Sunday, March 27, 2011

Neat and Tidy!

I had a busy and productive week and the energy rolled into the weekend. I decided to put away more winter stuff and clear my drawers of things that could be yard-saled.
I also got on a tear and straightened out my primary cosmetic area.

I am on a L'Occitane kick for most of my serious face stuff - serum and eyes - and Lush for moisturizer and makeup removal.
This is the shelf to the left of my makeup cubby. Makeup here is waiting to rotate into everyday use. See the red glass vase to the left? That's ruby depression glass. No point in having antique stuff if you don't get some joy out of it.
I feel better for having some of this organization and clearing-out done. Someone cleans my house for me but I have to be the one who decides what to pitch and what to keep.
Sounds like a small victory, I am sure, but when depression has been shadowing your days caring enough to do any of this is a major accomplishment.
About that - most days are OK. Not great, not awful, but OK. Good days like yesterday and today don't happen often. I wonder if what I am eating is making a difference. I have been really trying to eat "clean" (minimally processed foods) and maxing on anti-oxidants like blueberries and blackberries.
I've been trying to eat better for a few months now and become more and more interested in old hobbies and had more interest in doing more than sit on the couch since then. I guess the effect is cumulative. I am going to keep it up and hope it keeps supporting the meds.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"If you're gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough"

I have just returned from a 5-day jaunt to see Mama at the farm.
My niece is 11 now, 5 months from being 12, and light years from being a kid. She is bright and quirky and occasionally silly. She likes all kinds of people, including a tall and sturdy old widow she sits with sometimes in church at Mt. Gilead. Miz Roz passed the piece of wisdom in the title of this piece to her. I think it might have been a warning to the Niecelet to take care in her disdain of the stupid...

Mama's Farm House
I got there Saturday and we made our grocery list, called Pouncey's, and went to town.
Pouncey's is an institution in Perry; a place for fried mullet, hushpuppies with guava jelly and swamp cabbage. You can't get swamp cabbage just anywhere, you know. This is Pouncey's third incarnation and the closest to the original which makes it the best restaurant I know of without a winelist.
My Aunt Karen whisks around the restaurant like the pro she is, greeting and teasing and cosseting her patrons like they were family. Kay-kay should have been a Diplomat for the US. Her first and second husbands became friends and refer to each other as "husband in law."  
Mama and I picked a booth since it was early, ordered catfish (mullet was all gone) and swamp cabbage and started to inhale some of Taylor County's best food.
It strikes me as humorous that I, with my sophisticated palate, love something as coastal hillbilly as mullet and swamp cabbage.
Keaton Beach Salt Marsh. We used to catch crabs using chicken necks.
We meandered on down to our beaches; our perfectly imperfect beaches with sand that varies between silvery white to golden to pale yellow. We're on a low-energy part of the coastline and it is shallow for a long way out into the gulf from our shore. Some brave souls were laying on the sand in bikinis but we were glad for long sleeves to divert the brisk wind. 72 degrees and windy is too cold for a Southern girl.
From Keaton we drove to Steinhatchee.

 This teeny town sits on the Steinhatchee River which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico.

Steinhatchee River

Just so you know, Steinhatchee and its river are pretty amazing from a "pristine" Florida perspective. If you can get there, park and walk around. Find someone to tell you about the fishing, the water, the lifestyle.
I won't be related to any of those folks; the water people are a lot rougher than those of us who live in more forgiving terrain. As we say at home, "you 'bout cain't grow anything in that sand by the river."

This is my mother. That face is made up of Swiss, Dutch, Creek Indian and some other stuff. You see the Swiss and Dutch most:)
Our people live inland with rivers nearby and access to the Gulf so my ancestors had a lot of ways to keep the kids fed. Mama remembers her grandfather ("granddaddy") and uncles taking the sloop out to the Gulf to catch mullet. They'd eat some, salt most down for later. During the winter while she was growing up, her Daddy took the family to live at the hunting camp for the season. He always built camp around a likely-looking candidate for Christmas tree duty. He never cut a Christmas tree even after they moved to town. He'd find a nice tree, carefully dig it up and keep it in a bucket until time to replant.                                                            
Her family weren't big farmers, just grew a kitchen garden and lived off meat they harvested from the wild.They are some of the kindest people you'll meet and will be glad to feed you whether they know much about you or not. My mother's grandmother raised 13 children, not all of them hers, and never spanked one of them. None of them ended up in jail or became bad adults, they grew up to be kind people themselves.
Their faith has always been a large part of how they define themselves. There is a little Baptist church out in the woods on a dirt road that you won't find unless you're looking for it that was founded by 3 or 4 families (including Mama's) in the late 1800's. They aren't the kind of Baptists I usually associate with that term. They're very live and let live, believers in-second-chances, flock-supportive people.
 I told Mama they sound like Methodists.
These little wild lillies pop up near Easter in the wet on either side of State Road 59. Typical of the roads in my home counties, it cuts through low wetlands and hilly farm and pasture lands.
I had forgotten the great importance my mother and family seem to put on Easter. Maybe it has something to do with the renewing of the land, the knowing that tomatoes and cucumbers and fresh corn are coming soon. Maybe it is just the soul-cleansing reminder that their sins are forgiven by a great sacrifice.
I am something of a neo-pagan according to the surveys I've taken. I think of myself as a humanist with wiccan leanings. This visit to my home grounds, where the scent of the land is familiar and always tinged with a little salt, where I see faces that carry traces of my own and I am loved by aunts and uncles and cousins in spite of my oddness and made to feel like some precious gem by my mother, reinforces my version of faith.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

I don't have to Cook it for it to be Good

I love good food, I love to cook, but on many weekdays I am too tired to cook what I'd really like and almost resent having to cook at all.
I ran across an ad for a local company that delivers "gourmet, chef-prepared meals" and thought I'd give it a try. My previous options had been takeout and the meals had names like "Cha-Cha Chimichanga" and "London Broil is Falling Down." I think NOT.
Spice of Life PC ( has three different menu plans that can be augmented with kid meals and Specials.
I decided we'd try the 3 meal sample for couples at $80.I ordered the Grecian style roasted chicken with steamed broccoli and sauteed vegetables, rosemary grilled lamb chops with grilled artichoke hearts, roasted pearl onions and new potatoes and London broil with creamy horseradish sauce, gorgonzola-stuffed tomatoes and grilled asparagus. Sound good, yes? It actually WAS.
This is my plate of London Broil augmented with leftover steak and grilled peppers and onions.

Grecian style Roasted Chicken, augmented with a slice of baguette with EVOO.

The food is plentiful and very good. I have an educated palate and am particular as can be about food. If I eat it, it will add calories to my body so they'd better be high quality calories.
These were high quality calories. I wish I'd taken pictures of the lamb chops- they were a perfect pinky-red and seasoned so well that all I had to add was a little sea salt.
The plates are Franciscan Apple pattern so they are a little distracting in the photos from the food.
I wanted to have good food and a break from making it myself. I was ready to make some concessions to get it, hence having a chicken meal when I am the only person who can make chicken the way I like it. I was ready to settle for "nice" food, not my really GOOD food.
I didn't have to settle. The food was all seasoned properly, cooked just right and the portions were gracious. The chef offers South Beach and Heart Healthy meals and a choice between gourmet and traditional family meals.
The time having meals delivered gave me back was enough to catch up on laundry, work on a grant, and handle all of my household-running business without being totally exhausted and resentful at the end of the day.

And that's an odd feeling. As a Southern woman, I feel like it is just an extension of my job to come home and put in another several hours of work. My job is hard; I manage people, do research and write, negotiate with other people and am mentally and physically depleted at the end of the day. But I still think it is incumbent upon me to go to the store to pick up what I don't have and transform everything into a nice, homecooked meal. Oh, and clean the kitchen, the litterboxes, feed all cats and varmints, pick up the house and try to do a load of laundry. My husband is supposed to sit in the recliner.
And I am a Ms., a NOW girl, an ERA supporter- but these customs are deeply ingrained and even though my husband doesn't expect this martyrdom, I do.
I am set free from some of my self-imposed slavery with meals I am not ashamed to serve. Thank you, Chef Jack. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

uuuuhhhhhnnnnn. stuffy and mizzerble

These have been my constant comapnions since yesterday morning. Generic Nyquil to ease my suffering, water pistol to keep the cats off of my food when I feel like eating. Little bastards will even fight me for saltines.
Husband started this party off last Sunday and was mopey and snuffly and achey until Wednesday.I was just a little icky from the pollen overload attack on my allergy medicine but nothing debilitating. Until Friday morning.
When I swam up to wakefulness Friday morning I didn't seem to totally emerge from the waters of sleep. I struggled on up with a head that felt like it was cased in cement, a badly sore throat and no interest in trying to go to work. I was done and the day hadn't even started.
I called in, rolled over and slept until eleven when I think I talked to someone.I slept some more until the maid came at one and transferred myself to the guest bedroom while she cleaned elsewhere and there I stayed until about 3:20. I got up and moved to my couch nest where I remained until 6:30 Saturday morning, sleeping from 11:30 until then. Charlie got me to move into the bed since he was getting up and my snuffly breathing could no longer bother him. I slept there until 1:30 and then snagged another nap at 5. I have been awake only 16 hours out of the past 48. I feel better now.
When I was a sophmore in high school I had the only biology instructor I ever liked, Mr. Hughes. The thing that made me like him was the humanity he brought to his teaching. He taught grey areas as well as black and white facts. I am a long way from remembering everything he tried to stuff into my 16 year old head but I remember two things very clearly: his gentle, smiling face and his firm belief that the best thing you can do whenever your body is insulted by sickness is rest. It's the Starship Enterprise equivalent of shutting down all non-essential programs and diverting all power to shields - except my body is nowhere nearly as cool as that NCC-1701 Constitution class vessel and I am bent on repair, not defense. It is too late for that.
I had been nutrient-loading with anti-oxidants, royal jelly, and clean (minimally processed) food since every one I knew had been getting the crud in hopes of avoiding it myself. I didn't manage that, but I think I am going to cut its duration in about half. I hope to go to the grocery store tomorrow, maybe even Bed Bath and Beyond!
Thank you, blueberries-blackberries-rasberries and strawberries. And thank you, Mr. Hughes, where ever you are.