Monday, April 23, 2012

Done too soon

I have had two weird brushes with mortality lately – none of them have involved me directly, thankfully (baby kicks in reminder of the lives we are both living right now …) – but this is kind of a mind fuck for me, all the same.

(Sorry – I should have put something in there that said something to the effect of “I’m reminded of how short life is,” but I’m all about honesty here.  I am having a hard time processing everything.  Hence, that delightful phrase “mind fuck.”)

First – a tribute to someone I never met – Jim Mosier from Oxford Falls Mississippi:  The world is a strange place that seems to get smaller with each passing phase of technology.  I never met Jim, I just knew him first from Twitter and then on Facebook.  Most of my foodie friends know Jim because of his carefully crafted Bloody Mary mixes and other items that he developed in his kitchen.  Jim was passionate about small and independent businesses.  He was also handy for a quick and snarky comment on Facebook.  I will miss his wit and spirit.  I guess Jim passed on about a month ago, so this is a belated note of mourning, but Jim will be missed all the same. 
I sit here today and I keep writing and deleting the next narrative.  Because how can you encapsulate in words someone who was larger than life, more original than any character shown on screen or page … how can you write about someone who should not be dead?  Someone whose spirit should have transcended something as unfair as an untimely death?  

My phone rang last night and it was my beloved mom, in tears.  My heart stopped as I wondered if something had happened to my father or another member of my family.  But no – it was news about one of my mother’s dearest friends, taken too soon after a reported ATV accident.  

Sandra Ehrhardt.  I’ve known that woman since I was a child.  I babysat her daughters.  I remember going to the hospital after her youngest, Samantha, was born.  The first time I ever pumped gas?  It was for Sandra … She was my 4-H leader, she taught me how to make homemade caramels.  When I started my job at Schmidt Printing, I found out that one of my co-workers who later became one of my dearest friends was her first cousin.  I know this woman’s mother.  I know her husband.  I attended her eldest daughter’s wedding and I remember how beautiful Sandra looked that day.

This woman was in my life.  Not a constant presence, but if someone mentioned her name in passing, it brought up the instant image of Sandra’s quick grin.

There are a couple songs that are in my head today – one is a quick lyric from Bruce Springsteen’s “Terry’s Song”: “When they made you brother, they broke the mold.”  And then my mind turns to Neil Diamond and his song “Done too Soon.”  Diamond goes through a list of historical figures – Jesus Christ to “E.A. Poe” and then sings: “And each one there/ Has one thing shared: / They have sweated beneath the same sun, / Looked up in wonder at the same moon, / And wept when it was all done / For bein' done too soon …”
I try to be cognizant of my loved ones.  There are people in my heart who are gone that are thought of daily.  Does death make me appreciate my parents more?  I loved them fiercely in the first place.  But I will not lie.  After a restless night that found me on the couch sleeping, waking, and feeling my kid’s intermittent kicks, I crawled into my own bed this morning and marveled at the bristly feel of my husband’s new haircut.  Then I texted my mom to remind her that I loved her.  Then my cousin Trix, who called immediately – I made sure to get a quick “I love you” in before we hung up.  I emailed my friend Cathy to tell her that I loved her and that I was thinking about her family in the loss of her beloved cousin.  I’ll try to call my dad this afternoon.  I need to text my other cousin who is celebrating her birthday today …

Today, in the midst of email requests for work projects, I will let my mind wander.  Although I’m more secular than spiritual these days, I offered up a very heartfelt prayer to Whomever last night to make sure that Sandra’s family felt peace in the midst of all of this turmoil.  I pray for Mark.  I pray for the girls.  I pray for the grandbabies that were such a light in Sandra’s life.  

To be honest:  Today fucking sucks.  And that’s about all I got … but I also have a ton of memories.  If you’re the praying type – say a prayer for Sandra’s family.  I know some of my readers know them as well as I do.  And if you’re not the praying type – have a good thought for them.  If you would have known Sandra, you would have been marveled by her.  She was a force to be contended with.  She was a good mom, a good wife, a wonderful grandma, and a good friend.  The world is a little emptier today without her.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Past, present, and future

Three years ago ...

A little over three months ago ...

Damn ... still four more months or so until we meet you ...
My grandparents always kept a clipping on their refrigerator that said "Cherish yesterday, Dream Tomorrow, Live Today." Seems like a pretty appropriate thing to ponder on one's anniversary.  I cherish so many memories about my wedding day, I dream about what is to come (as the kid kicks me in unison to my thoughts), and I think about what my husband told me last night when I told him to remind me that today was our anniversary** - "No day is more special than the ones we already spend together." 

Ayup - I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

**A) I'm horrible remembering dates, even my own anniversary.  I just suck.  and B) I'm pregnant -  hence I can think of something "important" while standing in the kitchen and forget it five steps later.  Seriously ...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stewed White Beans with Spinach and Bacon

Every once in awhile, you come across a recipe that is totally worth it's overall "pain in the ass" factor.

Friends:  This is that dish. 

After an ass-kicking three weeks of proposal writing and miscellaneous activity, I spent part of last Friday going through a stack of recipes that I had torn out of magazines (ahem, some of them going back to 2006 ... "Shelley, 'Hoarders' called, they were thinking you'd make a good subject for next season ..."), trying to find them on the Internet and then PDF-ing them to my hard drive.  Because, yes, in my world I apparently need about 150 more recipes to try, in addition to the ones I already have bookmarked from my forays into the Interwebs and have I ever told you that I have 50+ cookbooks that are standing sentry in my kitchen?  You might be able to classify this hobby of mine as an addiction, but ... meh.  I can stop whenever I want, right?  Right?

Well, I figure in a few short months, my life will be altered by the arrival of my mini Mahannah.  Painstakingly dicing baby red potatoes for Rachael Ray's Stewed White Beans with Spinach and Bacon will be a fond memory and I should make hay / obscure recipes while the sun shines.  So friends ... seriously.  Make this dish.  The beans become velvety in the short time it takes to simmer them in chicken stock.  The bacon is crunchy and the wilted spinach makes one feel even virtuous in the light of the bacon fat that the potatoes were browned in.

This one is a definite keeper.