Soup’s on….again

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I have to say, this is my favorite time of year. The days are still warm enough to have the nostalgia of summer but the nights sufficiently cool down enough to make me think it’s time to make soup.

These are the days I find my center again, the time when I make my way back to myself. I am grounded when I am in my kitchen. The outside world becomes a distant memory and I can embrace the feeling that I have truly found my way back to me.

My love of cooking was absorbed through osmosis. Both of my parents spent many hours in our family kitchen. Whether it was following a recipe (my mother) or throwing ingredients into a pot and hoping for the best (my father), my favorite childhood memories revolve around time spent in that family kitchen.

I have always said my writing is cathartic but cooking is a true salvation. There are no rules to cooking, no grammar and no punctuation. And while writing continues to free my mind and my imagination, cooking frees my soul.

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The Beef Barley Soup is simmering in the crockpot as I write this post and the ingredients for New England Clam Chowder await their chance to be blended into a concoction of creamy goodness. My mother most often called us to dinner by yelling “soup’s on” and that memory always makes me smile. The soup is on…..and the simple smell of those ingredients has removed every bit of stress that had accumulated over the last few months.

This is my time, my time to cook, and I am going to embrace every second of it. Soup’s on!

 

 

 

 

When did we become such a litigation nation?

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My trips to the Post Office are more frequent in the summer months. Most of my time spent in that small building revolves around sending back items guests have left behind at the lodge and yesterday was no exception. Usually, my visits are perfunctory and painless but yesterday I walked in and witnessed the exchange between the Post Master and a cottager determined to have a post office box to receive her summer packages.

I live in a small town and the number of mailboxes we have available is very limited. As our Post Master attempted to explain the boxes are reserved for year-round residents, the cottager was clearly becoming more agitated. She was told by the Post Master she could have her packages mailed to general delivery and, as long as she picked the parcels up within two weeks of their delivery date, the post office would be able to accept and hold them. This resolution was not well-received.

I could feel my eyes rolling but thankfully the woman in question had her back to me and could not see my look of disdain. She was offered an easy fix but would not accept that solution as one that would satisfy her delivery requirements. Her histrionic behavior then turned from a one-on-one discussion to the threat of getting her lawyer involved.

I’m not sure which part of the situation was more disturbing – the fact that a feasible solution was rejected by her or the fact that she was so quick to present the threat of seeking legal representation for something she was unwilling to easily attain. She was offered a free service to have her online orders delivered to the same building in which she was standing and yet she was willing to pay a ridiculous hourly wage to a well-educated lawyer who would garner the same result.

The life I remember as a child is unrecognizable. We used to be able to solve differences without the threat of litigation, but that life has changed. I can only hope this woman has gone home to her summer residence and realized what a mountain she created from a simple molehill.

 

 

Fifty is the new……what was I saying?

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Another turn around the sun has brought me to fifty. As I always do on my birthday, I wished my Winnie the Pooh a happy birthday as we have shared this day since the day I turned one. Winnie looked slightly dismayed when I told him I was fifty today. He was doing the calculations in his head and, although he is a bear of very little brain, he slowly realized it will be his turn next year.

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I remember my dad giving my mom a birthday card on her fiftieth that read, “Fifty and Fabulous” and I could have sworn he was being a lovely husband and cushioning the blow for what must have been a traumatic event for my mom. But he was bang on. Somewhere along my path to get here, I stopped worrying about the numbers and concentrated on my happiness and I truly do feel fabulous.

I have forgiven myself for the mistakes I made in my past and left them in the past where they belong. I have stopped defending the fact I am single woman, happily living life on my own in my little house. I have stopped trying to convince people that alone does NOT mean lonely. I have given myself permission to be a bit selfish sometimes and practice saying the word, NO. And I have found great humility in volunteering my time to help my fellow community members.

Fifty is what you allow it to be and, for me, fifty just proves the year on my birth certificate is correct and nothing else. Happy fiftieth birthday to me!

 

When the voices wake you

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I’m hearing the voices again, the voices that rouse me from sleep so I can tell their story.  Those voices have been quelled since I finished writing my first book but, now that I am forging my way into my second book, a new ensemble of characters is alive and well and they are feeling extremely vocal.

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning with a simple line that seemed to be rooted in my brain.  That line wanted so desperately to be recorded so, before I was able to drift into my slumber once again, I had to blindly feel around in the dark for my cell phone and find the voice memo app that has been my late night savior.  In a voice that sounded more like Morgan Freeman narrating a television commercial, I spoke a few words into the microphone and fell back into a deep sleep.

When I woke up again at 7:30, I knew I had recorded something but couldn’t remember what the words were.  I played them back and was overwhelmed with the urge to write.  I was almost late for work yesterday because the flow of words was substantial enough to warrant an apology to my bosses for my tardiness.  Thankfully, they understand my insatiable urge to listen to those voices and they accept my erratic behavior when it comes to my creativity.

The words that I recited in the wee hours of morning could possibly help shape the antagonist in my newest creation.  Karl is slowly becoming a character I want to embrace but a character I have become slightly afraid to welcome into my reality.  I can only hope, for both our sakes, that I can tell his story and give it the entertainment value he is seeking without becoming afraid of him in the process.

The results are in….

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In mid-June, I went boldly where I had never gone before – I went to a Sleep Clinic. My doctor is doing her due-diligence to help reveal the potential cause of my high blood pressure and she wanted to find out if Sleep Apnea may be the culprit. I wrote this post about my experience of trying to actually sleep so the study would be effective.

As it turns out, during the nine and a half hours I was incarcerated hooked up to the monitors, I got an assorted six hours of sleep from which they could extrapolate their results.  I do have a mild form of Sleep Apnea, but nothing that will require me to wear one of these while I sleep.

sleep apnea mask

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I suffer from what they refer to as ‘fragmented sleep’ which is on the mid-to-low-level of Sleep Apnea. The amount of deep sleep I got was on the lower spectrum of what they refer to as normal but I was attached to over three dozen wires and made to sleep on my back. They should be grateful I slept at all under those circumstances, otherwise mine could have been the shortest sleep study in their history.

The fragmented sleep was something I was expecting. I have a brain that is extremely averse to shutting down. Falling asleep some nights is easier than others, but when I wake up at 4:00 am my brain immediately launches into hyper-drive and it is next to impossible to quell the rush of random thoughts. I am lucky if I can get back to sleep before my alarm sounds at 6:30 am.

The doctor at the sleep clinic gave  me a prescription for a sleeping pill that I will happily decline to take. As soon as he said the word ‘addictive’, he solidified my objection to taking the pills in the first place. Some of my best ideas for stories, or for my books, come in those wee hours of fragmented sleep and I would hate to still the rushing waters of creativity.

For now, I will be focused on more exercise, perhaps some meditation and whatever else I can do to still my brain so I can get a better quality of sleep.  Worst case scenario, book number two will be written before the anticipated deadline and I will have larger bags under my eyes!

 

 

Things that are poorly named – Part 1

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Recently, I was directed by my doctor to go to a Sleep Clinic to determine whether or not I have sleep apnea. While I understand the need to have more than two dozen wires glued to my head and body, I do not understand the theory behind calling it a “sleep” clinic. There is little sleep to be had.

Once I had undergone the necessary time it took to forcefully glue over two dozen small sensors to my head, face, shoulders and legs, I was fitted with a few other accoutrements and left to read for a while. When the technician finally came in to hook me up to the monitors and tuck me in, he told me I had to sleep on my back. Houston, we have a problem.

I am not professing to be an authority on sleep habits, but I am certainly the foremost expert on my sleep habits and I knew it was going to be a rough night. I am a side-sleeper, I have been since I was a kid, so trying to fall asleep lying on my back, afraid to move because I was wired for sound, was next to impossible.

I did manage to drift off a few times but woke up abruptly when I tried to roll onto my side because I was constricted by the conglomeration of wires. I’m not sure how accurately my results will portray my sleep habits since I wasn’t allowed to sleep as I usually do but I do hope they have some answers for me. I’m certainly not going to be doing that again!

How times have changed

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Although my childhood seems like a lifetime ago, there are many things that stand out and make me think that I once lived a very dangerous lifestyle.  We played in the mud and made mud pies.  We drank water from a garden hose and we ran from cottage to cottage in our bare feet, jumping through puddles and springs on the way.  We picked up worms, bugs, frogs and chipmunks – in our hands!  There were nights that my parents had to physically drag me inside because I couldn’t get enough of the outdoors.

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We swam under our dock and hung out with the rock bass and the dock spiders.  We had cook-outs and ate the fish we caught that day and we showered in the rain on the days that the water poured from the sky.  In the winter, we made forts in the snow banks and we stood outside in -20 degree temperatures to wait for the school bus which felt just as cold inside as it was outside.

The reason for my stroll down memory lane is a strange tale.  Let me set the stage.  It was late afternoon.  A slight rain was falling and I had run to the grocery store for an item that I had overlooked on my list.  I was wearing a light summer dress and the rain was gentle but steady.  I picked up my item and, as I was leaving the store, a father and his three teenage children were standing in the doorway watching the rain.  The oldest sibling told the others to put their coats on and the father instructed the kids to wait indoors while he retrieved the car and picked them up at the door.

Not having children of my own, I was questioning whether the genetic make-up of children today is different from the children of my generation.  Perhaps they melt now if they get wet?  Maybe with all of the new allergies, rain now causes a reaction.  Whatever the reason, I stood in the rain beside my car and watched as the gigantic SUV pulled up as close as it could to the door so the children could get into the car unharmed.  I wonder if they are allowed outside at all in the winter?