December 29, 2012

Gratitude Continues but barely

Eleven o'clock last night there was a knock at the front door.

I was in bed watching a movie and didn't hear it but my grandson did. Then the doorbell rang two or three times. Then my cell phone rang, it was my ex-husband's niece.  She needed to get her tent out of the garage and one of her heavy blankets, 11:00 pm and she still hasn't settled for the night. She was, as my grandson so aptly put it, "hammered"!  She told me on the phone she was sober but couldn't get into the mission, but she wasn't.

When she first moved in with us she scared the hell out of us.

We woke up at 3:00 AM with her dancing in the kitchen, Pandora blasting on the lap top and screaming to the world that she was going to kill my daughter-in-law. She had only met my daughter-in-law twice and talked only 20 minutes, if that.  She went on and on in very ugly terms what she was going to do, how she was going to do it. It was pretty damn ugly.

There were two bottles of liquor, one empty and one half empty sitting on the counter next to the the lap top.  Turns out an empty bottle was in the trash. She drank one whole bottle of Vodka, one whole bottle of Vermouth and was starting on a bottle of gin.  It took me over two hours to calm her down and get her to sleep.

The next day she remembered nothing! I remembered it and I let her know that it was absolutely unacceptable behavior in my home. I also told her that if any of the kids, grandchildren or nieces or nephews had been here I would have called the police and had her removed and 5150'd. She was threatening the life of another and herself.

While staying here she would spend the days walking on the River Trail or at the Hope Van or at NVCSS Second Home.  Now let me tell you, if you don't know, the best place to find someone who does drugs and has drugs and would like to sell you drugs or share drugs with you for a "favor" or two you can find them at those three places.

A couple of days later she showed up smelling of beer. "Only one!" she told me.  Only one, but she can barely walk and is slurring her words. I told her to get out of the house or go to bed. She broke the rules.  She went to bed and slept it off but was coming here high on meth and drinking. I told her she had to leave. I had told her the house rules, I told her that this home is a sanctuary for those that live here. We need to feel safe here, to feel comfortable.  We were very uncomfortable waiting for her to blow up again or bring some of her new "friends" home with her.

She admitted herself to mental health, she has incredible mental health issues, multiple personalities, paranoia, PTSD and incredible depression all of which are made worse by the drugs. After a 3 day lock-in (72 hour watch) she was admitted to a mental facility. She discharged herself out after 2 days. She said that one of the other patients convinced her that they were married and had been married for 6 years. He convinced her that he had been trying to prove himself to her and thought it was time to makeup. He fondled her and she called the sheriff. They made a report but apparently the patient had left the facility while the police were there. I called the facility and they said they don't know what happened but that she had discharged herself AMA (against medical advice).

We have been talking about getting into rehab, getting some help for her mental issues. She talks a good story but the minute she is on her own she is drinking and doing meth.  Day before yesterday I told her I could drive her to a program for women. The provide housing while you wait on the list. They are not a lock in and honestly, I don't know that she would stay unless she had too. I told her I can drive her to San Jose where she has family. The family tells me they want to help but she tells me that they don't...but then no one wants to come up and get her so maybe she is telling the truth.

I picked her up a couple of days ago to take her to the post office and she reeked of pot and her big blue eyes were so dilated I felt like tying a rope around my waist so I didn't fall in!

I want to help her but I can't. She won't help herself.  She is getting almost $900 a month in back child support but keeps telling me its not enough to get a little studio. She would rather live on the streets.  I am so worried about her that I lay awake at night staring at the ceiling praying that she will survive one more night.

To top all this off, her 21 year old daughter just passed away from cancer.  My husband and I were going to drive her to the Memorial Service in the bay area but she just found out that here father (who molested her for years as a child) and the father of her daughter (who molested their daughters and was ordered by court to stay away from the kids) are both going to be present at the services.  She is completely untied emotionally.  She flips from sheer anger to extreme sadness and back to sheer anger.

My own children are frustrated with me for helping her.  I help because she is a human being who needs help but I don't take care of her, I don't allow her to stay in my home and I don't, absolutely don't give her money.

All I can do is keep her in my prayers and occasionally take her to mental health or the post office. I try to remind her that she deserves to take better care of herself.

I'm feeling a little lost and a little overwhelmed. So this may be one of the days I can only find one thing to feel gratitude for.  I'm certainly not happy that my ex-brother-in-law isn't decent enough to let his daughter be at her daughter's memorial service without having to deal with his presence. I am not happy that any of the sisters or daughters felt it necessary to invite the father who molested them over the years to the services.  Again, we absolve and vindicate the predator and the victim (victims, in this case) is censured and condemned.

Today, I am thankful that....hmm...that I am a survivor. I am thankful that my dr. said somedays you'll only be thankful for one thing, don't pressure myself....

December 28, 2012

Packing For 2013

Are you packed for 2013?

Remember that what you decide to leave behind is just as important as what you choose to pack! Some of the items are the same as last year and some items are new.

Must Haves:

Integrity and Good Music,

Etymology Dictionary and  New Words

Imagination and Good Books,
An Open Mind and a Soft Shoulder.

Smiles When Sadness Intrudes,

Creativity, Spirituality and Good Humor.

Paint and Various Brushes,  Blank Paper and Colored Pencils.

Courage and a New Bathing Suit, Bird Seed and Bubbles.

Skate Key, Lightening Rod and Lip Gloss.

My crystal door knob in case some doors have no apparent means of entry...(always carry an extra door knob with you; they are much less cumbersome than windows).

Good Wine and Good Friends.

Soft, soft, soft sheets, a feather pillow and a promise to remember my dreams.

A warm, time-worn quilt, aged cheese and apples just in case a spot of Earth invites me to a little picnic.

Verboten Objects ~ What I am prepared to leave behind:

Maps unless it is a map I am drawing for myself.
Whining, on my part or anyone elses.....NO WHINING!

Bad Attitude, Brussel Sprouts, Judgemental People and unfair judgements on my part.
Grudges, Clothes that itch or bind, Excuses for not being Authentic.

I Promise To Be On The Lookout For:

Every Opportunity to tell my children and grandchildren and family and friends,
"I Love YOU" ~"You are Special" ~ "You are important to me"

Those moments to tell someone: "Good job" "I am proud of you" and sometimes giggle at myself and say..."man, that was stupid!"
I promise to leave enough room in my bags for sea shells and leaves and rocks and lost puppies.
...and to be of the lookout for
Miracles and Angels,
Sunrises and Sunsets,
New Friends and Rare Birds.

What's left packed from last year?

Good Books, Good Music, "Good Waves, Man"
Hugs, Kisses and Macaroons, Vintage Linens and Gin and Tonics on a hot afternoon,
Crystals, Naps under the sky or completely naked under the covers in the middle of the day.
Opportunities for Growth, a chance to make my own path Out of the Box and Outside the Envelope.

What are you going to pack?

What are you going to leave behind?

What are you watching for?

December 26, 2012


Christmas Day has come and gone. It was a day of glorious company and fun. More food than we knew what to do with but made a substantial dent, especially in the dessert portion.

I am thankful for so much and am way to tired to share.

Gratitude will have to be shared tomorrow. At this moment I am thankful for a fluffy pillow, flannel sheets and a husband who has already warmed them up!

Good Night!

December 24, 2012

Groceries for Tomorrow

Gonna head in early to shop for groceries for tomorrow. I want to get there while its just us grumpy old ladies. If I wait too long than it will be grumpy old ladies, crying toddlers and PMSing mothers...holy hell, not a good place to be because I  can't drive while taking xanax.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a crazy thing to have.(pun intended)  For years and years I had it under control. I could witness something, an action, or picture or rude gesture and react but be back to normal in a flash of a second.  Since April of this yearmy PTSD has sprouted a life of its own. If I hear a mommy raising her voice to an overly-tired kid or people cutting each other off,  their action seems to reach down into the core of me and the tears flow (or worse).

So, this morning, I am going to bundle up, say a prayer for strength, ask the Holy Spirit to accompany me to Raley's and go get some goodies. Maybe reward myself with a Dutch Bros coffee on the way home.
When you have PTSD you make a list of items to take with you as well as items to purchase. Items to take; Gloves to keep warm, hat to cover bedhead, debit card, oh and an umbrella.  And just in case I meet a Dragon or Unicorn in the rain, I'll take an  extra umbrella for them.

I am thankful today for toothpaste, cold water to drink, the little bit of sunshine shining through the clouds. I am thankful for hot showers, I am thankful for Welbutrin, though it doesn't seem to have reported in for work this morning or yesterday. If an anti-depressant calls in sick shouldn't they have a note from the doctor?

I am thankful for my pretty car, though some ass-hole hit me in one of the parking lots yesterday or the day before.  Just a little light blue paint near the tire well, but still, you could have left a note?  I am thankful that I wasn't in my car when the person hit my car (for me and for them).

I am thankful that the roast I am going to buy is going to be the moistest, tenderest roast in the history of mankind...Help me choose that one Holy Spirit, I mean, as long as you are going with, you could help with a little of the shopping.

December 23, 2012

No Pressure

Working hard to find a way to express my gratitude today.  Lots of things and people I am thankful for but some old habits getting in the way of expressing it.

Depression is an ugly thing. For every 3 rungs of the ladder I feel myself climb out one of those rungs snaps and I am down again.  I know, I believe, I am digging my way out but sometimes I feel like a crab in a bucket and every time I almost make it to the top and out one of those dumb-ass crabs snatches on and pulls me back in the damn bucket.  I know I am not going to stay in that bucket, too many crabs in bad moods and too much sand and salt water but it means climbing out again.

What am I thankful for today, it's another granddaughter's birthday today. She's 8 and she's cute and she is a powerhouse! I am thankful for her. I am thankful that two of my other granddaughters are making a gingerbread house. I am thankful for super soft over-sized sweaters, I am thankful that all the wrapping is done and presents are all where they need to be.

Part of me wants to write that I am thankful this is my last Christmas, I'm not sure I'm good at this game called life.  Too many people demanding how they think stuff should be, making up the rules they want me to live by, but not following their own rules.

I think I'd like to go to heaven and open up a movie drive-in up there.  The  speakers would all work because I would use Bose. Movies would be HD and you know the seats would be comfortable because its heaven.  The tub of popcorn never gets empty and you can drink all the soda you want and never have to pee just before the climax of the movie....or any other climax's....I is the drive-in!

Two days until Christmas 2012.  I bet Santa is making the reindeer go to bed early tonight.

December 22, 2012

See Me Do Happy Dance!

What a beautiful morning it was! The sky was bright blue over the house and to the west. The mountains were white with snow and just a wee bit of clouds behind them.

In the east was a huge expanse of clouds, white and gray and billowing probably 30 or 40 thousand feet into the sky.  It was incredible. Glorious, even!

I drove to the store to give my husband a hug and see if he needed some lunch. Got a big kiss for my effort ( I love sucking up to him!). Then I drove to the mall, needed to pick up one last little thing.

You see, our family has this thing about Superman. Uncle John, Uncle Adam, Auntie Ashley, Auntie Nicole and Katie all have Superman t-shirts or sweatshirts. I'm not going to mention key chains, mouse pads, bobble heads or floor board pads and I'm pretty sure the boys (who are in their 40's) don't have Superman sheets anymore but I wouldn't guarantee it and I'm not asking.

We have a new member to the family. My grandson's fiance. Her journey hasn't been one of the easiest but she's part of us now and I really wanted to get her a Superman t-shirt for the 2012 Cool Members of the Family picture.  She could possibly take one look at the t-shirt on Christmas morning and sneak out the back but I'm betting she puts it on and joins the insanity.

In several months we may have her participating in whole conversations around the table that are made up of favorite movie quotes. Monthy Python Quest for the Holy Grail, Groundhog Day, Star Wars, Star Trek, Joe vs the Volcano, Princess Bride and other family favorites.

Luckily, I found a parking spot two spaces from the nearest mall entrance. (My guardian angels take excellent care of me). I jogged in (thank you new anti-inflammatory), stood in line surrounded by very questionable items in the store (store next to the calendar store outside of Penny's). Ooh la la, I am going back after Christmas but will be incognito!

By the time (15 minutes max) I walked out of the mall the entire sky was dark gray and foreboding.
What happened to my sunshine?

So, here I sit, in the warmth of my house, done with shopping, drinking a rum and coke (please don't call me and ask me to drive you somewhere because I am going to have to say NO!) Jammies on, Traditional Chex Mix next to me on the desk and contemplating an evening watching Dennis Leary's THE REF, one of my favorite Christmas movies (not appropriate for the little ones).

Gratitude: I am thankful for Dr. Ng, I am thankful for 40,000 foot walls of white towering clouds. I am thankful for Captain Morgan Rum (thanks, Randy....yum!) I am thankful for my cousin Randy and Rosalie. I am thankful that a good friend got a wonderful tribute presented to him by his son and I am thankful for Words With Friends. I am thankful for the friends that let me beat them and the friends who whoop my ass.  I am thankful for turquoise, for flannel, for quilts and feather pillows!

December 21, 2012

Let It Snow

Good news! We woke up to snow this morning. Weird news, it only snowed in the back yard! Front lawn is green, back lawn is white! Could be the giant sycamore in the front yard prevented snow from reaching the ground but I prefer to think that our house is sitting on some sort of great divide.

I have yet to decide what great divide it is but will leave it to the universe to fill me in.

Put my Christmas tree up last night and a few of my Santas. I collect Santas of all shapes and sizes. There are elegant Santas and Foresty Santas, Wooden Santas and Velvety Santas, Santas fat and Santas tall, my oh my, I love them all. (Merry Christmas Dr. Suess)

Our tree was so sad standing in the stand on the driveway, skinny and short, a little on the scrawny side but not quite Charlie-Brownish. In the house with lights and ribbon and silk bulbs it is divine.
Could actually be divine or may be that my Welbutrin is kicking in. The door is actually decorated and I''m contemplating taking a few other decorations out of the box...maybe I'll wait to make that decision after Rex and I trip over to our local Dutch Bros and get our Kicker and Dog Biscuit.

I woke up really early this morning, checked out the tree, did a couple of little itsy-bitsy chores. I was watching the snow fall and thought what a wonderful morning to go back to bed, so I did. I climbed under the covers with glasses and good book.  I read and watched the snow flakes  through my bedroom window. Rex jumped up at the foot of the bed. Every 10 minutes or so I would move my toes under him and he would move and my little potato toes would be comfy warm where he had heated the bed.  Don't you just love dogs?

A woman can not live by books alone so I checked my Facebook. Wished my Katie a happy happy birthday and now am trying to decide if my Kicker should be pre or post shower.

Gratitude for the day. I am thankful for my daughter, she is a wonderful wise woman. Very insightful. I am thankful for Katie, she is precious and special. I am thankful for the snow in the back yard which is just a little tiny layer of white that my Colorado cousins would laugh their heads off that I even call it snow. I am thankful for my Colorado cousins...even the ones that are in California, New Mexico, Texas and Tennessee, though I call them all my Colorado cousins. I am thankful for the cousins that are still in Ireland, though I haven't met you and you don't really know that I exist.  I am thankful for warm socks, anti-inflammatories that work, nachos, and the chubby dog who warms my feet when I read in bed.

P.S. I am grateful for the depths of depression so that when you climb out of it you really can relish life for all its worth.

As for the great divide I can't come up with anything that rings true. I am not a believer of opposites and dualities, I am a student of spectrums, a believer of shades of grey and not black and white. So, dear readers, I suppose my house is sitting somewhere between snow and no snow, a little like me, somewhere between depression and contentment, somewhere between conservative and liberal, somewhere between wanting to get up and moving or jonesing to crawl back in bed and finish my book.

December 20, 2012

Welbutrin and Dutch Bros

Okay, doing better today. Wrapped all the presents. Mailed all the boxes that need to be mailed.

Christmas tree still sitting in driveway and boxes of decorations still sitting untouched in entry BUT I took my Welbutrin today and picked up a big hot Dutch Bros Kicker.

I'm thinking that when they both kick in I just might bring that sad little tree inside and light it up....with Christmas lights not kerosene!

I took a box of chocolates to the kids at Dutch Bros to thank them for giving Rex a dog bone every time I drive thru to get a Kicker. They even ask me where Rex is if he's not with me! I took a box of chocolates to my Dr.'s office.  I know the Docs there don't approve of refined sugar and all that stuff but I couldn't bring myself to buy broccoli and ranch dressing for them, my hands rebelled as I reached for the chopped veggies and my heart agreed with the apostasy.

I fired my orthopedic surgeon. I had knee replacement a year ago and am still in pain.  When I told him how much pain I was in after nearly a year he said, "Get a cane!" 

My regular Doc asked me what anti-inflammatory meds I used that didn't work, prescribed one I hadn't taken and had never heard of and guess-what-chicken-butt? My knee feels so much better. Still not 100%, some pain but not disabling pain. I can walk and I even went to the mall today to pick up the last thing on the list and didn't want to cry on the way back to my car. 

My regular Doc also said she wanted me to start a gratitude journal and list three things a day that I am thankful for. She is so sweet though because she also said, "Don't pressure yourself, if you can only think of 1 thing then just write down one thing!"

My PTSD is out-of-control.  I have had it for years and years, since I was 9.  I've seen therapists over the years and have learned all the tools for handling it but the Doc says the knee surgeon kept me on Norco too long (3 months) and taking that really evil drug caused a spiraling affect. (Should that be effect? Know what, I don't care, sometimes apathy just wins out!).  Anyway, The spiraling affect of no REM sleep for 3 months, fatigue and depression (another evil side effect of Norco: depression).  So, I spiraled and spiraled until I got so deep I reached the places where I had buried the reason for my PTSD. 

I kind of relate myself to Pandora with my very own box.  I unwittingly cracked it open post surgery and Norco; the PTSD, Depression and Ugly Memories flew the coop. 

Today is a good day though.  I slept in until about 8:30, read in bed with Rex cuddled up next to me for an hour, checked in with my niece (good day for her so far).  Ran to the mall, teased people who were wearing t-shirts and goosebumps (frickin cold today) and ran into Boardmart looking for Metal Mulisha shorts for my grandson....thank the good Lord they didn't have any.  I guess I'll have to find him something that doesn't have a skull on it....oh darn!

Talked with my grandson's fiance, she offered to help me decorate!  She's really very nice and really very good for my grandson.  I told her maybe later...maybe if I slip a little Jack Daniels in my Kicker I'll feel like it.  She's pretty mellow and said we could just decorate a little on Christmas Eve and the tree was very happy out on the driveway, getting water and cold air. 

After my visit with my Dr. (Dr. Ng, very nice woman) she asked me if I would like her to pray for me! What?!? Have you ever had a doctor ask you that?  I find most doctors in a hurry to get on to the next $135 patient visit and rarely even make eye contact.  I said yes and she took both of my hands in hers and she said a wonderful prayer.....and today, I feel better!

Now I know I am supposed to write 3 things down that I am thankful for but it is so hard to narrow it down to just 3. In spite of my severe depression and apathy (ew, heebie jeebies just thinking those adjectives are about me) I feel that I am the most blessed person in the world. I have the best husband in the world who tells me how much he loves me everyday and the positive affirmations he gives me are so incredible. I am thankful that my husband cherishes me, not many women can say that. I am thankful for my children, they are healthy and loving and smart and successful and pretty darn good looking! I am thankful for my grandchildren, 1 boy (sorry, honey, I know you're a man but said boy because that's what we Nana's do) and 6 girls.  Awesome, gifted children and young adults. I am thankful for my friend and family, my sister who is incredible, my soon-to-be granddaughter  (when they get married but no rush on that!). I am thankful for Rex, he is my buddy and he keeps me moving and when I am laying in bed crying he always comes running and lays his head next to mine and puts his paw on my shoulder.  I am thankful for cheesecake, garlic, green olives and butterscotch lifesavers.

I am thankful for this new anti-inflammatory and my Dr. and I am thankful, that right now I want to go get my little tree and deck it out! 

December 18, 2012

Christmas Blues

Every year for Christmas I decorate every room in the house; living room, family room dining room, bathrooms and bedrooms. I decorate doorways and walls and lamps and chandeliers. I decorate the front porch and the entry. I usually have a tree about 9 or 10 feet tall and decorate it to the hilt.

I do this every year by myself because my husband (love you, Honey) is in retail, which basically means that he doesn't have a day off from Black Friday until Christmas day. If he does have a day off he is exhausted. So, I decorate by myself, I shop by myself, I wrap by myself, I box up and mail stuff off by myself.

This year I just can't do it.  My Christmas tree is sitting in the driveway, I bought an uber skinny 3 ft tree because the thought of wrapping lights and decorating a big-ass tree just made me tired. The boxes of decorations (and there are a bunch) are sitting in the entry, unopened.  The presents are piled in the family room waiting to be wrapped...they look kind of lonely and naked just sitting there. I used the excuse that I couldn't find the scissors so I couldn't wrap them but my grandson had scissors in his room. He brought them out to me and now my only excuse is, "I don't want to!"

Actually, I do want to. Well, I want to want to! 

What is worse than depression? Apathy. Is there enough Wellbutrin in the world to help apathy?

I have a niece who is in a pretty awful state. She is homeless. I tried letting her stay with us a couple of times but her mental state is just too disruptive. She is a danger to herself and to my family. I help her because she is lost and needs lots of love and lots of help.  Don't get me wrong, I am not coddling her, I am using tough love and it kills me.  I want to wrap her in my arms and take care of her which would be the biggest mistake in the world. I listen to her, I take her to appts and run errands with her.
Its hard. Its very hard. She just lost her 21 year old daughter to cancer so on top of her own issues she is now trying to deal with that and its sending her all over the board.

Its hard. Not just the being with her and helping but I am getting nothing but grief from those around me for helping.  My husband and grandson have been supportive but everyone else has no problem stating what a fool I am for helping.  It hurts.

Honestly, I would rather sit on my couch and read a good book and take a walk. I would rather someone else "be there" for the lost. I would rather be working on my own mental health (which is sorely in need of some nurturing).

My grandson (dang, I love him) just got engaged. Very nice woman, I like her.  How many people have called me or texted me to tell me they don't approve of them getting married so soon!  Am I wearing a badge that says I am the boss of them. They are adults, they made a decision. If you have a problem with it, deal with it or talk to them.

I am not the Queen of the family, I have power over me, that's it. I do not perpetuate or pronounce anything. My job is to get through the frickin' day, not to lord over the family and tell them what to do or how to lead their lives, that is apparently my mother's job.

I would rather that Christmas was cancelled this year....Hey, maybe on the 21st it will be!  If the Mayans are right I won't need to decorate that tiny little tree or take my niece to the homeless shelter or mental health. 

My mom is mad at me, a misunderstanding on the phone a couple of weeks ago.  I forgot all about it  but got a call from my brother a couple of days later. He said he heard about "the Call". I didn't know what he was talking about so after asking him what he meant he explained that Mom called him to tell him that we had a misunderstanding on the phone. She didn't get a joke I had made blah blah blah, etc and at the end she got it. She told me she was sorry, she had misunderstood. So she called my brother to tell him she hoped I didn't "Make a big deal about it."  I'd already forgotten and she was making calls telling family that she hoped I wouldn't make a big deal.  She called my husband too.  I was visiting my sister when we had the call.

I came home from visiting my sister, got home in the evening and went to bed. In the morning my neighbor came over with a couple of problems she wanted me to help her with and then I got in the car and went looking for my niece who had been missing for about 2 weeks and didn't know her daughter had passed. I drove around until it got dark. When I got home there was a message from my mom on the phone. "This is momma, I thought you would have called me to tell me you got home safe and how your time with your sister was but you didn't....well, I'm not surprised!" Click!

So, I guess what I am saying in all this ranting is that my cup runneth over. My cup runneth over with helping you and you, with your demands and your lack of respect. My cup runneth over with depression and apathy. My cup runneth over with being pulled here and there and being judged on things you don't know but think you know.

I will help my niece because she needs help and apparently no one out there (except you, Alice) cares enough to get off their asses and help her get to where she can get help.  Lots of people who are all yak and no shack.

I will not call my mom because I don't have the energy to deal with the drama.

I will decorate the tiny tree and that's it. I will wrap presents but they won't be the fancy-over the top wrapping that match the bulbs on the tree.

I will continue to take my frickin' Welbutrin every day even though, obviously, it doesn't appear to be working.

And fair warning, I may wear my pajamas on Christmas day, all day, and not my best jammies but my most comfortable jammies. 

November 19, 2012

She's BaaAAAaaaaAAaack!

Its been a really long year, Long year. Remember last January when I made the resolution to keep my blog up and write much more often? Funny thing...that was my last blog for the year.

I had a total knee reconstruction which I might add was TOTALLY unsuccessful.  I am still in pain and of course constant debilitating pain is depressing.  I had a total nervous breakdown in April. Not a pretty picture.Oh, then I found out I'd had a heart attack the prior year. I remember the day, I was crying and holding my chest and told my husband that I thought my heart was breaking....guess was!

Hard to spell correctly let alone write clever sentences when you feel like crap, so I've pretty much stayed away from writing anything, well except for a little email I thought might be helpful for someone I love more than my life itself and found out that I am a perpetrator of lies and basically not a nice person. Add that to the pain and depression....yippee...wish I was brave enough to pull the trigger but basically, I am a chicken.  Guess I'm gonna have to wait for someone to drop space garbage on my head  or run a red light and t-bone me...anyone....anyone...anyone.

Okay that explains the past 11 months.  People arguing and putting each other down about politics, family stuff,Parts of the last two years have sometimes made me wish I was adopted, or at least blind and deaf.

What inspired such a loser to get back on the laptop and write?  Poor you, cuz I am about to tell you.

Yesterday I was surfing through Facebook.  Checking out the cute Twinkie cartoons, seeing what friends and family are up to. I saw a picture with a bumper sticker on it. The bumper sticker read, "THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR BABIES DADDY". It was posted by a dear friend who I really really love. It was "Liked" by a couple of other people that I really really love.  These women who I love so much are also adamant Pro-Life proponents.

You're 14 years old and you just been raped you better have that baby...oh yeah and remember:  "THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR BABIES DADDY"

You're 16 and just found out you're pregnant and 18 year old boyfriend who swore undying love is heading out to college and is not coming back better have that baby and, oh yeah.. "THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR BABIES DADDY"

You're living with your boyfriend and found out your pregnant. Your boyfriend decides he's not ready to settle down so he's going to go sow some more wild oats and will catch up with you better have that baby and oh yeah.. "THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR BABIES DADDY"

I am so angry I can hardly stand still.  How many of these girls and women and many many other scenarios have had to turn to Medi -Cal or MediCaid for prenatal care, for delivery of their babies. How many of these girls and women have been kicked out of their homes and families have turned their backs on them?

If you are going to fight hard to prevent abortions and then post a picture that states:  "THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR BABIES DADDY" you need to sit down and think again. We are the government. You and Me, and him and her. If you think abortion is murder and want to crusade against it then you better be prepared to help those girls and women raise those babies or at the very least help those girls and women get back on their feet so they can take care of those babies by themselves.

If that bumper sticker is posted by a Christian, than I don't want to be a Christian.

January 07, 2012

So Much More Than Just A Cup Of Coffee

Do you remember your first cup of coffee?  Did you ever stop to think about how many pivotal moments in your life were accompanied with a cup of hot, aromatic coffee sitting at your side?

So many of us love the smell of coffee first thing in the morning! For some it is energizing, for others it is comforting. But what happens when that robust aroma is not expected? You walk into a room in the middle of the day and bam, there it is, coffee! Where does it take you?

The smell of coffee is probably one of the first memories to take up residence in the baby-Toni brain. I find it hard to recall a morning, growing up, that coffee wasn't part of the scenario. I did not partake of the drinking of coffee, just the sniffing, until I was about  14 years old.  We were on a family vacation. We rented a 25 foot trailer and parked it north of Crescent City, California one night on our way to Oregon.  There was a large lagoon on the east side of us, as we slept that night, and the Pacific Ocean on the west side. I had never slept along side the ocean so I spent most of the night listening to the pounding surf and wondered how the water got to the lagoon and if we would be washed out to sea.

In the morning, the fog was thick and the ocean sounded angry.  Mom and Dad were sitting at the little table, warming their hands around their mugs as the steam rose above their coffee. Mom's coffee was black, no cream, no sugar. Dad's coffee; black, two sugars.  I sat there in my light grey jeans and navy blue sweatshirt, just a little shiver going on, not so much from the cold as the "BIG-ness" of the event. Ocean. Fog. Giant Sequoias. Mystical mists that detached themselves from the thick fog and floated towards our little traveling abode as if to probe the contents and determine our purpose for intruding.

Mom handed me a cup filled to the brim, coffee, cream and two sugars.  I wrapped my fingers around that cup and was warmed right down to my toes.  Sipping slowly, I felt the whole world opening up to me.  Instead of feeling like an intruder, I felt as if I belonged, probably the first time I felt like that in over 5 years, since leaving Colorado when I was 9. Not just belonged in California, but belonged on the beach that cold morning in the fog, belonged with those majestic trees. I was not an intruder, I was not an observer but I actually had a relationship with all the wildness of nature, I was in harmony with it. I wasn't afraid, and if the ocean had decided to come wash me away it would be an adventure not a battle.

Just one cup of hot coffee on a cold foggy morning on the ocean....pivotal!

Do you remember your first cup of coffee? What does that smell first thing in the morning do to you?  What pivotal moments in your life were accompanied with a hot cup of java?

January 02, 2012

Ceviche and Resolutions

Happy New Year to all.  2012, has a nice ring,  doesn't it?  My resolution for the new year is to blog more often, to blog those stories and events that I think about and to hesitate less about putting words to paper.

One, two, three....begin!

I am often asked for my recipe for Ceviche, which is raw shrimp marinated in lime and garlic. I thought I would put it down and then when asked how to make the magic I could just say, "Check it out on "musingsfrommara"! Cool idea...or not, but it will save me the time of writing it down each time I am asked!

Warning (and disclaimer):  I don't typically follow recipes and I don't measure, so everytime I cook something it is just a tiny bit different. I am going to list the ingredients and approximate amounts and you can change it up to suit your taste.  (Like the way I put it back on you if it doesn't taste as good as I've promised!)

1.5 pounds of shrimp. I like to use shrimp about 1 or 1.5 inch but you can use large prawns just clean and cut them up in 1" pieces or you can use the teeny weeny cocktail type shrimp. Your call.  I find that the size I use gives you a good bite.
1 large yellow onion
1 large armenian cucumber  or seedless cucumber  (equal to about 1.5 regular cucumbers)
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
4 or 5 stalks of celery
3 or 4 serrano peppers
1 very large red bell pepper
8 limes
3 or 4 or 5 green onions with good healthy stalks
sea salt

Not necessary but certainly suggested would be a couple of cold beers, Pacifico or Tecate, an extra lime and a little salt on a plate....for the cook and helpers!

Night before you are going to serve your ceviche (if you are using pre-cooked shrimp you can do this in the morning-of  but an all-night marination certainly adds to the scrumptiousness and makes the shrimp almost crunchy)....okay, back to night before....clean and peel shrimp, rinse well. This can take awhile if you are not used to it.  A CD of appropriate music can help prepare the mood and enlivens the task, Buena Vista Social Club or Cesaria Evoria  is right on the money. The music will travel down your finger tips, into the prawns and create magic!

Juice 6 or 7 of the limes and cover the shrimp with the juice.  Chop the garlic into tiny, tiny bits and mix in.  Refrigerate overnight.  I sometimes put mixture in a zip-lock baggie with the air all squeezed out but I like the taste better in the morning if I've used a glass or ceramic bowl....probably psychological but, hey, it's my kitchen and I do what I want!!!  Just make sure the juice covers all the shrimp.

Next day, at least 3 or 4 hours before serving get out all your ingredients and prepare your space for singing, dancing and creativity.  Chances are, you may have gone through the Pacifico, or if you had help with last night's prep  you may have shared the Tecate....Good For You!  So, this morning you will need to bring out the Long Island Ice Tea (chill your glass in the freezer, make sure the rum is good stuff  and celebrate the creativity of cooking).  Our musical accompaniment for this part of the dish demands tunes with a touch of Ole'...I prefer Gypsy Kings ....can use say "Bomboleo"?

Let the shrimp stay in the fridge will you chop the veggies. Ceviche tastes the best when it is really really really chilled!  Dice the onion, cucumber, celery, red bell pepper, green onions. Place into large bowl.  I would estimate that for the amount of shrimp about 1 1/2 cups of each veggie should be used.  I scoop all the seeds from the cucumber. Ceviche is all about the crisp of a bite so nothing mushy!

Ceviche was one of the best kept secrets of South America for, apparently, centuries!  Depending on where you are on the continent it is known as ceviche, seviche or even cebiche, but it is know as GOOD...uh, excuse me, BUENO!  MUEY BUENO!    Many consider ceviche the National Dish of Peru, suggesting that ancient indigenous people salted and marinated their fish and the Spanish introduced lemons and limes and the marriage of the two cultures created this marvelous dish. Some historians hold that ceviche's roots are in Arabia.  All I know is that in the making of Ceviche  there should be a great merriment!
When the cook celebrates life, dances and sings and toasts to God and Goddess, the partakers of the dish will be blessed with good food and life's blessings!

You are sipping that Long Island Ice Tea, aren't you?  By now you should have grasped the hand of anyone who has wandered into the kitchen and spun them around in your version of Salsa.  Your hips should be swaying to the music and every now and then arms up and feet stomping.  Kitchen Flamenco is mandatory! Wheelchair bound excuses! Snap those fingers and spin! Ole'!

Serrano peppers....Thank You, God, for this little beauty.  I clean all the white membranes and seeds out. Did you know that peppers have been cultivated in South America (Ecuador) for over 6000 years.  Christopher Columbus encountered them in the Caribbean and took some back to Europe where most plants were kept as botanical exotics but the Monks (God bless the Monks!) experimented with the peppers and found them to be a real boost to their culinary arts!  I, personally, can't imagine a life without chili peppers. Maybe, just maybe, the poverty of the European kitchens in the middle ages was the cause of such turmoil such as witch hunts and Inquistitions.  The lack of delicious flavor will, indeed, make one cranky!

Rinse the cilantro and pull the leaves off the large stems.  I don't chop the cilantro as small as the veggies.  I kind of like the look of the wavy leaf here and there in the ceviche.  I chop about a quarter of a cup, loosely, sometimes more, sometimes less. Cilantro is definitely a "to-taste" ingredient.  I like lots, other like it not so much!

Drain the lime juice out of the shrimp. It will have a kind of milky tone to it and milky tones are not appetizing, unless you are talking about milk or vanilla ice cream.  I don't drain it in a colander though because I don't want to lose any of the little bits of garlic. Just tip the bowl and drain out what you can. Now mix it all together, veggies and shrimp mix.  Cut the last lime in half and cut a thin slice for garnishing. Juice the remaining halves of lime and add to mixture.  Add sea salt to taste, garnish with slice of lime and cilantro.  Return to fridge until serving time. Serve with a little salt dish of sea salt and invite your guests to use their fingers to salt the dish to their taste.  Fingers are essential tools to sensuous meals!

Serve as a salad, an appetizer, with chips as a salsa or on a hot day in the middle of summer serve poolside as the main dish with an ice cold beer and a shot of Patron!

Substitutes? Oh so many!  You can add roma tomatoes (remove the seeds, remember no mushy!), roasted corn is a great addition (adds color and taste!), black beans if you are looking for more protein but then you will have some moosh! An orange or yellow bell pepper for color and more crunch.  Sometimes I add a shake or two of dried red crushed peppers or will take another clove (or two) of fresh garlic and add it to mixture with veggies.  Pampered Chef has a wonderful little concoction, Buffalo Rub, and a little spritz of that can add some pizzazz!
I hope you like it!
Oh, if you're really lucky and blessed, your significant other will want to share the event with you and hang out! My husband Frank cleaned and straightened the pantry, discovered some long lost CD's  and hung out with me.

Culinary Hint:  Kissing in la Cocina adds flavor to every meal!