Daily Prompt: Audience of One

Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.

Dear Mommy,

Your little Princess Rosebud is very very mad at you. You are not here anymore and for that reason I understand that you can’t defend your actions, but I’m still super duper mad at you anyway!

Here’s why:

1. How could you be so stupid as to travel all the way to France, actually enter the original Chanel Store on Rue Cambon, and only buy a scarf. A pretty scarf to be sure, but just a SCARF, a worthless square of fabric!! What good does that do me? You went to France in the seventies; if only you had been a better mother, you would have known that your only daughter would one day be obsessed with Chanel. A good mommy–a better mommy than you were–would have known that and would have made sure I had all my wishes fulfilled. At this point, it would be a VINTAGE bag. I HATE YOU! [Cue sound of door slamming-- just like the good old days.]

2. And another thing, how dare you die before your grandson got his Ph.D. HOW DARE YOU! That was incredibly selfish of you. You know how much he loved you and how he called both of us “Mom” and both of us would answer, “Which one do you want, honey?” I’m the one that had to buy him an Hermes tie and write a note to him telling him that if you were still alive, this is what you would want him to have because you are so proud of him and what he had accomplished. [Again with the I hate you and door slam sound effect].

3. You would totes love the captain. He would totes love you too, but he’s only heard stories about how wonderful you were. He had kind of a crappy mom and you would have filled that hole in his heart.

How could you die and leave us all alone??

Love,
Your daughter, Princess Rosebud

 

VINTAGE VALENTINO FIND, y’all

The universe is dropping some love on me today, that’s for sure. Ommmm. After the gym, I stopped at my secret source consignment shop…somewhere in SoCal…I’ll never tell. But I bet DIL knows which one I went to. OMFG, first I spied the red polka dots (and I’m a sucker for polka dots), and then I looked at the label. Vintage Valentino-fur reals. Then I looked at the price. $40. Forty dollars, are you serious??? Finally I tried it on, and it fits. It’s too good to be true! It’s two pieces. The dress is a sort of a halter top, but very intricate. The top is a snug fit with a flowy skirt, enough to hug the curves but not to make anyone think you’re trying to hide a big belly or some of that good old menopause paunch. The long-sleeved coat is absolutely stunning with handmade fabric buttons. It’s silk, of course, and that famous Valentino red. So well made, it puts my Target outfits to shame. Now I have the perfect outfit to wear for the captain’s arrival! Check out the label–I was telling the truth.

How a Gall Bladder Attack Helped Me Lose Weight

gall bladderThe backstory
I’m about the same height as Danny DeVito. He’s MUCH, MUCH wider than I am, but you get the picture. I’m only five-feet-zero-inches. Every extra ounce on me looks like ten extra pounds on a normal sized human. There’s no place for any extra weight to hide. A lifetime of dieting and starvation adds up to one screwed up metabolism, that’s for sure. I’ve been a vegetarian (pescatarian) since I was in high school. I’m the undisputed queen of counting calories, fat grams, carbs, and protein. I don’t smoke, don’t drink (a lot), don’t drink sodas, don’t eat processed foods, don’t eat fried foods except once in a while. We eat a lot of brown rice, beans, lentils, tofu, and veggies. I make broiled, grilled, or seared ahi and salmon. Most of the time all of our desserts and breads are home baked. I have a terrible time losing any weight at all. It just doesn’t go away, no matter how much I work out, go to Boot Camp, walk, lift weights, or use my elliptical. We turned our third bedroom into an office/craft/workout room with an elliptical, weights, rubber bands, jump rope, and a big ball. When I used to teach aerobics, my class combined high intensity aerobics with core training and weights. I’ve got all the tools to know how to effectively burn calories and build lean muscle, but it just wasn’t working on ME!

Health history and numbers
My cholesterol is textbook perfect. My blood pressure is normally 105/60-ish, resting heartrate about 60. The only medical problems I have is asthma, allergies, and a bit of a sluggish thyroid. I use Advair for the asthma and .50 mcg Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

Except for a lot of sore throats, I’ve never really been sick. A few months ago, I got a super bad stomach ache, like the worst one ever, I mean like rolling on the floor and moaning, that kind of pain. It’s a good thing the captain was here, ‘cos I thought it was almost ER time. With a mom who was an RN, I immediately imagined my abdomen separated into four equal quadrants. If you’re in the medical field, you know what I mean. I knew that pain in the lower right quadrant could have meant appendicitis. My pain was in my upper right quadrant near my ribs. It was tender to the touch. I thought I exhibited all the signs of a classic gall bladder attack. I made an appointment with my doctor and he agreed with my tentative diagnosis and suggested an ultrasound to be sure. The US revealed a healthy liver, pancreas, kidney, and bile ducts, but there was either a cyst or one small 4.5 mm stone in my gall bladder that seemed to be the cause of my pain. Removal of my gall bladder is not a good option for me; I like to work on things homeopathically first. My doc suggested I keep a food diary and figure out which foods cause a problem and eliminate or avoid them. That was a great idea. As Dr. Oz says, “Do you think that’s something you can do?” I learned that peanut butter, cheese, chocolate, and alcohol are my trigger foods. What a load of crap! Those are the things I love the most. I love to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar. I love chunks and chunks of cheese.

chocolate

I’d like to take a bath in this chocolate.

Can you imagine not being able to eat chocolate? It’s just not fair! What did I ever do to deserve the “no chocolate” karma?? It was kind of fun to sample a variety of alcoholic beverages to determine which ones are off limits. I can now cross gin off my list–no more Tanqueray martinis or gin and tonics. Vodka is OK, but only about two ounces. That’s hardly worth it! Chardonnay and champagne pass the test, not so much red wines.

Silver lining: losing weight!
My last “attack” was in April. After that, I eliminated all fats from my diet except for olive oil. In case you didn’t know, dietary fats are a causal factor in a lot of gall bladder situations. It definitely is my problem. I have had no cheese, no peanut butter, and no chocolate. Not only have I been symptom free since then, that stubborn weight is falling off. It’s not like I had a lot to lose-but even five pounds makes a huge difference in the way clothes fit. I dropped two sizes in Joe’s Jeans. (I won’t divulge the specifics, but trust me, it made my day.)

joes jeans

This is NOT me, well, maybe in my head it is…

I’m certainly not recommending that an inflamed gall bladder should be a weight loss tip. What I’m saying is that I learned that reducing or eliminating the fat in my diet helped me shed those last few stubborn pounds and it might work for you, too.

The Mayo Clinic says:

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.

Cholecystitis (ko-luh-sis-TIE-tis) is inflammation of the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by gallstones that block the tube leading out of your gallbladder. This results in a buildup of bile that can cause inflammation. Other causes of cholecystitis include bile duct problems and tumors. Cholecystitis signs and symptoms usually occur after a meal, particularly a large meal or a meal high in fat.

If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious complications, such as a gallbladder that becomes enlarged or that ruptures. Once diagnosed, cholecystitis requires a hospital stay. Treatment for cholecystitis often eventually includes gallbladder removal.

Signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

  • Severe, steady pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
  • Pain that radiates from your abdomen to your right shoulder or back
  • Tenderness over your abdomen when it’s touched
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Abdominal bloating

The following factors may increase your risk of cholecystitis:

Gallstones. Most cases of cholecystitis are linked to gallstones. If you have gallstones, you’re at high risk of developing cholecystitis.
Being female. Women have a greater risk of gallstones than men do. This makes women more likely to develop cholecystitis.
Increasing age. As you get older, your risk of gallstones increases, as does your risk of cholecystitis.

Daily Post–“An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse”

This won’t even take ten minutes. It’s not deep. It’s not profound. Its not life changing to anyone but me. It didn’t make the world a better place. It’s not even the birth of my eight and a half pound giant headed child. Nor was it the down-on-one-knee romantic and thoughtfully planned out marriage proposal from the captain. My offer I couldn’t refuse came recently. It happened a couple of weeks ago right before the captain left to go out to sea on his current assignment. I had been non-stop  I LOVE LUCY-ing  him, nagging, cajoling–WORKING IT–if you know what I mean, gurrls–for about two years until he capitulated. He told me to go ahead and “get that Chanel handbag you’ve always wanted”. THAT was the offer I couldn’t refuse. And so I did! This should come as no huge surprise to my loyal and patient readers who’ve endured a few posts about my Chanel obsession. Well, here she is, my Grand Shopper Tote in all her glory!Chanel Grand Shopper Tote

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

January 1981–Balboa Park, San Diego, California At that time, my son’s dad and I lived near Balboa Park in a little section called Hillcrest/University Heights. There was a back way to the south side of Balboa Park through a canyon trail. That was a favorite walk for my two dogs, Sabrina and Beowulf. Sabrina was a Border Collie. Wolfie was an Akita/Malamute mix that I rescued when I was a junior at SDSU and he was about four weeks old. I bottle fed him and took him to classes in a baby front pack. Fully grown, he was over a hundred pounds and stood about thirty inches high. He had no idea how big he was and sat in my lap just like he did when he was a puppy. He was an awesome pet. They both attended graduation ceremonies with me, which got us into the local paper.

In January of 1981 I was seven months pregnant. I was very active, and continued to attend ballet classes and hike with my dogs. On this particular morning, we walked down 10th Avenue to Robinson and over to the end of Vermont and wound our way through the canyon trail. It was an enchanted place after a rainy winter with lush green vines, mature trees, and a seasonal creek–not at all desert-y  and dry like in this photo.There was probably tons of poison oak but I must have been lucky and avoided it. I remember there was a hill covered in nasturtiums and my dogs loved to roll around in them.  We walked for about thirty minutes and followed the trail toward the park and then turned around. We were halfway to the entrance at Vermont. It was quiet except for the far off hum of Highway 163. I heard a twig crack and ignored it, thinking it was a little critter. My dogs both alerted, ears pricked, hackles rising. More twigs cracked, and I turned around.  I will never forget the next few seconds. A man was sneaking up behind me. As soon as he saw me looking at him, he unzipped his pants and exposed himself. Moving swiftly was not an option being seven months pregnant and fifty pounds heavier, but I tried. I remember trying to be careful that I didn’t trip and fall. The faster I walked, the faster he walked, and he was closing the gap between us. Sabrina turned to growl at him and Wolfie placed himself between me and the man. I simply FROZE. I couldn’t move a muscle. My brain was screaming at me to run away from DANGER, and my legs felt like they were encased in concrete. The adrenaline was pumping, sending the proper primitive signals, but I panicked. Just before the man lunged at me, I picked up Sabrina because I didn’t want her to get hurt. Yes, I picked up my forty-five pound Border Collie, screamed at Wolfie to COME, and RAN THE WRONG WAY. I ran–lumbered--back into the ravine and NOT toward the street that was full of houses and humans and safety. I ran as best as I could with my huge baby-filled belly, until thankfully, a group of women came down from the park and the man disappeared. One of the women who lived nearby took me to her house and we called the police from there. I was so entrenched in fear and panic that I wasn’t able to provide them with a good description, other than noticing he was overweight and probably couldn’t run any faster than I could. This was before cell phones, and when the policemen drove us home, I called my mom. She was an RN and drove over to check my heart rate and blood pressure, as well as delivering a stern lecture about not putting my unborn baby in danger. Needless to say, there were no more solo canyon adventures. After more than thirty years, the re-telling of this potential rape? murder? robbery? still causes my heart to pound.

 

 

Abandoning the mother ship

pumpkin, pumpkin stew

Soon to be pumpkin stew

DIL and sister wife left this morning to drive back up to SF. I still have my son until tomorrow. He flies out mid-morning to the east coast and I’m not looking forward to the thirty-five minute drive and the lunacy of the airport. At its best it’s not pleasant. Now they’re undergoing major construction delays and it’s another level of Hell.  For the moment, home is reminiscent of the old days; he’s sitting at the dining room table with a computer surrounded by piles of books, only this time he’s not writing a report or research paper, he’s grading essays.

Young Yale Professor

Photo of a Yale professor in action

I can’t believe this little sk8r boy of mine goes to work and fifteen college freshman call him Professor Angel Boy. Of course, they don’t REALLY call him Angel Boy, but I think they  should. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the concept. It’s mind boggling. Especially since he still derives the greatest pleasure by shocking me with offensive earsplitting and vulgar expulsions of intestinal gas that serves as his initial form of communication when he opens the front door (Insert loud breaking wind sounds here) “Hi, mom, I’m home!” or belching as commentary while we’re enjoying a lovely meal at the dinner table, like Thanksgiving. Apparently, my laughing is an ineffective method of dissuading that kind of behavior. Sometimes I tell him he’s disgusting but he finds that a compliment rather than a criticism. His wife thinks he’s funny too; even the captain finds him humorous, shaking his head, “That’s our boy!” almost, no, not almost–completely proud of him– so it’s hopeless. The dichotomy between his academic braininess and his juvenile antics is-uh-refreshing. It’s no wonder I treat him like he’s still in the third grade. It’s as if he never left elementary school with the stupid arm farts and the other robust sounds and smells that emanate from all of his orifices. I keep my fingers crossed that when he meets with his department heads or his publisher that he remembers all the lessons in good manners we practiced and he only acts out here as the living embodiment of the prodigal son. Like I said, fingers crossed. 

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Smells DELICIOUS

I’m in the kitchen baking another loaf of Whole Wheat Bread. Tonight we had Moroccan Pumpkin Stew (recipe below) with steamed brown rice and Seared Ahi ‘cos I have to make sure he gets enough protein.

It’s kind of cold, damp, and foggy; after dinner we made a fire and  played Scrabble. He won, of course–232 to 219.scrabble

An assortment of desserts; apple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookiesapple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookies

Beautiful flowers from my Angel Boy

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 6 small potatoes, well-scrubbed but not peeled, cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-1/2 cups canned tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons raisins

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrot, potato, and pumpkin and saute for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When vegetables have softened, add the ginger and garlic. Continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon stick. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then add the canned tomato and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, then add the raisins. Allow to cook for 18-25 minutes until all vegetables are soft – but don’t overcook. Serve over or with brown rice.

Downton Abbey–our fun family game

Quick, I have about an hour of FREEDOM, sweet freedom–while the kids are surfing. Don’t tell them I took an unauthorized break. I need to share our fun family game. It’s the ultmate in reality based charades. It’s like the Amazing Race and The Real World meet Downton Abbey. Actually, it really IS Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs. I play the role of the entire downstairs staff. My son, his wife, and her sister embody the aristocracy. Have you heard the phrase, “To the manor born”? I found its possible first use in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

      Ay, marry, is’t:
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour’d in the breach than the observance.

The leave their dirty and stained clothes on the floor outside their bedroom doors to let me know that it’s time for a wash. Yesterday they needed help finding a fresh roll of toilet tissue. Heaven forbid they’d change it themselves. I need to be reminded that it’s not their place to do such menial tasks. That’s what I’m for, I can’t forget that! Just now, I went into their bathroom and spied three empty rolls strewn about the floor, even though the wastebasket is about three steps away.

I’m not f-ing kidding you.

How many Ph.D.s does it take to actually find the trash? Apparently more than I have in the house at the present time. Here’s the photo proof…

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Angel Boy touched down here in SoCal. Enjoy the pic, I gotta go!

I sat at the children’s table

That’s because there was only me plus the kids here, so I was outnumbered. No tugboat man nor BioDad this year. I know it might seem crazy, but am I the only one who can’t seem to think of their grown son as an adult? I still see him as a four-year-old, and I’m still bringing him tissues when he sniffs and I wait until he blows his nose. I still praise him for the simplest things, “Look who’s reading a book, what a good boy!” Then there’s, “Please take out the trash”.  A few minutes later, “Please take the trash out.” After fifty requests, I give up and take out the trash.  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more things stay the same. I’m short on time while everyone’s still here–cooking, driving, shopping, cleaning–but I’ll be back as soon as I’m free. All my little birdies’ll be leaving the nest on Monday, but while they’re here, my time is not my own. It’s 6:30 a.m. Soon they’ll be awake, needing a first breakfast of homemade granola and Greek yogurt before a surf sesh, which’ll leave me time to get their Breakfast Burritos prepared.

Breakfast Burritos are so easy! Refried beans with cheese, scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream–all rolled up in a huge tortilla. That’s what the cool kids eat!

Our T-day table and one of my son, DIL, and sister wife (on the left). ImageImage

Building a paper Titanic

This seemed as good a time as any to revisit a previously written post. This one’s about one of the captain’s hobbies. He def likes to keep busy. He’s gone again, missing Thanksgiving, which is one of his fave holidays cos he likes to eat and it’s a day that I don’t police his consumption.  He’s a surf-aholic and this time of year usually brings good waves. Right now there’s a High Surf Advisory from an Alaskan storm. It’s about 5-6 ft. –maybe more– and my son’s here with DIL and sister wife. They’ve been surfing twice a day, which leaves me time to clean up from all their meals and start prepping for the next one. I’m really missing the captain but there’s so much to be grateful for in spite of his absence. I have so much admiration for the wives of our deployed soldiers. They are apart for much longer periods of time than this wife of a Merchant Marine, and have to be incredibly brave and stoic–and hope their loved ones come back alive. Although being a tugboat captain has its elements of danger, being shot at or bombed is not one of them.

When he’s home,  after he catches up on his sleep, my captain lines up projects to keep busy, whether it’s around the house or something creative. Unless there’s surf. In that case, I become a surf-widow and only see him when the tide drops or he’s hungry.

He’s made some awesome shelves in the living room and our bedroom, done a whole lot of house painting (inside and out).  The last time he was home for a few months, he found a paper model of the Titanic (he’s fascinated with anything Titanic) called Build the Titanic at Barnes and Noble and holed up in his man cave working on its miniature parts, gluing and painting. It’s more than two feet long and pretty much to scale. There’s a great little book that came with the model written by a female captain, Meghan Cleary, who lives aboard her thirty-five-foot sailboat.

I don’t normally watch daytime TV on any regular basis since All My Children went off the air. My mom and I started watching it together when it first began.  She was a stay-at-home mom until high school and then she went back to work part-time, as an RN. She was charge nurse for Women’s Surgical at a local hospital and worked the 3pm to 11pm shift, so we would hang out during summer vacation before she left for work.

When my son was born, I used to nurse him during All My Children, One Life to Liveand General HospitalThree hours, that’s right. I would switch him from side to side every twenty minutes or so, ‘cos my mom told me to nurse him as long as he was hungry, so we  had these marathon sessions. Plus, I read somewhere that breastfeeding burns tons of calories, so it provided value added options for me. I could lose baby weight, bond with my child, feed him, and watch TV at the same time!  That’s what I remember I was doing during Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981.

I was working on a small proofing job and caught a few minutes of The View, muted ‘cos that one blonde chicka has a voice that could turn milk sour, geez, but what in the world has happened to Barbara Walters’ earlobes? I have enough of my own personal body image issues so that I do have empathy, but they are ay-may-zing specimens. I know she’s like eighty or something, and gravity happens, but WOW. She was wearing gigantic button earrings (ring, ring, 1983 is calling!) but even those monstrosities could not hide her elephant-sized lobes. It was fascinating and stomach-turning at the same time; I couldn’t turn away, I couldn’t look, I expected them to start flapping in the breeze. C’mon girl, you are obvs no stranger to plastic surgery-for the love of all that is holy, pullease nip/tuck those things! At the very least, have your hair stylist do a little cover-up. Pull-ease. It’s funny–for the hell of it I Googled “Barbara Walters’ ears” and discovered a lot of internet commentary, so I am not the only one who noticed. Like I said, aging is sad for so many, many reasons.

It’s now 9pm and I’m watching So You Think You Can Dance. Got a call from my captain, but it was such a bad connection and kept breaking up, so we didn’t get to have any kind of conversation besides the usual, “How are you, is everything OK?

“Yes, I’m fine, are you all right?”

“I can’t really hear you, I’m breaking up, I better go, I’ll try and call again in the morning if we’re near a cell tower. Love you.”

“I love  you, too. I miss you lots.”

At least we were able to get the important things said.  I am fanatical about ending conversations with “I love you”. With my son, ever since he spent his junior year abroad and continues to travel all over the world,  I always end every single telephone call or Skype that way.  No matter how brief the conversation, I want those to be the last words and the last thought I leave with him.

Enjoy Russian rock caviar with rustic wafers of driftwood

In case you’re sneaking a few minutes of private time on the web still on the hunt for Thanksgiving Day recipes, Enchanted Seashells is here for you! Take a well deserved break from your cooking and cleaning, pop a bottle of champs (or vodka) and help yourself to my appetizer du jour: