You have been so good to me this week. So good. You told me to rest, and to keep it simple, stupid, and gave me specific strategies for making this last quarter (!) of 2007 easier: you sent family recipes (none of which are supposed to be kept secret, thankfully), recipe ideas, and suggestions ranging from meditation to repetitive screaming. Ten minutes max prep time, you said. I got McIntosh apples in the mail from New England, and made the crisp again with them. (It was better.) Last night we had dinner with friends at their house; they a specific dinner in mind (I’ll share it soon), so they did the grocery shopping, and I just showed up and took notes while they chopped and stirred and washed dishes.
You’ve pampered me.
Really, though. The weather in Seattle hasn’t improved, and frankly, I’m not feeling much better. And I don’t want to talk about it out loud, because all I have to share is a big bouquet of complaints. (If you’re looking for a pick-me-up story today, that’s your cue.)
For the first time in the (wow) four years since I was diagnosed, I feel targeted. Life feels unfair. Just a few weeks ago I felt so strong, so able. But fall’s rolled around, and the combination of the cold weather and the rain and my changing treatment has somehow pulled the rug out from underneath me. The wolf is back. And she’s making me cranky.
It’s happened before, sure. Last spring was bad. Maybe I’m frustrated because I thought I could beat her this time. I am napping, dammit. I have stresses, but they should be manageable. Why, oh why, doesn’t she at least do me the common courtesy of calling to make an appointment? I’m sure I could have fit her in. Teeth and all.
My (by this point, quite extended) family always encourages me to rest, rest, rest. This is a good thing; I need the reminder. A friend sent me a daily list; it requires an hour each (every single day) of the following: reading, yoga, meditation, napping, People Magazine.
It’s cute, sure, and it would probably cure me for life, but it hits a nerve. Sometimes hearing so many people telling me to stop is equally tiresome. We spend so much of our lives being encouraged, pushed, forced into setting goals, goals, goals. Planning one’s life is a good thing, supposedly. Dedication and perseverance (and perhaps well-aimed stubbornness) are positive attributes, right? It’s awfully confusing when the people you love tell you to stop being the person you’ve worked so hard to become, the person they’ve congratulated you so heartily for being.
But you, the new reader, you don’t know the same me. You’re here for recipes, so perhaps, like me, you understand that in a way the pain, whatever causes it, also disappears in the kitchen. (Or, as I’m learning, in the garden, even if it’s raining.) Or, at least, you don’t kick me out of the kitchen. You don’t know see me standing up in the morning ohsoslowly on the rainiest days, or how hard I crash at night, when my body’s simply done for the day. You read sparkly Jess. And I like this, because your comments and emails have made my work (here on hogwash, at least) feel worthwhile. So thank you.
This morning I started reading (take note: me! on the couch! with tea!) The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, by Kathleen Flinn. (It comes out next week; someone forwarded me an advance copy.) I’m not too far along, but in the very first chapter, the author talks about her decision to go to culinary school. She keeps flashing back to this idea that she might die never having learned to cook (in Paris, at Le Cordon Bleu, to be exact), and it haunts her enough that she applies.
So far, her story seems somewhat similar to the one I’ve lived myself, but still, she’s making me think: What is it in my life that I think is worth living for? When I have more years behind than ahead, what do I want to have been most important all along? And am I living with those goals in mind? Am I resting enough that my waking/active hours can be spent doing what matters most? Or do I want to give up on finding the perfect balance and live hard, live loud, live more at the risk of living less?
Don’t let me give you the wrong impression here: I am not flirting with death. I am far, far from it. (Lupus is only fatal in a teensy, tiny percentage of people; it is a managed disease that one lives with and my case is not severe.) But I do, you know . . . wonder. Times like these, when it hurts to cut a bagel in half or use the can opener or spin the hairbrush around in circles when I’m drying my hair, or when I skip out on a movie with friends because that ninth or tenth hour of sleep seems just that much more valuable, or when my arms get tired just hugging my husband, I get a bad case of the contemplations. Days like today, I’m so caught up thinking about my future, what I want, what I have, what I simply can’t have . . . that I forget to look up.
But back to the task at hand. I am listening. Really. This week you’ll get adaptations of friends’ recipes (I’ll tell you when I do that, of course), and lots of quick (-er than this), tasty ways with vegetables you might not cook often enough: Turnips. Delicata squash. Kale. The tiniest summer squash I’ve ever seen.
And much less bitching. I promise.
Here’s of my husband’s perennial favorites. He even opened the can for me.
Recipe 273 of 365: Pumpkin Frappe
In a blender, whirl equal parts good vanilla ice cream, canned pumpkin pie mix (not pure pumpkin, but the kind that’s already spiced), and milk. Pour and serve.
(One cup each ice cream, pumpkin pie stuff, and milk makes one large or two small servings. Oh, and for the best consistency, stick the pumpkin in the fridge for a few hours before you make these, so it doesn’t melt the ice cream.)