Category Archives: food

I do not crave Squirrel Poop!

I crave PEANUT BUTTER!!!!!!!!!

For the past 5 weeks I have consumed at least 10 jars of peanut butter. At least 10 JARS! This is crazy.



It is like one of those insane cravings that can’t be sated. It has to be smooth – or as they say in peanut butter parlance – “creamy”. 

Yes, I tried to curb the insatiable craving by buying a jar of the crunchy (or chunky) stuff. It merely slowed down the intake, but not enough to think it was effective. It was actually a catalyst for a dangerous turn in this craving period. I had to eat it with chocolate. Yummy combo yes, but not when you are a super dark dark chocolate lover and find that combination is heinous….so you run out and buy some crappy milk chocolate to make it palatable. And even if you return to the no sugar added creamy peanut butter your love, the taste for hints of milk chocolate remains.  So, I elevated the experience buy snagging some of  my son’s Lindt’s.


Only to find the creaminess of their center the absolutely perfect complement to the spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter that I have been shoveling ion my mouth.

“Who uses crunchy peanut butter?” he asked the room. “You might as well eat squirrel shit.”
~ Michael Thomas Ford, The Road Home


I am not sure about the source of the craving, but the all-knowing Google gave me the impression that this is not an isolated thing, that there are many people out there with a hankerin’ for the thing I most currently consider a nectar of the gods.



There is a possibility that I am in desperate need of something that my body has been missing, much like the fierce beef carnivore I would become back in the days when I actually got my period. The interesting thing now, since I don’t get a bloody period, but do get a hormonal one is that I still crave beef, just not with as fierce a drive. 

But back to peanut butter. 





It is insane, I am carrying around jars of peanut butter with me, I make runs to the grocery store when I polish a jar off. I have bought big jars, and normal jars. I eat it straight out of the jar.



My husband must think I am crazy, but even he has helped me give in to this madness by running to the store late at night to help keep me in stock.

It has to be chocolate, no bread, no jelly… just peanut butter… and lately some milk chocolate is nice (but not required).
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Revisiting 7 and then 8 – and perhaps a dash on 9 – Find the Beautiful

Revisiting 7

I suppose my last post was a bit premature, though it was true. It is amazing how something gentle can shift everything, even if it is only temporary.

After my post, I went to a meeting for an organization I belong to. I expected to get lots of hugs and inquiries about my health and my status. I was looking forward to thanking people in person for their kindness, but felt shy about the possible attention.

The hugs were nice, the kind words and gestures were appreciated. I was glad to have gone and it was not as much of a burden to my shy side as I thought it might be,

But at the end, as I was walking away.  One of the friends who was there often for me asked me how I was and I replied with my usual. I am good, lots to be thankful for, one day at a time. She grabbed my arm and said lets sit and tell me what you mean by this one day at a time thing? 

I was stunned, she had latched on the the subtle nuance of such an expression and knew that my words were far cheerier than I felt. 

So we sat down, and I tried to explain that navigating the whole thing is complex. Yes, I fully see that there is so much that is good but that there is still the tough that needs to be dealt with. Being told you have cancer is more complex that I had thought, especially given the provisions that no chemo or radiation is needed, like those somehow would allow (key word here is allow)  someone to feel like shit. Please don’t think I am trying to diminish chemo or radiation and that people who have to go through that are somehow exception in some regard… because they actually are exception. What I feel like I am missing is permission to grieve this process and that my grieving is allowed to be more than just sad.  After I feebly tried to communicate these ideas to her, I just looked at the hands in my lap and said, I want to be allowed my pity party, I just don’t know how.

She touched my arm and said you are allowed a pity party and I want to be invited, lets go get some wine together soon.

It was so beautiful being allowed to feel this way instead of being held to strict gratitude. My heart filled with something, I would hope it was grace. 

I am not sure she knew what I was talking about or understood what I was trying to say, but she asked and then listened… holy moly… what a gift. She asked, she allowed me to tell her something closer to the truth about how I am feeling, In a world dependent on daily platitudes (“How are you?” – “I am OK”) it was mind altering to pass that realm and move in to more of the brutal truth.

It is part of the dynamic between celebrating that I don’t need chemo or radiation or that my tumor was so freakishly small AND the whole truth in that it was fucking cancer and it robbed me of some things that I held dear. I am grieving.




I don’t think I am headed to deterioration. I know I will be fine, but this is a part of what has happened and is happening to me. I own it. 

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”  ~ William Shakespeare

Then 8

After the sincere gesture of my dear friend, I felt more lighthearted yesterday. It was a busy day, work with extra duties, rush to help Squink finish his homework, a school meeting for an exchange program, and cub scouts.

I was too busy to notice much more than the heaviness of my surgery site.

A dash of 9

We all woke up early, and in good moods. I even served Squink some oatmeal and let him eat it in bed. On my way to the kitchen, I noticed how amazingly pretty my orchid plant was. 

It was beautiful. 


Squink was beautiful. 



My family was beautiful. And somehow everything else seemed less important.

Find the beautiful

THAT

Find the beautiful

Yes, that…

is my theme for this year.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson  


Finding the beautiful… it is very present in the external. 

But as I navigated just how ugly it was to go through this cancer thing, how easy it was for people to forget that it is my battle, and I had to find myself repeatedly trying to forgive… I lost my place. And I was so hurt by people that I am close to (who are ashamed of my diagnosis, who couldn’t/can’t talk to me about what was/is happening, who took things from me with out asking, who made things harder for me….) that I forgot to stop and find the beautiful.

So, fuck the folks who take away from this… they can live with their choices.

And I am so lucky, because I have people in my life who can help me do that. So, I have to let them in and help me see what I need to see.

I,  am so excited. Because, you see, this year, 2015, I get to find the beautiful.

Yes, that…

is really my theme for this year. 

Gentleness

I feel a little better today. I still am working hard in my brain as to what to do about everything in my post yesterday. I am sure it will come to me.

One of the images I use when I want to feel better is one from my life back in Ecuador.

Specifically, being on our ranch and sitting on the grass higher up on the mountain.

This is the mountain our ranch was on:

Pasochoa

I have no idea where our ranch was in relation to that picture, but I have many good memories there.

The one that I am calling to mind is about sitting on the soft mossy grass, just above the tree line. There is a grass there that is soft like moss, but is a very small almost light green ground cover. It has these tiny pink berries, berries so small you can’t even see them unless you are looking closely. I can feel the high Andean wind burning my cheeks a bright red. I feel like I can hear the sound of God in that rush of wind blowing past my ears. I weave my finger in to the soft plants, smelling the earth. Listening to my horse hobbled nearby, and the chit-chat of my family enjoying a picnic. I feel connected to the earth, an extension of her, like a small dendrite-like messenger. I feel my hair blow across my face and whip around wildly in the wind. I pick the tiny pink berries and put them in my other hand, which is cupped in my lap… filling my cupped palm slowly with these little light pink jewels. Fairy food, I am certain it is fairy food. I put them in my mouth, one by one. tasting their faintly sweet juice. I watch our cattle off in the distance, grazing.

There is something about that moment that is so gentle, so peaceful, that it can still evoke a certain calm when I am weathering a storm.

More thoughts and a tale from my misspent youth

Reflection
Something I do a lot of right now.
As I watch, feel, and notice my body heal from a pretty brutal surgery… I reflect back on my life.
What is so amazing to me is that I have such a wonderful group of people here in my life now. 
A husband who waited on me through the surgery, held my hand, brought me food, made me eat when I did not want to, bought me more thermometers than he should have had to purchase for me as I lay in bed vomiting with fever and chills and consistently losing them to the depths of my mattress and covers, who rinsed the vomit bowl so I could have a clean bowl for the next round, massaged my neck that was sore from throwing up, is waiting patiently for my body to heal, fed me, clothed me, monitored me while I showered in case I passed out… crap, the list of things he did [is doing] for me is too long to even recall… I just know that I could not have gotten through the last few months without him. 
Then there are the folks that helped arrange food deliveries, delivered food, send cards, visited, called, sent a text… I am humbled by all of these things. 
An aunt who fought against her ingrained instincts and took care of me as best she knew how when my husband couldn’t stay with me.
My mom, who took time off and flew to be with me and watched her first baby sick and vomiting and trying to recover; held her hand, rubbed her brow, made me smile and provided those moments that induced healing that only a mom who loves to mother and nurture can give.
Friends who made sure I felt loved and fed, acquaintances who sent notes and some who even made sure I was fed… they came out like a force field and I was unprepared for the support.
I did not expect any of that, support that is… from anyone outside my immediate family. 
I am not sure why. I tend to keep to myself… I have been deeply burned by some people I thought were friends, so I tend to keep to myself and not talk to many folks. So, when I got the “NEWS” I had to let go, I needed help, I need a group of people to have my back (and not throw me under a bus without a chance to tell my story) and they came out of the woodwork, and I was touched, and am still touched, humbled.. tears are in my eyes now, as I write.
Even friends who I exchanged superficial texts with stepped out and were present to me. Near strangers offering so much more than good wishes.
The world is truly a magical place filled with so much good. I can’t wait until I am free to frolic (without pain) and pass on that kind of goodness… for now, I heal, and am blanketed in gratitude that I have a tribe whose large size I didn’t know.
~ ~ ~
I was driving and reflecting on what good things have happened to me in my life over the years and  in a brief flash of mental inner dialog that occurs in seconds I noticed that I drove by a building that once housed a flower shop in the 80’s when I was in high school and which was made famous by a stop by then president Reagan who went to buy flowers for his mother-in-law who lived up in some super fancy “estates” near my house.
I remember that visit, he was new to office and it was a stop that made the local news. The other funny thing is that night some friends and I went to visit a friend that lived in those “estates” and was a neighbor of Nancy’s mom… how do I know,, because of the plethora of secret service who hung out in the neighborhood. I remember a group of us running to the car from my friends house and the agents getting a little “jumpy” – but those were different days. Now we would probably be shot, then we just got stopped on the way past and told to behave by men in dark suits that wore sunglasses at night. 
I smiled at this memory as I drove away from that building that once housed the famous flower shop; I loved high school. I had friends whose company I enjoyed. I had good times… I was a little bit of a rebel, but I had a heart of gold, and the naivete of a child.

update – the last 4 weeks have been interesting

So, what an experience these last few weeks have been.

The surgery went abut as expected.  A scratched cornea in the hospital.
The final diagnosis was the best to be expected. No chemo and no radiation.
Big blessings.
I took a nose dive after I got home… lost over ten pounds in about 24 hours.  
Family took care of me. Friends feed me. I felt/feel deeply loved. 
I have been torn down in a way that has built me back up.
I am exhausted, tired and eager to get on with life.
I even drove once!

Day 11 – 40 Days of Writing – ten years ago my cervix failed me too

I realized that I have been blogging for 10 years, starting around this same time of year. There are earlier posts but those were after the fact. The linked one was my first and the one before it was an email I sent to friends on that day (he day I retroactively published it).

The huge irony is that it was about my cervix as well, granted in that case I also gained a son… instead of in this case where it is about losing my uterus.

It is ironic, I suppose… to have started this blog because I was in a dark place. Bed rest, as romantic as it may sound, was amazingly lonely and dark.

And now, these ten years later (almost to the day) coming here and writing again from another dark place, that has a very different feel to it… a deeper kind of vulnerability, perhaps.


Jean Jacques Henner – Solitude



Day 9 – 40DOW – a little conversation I want to have with men

I think the one thing that has been hardest on me is how the men in my life have handled this.

First of all, let me state this is not all the men.



My husband has been über fabulous; he has been there for me and has been a solid rock and really been wonderful and supportive and asked questions and made me feel like he is in this with me 100%.

It is the other ones.

Like My Boys   – sigh.

I mentioned the one that talked about himself after I shared the news… though he has sent a note back in which he sorta says one brief little thing and proceeds to write about himself for three or so long paragraphs (that is how he is). Another, that found out through his wife, sent a note to my husband saying that he knew. For those two, it was perfect. It fit their personalities and I am so glad. 

I did share with the other boys, and nothing. I am hoping that they might be out of town for a very long time or too shocked at the news and feel kind of helpless and not know what to say or even do. I mean there is something so very personal about talking about your lady parts with a man, I imagine it might be embarrassing or something along that fine continuum for a man to talk about a female friends girly parts in such a deeply personal way… even if you never utter the words cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina.

The other three male friends that I have told have been able to reply. One with a sweet message and encouragement and stories of how his mother has gone through something similar. Amazingly supportive and wonderful. Another apologized about what I am going through and then turned into a lump that seems to want me to take care of him. The last proceeded to offer a bunch of medical advice based on his experience with his mother and her ovarian cancer.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for a male, to hear from a friend that her girly bits have failed her in such a dramatic way.  I am sure that saying “I am sorry that your cervix is going through that” just seem too ridiculous for a male.

So, if you are a male and you have a friend (or loved one) who has been diagnosed with a reproductive cancer (or any cancer) here is some advice based on what I have learned so far;

  • If she tells you, respond. Even if you just say: I am so sorry you are going through this. I don’t really know how to respond, but I am here if you need me. Repeat this on occasion if you are still speechless.
  • Prepare yourself, think about times when you have been scared, or ill, or going through a difficult time. What did you want to talk about? What did you need? Consider your friends personality; is she forthright or private and talk to her. 
  • Tell her you are sad that she has to go through this, acknowledge what she is going through.
  • If possible, invite her to lunch or dinner or breakfast or brunch, and listen to her if she accepts (and let her know it is ok to say no). Ask her if she needs a hug, and talk to her about things you know interest her; books, plays, etc. Reminisce the old times, make her laugh at how silly you both were when you were younger if your friendship has lasted decades. 
  • Don’t continuously pick up and stare at your phone or allow other distractions when you talk to her, especially if she is talking about what she is going through.
  • Let her know you are interested in her health, and are willing to help. If she is alone, ask if she needs help putting in light-bulbs or other small house projects. If she is married or living with someone and you know them, ask if you should take her partner out and get his mind of things. If you offer, and she accepts. Follow through. 
  • Be honest about your feelings.
  • If you have a history of doing things together, plan something she can look forward to.
  • If you have shared friends, ask if she would like you to let them know. Respect her answer.
  • Try not to offer medical advice. Don’t send her information on protocols and options don’t be upset when she makes decisions that you find odd or extreme or even not extreme enough. 
  • Most importantly, continue the friendship… knowing there is a support system out there for her is incredibly important (even if she doesn’t take you up on the offer)

I hope that I have given some pointers that are helpful. 

These are ideas based on my experience so far. I am sure that there is some variety among women who are going through this and I am sure that Google probably has far better advice available if you search. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Please refrain from talking about her disease around her children. She may choose to really limit what the kid/s know during this time since it can be super scary, and needlessly so.

It is that time again – 40 days of writing to resume again

So, I belong to a writing group on “The Facebook” called 40 Days of writing.

It is set to begin on October 1st and I am facing this challenge with total and complete mixed emotions.

Yes, I need to get back in the habit, I have left off and forced myself to put stuff down that feels exceptionally sub-par and fluffy.

I am faced with another challenge though, this one starts the day after I get to go through surgery.

I am tempted to write about that experience, but it seems so stupid in the age of cyber stalking and such other human on human atrocities. Someone, I am sure, will use it against me.

Being publicly vulnerable sucks.

Of course, I should get back to writing “that book”, but I am still trying to get past someone calling it “too porny”. This happened around the last 40 days of writing thing and it essentially shut me down, except for a sad, feeble attempt at a modern day revisit of one of the Arthurian Legends.

The great thing about 40 Days of Writing is getting to read what others post, I love to read the stories and things they put out, it often inspires and there is something about getting to see into their lives that makes me feel better about the world… so there is that,

The thing is… that I look at these pieces of themselves that they put out and am moved and touched and want to return those gifts with quality stories of my own.

I tend to be lazy, and detail is something that is just so hard to me. Breaking down important descriptions is the last thing on my mind. It makes for weird stories, stories that are not quite worthy of the ones I am reading.

Practice. I suppose it is about practice… and returning the gifts of these stories with my “practicing” just seems so lame. It is, however, the only thing I can do at this point.

OK, that all reads as so negative, but it is more than that… what are the other positives?

I do know what I don’t want to write:

  • How to’s,  (the ones I would write might be too strange; how to shrink a head?)
  • Self-help directives (who am I to tell anyone how to save themselves)
  • Recipes (I don’t follow them, so I should not write them)

I guess I will keep trying to plug away at this writing thing…

I am what, a Yam, or am I a sweet potato?

I make no secret of growing up in the lands of the Inca empireland of potatoes. Growing up there allowed for an unbelievable number of potatoes to eat… purple ones, purple and white ones, starchy ones, slimy ones, and every single one of them yummy.

I might even say that potatoes are what made me love food so much, because the slimy one in a dish called fritada is probably one of my favorite Andean indulgences.

Now, after I moved to the USA and found what seems to be a whole three different varieties of potatoes… I lost what knowledge I had, as it was not required, though I was always aware that there just was not the variety I was used to… until one dish was introduced to my family… and it became a Thanksgiving staple.

I have no idea what the dish is called, though I refer to it as “Zun’s potatoes” (Zun being a name of unknown origins that my Grandfather gave to my Grandmother) though we know that a chef friend who helped us care for Zun made it for her and that is how it came to be a family dish.

So, I read about 100 or so food blogs all ranging in subject from candy to veganism, they are all interesting to me. But one struck me recently and we had one of those comment conversations… as you may suspect, it was about sweet potatoes vs yams.

I was reading one of my favorite food blogs called Is that my buréka?, and his post was about “sweet potatoes confessions“. What struck me first with his gorgeous pictures of these orange “spicy sweet potato tikki [patties]” was that that orange can only come from a yam, sweet potatoes have a delicate color that is much more like mashed potatoes (think Idaho here) with loads of butter. So I mentioned that they looked like yams to me in his comments, though I failed to admit that the patties looked fabulous! I also told him I was planning a post on the very dish I mentioned. However, because I am so hesitant to make blanket statements like that is a Yam, I became plagued with self doubt… are they really all that different?

So welcome to my Yin and Yang of the Yam vs Sweet potato debate in technicolor no less (sorry, not currently available in stereo).

The yin and yang of sweet potatoes and yams

I had actually been planning on a post of the sweet potato dish as far back as November, when I was on my diet and unable to eat “Zun’s potatoes”… so I noted the recipe, which I had but could not find, from my cousin with every intention of making them post haste once I was able to ingest them with abandon, because that is how I like to eat them. with abandon.

So, the diet ended then the in-laws arrived and life took over and I finally got around to making them last week.

My day of making Zun’s potatoes
So I went to my favorite market to get the supplies, and thought that I should get a couple of yams to compare them.

27 to 28 of 07 041

If you go to the Flickr page I have notes saying what is what. But those are the yams on the bottom.

They all sorta look alike though there is a bit more rough texture to the surface of the yams, barely, if you squint.

So I peeled them:

getting to know you, getting to know all about tubers

Aha, I knew that they were different colors. But perhaps the sweet potato takes on a more orange hue when cooked and I was still hesitant to say I had been right about the orange being a sign of a yam.

So I chopped everything up and put the sweet potatoes to boil

27 to 28 of 07 051

and the yams to roast after being coated in some sugar, salt, butter and oil

getting ready to roast before pureeing

While the sweet potatoes (5 medium and one regular potato – the Russet) were boiling I got out the ingredients. Here is where I admit that I could not find the recipe notes, but had to do this all based on recall. I am starting to think that I unintentionally did this on purpose because I am completely unable to follow a recipe.
But I got out what I knew was in the dish – some honey and cayenne pepper

Patagonia Honey - best honey, ever

and some things that I were not sure were in the dish but was going to put in anyway – butter and some half and half.

add ins

Now what I did remember is that the recipe called for 1/8 of a tsp of cayenne as a start. I put what I thought was an eighth each into two separate bowls so I could add it if I thought it needed more of it. I can’t find an 1/8 teaspoon on my set now, and while it is possible it got separated and lost it is also possible that I used 1/4 in each bowl.

The yams were done first so I pureed them to a fabulous consistency

yams (a garnet and a jewel)

Then the sweet potatoes were ready and I pureed them and then added the ingredients

with add ins
and then used my hand mixer to puree it some more.

I added between 1/4 and 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne powder in the end and because I had both and it was lunchtime I made myself an all abandon root and tuber extravaganza even though someone told me it looked like baby… you can guess OK? It was a fabulous carb laden lunch.

The yin and yang of sweet potatoes and yams

For more information on the difference between a yam and a sweet potato;
go here
or here
or pick any of these

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