Telling our story

scarfI was at a craft show a couple of weekends ago. The weather was awful–freezing rain coating the icy snow on the ground that fell overnight. As soon as I got through the door, I stopped to shake it off of me. The first thing I saw was a table of scarves and hats, and the small dark-eyed woman standing behind it caught my eye.

I took a minute to look at the items on the table. I noticed a black and white scarf  that I knew would make a great gift for a number of the people on my list.

I asked, “How much is this?”

“Fifteen dollars,” she replied, “and you can pick a free cookbook from the box,” she added, hopeful, hands clasped in front of her.

I looked down. The ‘cookbooks’ were some old cooking magazines from 2008.

Well, all-righty then.

As she was wrapping it up, I was looking through my bag for my checkbook (note to self: Clean this damn thing out!).

I asked, “Did you make these?”

“Yes. Well, me and my daughter did. And then after she died, I made some more myself,” she told me.

What? Oh, no.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I told her, and suddenly found myself hugging her. “Yes, it was hard,” she said, and proceeded to tell me about how her diabetic daughter who couldn’t feel her feel very well had a blood sugar drop that caused her to get into a car accident. “She went through the windshield and died instantly, the…the….” she trailed off.

“Medical examiner?” I offered.

“Yes! Yes, the medical examiner said. She didn’t feel anything, he said, and that made me feel a little better, but I was still pretty sad. Until my birthday,” she said.

This is what happened on her birthday: She and her husband were having lunch, feeling the feelings only parents who have lost their child feel. Suddenly, her glass of water slid across the table. About four inches. By itself. “I said, ‘Did you see that?’ to my husband. “‘That’s her wishing you a Happy Birthday,’ he told me, and we both teared up. Then I felt much better. I knew she was okay.”

Sometimes, people just need to tell their story.

Even if they aren’t writers.

Thanksgiving dinner for one

IMG_0089It so happens that I will be working Thanksgiving (as is the majority of my family) and therefore I will be a Party of One for Thanksgiving Dinner.
I also plan to continue my NaNoWriMo efforts and so will have very little time for cooking and such. I do, however, love food. And, you know, eating.
So, here’s my plan for a traditional-ish Thanksgiving Dinner for one:
MENU:
  1. Rotisserie turkey breast. Okay, full disclosure: I am buying it (precooked) on Wednesday (they are cheaper if you get them cold vs hot at Hannaford’s). It takes 6 minutes in the microwave but if you have a crock pot you can stick it in there on low 2 or more hours ahead of time and it will be ready (and moist! NOT DRIED OUT AT ALL!) when you want to eat it.
  2. Instant mashed potatoes: the Idahoan brand Buttery Homestyle is the best! Very fast: 3 minutes and 30 seconds in the microwave. Hint: put 1 3/4 cup of water rather than 2. You’re welcome.
  3. Quick turkey gravy: I think the McCormick Turkey Gravy packets are pretty darn good. You can pour the drippings from your turkey breast container (if there are any) into gravy. Ready in 5 minutes or less.
  4. Stove Top Turkey Stuffing. I forget how long this takes. I might make it the day before.
Now, everyone has their one thing that they must have on the table or it’s not Thanksgiving-Butternut Squash is mine. This will need to be made ahead of time: roast or boil a small squash (I always get it prepeeled and also precubed if I am really feeling lazy) until soft, mash with a potato masher, add 1-2 tablespoons each of butter and brown sugar, sea salt to taste.
Interesting Trivia: I’ve heard (I think it was from Clinton Kelly on The Chew last week) that the general rule of thumb for the number of Thanksgiving side dishes is this: you must have one side dish for every person coming to dinner. Right. So. That would be one. And done. :)
I made bread dough (recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois) today and put it in the fridge so now I just have to bake  it off that morning. I can make a roll or two or a whole loaf and-OH! I almost forgot the cranberry sauce!!!
Which reminds me of and is a nice segueway to that song Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses:
“I’m spending this one alone,” he said
“Need a break, this year’s been crazy”
I said, “Me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?
ENJOY!!!!

 

 

Mental health break

IMG_0012I took a two-day break from Nano writing and went away overnight to celebrate my husband’s birthday (and, you know, to take a break from sitting! At the computer! Writing! OMG! I haven’t been able to feel two of the fingers on my left hand for a week!).  We had supper at Nolita,  a new-ish Italian restaurant in York that we like.

I felt a little bad that he hadn’t had a cake on his birthday and gotten to hear the sweet strains of the “Happy Birthday to You” song wafting toward his ears on his day, but so be it. We wanted to have the cake with the entire family, and that couldn’t happen until the following day.

When we arrived at the restaurant, my husband had to run back to the car to get his reading glasses (he is so not into my rendition of “This is what’s on the menu” that he’d rather run back out into the 27 degree cold dark night that to listen to it).

That’s when the waitress came over and I mentioned it was my husband’s birthday. She said, “Does he like tiramisu?  We give a free tiramisu for someone’s birthday.”

Now, Bill does not like tiramisu, but oh my God! I love it!  But, it was his birthday after all, so I asked if there were other dessert options and she said they have gelato. As (my) luck would have it, I’m pretty sure the only thing he dislikes more than tiramisu is gelato.

“Yes, he does like tiramisu! Bring that!” I said, conscience clear.

What I hadn’t realized (and in fairness to me, I was halfway through my Italia Margarita at the time) was that said tiramisu would be accompanied by, um, fanfare. And I’m pretty sure that if there is one thing Bill dislikes more than gelato and tiramisu, it’s fanfare. In our 26 or more (we can’t agree on this) years together, he has never, ever seen a cake coming toward him with a gaggle of servers singing the birthday song to him.

And yet, I lived to tell the tale, so it’s all good.

Also, that tiramisu rocked!

 

 

 

Passaggiata

I live in a rural part of my town in Maine. There are few places that I can get to on foot that wouldn’t require packing for a half day passaggiattatrek. That’s why I looked forward to the Bean Supper this year. This is a destination that I could comfortably walk to and from and to which there was a good chance I could convince my daughter to accompany me.

As we walked along my road, the word ‘passaggiata‘ came to my mind. This is, as I understand it, the Italian custom of taking a walk through the town after dinner.  Historically, this is something my family has only practiced on holidays.

You know, hardly ever.

Other than the walk we took after Thanksgiving dinner one year, I am hard pressed to remember any other times we’ve done this. Why not? Okay, in the summer it’s because I am no match for those horseflies that will use every ounce of energy they have in their creepy little bodies to enter either my nose or my ears or, failing that, sting the crap out of me. But this time of year there is no good reason. Oh, yes, one: I’m too lazy.

Well, tonight I am happy to say that we walked to dinner, ate, and walked home. The rain felt lovely. Despite the deluge that was predicted, it remained fairly light so we didn’t get too drenched.The company of my daughter was much appreciated. I even entertain the thought of doing this again tomorrow night.

We’ll see.

Long time no see

dad (1)I went to see Melissa at Deep Blue Truth in Kennebunk today. I go every year (at least once) near my birthday as a present to myself. I always get messages from one or more of my friends and relatives that have died, and today was no exception.
When they come through, they always talk about something that is personal to me and to them. Something that helps me know that it is really them. Something that no one else would know. They give some kind of a sign.

Today, someone named John came through. Okay, so John is my dad, so that’s a no brainer. Melissa told me that he kept telling her to say ‘matches’, to talk about striking matches.

!

Last night, I was talking to my husband, telling him I needed to get some more matches to light candles, that I was down to my last 2 books.  I joked that I was just coming to the end of my dad’s stockpile of boxes of matchbooks that we found in his house after he died…in 1998.

Pass the kleenex.

Faith, Hope, and Charity

20140215-203534.jpgMy grandmother Emily, my mother’s mother, was the only girl in her family of five. Yep; she had four, count ‘em, four brothers. At least, that was what I thought when I was a girl. When I got older, she told me that she actually had three sisters. Triplets. They were named Faith, Hope, and Charity. Whether it was because they were so little when they were born, or that the family lacked enough cradles to accommodate three infants at the same time, they were bedded in three bureau drawers.

Unfortunately, their lives were short. They only lived about three months, I believe, when they succumbed to pneumonia. When she told me the story, I thought: Oh! that is so sad! Oh! There were really four boys and four girls in her family!

I also thought: Oh! I would have so many more cousins if they had lived!

Anyway, I thought a lot about those three short lives. I loved their names. I loved the story about the bureau drawers. I wanted to honor them in some way. Here’s what I do: Every time I knit something, I knit “Faith, Hope, and Charity” into the piece by repeating their names as I knit or purl, so that many times over I have wished these thoughts for the recipient of whatever I am knitting. I hope it makes them feel amazing when they wear it. I hope my triplet grand-aunts in heaven know that even though their lives were brief, all these years later, I am thinking of them and they are making a difference in my life, as well as (this is my hope) in the lives of the people who wear the FHC articles.

The kindness of strangers

My daughter was working in a project for her history class that required her to do a Jackie Chan impersonation. This required her to wear a gi ( full disclosure: until I googled it I was spelling it ‘gee’-my bad). Izzy did take karate years ago…for about 5 minutes. Needless to say, we did not own a gi.

So first, I put the word out to the Wells Women Facebook page but got no responses.
Next, I called my brother, who took judo and/or karate for years. “Sure, I have one,” he told me, “but I have no idea where it is,” he finished. “I know I didn’t throw it away,” he added, helpfully. No good. We needed it right away.
Then I had a sudden impulse to ask my friend Teresa. I don’t know why. I just did. And although Teresa didn’t have one, she knew someone who did.
Angela was willing to let my daughter borrow her gi, no questions asked. Because of the kindness of one friend and one stranger, my daughter’s Jackie Chan rocked!
Thank you Teresa. Thank you Angela.
:)

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