Senior Sisters Reunion

In twelve days I’ll see my sister whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. It’s time. Two weeks ago she posted on Facebook, pretty much our sole form of communication, that she had a near death experience as a reaction to a new medication.

What am I waiting for, I thought, the funeral! I think not. I shot off an instant message to see if she was open for a visit. No response. Great. She’s either dead or doesn’t want to see me.

I had tried to word my message with an appropriate amount of interest in visiting with her while also indicating a desire to see New Orleans. My goal was to take any pressure off her to feel like she had to entertain me. I mean how do you say, I want to see you before one of us dies.  Viewing her body in a casket is not how I want to remember her.

JB - Tammy wedding 1996
The two of us in 1996

 

For two days I moped around convinced that a reunion with my baby sister was not going to happen. Then a response!

Why had I stressed! She’s the one who always made us late. She’s the one who put off everything, and I mean everything, until it was usually too late to do it.  Oh yeah, and everyone loved her. She’s the baby, unbelievably nice, sickeningly sweet but always late.

She wants me to come! She’s excited about my coming. She’s telling all her friends I’m coming! Whoopee! Definitely the response I was hoping for.

The last time Tammy and I saw each other we were young, at least relatively speaking. Tammy was in her early forties and I was a month away from 50. Do the math, the reunion of two senior sisters!

The countdown begins. In twelve days I’ll be on my way from the hot, dry Southern California desert to the hot and humid City of New Orleans. I’m going to see my sister. Day 12 and counting down!

 

 

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T. H. I. N. K.

Jibber Jabber with Sue

How many times have we found ourselves in situations wherein we wish we could take something back?  A few choice words, a scornful look, an awkward handshake, a wrong name, a bad lane change, a premature text, a distasteful joke and the list goes on.  What’s interesting, of course, is how we all choose to deal with it once it ‘comes out’, so to speak?  Do we Scamper, make excuses, own it, hide, turn red-faced, apologize or simply ignore/disregard that it even happened?  We did a lot of ignoring in my family and not a lot of apologies were ever given that I remember, anyway.  Not surprisingly then, the same pattern of ‘ignorance is bliss’ would follow me into young adulthood.  Also, not surprisingly, it turns out that ‘sweeping things under the carpet’ does NOT work well.  Especially in relationships.  And so, I have worked hard over the past…

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A dash of this and a dash of that

 

Daily Post: Dash

A dash of this and a dash of that! Hah! What a joke. Even with a very specific recipe, there’s a better than 70% chance the dish won’t be edible. This is one of those stories.

It all started one bright and sunny, okay “hot,” Thanksgiving in Southern California. You might say ended, but that would be getting ahead of the story.

Most families have their traditional holiday meals, and mine was no exception. Southern cooking—oh yeah. I dream of the shreds of ham hock floating in a sea of collard greens. candied yams, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. “Yum” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I don’t need a recipe to cook Southern. I can cook Southern blindfolded. It comes natural, even after having been away from the South for 40 years.

This year I decided to add a little variety and make a staple of many other families—cranberry gelatin mold.

My girlfriend assured me this was a “never fail” recipe, even for me. Right! “There’re only five ingredients, and one of them is water. Basically two steps. You can do it!” I can do this. I envisioned this beautiful, red cranberry mold sitting in the center of the table—decorative and delicious!

cranberry jello mold
In My Dreams

 

I followed the simple directions to the letter; I didn’t miss a single one.  Hope springs eternal, right?

Everyone is milling around the kitchen, setting the table, finding serving utensils and checking to see if anything is forgotten.

“Oh, I made jello mold,” I announced triumphantly. I slid it gingerly from the fridge. The platter was ready. This was such an unusual event—by that I meant me cooking something new. Does jello mold count as cooking? Not sure, but anyway. Everyone was watching as I deftly inverted the mold on the platter. I gave the mold a little shake, just to make sure it was loose. I began to remove the mold.

It was obvious immediately—this was not going well. There was a pink, primordial like ooze seeping from beneath the mold. Should I lift it off more? I had no choice. The mold was free and so was the jello ooze. There are no words to describe the hideous, unappetizing goop on the platter. My son was laughing uncontrollably. Everyone else was smiling with a few snickers, but for the most part polite. But this was not the first cooking debacle my son had witnessed.

melted cranberry mold
In Reality

 

He grabbed his phone. “I’ve got to post a picture of this on FaceBook!”

“No! No!” I lunged for him and his phone. He’s got a good six inches on me, but my daughter-in-law in a sympathetic moment, grabbed the phone from behind. I sighed.

I mean really, it’s November in the desert and still hot! Anything could melt, right?

In the closet, under the bed

Daily Post: Tremble

“Get under the bed, get under the bed.” If we weren’t scared before Martha said that, we were then.

My two younger sisters, shorter and faster than I, skittered under and left no room for me..

hiding-under-bed

“Where do I go? Where can I hide?” My nine-year-old voice trembled in fear.

“In the closet. Get way in the back.” As Martha  shoved me, I was overwhelmed by the comforting smell of Mom’s Tweed cologne. I sure wish she were here. She could make this stop. I know she could.

Then we heard the loudest noise I’d ever heard-bang! “I’m going to shoot somebody!” His voice was deep and loud. His Southern accent was stronger than ours. Like “Ahm gonna shoooot sumbuddy.”

We cowered. “Are you alright?” Martha whispered to my sisters.

“Uh huh.” I could tell they were crying. I wasn’t crying—yet, but I was hugging Martha so tight, she could hardly breathe and she was trying to pry my fingers away from her waist. I just squeezed tighter. What was happening?

And then we heard it again. It seemed louder this time. We waited, not breathing. Nothing. What happened? Was he coming inside. Were we the somebodies he was going to kill. I felt sticky all over and my throat hurt from clenching my teeth.

Finally, Martha said, “wait here.” “Don’t go, don’t go.” We were crying loudly. So what if he heard us. “Don’t leave us. We’re scared.”

Martha hugged me and pried my fingers away. “I’ll be right back.” Then she kissed the top of my head.

“Come over here. Come get in the closet with me.” Shaking and trembling, my sisters tentatively snaked the short distance from the bed to the closet. We huddled tightly.

Then we heard the back door close. “It’s okay. Come on out.”

Martha took us into the living room and sat us down on the sofa. “Your mom will be here any minute. Everything’s okay.” We heard the sirens and wanted to jump up and run out and look. “Stay here!” Martha was shouting and tears ran down her face. Martha had never raised her voice at us, ever.

pic-for-trembling

Later, much later, Mom told us that our neighbor, whom we had never met, killed himself with a shot-gun. We didn’t even know what that meant. We didn’t know anything about dying or being killed. But we nodded like we did. We didn’t ask any questions. We knew we didn’t want the answers.

 

 

Carnism: It’s worse than it sounds

Tonight for dinner I ate a delicious, spicy bean burger and nothing was killed in order for me to have a healthy, high protein meal. Saturday night, my friends and I cooked Spinach Stuffed  Portabello Mushrooms. Yes, a few mushrooms had to come out of the dark, but they didn’t come kicking and screaming.

portabello

For almost twenty years I was a vegetarian, eating animal by-products, i.e. yogurt, cheese, eggs. Then I moved to Imperial Valley, “Where the Sun Spends the Winter.” That was in the year 2000. There was no health food store and it was uncommon to find organic anything in one of the few supermarkets. Where had I landed! I felt like a foreigner in a world of meat-eaters. Everywhere I looked: meat, meat everywhere. Tri-tip (which is a cut of beef specific to this area), steak and ribs. Eating out for me became a thing of the past.

And it wasn’t long before my vegetarian lifestyle became a vague memory. I began to eat fish. We all know how healthy salmon is. And somehow we convince ourselves that it is not cruel to kill and eat them. You know that those fish tossed on the deck of a ship are screaming in pain, don’t you? Don’t laugh; it’s true.

January of this year I couldn’t do it anymore. Fish feel pain. Fish have mothers. For the first time I heard the word carnism. It basically means that eating animals is a belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals. Carnism is invisible in that if we had to slaughter our own meat, we wouldn’t be so willing to eat it.

chicken-headI’m pretty much a city girl.  I still remember visiting my grandparents in rural Texas and being chased around the yard by my cousin swinging the head of a decapitated chicken. I was horrified. My aunt chopped the head off that chicken while it was still alive. I had gathered eggs from that very chicken in morning. Alive, she chopped the head off an alive chicken. I didn’t become a vegetarian then, but I pretty much blocked the image of the murder of that chicken from my mind and continued to eat fried chicken after church every Sunday.

baby-chick

Of course we eat only certain animals. We have some arbitrary system and belief system that drives our choices. Would you eat stew made from Labrador Retriever? OMG!! We can’t even imagine it. My sweet little chihuhuas, Taco and Daisy for dinner—no way in hell! I would fight to the death to save my dearest friends.photos-videos-from-phone-009

I promised myself I would keep my posts to around 400 words, and I haven’t said all the words I have on the subject of carnism, but I’m going to quit writing.  So stop and think when you cut your steak, chicken, pork or fish tonight. What if it were Daisy! Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

Crafty Friends

Daily Prompt: Craft

When I look at who my friends are, I am often surprised. The women I spend the most time with are between the ages of 20 and 40. I am almost 69.  I never even noticed that my friends were so much younger than me, or at least that so many of them were, until recently. I’m not sure what changed, but I’m glad it did.

 

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Me, Lucy, Jasmine and Alisha hiking Grays Mountain

I am a personal trainer at a local gym and, well not to brag but it does make me darn proud, there aren’t many women my age who can keep up with me.  Even though I don’t seek out young women to work out with, we seem to find each other.

 

Working out together is in some ways an intimate experience. We help each other with our form, which means looking at each other’s physical strengths and weaknesses. We know what makes each other sweat, laugh, and cry. Forty year’s difference in age doesn’t seem like much; fitness is a great equalizer.

Last night I had three of my young workout partners over for dinner. I wasn’t paying much attention to their conversation as I was clearing the table, but I heard them talking about someone who had made such a positive difference in their lives, inspired them to go college, and was proof that obstacles were just challenges in disguise. “Who are ya’ll talking about?” They started laughing, almost hysterically. “What’s so funny?”

 

portabello

 

“We’re talking about you!”

“You guys are embarrassing me.”

That’s when I saw it clearly for the first time. I could be mother or grandmother to these women, but instead they are my best friends. When they started telling me the ways I had inspired them, it was my turn to laugh.

 

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Jasmine, Alisha and me working at Bucklin Park

Yes, I inspire them, but they do the same for me–and they motivate me. They keep me focused on giving my best in a workout, they are interested in my life and never me old—well not much!  They respect my education, my fitness, and what they call “wisdom.” I call it survival strategies. If I didn’t work in a gym, I can’t imagine how our lives would have ever crossed. I love my job, and like many of you, feel it is my craft. These young women have been my inspiration to refine my craft, continue to improve, and learn. Because of them, I am the top trainer in our club. They have helped me better at almost everything I do. Because of them, I really feel that I have turned my job into a craft and look forward to going to work everyday.