Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I did quite a lot of cooking growing up

My mom did not like to cook. She did not like to tend her children or house clean. as the only girl in the family until I was 18, I cooked, cleaned and tended her babies.

Mom also liked to try new recipes, things she considered exotic and I suppose for our South Side Chicago world, many of her 'exotic' ideas were exotic.

Mom would choose a new recipe, like egg foo young (yung?), hand me the recipe and money to buy the ingriedients and order it for supper. This would be, of course, on an evening when my dad not home for dinner. My dad never, ever ate eggs; he was violently allergic to them plus he was a very fussy eater.

My point is from age 7 until I left home for college, I cooked dinner for my family and from about age 13, I did all the grocery shopping with two babies in two in a gigantic double stroller with room for one grocery bag. That meant we had to grocery shop daily but the kids and I both enjoyed being outdoors. I cooked weeknights. Dad covered the weekends.

Our meals were mostly mundane:  meatloaf, potatoes, green beans (never once did fresh green beans enter our meals in those days!); oven fried chicken, potatoes (what can I say, we are Irish Americans!, we ate potatoes at almost every dinner) and maybe corn.  We had desserts when I had the time to make them. I didn't just have to haul kids and groceries after school every day through high school, I had to houseclean. Mom was going to college. How many times did I ask her "why can't the boys do some of this?"  AFter all, I have one brother a year older and one a year younger, old enough and perfectly capable of helping out. all they ever had to do was help with the dishes, which was also one of my chores. I argued, pre-lawyer-advocate, suggesting that since I shopped and fixed dinner, perhaps it would be fair to give me a ps on the dishes.

I vacuumed our house every single day. with six kids, a house needs to be vacuumed that much.  I remember feeeling some trepidation fater halloween, because vacuuming meant vacuuming up candy wrappers and I feared the vacuum cleaner would break down from all the wrappers. What did my siblings do, just throw their trash whever they were, knowing Cinderella sister would tidy up?

Mom did not put me on much laundry duty, something I never pointed out to her. I was afraid that if I asked her why she didn't have me do the laundry, along with everything else while preparing supper*, why did she give me a pass on laundry, that's she say "Now you will do the laundry too."  I still, in a way, can't elie ve I was spared that burden. Not always. Sometimes I did laundry but my mom actually tended to do it on the weekends. During the week, she was gone from dawn to dinner time or even later. Studying is an excuse that covers anything, like the men she dated before she landed her net husband and filed to divorce my dad.

And those awful parents, both of them in this instance, never told their kids they were getting divorced. Later mom said she was afraid I'd stop working for her. And dad said he hoped until the lst minute that she was just trying to get him to shape up (that meant stop gambling).  He never even hired a lawyer, he was so sure the divorce petition was a bluff. but it wasn't.

In court, dad said to the judge "Your Honor, all I care about is that she not take my kids out of state. Could you put that in the divorce?"  Mom was on the stand and the judge asked her to promise, under oath, that she would not remove the kids she was taking out of state.

An hour after the hearing, a big interstate moving truck pulled up and hauled away most of our furniture. In her new life, get this, she tried to pretend her two youngest children were the only children she had so she did not tell her four older children where she lived for a long time. We all missed our babies but they had really been like my babies. I cried about them every single night at college, being a drag to those around me. 

I didn't do everything from scratch cooking when I cooked for my family as I grew up but I did a lot. I rememer that the egg foo young patties in the grease looked like mounds of puke. I had worked long hours to make them chopping everyting, like water chestnuts, chives, and whatever went into them. But I couldn't tate them. They looked, truly, like puke. 

Mom belonged to a ladies club that met at a different member's house each month. When it was her turn, she chose elaborate menus. For egg foo young, she served sake, evening buying  a set of sake cups to impress the ladies. The 'ladies' would all come into the kitchen to rve about my meal, being polite, good mothres themselves. They all said "My daughter would never do this for me."  I was emarassed and proably blushed very red when they thanked me. I knew egg foo young was Chinese and that sake was japanese. I was embarassed about that. I didn't have the heart to tell the women the egg food young looked like puke as it cooked. My mom would have killed me.

But not my dad. He would have taken one look, agreed they looked like puke and thrown the stuff out and made something else.

My dad was not around much in the evenings in my last couple years of h.s. Perhaps in an effort to hang onto my mom, he worked a second job.


Later, much later, my dad said the only regret he had in life was that he had occasionally worked two jobs. he said he should ha ve spent the time he spent on those second jobs just hanging out with his kids, that those jobs stole his kids from him.

We had no parents. I was the closet thing the six of us had to a parent. If someone needed a shirt ironed, I ironed it. As mom ointed out, and this started when I was seven, there was no reason I could not do some ironing once I had dinner started. And this was before permapress. I didn't have to wash clothes but I had to iron six white shirts for each of my four brotheres and my dad:  five for the weekdays and one for Sunday, and five whitte blouses for my uniform. I had to wear a uniform to grade school and coillege. The boys just had to wear white shirts and specific color ties.

I hated ironing the yoke the most. And mom inspected my ironing by checking those cursed yokes.

I have not ironed anything in, maybe, 30 years. I don't think I ever ironed for my kid. I didn't buy anything that needed ironing. I had my fill of ironing before I graduated from grade school and the ironing lsted until college. Then I was done.

Now, I have one nice white dress shirt, one I quite like. it would look much nicer ironed and I think I haev a small a tabletop ironing board and an iron -- somewhere. I have never unpacked the so they ust be in my close fll of unpcked boxes. If they are here.  Like I am going to dig out the ironing board and an iron for one shirt. No way, no frakking way.

when in doubt . .. twirl

Look for me in my James Broughton inspired t-shirt:  it says 'when in doubt, twirl'.  I bumped up my kickstarter pledge for the award winning documenary about James B. so I could get the t-shirt. It is gigantic on me. I am hoping when I wash and dry it, it shrinks down.

And you better believe I'm going out dancing in it. And will twirl all night.

we are all participants in the marvelous

"We are all participants in the marvelous."   Quote from James Broughton. Go to bigjoy.com to find out how to arrange a screening of the documentary about this visionary, pre-Beat-Generation gay artist.

anonymous calls on my cell

I never pick up 'unavailable' calls on my cell. Who the heck would be calling me anonymously?  I no longer have a landline but I rarely give out my number. There is no need to call me anonymously.

So if you are the unavailable person who has called me three times in the past week, stop. Your call cost me a full minute, even tho the call is not picked up. Call me in an identified way or don't call. Please.

I suspect it is some kind of marketing. The internet is so slick about getting data about us now that marketing types probably pay to get cell numbers. Well, marketers, I am poor and would never buy anything from a marketing call. Nothing. I swear. I assure you. If you want to actually talk to me, don't be anonymous.

I will never pick up an unidentified caller. Ever ever.

my dad's first job

My paternal grandfather, an Irish immigrant with, obviously, poor Irish immigrant parents, had to drop out of school after the third grade to earn money to help feed the large family.

My grandfather was determined that his kids would at least graduate college. My dad went to college on the GI Bill. My grandfather, whether overtly or by modeling, set an expectation in his sons, but not his daughters, that they get jobs early and kick into the family budget.

So around age thirteen my dad took his first job. He walked alongside a horse-drawn milk wagon, with the owner 'driving' the horses and wagon. Dad was told at each customer's address what milk products a given house got and he had to run over and deliver them beside the back door, then rush back. It was all rush rush rush.

Dad didn't mind the rushing. He didn't mind the hard work.

What he minded, what he hated, was getting up at 3 a.m. to start work when the milk wagon pulled up to get him at 3:30.

He lasted less than a week.

He got a lot of pleasure telling his kids what a miserable job it was, always lacing the tale with commentary about how lucky we all were to not have to take a job so young.  Although my parents, both of them, made it clear that they expected their teenage kids to have jobs and pay all their own expenses. I paid my own high school tuition for three years. I paid for all my clothes. Looking back, I am surprised my mom didn't demand I pony up money for food. Dad saw our teen paychecks as money for fun and extras. Mom saw out paychecks as ways to lower her budgetary needs. Mom was pretty harsh about how I spent my money.  I had no real control over how it was spent, not after I paid my high school tuition.

One thing my dad did when I was in h.s. that I really loved:   my h.s. switched to a new system of class scheduling. There were five days, divided into a bunch of 20 minute modules. My religion discussion group was just one twenty minute model on day four. The days kept going in numberical order. If Monday started out as Day One in the module system, it quickly became a different day in the five day system. One school or holy holiday and the module days moved up.

In my junior year, on my Day Four, the only class I had, literally the only class I had all day, was the 20 minute module for Christian Living discussion. I begged my mom to let me skip the day. My school was in a remote suburb with no public transit. It was a couple miles walk from the school to the nearest bus stop. Plus my school did not let juniors leave midday. Only seniors. I hated having to hang out in school all day, essentially just for the school bus to take me home, when all I had was that absurd Christian Living class. All we girls wanted to talk about was sex, contraception, marriage and boys but the nun moderating our discussion wanted us to talk about the bible. B-O-R-I-N-G. I was already no longer a Catholic. And neither was my dad, except in a token, social way.

My mother forbid me to skip Day Four that year. My dad drove me to school, wink wink. He would drop me off at a bus transfer station so I could easily grab a bus to go wherever I wanted to go.  I just had to take my sweet time getting home so mom didn't figure out that dad let me skip Day Four all year.

Honestly, who wouldn't love a dad that helped me ditch one 20 minute, meaningless Christian Living class?!!

Actually, the nun who moderated my discussion group was all right. She wanted to talk about sex, contraception and loving boys but the school heard she was doing that and forbid it. So there was just no reason to waste my whole day at school for a useless 20 minutes.

I miss my dad. I love him for letting me skip Day Four my entire junior year.  He totally got it. I am pretty sure he had secret deals like that oging with all his kids, at least as they reached adolescence. But they were secret so I don't know what my sibs deals were with dad, only mine. Loose lips, dad often remarked, sink ships. Tick a lot, honey. Don't tell your brothers, they might tell your mother when they are angry with you. And he would make that lock your lips sign and his blue eyes twinkled.

Say, maybe that's why I fell for the fool's gold man I have written about: his blue eyes are a lot like my dads and twinkle as beautifully as dad's did.

I miss them both.

I was always glad, when dad told about his milk wagon job, to hear him say he quite after about three days. And glad to know my grandparents supported his decision. it was too hard a job for a kid who still had to go to school all day. He didn't get enough sleep.

gosh, lately, it's like Chuck, that's my dad, has been visiting me. I don't recall ever feeling him as vividly as I am feeling him lately. I love you, Dad.

what is enough?

I have nearly always felt slightly ahead of my time. In 2006, I attended an invitation only evolutionary salon. All participants were asked to share the question most on their minds. My question was 'what is enough?"  No one, not one single person, not even the few close friends also invited to the event, asked about my question.

Enough is all anyone needs. Greed lulls us into wanting more than enough.  I love Dharma Comics, esp. this one about enough. 


I miss my dad

Mothers often get the short end of the stick with their kids. My mom definitely did but she was a sucky mom.  My mom was abusive, and not just to me. She was emotionally abusive nearly all the time. She was 'only' physically abusive with me once.

She once beat me 100 times with my dad's leather belt, compounding my humiliation with the squeals of laughter coming from my brothers who clambered downstairs from their top floor bedroom because this was the first time perfect Tree had ever misbehaved at all, much less misbehaved so badly that she was brutally beaten.

My dad spanked his kids sometimes, a few swats with his belt. And my dad incested me. He'd tell mom he was going to stay up to watch the Johnny Carson monologue. I would listen tensely to the evening news, wait to hear Johnny, and then even more tensely wait to hear dad moving.

Now that I have been a mother, I can tell you a mom hears movement in her house, especially if she had four children in the house. My three brothers slept upstairs. I slept across the hall from my parents, at an angle.

I had started out sleeping upstairs but mom moved me downstairs. My dad molested me upstairs.  He had the excuse of coming up to tuck me in.  I believe mom moved me downstairs in a weak attempt to stop the sexual abuse.  I was terrified while sleeping upstairs. Initially, when they moved me downstairs, I felt safe until dad took a shine to the Carson monologue. Dad hated Johnny Carson.

There was a french door, a door comprised of  glass windowpanes,  framed by oak. That whole house had beautiful oak woodwork, including that stuff around ceilings. I am blanking the name. Mom had bought light oak furniture to match the light oak of the house's oak. She had the floors refinished.

The lowest pane in that French door was broken, the window gone. It happened to be the pane closest to me. I was terrified to have the French door open, terrified to have it closed. Once that one pane broke, there seemed no point in closing the door. I used to imagine that a filmy, etherily, kinda smokey being, a ghost of a witch would snake through that pane, coming to hurt me. This was the kind of thinking six and seven year old me used to protect myself from being incested. It wasn't my dad hurting me. It was that witch, right?

I feared that missing pane. I begged mom to replace it. Since it was both on the bottom row and on the end, it was not really noticeable. It would have been cheap to fix, for my mom knew how to replace windopanes. She would go to Marge's hardware store at the end of our block, Marge would cut the piece of glass to Mom's measurements. Mom knew how to putty in a new windowpane. I had seen her do it many times. I even considered tryng to replace that pane myself. My fear of the missing pane was chilish, but I was a child.

Mom had not always closed the French door. I believe she began closing it because she hoped the noise of opening the door would deter dad.And she did not close it when dad was in the living room, on my side of the french doors. He was supposed to close it when he went to bed. A shield for me. A useless shield.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea who I feared more. Dad or mom. Of course I hated what dad was doing but I knew mom knew about it. And I was pretty sure mom blamed me in her mind. She must have.  Why else would she have beaten me brutally at age seven?

After a few assaults by my father, as soon as I heard Johnny start his monologue, I would quietly tiptoe into my parent's room, get in the bed alongside my mom, tell her I was scared and could I please sleep next to her.

That worked well. I was safe. With mom in the same bed, right between us, dad wasn't going to molest me.

I will always believe that mom knew what was going on. I have even learned to feel empathy for her. It was 1960, she had four kids and was likely pregnant with my sister Mary Ann, who only lived two months. Mom had dropped out of college after one year to marry my graduating father, who was older, having gone to college on the G. I. Bill. They married their graduation weekend.  If she had confronted my father about what he was doing to me, she could have lost her livelihood. With four kids, no college degree, what did a woman in 1960 do if her parents wouldn't help her? I believe she beat me because she thought it would stop my dad and 'save' her family.

I know a lot about incest now. I know that many mothers of incested children slide, unconsciously, into denial. Such mothers convince themselves they can stop the abuse but preserve their family and the family livehood. In 1960, men were the breadwinners.

My mom beat me brutally, she said, because I was disrupting her sleep by sleeping alongside her. Maybe consciously she believed that. Every fiber of my being, every kind of knowing I have, tells me mom knew why I was getting into bed with her.

She was like a wild woman, crazy, the night she beat me. When she said "if you get in bed with me one more time, I will be you 100 times with your father's belt as hard as I can."  I did not believe her. Mom had never struck me. Not once. And I coldn't stop seeking safety. My whole body would tremble as I listened to the news. I hated hearing the nightly news. There were always scary news stories but I had to listen, had to stay away to steel myself for dad's arrival.

I thought it was a great stroke of problem solving to decide to get into bed on my mom's side, to provide mom as a shield.

I believe mom made a big, ugly and brutal show of beating me to stop my father. And it worked. He never molested me again.

My dad was a big man, as are all my brothers. All at least six feet tall, most a few inches above six feet. My dad was tall and big. he could have stopped her from beating me. She was so crazy, shrieking when he would put his hand on her hand holding the belt as he said "Mary Ann, that's enough, five is enough."  Then "ten is enough". When he would say that, she would scream wildly, losiong her breath from the screaming and her dedicatead effort to hit me as hard as she could. She had promised me she would beat me as hard as she could and she did.

Dad quickly gave up. Shame on him, letting anyone brutally beat any child.

My whole backside, from the feet up to my back, was covered in welts. In those days, girls only wore dresses to school. I remember worrying, as I walked to school that the wind might buffet up my skirt and someone would see the welts. And in class, seated on those old fashioned school benches where a seat hung down from the front of the desk behind, I remember, sitting very carefully, taking care to tuck my skirt so none of the welts touched the chair. The welts became more painful before they began to heal.

That's the only time I was covered in welts, my only experience of welts. The skin along the edges of my welts broke open, open, raw wounds. Tiny wounds but many of them, several on each welt. If I stopped paying attention carefully, my leg might slip onto the wood and, man, welts touching the varnished wooden seat hurt. My welt would stick a bit to the wood and that lead to my welts' scabs to tear off, with new healing needing to begin.

The pain meant far less to me than the humiliation. I did not hate mom or dad for my welts. I merely drowned in shame that I had them. Already I was blaming myself when someone I loved treated me unlovingly.  I still do that, blame myself when someone treats me unkindly, and I am sixty. I don't guess I can heal this.

Still, even though he incested me, spanked me a few times and allowed my mother to beat me brutally, to punish me for his misdeeds with me, I love my dad more.  My dad was weak and unhappy. He molested me, and any of his other kids that he molested, because he felt weak and worthless.  My mom never felt worthless, athough I believe she felt helpless and hopeless during the years she kept cranking out babies.

As an adult, I tried to talk to my mom about the big beating she gave me. Initially she denied it.  I did not ever have a cordial relationship with my older brother, who was a brute and a bully. a mean kid who must have been hurt badly to be so cruel to his baby sister and brothers. My Irish Twin, Joe, was kind to me. And Joe turned out to be a very big kid, much bigger than my older brother by the time Joe was two or three. Our older bro had beaten both of us all the time and our parents sat by helplessly. I would ask them to stop him from beating me up and both parents would throw up their hands and say "what can we do?"  I was just a little kid, like six, seven, eight, but I wanted to say, but dared not. Once your mom had brutally beaten you 100 times with a leather belt as hard as she can, you don't talk back to her, you don't risk more beatings.

I entered individually therapy with a PhD psychologist after my ex-husband and I gave up on our marriage. The feminist in me wanted to see a woman but this psychologist was a known quantity. And it tuned out that having a shrink who also knew my husband very well was what I needed to fight a custody battle based on my husband's assertion that I was mentally unfit. His only 'evidence' that I was unfit was that I was in therapy. My psychologist testified that I was in therapy because I had been living in the equivalent of a concentration camp, with one of the cruelest humans the doctor had ever met in many years as a psychologist.

I married my mom.

I never miss her.

I miss my dad all the time. My dad was weak, a compulsive gambler and he sometimes flashed unfair anger at his kids, even his adult kids. He also was the smart one between our parents. We all got our brains from him.  And he was funny. And he loved us.

One thing many, if not most, people don't get is that adults who molest children they love still love the children. The abuse is an extension of the adult's abuse, the adult's wound. And another thing many don't get about incest is that kids still love their parents, which makes growng up with ongoing abuse confusing and hard to ground one's life in reality. A kid wants to dissociate from daddy incesting them, eh? but the molested child still both loves that molestor and wants them to love them. Kids forgive.

My mom denied that she beat me brutally. Once, when I was in my thirties, I asked her about the beating and she said what she always said. "You remember that beating from a child's perspective. From this adult's perspective, it was not as bad as you remember it." For once, and I am aware that it is sad that this made me happy, one of my brothers who had been present for the beating piped up and said "Oh no, Mom, You beat the living daylights out of her. I was there and so we Chuck. We saw it and heard it. She doesn't remember it wrong."

When I started solo therapy, having given up on marital counseling, my PhD psychologist listened to me cry about the beating several times. I always said the same things. I would cry, wondering what the heck did I do to deserve such a beating, or to make her beat me. He listened to me cry hard about it several times before he finally said "I've known you for some time now. You have not said anything to suggest you were anyting but an average little girl, even an unusually obedient and devoted daughter. Irregardless of whether you were a good girl or not, however, no child ever deserves to be brutally beaten. You will never figure out what you did to deserve it because you didn't deserve it. No one deserves to be beaten." That alone was worth all the money he got paid to hep me.   He freeds me. I supposed I had engage in some transferance, or something, but hearing my psychologist say that really helped. Only then did I begin to let go of blaming myself, although even now, age 60, when things go wrong in my life, I tend to blame myself. I wish I would stop. I sometimes stop blaming myself but I don't hang onto it.

I miss my dad because in spite of some of the nasty shit that went down between us, I felt secure in his love.  I could count on him to say loving things to me when I needed to hear them.  He said things like "you deserve to be treatead like a queen" and "you are beautiful" and "you are a princess" and "that guy wasn't good enough for you, wait for one who is, I promise he will come". Dad, i'm still waiting.

I need someone to say loving things to me now but I don't have anyone in my life doing that.

So I miss my dad. I could tell him why I am so happy and he would say right things to help me feel better.

I miss my dad.  He's been gone since 1988. Mom's only been gone a year and a half. I never think of her, except in flashes of guilt that I don't think of her.

I miss my dad, his unconditonal love for me.

I miss him so much.

good bye Berkeley

I'm leaving!  My cell will be the same, so if you want to call me,which I prefer over emails, use my cell. My email will stay the same.

Ttfn.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dear Human


love what you love . . . Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~~ Mary Oliver

like any important relationship

Like any important relationship, friendship takes effort.


the possibilities of toasted kale

I can sprinkle a little tamari on them when tossing the olive oil. Yum.

Dijon mustard might be an interesting taste.

I wonder what else?  Lots of recipes call for cheese but I don't do any dairy.

The tamari and mustard ideas will have to satisfy my need for sensational toasted kale. And I like the original, with olive oil and good salt.

I have discovered that this stuff doesn't just taste awesome hot, although hot really is awesome. If I put them in a glass jar, they keep fresh and at room temp are also awesome.

These toasted kale crisps, hot or not, melt on my tongue. So good.  I've been toasting a batch daily but ran out of kale.  I am going to Rainbow Tuesday. I am out of cardamon, ginger, allspice and clove.  I will pick up some kale!  Yippee.

And buy a quart of refritos at a Mexi joint near the 16th Street BART. Not organic but I am not an absolute pureist with organic.  I can't resist the super cheap and super tasty refried beans. I have made a gagillion batches of refried beans and mine never get like a Mexican restaurant can do.  What do I do wrong?


plenty to meet need, not enough to meet greed


Monday, April 28, 2014

magic: higher understanding of nature


move the way love makes you move

Don't move the way fear makes you move.
Move the way love makes you move.
Move the way joy makes you move. - Osho

Fail better --- Beckett

Try again. ‪#‎Fail‬ again. Fail better. --Samuel Beckett

living in this sweet spot now





This is my absolute favorite of all the Dharma Comics on FB. I wish she'd migrate to Google Plus.

I can't be who I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. We need one another.

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma Comics

We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality. . . . Strangely enough I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way the world is made.

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "A Sangha by Another Name"

you are utterly unprecedented


Sunday, April 27, 2014

birthday disappointments

I was absorbed with the way a former acquaintance treated me when he had invited me out to eat for my sixtieth birthday. I had talked, in our two prevous 'outings'* a great deal about the importance birthdays have for me. Birthdays are the one day of the year that belongs to the birthday person, the day to celebrate them. I love celebrating the people I love. And I have to constantly work on loving me so I make a fuss about my birthday. This former acquaintance, over the 8 years we were just two people who met at a conference but never friends (as he ungallantly put it last year), I had talked to him many times about birthdays, their importance to me and esp. the meaning of why I fuss about my birthday.

It all started when I decided not to turn fifty and I made a serious suicide attempt so I wouldn't turn fifty. And I failed. Damm. I doubt I will ever be more angry than I was when I woke up in that hospital and realized I was still alive, that I wasn't in a post-death nightmare, or hell. I was still alive. For the first time, really, I decided to let myself be angry, as angry as I really was. I reasoned that a locked psych ward was a safe place to be angry. I couldn't hurt anyone, including myself, with staff lurking about. I remember sitting up in my bed in that locked ward, pausing before I stood up and realizing "Hey, fuck everybody, fuck me, fuck life, I tried to sincerely to take my life and I failed. Fuck. I am going to be angry for once, as angry as I really am."

At one point, to give you an idea how petulantly I behaved, I said to the Nurse Ratchet of the psych ward (I imagine all psych wards have one, eh?) "I can't wait to get out of here so I won't have to interact with you anymore." And without missing a beat, and actually seeming to remain relatively equanimous, she said "I can't wait until I don't have to interact with you anymore."  Her calm reinforced my resolve to be as angry as I actually was.

The place presented endless opportunities to focus my anger. I have diabetes. They gave me frosted flakes for breakfast. When I asked for sugar-free breakfasts, they told me the food was outsources, 'prepared' in a for-profit private food provider kitchen.  "I can't believe you pay to have someone place an individual serving of frosted flakes on a tray". They also told me this food provider was an expert in nutrition and assured me that the food offered to me was compliant with the American Diabetes Association guidelines. I said "Could you show me the ADA food guidelines and show me where frosted flakes are considered a healthy breakfast for anyone, much less a diabetic?" That was the end of the argument. And the frosted flakes kept coming.

When I got out, still running on anger fumes, I filed a formal complain about how I had been fed. A few months later, I went to a hearing with about ten people sitting around a big conference table.  I got to vent. I could tell no one gave one good goddamm that I had been fed crappy food that probably spiked my glucose levels. Get this:  the hospital never tested my glucose levels, not once. And I didn't have my testing supplies with me because this was not a planned trip. I was found and whisked away in an ambulance.

Nothing happened. If that same outsourcd food provider still has that contract, I guarantee you they are still serving crap.

Co-inki-dink-ily, when I was hospitalized a couple years later for pulmonary emboli, this time at a prestigious hospital, that hospital kitchen, also 'outsourced' but the private food provider worked from what had previously been the hospital food kitchen, also sent up frosted flakes for my breakfast. When I rejected the frosted flakes and insisted on a more healthy breakfast from my ICU bed, my hospitalist patted me on the arm (all the docs that I saw in that hospital patted me on my arm as they talked to me, they must have been told in some training to do that -- I found it condescending but I imagine it was intended to convey concern and compassion) and said "I know you have to advocate for yourself but could you be a little more polite about it?" Man, that angered me. I had checked into the ER around 4 p.m. the day before, breakfast had not been served until around 9:30 so I was fucking starving. The whole staff in ER had refused to let me eat or even drink water the first day, promising me food at breakfast time. When that hospitalist patted me on the arm and told me to take a chill bill (I extrapolate!), I said "I'm starving. I was polite throughout yesterday evening when no one would let me eat dinner, not even letting me take myself to the cafeteria and buy some food. I was polite waiting until 9:30 for breakfast, even though I am starving. And now I was just told it will be at least another hour before something besides frosted flakes will arrive. How long would you, doctor, go hungry to the point of pain, and hunger headaches, and the wooziness of low blood sugar, with the patient calm you are telling me to employ?  I tried being patient and I haven't eaten in 24 hours. You people are all health care professionals. You all know I have diabetes. I get sick when I go this long without eating. I was patient and polite yesterday and this morning. It wasn't until I stopped being patient and polite that anyone took my hunger and need to eat something other than sugar crap seriously. No one heard me until I showed my irritation and anger."

The hospitalist was a practical woman. She patted me one last time and said "I'll try to speed up your breakfast."

For folks without diabetes, and maybe even for many Type II diabetics, people might not know how crappy a diabetic can feel when their blood sugar drops dangerously low or spikes dangerously high. It's not just blood on a testing strip. It's your whole body coursing with that too low or too high glucose level. You feel really lousy. You feel sick. And you know you will stop feeling sick if someone gives you a fucking apple. And you know you will feel sicker if you eat fucking frosted flakes.

I hate that I have diabetes, esp. that I have Type I. When I wrongly believed, because doctors misdiagnosed me, even at Stanford I was misdiagnosed as Type II, I was, if anything, even more fanatical about eating well. With Type II, eating right truly can heal Type II, put it into remission, restore your blood sugars to normal levels. With Type I, there is no such hope to dangle before myself.

In a way, I have made peace better now that I know I have Type I.  I test more than ever. I eat more and more and more carefully.  I feel unduly proud when I don't need to inject insulin throughout the day because I am eating so carefully. I always inject insulin but the less insulin the better. Why? Because insulin makes me, and most fat-leaning diabetics gain weight.

I envy the skinny Type I's. All they have to manage is their glucose and food. I have to lose weight, and manage my glucose and eat carefully.

The only way I have found to losing weight while injecting insulin is to semi-starve.

Last year, preparing for surgery I still have not had, surgery I have rejected, the surgeon said, in reference to my weight loss efforts "It sounds like you are figuring this out all on your own!"  I said to her 'Of course I am figuring this out all on my own. How else would I do it? What health care services exist that would not cat me out on my own?"  I can get a very occasional consultation with a nutritionist. I have not yet met a nutritionist whose knowledge of nutrition seems to match my own.  I have not yet met a nutritionist who will work out food plans with me and then see me again in a few weeks to see how the mutually worked out food plan is working for me. I am on my own."

Later, I enjoyed recounting that exchange to my primary care doc. She laughed, even smirked. She said "Of course you have to do this on your own."  I don't know if she is aware that the diabetes educator at her clinic is absolutely useless. When I asked the diabetes educator for nutrition advice, she said "Telling you what you might eat is out of my wheelhouse. Why don't you make an appointment with our nurse practitioner who specializes in diabetes?" So I did. And the nurse practitioner, a guy, walked in and radically altered my insulin levels without talking to me, without knowing anyting about how I eat, what my glucose readings were like.  He gave me his formula for insulin. I knew enough to ignore his advice. I knew that my insulin should be adjusted throughout the day depending on what I ate but I didn't know how to calibrate insulin to eating.  I did learn, at a four day class at UCSF, in daily consultation each of those four days with an endocrinologist who adjusted my insulin amounts based on what she saw in my daily food charts and insulin charts. Just imagine, health care professionals who actually looked at what I actually ate and how it actually affected me (based on what I wrote down as I tested, ate and injected all day).

If anyone is reading, I doubt if I am telling you anything you don't already know:   doctors don't know all that much. One thing I like about my primary care doc is how often she tells me she has no idea what to tell me.

I have burned myself out. Stopping now.  Damm. This was going to be about getting shafted in relation to my birthday. This former acquaintance treated me the way, deep down, I guess I believed I deserved to be treated, which is to say he treated me badly even on the day he invited me to celebrate my sixtieth birthday.

After I failed to die before I turned fifty, I revived celebrating my birthday week, as I had done when I raiased my child.  Everyone who knows me knows my birthday matters to me. My former acquaintance kept telling me, when he treated me shabbily for my sixtieth, "Birthdays don't matter to me". But the whole  point of birthdays is that the person having a birthday is the one who matters, what matters to them is what matters. I had talked to this former acquaintance many times about birthdays, and mine in particular, mattering to me.

I think he was being masterfully passive aggressive, setting me up to feel hurt and rejected, so he could reject me completely and blame me, absolving his lack of consideration and selfishness. Every time he said "Birthdays don't matter to me" was like a knife in my heart. He might as well have been saying "You don't matter to me" which, I see now, is what he was saying.

go revolutionary: do all your own cooking

I am not sure how long this has been going on but I am learning that I am eating  much less food than I buy. I keep buying food at the level of some point in the past. Now, when I clean out my fridge each week before heading to the farmers market, to see what I need and to throw out what has spoiled, each week I discover food I love but I had completely forgotten I had bought. And the reason I forgot was because I am eating so much less.

I don't think many foods are more sating than a lightly blanched bowl of kale, with toasted pine nuts and a simple dressing.

Speaking of dressings, after a few iffy experiments, I think I have mastered a perfectly lemony tahini dressing. Not a dip but a liquidy dressing that I can toss over kale or spinach, along with whatever else I put in my salads. Perfectly lemony and garlicky tahini feels like a real achievement. I eat my less than stellar attempts but now, by jove, I have the tahini dressing down. Some lessons:  I use much more lemon than any recipe suggests. I also use more water. I make the tahini paste from organic raw tahini seeds, which ends up being very dense. I can be generous with the lemon juice and water and garlic. It takes a lot to turn tahini paste into a creamy, lemony, garlicky liquid. What I make now would enhance just about anything:  any vegetables, chicken, salmon. I sometimes cut up fruit, like strawberries, into my cold salads and the strawberries also meld well with my new perfect lemony garlicky tahini dressing.

This is an achievement for me.

A confession: a few nights ago, I opened the pint jar of my latest batch of tahini dressing and just ate it by the spoon. it is that good, good enough to be eaten as a treat by itself.  I didn't eat too many spoonfuls because I soon remembered that the tahini counts as a protein and I have to eat  vegies and fruit in 2/3 proportion to any protein or grain. From now on, I'll just dip raw vegies in the tahini and get my proportions in. And, since I am confessing, I anticipatorily confess that I will likely dip strawberries and melon slices into my awesomely perfect tahini dressing, too.

I have an acquaintance who swears by balsamic vinegar and good olive oil as the perfect dressing. I use that combo regularly, of course. It is so easy. When I have a jar of tahini perfection in the fridge, however, who can settle for balsamic vinegar and olive oil!?!

roasting/toasting more kale crisps

Hot crispy toasted kale bits are so delicious. The friend who first told me the recipe said that, for her, hot olive-oiled toasted kale is like popcorn only better.

Wow. Wouldn't it be awesome if movie theaters sold bags of organic kale toasted in organic extra virgin olive oil? 

Popcorn is okay, although most movie theaters cook it in unhealthy oils and the greasey stuff they pass off as butter is rarely actual butter. Usually it is butter flavored something, which means chemicals.

Movie theaters price gouge on whatever food items they sell so they could charge a lot for fresh, hot-from-the-toaster-oven kale crisps.

Trust me:  making kale crisps yourself gives you food that is nothing, not even remotely, like the kale crisps often sold in bags as a chip replacement.

Think of store-bought bags of popped corn compared to freshly popped corn. Those store-bought bags of popped corn are laden with chemicals to give the food-like popped corn a long shelf life and/or to simulate various flavors people crave. Cheddar cheese flavored popped corn. White organic cheddar cheese flavored popped corn. Sounds yummy, right? Read the ingredient label. I predict you will find chemicals.

Make yourself some kale crisps. Or make a date to hang out with me and come to my home. We'll kick off our visit with a hot tray of toasted kale.  I long to share this delicious treat with others.

Cut as much kale as you wish to toast into pieces. I have experimented with different sizes. I like my kale pieces bigger than I used at first.  With a long perfectly crisped and seasoned piece of kale, the hot olive-oiled, salted single piece almost melts, or evaporates, on the tongue. Who knew kale could melt in your mouth?!!

I use kitchen shears, first cutting as much kale leaf from the stalk as I can. Once, and never again, I included the inner stalk in the toasting. The stalks don't crisp up. I save the stalks for raw green smoothies, though. Lots of fiber in the tougher stalk, eh?

Then I take a few leafs, piled together, and cut them, shooting for one inch wide, and no more than two inches long. As the leaf gets smaller, so do the pieces I cut.

Toss all the kale with a little bit of olive oil. A little goes a long way.

At first, I salted after the kale was toasted. Now I salt the olive-oil-wet kale in the bowl so every piece has some salt. I have only used Himalayan salt for a few years.  I eat very little salt. I bought an $18 jar of pink Himalayan salt crystals at least two years ago and I am just now using up the last crystals in my salt grinder.  Going forward, I will only buy Himalayan salt at Rainbow Grocery, which sells it in bulk and somewhat ground. It is very rough so I still grind it in the salt grinder but the stuff from Rainbow runs $3.00 a pound. The jar, which had, I think, 10 ounces, cost $18 bucks for big, beautiful, pink crystals.  For such a huge price differential, I can give up the sensuousness of the beautiful, large crystals. There are many salt crystals sold these days. Himalayan pink salt has certain minerals that others don't have but others have trace minerals that Himalayan salt doesn't have.  I also have a jar of salt crystals from off the coast of Ireland, which I have not opened and have had for a few years. I got stuck on the Himalayan stuff.

Once, on some online forum talking about food, someone brought up expensive salt crystals and scoffed. So I posted that while it was true that buying natural salt crystals in tiny jars at Whole Foods-like stores cost much more than a box of Morton's table salt, the salt crystal salt tastes much better. Again, read the label. Most table salt has chemicals added to it. You don't realize this until you salt just salt. Whole Foods, by the way, sells a generic, in-house brand (their 365 brand) of untreated, finely ground white table salt that looks just like Morton's but has nothing in it but salt. Even that 365 salt, which is inexpensive, tastes better than the chemical laden commercial table salts.

Anyway, the person who had scoffed at buying 'fancy' salt crystals wrote again, saying it had not occurred to her that freshly ground, pure salt crystals would taste different than the cheap table salt she had used all her life, that we all grew up on, like as not. She said she was going to try some fancy salt for the taste.

Of course all natural, untreated salt tastes better than heavily processed, chemically treated salt.

So. I cut up my kale, making sure no stalks get in the mix. I pour a dollop of olive oil into the bowl, I salt the bowl and then I stir until I believe every piece of kale is covered in oil. Each time I do this, I am surprised that it takes such a small amount of olive oil to cover a large bowl of cut up kale.

Then I place the kale pieces on my baking sheet liner and toast at 350 degrees, turning over.  I don't remember the original recipe, don't remember how long it said to cook. Yesterday I cooked my kale, turning it over in the middle, over 20 minutes. It seemed close to burning but cooking it that much is what make the stuff melt on the tongue, I think. So timing matters. My new rule:  when I start to smell kale that seems about to smell like it is burning, take it out of the oven and voila, perfect kale crisps.  I heard the kale sizzling. I smelled it getting dry and crisp, I swear.

All these details make the experience of kale crisps more sensual and satisfying. I am reminded of my favorite Christmas pie recipe, which bakes pears with fresh cranberries. The red berries are perfect for Xmas but cranberries are tart. So first you use some real maple syrup to cook the berries until you hear the first, gentle, puffing sound of one berry puffing. After that, I want to go on cooking to hear more puffs but then the berries would not be just right.  How I love to listen for the puffing sound.

I guess everything in life is richly sensual when one is in the golden tunnel. Listening to my kale crisps crisping up sure was a good time. And then I got to eat it, too!! Abundance.

be love now: the golden tunnel

 This long post is by Ram Dass, not a spiritual leader I have ever followed. I just like the quote. It describes what I call 'the golden tunnel', when my entire experience of being is bathed in radiance and I love everything upon which my attention lands.

And I learned this from the golden tunnel:  I can love people as much as I want, even when they don't physically appear in my life.  I can love my daughter as much, even more, than ever, even though she has not talked to me or seen me in 12 years. I can love lost loves, lost friends.  I can love as much as I want and I want to love extravagantly, in wild generosity.  I really do want to be love now.

I have stopped beating myself up, as I now see I have been doing for too long, for not being more loving, more perfect, more kind. I yam what I yam.  I am okay just as I am. I am love. Imperfect in my humanness but I am love. That's what the Parsifal legend teaches us:  to love unconditionally, even when the other is imperfect, or wounded.  After awhile, writing about love sounds like gobbledeegook and yet I mean these things I write.

This is a long quote from something Ram Dass published.  I enjoyed it although I cannot imagine being loved in the way described below.

"Imagine feeling more love from someone than you have ever known. You’re being loved even more than your mother loved you when you were an infant, more than you were ever loved by your father, your child, or your most intimate lover—anyone. This lover doesn’t need anything from you, isn’t looking for personal gratification, and only wants your complete fulfillment.
You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success— none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.
Imagine that being in this love is like relaxing endlessly into a warm bath that surrounds and supports your every movement, so that every thought and feeling is permeated by it. You feel as though you are dissolving into love.
This love is actually part of you; it is always flowing through you. It’s like the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything. When you tune in to that flow, you will feel it in your own heart—not your physical heart or your emotional heart, but your spiritual heart, the place you point to in your chest when you say, “I am.”
This is your deeper heart, your intuitive heart. It is the place where the higher mind, pure awareness, the subtler emotions, and your soul identity all come together and you connect to the universe, where presence and love are.
Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not “I love you” for this or that reason, not “I love you if you love me.” It’s love for no reason, love without an object. It’s just sitting in love, a love that incorporates the chair and the room and permeates everything around. The thinking mind is extinguished in love.
If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love. Then you and I are truly in love, the state of being love. That’s the entrance to Oneness. That’s the space I entered when I met my guru.
Years ago in India I was sitting in the courtyard of the little temple in the Himalayan foothills. Thirty or forty of us were there around my guru, Maharaj-ji. This old man wrapped in a plaid blanket was sitting on a plank bed, and for a brief uncommon interval everyone had fallen silent. It was a meditative quiet, like an open field on a windless day or a deep clear lake without a ripple. I felt waves of love radiating toward me, washing over me like a gentle surf on a tropical shore, immersing me, rocking me, caressing my soul, infinitely accepting and open.
I was nearly overcome, on the verge of tears, so grateful and so full of joy it was hard to believe it was happening. I opened my eyes and looked around, and I could feel that everyone else around me was experiencing the same thing. I looked over at my guru. He was just sitting there, looking around, not doing anything. It was just his being, shining like the sun equally on everyone. It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. For him it was nothing special, just his own nature.
This love is like sunshine, a natural force, a completion of what is, a bliss that permeates every particle of existence. In Sanskrit it’s called sat-cit-ananda, “truth-consciousness-bliss,” the bliss of consciousness of existence. That vibrational field of ananda love permeates everything; everything in that vibration is in love. It’s a different state of being beyond the mind. We were transported by Maharaj-ji’s love from one vibrational level to another, from the ego to the soul level. When Maharaj-ji brought me to my soul through that love, my mind just stopped working. Perhaps that’s why unconditional love is so hard to describe, and why the best descriptions come from mystic poets. Most of our descriptions are from the point of view of conditional love, from an interpersonal standpoint that just dissolves in that unconditioned place.
When Maharaj-ji was near me, I was bathed in that love. One of the other Westerners with Maharaj-ji, Larry Brilliant, said:
“How do I explain who Maharaj-ji was and how he did what he did? I don’t have any explanation. Maybe it was his love of God. I can’t explain who he was. I can almost begin to understand how he loved everybody. I mean, that was his job, he was a saint. Saints are supposed to love everybody. But that’s not what always staggered me, not that he loved everybody—but that when I was sitting in front of him I loved everybody. That was the hardest thing for me to understand, how he could so totally transform the spirit of people who were with him and bring out not just the best in us, but something that wasn’t even in us, that we didn’t know. I don’t think any of us were ever as good or as pure or as loving in our whole lives as we were when we were sitting in front of him.”
Welcome to the path of the heart! Believe it or not, this can be your reality, to be loved unconditionally and to begin to become that love. This path of love doesn’t go anywhere. It just brings you more here, into the present moment, into the reality of who you already are. This path takes you out of your mind and into your heart.
Excerpted from BE LOVE NOW by Ram Dass

your own evolution


behind loneliness is a map. discern & follow





"She has sorted out her deepest existential crisis ~ her loneliness.


Her loneliness terrorised her. She's been in this dark and frightening place too often. She even stayed in bad relationships rather than go there.

Every time her relationship crashed, she was wallowing in her hopeless despair. This time, she did not push away, deny, or hate her neediness, her longing, her fear. She faced the terror of her life falling apart, the rawness & starkness of it all.

She is sitting here as long as it takes for her to accept her lonliness as much a part of her as her joy or her pain. Her loneliness is an existential reality that is part of her being human. She has long believed a myth that a relationship would cure her loneliness. She let that go.

You can see her walking back from there ~ shaken but intact. By owning her loneliness, somethig deep has shifted for her. She is ending her abandonment of herself.

In her falling apart & coming back, she has finally discovered what holds her.

Deep deep behind her lonliness, there is a map."

Sukhvinder Sircar
Art: Noell S. Oszvald

sayings we owe to Shakespeare


don't take anything personally

"Don't take anything personally.....If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, "I love you," without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes, or you can say no - whatever you choose - without guilt or self-judgment. You can choose to follow your heart always." ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

I have never gotten nto this writer's Four Agreements, although I agree with all of them. There's a lot of interesting ideas in the world. I can't digest them all!

But today, Don Miguel Ruiz came up in three separate conversations and then a FB friend posted this quote. And the quote is particularly relevant to me and the lessons I learned this past year.

This past year, I suffered a lot because I took another person's behavioral choices, which involved dishonesty with me, secrecy about his real life (moving and not telling me, for example) and then complete rejection. I took all his behavior personally.

If I succeed at not taking anything personally, I am free to be myself, to love as much as I want and my love not be dependent on it being returned. That's what snagged  me, being attached to outcome.

My favorite sentence in this quote is "You can ask for what you need."

You can choose to follow your heart always.

I've learned tehse lessons before. Thank goddess I have been able to learn them anew when I needed to.

killer orca whales

I read a story in the Chron about some killer orca whales attacking a mother gray whale and her newborn calf. The pod of orca whales attacked in wave upon wave of orcas, like a military campaign. Most of the attack and killing of the baby was witnessed by some expert whale watchers who recounted the attack.  One of the whale experts said she had seen enough of nature to know it could be brutal. 

Of course animals eat other animals.  There is an abundance of

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I'm going to Monterey!

The waters off Monterey have one of the largest amounts of anchovies ever, which means the area is attracting a lot of sea animals:  orcas (killer) whales, gray whales who are birthing -- the orcas go after the babies in packs of orcas, sea lions, salmon. An unusual bounty of sea life, sea food, whalewatching.

And I get to go before I move:  this week!  With a friend who cares about me, you know, who treats me like I am someone he cares about and cares about what I want and what I want to do and is willing to give me time I want. A two-day trip during the week to avoid weekend crowds.

Happy.

P.S. I've been to Monterey before, in 1988.  At one point of the drive alongside the ocean near Montrey, I came upon a bluff covered with sea lions. Wow.  And in those days, some gas stations still had gas jockeys. I bought gas in Monterey and the man who pumped it for me told me he got off work in two hours and would I have dinner with him. So, fond memories of Monterey. I said no to the dinner date. I think I would have missed the sea lions if I had said yes.

The best part of that day was in Santa Cruz, however. I've told the story of the crystal shop elsewhere and it's almost 3 a.m.  Just had to annotate that I have been to Monterey before, long ago.

Rilke on the point of marriage . . . .

"The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

I wonder if my kid uses PC's or Macs

I have no way to know but I wonder. I am a Mac person, always have been and until they stop making them, always will be. She grew up, you might say, on Macs. And her dad, at my behest, bought her a Mac for her first college.

When she transferred to the Hotel School at Cornell, she had to buy a PC, or so she said. She had to take a dense class in using spreadsheets for accounting. The Hotel School is business school with a focus on real estate because hotels care a whole lot about real estate. It makes sense that she has landed working as a project manager for a real estatea developer, I guess. And how ironic that she manages contracts. Both her parents being lawyers and all.  She's so smart. Magna cum laude from Cornell. Proud mama here.

Anyway, since she switched to PC when she transferred to Cornell and shed me from her life, she is probably still a PC gal. I know one or two humans who use PC's but not many.

Just wunnering. Foolish rumination. What difference does it make what kind of computer she likes or uses?  She hasn't talked to me since I dropped her off at Cornell in August 2001. That is what matters.

Geez, what would I say to her if we ever got together again?  I would be afraid to say anything and trigger whatever feelings caused her to leave me.  Just thinking about it has me feeling a little queasy so I'm moving on.

Time to check on my coconut drying. It's going slow today. Maybe cause it's been damp and raining so the air damper? I bet that is it.

kale bits roasted in olive oil & himalayan salt: YUM!!!

I can't believe I have turned into such a food geek that I love cutting up kale, removing the tough talk in the middle, tossing the kale in some high quality organic olive oil and high quality, freshly ground himalayan salt (commercial table salt is loaded with chemicals:  buy any untreated salt crystals and you will be surprised at the taste difference, the chemical taste you didn't notice before is suddenly gone!). Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes, then turn over and bake ten minutes more.

Or maybe it's  fifteen minutes per side. I like my kale chips dry.

This recipe taste completely different than any kale chips you might have bought processed and sold in bags at a store. Honest. That stuff in the store is blah compared to this very easy, very delicious hot snack.

As the friend who told me about it says, "It's like popcorn!"

So good.

And what's better for you than kale, kale, kale?

Happy.  I'm going to watch a movie while eating my hot kale popcorn.  Next time a friend or acquaintance pops over to hang out, they are going to get some of this hot roasted/toasted kale.

Yum yum yum.

I have to wait a bit to toast my kale. Right now I am drying out coconut fiber, which, once dried, I will pulverize into fluffy coconut flour with my flour attachment for my newish Vitamix.  Y'know, when I bought the $200 blender for raw green smoothies, I knew I wanted the $500 Vitamix but I was being cheap. The $200 blender does not like hot stuff in it so the pitcher was slowly developing a spread of tension cracks from making coconut milk. Then I read that one can literally make piping hot soup right in a Vitamiz nd it was Bye bye Breville, hello Vitamix. My friend Peggy ordered it for me from Costco, I paid for it, got the Costco price and she didn't have to leave home:   all done online! Well, I maid a check to her, using old technology there.

Hip to the hip, eh?

Wow, I just scarfed down a bowl of crispy hot kale crisps. Man, they are tasty.  I need to integrate that into a regular rotation.

tumeric, cinnamon & ginger, oh my

I eat some organic tumeric powder -- much cheaper than capsules -- every single day. Tumeric is the #1 medicine for Type II diabetes in Ayurvedic medicine. I have Type I diabetes but I know it helps my body better metabolize food so I make sure I eat some every single day, and have for years.  Cinnamon is another miracle that folks should try to eat daily -- and cayenne. I drink water with some lemon slices, cayenne and cinnamon and a dash of stevia every day. Stevia has been shown in some studies to stimulate the production of insulin in Type I diabetics. In type I, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce any insulin so tumeric alone is not enough for me.  I swear taking tumeric, cinnamon and ginger all reduce my reliance on insulin.

My now-fired endocrinologist is a world renown one, originally from India, but a purely allopathic doc. He specializes in diabetes care and he conducts nutrition studies, which is why I chose him to be my endocrinologist. But when we met and he asked me why I had asked for him, and I said "Because as best I can, I want to integrate nutrition into my treatment and I know you do nutrition research on diabetics so I assume you know a lot about nutrition."  He said "Nobody really knows much about the relationship of food to any illness. There is not enough funding to do long enough studies to really understand."  I didn't say this to him, what would have been the point, but I was thinking that there is always money, often federal money, to research drugs but not to study how food can be medicinal. Hmm. . . what's wrong with that picture?!!

I fired the guy because for all his pompous prestige, he simply regurgitated the American with Diabetes guidelines for Type I diabetes. As far as he was concerned, I could eat all the sugar I wanted so long as I injected enough insulin.  When I suggested that no one actually should eat sugar, he literally waived aside my statement. Then he said "I am getting a sense that you don't want to make another appointment with me" and I said "you are correct". He scoffed when I mentioned tumeric, cinnamon and ginger.

a rant about that Nevada rancher wingnut

Thinking about that moocher in Nevada who has stolen over a million dollars in grazing on federal lands . . . The BLM charges something like $1.32 a month per cattle whereas private landowners in NV charge $16+ a month per cattle and that loon in NV has become a millionaire while stealing grazing from us, the people. His noisy rhetoric about not accepting that the BLM can own land and his not recognizing the federal government is just noisy distraction from the FACT that he has lost legal battles for 20 years, stolen over a milliion dollars worth of cheap federal grazing rights . . .

But here's my question of the day:  if a few black people pointed semiautomatic weapons at a pack of law enforcement agents -- any kind of law enforcement at all -- what do you think the chances are that the law enforcement agents would have mowed down the gun wielders?

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all over the  country, cops shoot blacks, usually black males, if they just think the guy might have a knife, much less a gun. but when a gang of white men with semiautomatic weapons points them at federal agents seeking to enforce court orders, the agents withdraw.

It's not that I wish the BLM agents had killed those pointing guns at them.  When I was a lawyer, pointing a loaded weapon at anyone, esp. a law enforcement agent but anyone, was a felonious assault. How's come none of those weapon wielding supporters of a thief didn't get arrested?  That's not my point. My point is:  apparently, if you are white, male, wear hunting gear and point loaded semiautomatic weapons at cops, you get to walk away, you don't even get charged with anything. If you are a black male with something in your hand and the cops aren't sure what it is, or, like poor Oscar Grant in Oakland on NY's Day a few years ago, the guy was laying on the floor of a subway platform, his hands behind his back, cursing out the cops, you get murdered and the cop does a few months in jail.

I have a few FB friends who have reinforced that Nevada thief's ranting that the federal government can't own land in any state (that just isn't true, it might have been true when the country was formed but when NV was admitted into the U.S., it was admitted with explicit, legally binding agreements  that seeded the BLM land to the fed government -- history, not rhetoric  . )

Of course, the loon in Nevada revealed himself to be an ignorant racist thieving pig. It's okay for him to steal a million bucks in grazing rights?

I think what upsets me more than that crazy stand off, with law enforcement agents being barred from executing lawful court orders by civilians packing heat is knowing there are many such wingnuts out there, they are stockpiling weapons and when water gets scrace and food even scarcer, who's going to eat? The gunpacking bullies?  or the law abiding citizens that obey the law?

bad birthday celebrations

I described the horrible sixtieth birthday lunch a friend "treated" me to last August. My friend described her worst birthday lunch. She went out to lunch with a man she had been seeing for awhile (I was not dating my disaster lunch date, we were "friends') and halfway through lunch, he leans on his hand, head tipped charmingly to the left and he softly speaks:  "I am trying to figure out what would be a good gift to give Elena for her birthday."  He had not given my friend a gift.

My friend did not give me a gift. Well, he gave me a pint of homemade fermented vegies.  I didn't actually expect a gift from this "friend'. Truly.  I had talked to him three times the day before. I had to call him. He never asked me what I wanted to do, where and when I wanted to eat. I waited until late afternoon the day before and finally I called him. I asked if he was bringing his bicycle and instead of telling me what he already knew, which was that he was coming on his motorcycle and he had planned a work meeting,  late on a Saturday afternoon, a meeting he could have had all week long because both he and the man he met with are self employed. Instead of saying "I am bringing my motorcycle so I can go to Tom's right after lunch" he evaded answering me, responding with a question.

Fuck him.  My friends all said "he's so sadistic, that was deliberate passive aggression, he was fucking with you, he knew what he was doing." But I am not so sure. I think he might have been unconsciously being passive aggressive but there was most definitely a part of him that knew exactly what he was doing.

Fuck him. And fuck the guy who bought a birthday present for Elena, although I don't know him or her.


I eat a lot less food

I eat a lot less food when I am eating healthfully. Some lightly blanched kale, with toasted pine nuts and a light balsamic and olive oil (all organic, of course) doesn't just fill you up, it's stick to the ribs food. I am sated for hours.

I have noticed, in recent weeks, that I have maintained outdated food buying habits, i.e. I have been buying more food than I need because I am eating a lot less than I once did.

I eat almost no animal protein anymore, not because I have become a vegetarian but because I am so satisfied with all the greens I'm eating. I do still eat eggs, which count as animal protein, but other than eggs, it is rare for me to eat animal flesh. I have bags of shrimp and wild Alaskan salmon in my freezer, along with, I think, two or three whole, pastured chickens from my local farmers market.  I have organic boneless chicken thighs that I planned to use to make a sugar-free chicken masala or vindaloo, something Indian and spicy. If I don't eat those thighs soon, they will be freezer burned and tasteless.

I started out making deliberate choices to eat well. I started out fighting temptations to eat less well than I do now. Bit by bit, meal by meal, I have changed my habits.

It happens gradually. I can't remember when was the last time I cooked some chicken. Which means all that chicken has been in my freezer a long time, many months at least.

Interesting. I've said for years that all change is incremental, and slow-paced. I guess I was right.

I also have some new insight into the abstinence urged on participants of twelve step programs.  Alcoholics, drug addits, eating disordered people, they are all encouraged to practice completely abstinence from their issues. It is esp. hard for eating disordered people because they have to eat. An alcoholic might find it hard to abstain from alcohol but a human can't abstain from food.

Since I went gluten, dairy and sugar free, last September, right around the time I took that Orgasmic Meditation class and started to get serious about having pleasure, joy and love for myself from myself and from others, eating is easier and easier. People often remark, when I disclose I am gluten, dairy and sugar-free that it must be very hard. It isn't hard at all. It is easy. It took awhile to learn what to avoid, to learn what I could freely enjoy. Once I did, however, it is very easy. It feels a bit like meditation, a kind of mindfulness.

I guess I am eating mindfully.  If I have an 'mpulsive' snack, it might be four strawberries or some cucumber slices.  I can't eat any 'bad' foods because I never buy any bad foods. No temptation here at home. And no temptation when I dine out because I am so mindful, so attentive, so clear that I deserve to eat very healthfully.

I'm still sick but it is an emotional balm to know I am feeding myself very, very well.

WTF?

"When Corporations Rule the World" by David Korten was first published in 1995, which is when I first read it. He and his wife Fran co-founded YES magazine after he ended a career in international development -- i.e. corporate international development under the guise of NGO's.
"We" have known all we need to know about how the world is run and have for a long time. Rachel Carson published 'Silent Spring' in the sixties, "Diet for a Small Planet" came out in 1971.
I am reminded of this anecdote: most people associate the Quakers with being influential in the effort to end slavery, and Quakers were. Back then, they had an annual convention and one of their leaders proposed at each convention for thirty years that the Quakers put into their platform of principles a statement opposing the ownership of human beings. His proposal was rejected 30 times, 30 years, before it was adopted.
Why does it take humanity so long to do something about unacceptable conditions? Why aren't we rioting the way they have been in recent years in the Middle East? Why do we choke down GMO hidden in our food when 58 developed countries have banned GMO foods, not just insisted it be on the label but banned it outright?
WTF?

Friday, April 25, 2014

in the bleak midwinter

I've been thinking a lot, just lately, about the last garden that I could call my own. I used to own a three-story Victorian in one of Minneapolis' oldest neighborhoods. When first developed, the neighborhood had gotten a zoning variance that allowed the developer to put twice as many homes on a normal city block. All the houses were tightly close together. All the yards were quite small. And sunlight for plants was at a premiun because having the houses so close together blocked sunlight on the ground, except in little patches here and there.

All of my neighbors and I strived to maximize the spots on our properties with good sunlight. I had a nice patch in the back, next to the ally, that got almost full sun. It was a narrow strip, about ten feet long and it was precious. Since the rest of my garden was a deep shade garden, I planted my one little sun patch with blooming annuals. Zinnias, mostly, because they make good cut flowers. And snapdragons, because I like to be able to say 'snapdragons'. And spider plants, because the guys who lived next door to me loved them. The first year I lived in this house, I planted a couple spider plants and Ty and Dave said that everytime they came down the ally, my spider plants cheered them up so I planted some every year I owned this house. All the other neighbors used their ally sunlight for vegies, so I had the only blooms on the ally. Ty and Dave thanked me for my blooms. They shared their tomatoes.

The challenges of a shade garden have been on my mind. A sun garden, at least when one has good sunlight, is easy compared to a shade garden. My front yard had the deepest shade on the block because a 100+ year-old elm tree majestically protected my house. Minneapolis, and many midwestern cities, used to be almost completely lined with elm trees and they had all been wiped up with dutch elm disease in the seventies. My lone elm tree, the only one for many streets, was the pride of my block.

There are perennials that will yield blooming color even in the darkest shade and survive Minnesota winters. Columbines. Trillium. Bleeding hearts. Snow drops. I used to comb the garden stores looking for shade perennials. And I was always on the lookout for bulbs that would bloom in the midst of bleak midwinter. All my neighbors had snow drops but I was the one who found out about shooting stars. Shooting stars are tiny white flowers that shoot out of the frozen ground in the midst of a midwinter thaw, breaking through the snow crust and, seemingly overnight, they are a foot high with a five-pointed star on its tip. Shooting stars last about one minute, a magical minute that reminds us that spring is coming. You have to plant them close to the house. The house keeps the ground a little warmer, so the snow crust is thin and patchy. Even a shooting star could not burst into being from underneath two feet of snow cover. Snow drops, for those of you who don't know about them, are also tiny white flowers that are usually the first blooms in a garden. Snow drops also emerge through the snow crust. They are very, very fine and I loved every single snow drop that ever graced my garden. But shooting stars, oh my gosh, they were thrilling. You have to look at your garden everyday or you will miss these stars. How I would love to be able to rush into my house, awaken my child and bundle her to show her a shooting star, right this minute. I would also alert my neighbor Ty, who would come out, shivering in a robe, just as thrilled as me.

After snow drops and shooting stars, a late winter garden can produce grape hyacinths, which are tiny purple blooms.

Ty and I had a friendly competition each year to see who would get the first bloom in the winter thaws. He was a master gardener, having won recognition and awards for his garden. My garden had originally been designed by Ty, for he had coached the person who sold me my house. I think it was a challenge for him to watch me make changes. My first year in the house, I moved some things around naively. Looking back, now that I know Ty better, I imagine he must have winced a lot at my early mistakes. I am a quick learner, however, and I corrected my mistakes as I came to rely on Ty's knowledge.

Ty set me on the hunt for early bulbs. It was because of him that I began to prowl the garden stores for rare shade plants and early-blooming bulbs. I was so naive that first year. I spent a lot of money on perennials that did not thrive in my deep shade. It took me a whole season to understand how to work with a deep shade garden.

In my early efforts, I inadvertently stumbled on a rare treasure. On one of my forays to the garden store, I bought a checkered lily. According to the photo on the label, a checkered lily was a tiny, pink-and-brown checked, drooping bloom that grew no more than four inches off the ground. The label said it needed full shade, that it was a deep forest wildflower. And, which is why I bought it, it would bloom very early. It was expensive.

When I brought it home, Ty said it would never survive the transplant. Ty said it was wrong for garden stores to try and cultivate and sell wildflowers. Ty and his partner spent a lot of their free time in the wild, looking for flowers that Ty could bring home and, well, cultivate in their garden. I guess for Ty, harvesting wildflowers commercially was wrong but harvesting them for himself was perfectly good. It would be all but impossible for Ty to find a checkered lily in a forest because they are so small, dark and they only appear for a few days in the midst of winter. A checkered lily in a forest would be surrounded by deep snow cover, far from the tracks of even the hardiest winter hikers.

The following winter, as Ty and I patrolled our yards looking for our first snow drops, we both kept an eye on the spot where I had planted my checkered lily. Neither of us expected it to have survived the transplant and then the winter. It did. Each morning, Ty and I seemed to run into each other in my front yard as we admired the checkered lily.

It did look like it was checkered. It amazed us every time we beheld it. How did nature manage the checkered effect? How did the delicate, drooping flower manage to break through the snow and hold itself up in the cold air? The bloom was less than an inch long. Why did nature take such care with such a little thing? Why do things like checkered lilies exist?

Ty and I believed that the miracle of the checkered lily would not be repeated. We did not expect to see it again the next year. But it came back each of the five years I continued to own this house. And when I sold the house, I told Ty that he could dig up my checkered lily and put it in his yard if he wished. And he did.

a guy ate half a gallon of ice cream

An acquaintance once told me he had just eaten half a gallon of ice cream, stress eating. This was just a few years ago. I am 60. Until he told me about that ice cream, it had never occurred to me that men did emotional eating.

At the time, this guy had developed a fat gut, taken to wearing his shirts 'out' and seemed to dress to hide his paunch. He's a very little guy so a fat tummy shows. I pretended not to see it but I did.

He has since shucked off his excess weight, gone Paleo, gotten into 20 minute intensive workouts. And he counts calories, or he did when I still knew him. This guy cares too much about how he appears to others to stay fat.




mark it on the ice

I miss my dad this evening.

My dad had a gambling problem.  One story will illustrate how serious it was.

In 1958, my parents had a baby born premature.  Mary Ann. Her lungs were not fully developed. Nowadays, Mary Ann's survival would be all but assured but in 1958, modern medicine did not know care as well for premature babies as they do today.  Mary Ann wasn't all that premature, esp. compared to the miracles for very preemie babies these days.  I think she was born half way through the sixth month of her gestation.

They kept her in the hospital for most of her two months life.  She came home for a few days.  One night, our parents awakened all of us -- there were my two brothers and me at the time -- and we all knelt in the dining room, just outside Mary Ann's bedroom, which was also mine, and prayed for her while we awaited the ambulance that took her back to the hospital.

During her short life, after my mom came home from the hospital -- in those days, people stayed in the hospital much longer than they do now.  My folks had great health insurance, as did everyone else we knew. Gosh, health insurance has changed, eh?  My mom stayed with her in the hospital a long time so she could breast feed her. Mary Ann's little life was so precarious that everyone wanted her to have the benefit of mom's breastmilk. When my mom finally came home -- someone had to tend to her other children -- my mom pumped breast milk and my dad took it to the hospital every single day.

During this time, with dad taking several busses across Chicagoland because my folks did not own a car yet,  I often mentally accompanied him on his route. I had always paid close attention to travel, directions, patterns.  At age five, I could have directed most adults better than they directed themselves all over the city. So I knew the route my dad traveled to get to that hospital and I mentally accompanied him, waiting with him when he transferred, noting the darkening afternoons as Mary Ann's live emerged into that fall.  I keen in sadness for my dad's journey, for some reason. He seemed so heroic to me, so loving.  I was sad that he did not have a car, aware, I think, that my dad was ashamed that he could not yet afford one.  I flashed a little anger that my grandfather did not drive my dad on this errand.  I railed at god for making my baby sister sick -- a sister!!! -- and me with two brothers!! -- and for placing this burden on my folks. For some reason, I didn't really see my mom's sorrow, only my dad's.

And I remember longing to meet the baby.  In 1958, at least in Chicago, children were not allowed to visit babies in hospital nurseries.  Only fathers were. No adults could visit the nurseries but the fathers. Adults could visit patients but not the new babies. This has changed.

Once in college, around 1973, a boyfriend had an appendectomy.  I walked all the way to the hospital, which was no where near our campus to visit him. I brought magazines and treats. Bob was full of self pity. Bob was always full of self pity, as I recall.  I don't know what I saw him him. Well, he was not a major boyfriend. But now I have just remembered what I liked about Bob:  Bob had a big crush on me  Don't worry, anyone reading. If the goddesses ever approach me, seeking my help to design a better world, I will repair many of the problems related to romantic love.  There will be no more unrequited loves, no  fairies in the forest sprinkling fairy dust on innocent humans and tricking them into loving someone who does not love them back. Everyone will know love, be loved exactly as they long to be. Although, having said this, I think the universe is already designed this way. I think we humans muck it up.  I think it is always possible to be love. To be love, to be loving, to be loved.  We can blink twice and thus it will be so. Or we can go on struggling.

I digress. This was about Mary Ann. No it wasn't. This is about dad's gambling.

I think the main reason the doctors let Mary Ann come home was to give her siblings a chance to meet her.  How it cut me knowing I had a helpless, sick new baby sister across the city, alone among strangers, literally fighting to take breath.  How I longed to hold her and love her.  I don't remember holding her.  I don't remember seeing her alive. But I must have. She was definitely home for a day or wo. Or maybe I have made that up. Maybe we all got up and prayed in the dining room because the hospital had called to tell us Mary Ann had taken a turn for the worse.

I have no one to ask. My mom's mind is gone.  My brother Chuck the fuck might remember. He was a little older. But he is Chuck the fuck. I won't ask him. His name says it all, right?

During Mary Ann's short life, my grandfather had spent a lot of time with us. He was out back up babysitter with mom in the hospital. And he was also our backup income when dad gambled his paycheck on the ponies.

My dad was a sucker for harness racing.  He took me to the racetrack with him a few times when I was very young, like ages four, five, six.  My mom used to insist that dad only leave the house with one of the kids with him, hoping that having his child with him would shame my dad into not gambling. But this did not work. He just took my brothers to the track and told them to keep quiet. My brothers would keep dad's secrets, too, but dad couldn't hide the missing food money so mom would find out.  My grandpa always stepped up. He would come over and hand money to my mom, making a big show of not giving it to my dad, not risking it to the ponies.

So mom started to send me out with dad. When dad said he wanted to run an errand, visit an old friend, mom knew he wanted to go out to the track. Or at least go to a tavern with bookies. She assumed, wrongly, that our gender solidarity would cause me to rat my dad out. But I loved my dad much more than my mom. We all did. Moms get it hard, don't they?  Kids hate their moms far more often than they hate their dads. It's not fair. But I kinda get it.  Your mom is going to love you no matter how bad you treat her. It is less risky to shit on the mom. That's my theory.

My kid's father all but abandoned her. He paid his child support, although I had to take legal action a few times to enforce it. But my kid only knew that he stepped up, he paid. And the fact that he did not exercise his visitation rights, did not even, sometimes, place a fucking phone call to her on Xmas day, let alone, um, send her a Christmas gift?  That was my fault.  I kept her from him.  In his very rare interactions with her, he would say "I wanted to call you on Christmas but your mom got an unlisted phone number".  Or whatever crap he said.  In order to get my child support, 'the system' always knew where I was. as a lawyer, her father could always find out where I was. Not that he needed to find us.  I kept in contact with him. I sent him countless letters begging him to show up in her life. I wrote letters to all her relatives on his side, begging them to be family to her.

She had a paternal aunt that had moved to Florida. I wrote to that witch and told her that my Katie needed her family, that it was not my wish to keep her from having a relationship with her father's kin.  I offered to fly Katie to visit that auntie, even though the aunt is a very successful medical doctor. This aunt owns several small day-surgery clinics. Her husband manages the businesses. She's not just a prospering doc, she is a wealthy business owner.  The kid's father bragged to the kid about her aunt's wealth, the indoor pool on the oceanfront home her auntie owned.  He sent her a photo of that pool.

Swimming pools were a big deal to all of us. Me, the kid, her dad, we're all lap swimmers. Or were. I don't know if my daughter still swims.

I digress.

I am sad and angry.  I hate my life.  I hate me.  I wish I could hate myself dead.  That probably sounds way crazy, does it?  I tried to hate myself dead. After my big, serious, carefully planned suicide attempt failed in 2003 -- I was determined to not turn fifty without my kid --

My dad stopped gambling when Mary Ann was born and was so sick.  The adults in my world of 1958 never talked openly about dad's gambling. We all pretended he didn't gamble.  A classic elephant in the living room dynamic.  But I heard them talking when they pretended we did not hear them.  I heard my dad promise my mom, over the phone, cause she was in the hospital with our sick, dying baby, that he would never gamble again. And during the two months of her life, he did not gamble.

On the day of Mary Ann's funeral, grandpa came over. He was going to drive us for the funeral. But he also had to give my parents money for the funeral.  He handed the money to my dad. I was only five, just a kid, supposedly clueless, but I knew that wads of cash in my dad's hands were always at risk.  I knew the race track was far away but I knew dad could gamble at the corner tavern.

Do cities still have dingy corner taverns like Chicago had when I was a kid?  I'm talking about dark bars, with one long dark, usually black, bar on one side, a very few tables with very few chairs along the wall opposite the bar/ Mirrors behind the bar. The only light fixtures were beer light fixtures. Or so it seemed to me. For yes, I had been in these taverns in my mom's fruitless attempts to shame dad into not gambling.

It must have hurt wicked hard to see your man gambling away the money you needed to feed his children.  It is so unfair that we loved dad more than mom. But I'll tell you why.

My dad was nicer than my mom.  My mom acted like she begrudged me everything. She sent me the message, seriously, when I was so young that I had not yet figured out how to roll over in my crib, let alone raise my head.  She did not want me to ask her for anything.  She probably did not literally say these things but humans communicate with one another without using their voices. In Madeleine L'Engle's great young adult novel, A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle describe 'kything' which is people tlaking to one another mind to mind. In the novel, kything unfolds in language but I think that 'in reality', what reality is, people can convey their thoughts to one another and they do. They do it all the time. But science has not yet identified this sense so we don't count it.

My mom told me, kything, when I was brand new, to want nothing and to need less.

I have internalized that stricture my whole life. I am 57 and I still feel like I am not supposed to want anything, not supposed to need anything. Want nothing, need less.  Want nothing, need less. It was practically the goddamned mantra of my childhood.

But as a kid, you love your mom and you don't know different.  You don't know that other moms, maybe, want their kids to come to them and ask for nurture.  In our family, the message was clear:  leave mom alone.

And what did she do?  I used to wonder, long and hard, about what my mom did.  When she had a newborn, sure, she kept the kid alive.  But when my brother Tom was born, when i was 7, my dad sat me down for a private chat in my parents' room, which we were not normally allowed to enter. He used that parent bedroom to give the event more portent. He said as the only girl it was my job to help mom now tht she was preggers again.  He was counting on me to step up, to do whatever i could for mom. And I did And when Tom was born, I did a lot for him. But I was only 7 so I did not completely take over. When Dave was born, I was 10, it was just about summertime, and I had expereince from caring for Tom.  I took care of baby Dave dawn to dusk that whole summer.