Beach Philosophy

On the beach with my brother, talking in social debate as we do, he posed a series of questions concerning how much of a person has to remain for love to continue. A debilitating accident–do you still love him? Of course. No arms, no legs? Don’t be silly. More debilitating events–being mauled by a bear and such, and now he’s just a head, kept talking and feeling and thinking by science–do you still? Yes, absolutely. More misfortune; he’s just a brain, hooked up to a computer that lets him communicate and think and love. My answer is the same–yes, yes, yes.

Okay, my brother says, now the brain has deteriorated, and the entire essence of the man I love is put onto a flash-drive. He can still communicate with me. I can carry him around, plug him into this device or that, and we can talk, reminisce, experience, love. Do I still love him? Yes! But, he asks, do you love the flash drive?

I pause. Good question. I answer with a hesitant but definite, yes. He poses his final question–The flash drive is corrupted. You can no longer communicate. The essence is still in there, but no longer accessible to you. Now do you love the flash drive?

No, I had to admit. I don’t love the flash drive. I said it better on the beach, and wish I could remember my words, but the essence was: Once the vessel no longer services the being, the vessel becomes obsolete. I don’t love the flash drive that no longer houses my love.

This is what I love about conversations with my little brother; we rarely agree, but we always find some common ground (though he’s stubborn and doesn’t think I see his point of view. I always do. Seeing his point and agreeing with it are entirely different things.) Because we don’t agree, I think about the things we discuss long after we’ve parted ways. I pondered this conversation, on and off, the rest of the day. While still on the beach, my brother sleeping in the sun about ten feet to my left, I texted him the above words about the vessel and the being. “Thoughts are forming. I’m going to write something about this.”

After losing arms and legs and body, in bear attacks and horrendous events, the basic question, for me, was this–do I love the physical vessel once it is no longer servicing the person I love. Husband, parent, child, sibling, friend? No. I don’t. How could I bury a husband? Cremate a son? If I still held attachment to the vessel that once housed them. But do I love them still? Every minute of every day.

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what my brother was getting at. It was more rhetorical, about how much of a person can one lose and still remain “in love” with that person. But, like I said, conversations with him always make me think, and this conversation was like a firecracker under my chair.

As all things do, these days, it comes back to Chris. His vessel was no longer serving him. It became obsolete. It was never the physical son I loved, but the being he is. The essence he will always be, no matter what form that essence takes. I will forever mourn the loss of his smile, his hugs, all the things he never got to do, that life was so hard for him. So painful. These are the physical things that matter for such a short time in the span of forever. I know that. I’ve always known. But this conversation with my brother brought it into sharper focus. It made me cry in every way there is to cry, right there on the beach.

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Conversating

Your name rolls through my head, thunder

and wind; the gentle downpour after

My boy. My boy. My beautiful son.

Why did you…why didn’t you…?

I didn’t mean to go; I just didn’t want to stay.

‘Why’ is your name, without the gentle rain.

*

I fought too much

I fought too hard

I fought futile battles time would never ease.

You could have. You did. Over and over again.

You were stronger.

No. I wasn’t. And that’s the fact you can’t–

Won’t grasp. You hold up my mirror to those few

ideal years. Golden boy. King of the world. Anything

mine for the asking. The taking.

But it was a lie. The one you wanted to believe

I did too. I swear. But the other me was real. The one who thought.

The one who knew. The one who hid his fight behind a

smile. The one who fought for others

because the fight inside raged on. He was the one you wanted me to be,

And that made it all the worse.

It isn’t true. I wanted you. I wanted the best

version of you, whatever that was. You had so much to give–

I had nothing left…

You were only twenty-five!

And ancient beyond counting years.

Pain wears a body down. Exhausts the mind.

I know! I know! Don’t you think I know?

I watched you, every day. I took you to doctors.

I rubbed your leg. I dissected every cue into

every possibility. Until I didn’t.

And that should tell you something, shouldn’t it?

I don’t like what it says.

*

I didn’t mean to go. I just couldn’t stay.

When given my choice, I left everything behind 

including you. Your worry. Your tears. Your love.

The bad, and the good. Sweet dreams, Turtle.

Sweet dreams.

*

I dreamed my eldest daughter

was a teenager again,

tasked with buying cookies for a party. She chose

lemon, and lime, tomato and basil flavored,

in the box store where dinosaurs wrought havoc

among the patrons.

There had been a bridge, and a gate

between their world and ours.

Someone had opened the gate. download

Someone had let them in.

While my daughter and I bought cookies

in a past that never was.

~TLD

 

 

 

 

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Escarole and beans

  • A friend and I went to the farmer’s market last weekend. I found the most glorious head of escarole. I remember my Gramma Grace making ‘scarole’ back in the day. You’d never  have gotten me to touch it. But, seeing that gorgeous head of escarole made me want to try making Gracie’s old recipe.

I had absolutely no idea what was in it, but I do remember how it smelled. Lots of garlic. I trusted my inner palate and, whoa, Nellie! It was divine.

Very simple: sauté a chopped onion in olive oil. Once it’s translucent, add a head of escarole. Once it’s all wilted and soft (about three or so minutes) take it off the heat. In another pan, sauté a can of white beans (any kind) along with the starchy water in olive oil, add garlic (lots) a tbsp of chicken base paste. Once that’s heated through and sticky, add the escarole into the pan of beans. Let it all meld together about five minutes on a low simmer. Take it off the heat, add a splash of lemon and a good fistful of grated cheese. Done! Filling, nutritious and inexpensive. Not to mention yuuuuum.

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Plinks in the night

Last week, I knocked a wall vase off the wall. It didn’t break, but I couldn’t find the hook it was hanging on anywhere. Even Frank looked. Ah, well–it’d turn up. Last night, around 4:30 am, it did.

Plink. Plink. Plink. Over and over. Something metal hitting something hard. I listened. Ah, Toulouse is at the food bowl. But no. While he’s crunching away–plink. Plink. Plink. Gyro was at my head. Roxie was under the bed. Plink. Plink. Plink. We have no other animals in the house except the fish, and I’m pretty sure they were in their tanks.

Plink. Plink. Plink. I sat up. Plink. I turned on my iphone flashlight and went into the kitchen. There, in the middle of the floor outside my bedroom, right where it should have been after coming out of the wall, the little metal hanger.

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Now, I’m not saying it was anything besides strange. I’m just putting it here because it was kind of eerie, kind of cool.

Happy Bastille Day!

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A Little Something Fun (for a change)

This is the result of a ten-minute* writing prompt in my writing group. It’s cute and silly, and right now, I can really use a little cute and silly.

(*I did edit a little just before posting this up.)

The prompt was: A brother and sister only one year apart in age; what happens when they’re teenagers and dating one another’s friends? When in doubt, go immediately to fairy tale!

***

“Hansel? Who is he?”

Hansel leaned around his sister. The sigh escaped before he could suck it in. “Leave it alone, Gretel. You won’t like him.”

“But will he like me?”

“Everyone likes you. Why do you even ask? Even the witch liked you better.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. She didn’t like either of us. She was just hungry, and you were a little more plump.”

“You were the one with boobs at nine. I was like an orange on a toothpick.”

“Forget about her.” Gretel flipped her flaxen braids. Flaxen. Was that even a word anymore? None of the girls, flaxen-haired or otherwise, would even look his way since the oven incident. In his circles, rescuing was done by a dashing prince, and the rescued a fair damsel in distress. He was totally screwed.

“Come on,” his sister nudged. “Tell me about him.”

Hansel took a bite of his sandwich, stalled by chewing it those 30 chews he got into the habit of making, back in the cage, when every minute outside the oven counted. “His name is Jack. He’s pretty dumb. I heard he traded his mother’s last cow for a sack of beans.”

“Beans? That does sound dumb. He’s kind of cute, though.”

“You’re going through my friends a little fast,” he said. “I won’t have any left after you’re done breaking all their hearts.”

“Don’t be so selfish. I offer to fix you up with my friends all the time.”

If there was anything worse than being the fair damsel in distress, it was being set up by his dashing prince. Hansel took another bite, another thirty chews. Anyway, Thumbelina was a bit small, Belle was into big, hairy guys, and don’t even get him started on Goldie. What a bitch. There was only one girl he’d even had any interest in, and she’d been sleeping close to a year now. He was pretty sure it was going to last a while more. Maybe Ovengate will have simmered down enough by then to give him a shot.

“Just introduce me.” Gretel smoothed her braids, pinched her cheeks. “Come on. Please?”

“Fine.” Hansel flopped his sandwich onto the tray. He slid along to bench to Jack’s side. “Hey, Jack. Want to meet my sister?”

Jack looked up, a little dazed. “Uh, the blonde over there? Sure. Why not?”

Hansel waved Gretel over. “Jack, Gretel. Gretel, Jack. Now I’m going back to my sandwich.”

Sliding back to his place at the cafeteria table, he listened in, just to be safe. Jack was all right, but Gretel was his sister. And, embarrassing as it was, he did owe her.

“Beans?” Gretel laughed, tossing those braids. “Why would you do such a thing?”

“I’m not sure,” Jack answered. “The old guy was just so convincing. My mom tossed them out the window. This morning, there was a beanstalk the size of a tree. I think there’s something to it.”

Hansel went back to eating. Jack was one of the last of his friends to escape his sister’s attention. There was still Quasi. His place was kind of noisy, but at least they were both outcasts. And thank goodness he had no worries about his heroic yet slightly shallow sister ever being interested in him.

 

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The things you learn

Reading through my feed on Facebook, I’m always struck by how angry people get over EVERYTHING. Yesterday, I had this thought (because I think in Buddah-esque quotes.)

The surest way to close a mind is to assume it can’t be open.

downloadHappy Thursday, all.

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Food of the Gods

Sugared-Grapes-from-This-Silly-Girls-Kitchen-main I made these for Book Club last night. They were so insanely good, I’m making them again for Free Float Wednesday. So simple.

Marinate seedless grapes in a dry-ish prosecco overnight, in the fridge. Drain. Toss them in sugar and set them on a plate so that they’re only a single layer. (If you pile them, the sugar turns to syrup.)

Crunchy, sweet, wine-y deliciousness. Perfect for summer. Enjoy!

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Two Years

I have no words for this. I tried to find them, to set them down, to find some meaning, some emotion, some anything. And I can’t. Not about this. I live it every day. It’s not like there’s anything new this day of days. The significance is surprisingly small, in the scheme of things.

Two years. Only two. So many more to come, just like these.

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Strange Dreaming

Sometime between Wednesday and Thursday, I dreameddownload

my house was under siege.

I walked beside Hyppolita, discussing tactics

While burly men in furs and leather

Put out fires on my roof.

*

Sometime between Thursday and Friday, I dreamed

my father, and my grandfather (dead these many years)

walked side by side in the woods behind my house,

along the river, chatting and watching my grandson swim

close to the bank. Every once in a while,

Dad pulled William back from going too far. William, for his part

only laughed.

*

Sometime between Friday and Saturday, I dreamed

Chris was being held in a church, down on the Green.

The same church he used to attend AA meetings in.

They were holding him for execution,

because he’d overdosed. How ironic, that lethal injection.

Why? I screamed outside. Why are you doing this to him?

*

In the early hours of Saturday morning, I woke

confused, bolting out of bed so I could get to the church

before they killed my son. It took a few minutes

between sleep and awake

to realize I was still in bed,

in the early hours of a Saturday,

of this after, not the before.

*

I saw Wonder Woman on Wednesday

My grandson on Tuesday

On June 22, my son will be gone a full two years.

How the brain mashes up the everyday with

its inner-workings. How marvelous.

How utterly extraordinary.

 

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Chocolatiest chocolate ice cream

  • The texture is the thing! I have made lots of ice cream in the last few weeks, and they have all been awesome. This, however, makes all the others shyte in comparison. The egg yolks are key. Absolutely worth the extra effort.

 

2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk, 2% works too

8 egg yolks

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put cocoa powder and 1 cup milk into a sauce pan, whisk over medium heat until incorporated. Add cream and the rest of the milk. Bring to a simmer stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until the color of the yolk lightens. Temper cream mixture into egg mixture a little at a time, until about 1/3 of the cream mixture is incorporated. Pour it all back into the remaining cream mixture, and return to a low heat. Cook and stir until it thickens, reaching a temperature of about 170°. Pour into a clean container and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Add vanilla, whisk it up, and set it in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Use whatever ice cream maker you like.

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