedrich Nietzsche

No one would ever call me a picky eater. I'm happy to try anything, at least once. Well, almost. Once I had the chance to taste pigs feet but the jar of floating, liquefied, swollen and bloodless pale pink feet made me want to hurl. However, within reason of course, you ask me to taste and I will indulge you. It seemed almost unimaginable to me that anyone or anything could forbid me the taste testing opportunity. Some religions and eco-conscious thinkers consider it a grievous sin, sometimes with the penalty of death, to eat of a certain animal or food. Knowing that, I never once thought that I would be put in the most uncomfortable position of having to give up my most favorite food item - and not, mind you, for religious or political reasons, but because my body decided that it would become allergic.

After a steady yearly series of headaches, it was discovered, much to my chagrin, that I was allergic to peanuts. Not in the deadly way, where a kiss on the lips of a peanut eater would send me into anaphalactic shock and on to the spirit world, but I would suffer an incurable headache for days as my body tried to rid itself of what it was now considering toxic to my system. I did not ask for this. I was not consulted about this. Peanuts have been a regular and delectable part of my food intake my whole life. In fact, fresh ground peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups, PB & J's, peanut filled pretzels, most thai food and fondue oil went from my all time favorites to the 'do not even think about eating' list. Being the optimist that I am, I happily found substitutes that didn't just merely give me an alternative ingredient but ones that I loved. Almond butter - freshly ground, beats just about any type of nut butter. Cashew, sunflower seed and tahini rock too.

I was now, headache free and loving life. Well almost. It's not that easy to give up a favorite food. What one cannot have, one wants even more. I assure you, well, at least I'd like to say that I assure you, that if eating peanut butter meant almost instant death, I'd be more inclined to adhere to a strict regime of trying to stay alive. But since that is not the case, I have these irresistible, unstoppable, crazy-person peanut butter binges. I have my freak outs and my low points where I indulge, successfully blocking out all internal warning alarms going off in my head. I'll jam 3 huge spoonfuls of peanut butter into my mouth, relishing in my sinful indulgence. I'll order a large chocolate ice cream with PB chunks in it at Baskin Robbins. If the coffee shop is out of everything but PB cookies, I'll buy 3. Yes, I am a peanut-butter-holic. I'd never be able to tell you why I do this except that I can now easily put my self in the shoes of addicts, understanding perfectly now, the undeniable sadist urge to do whatever it takes to get my fix, at all costs. Now, I'm only hurting myself with this PB addiction and the days of headaches that follow but I cannot stop myself. Let me just say, I-know-it's-wrong. And if my body suddenly decided to add bacon, maple donuts, chocolate and coffee to the allergic items list, I would not hesitate to secretly binge on those too.

Of course, after the secret binges, my headaches come on fast and strong. As I'm wallowing in my own self created misery, there is a tiny part of me that is sinisterly happy and full of forbidden peanut buttery memories. Remember the old bible legend about Adam and Eve? I feel Eve's pain. If apples tasted like peanut butter but were forbidden, I'm sorry but I'd take a bite, too. Call me crazy, say I need help, dismiss me for a lunatic.... whatever, I'm ignoring you! And if you'll excuse me now, I've got to go tempt fate.

25 January 2010

Regaining My Equilibrium

What no spouse of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.
~Burton Rascoe

There is this folder in my closet. You know, the old peechee folder from the 80s. I think it's actually taped together now. Inside the folder are a variety of papers - napkins, scratch papers, pieces of envelopes, ripped out spiral notebook pages, receipts. All of them with yellowed and tattered scribblings of my mind, beginning from maybe 25 years ago. Constant writing was not a regular routine for me but when something would pop up in my mind, I'd write it down and file it away in the folder.

A little over a year ago my sister started her blog - Midnight Marvel. Instantly I became hooked, daily checking to see if a new post was up yet, laughing, crying and relating to her stories. Even though we've shared a lifetime of experiences, it was a glimpse into her heart, mind and daily life, something that brought me closer to her soul. Soon I was itching to write. She kept telling me to start a blog and I resisted, for a while. My writings have always been personal and rarely shared. They acted as more of an outlet, letting loose thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head. If I were to make those public, I would be baring my innermost soul and for all it's worth, my true and crazy self. Then I realized that I am who I am. Hiding the real me has never been my forte. People already have had a pretty good picture of what's in my heart, whether they like it or not. So that is how it all began. A year ago, on January 25, I wrote my first blog post and the rest is history. I've never felt more alive. There is a freedom in opening yourself up and putting your thoughts into words, words that you can re-read over and over, reliving each moment. My writings are rainbows of raw emotion. Real, live and boldly not censored for readers' discretion.

The ability to write, getting the thoughts onto paper, is most always mentored by someone who sees your talent. In my case, that was my mother. An english teacher who insisted that you don't start each sentence with an "I", leave out the word 'very', and most importantly "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass" (Anton Chekhov). She nurtured my creativity and encouraged my individuality. She hates when I put in the wrong punctuation or misspell something, but she also understands that sometimes that is my way of getting a point across. As a writer, you want the reader to know you. You must fully capture them in your moment of time.

When I write, my soul renews itself and clears my mind of clutter. That in and of itself is essential to my spiritual well-being, which is of utmost importance to me. Today is not the end of a year of writing, it is the beginning of regaining my equilibrium. I live in two worlds, both very real, one that is seen by all and one that cannot be seen with regular eyes. And now instead of being torn between them and feeling the need to choose one, my writing has firmly rooted me in both, and I am nourished and thriving for the first time in a long long time.

23 January 2010

My Story

You know when you have found your 'home' because you not only have a smile on your face but in your heart as well. ~Author Unknown

Hello everybody! I want to tell you my rescue story and I'll let you know ahead of time that I have a very, very happy ending! I'm a strikingly handsome mixed breed dog of German shorthair and Cattle dog decent, ok, and probably some labrador, too.  My birth name is Freckles, probably because I look like I have a million black freckles all over me. I used to live with my dad. He had a girlfriend, a daughter and another baby on the way. I was 9 months old and had a pretty good life until my dad lost his job. He got really depressed and started having some problems with anger; then he broke up with his girlfriend. He finally decided that I would be better off if I went to a new home so he called Dogs Deserve Better - which is a national non-profit that rescues dogs, mostly chained dogs. Luckily, I wasn't ever chained but I knew that I deserved better.

Within a week, I was on my way to meet my new foster parents. We arrived at a park where I met my foster mom and dad, along with their two labs. I tried to really put on a show for them so they would be willing to give me a place to stay. I'm super fast on my feet so I ran after the ball they threw, swiped it up fast and ran back in seconds flat. I showed them how I could jump five feet to catch an air ball. They were amazed and welcomed me into their home.

My foster home proved to be a really fun place. It was spring time so we went to the dog park almost every day where I chased ball after ball and wowed every dog and human at the park. We got to go on walks every morning and snuggle together on the couch in the evening. I liked my foster dog sister and dog brother but I had a hard time adjusting to having to share the spotlight. Sometimes I'd get angry and snap at my foster brother. I really longed to be an only dog where I could have all the attention to myself.

After six weeks, I felt more relaxed and had learned to sit, stay, come and walk pretty well on a leash. That was when my foster parents decided it was time to start searching for my forever home. They took some really handsome pictures of me (I’m a pretty good looking fellow) and posted them on Petfinder and Craigslist. A lot of people replied but only one couple stood out. They were young, had just bought their first house and they had two cats. Did I mention that I like cats? They were looking for a companion to jog with daily and to accompany to work sometimes. When they came over to meet me, I held my head high and tried to look as handsome as possible. They couldn't believe how fast I ran and how well I caught the ball. They decided immediately that they wanted to take me home but the adoption process required an application, a fee (donated to the non-profit), and home visit, so while we waited for the approval process, they took me for a weekend visit to their parent's farm that they had grown up on. I showed them how I could run without a leash and not run away; and I thoroughly impressed the grandparents. After the visit to the farm, I even got to spend the night with them. I met their cats, who decided I was boring but that's just how cats are, right?

One day, as I was napping on the couch, my foster mom came to tell me that everything worked out just fine and that I was going to my forever home. I was so excited I jumped around the house for joy. My new parents came to pick me up the next morning. My foster parents cried, but they said it was because they were so happy that I had found the perfect home. We packed up my bones, blankets, dog bed and leash and I said goodbye to my foster home. I was going to miss them but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to be top dog!

After a year went by at my forever home, which by the way is AWESOME, my new mom decided to give my old foster family an update on me. We all arranged to meet at a park nearby. When I saw my foster parents, I immediately showed them how much I had grown up. I walked without a leash next to my new mom and dad. I showed them all the new tricks that I had learned. My foster family was thrilled to see how happy I am. I even showed them that I can come when they call me by my new distinguished name, Cooper. I am a lucky dog and I know that. I truly believe that there is a family out there for every dog, I mean, look at me; I got exactly what I wanted, which was to be loved and to be the only dog. I'm thankful for my foster family and for Dogs Deserve Better rescue, but especially that they all were willing to let me stay while we all searched for my forever home.
My Forever Family

18 January 2010

Ya Ya Sisters

"Stop fighting and bickering.  One day you will realize how thankful you are for one another."  ~ Our Mom, Mother of 4 Girls

I could not wait for this weekend to happen.  All my sisters would be in town and most important of all, we'd all be together for one evening - Sarah, Susan, Jan Jan and Barb.  Taking advantage of the early afternoon, I headed to Susan's house on the train, leaving my husband at home to feed and walk the dogs before he came over later.  Susan and Barb picked me up at the train station and our eyes filled with tears of longing when we hugged.  On the ride to Susan's house as we chatted, I became fully aware that Barb was now comfortable in her new role as a mother.  As I gave them a pile of books I'd recently read, we laughed about how they all related to mother, daughter and sister relationships, something that we all know a lot about.  Upon arrival to Susan's, I was greeted by Hope, fully dressed in her Ms. Santa dress and a hip Hannah Montana hat.  She immediately brought in a basket full of princess crowns of all shapes and sizes.  She asked us each to pick one and wear it, unspokenly making us all sisters.  With our crowns securely fastenened on our heads, we figured it was happy hour and therefore uncorked a bottle of wine.  After a cheers, we began preparations for dinner.   Soon after, Janet arrived.  She'd had my same idea - leave her husband at home with one of the kids so she could fully engage in sister time.  We poured her a glass of wine and got her a princess crown.  There was a comfort with us all being together, just us, with the kids all busy watching movies. 

As we chatted away, the rest of the family began showing up.  First Daryl came down the stairs with Finleigh, the newest baby girl in the family and the one we all couldn't wait to see, hold and coo over.  Then Roger woke up from a nap along with Riley and they trudged downstairs to say hello.  Then Phil arrived with little Kevin and a laundry basket full of dessert for later.  Not long after, Warren entered through the front door - to the delight of all the neices and nephews.  Soon the house was swarming with aunts and uncles and kids and the smell of food cooking made it feel just like home.  With all the commotion, us sisters still had an invisble bubble around us, allowing us to catch up and talk about our lives, including roping in all our husbands to do a photo shoot of us, with all of our cameras. 

There is something about having sisters that is an incredible gift.  My sisters are my best friends.   No matter where we are in life or where life takes us, we always have eachother.  We are sometimes strewn miles apart in our locations, differences and habits, but our hearts are melded together in a bond that cannot be broken.  A bond that does not judge and a bond that only gets stronger with time.  Of course as young girls, we fought, yelled and slammed doors in one anothers faces.  We stole clothes from the others closets and tattled when appropriate and to our advantage.  But as we grew up into young women, then wives, then mothers, we restored our sisterhood when we found we could balance life a little easier when we could revert to our familiar and comfortable role as sisters.  There is nothing in the world like having sisters.  And there is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do for any of one of them.  So when special weekends like these come around, I slip back into my sister role and get ready to have my soul renewed again.

12 January 2010

For The Love Of Dogs

The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret.... It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.  ~Albert Schweitzer, Novel Peace Prize address, "The Problem of Peace in the World Today"

Just recently, I came upon a new path, allowing me to help spread the word about the beautiful rewards of fostering or adopting rescue dogs - my essay on our rescue dog Tahoe (a revised version) was just published in a book called: Lost Souls Found - Inspiring Stories of Labrador Retriever Rescues.  Yay, I know, I'm published now!!  The book company, Happy Tails Books, publishes books on every type of dog breed, including mixed breed dogs. All are inspiring rescue stories that will make your heart swell for these pups and their rescuers. The proceeds for the books benefit the dog rescues (authors are not compensated for that reason).

My love of dogs has morphed into a need to protect them. Hence, my involvement in dog rescue groups and foster homes helps to nurture that desire. But sometimes I feel that it's not enough. How can I save every dog from being neglected, abused, and chained? Well, I can't. But I can join the loving hearts of many doing their part to protect. And by sharing this rescue story, I am creating compassion in the hearts of others and each little step is a huge achievement toward saving one little doggy life at a time.

Enough Already

Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off.    ~Author Unknown

People are freaking out this month. I know it's because of planetary alignment with Mercury finalizing it's retrograde and such, but geez, enough already. Even my usual calm in the face of other people's storms is ceasing to exist. My patience is at a serious all-time low and I am running the risk of telling someone just exactly where to stick it which is probably why my wine stock has increased along with sweat-induced crazed fits of running UP hills (instead of a nice easy jog) in an effort to ease the universe's subjection of emotional burdens on me. Once again, I am reaching down into the abyss, scraping for any reserve of patience that may be lost in some dark corner of my soul, that will save me from myself!

06 January 2010

Motivational Activation - A Living Recipe for 2010

Like I said the other day, I feel a new level of consciousness is beginning to take hold.  I perceive a philosophical shift in the thought process of humans and our being.  Because of that I think that my New Year's Resolutions must mirror this transformative phase. My living recipe for 2010 is going to be full of motivational activation.  I'm going to plan for change, open myself to the new energies of the universe yet I will keep my eye open and watching for anything new. 

Even though I am a free thinker and doer, it seems to me that this year I am going to need to do some intensive and creative combining of the aspects of my life in a way that I have never experienced before.  I'm going to have to rethink the very structure of my life and go beyond my current worldview and find the courage to release my old ways of thinking.  I'm going to have to be sure that my heart is fully engaged in everything that I do, with a touch of compassion and faith to take me to the next level.  When I'm making a decision, I need to walk for a while on the path first. 

Although I know this, I must remind myself that everything is connected and that what I do this year will shape all parts of my life and others.  I need to regain balance starting with myself and then with other relationships, resting assured on the fact that we are all in a flux of change. And most necessary and most importantly, I must trust that I am being divinely guided to my highest good.  Cheers to the New Year.  May the universal force be with us all.

04 January 2010

It's Coming

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. ~Anne Sexton

For many years I have been bothered by a nagging question - why am I here? Why was I born in this time? This time of chaotic uncertainty, economic troubles, over-consumption, polluted landscapes and skies, environmental ignorance and a food system that incorporates animal abuse - all of which I abhor. I knew there was a reason but it was not within my grasp... Yet.

Many many months ago I spoke with a spiritual counselor. Something interesting came up in our conversation, something that was completely unexpected. She told me that I (my spirit) had specifically wanted to come back (as a human) to this particular time in history. Why? She could not tell me. Only I could figure that out. Now please, why would I decide to come back to the age of darkness, as I call it. The age where mankind has forgotten their origins and where spirituality is discouraged, even outlawed. If it appears that I had a choice, I would think that I would have chosen a time where the earth, stars, planets, universe and all it's inhabitants were existing in an alliance of a simple and peaceful co-existence. I mean, seriously.

Lately, it has become apparent to me that a change is coming. I can smell it in the air, the wind whispers it in my ears, I can feel it on the hairs of my arms. I KNOW a change is coming, that part is real. What kind of change? I'm not sure yet but I do know now that it has to do with answering that nagging question - Why am I here. Possibly this change has to do with a shift in perception and consciousness - a universal spiritual awareness that has been growing - at first underground and shunned but now fully exposed. There is an overwhelming urge in me to see and witness this change. To be in the midst of it, absorbing the energy, taking part in reconnecting the webs of the universe, rediscovering the magic that lies dormant.  If you pay attention, you will see it too.