Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dinner Conversation about Future Dinners

Last week, Kristy said she was in a cooking funk.  I am too – maybe it is a symptom of grieving.  Even so, I should know better than to ask for dinner ideas from the Common Household, especially while we are eating dinner. 

A few nights ago we had this conversation, which came up because the Common Household Husband expressed some discontent with the dinner I had prepared since coming back from the Old Folks Home.  I had gone for several days to help my Mom cope and plan the memorial service which will be in a few weeks.  At the Old Folks Home there is food just everywhere.  

Once we were all back home, my husband wanted to pick up take-out, but I just wanted something simple as an antidote to the overabundance and gourmet nature of the food I ate for four days.  That sounds an awful lot like the Israelites complaining about God's wonderful gift of manna, but that’s just how I felt.

Me:  If you are at all interested in what we are going to have for dinner this week, please make suggestions for what I should cook.

Husband:  I’d like meatloaf.

Youngest Daughter:  Mommy, you know what I always ask for. 

Me:  I have no idea.

YD:  I’d like M and C.

Son:  What is M and C?

Husband:    Mice and Cockroaches!

Me:  Oh, PLEASE!  I am trying to eat here.

YD: M and C is macaroni and cheese!

Husband:  Ramen noodles aren’t too bad either.

YD:  Ramen noodles taste pretty good as long as you use the flavor packet!

Son:   What if I used the mac ’n’ cheese flavor packet on the ramen noodles?

YD: You could do that.  You could use the mac ’n’ cheese packet, and also substitute the mac ’n’ cheese pasta in place of the ramen noodles.

Husband:    Or you could substitute cream of mushroom soup.  In fact, I think I would like cream of mushroom soup noodle loaf.  Put it in the fridge and it would be sort of like meat loaf.

Me:   (further losing my appetite for the dinner in front of me)

YD: Poor Daddy.  You love cream of mushroom soup so much that you would eat it congealed.

Husband:    Well.  Cream of mushroom soup probably does have clotting factors in it.

And then ensued a whole conversation about blood.  During dinner.  While I was eating.  Is it any wonder I am in a cooking funk?  And how is it that I have raised children who speak positively of ramen noodles?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Events of the Day

- Towards the end of a restless night, I was awakened by the phone at 5:30 AM informing us that there would be a two-hour delay, due to Ice Storminess.  The teens who benefit from this decision slept through the phone call.  Not me.  It’s my job to post the news.

My very modern news distribution technique.

That's 1/4 inch of ice all over that front walk.

- While I was taking my shower this morning, I recalled the dream I had last night.  I periodically have a dream about being in the back seat of a moving car with no driver.   Sometimes this is a nightmare, and the car goes over a cliff.  A few times I have dreamt that I am controlling the car with my mind from the back seat.  (Someone needs to develop this technology.  Maybe DARPA already has.)  This time the dream was not scary, just a curious thing that the car could go without a driver. 

- Still in the shower, I moved on to ponder life, death, and everything in-between, when a stink bug fell from on high.  Usually I am not afraid of bugs, but when I am not wearing my SuperMom superhero suit, and a prehistoric ugly thing falls on me, I can get jumpy.  I shrieked (but only once).  Then I viciously stomped on it, and immediately regretted it, since it broke the cardinal rule about stink bugs: never crush one.  Always capture a stink bug and carry it carefully to the outside.  I wasn’t dressed properly for that maneuver. I swished the carcass toward the drain, hoping it would fit through and be washed away.  It did.  Whew.

- Later on, I e-mailed my husband about my dream.  He played Joseph to my Pharaoh, and wrote: “The car dream suggests that you feel that your life is out of control and that no one is at the helm.   Just remember that there are some things that are uncontrollable, just as there are some things that are unknowable.  But also remember that the universe regresses towards a mean, so things generally work out.”  I am glad that my dream has statistical value.

- I tried to do some paid work today, but had difficulty concentrating.  Finally I put it aside and made the rest of the phone calls on behalf of my Mom, informing people of my father’s death.  I hate leaving such a message on voicemail, but it became necessary, as nine days have gone by already, and my Mom was getting nervous about it.

- I mustered my energy and went to the grocery store.  I’m not much interested in cooking or eating, but it seems the rest of the family is interested (in me doing the cooking, and them doing the eating).  How fortuitous that right next to the grocery store is the liquor store!  I stopped in and bought some wine, including this one which I bought solely because of the name.  I am the middle child (although definitely not sassy).  I’ve been especially grateful for my brothers in the past days and weeks.   And very soon in the future, I will be grateful for the chance to try this wine.

- I took a nap.  I took a nap! 

- My husband says that the stink bug might get stuck in the shower drain.  But that is not something I am going to worry about tonight.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Go Gently

Youngest Daughter wrote this poem in December, and I wanted to share it with my readers.

Go Gently Into That Good Night

“Do not go gentle into that good night.”
These are words that are well known
To any who quake at the sight
Of going to our divine home.
The greatness before us as we go
Into the darkness, grave and deep,
Is shattering to those below,
So that our souls do break and weep.
The night, though, does not frighten me,
For I have heard the legends said:
The happiness they say you see,
The care death brings, when life has fled.

But to those who stay behind
Death is a grievous blow.
Enough so that a few have mind
To join in the eternal flow
Of angel’s song, with loved ones dear.
But most stay behind and shed
A tear for those who stay down here,
And also for those who have fled.
But death, my friends, so I have heard,
Is everything that you could hope.
So why our tears, our spoken word,
The way we simply have to cope?

We weep for those who stay behind,
While loved ones go to greater things.
We weep, for who would have the mind
For cheerful shouts and joyous rings
As they go where we cannot
Until we join them in our time
And love again, in that holy spot
Where joy is reason, love is rhyme?

We weep, yes, it should be so
When they leave us, but I say
If it is in pain they go
Then let them be. If I may
Care to say so, let me tell
That if in pain, and death is near,
Do not make your loved ones dwell.
Do not make them linger here
For then we think of us alone,
We think of how afraid we’ll be
And sad, as well, as they are shown
Into the world we’ll one day see
A part of, but now we go on.
But if in pain, then they should not.
If a young life, I am wrong.
If life is full, then I am not.
For they have lived a life worth living,
Full of goodness, full of light.
So if in pain, then think of giving
And let them go to that good night.

This text is copyrighted.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Help, Thanks, Wow

Next week is going to be a very tough week for the Common Household.   This isn’t an easy post to write, and no fun to read, either.

My father went to the hospital Tuesday with an infection, and the outcome is not good.  Today he entered hospice care. I’ve had a steely resolve about hospice care being the right thing for him, for quite some time now.  Why, now that the time has come, has my steeliness dissolved?  I still know it’s the right decision, but I am not feeling like steel at all.

In the coming week, my husband will be traveling to go to his uncle’s funeral.  Another sadness, and I can’t go with him.  One unnerving thing about his trip is that he has booked a room at a hotel which costs $54 a night.  I am under the perhaps snobbish impression that if one stays at a hotel at that low price, one will get caught in drug-raid crossfire or will be overtaken by vicious molds.  (This is what comes of watching Downton Abbey every day of the week.)  On several counts, I’ll be very relieved when he returns. 

I was going to go to see my parents today, but last night Youngest Daughter had a fever.  It looks like it is just a bad cold – the fever is gone, and for that I am quite grateful.  But I am here, and not there where I could have been some help to my Mom.  Who knows, though – maybe I am meant to be here at home.

I will try to carry on this week, helping my kids go on with their normal lives, but with a layer of prayer underlying everything.  Anne Lamott says that the three main modes of prayer are Help, Thanks, and Wow.  I will be using all three prayers liberally this coming week.  (I’ve said Help a lot already, and I'm saying Thanks and Wow today for the support and love I’m receiving from friends.)  And I’ll probably be doing a lot of crying, laughing, singing, and baking. Anything to get through it.

Update:  My dad passed away peacefully, in the presence of my Mom and my brother, late in the evening on January 19.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The meaning of words

During dinner last night, we somehow got onto the subject of people who cheat and steal.  The conversation continued as I served dessert, which was pumpkin custard.

Youngest Daughter, who seems to be inheriting her father’s sharp cynicism, exclaimed, “There’s always somebody belching off the system!”

Me:  Belching?  I don’t think that’s the right word.
Son:  I do not think that word means what you think it means.
Husband:  Inconceivable!
Son:  Oh, yeah… when is Uncle J going to return our copy of The Princess Bride?
YD:  I said BILCHING!  That’s the word Daddy used!
Husband:  I said bilking.   Bilking the system.  By the way, what does ‘perfunctory’ mean?
Me:  It means doing something in a rote way, like you don’t really care if you’re doing a good job.
Husband:  (looks at me doubtfully)
Me:  Would you like me to get the dictionary?
Husband:  Yes.
Me:  (with a certain degree of outrage) Dad doesn’t believe my definition.  I don’t believe Dad when he tells me that Senator Ted Kennedy wanted to ban bathtubs, but Dad doesn’t believe me when I define a word properly! 

(My tone of voice adequately conveys the ridiculousness of my husband’s assertions, and the rightness of mine. I guess I should let my outrage at the assertion about bathtubs and Sen. Kennedy fade, since he is dead, but I just can’t let it go. I’ve been watching Season 2 of Downton Abbey, which makes me feel unduly righteous, for some reason. I fetch the dictionary.)

YD: Every day somebody dies in a bathtub.
Husband:  SEE?!
(I bring the dictionary to the kitchen table. I ask myself how my sheltered child would know a statistic like that.)
Me: “Perfunctory: 1a.  Done merely for the sake of getting through a duty. 1b. done in a cursory or careless manner.  2. Superficial; mechanical.”
(I look in triumph at my husband.)  SEE?
YD (looking at a picture on the opposite page):  What’s that?
Maybe this would look better on Colin Firth?

Me:  That is a two-horned periwig!  Son, get a load of this hairstyle for men!

Son: (looks and chokes)

(YD’s obsession with all things biological allows her to spot another picture on the dictionary page, this time of something that is clearly anatomical.)

YD:  But what is that?
Me:  We are NOT going to look at that while we are eating.
YD:  Why not?  What is it?
(As I snap the dictionary shut, I catch a glimpse of the word ‘peristalsis’ above the illustration.)
Me:  We are definitely not talking about that right now.
Husband:  Why not?  We’re finished eating our cumpkin pustard!

At the mention of pus, our meal is definitely ended.

Just for the record, the scientists in the family (that is, everybody but me) think that peristalsis is a perfect topic for the dinner table.  You could do a live demonstration!  At least the dictionary did not have an illustration of the word ‘peritonitis.’

Happy eating, everyone!

Baked Pumpkin Custard

Weight Watchers Community Posted Recipe
Posted on 1/16/2013 by LEAFMONSTER

This is basically pumpkin pie without the crust.

4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 75 min
Serves: 8

3/4 cups sugar  
1/2 tsp table salt  
1 tsp ground cinnamon  
1/2 tsp ground ginger  
1/4 tsp ground cloves  
2 eggs  
15 oz canned pumpkin  
1 1/4 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk (= 12 fluid ounces = 1 can)  

Mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evap. milk.

Pour into custard dish or empty pie dish. Bake in preheated 425 F oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce temp to 350 F and bake for 30 to 50 minutes longer or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.