Tag Archives: irony

Hungry?

27 Nov

It is the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA and so it seems fitting at this time that I write about food and hunger, though this is a thought process that has been in the works for a while now…

When I was around nineteen years old I had the wonderful opportunity to live with my grandmother Ella and grandfather Greg for nearly a year. During that time, I became engaged to marry my husband and thus had domesticity on the brain. Living under the influence of Ella was fortuitous and her mark was evidenced in my own nuclear family for many years. She taught me many basics of cooking which lent their foundations to my spring-boarding recipes. And so my children, friends, nieces and nephews, neighbors and more knew me to be a creative and consistent cook.

*I have to take a side step here, for I know my mom (Margie) reads this blog and will be chiding the computer screen with a “hey, what about me?” type question. My mom is an amazingly creative and gifted culinary master in her own right. Unfortunately for her, I liked only white rice and plain pasta noodles during my formative years. Her cooking left me stuck at the kitchen table as a young girl for hours past the dinner meal, staring at and stirring my grub. I have vivid memories of her pea soup, which now I would relish, but then I thought was some ancient torture ritual and I the prisoner of circumstance. I learned a few tricks of the trade during that time–swallowing peas like pills so as not to taste them and lopping up my food with napkins, burying them down in the bottom of the trash “unrecoverable.” And though it would seem I am the reluctant beneficiary of her talents, I see her in myself and my preferences more and more. I am thankful for her influence though she didn’t find in me the opportunistic learner that her mom did. Now back to the story at hand.

I am winding down in my 27th year of marriage (anniversary in February) and for 23 years of marital bliss I had the circumstance and opportunity to provide meals for my household always with a nutritional and creative lens. I viewed the kitchen as my “lab.” Understanding the chemistry of ingredients and how they react one with another lent for some masterpieces and some flops. I came up with creative ways to serve my husband and children vegetables that they found palatable as well as low-sugar desserts and some high sugar ones as well. Under my grandmother’s influence I started off the culinary arts with a high fat dependence upon butter, cheese and Campbell’s soups. But the more ground I gained as dietician to the Bent family, the “Margie factor” crowded out the Ella influence and hydrogenated fats in the soups were replaced by a love of olive oil and international ingredients. I studied nutritional journals and published papers, kept charts of the nutritional values in different vegetables, fruits, grains and meats, and used this information to better understand the influence food has on the body. I took inventory from my troops of the nutrients they consumed in a day and planned menus to provide variety and diversity of ingredients for the holistic picture. I believed (and still do) that our nutrients are best derived from food and not supplements, so diversity of food has been key in healthy living.

*I must side step again as I find it so ironic when I write or speak about my views on health or faith, because my son died of a brain tumor so I realize that my investment in food and prayer are not exactly the poster child one hopes for, as far as outcomes are concerned…sometimes I wonder if I should have embraced soda and fried chicken! Forgive me as I digress.

Getting back to the subject at hand, which the mention of my deceased will help me to do, is to say that I have spent a good and consistent part of my life creating and being inspired to cook. Which is why, since the loss of Cole, I find it strange that I don’t even feel hunger. My creativity is lost somewhere inside of my struggle to live in loss. My palate craves nothing and my body needs little. This is not to say I dislike food, on the contrary, I do like food-I guess. But my taste is simplistic at best. I am satisfied by an avocado for lunch. Or fish and rice. An artichoke for breakfast along with my coffee is more satisfying than an iconic spread. I now walk the produce section of a grocery store in wonder, with no inspired thought. Oh yes, I know I enjoy sauteed mushrooms but with what? I don’t know and don’t care. I don’t want pasta, but bought a package to have on hand this past week for my young cousin who was visiting. My husband is often eating cereal for dinner as I have no offerings to provide (unless in his ambition he heats up a hotdog and canned beans) and prepackaged meals gross me out. Even salad, usually a favorite of mine, is common place. I assemble one often for lunch because I know this is the type of fuel that works well for my constitution but I don’t crave a certain type. I even find that during the holidays, when hosting at my house, I struggle to think of what others would want and enjoy. I don’t snack and my beverage of choice is water. By my own assessment, I have become quite dull. In full disclosure, this past week I did eat 7 sticky buns (Ella’s recipe courtesy my sister who keeps this family recipe/tradition alive) but declared it my dinner and left everyone else to fend for themselves. On Thanksgiving I bought the ingredients to ensure the traditionalists were happy, but I myself, had not one bite of turkey and ate very little from the side dishes as I felt no pang of hunger. In fact as I sit here and write, Brian (my love) is asking if I’d like a stuffed potato for dinner–his treat courtesy the local barbecue restaurant–to which I give an emphatic “no!” …I’m not hungry and I don’t want to eat.

Living in loss, with loss, can make one feel quite lost. The person I have known myself to be is missing and with her is the desire for food. I eat out of a knowledge base to fuel the body (except for the sticky bun extravaganza which is more of a nod to past practice than anything else) and prefer to have food in its natural state such as rice, fish and vegetables (and I suppose a potato would work). When I think I am craving a food, as soon as I see it, the desire dissipates. I am not fond of this disconnect. But then again I am not a fan of this life without my son in it. So there you have it, my soapbox on food, hunger and grief just as my husband asks me again with a boy-like enthusiasm “are you hungry and ready for dinner?” I of course restate my first answer, but in yielding to the knowledge that fuel is a necessary agent for living, relented and promised to wrap up this post so we can talk dinner (or he can talk rather). I think in this regard a fairy god-mother of food would be helpful for me. I need a Rivka in my life who will assess my nutrient intake of the day, prepare the food I should eat, and tell me it is the only option. Sounds like I need a mom! I suppose this is a maternal retribution, Margie’s revenge…for I scorned her culinary influence once upon a time. Oh irony how thee doth sting.

Stuffed potato anyone?

Living Between The Lines

18 Aug

I have had the opportunity, these past few years, to live out my burdens upon this blog.  And by doing so I have received comfort and condolences from family, friends and strangers alike.  When going through a hard time, some find assistance, solace and comfort, in the spoken word–oral communication.  For me, the calm silence of the written word has been the soothing provision to my soul.  I think we are funny, us creatures of humanity.  We have so many offerings we can reach for, to guide us through whatever it is our journey presents.  In fact, from the moment my son entered the hospital back in March 2011 I have been given a multitude of resources.  Several are grief specific and a few are literary pleasure reads.  The ironic thing is that for as much as writing sends my soul to the moon and ignites within me an excitement for living, while in the pressure cooker of life (at my son’s bedside and beyond) I cannot ingest the writings of others.  I can’t explain it thoroughly except to say it is as if I am using every ounce within me to live out my own story, that to take in the story of another, fiction or nonfiction, to the level a book extends, is more cumbersome to my being than helpful.

Now some of my reads are soothing just by their title alone.  Others not so much.  Maybe from one I extract a morsel from a page, others the back cover does the trick.  But all in all I am at a standstill in reading, at this time.

books for the soul

Soul Fodder

read is FUN

Library in Waiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t normally keep books in such a disheveled manner as my photos suggest.  But upon receiving the gift, I think my head was so clouded by grief that the idea that I am one who falls within the category of the target audience irritated me.  I mean have you ever been included in a club that you had no interest in being a member?  I am there.  I am not interested in being a member of the “I’ve lost a child” club.  No, I want him back and I want a normal family life…two children, two dogs, one husband, a house, a family, a life with grandkids down the road.  So as the books on grieving were given to me, in earnest love and attempt to soothe a difficult loss, they inadvertently served as a reminder of just that–loss.  And with that word comes irritation, so I just piled them atop one another.  Yet interspersed between my literary counselors are a few gems that for some reason lift the burden momentarily, if only because their placement is so out of line with the others that the irony tickles my fancy.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves for example is one I have been “borrowing” now for over five years.  I have read and re-read the first few chapters and can’t seem to get through to the end.  But I think it is a brilliant writing as it makes punctuation the protagonist while using satirical humor to drive its cause home.  As you can tell from my overuse of the comma, I am a slow learner.  But the fact that this particular writing is stacked between such titles as “I’m Grieving As Fast As I Can” and “Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love” I find more soothing to my grief stricken state than if I actually pick the resource up and read it (the other little outcast on the works of  Robert Doisneau is equally as comical).  In the same vein, the other stack of heartfelt reads is topped by a ridiculous writing titled, “Managing the Millennials.”  It is not ridiculous because it is a poorly written resource, just that its placement among the others deems it so.

So here I am living between the lines.  As the stacks of books suggest, I bounce between places of joy and sorrow, fear and courage, peaceful waiting and restless anxiety, all of which are bordered by the lines of loss that have defined our family.  Just this summer alone our family has been touched (along with others) by the loss of a dear young friend, untimely and abrupt–just as our son.  I can see her beautiful face, streaming with tears, as we hugged on the day of my son’s funeral.  Now we grieve her passing as well, and hurt alongside her little girls and husband who grapple with their new void (though the youngest will likely not remember her mama).  We also have news that another young soul, our neighbor and father of two wee ones, is not long for this world as his cancer is not responding to treatment.  Our fervent prayers for a magical miracle remain intact and our souls (Brian and I, for we can’t bring ourselves to tell Esther) are heavy under the burden of this reality.  My brother and his family are facing the cancer intrusion in the life and lungs of his mother-in-law, a vicious disease that has already claimed the life of her husband.  These are hard, tough aspects of life.

And yet, simultaneously upon us is the elation of new life.  New adventure and the continued momentum of the living.  Our family has the good fortune to celebrate a couple of expected births come next spring.  Our niece came to live with us this summer (she just left to return for her senior year of college yesterday) and our family felt more whole with her here.  Our daughter is getting ready to head off to her university, 2-1/2 hours from home, on August 28th.  Far enough for her to experience the freedom to grow in her own direction, yet close enough that we can still be of real physical and emotional support.  I am moving into my second year working within an environment that is well suited to my natural calling and Brian’s art, clothing and lifestyle is gaining consistent momentum (I am still hoping he makes me a woman of leisure this side of Heaven!).  We had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a young couple this past weekend and we have another nuptial celebration coming next month.  Our god-kids remain a bright spot for us (though we haven’t seen them much this summer), being participants in their lives is an honor we hold dear.

So we move and groove within the space between the lines, the matrix if you will.  For the borders represent our loss, the void of the one not here.  And though the natural motion of the in-between forces us to touch the outer edge, as the laws of physics mandate, we bounce back to the middle because the lines are inhabited with a repellent within its system–a force which prohibits a long term stay.  So on to the next, whatever the next happens to be.  Books on grief will have to wait.  The middle is available and its offers of joyful enthusiasm help assuage the deep pain of each margin.


I believe scripture calls it, “beauty from ashes,” (Isaiah 61)–nothing new under the sun, just living between the lines.


 

Ironic Living

Bent-style irony


 

Interior Design

23 Feb

Today is the 3rd morning after I wrote my previous post .  In that particular writing I had avowed to start my day off with prayer, before even getting out of bed.  Well I am here to tell you that today is the third day I have awoke, jumped out of bed, flew to the kitchen for a drink of water, mozied over to the coffee pot to start my brew, only to remember:  I FORGOT TO START MY DAY WITH PRAYER!  Back to my bed I run…  Run, written in the present tense because it is a present condition until a new habit is formed.

(I am tempted to interject the song, Three Days, by K.D. Lang, but I will spare you the musical interlude–just know that I am a walking jukebox and pretty much have a tune for every word, thought, and occasion)

How quickly I have adjusted to my habit of self focus, how difficult to redirect the interior of my design.  I am thankful for this blog.  It has, even in the slightest, kept me on a track I wish to follow.  By simply being a reminder to my soul of the desire of my heart.  Apparently, I need the help.  I can tell you that going back to bed and forcing myself to converse with The Almighty G-d has truly been an effective method in strengthening, me.  Now if you have been reading my musings for a bit of time, you will know that I tend to not divulge the intimate details of what transpires here at home.  Those details belong to not just myself, but my husband, son, and daughter.  Only after I feel the circumstance is “safe” will I allow myself the freedom to share beyond the ambiguous notion of the end result.  But to help illuminate, for you the reader, the ‘why and how’ of the impact of starting the day off with prayer, I must let you have a closer look into how thin my psyche has been worn.

Example: If one prays for a miracle, and then receives a yes answer to said prayer, one would think that the requester of the miracle would recognize its presence.  At least I would consider that to be true.  Except just the opposite has happened to me.

My birthday came and went like the breeze, this past January.  And on that particular day we received a call (actually my son did), from his doctor telling him that there was an area of abnormality which showed up on the routine MRI’s he had, had the previous day.  I quickly accessed the report myself and sent it off, via email, to his neurosurgeon.  Unfortunately after having spent the last two years inundated in this new world of brain tumors and 4th ventricular ependymoma, I am now educated enough in MRI reports to understand the circumstance of the abnormal reading…but only enough to be slightly dangerous to myself.  At any rate, all fingers (so to speak) pointed to disease recurrence.  And his next set of xrays, which were going to take a closer look at the area in question, were not for another week.  So we Bents, along with the neurosurgeon at the VA, our private neurosurgeon who performed the original surgery, and Cole’s many other doctors were 99% positive the cancer had returned.  Yet for some crazy reason (actually not crazy at all, but indicative of lives living by faith), we were holding onto the 1% chance…hoping for a miracle.

I am happy to report that the follow up tests showed there was no cancer, only an “artifact left over from the original surgery.”  AN ARTIFACT!!!  I can’t tell you how relieved we all are.  The neurosurgeon’s email response to me was priceless, “Whew. OMG!”  But you know what?  I had been so exhausted from the accumulation of stress upon my soul that I didn’t even consider the miracle of the news.  It was actually my brother, who was finally able to get a hold of me a few days later, who said, “well I think we’ve witnessed a miracle.”  My response? …oh yeah, wow, I guess we have.

Now that, my friend’s, is sad.  A girl living by faith, yet so bogged down that she can’t even see her Father in action!  That was my wake-up call.  My trumpet sound, my slap in the face.  A change needed to come, and I am the only person who could(can) enact it.  And that is why, three days ago I wrote the post, “Better Homes and Garbage” about beginning anew.  Redecorating my inner walls.  And why, for three mornings I have run back to my bed to honor the recognition of the doomed state from which I desire to leave.

Now can I get a witness?? 🙂

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