Persian Aversion: An Ode to Martha

 

One of the oddities not mentioned in the After Your Heart Surgery brochure that a hospital gives a patient and their family before going home is that the patient will become a Food Diva.  If they were a Food Diva before the surgery, this aspect of their personality will become heightened, exacerbated, enlarged, inflated.  Once the pain is over and the patient returns home, small portions of any food not resembling hospital food will be requested.  This is natural.  But “requested”, perhaps, is too gentle a word.  Strongly suggested?   The very thing the caregiver is suggested to make, however, will offend the patient’s also heightened olfactory senses.  Chex Mix (TM) can send a patient into paroxysms of disgust.  Crockpot pork shoulder, lovingly rubbed with chili, garlic, salt, and cumin, can send a patient over the edge.  Who knew?

If one is not a natural born cook yet finds them self in a primary caregiver role to a Food Diva, this is a bitter pill to swallow.   Where does it say I have to be Alice Waters, Julia Childs, or Ashley Rodriguez?  To the patient whose primary love language is Acts of Service – The Provisioning of Healthy Meals to Your Family – to find oneself in the clutches of a merely serviceable cook of a caregiver is to find oneself gazing about the ramparts of the pits of hell.  Some snarky, possibly overtly aggressive, comments about pizza and the frequency with which it is consumed, just might be uttered by the patient: “You just keep eating your pizza.”  Food shaming at its best!

MoodRingMomma and I were at our collective caregiving wits’ end the other night.  I suggested to our mother that we could eat either a) crock potted chicken thighs in green salsa from her own website cooksallycook.com or b) Stromboli from the Italian restaurant a stone’s throw away.  MoodRingMomma added that she was willing to cook c) chicken curry.  A veritable smorgasbord of options, with a green salad on the side!

But no, The Radish wanted effing ground lamb kebabs on flatbread with roasted tomatoes from Naomi Duguid‘s cookbook Persia.  No matter that we did not have the skewers the recipe required, a grill, or ground lamb.  Hamburger would do, mixed in with the grated onion, mashed into pasty little sliders by my very own dish pan hands, and cooked on the pancake griddle.

I later commented that really, this very labor intensive  dish, was a Persian version of a poor Greek’s gyro, one we could probably get as take out.   I felt it needed some tzatziki but all agreed that the sumac spice was essential (this, of course, we had on hand).  Nonetheless, the Radish was pleased with the outcome and the smell did not offend.  She enjoyed watching MoodRingMomma cry over grating the onions and me mashing the meat paste into “kebabs”.   There was no sitting at the feet of Jesus for these sisters.

It was shortly after this that I had a hissy fit on the phone with my other sister MCVwasHere, during which I explained that everyday with a heart surgery patient is like being on a roller coaster.  Up one hour, down the next, with loop de loops, hanging upside down for extended periods.  This is no reflection on the heart surgery patient.  It is the nature of the beast. But no doctor tells you this beforehand, of course.  A heart surgeon touches your body exactly twice: once to cut on you for 4-5 hours and then again to remove the staples, and maybe then he or she  might even make a different healthcare worker do that nasty bit of business.

My ten year old nephew, overhearing the conversation, piped up and said,

“Wait!  You’re on a roller coaster????”

Like we were whooping it up on vacation at DisneyWorld.  It still makes me laugh hard.

Sometimes life demands that a Martha show up instead of a Mary.  Marthas get sh*t done.  Martha would not have hesitated to wipe up the blood and crust from the wounds of Jesus but she might have been resentful that she had to unload the dishwasher and milk the yak too. I am not so sure that That Other Mary would have been up to the task, something I will inquire about in my personal one-on-one conversation on the other side.  For today, Sweet Jesus, let me make it to Christmas.  At least there have been no poopy diapers.

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Shopping Suggestions:  you are cutting it close, shoppers.  I think you can still order Naomi Duguid’s books Persia or Burma, which are part travelogue, part stellar photography, and part recipes.  Even if you never cook from them, they are beautiful books.  Alternatively, order some baklava from Shatila.com.  I like to think Martha served both Jesus and her sister a piece.  YUM!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conversation Between Mary & Joseph

Historically, readers, I have skipped ahead.  I am sure Mary and Joseph had plenty of conversations but this is the one that came to me in the middle of the night.  Depending on your point of view, it would be either very hard or very easy to live with She Who Is Without Sin, a teflon saint!

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The scene is Bethlehem, Joseph’s family compound.  The year, 1-2 A.D.  Mary and Joseph are kibitzing over their preparations to go in to Egypt.  Joseph has (again) been warned in a dream:  Get up and take your nascent family and get the heck out.  Herod is after that baby.  [Matthew 2:13-14].  This was a high stress situation.

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Mary:  Did you remember the diaper bag?

Joseph:  What?  I was working on saddling the donkey.  Thank GOD those three men showed up with all that gold. I was worried about how I was going to pay for it.  Normally, Habbakuk  would rent me one but who knows when we’re returning?  I had to wake him up just to buy this bad ass.

Mary:  Let me get the bag.  I threw the frankincense and myrrh in there.  What about your tools?

Joseph:  Yep.  Am going to carry them on my back along with some of the gold.  Hopefully that saw is well wrapped.

Mary:  OK, I think we are all set to go.  Jesus might get a bit wily but you can always carry him on your shoulders for a bit.

Joseph:  Sounds good.  You’re a saint.  I’m sure you’re ready to get out of Bethlehem, even if Herod is hot on our heels.

Mary:  Well, speaking the truth in love, darling, your mother was not that keen on me.  She didn’t even  want to see the baby.  I can say this because I am sinless, but really, she is a piece of work.

Joseph:  I know.  I kind of threw her for a loop though.

Mary: Yes, I get it.  Somehow I think I’ll have the last word.  Do you think we could stop at a wadi in Egypt?  I’d really love to wash off some of this animal stink.  I’m not complaining, of course, but it would be nice to freshen up.

Joseph:  I’ll make it happen.  You’ve been a trooper, sweetheart.

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Shopping Suggestion:  Don’t!  It’s the Sabbath!  Stay home and bake cookies!

 

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Signs and Wonders

 

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Do you think God can speak to you through license plates?  I do.  But only if you are paying attention.   (I refer you to my previous post on my other license plate signs here).

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I took Thing 3 to the barber for a haircut.  Bill the Barber is a story unto himself, which I will save for another day.

When leaving his salon, a generous word for his work space, Thing 3 and I headed to the Mexican ice cream shop in town,  Delicias Michoacanas.  They make the most excellent ice cream with intriguing flavors. I was not going to try the corn, but was hoping they had rose petal.

As we were pulling away from the curb, I saw a license plate that said:

COUNSLR.

“Look, Thing 3.  That’s probably a lawyer.”

“Or a shrink,” she replied.

“Or maybe the Holy Spirit.  That’s another name for it,”  I said.

Fifteen minutes later, waffle cones dripping with coconut and coffee ice cream, we saw another license plate.

WITNESS

“Wow, Mom.  Maybe you should finally start your law career.”

“I’m not sure that’s what that means.  But now that we’ve seen two license plates, you know there has to be a third.”

On we drove to the  AT&T store, mentioned in last week’s post.  These signs were occurring at the same time as the Unconscious Coupling.  As we were walking into the store there was this one:

WAY2BZY

“Hmmm.  Well, that’s the third plate but I don’t know what it means.”  Am I too busy? Yes, due to events beyond my control.  But normally, I try to pace myself and leave space in my calendar for things that come up, such as lunch with a friend, a heart surgery, or moving a household.  You know, the little things.  This is easier for me than, say, my sisters as my nest is now empty and I don’t have an income producing job.

As we got in the car, Thing 3 said to me, “I think you really might need to reconsider the law thing.”

No sooner had she spoken those words than a car bearing this plate drove by:

NOTLAW.

I do not make this up.

I had a witness.

I will not be practicing law.

I did, however, finish all my Continuing Legal Education, so I will be renewing my law license, to what purpose, I have no idea.  I am already WAY2BZY to figure anything else out.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?

Shopping suggestion:  Mexican ice cream or my seasonal favorite, candy cane!  It won’t melt as fast if you are living in an area affected by the Polar Vortex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Holy Spirit was popping during Thanksgiving Weekend.

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Get Your Guadalupe On

 

 

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I am going to cheat and make you click here and here  for posts earlier in the year to refresh your memory on Our Lady of Guadalupe.   It’s her Big Day!  Feast on, particularly if you are Mexican.

The Radish has had a minor setback so please pray for her today!  Our nurse today is Faith.

Shopping suggestion: hotdamntamales.com.

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Apparition

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Whew.

Thursday, December 8, was the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the day nine months before Mary’s “birthday” of September 8, which is called the Feast of the Nativity.  According to Catholic dogma approved in 1854, the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin on this day.

It was also the day this week that my mother, a.k.a. the Radish, went in for a repair of her mitral heart valve.   She stayed under a little longer to fix the tricuspid too.

My sister, Mood Ring Momma, my father, and I had a long time to fellowship together in the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, delivering my mother at 5 a.m. for her operation.  Scripture and cheesy Jesus photos adorned the walls of the hospital lobby and waiting rooms.  I was at total peace, even as the clock ticked past the time the OR nurse was supposed to have provided an update.

At some point, it occurred to me that December 8 was a Feast Day of Mary and that I should be on the lookout for her.  I know this because I had hoped that 12/8/98 would be Thing 3’s birthday, coming two years and three months after Thing 2’s birthday, 9/8/96.  I like even numbers.  The only drawback:  most Mexican Catholics born on this date, be they male or female, are named Concepcion (Conception) and go by the (unattractive to me) nickname of Concho/Concha/Conchita.   Would I have caved to the pressure???

The first apparition, if you can even call it that, was a teensy blue medal worn by a former cardiothoracic OR nurse named Linda who chatted us up in the waiting room.  Her Aunt Mary had bought it for her at the Vatican.   At 67 years old, Linda rocked her scrubs.   I have never seen such a glamorous nurse.   Although this was a pea sized appearance, Linda was a veritable angel of information.

The second apparition was far creepier (?)/comforting/scalp tingling.  As the afternoon wore on, I received a text message from an unknown New York number with an accompanying photo of a double tombstone.  The text said, “Dad would have been 100 yrs old today.  Mary & I just stopped by.”  The name of the dad was Joseph.  Now, obviously, I was mistakenly included on someone’s text string. (Or was I???).  In any event, I felt that Joe and his wife, who shares a name with Mood Ring Momma, were looking after the Radish, perhaps during a perilous part of my mother’s journey.   As was Mary.

Naturally, I was on the look out for the third apparition.  Nearly catatonic by the end of the day, I had no further sightings and went to bed nervous for my mother, who we left unconscious and contorted in pain.  With half an ear open all night for a phone call, I slept very little.   If I am honest, I was also a little disappointed there was no trinitarian sighting.

But lo and behold, Mary showed up the next day in the mailbox in the form of my mother’s Christmas card, a little overdue but right on the money.  The Radish had used the above image of Mary for her annual epistle.  Here is her message, which bears reprinting:

“Radish here.  This is a Heart of Mary icon which I stole off my daughter’s blog.  It spoke to me because it is simple, timeless, and her heart is showing, and maybe this year we can show a little religion.  Her heart represents all her joys and sorrows.  Further,  Papa Bear and I with both our hearts wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017.  This year we are so appreciative of our families.  And those who are our friends, you will never know how much you mean to us.  Be open to miracles this year.  XOXO”

A photo of my mother, crazy-haired, and my father, grinning insanely, hovering over their breakfast bowls, graces the back of the card.

Day Three post operation the Radish slept a lot but was not in pain.  Tomorrow, Nurse Ratched is on duty.  We are going to get that granny moving.  This seems to be part of my fate but with Mary, Joseph, and Cheesy Jesus on my team, how can I not surrender to the season???  Perhaps at 52, I am finally learning the true meaning of Christmas:  waiting for a miracle or ten, stripped down and wearing a backless gown, joy found breathing in a sheet swaddled recliner.

N.B.  I did not edit this so if there are any errors, so be it.  You’ll understand.  Also, it is Broccoli Babe’s birthday.  She is an angel encourager.

Shopping suggestion:  Vistaprint.com for all your holiday messages!

 

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May Your Days Be Mary and Bright

 

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Today is the last day I am a mother of a minor.  My little Mary Thing 3 turns 18 tomorrow.  This is perhaps the definition of bittersweet: The day your youngest child becomes an adult.  She was a happy Baby Bean until she started teething, when she acquired a multitude of nicknames:  Mary Pain, Monster Jane, among others.

I should have named her Maria Francesca because she is an ardent animal lover.  But who knows that at the time a name is given?

Thing 3 was born in Mexico City.  I added my grandmother’s maiden name to Thing 3’s name as her middle name.  The birth certificate clerk, Xochitl, got the spelling correct.

We are quite sure that Thing 3 misses her animals more than her parents when she is off at college.

This past year she has been a fabulous nurse, worker, yogi, artist, and needlepointer.

She is the best clay pigeon shooter in the family and an excellent driver.  She is fearless and stands up for the helpless, sometimes at great personal cost.

 

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So happy Adulthood, Thing 3.  You are a beautiful young woman, inside and out, and you honor the Big Marys with your loving attitude.

 

 

 

 

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Unconscious Coupling

Last week I had several incidents that showed me that the Benevolent Universe (i.e. the Holy Spirit) was on it’s game. The first incident involved license plates (again) and is the subject of a future blog post. All incidents happened in the span of less than an hour.

If you recall (and let’s face it, why would you?) I wrote a blog post earlier this year about a book entitled Anchored and mentioned the pillow Thing 1 was needlepointing for me, featuring an Anchor and the words “I Got This. God”. Here is a photo of the finished product:

 

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Last Saturday, Thing 3 and I headed to the AT&T store to investigate replacing her phone, which had been stolen the week before. As I was parking the car, I spotted my housepainter Ms. Sprite walking into Books A Million. I know about 5 people in my new home town of 87,000 and she is one of them.  I needed to discuss something with her so I followed her into the store and Thing 3 split off and went off to deal with her phone issue.

Searching the rows and rows of books, I could not find my friend.  I continued to the back of the store and, not seeing my Sprite, went to the little Christian gift section of the store. There I found this traveling coffee mug:

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Naturally, I had to have it.

Then I continued to search for Ms. Sprite, thinking perhaps she’d already left the store. But no, she was in a row behind me, looking for a book I’d recommended for her masseuse, The Passport to the National Parks. A spiral  bound book, one can paste stamps inside for every National Park visited in the United States. Arkansas has quite a few of them. If you are a collector, this is something fun and inexpensive to acquire. My cousin, Ms. Italian Villa, told me about this book this past summer.

Naturally, I had to have it.

I bought my book this summer at the Hot Springs, AR National Park.  Here is what it looks like:

 

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In addition to a share of a goat, one nephew is getting his passport, which I am going to purchase at my very handy local National Park. (First shopping suggestion).

But back to the mug. When I got home I thought to myself, “Who else had God spoken to this way? Let me see who makes this.” So I flipped the mug over. It was made (in China) by a Mary Square (of course).

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Hilarious! You can click on her website here. (Shopping suggestion #2) if you need a water bottle, bible binder, or backpack. 10% of every Mary Square purchase gives back to children needing school supplies.

After that, I  got to thinking, is this phrase part of the Collective Unconscious??? How many other objects are there with this saying on them? Had I seen this before?  Was this God or my own brain?

As it turns out, there are many many items with “I Got This. God” on them. A variation on the theme is “I’ve Got This. God”, the more grammatically correct version. God, however, did not use good grammar with me. Here is a pillow I found on Etsy with the saying, if you want your own. (Shopping suggestion #3).

 

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I had never seen the phrase before it popped into my mind last year, to my conscious knowledge.

So what’s up with that? Let’s discuss the cosmic mind meld!

Finally, I am off to Gentle Yoga*. Lord knows I cannot take any other kind.  Both Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin would approve.

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* Shopping suggestion #4 – a gift certificate to your local yoga studio so somebody can go take a Christmas load off.

Shopping suggestion #5 – Kayla Aimee‘s book Anchored for anyone you know with a preemie in the hospital.

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