Less about cooking food and more about emotional boil-over!
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning how to dance in the rain.”
I’m repeating the quote above as a mantra!
In April 2012, our youngest son was diagnosed with cancer. It has been a tumultuous time ever since. People ask me how I’m doing, looking hopeful that I will say, “Alright. He’s keeping a good attitude”, and then move the conversation in a different direction. So, if you only want the perfunctory answer, stop reading NOW!
Healed from surgery and radiation therapy, we held high hopes that he had seen the end of THAT challenge and could move on with his plans for the future.
He began to have uncomfortable abdominal pain. I had a TIA and two stints placed end-to-end in my left carotid.
He was in agony, but kept thinking it was due to complications of medications.
His leg swelled about 2x’s the normal size. He visited an emergi-care center where he was told it was most likely radiation damage to the lymph system in his leg but if the leg began to hurt the pain could be from a clot but an ultra sound test would be necessary to know for sure. With ice and keeping the leg elevated, the swelling abated, until….
He awoke in the middle of the night in agony with a leg badly swollen. He had the ultra sound, but it did not show a clot and he was told he needed a CAT scan. The CAT scan showed a mass about the size of a soft ball located between his kidney and the intestine. Biopsy proved the mass was cancer, he was scheduled to begin chemo therapy.
Recovering from chemo has been challenging. A scan scheduled in June will determine if the mass is small enough to avoid surgery. We’re counting on it being small enough so we can all exhale and he can get back on to the track of his future.
Holidays can bring out the best in a family. Holidays can also expose some unhealed wounds. How can we turn the Holidays into an opportunity to forgive? Can we make the conscious choice to forgo the need to be’right’ and decide to embrace the paradigm shift that leads instead to being ‘kind’?
Thorny Rose Garden
I live in a thorny rose garden but find the lyric “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometime” of comfort.
Forgiving has not been an easy path for me to find. I found I needed a way to express the sentiment to ‘begin’ the process which is the motivation behind creating the FORGIVE heart. Over Thanksgiving this year, it became apparent that my sons seem to find the path to forgiveness hard to find too.
My husband and I have always wanted to see our boys not only be brothers but also friends. Our family is blended; our eldest son from my husband’s first marriage and who has been part of my life since he was 15 months old and our youngest son, 7 years his junior, have very different views of childhood.
Some jealousy and mistreatment of one another during childhood springs from those perceptions and I thought ‘natural’ because of the age difference plus the inconvenience of the divorce going back-n-forthness between homes which can lead to misconceptions about ‘life in the other house.’ Sadly, the crevasse between them is greater than imagined and one the two of them must work to bridge if they decide to have a relationship in the future.
Forgiveness vs. Trust
During the ’60′s and my folk singer days, I knew Jackson Browne. He wrote a poem called ‘Trusting’ which was put to music by Steve Noonan. The opening lyric of the song, “Trusting is a harder thing, the second time around” has always stuck in my mind.
Finding a way to let go of some of the unkindnesses perpetrated upon one another in childhood that leads to continuing assaults of unkindness in adulthood are hard to resolve. Amending Trust isn’t easy. Trust must not only be earned, it cannot sustain another betrayal because taking the ‘risk of trust’ again may never be offered. Forgiveness and trust are not synonymous and do not cancel one another.
It is clear that one can forgive yet not forget, especially if ‘betrayal of trust’ is repeatedly broken. It’s a fine point that cannot be dismissed. Words cut deeply and the wounds are not easily healed.
During our childhood, I mistreated my younger brother, but as an adult I have been a fabulous sister. He and I did not drag our petty childhood grievances into our adulthood. As an adult, I found the courage to ask the forgiveness of my brother for my childhood mistreatment of him and to my great relief, he laughed and accepted.
The pain my boys are experiencing are heartbreaking realizations. I hope and pray our boys can find the path to forgiveness that will lead to paving a path to trust and healing.
Once again, the toilets are pristine!
November 10, 2012
It’s official! In January the Julia Child Supper Club (JCSC) is branching out. The hostess doesn’t know, but I decided to add a bit of homemade flair to the table settings semi-ala The French Laundry!
We members of the JCSC are completely enthralled by the idea of preparing recipes from The French Laundry Cookbook.
One of our members found The French Laundry at Home blog written from 2007-2008 by Carol Blymire about preparing every recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook and it includes a treasure trove of personal commentary, her own photos and preparation tips.
There is no doubt our dinner party will be deliciously successful. See the menu of French Laundry Inspired with links to the recipes prepared.
In the meanwhile, know that last few weeks have been a little rough, but the toilets in ‘Paris’ are pristine!
October 9, 2012
According to my friend, Anne, who baked and brought this get well gift to me, the recipe for this fresh picked Oregon blackberry pie can be found on the Kroger Pie Crust box.
Surprise! TIA (transient schematic attack)!
Let me just say I have a tendency to UNDER play things, so if you have a tendency to do the same, maybe you can learn something here.
Monday August 27
Showering after my daily 4-mile walk, I felt a little tingling in my lower lip that expanded up to my right cheek. I’ve had the feeling before so I didn’t think much of it until I reached to unplug the hair blower and my fingers on my right hand would not open to grasp the plug. I shrugged and pulled the plug out with my left hand and by then my right hand worked fine.
My friend Claudia called and while chatting I casually mentioned the aforementioned experience. She asked, “Are you going to call the doctor?” to which I scoffed saying I didn’t think it was much of anything. She said, “Well, why not call the doctor and tell her the symptoms and if she says it’s nothing, fine but if she says it’s something, then you can decide what to do.” I agreed to call, then I went to work.
I work with trauma nurses and during the course of conversation with nurse Shelley, I mentioned the experience. She said, “Oh, you had a TIA. Have you taken any aspirin?” When I said “no”, she sent me down to the pharmacy and demanded I buy some and “take TWO!”
That’s when I decided to call the doctor’s office and describe the symptoms, ending with, “Do you think it’s nothing or something important?” The receptionist said, “Oh yeah, it’s important, and if it happens again, I want you to go straight to the ER. We’ll see you at 11:00 tomorrow morning.”
I finished up with work and noticed I made quite a few typing errors, but I recognized the errors and made appropriate corrections.
Tuesday August 28
The next day I saw my doctor and described the symptoms. She listened to my carotid arteries on both sides of my neck then reported “the left side sounds different than the right. We need to get you in for a couple of tests tomorrow.”
Wednesday August 29
Well, long story short, I went to the hospital for two scans. Thirty minutes after arriving home from the hospital, my doctor called to tell me, “the left carotid is 80-90% blocked. We want you to see a vascular surgeon.” Really?!
Friday August 31
The vascular surgeon examined my neck and announced that I needed to see a micro neurosurgeon due to the scar tissue caused by the head-n-neck cancer radiation. Otherwise, to do the surgery the ‘normal’ way would make me vulnerable to infection. “I’m sending you for a CT Angio so we can light up the blockage.” He called Friday evening to say the left carotid was 90% blocked and I was to see the micro guy on Tuesday. Really?
Tuesday September 5
The micro neurosurgeon explained the angioplasty and stent procedure adding, “The scar tissue in the carotid caused quite a collection of plaque extending up close to your brain. We’ll need to double-stent you.” “The surgery is about 2-hours and you will stay over-night.” I asked hopefully, “Can I go to Bend? I have tickets to see Huey Lewis next week.” “No, no long trips. We should do the surgery sooner than later. I’m going to try to get you scheduled for next Tuesday.” “Will I be OK to teach a class on Monday the 17th?” “No, you will need a full week to recover but you can probably return to work on the 19th.” Really?!
I called our friends, Carol and Phil in Bend, to let them know we could not join them. I had already sent the tickets to them just in case the doctor said I couldn’t go. Our friends assured me they would try to “sell the tickets for you.”
I called my co-worker, nurse Shelley, to let her know she was going to have to teach the Monday September 17 and possibly the Wednesday September 19 classes all by herself depending on when I was scheduled for the surgery.
Wednesday September 12
8:00 am surgery for 2 hours then I.C.U. for 3-days! What happened to just staying over-night? Well, I went into shock due to a bleed and became immediately anemic.
Marian, Rachel and Diane dropped off food for my family. My walking friends, Diane, Shelley, Peggy, and Marian, ordered this gorgeous bouquet and my husband tucked our heart in the center of the sunflower.
Saturday September 15
RELEASED from the hospital with the promise that I would swallow iron and vitamin c pills 3x’s a day until further notice and a thigh so bruised it looked as if I’d been in a major car wreck and when I walked felt as if I was dragging a 20-lbs. water balloon with every step.
Friday September 21
I saw the micro guy because I had a wee episode and to deliver XOXO hearts to my care team, then attended the funeral of the mother of a friend. By then, I was totally SPENT!
Thursday September 27
I returned to work on a very limited basis.
Wednesday October 3
I guess this was a little bigger than I thought and took a little longer to recover than I expected, but now I am pretty well recovered and very happy to report that once again I am defying gravity!
September 4, 2012
This month it’s all about Danmark! When our youngest son was six, we decided to hire an Au Pair Girl, but the girl who arrived from Denmark became our dear daughter and friend.
30 Years of Love
We have had the great pleasure, and I am told, rare opportunity to enjoy of relationship with our ‘daughter’. We have shared a special friendship with her mother, Annette, her Grandmother, Gerta, Aunts, Henny and Jutte, Father, Holger, Husband, Soren and Children, Nicklas and Camilla!
We have visited Helle in Denmark and Helle has visited us in the USA twice. The second time was this month and we had a fantastic time together!
There is no distance in our relationship regardless of the ocean and 4973.21 miles between us.
Grand Tour of the USA
Epcot and swimming with dolphin
The Farmer’s Market
Vikings Training Camp
AUGUST 1, 2012–a little early!
In really wonderful ways, an extraordinary month was been spent at Hide A Heart Central.
Phyllccine Ice Cream Sandwiches are as delicious as the photo suggests!
The recipe for this extraordinary dessert can be found on page 405 in BAKING WITH JULIA!
Working extraordinarily hard toward recovery from car crash injuries and recent cancer treatment, our youngest son moved into his own apartment after living with us for the past nine years.
The downstairs room has been up-cycled with fresh paint, re-carpeted plus a new bathroom floor, vanity, and shower door have been installed. Windows have been washed and the furniture re-positioned.
Now everything is ready to greet our extraordinary friends and guests arriving from Denmark to spend a week with us.
We celebrated my mother’s 88th birthday!
Unexpectedly, I received a note from a couple who bought and are playing the game of Hide A Heart!
My granddaughters will soon arrive to spend five days and of course enjoy a Princess Tea Party extraordinaire because we ALWAYS dress for Tea!
HIDE A HEART Pulse Update
Toilets are now being cleaned only twice a week which means the month was calm, and based on the upheaval of the past three and a half months, that IS EXTRAORDINARY!
JULY 6, 2012
A week ago Monday I realised it was exactly six months until Christmas! There’s a happy, but hyperventilating thought!
It’s been a busy month of gift-making
Putting together the donation of 145 Snug Hug Key Charms for Impact Oregon
Happily I can report my son has completed treatment and is recovering from the radiation fatigue, so the toilets are only being cleaned three times a week…it’s progress!
June 1, 2012
I just spent 7 wonderful days with my two granddaughters. I have decided that having grandchildren is the PREMIER reward of life!
Our son and his family live in a 4-story home. He and my daughter-in-law give up their bedroom for us so that my husband only has one flight of stairs to climb to reach the general living level.
The first thing in the morning, my husband and I like to have coffee and our son always makes sure my favorite brand and flavor choice is on hand. I set up the coffee pot the night before so fresh, hot coffee is awaiting to be poured into the largest cups I can find and bring downstairs. It’s a little ritual that ‘gets the day off on the right foot’ and one my husband I enjoy together while discussing the ‘plans for the day.’
This year our visit included a 5th birthday party. Around 6:00 AM on the morning of the party I heard a little voice singing softly, “Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday dear……”
When I went upstairs to fetch coffee I heard little feet ‘dancing’ the way downstairs. I was met by a little girl wearing her party dress who asked me to help with her bracelet. “Oh my, but you look beautiful. Do you think its a little early to be dressed for the party?” I asked, already in full knowledge of what the answer would be. “No,” she replied matter of factly, “I’m ready.”
The theme for the party was BUTTERFLIES! The party favor sacks were decorated with butterfly stickers. The children played Pin the Butterfly on the wrist of Dora and had great fun whacking with gusto a butterfly pinata.
Later in the week we had fun making Marshmallow Pops to the delight of two little girls. The recipe is available when you click on the picture.
At supper, my son asks each person at table to share 3 things that made the day special. It is wonderful to hear what each of us considers to be our favorite things about the day. Sometimes we all mention the identical experience which always inspires expanded conversation. I mentioned to our son how much I liked this tradition he’s implement for expressing appreciation and gratitude and he said, “I wanted a way to include the girls in table conversation so this is a way to both connect them with noticing the good stuff in their day while helping them develop conversation skills.”
There was other excitement during our visit too! A loose tooth! We thought the ‘event’ would occur during our visit, but that tooth hung on! In a telephone call this week we learned from a very excited young lady that, “the tooth came out when I bit into a doughnut!”
As always, the visit ends too soon.
I have TWO second best coping skills to help me through rough patches.
I cook. Creating something delicious serves to comfort my inner child and feels like being surrounded by the arms of my mother. ‘Course, to use this particular healing salve requires some restraint!
Strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier
I mention restraint for two very good reasons. Clearly eating too large a helping of Strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier will prove unwise! Additionally, as a young teen I was fairly chubby. When I reached the age of 19 my aunt taught me to knit and I went on a very strict diet.
I can’t say the diet taught me to eat healthy because I pretty much lived on diet pills, coke and a single sandwich a day for three months and dropped 50 lbs!
However, knitting certainly continues to play a large part in keeping my hands busy now that I do practice healthy eating habits and I glean great pleasure in making baby caps for the Period of Purple Crying project at a local hospital.
Returning Beauty to the World
When things begin to settle and the weather is cooperative…I plant flowers. Weeding seems to be metaphoric of my need to replace mishmash with beauty.
I am not a master nor necessarily a tidy gardener, but I am enthusiastic and fairly successful with garden plants…not so much house plants. In fact years ago my husband tagged me with the title CARL CLETIS BOWLES (a murderer of some renown in the Pacific NW 30 years ago!) of the PLANT KINGDOM.
I am a bit of a lazy gardener, but my success with roses is notorious as pointed out by my former elderly neighbor who constantly complained that he would, “prune, spray and fertilize the roses on my side of the fence but YOUR roses look fabulous!”
I did mention that I might be the beneficiary of his do-diligence since my rose garden was slightly ‘down hill’ from his, “Plus!” I quickly noted, “I have a garden fairy!”
My best coping skill: I clean when my life is in turmoil….I’ve been cleaning toilets every day for a month. I find cleaning toilets to be metaphoric–I figure I am ‘flushing all the refuse’ away!
Three weeks ago our youngest son was awakened by searing pain. I rushed him to the hospital for an ultra sound which exposed a mass. Surgery was scheduled, healing began, CT scan results have led to a PET scan scheduled for next week and depending on the results, a treatment plan will be designed.
It’s the waiting for results that wrecks havoc. I keep reminding myself of an important concept I embrace and learned from TUT: Thoughts become things….pick the good ones!
We have wonderful support from family and friends, all asking “what can I do?” “I don’t know,” I say, “when I think of something, I’ll call.” So, our friends cook and bring food and call and send text notes and my mind swirls without being able to concentrate on one thought at a time, lest I pick the wrong one upon which to ruminate.
Last week my friend Diane brought us some cake accompanied by the recipe.
The view from Hide A Heart Central today dawned with the sun shining brightly and an azure blue sky.
I sang ‘Look for the Silver Lining’ then baked a cake ala Jim Dodge.
I find my time is so dominantly absorbed by Hide A Heart, I clean my house rather more irregularly than pre-Hide A Heart days. However following more than a week of torrential downpour, this morning dawned as if Spring was finally launched. When the sun shines, it means that dusting and, ah hem, a few other major tasks glaringly demand my attention, requiring I launch into a Spring cleaning frenzy or suffer the guilt of a thousand raised eyebrows from my husband!
What to tackle first is always a deliberation, so I went for my usual 4-mile walk with a friend then dropped the car off to be detailed…it was returning from that decision that lead to the most glaring project in need–the Viking 4-burner gas non self-cleaning stove.
I don’t want to imply that I never clean the stove…I clean it each time I cook if something spills in the oven or boils over on the stove top, but I don’t have a daily routine that includes disassembling all the various parts to soak the burners and trays; pull off the 3-section top to reach and clean around the ignite switches and the various other internal tubes and screws that, only God knows how, becomes encrusted with drippings previously unnoticed; disassemble the vent or clean the oven, the back-splash tile and the cabinets. It takes the better part of a day to thoroughly clean the stove. I began at 9:30 am. Around 3-hours into cleaning, I announced to my husband, “Once I get this stove cleaned, I’m swearing off cooking!” He was unimpressed.
Why? Because once begun, I thoroughly enjoy cleaning! I know at the end of the task, everything will look great. I find cleaning holds a certain ‘therapy’ rhythm that leads me to wander happily around in my brain; sometimes making up poems, sometimes singing, or just enjoying a fond memory or two. Today while cleaning the stove I was reminded of my first employer, Louis Chong Wong and how his mentoring continues to influence me.
Louis Chong Wong was born in China and migrated to the US when his wife died during the WW II bombing of mainland China. He settled in Texas, learned Spanish and remarried a woman with whom he opened a Mexican restaurant. But that marriage, nor the next two lasted any length of time. He finally ended up in Baldwin Park CA where he owned a small Chinese take-out and 4-table restaurant in what is now referred to as a ‘strip mall’. The restaurant was open 6.5 days a week from 10 AM-10 PM, closed half a day on Monday. Louis was the only cook and not fluent in English.
I was 15.5 yrs old when I went to work for ‘Uncle Louis’. I had never eaten Chinese food in my entire life. On my first day, I spent a fair amount of time looking through the double refrigerators lining one of the walls. Finally Uncle Louis asked what I was looking for and when I said, “baby birds” he flew into a rage speaking in a combination of Chinese/English screaming “no baby birds! no baby birds!” and running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off. I figured I was going to lose my job on the very first day of employment! Finally he calmed down and asked why would I think there would be “baby birds” in the refrigerator to which I truthfully replied, “My mother says Chinese people put baby birds in their food.” Uncle Louis scoffed and once again stated with absolute certainty, “no baby birds.”
Uncle Louis worked very hard and took few breaks during the day, but if he heard one of the waitresses making an ice cream shake, he would take a break. In those days one made the shake and poured it into the special shake glass, but there was always a little left in the metal container. We all quickly learned that if we poured the remaining shake into a glass and took it to Uncle Louis, he would give us a $1.00 tip! Wages at the time were $1.10/hr + tips, but Uncle Louis was a generous employer…he always paid my withholding taxes, paying the full amount earned.
Uncle Louis called me “Missy Lingfo”, and I would politely correct him, but no matter how he struggled, he could not pronounce “Lunsford.” One day after patiently working with him, I said, “OK, if you are going to call my ‘Missy Linfo’ I’m going to call you ‘Ching Wing’! He scoffed and went back to the woks.
Several days later, Uncle Louis said, “I have new name for you. Su Lan….means beautiful flower.” I laughed and he was pleased.
In 1960, Nelson Rockefeller made a bid to be the Republican presidential candidate. I asked Uncle Louis if he was able to vote, if he would vote for Mr. Rockefeller and he said, “No. He married too many times.” “But Uncle Louis” I protested, “you’ve been married FOUR times!” He smiled at me and said, “I no President United States!”
In this tiny restaurant dishes were washed by hand. Do you know what how many dishes are used when serving a Chinese dinner ‘family style’? Believe me, there were piles of dishes to wash. After a particularly busy Sunday, I had just finished washing the last pot when Uncle Louis grabbed it and I moaned, “I just washed that!” He looked at me for a minute and said, “You want to keepa clean? Put in your pocket and taka home!” Around 3:00 PM the stove and all surrounding surfaces were gleaming.