Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.

Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.
How I feel after throwing a party...

Thanks for the visit!! :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bowled Over

Today was a blustery day.

O.k. it was more than was downright vicious wind.  In some places it got up to 102 mph.  It was bad enough where I was so I can't imagine 102. 

Something like 15 semi trucks got blown over on the freeway not too far down the road from here.  The freeway was closed and countless trees, store signage and telephone poles were flipped and cast about wreaking havoc from Weber County down to Salt Lake County. 

Here is one  of my experiences today:  

Today I realized that I am not invincible. I had to try 4 times to get around a SUV in order to get into a building that I had a meeting in this morning. When I first got out of my car, the wind hit me so hard that it blasted my hair straight up in the air and then gave me a swirly. I almost lost my scarf but grabbed it at the last minute and as I came around from behind the SUV, a gust of wind hit me so hard it pushed me back. I had to attempt it 3 more times before making it around a corner into an outdoor wind tunnel and then it took two people to open the door. Ridiculous and a little unnerving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cathy's Sherried Tomato Soup...To. Die. For.

At this point I have made this recipe on several occasions and it is absolutely excellent. It is a recipe from Pioneer Woman and she's never failed me yet. :)

6 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 Whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 46 oz. Bottle of Tomato Juice (T: I used Campbell's Brand)
2 14 oz. Cans of Diced Tomatoes (T: I used Del Monte's Petite Minced)
2 Tbsp. Chicken Base (T: I used Better Than Bouillon)
3-6 Tbsp. Sugar (T: I used 3)
1 Pinch Salt
Black Pepper to Taste (T: I used 1/2 Tbsp.)
1 C. Cooking Sherry (T: oops...I only used 1/2...I just realized. BTW you can find this in the oil and vinegar aisle at your grocery store. It is salty, so do not add additional salt until you have combined and tasted your soup.)
1 1/2 C. Heavy Cream
Chopped Fresh Parsley
Chopped Fresh Basil (T: I only had dried)

In a soup/stock pot, Sauté diced onions in butter until translucent. Then add canned tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken base, sugar, salt, pepper and stir. Bring to a near boil, then turn off heat. Add in cooking sherry and cream and stir. Add in parsley and basil to taste.
Adjust the other seasonings and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Beginning to end I cranked this out in 20 minutes. It was excellent hot and fresh...and no doubt will be even more so tomorrow.

I am tucking this recipe away, not just as a tomato soup, but as a base soup for other soups (such as without the cream and with more veggies and beans a minestrone, etc. The sky's the limit!)

Chicken Adobo

I use to travel to the Philippines some years back and Chicken Adobo was, hand's down, one of my favorite dishes.  I got this recipe from a friend of mine from the Philippines.  I've used it on a number of occasions and it has never failed me.  Happy Adobo-ing! 

2 lbs. Chicken: bonesless, skinless thighs
1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
2 tsp. Crushed Ginger
1 medium Onion, Diced
4-5 medium sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped
2/3 C. White Vinegar
1 C. Soy Sauce (Hawaiian if you have it)
1 C. Water
3 Bay Leaves
Black Cracked Pepper
1/2 C. Warm Water mixed with 1/2 C. 7-Up or Sprite

In a large skillet heat olive oil. Add  in chicken, let brown. In a separte sauce pan, add a bit of olive oil and sautte the onions, add in the garlic and the ginger.  When onions are transluscent add back into the chicken.  Add water (1-2 C.) and bring to a simmer.  Add the vinegar, soy sauce and aditional water if needed, as well as the bay leaves.  Add potatoes and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Lastly add in the water/Sprite misture.  Let simmer several more minutes then turn off stove and serve over rice.

**Notes: I have made it with and without the potatoes and with and without the Ginger, as you please according to what you have and to your own taste.  Do not add any additional salt until you have added the soy and the vinegar, or you might ended up over-salted.

Very easy, relatively fast and very tasty

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert: Easy Peasy

This is a layered dessert, easy and relatively quick to assemble and well worth it.  It is decadent in its simplicity and its creamy-deliciousness.  :)

Whip it up and serve it out, your friends, families and guests will think you are a genius.  ;)

Note: If you have a food processor your cookies are crushed in no time flat.  If not, a large Ziploc bag and a rolling pin should work just fine.

  • 20 chocolate cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, divided (Tracy Comment: you know that means Oreos, right?)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 package (8 ounces) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese (softened or cubed), softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided (Tracy Comment: aka Cool Whip)
  • 15 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped (Tracy Comment: Reese's PB Mini PB Cups of course!)
  • 1 cup cold milk (Tracy Comment: 2% is preferable)
  • 1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
  • Crush 16 cookies; toss with the butter. Press into an ungreased 9-in. square dish; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread over crust. Sprinkle with peanut butter cups.
  • In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix and remaining confectioners' sugar on low speed for 2 minutes Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in remaining whipped topping.
  • Spread over peanut butter cups. Crush remaining cookies; sprinkle over the top. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Yield: 12-16 servings.

Tomato & Basil Soup with Tortellini

Tomato & Basil Soup with Tortellini
Ingredients (serves 4)

* 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or 1/2-to-1 Tbsp minced garlic
*1/2 of a finely diced yellow or white onion
* 1 28oz. can Hunt's Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
* 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (Tracy Note:I used chicken)
* 1/2 pkg. of the small pkg. of Three-Cheese tortellini, cooked (Tracy Note: I used the Buitoni)
*2-3 Tbsp. finely snipped fresh Parsley
*2-4 Tbsp. finely snipped, or torn, fresh Basil Leaves
*2 shakes of Celery Salt
*Black Cracked Pepper
* Parmesan as you please

* Crusty bread, to serve


1. Heat oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions cook about 1-2 minutes until fragrant and translucent.
2. Add tomatoes and their juice, stock and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes until tomatoes have broken down and mixture is the consistency of a chunky soup.
3.Add in the tortellini, cooking for 9 minutes at a low boil.
4. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding in Black Cracked Pepper, Celery Salt, Fresh Parsley and Fresh Basil.
5. Ladle into bowls, top with Parmesan. Serve with crusty bread.

Modified Caldo Verde: Collard, Potato, Bean & Kielbasa Soup

Note: This recipe came from One Potato, Two Potato by Roy Finamore.  The title of his recipe is: Kale, Potato, Bean and Linguica Soup.  I didn't have Kale, I had Collards, and I didn't have Portuguese Linguica (Sausage), I had Kielbasa, so that is what I used.  If you have Kale and the Linguica, by all means, use them as you wish.

I'm giving you my modified recipe.  We will make this again and again--it was phenomenal.  One of the great things about this recipe is that you can modify according to taste and what you have on hand.

2 tsp. Olive Oil, plus more for serving
1 Kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (or thinner if you like)
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4-1 1/2 lbs. of red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 bay leaves
coarse salt and black cracked pepper
4 very generous cups, thinly sliced, then quartered, collard greens (remove the tough spine, then layer all of your cleaned leaves on top of each other and roll together, lengthwise, very tightly.  Slice thinly (which is what we do), or chop coarsely.  We sliced thinly and then cut the wheels in quarters.  Do what pleases you where this is concerned.)
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes (or 1 3/4 c. peeled, seeded, chopped ripe tomatoes): I used canned
1 (15 oz.) can dark kidney beans, thoroughly drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 C. cooked beans): I used canned

  • Put the olive oil in a heavy stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add in kielbasa, cook 4-5 minutes, then add in onions, letting them become golden and translucent (about 5-7 min.)  Stir in the garlic and cook for a few minutes more, until it is fragrant. 
  • Add 1 C. cold water, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pot. 
  • Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and 8 more cups of cold water. 
  • Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce to a simmer, cover partway, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the collards and continue to simmer until the collards and potatoes are tender but not falling apart.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans and sausage and continue to simmer for another 10-12 minutes. 
  • Correct the seasoning as needed and serve in wide soup bowls. 
"The soup will really sing if you drizzle each bowl with a thread of fruity olive oil." -- Roy Finamore

If you are serving this on the second day, make sure you have plenty of broth.  Add water to thin the soup as necessary and simmer for about 10 min.  I didn't have trouble with the consistency the next day.

Serve with crusty bread and fresh butter and a crisp green salad seasoned with a homemade oil and vinegar dressing (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, olive oil and red wine vinegar.)

Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Tomato & Clam Sauce

I made this tonight.  It was spectacular and perfect.  I will be making it again and probably often.

Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Tomato and Clam Sauce
  • Angel Hair Pasta (1lb)
  • 2 cans minced, canned Clams: reserve the juice from one can, strain the other
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Minced garlic
  • 1 med. White Onion, diced
  • 1 Can of diced tomatoes (or fresh Roma Tomatoes 1 & 1/2 cups of diced or sliced )
  • 2 Fresh Lemons or 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • ¼ C. Cooking Sherry
  • 1-2 cups Cooking Wine of choice: I used White Cooking Wine: We don’t drink and so do not have this on hand.  However, if you do, feel free to use regular wine as you please.  Adjust your salt accordingly.
  • Black Cracked Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • 1 Can Chicken Broth
  • Water as needed
As you please:
  • 4 Tbsp Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Basil (10 leafs) chopped

Makes 6 servings…unless you love it…and then it makes less… ;)

In a large sauté pan:

In Olive Oil, sauté the diced onion, when somewhat translucent add in your garlic.  Add in 1 Tbsp of butter and continue to sauté.

When garlic is aromatic and onions are cooked, add in can of broth (or equivalent in bouillon/water), and un-drained can of minced/chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.

Separately, in a glass dish: add in minced clams and juices.  Add 4 Tbsp. of lemon juice and black cracked pepper to taste. Mix.  Add in to simmering sauté.

Add ¼ C. Cooking Sherry.  Stir, continue to simmer. Add in additional Tbsp. of butter.  Once the butter has melted, pour in White Cooking Wine.  Let simmer 5-8 minutes, while you work on your salad and salad dressing.

Taste for salt, add as desired.  Because I used cooking wine, which is already sodium rich, I did not add in very much additional salt at all.  If you are using regular wine, you may need to adjust.  Add in additional lemon juice as desired per your taste.

(If you choose to add in fresh Basil, which I did not have and so did not do, now would be the time to add it to your sauce.)

Cook your Angel Hair.  This takes 3-4 minutes.  Be ready with your strainer, however reserve about 2 ladle-fulls of the starchy pasta water.  Add these in to your sauce, and let continue to simmer while you handle the pasta.

Bring your sauce down to a very low simmer.  Just FYI: this brothy mixture is absolutely delightful.  Make sure you take a couple-three spoonfuls to taste to adjust flavors, and frankly…just to enjoy it.  It would be easy enough to get some crusty artisan or French bread and butter and just eat it as a soup…but that would be a different recipe then, wouldn’t it? ;)

Next: Choose one of the following two options:

1: Leave the brothy sauce as is.  Put your angel hair in a dish, or back in the pot, and pour the sauce over the top, mixing all together.


2: Add heavy cream into the brothy sauce 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring in until you have added all 4 Tbsp.  Once incorporated, combine the angel hair with the sauce.  If you wanted to you could make this a much richer, creamier sauce by adding additional cream.  This was not my desire at this time.

Done.  I served it with French bread and a green salad with a homemade creamy Italian dressing.

p.s. IF you have any leftovers, and you put them in the fridge…they taste great cold at about 11:45 p.m. while in the midst of buzzing around the house doing miscellaneous things.

Happy Eating.  :D

Taking a Break

Wow.  Even I surprised myself with my hiatus from my blog these past few months.
To be honest, I felt despondent about writing.  There was...and much going on the world that I felt overwhelmed and didn't know where to even begin.  On top of it, I wondered if I really wanted to be putting so much of my life out into the vapors of the internet.

So, I decided to take a break.  Give it a rest.  Take a reprieve.

But I'm back.

And I have stories.

And I have recipes.

And I have things to say...but then why would that have changed just because of a hiatus.

So, prepare yourselves, because the words are about to tumble down.  :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

For the Love of Kitties & Snakes...Another Excerpt From Our Pages of Marital Bliss

Alright! Alright! YES, I have been absent.  I've been busy with a dampened (read flooded when it's 2 a.m. and I'm standing there with a wet sock looking puzzled) basement, a family reunion with my crazy-ass family, the Utah Scottish Festival, grant reporting for grants written by insane people, and a brain buzzing chock full of thoughts on the world and humanity (and where do I even start with that??) and a yard that looked like the garden of weeden after two months of mostly rain.

So here I am.  I'm back.

I found that while I retained my sense of humor during these past few months that my writing was plagued with opinions and questions and ponderings on why the world is the way it is, and why people do the things they do.  I still have no answers, and so while I'm still kicking all of that around, I'm trying to be a little more lighthearted with my least for part of the bets, no promises, I am still me after all. ;)

So here is a fairly accurate, though probably slightly embellished, tale of a recent discussion that occured in my home.  My dearly beloved and I have been fussing back and forth for years over having a cat, or in my opinion two cats.  Is that really so much to ask??  I think not.  They eat all the little spiders and critters that you see, or don't...not that there are many, but I am a spider hater and I have a super Spidey sense that is rivaled by no one that I know.  If it's in the room, I can feel it.  And, since I live on the relative edge of a bunch of fields, and we get the occasional mouse in our garage, I figured they could take care of that too.  It's a brilliant plan if I do say so myself. 

Spouse...not so excited about it.  But get this...this is the new thing.  In sitting around talking to some of his man-friends on the Fourth of July in the park, they got talking about yards and snakes.

And so our conversation ensued yesterday:

T: Here kitty, kitty, kitty.  (Because I periodically bring up getting a little polydactyl orange cat...yes...I am that specific.)
J: No Kitty.
T: Aww, come on.  They will eat the little spiders and anything else that the spiders eat.
J: What is a kitty going to do when I release all of the Garter Snakes in the back yard?
T: WHAT??  What snakes?
J: The garter snakes I'm going to **release** into the yard. (View: grown man sitting in his easy chair, flinging his arms forward like "Go little snakes! Be freeeeeee!") They can eat the mice. (This is stated so matter of fact, one would almost think we had already talked about it.)
T: We do not "have" mice.  We've had a couple of mice on separate occasions in the garage during the winter.  We are not **releasing** (now my arms are flinging carelessly forward ) snakes into the yard.
J: Sure we are. (with a smirk)
T: Oh?? "Sure we are." Well if you "sure we are" on **SNAKES** you can bet your sweeeeeeet ass, that we will have an orange kitty in no time flat, my friend. (with my own smirk)

The conversation ended there, pretty much because the doorbell rang and we had guests. 

This continues an unresolved conversation...for the love of snakes and kitties.  I mean seriously--what is this man who has known me for 20 years thinking?  I loathe the spider so he ratches it up with snakes?? Really.

We will see what we will see.  I'm still betting on kitty.

Enjoy the's one of my favorite little weirdo songs I've come across in the past few years...and it fits the conversation. ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rending of Joplin, Missouri

Today I watched/listened to a video that was taken just prior to and during the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri yesterday, and I was immensely moved by it.

The video is dark, the lights are out, power is gone and there are people talking in a restaurant.  From the count one woman makes there are 18 souls or so.  They are bustling around trying to get organized with what to do and where to go.  A child cries, a mother shushes and tries to calm.  A woman weeps and apologizes for her fear.

There are brief flashes of lights and someone is pounding on the door to come in and someone rushes to let them in.  Everyone appears to be in the same area.  There is some question as to whether the tornado sirens went off or not and it is confirmed that indeed they did.

Suddenly there is a screaming roar, screeching, breaking, crashing and ripping--people start praying and calling out--some to God and some to calm others.  If possible the sound intensifies and it worsens.

There is crying and screaming but the noise of the destruction and the storm is so great that it overwhelms the sounds of humanity.  It waxes and wanes and you hear "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" and "Heavenly Father! Preserve us!" and "Mommy!! Mommy!!" and you do not know how these people are not silenced as they are swept away in their tears and fear into the sky to be relocated into the hereafter.

But they remain and amidst the cacophony and confusion you hear "Excuse me Ma'am" and "I'm so sorry!" and "Pardon Me." and then "It's o.k. It's almost over!" and the weeping and the fear and the panic and "I love you!" "I love everyone!" "Oh Jesus!" and not one drop of rudeness or anger--volumes of palpable fear and volumes of politeness, comfort and compassion.

It was--is--one of the most intense things I have ever heard in my life. Without knowing it at first, tears fell down my face in emotion and compassion and fear for these people who I do not know, but who spin this planet with me, who were standing at death's door, begging the hand to be stayed, in the middle of a 200 mph rage that ripped and tore apart the world around them...and who survived to walk the earth another day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Doing Unto Others...

The world is greatly changed since I was a little girl, and it really wasn't as long ago as it seems.  I noticed on the news last night that the Governor of Texas had asked that the people of that state pray for rain to help with the severe drought and wildfires that they are suffering from.  The more interesting thing, the more concerning thing that I saw was the mockery, the acidic words, and the hateful speech against him, against prayer, and against God.

If you are in despair, and you need help and you ask for the prayers of the people, how is that mock-worthy? What has our world become, if people cannot cry out for help to each other and to God? If you don't believe in God, that's fine, but why would you mock the faith of others? God bless Texas--I hope the prayers of the people reach God's ears and that your drought comes to an end.

I guess I am disturbed that everything comes to combat in our world. Everything is up for mockery, everything is up for dispute, everything is up for argument, everything is worthy of anger and disrespect. The people have become hard hearted and that is truly a sad thing to see.

It's o.k. to not be the same. It's o.k. to have different beliefs. But it's not o.k. to fling hate and vitriol and anger against everything that is different. People do not react with love and compassion the way they use to. They are quick to anger and slow to love. They look for slights and for offense.  They jump quickly to negative intent and they have no patience for human failings, for mistakes, for regret and for forgiveness.  This is not only an unfortunate and sad state of affairs but it is also dangerous.  It is dangerous because anger rules the fists, and anger puts thoughts and ideas in minds and hearts that have no business being there.  If there is no love, no compassion, no thoughtfulness or forgiveness to temper it, how can there be balance, logic, reason, growth, progress and learning?

It is important to remember love, sharing, service and friendship, even in the face of adversity and of our own trials, especially so during our most difficult moments. If we lose ourselves in the service of our fellow human beings, we focus less on ourselves and our self-interest, and we expand in the quality of our humanity and of our existence on this planet full of humans. In our moments of pain and anguish, if we can see outside of ourselves, beyond ourselves, to helping those that are less fortunate (and there is ALWAYS someone less fotunate) we begin to heal, and learn and grow. 

Each of us has a purpose, a reason for being.  If we look inside of ourselves at who we really are deep within (without having a pity party while doing it,) if we really look at the goodness, even if we feel it is only a little bit, and we focus on that and we nurture it, build it, feed it and grow it, we can bring ourselves to being a better creature, a better human. 

People have suffered horribly at the hands of others, sometimes on purpose, sometimes through thoughtlessness or mistakes, and that is just the fact of being a member of humanity, of participating in the human condition.  The thing that brings me inspiration and joy is when I truly set myself aside and think of what would be best for others.  People have hurt my feelings, wounded my pride, made me weep because of their thoughtlessness or meanness, but if I reign in my feelings of revenge, of payback, of tit for tat, of retribution, and I think about the humans around me, I find that I know the better thing to do.  I still need to be the best me that I can be despite the circumstances.  It doesn't mean I continue to allow them to take advantage or abuse, it just means that I become wise and learned and balanced and I move onward.

There is a lot of turmoil and dissention in our world today.  There is a lot of focus on wealth and material goods, on war, on pain, on death, on light mindedness and crass laughter, on degrading humor, on sexuality, on getting what's owed us, what we are entitled too, what we deserve, what is our right.  The hearts of the fathers are turned away from their children, and the children from their fathers.  There is sadness and despair because of selfishness and inhumane behavriors.  With all of this focus on the self, there is no chance for compassion to grow, for service to touch or for people to feel more than what is just them, in their own world, focused on their own existence.

We have become like the Romans during their fall.  Nero fiddles as Rome burns...we are a people of bread and circuses.

The thing that is being quickly lost because of all of this selfishness and pride is the common man.  The everyday, woman and child.  Despite the best efforts of many, no man is an island, not really, though many are starting to feel like they are lost in the tide of life and cast alone, upon some strange shore.  We are here on this planet together.  If we do not help each other, who will?  There is no one to save another, to lift another up, to love, to cherish, to cheer, to console, to protect, to fight for except for each other.  Who is in your charge?

In life, all around us, there are people that we can reach that perhaps will have no other chance than the one we give them, no other hand than the one we extend to them, no other love than the love we share with them. Our love, our friendship, our service may be the greatest gift they have to receive in the sea of turmoil in which they may be tossed about.  When all we do is look at ourselves, when all we do is look for the weakest link to exploit, when all we do is spew opinions and vitriol about the injustices committed agains us, against ours, when all we do is look for who is wrong and why we are right, we miss opportunites for blessing ourselves and others through service, through kindness and through compassion. 

There is no greater time than **now** to refocus.  The more inconvenient it seems, the more urgent it may be.  What can we do?

Who waits for you to **see** them? Who waits for your hands to lift them up?  If you do not do it, will there be someone else to step into your shoes, to stand in your stead?

Befriend now.  Don't wait.
Serve now.  Don't wait.
Share now.  Don't wait.
Love now. Don't wait.

Reach out now...there is always someone in need that may grasp on to your lifesaving hand from the dark.  Be the person that is there.  Step into your shoes and be who you were born to be.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Open Letter on Forgiveness and How Sometimes It Really Sucks to Do It... ;)

My niece, posted on one of my comments on Facebook about how forgiveness is difficult, especially when someone has wronged you sorely.  I wrote the following reply, which instead of just a few paragraphs really blossomed into something more.  I thought I would share it here. 
This is what she said:
"So, I have this issue: I know I should forgive, but I honestly don't know how to forgive those who have committed serious wrongs against me..."
My reply...

Well Chantyl, forgiveness is no easy task sometimes, if it were everyone would do it and be removed of the painful feelings and hurt that they have.  ;)

Sometimes it is a chore and a task and it takes awhile and quite a bit of effort to let go of the wrong and move beyond the event or the moment.  Sometimes we really don’t want to do it, because we feel, or we are, justified in the fact that a wrong or a grievance was committed against us.

I will share one of my stories of one of the most difficult times I had forgiving someone, and Girl, it took several years of significant effort on my part to do it all the way, but that was because I wanted to let go of my anger and hurt, more than I wanted to hold on to the injustice that was committed against me.

There was a man in a position of leadership over me, and he was young and full of his own ideas, and he was foolish in some of the decisions that he made and the things that he said.  He judged people because of the things they had and the things they didn’t have, and he made decisions that impacted their responsibilities and opportunities based on their material goods.

I was a diligent worker and a good leader, and I was committed to my cause and I loved the people that I worked with and that I served, but that is not what he saw.  What he saw was what I didn’t have and he considered that to be a lack of stability and commitment on my part, and so he removed opportunity for service, for light and for love from me.

I was infuriated and insulted.  I loved what I did, I loved the people that I served and I wanted nothing more than to be doing what I was doing!  How dare he tell me I wasn’t good enough??  How dare he tell me that I wasn’t committed?? How dare he tell me that my time was up??  My hair was Set. On. Fire.  My pride was wounded.  I wasn’t much older than you are, only a few years, and because of my thoughts and my anger, in turn, I made my own judgments against him.  It was an ugly thing I had in my heart against this man.  And so I removed myself and stewed and felt justified in my absolute disgust of him and his incompetence, and sadly enough, I did have hatred for him and anything to do with him.

While I felt justified, and in the right, I carried that upset around with me and every time I saw him I wished him death, or at least significant pain, anguish and discomfort.  I know, not nice.  My thoughts were dark, and I had little fantasies of his demise which always brought me a tingle of dark pleasure.  I wanted him to suffer and feel tragic the way he had made me suffer and feel tragic.  I wanted to hate him forever.

But life goes on, and unless we continue to stoke our own fires and to dwell on our upset and to get ourselves all fired up again, often our feelings can start to soften and mellow with time.

So, after a time, I got to thinking about it and I realized that I was tired of feeling so angry and so upset every time his name came up in conversation or every time I saw him.  It didn’t change that he had done me wrong, it didn’t change that I still thought he had made the wrong decision, but that wasn’t the point anymore.  I just didn’t want him hanging in my life that way anymore.  I was tired of thinking about it, tired of caring about it, and I thought “How have I let his stupidity impact other areas of my life in this way?”  And so I made it my mission to let go of this pain, this upset, these feelings of injustice.

How did I do it?  Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME, I thought of him or I saw him, I infused my face with a genuine smile and shook his hand and asked him how he was doing and I MEANT it.  O.k. at first I didn’t but I knew this was the path, so I made my lessons of working with customer service come to the forefront.  I infused my voice with a smile and made my lips do it.  I practiced sincerity, and after several opportunities (this was a person I saw weekly at the least), it began to work.

After awhile, we moved and I was not involved with this person from that point forward.  However, I knew that I had not completely let it go.  I did still harbor resentment, and sometimes, when I was feeling sorry for myself, or something didn’t go my way, though it had nothing to do with this individual, I would blame him.  Because it was easy, and because even though I had somewhat forgiven, I hadn’t let go all the way.  And so, with  a renewed intensity in controlling my thoughts and my feelings, I made myself move on.

The true test came several years later when I knew that I would come across this individual at a family event for a very close friend.  I knew this person would be there and I thought “Well, the truth will be told about your heart here, Tracy.  We will see what we will see.” And so I went, with some trepidation, because I wanted very badly to pass this test.  I really wanted to be done.  I had matured, time had passed, I had worked on it with effort, and I wanted it proven that I had moved on and left these things in my history.

The event was lovely.  I saw this man with his family.  I walked up to him, and there was a surprised look on his face when he saw me, but he smiled.  I smiled, and said “Hello!” I shook his hand and I asked him how he was doing, how had he been?  We talked briefly and parted.

From the minute that I reached forward with my hand, I knew it was over.  I knew that I had passed the test and that my efforts were true to their mark and I was done.  There was a great sense of peace and actual joy that came over me to know that the stupidity and nonsense of the past was over, both on his part and on mine.

The story doesn’t change, because what happened was what happened.  It was the feelings that changed, it was the handling that changed and the desire to let go that had changed the incident into one of learning vs. one of perpetual anger.

People learn on us Chantyl, and sometimes we learn on them.  Sometimes other individuals make choices and decisions that bump into our lives and they make a mark.  Sometimes they mark us for good, but sometimes they hurt us and they leave behind a hurt that turns into a scar.  It is the way of life, and something that we must learn to deal with.  How we deal with those bumps, bruises, cuts and pains is what makes us who we are.  Obviously we don’t always get to choose how people impact us because life and people are full of the unexpected.  What we do get to choose is how we deal, how we cope, how we learn, how we move on, and learning and forgiving is a big part of that, and learning and forgiving and growing is something that, hopefully, we do all of our lives.

Let me emphasize this though.  Just because you forgive someone of the wrongs they have committed against you does not mean you expose yourself, or make yourself vulnerable to their antics again in the future.  It also does not mean that you have to be bosom buddies, you don’t even have to remain friends.  Sometimes, times of friendship or acquaintanceship come to an end and it is over, however, civility should still be intact.  Sometimes, depending on the circumstance, we just move on and we leave the incident in our past and we use it as a stepping-stone of learning, of maturing and moving on.

No one can make you forgive another person.  And just because you do forgive doesn’t mean that you forget.  I know people say “forgive and forget,” but what the saying really means is forgive and let go.  Significant events in our life have a way of sticking with us, what with memory and all of that… ;) …but moving on is the key piece, moving past, and moving into our new joy and happiness with the things that we have learned from.

Of course if you choose to forgive someone, and to continue to associate with them, that also means that you don’t continue to hold past events against them.  You learn, and change, but you don’t keep bringing it up and holding it over their head, or holding the friendship for ransom because of it.  That puts you in the wrong and that isn’t somewhere you want to go.

Anyway—the point of my long diatribe is that no, it’s not easy, but you do it, because it’s the right thing to do.  And no, sometimes it is not a quick recovery, sometimes it takes a long time to figure it out.  You can do it.  You just have to make up your mind on your course of action, and how you want to approach it.  I wish you luck and love, and I believe in you. :D

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Collection of Red Rocking Chairs

The Red Rocking Chair is one of my absolutely favorite folk songs. 

It is a traditional Old-Time/Bluegrass song that is predominant to the Appalachian Mountain region of the United States.  This song is dated to the early 1900's, however, this particular tune, in its variety of versions can be traced back to the Scottish in the 1820's as "The Lass of Roch Royal." 

None of this is truly a surprise, if you are acquainted with American history, as you will know that many Scotsmen settled in the Southern United States and in this particular mountain region. Obviously they would have brought their ballads, laments and music with them, which then in turn influenced the direction of music from that point forward.

This is a great version of it--it is haunted, melancholic, and has a moan to it that gets me right in the heart.  It is by Black Prairie who I hadn't heard of before.   The group is comprised of some of the members of The Decemberists, which I am mildly familiar.  The sense of haunted loss within this version is particularly powerful.

This version is more traditional and is one I came across a couple of months back.  I love the video.  I like the fog, the cold, the sound, just the whole thing really speaks to me.  The song is more upbeat than the previous version.

This is a clip from a most melancholic and sad movie "Chrystal" with Billy Bob Thornton.  Lisa Blount, the actress who plays Chrystal in the movie, is actually the one that is singing in this clip.  Again, her version comes across achy and lost. The movie takes place in Northern Arkansas and is full of melancholy, loss, regret and redemption.  Lisa Blount's performance captures all of these things. 

The last clip I am sharing is one that I came across a few days ago.  It's a personalized, non professional recording, but the individual is utilizing a Bouzouki and I really enjoyed his performance.

After listening to these versions of this song, I'm hoping that you can appreciate why I love it so much.  There is an antiquity and a timelessness to the song that connects people through the generations.  As human beings, at times we feel alone, and lost and broken, but despite this there is always hope, whether we see it or not.  I think this song feels and breathes of life as humans experience it, with ups and downs. 

Anyway--Welcome to my collection.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Chubby Bubbies

March 23, 2011
6:04 p.m.

There are always people that are happy to tear you down at a moment’s notice, why would you join in by talking against yourself in your own mind, telling yourself all about your failings and they whys and wheretofores of why you can’t or shouldn’t do something? Why would you join in the cacophony of noise and voices that are against you and your success?

I just read an article that my brother Andy posted about a 400 lb. sumo wrestler named Kelly Gneiting who participated in the L.A. Marathon.  There was a video attached that showed this man jogging, walking, breathing and living, trying to make it to the end of a goal.  By far he is not the fastest.  You could see throughout the video that there were people passing him by as he kept plodding along.  Frankly, I thought “Good for you!  You go! You finish! What an accomplishment!” 

And I thought these things because I’m for success—I’m for joy—I’m for trying and I’m for doing.  I also experience no threat by the accomplishment of others, in fact, when I saw that he was doing this, I thought “Girl—you need to really get off your butt and get back into walking and fitness.  You can do it.” And I didn’t think it because I also thought “Oh he’s so fat and gross and he did it.” It was because I thought “He’s a big guy, and he did something I think is impossible for me.  Maybe I can start running again.  Yeah.  I can do that.”  And from his experience I took only a little hope for myself in an area of my life where I feel stymied and frustrated.

Reading the commentaries following the article was sadly full of human shallowness and hateful words.  Yes, of course there were those that congratulated him and wished him well, but some of the vitriolic rebuttals were angering.  There were those from individuals who very obviously are runners or fitness buffs, but apparently very insecure and unhappy ones at that.  Because Mr. Gneiting took so long to finish, because he may have had to pause, because he walked many said it didn’t count, that he didn’t really run a marathon, that he just did a long walk.  To me it becomes semantics.  Why do they feel the need to take away that he participated—that he got out and did—that he lived—that he tried—and that he succeeded?  O.k. He didn’t “run” it, but he participated in the event and he made it to the end.  How does that take away from anyone?

There was another comment from an individual who implicated that they themselves were a marathon runner and they expressed disgust at this individual along with any other walkers and that they should make a lane for them so they could “Get the eff out of the way for the real runners.” O.k. angry much?  Go to the front of the starting line ahead of the walkers or slower individuals, and if you’re so incredibly fast, you will never come across them because you will always be in front of them, right?

Some of the other comments were obviously directed at his weight, his obesity, his lacking skills in the control area, because if he had it under control he wouldn’t be overweight, and other typical rude comments.  My thoughts around this are similar though—how is someone else’s life your business?

There has been a lot of chatter lately, especially with Michelle Obama wanting to take on obesity in the United States, around weight, food, and controlling other people’s choices. 

Let me make a few things clear right now: no, being overweight is not healthy; yes, people are obviously eating too much and exercising and expending too little energy; kids are fat—mostly because they drink too much pop, eat too much junk and fast food and play too many video games and don’t spend enough time outdoors…which frankly can be directly traced back to poor parenting; yes, being overweight is not ideal or desirable—but in no way does any of this change or limit your rights to agency and to making choices for yourself.  It is not the governments job to monitor what you put down your gullet.  It is not the governments job to tell you what to do and how and how much.  These are all points of self-governance, and just because some people choose to self-govern poorly, doesn’t give anyone else the right to tell them what to do.  Sorry—it just doesn’t.

So when it comes to people who are overweight, what is our responsibility?  As a collective there isn’t one.  It isn’t your responsibility.  You can encourage and support, that’s what you can do and that’s about it.  When someone is successful, instead of pulling them down by saying “5 lbs. down, you’ve only got 100 more to go.” You can choose to say “5 lbs.  That is great!!!  Good job! “ and that’s the end of it.  Fat people know what they look like in the mirror, they don’t need you to point it out.  If someone isn’t successful you can say “I know it’s hard, and frustrating, but keep up the good work—keep trying.  I believe in you—I know you can do it.” And when you say those things, you can mean it.  You can mean it because you care enough about that person as a human being that their success and their failure doesn’t take anything away from you, but you giving, that can be that one tiny thing that helps them keep going.  A little selflessness and joy at the success of your fellow humans will never hurt you.

Next time you see someone that you think you are better than—a chunky jogger, or a fat mom with a stroller, or someone that is crippled and trying to do something that is easy for you—as you formulate the smirk on your face, or raise your eyebrows in disgust, as your mind and your mouth start to form nasty words of criticism, or of mockery, take a moment to pause and think to yourself, why you, in all of your perfection and fabulousness, feel the need to take away from someone else’s trying, from their accomplishment that in no way whatsoever impacts you.   

Why are YOU the way you are?

Monday, March 28, 2011

If You Go to Mexico You Can Have a Baby...Grandpa Said So.

On a day of no consequence my desk phone rang at work. It was my grandparent’s number so I picked it up. The following conversation took place, in Portuguese, and is forever seared in my mind.

**Note: Please use a Latvian or even a Russian accent when reading the part of my Grandpa.  If you don't know what that is...a mildly Dracula-esque accent will do.

Grandpa: Trrrracy, I want to talk to you about verrrry delicate subject.

Tracy: O.k. what’s up?

Grandpa: Why do you not have a baby?

(Well alright then...straight to the point...)

Tracy: My girl guts don’t work Grandpa.

Grandpa: I have been thinking about this and I have a solution. We know people. They sent their daughter to Mexico and she came back pregnant.

(Surprise...pause...digest...Did he really just say "Mexico"???)

Tracy: O.k. Grandpa. They did, huh? Good for her.

Grandpa: I have the doc-torrr’s name. You can take the bus down into Tijuana. Then on the corner of Calle Numero 7, you know, street #7, there is a doctor there who is very successful with getting women pregnant.

(my Tracy thought..."I bet he is...corner of Calle 7 indeed...")

Tracy: He is, is he?

(My eyebrows are so far up into my hairline at this point you can’t even see them.)

Grandpa: Yes! Very successful. You should make a trrrip.

Tracy: O.k. Grandpa. Take a bus into Tijuana, go to the corner of Street #7, …I can get pregnant. O.k. Thanks for thinking of me.

Grandpa: I love you!

Tracy: Yeah…I love you too Grandpa.

To this day, several years later, this remains one of the more interesting and entertaining grandparent stories...of which there are several.

I always thought it was interesting that the old man couldn't spot me a ride himself down into Mexico and that he thought I should hop the Greyhound Express and head into a foreign city of ill repute to try and get pregnant alone...well not really alone...the doctor at the corner of Street #7 was apparently well equipped to hook a sister up.

Anyway...good can't make this stuff up. ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Panic in the Bog

I didn't realize this was a dream until I woke up, and then I was really glad.

Last night...
I was on a country road that passed through a forest and then a great grassy wetland. I was at the crossroad and there was a grand old estate across the way, hidden in a copse of tall, dark trees. There was a dark, wooden fence that ran its length, separating it from the road. The sky was darkening and the sky looked heavy with rain. I had a large work tractor of sorts, that I needed to move, but I didn’t know how I would make the turn, but I waited, and then I pushed.

A dark and swarthy man came up to my side, and said “Here, let me help you. You make the turn, I will push the machine.” And so we turned together. Me on my feet, and he pushed the tractor alone. We made it on to the next road, but the tractor, instead of being in the far lane by the fence, crossed over both lanes and ended up on the side of the road in the dirt. It was hard packed and didn’t seem like it would be a problem.

The man tried to move it and I went to help. Suddenly, the ground gave way beneath us and we foundered in dirt that sank beneath our feet, and turned to sand and water and mud. I found myself grasping for land, and treading sucking water. The machine was gone, and the man fought but I lost sight of him as he drifted away into the reeds and grasses.

Without warning, we had unknowingly walked into a bog and I found myself trying to swim in mud and sand and plants, I grasped at reeds and spit the duckweed from my mouth. My limbs were like lead and the wind was blowing me so fiercely that I couldn't fight against it. I swam as hard as I could and the wind whipped the long grass in my face, and was so strong that it was pushing me through the water towards a darkened, sucking pool. I feared the pool and swam all the harder, choking on water and dirt, rain began to pelt and zip my face, my eyes, my head. I pulled harder, kicking and reaching for the shore.

I felt panicked and it felt real and I wasn't able to wake then I really felt panicked.


Of Sleeping Bags and Love

O.k. I know this was awhile ago, but I've been meaning to post it, so you get it now instead. ;)

January 15, 2011

So Beloved was under the weather and feeling a little wiped out. We both love our sleeping bags and not just for camping. They're great for watching movies and stars alike, so they get mileage inside the house and outside the house as well. We generally keep them outside in the garage, but obviously when it's 7 degrees outside, that nylon is going to get a little chilly.

As a side note--I'm not a "Pack Everything in to the Woods" kind of camper. I'm a hotel camper, but if I must camp outside (which I can enjoy) I'm a "Pull the car into the camping spot" camper. The following phone conversation took place:

T: "If you want to use the sleeping bags bring them in from the garage before you want to use them so they warm up a little."

J: "O.k."

T: "And you can use my sleeping bag if you like."

J: "Yeah, I love your sleeping bag. I wouldn’t want to hike and pack your sleeping bag, but it is really nice."

T: Pause…"Have you seen me?...Yeah. My sleeping bag doesn’t get packed anywhere but in the back of the car and then into a tent. That’s it. Most of the time it’s from the garage to the family room for a Sunday afternoon nap. You know that."

J: "Laughter. I know."

Rushing Perpetuity

When I remember my dreams, it's usually because they were extremely vivid. I do not always remember them. This one stayed with me for quite some time and even now, almost two months later, I can still recall it with fair clarity.

The same day I dreamt it, I typed it out--it was so incredibly intense, I didn't want to lose it. It felt real when I was in it and everything was deep, electric, vibrant and intense.

January 13th, 2011

I dreamed of the ocean last night and it was huge, and vibrant and dark. It was shot through with colors in the midst of its black and blue-ness. Oranges and reds and deep pinks, but they were not reflections of a fiery evening sky. It was as if the ocean was imbued with colored electricity that was casting itself back and forth. Violence within violence. The waves were huge and crashing in giant curls of pounding white. The sand was dark brown and wet and full of every kind of shell imaginable. There were huge red stone archways that reached from sandy land into the feet of the sea.

I was in the in-between. In between the water than ran to the shore away from the waves that crashed into it, standing on the wet sand, my heels sinking in and my toes wet, with the dry sand on an incline a few paces away.

In this sand, if you just dug down a bit, were every type of shell imaginable. Every size, every shape, every color. Shells I had never seen before—and I was greedy, not believing my good fortune and find and I plunged my hands into the cool, wet sand and gathered the shells into my hands, and into my arms. I ran from spot to spot, my feet spattering through the lapping, rushing water. I glanced out at the ocean and saw that night was falling and a storm was moving in. The sky over the ocean was velvet navy and looked soft enough to cast yourself upon. The ocean was coming in and the waves were drawing closer.

I sprinted up to the steep, dry sand, and saw that the sun was setting low over the dunes. Beach grass waved back and forth, silhouetted against the swirl of orange and yellow sky. There was an old wood and wire fence that ran perpendicular to me. I wanted to set down my shells and go back for more, but there were a few people around me starting to notice the shells as well and I didn’t want them to take my cache, and so I carried them with me back down to the wet sand to collect more.

I stepped down into the water, flanked by black rocks at my back, the ocean and a steep incline of sand. I was in the shadow of the rocks and I started digging again in the wet sand as the waves went out and in and out and in. I found one that was shaped like a Vikings horn. It was smooth and creamy alabaster shot through with caramel and chocolate browns. I thought it must be a horn of some sea animal, and so I tucked it in with the others.

A woman leaned over and put her hand out to take some of my more beautiful shells and I slapped her hand away and said “No! They are mine—dig out your own.” And I wondered if I was wrong to speak in such a way, but quickly decided that I was not. Everyone must work for their own beauty and their own gain. I found more shells, swirling shells with spiny edges and smooth pink and coral colored insides, tiny shells that looked like soft ice cream cones, spattered with chocolate sprinkles, large smooth shells that must have been home to some soft-bodied creature, and creamy white and green fossilized shells that had been eaten through by time, and sand and water.

The water crept up. I looked out once again and the waves were coming in closer, even bigger than before. I knew if they caught up to me that they would pull me into the black, the shells would be lost and so would I. I stared—fascinated—wanting to reach in—to swim—but terrified to give myself into it.

And then I woke up.

Beauty and the Nude

Warning: If you get your panties in a snit over artistic nudity, don't waste my time. Naked bums alert.

Incredible song, beautifully done video.

I stumbled across this completely by accident as I was perusing free stuff on iTunes. I loved the song, and thought "Hey, maybe there is a video for it." And sure enough there was.

At first I was a little wary, because you never know what people are going to spring on you without your consent (hence my own warning above.) As the song got underway, my body swayed, my foot tapped, and I could not help but become completely engrossed in the story of naked love and longing.

True love, love-you-til-the-end-of-the-world-love-when-the-lights-go-out kind of love is raw and naked and exposed and that's where the sweetness of the trust, the loyalty and the honesty come from.

There is beauty in the love between a man and a woman and their ability to create life together, creating a legacy of humanity that goes on and on and on. I think that gets lost at times in the over-sexualized society that we live in--a society that can be broken down to varied and sundry entertainment, club music, sex and hook ups. Yes, I know there is more than that, but sometimes, it seems like the debauchery would overpower everything else. Overall I think that there are encouragements and leanings for a lack of commitment between the sexes to respect each other and to value what each one brings to the table, things that are good, and different and complimentary, and that is a sad thing.

I don't know...the is about life, and love, and sex. It is sensual and there is beauty and intensity in the spoke to me and I think I've listened to it 12 times now.

Enjoy...or don't. ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Little Girls are Interesting, Strange Little Creatures...

In Primary yesterday (for the non-Latter-Day Saint's like Sunday School for the 3-11 year old crowd...and I am in it to win it as a member of the leadership team...4.5 years and going strong...) I looked down at the row of 3-year old Sunbeams (the name of the class for 3 year olds) yesterday and one of them had her head in her hands and was **weeping**...not crying mind you...**weeping** as thought the world had ended and all candy and kittens were gone.

It was one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen.
I thought "Holy Crap what the Hell happened here?" (yes...I have thought such things during see---I am no saint nor martyr---nor do I have any plans for either anytime in the near future) and said "Oh baby girl, come here, come here." and I picked her up and walked to the back of the room with her saying "Avery, Avery...what's the matter, honey?"

She lifts her head, huge tears welling in her eyes and rolling down her face and says in a teary, trembling, teeny, tiny, baby girl voice..."I forgot my song book to sing our songs!"

So I said "Well, where is your song book, sweetie?"

"My mommy has it in the diaper bag."

"O.k. well let's go find her and get it for you."
Found mommy, got book, instant smiles, little child running back to the Primary room, in her chair, singing like a little bird.


Easiest problem I've solved all week.

Kitsch Overload...Whoring Your Time

So this is a piece of an old post that I started but didn't finish, from a few weeks back.


I od'd on TV last night and I feel kind of gross today about wasn't even good was kitsch (a la Kardashians and Holly Madison and Chelsea Lately)...which is great in the twinkies...but then when you're just kind of feel like you whored your time out like bad sugar consumption that you should have held out against.

Anyway...ugh...yesterday does not go down as a good habits and choices day.


To set the stage of why I said what I said--

I had spent a late evening alone browsing t.v. to my hearts content, eating the dregs from the potato chip bag, and I watched all the stuff that when anyone else is around they wonder if you've lost all of your brain cells and what kind of a person you really are deep down inside.  What they don't know is that you're still a good person that has read Dostoevsky and Dickens, and understood them, among other things.

There is just something about pablum t.v. that appeals to some kind of inner 15 year old idiot and sometimes I can't believe the things I see, the things I laugh at and the things that are seared into my brain in the name of mindless entertainment and escape.

Through the years...

Yes--I have laughed at Beavis and Butthead.  Yes--I have laughed at South Park.  Yes--I have enjoyed game shows.  Yes--America's Funniest Home Videos has put a stitch in my side.  Yes--I have watched car crashes and stupid human tricks on YouTube for too many minutes in a row to tally and then admit to.  I love that little pagan weirdo Bam Margera and I have hours of Jackass in my t.v. viewing history.  I've got a strange soft spot for Ozzy Osbourne and his family from watching episodes of The Osbournes and I think my mom should cut her hair like Sharon Osbourne. I must admit that Gene Simmons is a funny, arrogant, vain ass of a man, and frankly his show, is much more boring than most of the other reality shows.

Then of course there have been a couple of marathon Saturday afternoons of America's Next Top Model, wherein I have the t.v. on while doing laundry, watching Tyra Banks and these megalomaniacal, egocentric, narcissistic teenagers, and listening for my husband's key in the lock so that I can change the channel to Law and Order before he comes down the stairs and asks "What are you watching??" and I have to admit to my everlasting voyeuristic shame that I'm watching the dramas of other lives.

Have you ever read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? They've got the "Feelies" and though I'm not popping pills or hooking into some kind of a machine to feel what I'm watching, the effect is still somewhat the same, but only different...anyway...the point is that it is pointless.

This particular evening it started with the train wreck of the Kardashian girls, on other nights it has been Toddlers and Tiaras...and don't even get me started on that one...

What is it about these crap shows that make them so appealing?  I was going to say that it's not like you learn anything, but you kind of do I guess.

If you want it you get an interesting insight into the life of the vain and frequently vacuous rich and famous, or at least those that aspire to it. Some of the lives are such train wrecks that you can end up feeling better about your own life and the fact that, while you may not be rolling in money and plastic surgery, the peace and quiet and relative order that you enjoy is better than selling yourself to the highest bidder.

Of course there is also the psychological aspect of it all.  Some of the people I've seen obviously need some kind of intervention, whether professional, or familial, there is definitely a need for some counseling there.  I briefly mentioned Toddlers and Tiaras earlier.  Right there you'll find an enormous need for family counseling as well as some solid, consistent one-on-one counseling for the maniacal parents as well as the uber-spoiled children who are going to have some serious social balancing issues when they get older.

At any rate, it's an interesting entertainment and social phenomenon that we, as a human race, have become very accustomed to and very tolerant of.  You can find kitsch t.v. all around the planet, some of it translated, some of it localized.  What does it say about us as a people that we have disposable time to spend and/or waste on such frivolity?  We are the ones that fund it, through watching it, and supporting it through a variety of means.

For the most part, I try to stay away from it so it's not a consistent norm in my life, but it's true--I am attracted to the gossip magazines and the cheap and tawdry lifestyles of the rich and famous. I like to know what's going on so that I, too, can participate in those water-cooler conversations with their ensuing whispers, gasps and raised eyebrows.

Anyway, there you have it...more of my humanity.

Happy kitsching...try not to let it run away with you and all of your time.  In the end it's just empty sugar calories that will rot your brain and your teeth and end up manifesting itself in your gut and on your butt. ;)

...Unless you find something really juicy and awesome, and then you need to let me know so I can take a peek too...  ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wuv...Twue Wuv...Is What Bwings Us Togetho Today...

Artist: Alex Raymond: Flash Gordon

Cupid shot two arrows and this is where they landed...

Once upon a time there was a young woman from the East who loved life.

She was effervescent and sunshine sparkled in her laugh and shone out of her eyes. When she was old enough to travel and live on her own she packed her numerous bags and her music player, grabbed her coat, hugged her family and said goodbye as she launched herself into the sky on a grand new adventure.

During the course of her travels, she found and made herself a new home, deep into the West. She settled there and met many new people and had many new experiences, some of them good and some of them not so good.

After several years of living on her own, of making friends, working hard and sometimes not so hard, after mistakes and successes, she met a new and interesting person whom she did not expect.

One early Autumn night a tall, dark and handsome stranger with cornflower blue eyes and a ready, wry wit, appeared one evening at her door. A silly minded pair of ninnymuggins who at that time lived with her had invited him and some of his cohorts to her home.

Introductions were made all around and shortly thereafter, as she was not an invited party to the gathering, she made her excuses and stepped away with no idea whatsoever that fate had been set--the strands of two lives were now entwined and it was only time that would tell what this tapestry would look like.

During the next few days and weeks, this randy band of brothers came to visit quite often, quickly making good friends with the young woman and her best friend. There were all night sessions of conversations, laughter, flirtation, witticisms and occasionally donuts. There were movies and books and schooling discussed and a general air of electric camaraderie permeated their gatherings.

Gradually, over the course of time, a warming ember grew in the girls heart. She didn't acknowledge it as love but rather as excitement and joie de vivre and a little bit of danger. She and the young man were taking circling steps around each other, dancing the dance of the ages. They tested the water and the air and the mood for small changes and differences for encouragements and permissions to circle in more closely, to watch and feel the electric snappings that raised up between them. It was a very exciting time to be alive.

Now it may or may not be important to note that this dark stranger had no intention of entering into a serious or intended relationship. He had his own plans for travel and adventure that did not include a passionate affair. This was for *fun*.

The young woman had just gone through a massive heartbreak of her own and was planning on joining the Peace Corps and going to Africa to plant crops and then to China to save babies, and also had no intent of binding herself to another. She was just living in every moment that she could.

They were both of them deceived.

As the flirtations turned to secret handholding, which turned quickly into stolen kisses and impassioned embraces in the deep, dark of night in covert rendezvous in the forest by a wild midnight fire, the threads of fate began to draw in ever more tightly together. Hearts began to be bound unknowingly together, inextricably joined.

Because they both had plans and were not interested in love and binding, they proclaimed themselves to be the dearest of non-committed kissing friends, though neither had eyes or lips for any other. They shook hands on their non-commital commitment to each other. They proceeded onward with their covert kissing and hand holding interspersed with strawberry shakes and French fries and spent every waking, and a few unwaking, moments together.

He could not believe that she existed and called her "the girl who has never been born" and to her he was "so West, so wild" and so they did bow their heads together to talk and learn and breathe of one another, and they laughed and without knowing it, they loved.

One afternoon the young man felt the bands that had slowly tightened and proclaimed "Oh no! I've just got to be free. This cannot continue, I have plans!" and so he resolved to break the young girls heart and part himself from her.

When she saw his face and heard his words she knew that the tightness that she had felt and the embers that she had enjoyed were coming to an end, and though she hadn't consciously acknowledged them until she heard his words of grand parting, she realized that without intention she loved him and she felt his loss very keenly indeed.

But they had made a deal for friendship and not for love and she would not betray it to him with least no tears that he would ever see. If she had to lose his love she was determined not to lose his friendship, and so she stood up, and she embraced him with a sad smile as her heart within her cracked and cried out in sorrow that resounded deep into the universe.

The young man saw her grief and he knew that without intention, and perhaps without a knowledge of her own, that she loved him but was being brave, and he did love her even more as he turned and left her and walked out her door.

And so as deepening afternoon came on, with her newly shattered heart, she walked on and out her door for an evening of writing and wandering in the colossal university library where her sorrows could be comforted by the smell of books and paper and the ghosts that wandered the stacks.

The boy came to find his one true love later that evening because he could not stay away and in his own guilt he wanted to make sure that she was ok. But she was not to be found.

So, as the minutes ticked on, he sat and talked to the girl's best friend. They decided to get pizza and to wait for the girl.

Meanwhile, the girl, finding only dust and sorrow in the library that she usually loved to wander, saw no further reason to stay away from home. She was tired and sad and hungry as she walked out into the November night.

When she walked into her front door the last person she expected to see that night rushed down the hallway and stopped in front of her "Where have you been?"


"Out where?"

"What does it matter to you?" (It’s true, she was feeling a little peevish and wanted to give off an air of you-haven’t-hurt-me-non-chalance.)

"Oh, we were just worried. Do you want some pizza."

"No thank you, I'm not hungry."

And inside she wondered why he cared and why he was there and man, did that pizza look good. But no pizza! No favors! Not right now. She didn’t need anything from his devastatingly beautiful and funny amazing self.

Inside she sighed.

Outside she smirked a flirty smile and said “So what’s going on tonight?” The beautiful boy blinked and said “Oh, I was just waiting for you to make sure you were safe. I’ll see you later.” And out the door he went.

And so she sighed again and grabbed a piece of his precious pizza and moped back to her room.

The next morning, she stayed home from her classes and listened to Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You” way too loud and lost count of how many times she hit the “Replay” button. As she sat cross-legged on the floor of her bedroom in her pajamas and tousled hair, she called her little old Latvian grandma and sighed and lamented her woes out to her. Her grandma said, “Shush, shush, it’s alright. He will be back and he will marry you and you will see that everything will work out.”

The girl laughed at how ridiculously optimistic her grandma was and smiled through her sadness and chose to believe her grandma even though she knew it wasn’t true. So up she got, showered and got ready for her day and off she went like a shot, ready to start a new day with best feet forward. No time like the present to move on from a heart break.

That afternoon, as she walked home alongside the granite mountainside with late Fall sunshine warming her face, she kicked around the past 24 hours since her life had unexpectedly exploded and thought of what course of action she should take next.
She decided that the Peace Corps was very definitely in order and that the babies in China were calling her name stronger than ever before. She was sure that there were some Romanian babies calling her name as well, and that there were always seeds to be planted and wells to be dug in Africa.

Yes, with a renewed purpose to do good in the world she quickened her pace and happily went home to watch Days of Our Lives before starting in with homework, and waiting for her best friend to get home from work so they could go get big Diet Cokes and frosted pink sugar cookies from the local convenience store.

Many hearts have been mended on caffeine, sugar and soap operas, why not hers?

Unbeknownst to her, the boy had the pretty, perky girl on his mind. How could she love him? Why did she do that? This was supposed to be a just-kissing-friends kind of a deal and then she went and fell in love. It was all her fault and now he was missing her and wanting her. He would not go over there. He would not call. Better to break it off now anyway.

And so he paced and pondered and was annoyed. Why did she have to be so fantastic? He wasn’t intending on getting married before he turned 30 and had lived a little bit. That was 9 years away. She was too early. Married?!?!?! Did he just think that awful word?? He meant…he meant…he meant something else is what he meant. Arghhh! She’s too soon!

And so another lonely evening descended on the two broken love birds. Her pride was prickled and she would not be the flower that chased the bee, let alone the first one to say “Come back, I love you. Be mine.”
And so she lost herself in her friends and in her own thoughts while she missed him and wished to be in his arms peppered by his hot kisses. And the young man pondered late into the night on what to do and he lost himself in his work, with visions of a dark haired beauty girl who had never been born dancing through his mind.

A new day dawned and where there had been pain and confusion, change and a new light were found.

That afternoon, the girl received a phone call from the boy who said he needed to talk to her and could he come by. She was giddy and her brain felt silly and overcome as she said “Yes. I will see you when you get here.” And so she ran to the bathroom to pinch her cheeks, touch up her makeup and fluff her hair and she quickly spritzed herself with perfume, and with one mad glance back and a giggle of a thought “O.K. What does he want??” she calmly went to the door.

And so he walked the short walk, and knocked a brief knock, and came in and saw her and she was just as beautiful and amazing as ever and he couldn’t imagine why he had walked away from those sweet lips, and tender loving arms and that funny, quippy brain. What had he been thinking?

And when she saw him the butterflies threatened to burst out of her chest like some kind of weird Technicolor alien rainbow. Oh he was amazing and beautiful and brilliant and funny and “I hope he stays and that he has changed his mind!” All the while thinking “Do not dare to hope!”

As he walked towards her he whispered “I was wrong—I don’t just like you. I don’t want to be just hugging friends.” And he took her in his arms and put his cheek to her cheek and whispered sweet words next to her ears and then her lips, lips that were so tantalizingly close that she dared not move for fear of ending the moment, her brain fairly screaming “Kiss me. Kiss me! KISS ME!”

And he must have heard her mind, because he bent his head to her and he kissed the girls lips and it was like a first kiss all over again only better—so much better because it was without doubt and fear and was full of confidence and light and joy. And her heart exploded in a cacophony of song and so she fell and spiraled down and up and all around and her world was a kaleidoscope of colors and a whirlwind of sensations and she felt like she was made of sunshine and there was nothing else in the world at that moment but them.

And so this is the story of how two became one.

It is the story of love unveiled, of friendship cemented and loyalty bound so tightly as to be undivided through the eternities.

This is the story of one boy and one girl, of one Guardian and one Angel, how once found, two halves were made whole forevermore.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Happy Valentine's Day.
Live by the sun.
Love by the moon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Trooping Through My Humanity

So I've mentioned it here before, once or twice, because I really don't obsess about it, that I have PCOS. PCOS = Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and it's really a bitch of a "syndrome." It wreaks havoc with your internal girl organs, which in turn jacks up other stuff along with it. For example: It can knock your insulin out of whack, which in turn can knock your hormones out of whack, along with other members of the endocrine system, which in turn can also create problems with your blood pressure, which in turn can knock your insulin out of whack and so on and so forth.

The side effects are everything that a woman fears and avoids in regular life, so when you have them hoisted on you beyond your control and revved up a little bit just for good measure...yeah...not so awesome.

Here, I will indulge you with a few of the side effects just for your viewing pleasure (mind you, you don't usually have all of them, but you can get a right nice cocktail of them going just the same): weight gain (which is not like normal weight gain, but can border on incredibly impossible to get rid of no matter how many few calories you eat or how many marathons you run), infertility, cycles from hell (no not know...ole Aunt Florine what who comes to visit), hair growth in terrible and humiliating places IE: one's face, neck and breasts, acne and thinning hair just to name a few. So imagine one or some combination of these and you've got life with PCOS.

It's really a disease that terrorizes a woman. You never know how things are going to go, and you have daily maintenance and grooming issues that other people with a generally normal life have no concept of. It attacks everything that is identifiable as being feminine: skin, hair, weight and the ability to conceive, retain and give birth. Of course you also have to deal with the insensitivity and rudeness of the common population who think that somehow it is their business to inform you that you are flawed by making snarky comments, looking you up and down, or even hollering out at you from a passing car "You're fat!!" "Oh really genius? Did you notice that all on your own or did you have help with that one?? Nice. I thank you for pointing out the obvious as I am never around any mirrors or ever see my reflection." On top of that, sometimes your body likes to throw little surprise curve balls your way, things like bleeding that starts out of the blue and lasts forever...stuff like that that requires that your purse always be fully stocked with any number of provisional supplies from the Feminine Aisle of your local Wal*Mart.

But of course, this does have one or two perks as follows:

(1) If there is ever a fellow woman in need. You have got that sisters back.
Friend, blushing: Tracy, do you have your purse?
Tracy, laughing: Oh you know it girl. One is a nice selection...would you like one of each?
Friend: What? Are you kidding?
Tracy: Welcome to my life.

(2) If you are travelling in foreign countries, particularly ones that do not have modern amenities...oh say...the Philippines?

Tracy travelling: A number of years ago I did quite a bit of travel. I had been in the Philippines for about a week and a half, when some rogue coconut water at a party laid siege to my intestines. The show must go on, and so it did, BUT, I suffered significantly. While continuing on in my travels and excursions I needed to find a restroom, not realizing what I was walking into.

Let me set the scene: I'm walking through a semi black market mall. It is humid and people are chasing after me saying "Ma'am! Ma'am! I have DVD, CD. Come! Come! You come with me, back here." and me saying "No thank you." while walking on and thinking "Yeah, come with you back here, right!" I make my way to an escalator, which apparently doesn't work...unless as stationary stairs, but it is the way I must journey to find the restroom, which to be honest with you if I could have gotten a taxi and made it back to my hotel, that's what I would have done, but there was not that kind of time. So I trooped on.

Through windings and weavings I found the public restroom which appeared to be pretty clean. I thought "Ok. Good." and walked on. I pushed one door open, no toilet seat, another door, no toilet seat and so on and so forth. O.k. so, no toilet seats, not a big deal, so I pick one and go in. I pop a squat and take care of my business, then, reaching for the toilet paper I realize a fatal oversight...I didn't check for TP.

I was in a desperate situation, so I was looking to get in the stall as opposed to thinking too much farther ahead than that...hence the predicament.

But no worries, I knew I had to have something in my my big straw purse (at least there had better be something...I just couldn't see myself hollering to my hosts from a locked public stall "Heyyyyyyyyy!!! I NEED TOILET PAPER!!! OY!!! Is anyone there???"), and so I scrounged and scavenged. A couple of mildly damp-from-my-sweaty-forehead-and-neck Kleenex, did I mention it was humid?...and some tampons and a couple of pads.'s to sweat-dampened Kleenex and pads, the tampons weren't going to do me any good, they've got no capacity for external cleaning coverage. Did you know that, as long as you don't get the sticky side of the pad on you of course, pads ain't half bad as a TP substitute? They don't tear very well, but it all works out just the same.

Anyway, I solved the problem, and without being humiliated in front of the locals, I gracefully walked on out and continued on with my day. Might I mention that before doing so, I peeked in all of the other stalls and there was no toilet paper to be had in any of them, nor were there any paper towels. When I mentioned this to my hosts in passing (not in the above mentioned story...which is funny now but wasn't then...) they said oh of course, no, they do not stock public restrooms with any paper products. I thought "Huh...Good to know...would have been nice to know prior to the need though." So I've tried to pass on the detail to my other female travellers as the opportunity has arisen.

But onward...

In addition to all of this, you have a whole plethora of doctors who really don't know what they hell is wrong with you, so there's that whole conversation. They don't get it.

Here is a for example:

After 5 years...

Patient (i.e.: Me): I've been researching and reading trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I've come across a couple of articles that talk about PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I printed them out in case you wanted to take a look at them.
Doctor: Blank Blinking
Patient: It talks about insulin resistance and infertility and weight and a bunch of other things that I've been struggling with. Have you ever heard of this before?
Doctor: I just really don't know why you can't get pregnant, or why your bleeding is so erratic. Are you sure you don't want to go on the pill?
Patient: **PAUSE** NO. I don't want to go on the pill, nor will I ever go on the pill again. That's what caused this in the first place.
Doctor: The pill did not cause the problem. The pill is perfectly safe.
Patient: Not only will I never go on the pill again, I'm trying to have a baby...if you'll recall. Being on the pill will not help that goal, correct?
Doctor: Well, if you ever decide to have gastric bypass, I have some excellent recommendations.
in her mind "WTF you complete incompetent MORON!!! I'm not fat enough for gastric bypass you money hungry, jacked up sonofabitch!!"
...but actually: Yeah, that's not something I'm going to consider right now.
Doctor: Well, if you change your mind, let me know. Is there anything else?
Patient: Nope. We're good. (And I will never be coming back here again.)

Anyway...there is a whole emotional/psychiatric piece to living with PCOS. Women with PCOS, 55% of them, tend to suffer at some point in time from significant bouts of depression. Can't imagine're fat and hairy and you have no baby...what's to worry about? Anyway, and you're dealing with insensitive doctors which doesn't improve the situation.

Luckily, this girls story worked out somewhat better and from the aforementioned asshole, I was able to move on to a doctor that was somewhat better, immediately diagnosed my problem and hooked a sister up with some Metformin, which helps with the insulin problem, which in turn helps with the weight problem, which in turn helps with the heart problem, which in turn helps with the depression, which in turn helps with the enjoying life with others without periodically wanting to drive into the ocean. But I digress.

Doctors still push all of the expensive treatments, IVF and etc., but for the most part the Metformin has significantly helped. I've lost 60 lbs. which is no small feat, not that there aren't additional pounds to go, but it's much better than it was. I still have no baby, but at least the cycle piece isn't a nightmare like it use to be. Depression still comes and goes a little bit. Not real bad stuff, but the blues, I mostly stomp through it to the other side, or at least I try to, it mostly works, sometimes taking longer than others. It's a lonely disease, because unless you have it, most people don't understand it, and it's all uber personal stuff that you're not just going to open up about...unless you're writing a blog post on an unlocked blog...yeah, there's that. ;)

Anyway, the Metformin does have its side effects which can be difficult (extreme stomach sensitivity to put it politely but to be direct it can give you wicked awful diarrhea and debilitating stomach cramps unexpectedly no matter what you do...Hello my new friend Immodium.)

I guess the whole reason I started writing this was because today, I'm just pushing through my day. I've been up, off and on, since 2:00 a.m. with the aforementioned stomach upset, which really wipes me out, and now I'm tired and I just don't feel well. The Immodium kicked in, but I try to take it as a last resort because I don't want to overdo it.

Everyone has their cross to bear, and some are definitely worse than others, that's for sure. I'd rather keep the devil I know than trade him for one I don't. So I guess my point is, God bless you...and whatever difficulty you're going through. You'll get no guff from me, I've got my own things to worry about and am not about to borrow trouble by trying to tell you how to run your own life.

For myself...I'm smiling and chill...nobody's kicked me or is giving me any grief...and so I troop on just trying to keep my body hydrated and intact until I can go to bed again tonight and wake up to a brand, new day. :D

Monday, February 7, 2011

Death Days, Memories and Ghosts

So now here we are--February 7th, 2011.
11 years ago my dad died.
It definitely left a mark, a scar, a burn, and it was deep and while it's not red and inflamed and bleeding anymore, it's still tender and a little pink. I'm looking for the day that it's an old white scar that you remember but doesn't still make you wince everytime you think of it, or bump it or whatever. I've written about his passing and its impact on me on a number of other occasions, you can go back and read those if you want more.

Over the past few days he has popped in and out of my thoughts everytime I realized it was February, and everytime a day passed and I thought "Oh, it's the 3rd of February. Dad died on the 7th." or "Oh, it's the 5th of February. It's Andy's birthday...and Dad died on the 7th." and "Oh, it's the 6th of February, tomorrow is Dad's death day." (Yeah, I call it his "Death Day.") and my thoughts were just of that...that the 7th of February was a marker--a marker for a terrible event that was unexpected, sudden and too early. I don't even have to think about memories of him, or his face or to try to strain and hear his voice to make my throat go a little tight in the back and to get kind of sad, it just automatically happens.

But I don't want to talk about my pain today. I just want to notate the following:

1971: Dad and Me

Dad, wherever you are, I wanted to tell you some things--as a memory maker and as an appreciator, please note the following...

Thank you for instilling in me, with my mother, a love of the ocean. Of turquoise seas and blue skies, of waves and storms, of creatures and plants. Thanks for taking us to the beach, and even though you made a big production of it when the water was cold, for going in the ocean. For running from the sand to the sea and diving in and jumping up and between the waves. For picking us up and throwing us, for bodysurfing and for dunking and playing.

Mom and I were talking the other day about the water accident you and I had down in Brazil at the Itanhaem beach. I'm sure you haven't forgotten it--and like I could. I still have marks on my body 30 years later from that disaster. She has told me that you felt bad about it--I hope you don't anymore. How could you know that the devil was in the water and was fixing to take us out of this life that day through heavy-handed, incoming tide rogue waves? At least you were o.k., and I didn't drown, so we are good. I still love the water, though even after all of these years sometimes I still dream the ocean is coming for me.

Thank you for opening our imaginations with books and reading, storytelling, and singing, with sharing fables, myths, legends and tales from around the world. Thank you for reading out loud and singing in the car with mom late at night when we were travelling. I know all of the words to every song off of the American Graffitti soundtrack just because of our cross-country drive in 1976 to New Jersey.

Thank you for music and for art. I know you didn't always like everything I loved when I was a teen, but oh I loved everything you loved when it came to music. I have the Doors, the Beatles, Santana, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band, Queen, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, Tom Jobim, Gal Costa and so many, many more, not to mention a very particular appreciation for a well done soundtrack. Thank you for the piano lessons that I underutilized and didn't appreciate as much as I should have. Did you know I can play the Celtic Harp now? That is a new acquisition since you died. I've been playing for almost 3 years now and have now played twice in public, once for a group of 300 and once for a group of 600. If I wouldn't have been so worried about botching it, I might have peed my pants. Fortunately for me, neither did I botch or pee...I think you would be proud.

Thank you for languages and for my appreciation of them, and for giving me the opportunity to learn so many. Thanks for making sure that I went to good schools and for helping me learn so much.

Most of all though Dad...I miss being able to call you up and just say "Hey! Guess what happened??" or "Hi Dad--I wanted to ask your advice about..." or "Hey Papa San--I read this awesome book," or "I heard this great album" or " I learned about XYZ and I thought you'd be interested." Thank you for all of the great conversations we had through the years. I'm sorry there weren't more.

You were always a sounding board for my discoveries, and a comfort for my miseries.

Lastly, I wrote you a note today, here it is:

Hey Dad--
It still sucks that you're dead. It never changes. I love you.
Peek in every now and again...give me a cold chill, a "Boo," or something. Anything would be better than the silence of the void.
I miss you.