Monthly Archives: January 2013

WISH I WERE FAMOUS

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I’m watching the movie “Almost Famous,” and I’m crying because I’m reliving my youth and missing who I used to be. What do I love about this movie? In a word….everything…. I love that era so much that it hurts. I miss the music and my yellow Volkswagen Beetle in which I drove cross-country. Kate Hudson is wearing a multi-colored knit shirt that I use to own. It was my favorite and wearing it made me feel free. I’m wondering why I ever gave it away – like the life I wanted to live. I gave it all away – my youth, my freedom, my soul. I gave it all away to someone who didn’t deserve it.

In that time and space, I felt free.  Like I could do and become anything in the world.  And I wanted to become so many things…an actress…a writer…a dancer.  I wanted to live in total freedom from all the restrictions of the world. But here I am…nowhere near where I wanted to be because I made the wrong choices. Now I know I’m getting dramatic because things haven’t been totally awful.  But as I watch this movie I’m thrown back into a time and place that was so exciting and awe-inspiring, and I miss the me I used to be.  I’m thrown back in time when guys had long hair and wore paisley shirts and wide bell bottom jeans.  They were so cute and endearing. Some had mustaches, some had beards.  They wore steel-rimmed or aviator glasses. Back in those days, I had a boyfriend named Dave who was this guy. Why did I leave him?

I’m filled with introspection and longing tonight as I watch this movie, letting it throw me back in time and space. They’re playing Cat Stevens’ “Wind of My Soul” as Kate Hudson dances barefoot across a stage.  My heart weeps. My life has not turned out the way I planned, and tonight I’m feeling it more than usual because I’m doing the very thing now that made me very miserable then, as I struggle to become the person I want to be.

I want to be free from all the cares in the world.  I want to dance barefoot across a stage to “Wind of my Soul” in my gauze blouse with my long straight hair. I know I can’t go back. I know I’m not 18 anymore.  But tomorrow is another day, and who knows where the winds of time will blow me and my future? I will just have to keep holding onto the hope that there’s still time to become the me I always wanted to be.  There’s just no other alternative. I have to listen to the wind of my soul and where I end up well I think only God really knows.

Thanks for the blast from the past, Mr. Crowe.

 

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BEEF STEW WITH CABBAGE AND NOODLES

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The weather outside is frightening, and it’s a good day to hibernate with a bowl of good, hardy comfort food…beef stew.  Now I’m not really a big red meat fan, but sometimes you just get the yen for it, and you just can’t shake it (but you can definitely substitute chicken cubes and white wine in lieu of beef and red). Yesterday, while the thermometer dipped into the teens, I dipped into my refrigerator and pulled out the makings for a wonderful winter’s feast.  I’m more of a “little of this; little of that” person, but I’ve tried to write in weights and measures so you could concoct and enjoy this warm, nourishing, stick-to-your-ribs culinary pleaser.  I serve it over cabbage and noodles, but you can easily add some peeled, cubed potatoes during the last ½ hour of simmering.  Slice up some warm, crusty bread and pour a glass of red wine…nothing better.  Enjoy!

Beef StewBEEF STEW

2 lbs. of beef cubes (I usually cut each cube into fourths) (you can sub with chicken)

1 large chopped onion

3 cloves of chopped garlic

¼ cup olive oil

1 chopped green pepper

3 stalks of chopped celery

1 lb. sliced carrots

3 chopped tomatoes or 1 can stewed tomatoes

8 oz. of sliced mushrooms

½ cup red wine (chicken calls for white, of course!)

1 tbsp. Worcester sauce

1 tsp. salt (at least – more to taste)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. parsley

Two cups of water

2 beef (or chicken if you’re substituting) bouillon cubes

Optional:  6 cubed potatoes which you add ½ hour before serving because they get mushy otherwise.

Sauté beef cubes, onions and garlic in a sauté pan in olive oil until browned. Pour browned ingredients into a large pot. Pour red wine into the sauté pan for a few seconds to caramelize juices and then pour over beef in pot. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and parsley. Add Worcester sauce. Boil two cups of water in which you dissolve bouillon cubes and add to the mix. Add all other ingredients and stir.  Simmer for two hours, stirring often (every 15 minutes) so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Please taste as you simmer and add a little more of this or that if you feel it’s needed.  I personally don’t usually measure much but instead rely on taste testing.

CABBAGE AND NOODLES

1 head of cabbage chopped

1 large chopped onion

½ stick butter

½ cup of olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 bag of wide noodles (cooked as per directions and drained)

Melt butter in sauté pan and gently mix in olive oil. Sauté chopped cabbage and onion until soft not super wilted (it will only be slightly browned).  Add salt and pepper, stir.  Add noodles and mix.  If mixture is dry, add a little bit more olive oil.

Serve beef stew over cabbage and noodles.

I’d love to hear your post-dinner feedback!

PRE-DAWN TREK

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1115121919My dog Bella woke me up this morning at 5:30 – yup, lucky me, right?!  It’s actually only a half hour earlier than when my normal workday begins, but its Saturday, its cold outside and last night we had our first snow. Why, Bella, why?!?!  I guess she’s just trying to torture me as she bounces on the bed panting in my face and trying my patience. But, when a dog’s gotta go, a dog’s gotta go. And what’s the alternative?  Cleaning up stains on the rug?  No, thanks. So, I pull on my coat and plop my hat on my sleepy head yawning uncontrollably.  I can’t find my gloves, so I grab an old pair that are too big, and step out into the tundra. I lose my breath to the burst of cold wind that greets me when I open the door.  Awesome…1107121557a

Muttering to myself, I trudge down the snow-covered street while Bella frolics in the virgin white snow. It’s quiet and peaceful on this lonely trail up to the bay, since most sane people without pets are still wrapped up in their cozy beds and won’t rise to daylight for another three hours. I eventually trick myself into thinking that it really isn’t so bad (not) to be the only human being in the universe walking up the snowy path in the dark, which is only slightly illuminated by the pristine snow and full moon hiding behind the clouds.  But if I let it, this pre-dawn trek could be a good thing. Bella immediately does her thing, so I guess she wasn’t just pulling my chain.  Good girl, I praise her.  She looks up at me with that big wide grin, tail wagging wildly, then streaks off into the snow, yanking my arm out of the socket.  Arrgghhh…

The quiet of pre-dawn actually fills me with peace after a very stressful week.  I walk along feeling calm for the first time in days.  I take a cleansing deep breath of the frosty air and blow it out forming circles before me.  Bella sniffs the ground and follows tiny footprints of an animal that arose even earlier than us. The ducks, which are usually quacking quietly in the swamp, have disappeared.  I guess they have finally wised up to the fact that the warmth of the south isn’t a bad idea after all and have probably flown the coop.  I imagine how nice the warmth of the sun would feel upon my skin right about now and yearn for the summer.  Instead we turn to head home to a pot of hot coffee, which I’ll sip as I sit on my chair in meditation and watch the sun rise over the lagoon.

I can’t really say that I’m unhappy to have gotten up as early as I did, thanks to my rambunctious Labrador retriever.  Guess I’m used to braving the weather in the name of walking her outside before she does something inside.  But this morning Bella inadvertently has taken me on a path of mental renewal where enjoying the quiet and peace of an early morning snow has calmed my nerves and given me hope for tranquility on this cold winter’s day. Gotta love her.

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ROAD TRIP

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I was having a bit of the January doldrums. All the excitement of an over-the-top exciting December had faded and passed, and now there just wasn’t much to look forward to except the promise of summer and warm weather, which seems so far off. Going to work in the dark and returning in the dark was wearing me down. Come on, daylight savings time! I had no plans for the weekend (as usual), and the only thing on my agenda was to relax and try to gather my thoughts and maybe come up with a plan for a new direction for my future. Pretty heady stuff, huh? After all, I don’t want to lose perspective on who I am or what’s important to me…not that I have a whole lot of control over that right now. So all I wanted to do this Friday after a rough week was retreat to my warm, cozy bed, which is exactly what I did.

leprechaunThen came Saturday – I’ll just hang out and get some things done around the house…or so I thought.  The day dawned with a surprise visit from a friend and his friend.  I hadn’t had a Bloody Mary for quite some time, but we indulged.  A suggestion was made to go to Atlantic  City.  And suddenly the winter doldrums turned into spring – at least it put a spring in my step. ROAD TRIP…why not?  Off we went to sin city to have some fun. The guys headed for the blackjack tables while I wandered around the slot machines.  “Top of the Mornin’ ” beckoned me because if you know anything about me and my favorite Irishman, Mr. Murphy, you would know that would be my only choice.  Plus, free drinks?  Wow and yum…life is good. So I play this fun (penny) machine with bells and whistles and Irish music and a leprechaun dancing and talking.  I started talking to Mr. Murphy (in my mind, of course, since he has passed, although he’s still with me in spirit…) and I’m saying stuff like, come on, Mr. Murphy – let’s win one for the Irish!  Suddenly three shamrocks appear and the machine goes wild…cha ching.  Then it did it again…cha ching and cha ching and boy, was I smiling. I played and I played, and it was all good stuff. Now, big gamblers would laugh at me when I say that winning 50 bucks was a big deal, but after a while I walked away and cashed it out.  And you know what? Everyone else lost their shirts!

On the way home we stopped for a bite at a cute restaurant called “The Hacienda.” We walked in and the music was playing and people were dancing, and if you know me, you know how I LOVE to dance.  And so I started dancing and handsome young Steve joined me and taught this old dog a few new tricks.  Then wild and wonderful Bruce whirled me around the dance floor to a charming “Lovers’ Waltz” by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Kentakit Ken and I boogied to a disco song.  I felt like the belle of the ball…so much FUN!

Sometimes life brings you unexpected surprises, odd and different and not what you would expect or even dream up on a dull January day.  Not necessarily big surprises but just plain old fun surprises and that’s what this weekend brought me.  I was sorry to see our friends leave on Sunday but am happy that they brought some enjoyment and some much-needed entertainment that was desperately needed.  It certainly was fun to let my hair down for a change.

The next time you’re feeling down get together with friends, have a Blood Mary, take a road trip, take a chance and then dance! Try a charming “Lovers’ Waltz.” You’ll be glad you did!

A BRAND NEW YEAR!

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2013

Happy 2013!  There is nothing like the promise of a brand new year. It’s the greatest gift of the whole holiday season! It’s like getting a new book you’ve been eager to read. You run your fingers over the freshly pressed cover, open it enthusiastically and begin reading with much anticipation for a story well-told. It’s like buying a lottery ticket for a high stakes outcome and waking up a winner!

A new year is a new chance to get it right.  It’s like getting a “do over.”  So what if last year didn’t measure up to what you were hoping for!  Laid before you are 365 brand-new days to do things differently. Put away the worries and cares that have haunted you throughout the past year and forge ahead into your future of new beginnings. There’s nothing like the newness of those first few days and weeks that fill you with optimism.  It’s your time to stoke the embers of disappointment into new flames of possibilities that will burn brightly throughout the year. It’s easy to imagine the positive goodness that awaits you. Seize each day and make it count!

I hope this new year will be a best seller for you – that you will win in the lottery of life.  I hope that all your problems will be solved…your sicknesses healed…your homes rebuilt…your love renewed…your employment restored…your finances replenished…your faith rekindled. And when you look back on 2013 next New Year’s Day, I hope your heart will be filled with the satisfaction of a year well done.

Cheers!