Decisions, Decisions

I was just reading a post* that triggered a thought that helped me understand something about paired couples.

My blogger friend is just working through her loss of her husband, her partner in life and friend. She states,

“This is where I am heading now. I’m kind of liking my own company. I’m kind of liking making my own decisions on what to do, where to go, whom to see. Not at first …. wow…. that was ROUGH. Coming to realize just how many decisions he made SIMPLY by being there, was amazing.”

What caught my attention was the last line. “Coming to realize just how many decisions he made SIMPLY by being there…”

To how many of us does that apply to?  I see that every day of my life. I can see how many of my decisions hinge on my him being here with me.

My youngest daughter recently got a divorce because of that very thing. She tried to explain it to me because she knew how much I liked the guy.  He had his faults, many to be sure, but I liked him. No, I loved him like a son. It’s hard for her right now because her husband made a very good living as a geologist, but his being there either to approve or disapprove, to cheer or not cheer her in her life’s goals was stifling her.  Mostly, he disapproved and would unconsciously block her efforts. It can be so hard to fight that and when you have a dream you keep putting off, you do need someone in your court to achieve it.

I love my husband, but he pretty much does the same thing, but I plod on anyway.  I’m seventy now and I’m pretty certain, he’s not going to bail on me now. Pretty certain.

We don’t always see eye to eye … he still says things like…  do we really need that?… well, if you get that you got to get rid of something else. It used to work to get me to put down whatever it is he doesn’t want me to get.  I just ignore him now. That’s just what he says.

But of the things he doesn’t say or no longer needs to involve little things. It’s always the little things. For example, I’d eat mostly vegetarian, but he doesn’t like squash… well, he likes potatoes, onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and tolerates peas, carrots and celery. Eggplant, forget about it.  He will try exotic veggies like celeriac at least once. So, I give him that. He doesn’t care for fruit unless it’s dried. I would like to eat more seafood but he doesn’t care for most of that. No shrimp, crab or lobster- too expensive. None of that. What can I say? He’s a meat and potato kind of guy. He also loves lots of starch, breads and pasta.  Loves pasta, so that’s an easy fix.

Without him, I’d eat whenever I feel like it, nothing if I didn’t.  Because he works all day, I feel obligated to have something ready for him when he gets home. I know what he likes. He loves Mexican, pizza, sushi and Chinese takeout.  Things like that. I tolerate it. Well, I like homemade Mexican. Homemade is always better.

As my sister can attest to when I screamed out at her, “I HATE CHINESE!”. I cringe at Chinese.

I don’t really, but when we were living in Alabama and in a small town to boot, my father’s favorite places were Mexican food and Chinese buffet. There weren’t many interesting places to eat there, other than fried everything else. Buffets were popular there and we were so delighted when they opened up a Chili’s, a Red Lobster, and a couple of other chains.  That was as exotic as they got.  If we wanted something better, we’d have to drive an hour to the big city of Birmingham to get it. Which we often did.

Keep in mind, we grew up in California and as much as we both grew to love Alabama, it initially took some major psychological adjusting to get there. Food was one, not to mention, NO STARBUCKS!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On this one particular day, while working several days on the house we were prepping for mother to come live with us, I’d been stripping wall paper all day long. I worked a regular day job to boot, so this was my weekend. There were several rooms with this awful black with pink floral wall paper and it had to go. Needless to say, she’d gone shopping for supplies and either she had found or not found something we needed and perhaps asked what we were to eat. I don’t recall the details to be honest. From the top of the ladder, exasperated and exhausted I listed my frustrations, punctuated with an adamant scream of “and I hate Chinese!”

Her eyes went wide looking up at me.

“It’s true. All we eat is Chinese and I’m sick of it!!  Mexican and Chinese! That’s all there is!” Instantly, we both erupted in laughter. I climbed down and we just laughed  and laughed until our sides ached. Laughter is the best medicine.

There were times during this event of caring for mother that I thought how difficult it is to come to a town with none of the amenities we were both accustomed to and always considering another person. Sharing a house with a sister I’d not been with since we were teens was hard.  We’d grown worlds apart. Sometimes we didn’t get along. Her making adjustments to me and my husband was tough as well. We were always having to be like the tides, ebbing and rising. Was it all bad?  NO!  I miss my sister terribly with her in Florida and me in California now and I know I’d miss my mister if he weren’t by my side.

Is it hard? YES! but on the flip side, what are they sacrificing for being with us?  What is the sum total of the equation? Relationships are give and take. My sister has chosen to remain single. It is very hard for her but she has chosen.  Like my daughter, they have chosen to not have anyone by their side to share the good, the bad and the ugly with.  Sometimes we have to fight to find our place and keep our identity. Some of us don’t know how to fight so it’s better to do without.  I think it frightens some people to blend into or with someone else. I know the biggest fear for me was not to lose self. I had in my previous marriages and feared that in this one. Granted, sometimes, part of self is needed losing. I remember the me that was loud and brash. That’s gone and it needed to be gone.

I always had a hard time speaking up. Given my past of “children should be seen and not heard”, I had difficulty standing up for myself. With my mister, our turning point was one day, many years ago. He did or said something and I turned away from him and uttered under my breath, “Idiot!”.  He thought he heard but said, “What did you say?!” I looked up at him and said it again. Suddenly, instead of being mad, we both burst out laughing.  Again, the laughter.  I learned then and there that it’s not the end of the world to disagree with your partner. They aren’t going to stop loving you if you speak your mind. From then on, that’s how it was. Now if one of us does something stupid, we jokingly say “Idiot” followed by laughter.

Even so, there are always going to be things I don’t do because of him as I’m sure there are things he doesn’t do because of me. Would we be better without? No.

As my friend went on to say, “It (those decisions) wasn’t an issue because we were together…”

That’s it.

 

This post was inspired by the blog, “Where Do I Go From Here?” 

 

 

 

 

Medudo Rojo (Red Menudo)

Menudo Rojo (Red Menudo)

Menudo Rojo (Red Menudo)

GUSTAVO60

GUSTAVO6

“Inexpensive to make, and fully authentic, this menudo will have your Latin lovers swooning! This recipe uses a combination of chiles to deliver its trademark red color, and packs a mildly spicy punch. And it is really quite easy to make – my husband absolutely devoured it the first time I made it.” Quote by Gustavo6.
The following recipe is taken from “allrecipes.com” and is as close to what my aunt Carmen makes as I could find on the web.  To give credit where credit is due, the original web link is at the end. If it’s written in italics, I wrote it.
When I saw the recipe for an Italian tripe stew by Paola,  “Trippe in umido alla Genovese:” 
https://primononsprecare.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/trippe-in-umido-alla-genovese/ on Paola’s site,  her interest in my recipe compelled me to join “our” familial versions on one page. Granted, mine is borrowed.
I do want to mention that there are other versions of Menudo as it varies regionally.  I had never known that until I stepped into an authentic Mexican restaurant, “La Orquidia” in Alabama and ordered.  It came without the hominy.  I discovered that those from the Guanajuato region did not use hominy.  It was disappointing. Their Pozole on the other hand was similar and delicious as was the rest of their menu.  If you go online you will discover several other versions of Menudo.  The version that follows is like what my family made and I grew up eating. Enjoy!

MENUDO ROJO

  • 3 gallons water, divided
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef tripe, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons ground red pepper
  • 5 de arbol chile peppers *
  • 6 japones chile peppers, seeds removed *
  • 6 cups canned white or yellow hominy, drained
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Add all ingredients to list

Directions

Preparation time: 30 min   Cook: 8 hours    Ready in: 8 hours 30 min

  1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon water to a boil. Place tripe in the pot, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Periodically skim off fat with a spoon. Drain water, reduce heat, and pour in a fresh gallon of water. Continue to simmer tripe for 2 hours; drain.
  2. Pour remaining 1 gallon water into the pot with tripe, and bring to a boil. Stir in garlic and 1 white onion. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the broiler.
  4. Arrange the de arbol chile peppers on a baking sheet, and broil about 2 minutes, just until they begin to scorch. Remove from heat, slit lengthwise, and remove seeds. In a blender or food processor, blend the de arbol chile peppers and japones chile peppers until very finely chopped. Mix into the pot, and continue cooking 2 hours over low heat.
  5. Mix the hominy into the pot. Continue cooking 1 hour. Serve with remaining onion, cilantro, and lime juice.

You may want to start this the day before.  I know when my aunt cooks it she starts very early in the morning.  It is usually ready by about 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon.

She usually has on the side, in little bowls, dried oregano, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro and onion and slices of lime.  You add these to taste.  The above picture shows mint but it is not in the recipe. 

**The two above chili’s look similar but have a different flavor, so you may need to look them up. If you buy them dry, which is fine, you just need to skip the roasting part. (Roasting  will fragrant your home).

Chile Japones

I copied the recipe from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/68837/menudo-rojo-red-menudo/?internalSource=similar_recipe_banner&referringId=15343&referringContentType=recipe&clickId=simslot_4

It was the closest to how I’ve seen my aunt make it.  She makes it so well, I’ve never had to make it myself but once. How many times do I have to brag on this? This is delicious!

Kind of a deviation from what I normally do.  I hope you like it!!

Norwegian Wood

These pictures remind me of Colorado and my cross country skiing days. Lovely blogsite. See Norway!!!

See Norway - Se Norge

I 1965 slapp rocke-gruppen The Beatles melodien ved navn ‘Norwegian Wood’ og den har siden blitt like udødelig som naturen i de norske skoger!  Derfor anser jeg navnet på dette innlegget som svært passende når jeg viser dere en rekke vinterbilder fra skogene i mitt nærområde.

In the year 1965 the rock group  ‘The Beatles’ launched a melody with the name ‘Norwegian Wood’,  and since then this melody has become an evergreen that seemingly will last forever. That’s why I find it very suitable as a title for this post where I present you with a number of winter pictures from the woods ion my iminent neighbourhood.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADet har vært en del tåke i området samtidig som natte-temperaturer har ligget rundt 10 minusgrader. Underkjølt regn har gjort veiene såpeglatte, men også pyntet litt på busker og trær!

It has been somewhat foggy in our parts lately and the night…

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Stabbed 37 Times

Hello blog friends.  I’ve been MIA from the blog community and will unfortunately be a long time trying to catch up on past blogs.

I had to depart suddenly as my brother was stabbed by a “tenant” he was evicting from his home.  He is fortunately recovering well. The trauma team was amazing and repaired his heart and lung, damaged in the altercation. We have determined he comes from sturdy stock, because it was a miracle he did not die.  Although he did say he remembered a “gold” room where he saw mom and his dad, both deceased. So who knows?

I cannot say enough thanks to all those who came to render support. It was very inspiring at how so many coworkers and friends showed up for the next few days. I think it helped for him to know so many family members and friends came to his side and offer if nothing else moral support.  It was a tenuous few days but he is doing well.

It was also cool to hear stories from previous Air Force buddies who told us stories about his knack for picking up strays and rehabilitating them, making mascots of some that stayed with them during their service.  Not surprising.

My brother Michael is one who has a big heart.   He has a tendency to take in troubled youth and this one was more trouble than he ever anticipated. Having been a foster child himself, he knows how young people may sometimes need a break. Despite the fact that this young man had assaulted his own mother and grandparents,  Michael was determined to give him a chance. I am unclear as to how old he was but I’m guessing he is in his early 20’s and still at large.

All the way over there, (I drove) I kept remembering the first time, I saw Michael as he got off the plane with his older sister to live with us. He had been in a foster home in Boston and both he and his sister were just as cute as could be. He was 5 and she 7 and I was in love immediately.  I had just turned 18 that day, so I always thought of them as my birthday present. It still brings nostalgic tears to my eyes.

He was wearing a little beanie, shorts & jacket, knee high socks and a big, big smile. I wish I’d had an iPhone then, but no matter, it’s permanently engraved in my memory. Tears fell when I told him.

His buddy, “Jim” was telling us stories and the one that stuck in my mind was about a dog, they would later call “Runway”.  He said, it was near death and rescued by Michael, taken to the vet and how Michael didn’t bat an eye as he promptly plopped down several hundred dollars to have her looked at and treated. She came to live on the base in, I think he said, Minot? (Not sure.) She was there for a good many years before she died.

Michael was a mechanic for military aircraft and I remember how he was always bouncing back and forth between there and Saudi.  After retirement, he went to work for Boeing on what I suspect are aircraft requiring top secret clearances.( I only know because his family always has to be cleared as well, which they do periodically for his job. No clue what he does though.  One year, we went through it twice as my son’s MSG assignment required it as well )

In the last couple of years Michael has fought cancer, gone through chemo, had a stent put in his heart which the nurses and docs commented on as he had a possible attack while in surgery. Shortly after that he had back surgery, so he’s had a very busy year. Despite all that, my daughter and I were amazed at his ability to bounce back.  He was disappointed when the docs nixed his bike riding days for several months. Sigh!  No holding this guy down.

We hope he will get to go home soon, though maybe with his wanting to get up and get going might be harder to control.

In the meantime, his assailant has not been apprehended.  We called the police and asked about this, but he lives in a city where law enforcement is overwhelmed with stabbings and other grave crime.  I was shocked at how many more had made the news in just 24 hours!!

With my other brothers help we changed locks on his home and my daughter and I cleaned up what had not been picked up yet.

It might interest everyone to know that his nurses were mostly men and his trauma doctor was a woman.  Progress. My, how times have changed!

The trauma doc didn’t look like she’d hit 30 yet, but she was phenomenal and just as great about explaining what she did and even answered my other daughter’s questions (on the phone) and who’s in nursing school.  Living in a small town, incidents like this would be rare and she was disappointed she was not in a place where she could attend to her uncle.  I took pictures of all the data on equipment, tubes in and out of him and wounds for her to observe. With his permission, of course.

Sorry, no pictures that are releasable.

Just so you know: If I don’t “Like” or “comment” on your blogs,  do not despair. It may just be too overwhelming to catch up.

POST SCRIPT:  He is a hardy soul. What I failed to mention was that most were defensive wounds, still serious of course because of the possibility of infection, but only about a third were in vital areas. For awhile they were not sure of tendon damage, as the ones in his arms did affect movement but only for a few days, so they didn’t have to go back in for more surgery to repair them. So that was good.

Thanks for all your well wishes.