Posted in Stream of Consciousness Saturday

With Reservation: #SoCs for June 16, 2018

I’m about to write a post I don’t want to write, and which I’ve put off writing for most of the day.

My reservation is a bit of a mystery to me…but I think it goes back to attitudes impressed upon me in childhood. About how it’s somehow a failure to ask for help, or maybe even to need help.

But I do need help.

A year ago, my husband and I were well on our way to launching a successful cottage industry selling his artisanal hot sauces. It was something that had been a passion of his even longer than I was – I remember him telling me that he wanted to marry flavor and heat way back when we were only dating, and I really had no idea that he would be my husband in a matter of months.

He went through all the legal steps to be able to sell the sauces, and we invested the bulk of our modest savings in the company. Jim believed in what he was doing – and I believed in Jim. I designed labels compliant with state law; a friend made us a logo image for a very reasonable price. We became vendors at three area farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and other events – and we were seeing not only increasing sales, but also repeat business.

But, inside Jim’s body, pancreatic cancer had taken hold. A string of minor but annoying health concerns that began on August 24 – the day after our twentieth anniversary – culminated in a swollen, painful leg. A trip to the doctor became a hospitalization for deep vein thrombosis – and revealed that my powerfully built husband, who had struggled with his weight for most of his life, had lost 20 pounds in the month since his last doctor’s appointment, and had protein markers for cancer in his blood.

Further testing showed pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. He was given six-twelve months to live, and chemotherapy to try to minimize tumor growth was to start within weeks.

On the first day of chemo, he went into distress twice. The last time was severe enough that he was transferred to the emergency room, then admitted to a larger medical center’s critical care unit. It was determined that he’d had a minor heart attack either during or after the infusions. The tumors on his liver were overtaxing his heart.

And he was turning yellow from jaundice. Stents were placed to try to circumvent the tumor, but they only seemed to help for a day or two. Then the jaundice was back, and there was nothing more to be done. He came home on hospice care on December 13, 2017.

On January 12, 2018, he died at home in the bed we shared.

He had life insurance – but it took me a bit to track it down, since he’d lost the paperwork. It took longer for me to file the claim. I had strong reservations about that – it was so final, and so much like profiting off the death of my best friend. Things weren’t urgent – I had the IRA distribution, then the tax refund.

But the money trickled away, and now we’re waiting. That final hospital has taken months and still hasn’t released his medical records so the insurance company can make a determination about the settlement. We have Social Security benefits, and are cutting expenses where we can – but it’s not enough to meet our needs. I could take part-time work, but we have a couple of events coming up, and I’d have to ask for those days off. Also, my daughter, who was very close to her father, would rather I stay here. She worries that I might die, too. She’s not quite 14.

What I most want to do is freelance. I want to be able to support us with my writing, and maybe, eventually, with some voiceover work (I’ve been researching that, but need more time to get to the point where I can seek jobs in that arena). I’d like to be able to provide for our modest needs.

What I need is help getting the word out.

What I need is customers and/or patrons willing to support my craft on a monthly basis.

I’m hoping this post will help me to find that. Because I’m not looking for a handout, but helping hands would be hugely appreciated. Our needs are modest, and we tend toward the frugal.

    • I have a Patreon page, here. It’s been a bit neglected, but I have plans in the works to spruce it up. Even a dollar a month brings benefits, and patrons add up. Being able to count on a specific monthly amount would ease some of my burden of worry.
    • A week ago, I posted my first freelancing gig to fiverr. It’s based on stream of consciousness writing, like this post, and an idea I’ve wanted to pursue for years. If you’re looking for a unique gift at a very reasonable price – it might be just the thing to tickle your fancy.
    • If neither of these options is right for you, I can use people willing to spread the word. Share the links, this post, or bits of our story. Help me to cast a net to find those who can use what I have to offer, and everyone benefits.
    • I’m adding a donate button at the suggestion of one of my readers.

    

Well, I had reservations. I still do. It’s a place of vulnerability, sharing this difficult position we’ve landed in. Sharing my pain, and my worries.

Thank you for reading, and for helping.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Wade into the waters here.

Posted in Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Food and Growth for #SoCS June 9, 2018

 

Food is something I didn’t think about a lot in the days when Jim was alive. You see, I’m not especially food-motivated myself, and, if left to my own devices, I often forget to eat for hours on end, as I do and tend and dream and write and hang with the kids and and and…

It’s worth noting that Jim was a chef. He often brought home my dinner, and I usually ate what he brought. The kids, in those days, preferred non-cooked foods or convenience items, having long since rejected my obligatory and rather phoned-in efforts at feeding them “right” when they were smaller.

But then, Jim was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, and, in the day less than two months between that date and the night he died at home, I realized that food was going to have to become something I think about, plan for, and prepare.

More than that, as it turns out. The life insurance claim has yet to be settled, and, at the moment, finances are extremely finite. Where we used to spend about half (or, when Jim shopped, sometimes more like three-quarters) of our grocery budget on convenience items and snacks. A lot of it was motivated by Jim and the kids, but I had my favorites, too – many of them single-serving freezer meals I justified the expense of because they were “healthy” versions.

But that doesn’t fly, anymore. I am the mom of two teens. My son, who will be 17 early in September, is about 6’3” and burly. He can go through a half gallon of milk in about a day. My daughter, 14 next month, is nearly as tall as me now – and I’m 5’9”.

Food needs to be an important factor in our budgeting, because it takes fuel to grow these people into adults. And, if I don’t eat as much as I need of the things I need, it’s hard for me to do the work of two parents.

It could also adversely affect my health – and, just because they’re older kids doesn’t mean they’re ready to be without parents altogether.

So…

I’ve been growing (in my approach to food and feeding us; my body is actually shrinking). I haven’t stopped buying snacks, but we buy considerably fewer of them these days. I can’t promise I’ll never buy another freezer meal, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it mindlessly, or fooling myself about why I’m buying them, when I do….

And I don’t feel the same need for them…because I’ve started to cook.

It began with buying an Instant Pot, so I could prepare things without babysitting them – the part of cooking that tends to literally drive me to distraction. I can also often cook in the one pot, and save considerably on the cleanup (wonderful, because I generally want to accomplish about four times as much as I can physically manage).

These days, I look up recipes online (365 days is my current favorite site for these), and our grocery budget is weighted toward ingredients. Food has become sustenance, art form, and agent of growth – both literal and symbolic.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday, hosted by Linda G. Hill at Life in Progress. This week’s prompt is “begin your post with a noun.”

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days

A Smokey Little Now: #ROW80 R2EOW8/ #12WeekYear 3; May 27, 2018

Hi there, ROWers and friends!

The last few days have been rather hectic, but in a good way…we have added a five-week-old puppy to our family.

She’s feisty, funny, and blessed with a strong little body, and stronger, razor-sharp little teeth she tests on nearly everything…

Because she’s so young, she needs lots of care. Since Smokey is Lise’s puppy, she’s doing most of the work, but Miah and I are pitching in where needed, and so is Noli, who loves the new pup in town as much as Little Miss Smokey loves her. The play has already become epic.

I expect life to settle some as the puppy does, and as she grows.* For the moment, I’m a bit behind in several areas…it was an all-day venture to get Smokey home, and we didn’t have much advance notice.

*Yes, there will be pictures, and soon…just not yet. =)

Bringing joy to a girl who could certainly use some, and giving a home to a puppy who might have ended up in a shelter, are both good reasons to be a bit behind on other goals, in my opinion.

 Are you running behind, surging ahead, or holding level?

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Goal Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: Gaal 86’ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

Writing:

I complete one Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction story each day, using the Story A Day prompts.

I complete first draft of my 2,500 word limit short story for the Little Bird Writing Contest, using the prompts.

  • 2,097/2,500 words – next up is the Resolution.

I write a 100-250 word flash fiction for #thursdaythreads, using prompts.

  • This didn’t happen…instead, we went on a road trip to bring home Lise’s new puppy.

I reread last several chapters of Still Nameless ( a Kifo Island novel), and brainstorm ideas for completion in June.

Revision/Submission:

I simmer “R.I.P. Left Shoe”; revise; share with my accountability group for feedback; polish, and submit.

  • Simmering as I go.

I complete spot revisions for each day’s Story A Day fan fiction piece and publish on ff.net.

  • Sunday- Thursday completed.

I polish my #thursdaythreads piece and submit.

  • As mentioned above, this didn’t happen.

Blogging:

I decide on a spring/summer blogging schedule (using P2P learning and Blogging Cheat Sheet).

I begin setting up content for this schedule (target to start in June).

I respond to all pending comments.

I revise my About page, based on Pixels to Platform learning.

I add a Welcome page, based on P2P learning.

Other Social Media

I update my Patreon page, with apologies to my Patron (sorry, Fallon!)

I share my Patreon page on other social media, because no one can be my patron if they don’t even know it’s a possibility!

I keep up with #AllStarTrek, ROW80, #accountabilitygirls. P2P Facebook group, and general Twitter, Facebook, and email.

  • All but the P2P group.

I post and browse at least once on Instagram and Pinterest, because I miss them.

  • Browsed Instagram.

Learning:

I complete Breadcrumbs exercise.

I complete Pixels to Platform Module Two.

I watch Module Three Video One.

I assess M3V1 Play Sheets; assess time needed for completion.

I attend the Story A Day Superstars Live Video Chat on Monday evening.

I download Audacity and play with microphone for at least one song and one reading.

Family Finances:

I find a financial blog to follow/read at least one post there.

I post my first gig to Fiverr.

I post two more items to yard sale site(s); update item 1.

I choose three more items to prep for sale.

  • 2/3.

I find titles for Gus and motorcycle.

I complete the two administrative tasks begun last week.

  • Made more progress on the more complex of the two; completed simpler task. 1/2.

I complete review of Paypal auto payments and list these in my planner.

I rough out family budget, making decisions about questionable expenses.

  • The kids and I talked about a couple of the questionable expenses; mulling decisions on those.

Hometending:

I reset my bedroom, with Miah’s assistance (move/rearrange furniture, pull up carpet, reset electronics).

  • The broad strokes are done; the finishing up will take a while longer.

I do two hometending rounds each in garage and porch.

  • I did one 1:11 round on porch.

I do 2 rounds in each common room – bathroom, dining, kitchen, and living room.

  • All but bathroom finished; it was one cycle short.

I do a sinkful of dishes daily (on average), and laundry at least 3 times this week.

  • Exceeded both.

Yardtending:

I move rest of branches to containment.

I move slate to front yard,

I weed/clean flowerbeds.

  • Weeded majority of the largest flowerbed.

I move slate to create new path.

I mow/ facilitate mowing of meadow (I mean, backyard) as possible.

  • Bought mower oil (my first time ever), and Miah resumed mowing the back meadow.

Lifetending:

I facilitate final plans to bring Lise’s new puppy home.

  • We picked up Little Miss Smokey on Thursday.

I begin kids’ third quarter homeschool reports.

  • Both kids are working on lists of their independent projects. #babysteps.

I choose three recipes to make this week.

  • 3/3 selected: lemon parmesan chicken pasta; chef salad, and potato salad (it’s been hot).

I make them.

  • I bought all needed ingredients. Again, #babysteps.

I take Noli to dog park Wednesday and Friday.

  • Yes,

I take a long walk with Noli each day.

  • Every day.

I get at least 4 hours of sleep each night.

  • Only barely, a few nights, but yes.

Soultending:

I meditate and journal each morning.

  • Each day.

I read one inspirational article.

I meditate and journal 4 evenings.

  • 4/4 days before sleep.

I light a candle and read from Sleep 4 evenings.

  • 4/4 days.

I use a sleep meditation 4 nights.

  • 4/4 days as I fell asleep.

ROW80 –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

Dandelion Sky . Photo by Lise Burton; editing by me, with permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in #atozchallenge, #atozchalllenge 2017, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, The 12 Week Year Two, Writing Sample

Y is for “You’ll Always Be a Part of Us”: #atozchallenge Day 25

Accept What’s Ahead

Why do some live while others die

Why is that fact so hard to accept

Accept that death is inevitable

Accept that my beloved is no more

More of him is what I want

More time and more love denied

Denied his touch his kiss his embrace

Denied his laughter and his smiles

Smiles that made my heart beat faster

Smiles bestowed with great generosity

Generosity of heart love freely expressed

Generosity of spirit always with a willing hand

Hand holding my hand in sweet intimate caress

Hand him over unwillingly to whatever’s next

Next year and the next and the next lived without him

Next to me still is where I want him yet to be

Be my lover my companion my friend and husband

Be my children’s devoted silly father forever

Forever is a thing that doesn’t exist in the physical plane

Forever alive is a fantasy no one gets to claim

Claim him as my own forever but death took him away

Claim what I can that I was loved long and sweet and well

Well of tears and sorrow born of a love that sustains me

Well past the time of separation on this mortal coil

Coil my heart and soul around all I hold so precious

Coil his love inside me as protection for the future

Future uncertain and gaping wide before me

Future days and years waiting for me to live through

Through the acceptance and the resistance

Through sorrows and joys and laughter and tears

Tears of grief at his life so soon ended

Tears of future joy as my saddened heart recovers

Recovers from this sudden devastating blow

Recovers the beat and pulse of a single life

Life continues on though he is now gone

Life without him, but he’s still here

Here in hearts and souls that love him

Here within his children’s very selves

Selves that would not exist without him

Selves that carry so much of his nature

Nature sees that we have means to continue

Nature ensures something can carry forward

Forward past the length of time he lived

Forward into a future as yet still unknown

Unknown joys and sorrows yet await us

Unknown peace and turbulence ahead

Ahead as behind he’s there in every step

Ahead whether the trail is level or rough

Rough

Step

A few years ago, long before I knew where our story was going it go, I wrote a poem about our love, titled, It Levels Off Up Ahead. The name came from something Jim and I said to each other repeatedly during a rather grueling 3 mile hike to Montana’s Lava Lake.

The thing is – it never did level off then, or, really, since. Even now, as I adjust to the realities of widowhood and raising our children, it hasn’t quite levelled off, because finances will be an issue at least until we know the status of Jim’s life insurance. I know it’s probably fine, as we certainly aren’t trying to defraud anyone, and that the review is simply a formality – but needing those funds makes a huge difference, as there are bills to be paid, two adult-sized and still growing hungry teens to feed, and a house in need of some rather urgent repairs. I haven’t worked outside our home for more than a decade, so that I could be available for homeschooling. Just at the point where I was considering a return to the workforce, Jim launched his business, and my initial small contributions became a full-blown partnership that left me with little time and energy for my writing or looking for another job.

And now, the kids and I need some adjustment time to settle into our new lives. I want to wait until fall, and stay with part-time work, because my ultimate goal is to be able to support our modest lifestyle from home – with writing and writing-related endeavors that make use of my skills and passions.

If the insurance doesn’t happen soon, though, I will have to re-evaluate.

The trail ahead hasn’t leveled off – and yet, I feel strangely secure, even with the concerns I’m dealing with. Why?

Because, in some sense, Jim is still here with me. When he was alive, we were never rich, but we always found a way through the lean times….and more. We managed to find and create joy even in the times when we were struggling to make those frayed and stretched ends meet.

To Jim, now, I say, “You are always a part of us. For the rest of my life, you will be a part of everything I do. Every breath taken by our son and our daughter is, in a way, also your breath. And you love and laughter still sustain me, still provide a delightful anchor through the many, many changes of life after your death. And I will love you always.”

Rejoin us a little later in the day, when we’ll wrap up our #atozchallenge with the Zen of grief.

You don’t want to miss these Y posts!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Sweetness Softens Bitterness: #SoCS  and #atozchallenge Day 19 (belated)

Death Inside Sweetness

Life is sunlight which causes shadow

Life will always end in death

Death so often takes us unawares but

Death is a lifetime’s natural conclusion

Conclusion of the life of a family of four

Conclusion of that chapter but not the end

End only for the one who has passed on

End brings new beginnings for those who remain

Remain among the living to breath another day

Remain to carry forth the love he spoke and lived

Lived his love with action deed and affection

Lived with a purpose to spread joy and passion

Passion for flavors and for creating delicious dishes

Passion for his wife shown in so much more than kisses

Kisses bestowed generously when our children were small

Kisses shown more widely in the things he did and said

Said Will you marry me and I do and he certainly did

Said I love you often and showed it oftener still

Still hugging the son grown larger than him

Still moments broken by his joyful laughter

Laughter was what first brought us together

Laughter his own particular brand of magic

Magic that made music that lives in my soul

Magic that lingers on and brings sweetness

Sweetness that eases the pain of his loss

Sweetness that softens the bitter truth

Truth that his life is ended forever

Truth that we three must go it alone

Alone but yet not completely bereft

Alone but with a warm spirit within

Within the deepest grief hope exists

Within the coldest sorrow there is a warm glow

Glow of his sweetness and his love freely given

Glow in our lives as we share what he gave

Gave us himself for as long as he was able

Gave us a way to survive this loss with joy

Joy in the years when we were all here together

Joy in finding ways to eat dessert first

First thing our daughter did to remember him

First birthday of his when he wasn’t alive

Alive in a legacy of living life richly

Alive still in the things that matter

Matter to those whose lives his touched

Matter in the way we live life today

Today he is dead but we’re still living

Today a new chance to sprinkle the sweet

Sweet memory to dull the edges of grief

Sweet kindness to soften a hardened world

World

Grief

 

Although I don’t reference it as much now that my kids are teens and prefer much more privacy than they did when they were small, we live a very unconventional life, by modern American standards. We are radical unschoolers – and that fact had proven to be a wonderful asset to us all (including Jim, when he was still alive).

Why?

In part, \homeschooling allowed them a great deal of time with their dad while he was alive, and unschooling meant that both of their parents were aware of what fired the kids’ passions. It’s through their passions that they most readily engage in learning, and through them that they most easily discover other interests, branching outward, and, at the same time, becoming more refined and sophisticated as they grow.

This led to our relating with our kids not primarily through the roles of Mom and Dad, but as people. People older and generally more experienced than them – but not beyond learning from them, or seeing that they, too, are people, and not projects for us to “complete” by the time they reach the age of legal independence.

So, the kids knew Jim well – as a man, not just as their Dad. They knew his history, even the parts he wasn’t so proud of. And he knew them – well enough to bring an eight year old Lise a tool set – in a lavender bag, because she is the kind of girl who likes doing and fixing – and pretty things, too. And it wasn’t a cheap set – she still can use those tools at thirteen.

When I was a teen, I wasn’t at all sure my father loved me. My kids were filled up with Jim’s love, each in a flavor that suited them, and adds sweet memories to the bitterness of going through the rest of their lives without the big laughing man with the even bigger heart whom they called Dad.

Join us again on Monday, when we’ll explore truths….

Stroll over for more sumptuous S posts!

This is also my (belated) entry for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “spoke” – with bonus points for not using it in the first line of the post.

Take a Swim in the SoCS waters!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

R is for Reality Settles: #atozchallenge, Day 18

Left To Life

After the hospice nurse declared time of death

After the sorrow-laden hearse left

Left us numb and rudderless

Left us behind to continue life alone

Alone we three – wife daughter and son

Alone together to find some meaning to loss

Loss of the dreams we had for the future

Loss of the now that had been our reality

Reality can’t be avoided indefinitely

Reality settles like snowdrifts piling

Piling up moments hours days weeks

Piling up months and new memories

Memories sustain in bittersweet fashion

Memories are the vehicle that carry us forward

Forward into days he doesn’t share

Forward on into the rest of our living

Living without a road map to guide us

Living and growing as we learn

Learn how to sleep in this big bed alone

Learn how to fix faucets and get heater running

Running in place sometimes stalling

Running out of patience or energy or time

Time rolls on and on without ceasing

Time heals slowly and not all at once

Once we were four and our foundations solid

Once we never saw this future ahead

Ahead stretches a future without him beside me

Ahead lies the future unknown and untested

Untested waters awaiting exploration

Untested skills we may need to gain

Gain confidence each time we accomplish

Gain a sense of normalcy amid great change

Change is inevitable and carries us further

Change takes us away and rebuilds our foundation

Foundation a little shaky but we’ll shore it up

Foundation of a new life on the footprint of the past

Past the days when I was a woman long married

Past the shock of brand-new widowhood

Widowhood will reshape me into someone new

Widowhood means sorrow which nurtures my growth

Growth can be a new canine companion

Growth as I contemplate a life with new freedoms

Freedoms I didn’t expect or ask for

Freedoms that stretch me and my horizons

Horizons narrower and wider at once

Horizons that hold the reality of my life

Life awaits me and gives me many choices

Life is a reality I choose to embrace

Embrace

Choices

Reality is settling… it’s been a little over 3 months since Jim died, and that’s an unavoidable reality. We weren’t just spouses by habit. We were best friends. At the time he got sick, we were launching a small business together, and spending a considerable amount of time on it.

In the last weeks of his life, he required a great deal – eventually, almost constant – care. While discussing that with the hospice nurse, I likened it to having a newborn in reverse….he became increasingly helpless rather than outgrowing it, but the unpredictability of our lives through those weeks was much the same.

Now, there’s an element of rhythm to our lives. I can make plans again, and most of my time is my own again. If I had younger kids, they might need more day-to-day care and contact, but I have teens, and they are independent in many ways.

It took me a while to realize that I need to be caring for someone in a hands-on way, and that I missed having another presence in my bed. I’m nowhere near ready to consider inviting another man into my life in that way, though.

Enter Magnolia, a two-year-old (ish) pit bull I found at a local shelter. Pit bulls can have a hard time finding homes, because they have a reputation they largely don’t deserve, based more on human behavior than their own natural tendencies.

So adopting a pit bull was good for me, for her, for the shelter, which can now offer a place to another dog, and for the breed, because we’ be socializing Noli, as we call her, and taking her out and about to meet others and share her sweetness.

Today’s lessons, though:

  • Cats are not toys.
  • “Leave it” means “stop, now.”
  • Not stopping results in being told you are a “bad dog” and firmly removed from the field of skirmish.

That’s enough to learn when you’re brand-new in a home.

Which is another kind of reality.

Join us in the late-night hours, when we’ll finally catch up to Saturday’s post, and explore how sweetness softens bitterness.

Read other riveting R posts!

Okay, so maybe Queen doesn’t have much to do with this post…but the intro to Bohemian Rhapsody was in my head while I wrote this, so….

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Uncategorized, Writing Sample

K is for Kids and Kitchen: #atoozchallenge Day 11

Life from Sustenance

There is nothing more non-negotiable than death

There are other things non-negotiable in life

Life comes with needs that death absolves

Life requires food, water, air, and shelter

Shelter in the embrace of mother’s arms

Shelter in the embrace of the kitchen

Kitchen the place where I tend to needs

Kitchen the place where I nourish our souls

Souls grieving and hungry for sustenance

Souls healing as bodies are fed

Fed food that is created with love

Fed by my efforts to learn something new

New skills practiced as I prepare each dish

New repertoire growing as I learn

Learn to accept the challenges

Learn to consider everyone’s tastes

Tastes and nutrition blending together

Tastes changing as teens grow

Grow into acceptance of what we’ve lost

Grow into new ways of doing and being

Being more helpful than they once were

Being patient with my mistakes

Mistakes are part of the trial and error

Mistakes can be a path to wisdom

Wisdom gained with each meal served

Wisdom seasoned with reality

Reality that I’m their only parent

Reality that it’s now all up to me

Me the mother who married a chef

Me the one who hadn’t cooked

Cooked only begrudgingly

Cooked things no one wanted to try

Try now to overcome the aversion

Try to create culinary excitement

Excitement at every success

Excitement at my new competence

Competence breeds confidence

Competence becomes independence

Independence is a kind of balm

Independence is another kind of food

Food for bodies and food for souls

Food that sustains me as I become

Become the mistress of the kitchen

Become comfortable in this new life

Life goes on even after his death

Life goes on and needs sustenance

Sustenance for our bodies and souls

Sustenance and delight nourished

Nourished

Souls

It’s been three months today since Jim died, and I became the sole provider for my children Cooking wasn’t something I did; Jim was a talented professional chef even when we met, and, though I had enjoyed cooking when I was single, I knew when I was outclassed.
From early ages, the kids knew it too. As an eight-year-old, Jeremiah once joked, “Mom, if I want you to make me scrambled eggs, I’ll ask you for an omelette.”

So, while Jim was alive, he did the bulk of the shopping and cooking.

Obviously, that’s changed.

I bought an Instant Pot shortly after his diagnosis, it’s been my salvation. I don’t enjoy “babysitting” food while it cooks, and I’m not especially good at it. I tend to get busy with writing or cleaning or reading or being with the kids or breathing….and things go wrong. With the Instant Pot, things take far less time, and, because it’s programmable, I can do other things while it cooks, like raking the yard, taking a shower, or writing blog posts.

I’ve used it for things I might not have made otherwise: steel cut oatmeal, sweet potato and butternut squash soup, whole roast chickens – and even bone broth!

It’s given me a new sense of competence, and, because it is so versatile, I’m buying ingredients rather than the prepackaged meal options I might otherwise have resorted to. That’s better for the budget, and our health…and every new dish (even the disappointingly oversteamed asparagus) builds my knowledge base and my certainty that I can indeed feed us.

That’s it for me…later on, I’ll be making soup from my own stock, and roasting yet another chicken.  Yum!

Come on back tomorrow, where we’ll be laughing our way to death…and beyond.

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