Book buddy

Last night I got a message via Facebook that someone I once knew well had passed away. As often happens in the world life drew us apart. Her marriage and child while I was still in the early stages of the relationship that would lead to marriage and our two children put us at slightly different points in our lives. I had seen, on Facebook, that she was going through a rough patch, dealing with chemotherapy and all things associated with it. I put off doing anything more than the meaningless response online, because I was no longer super-close to her and did not want to intrude. I thought of her in odd moments and sent, in my own way, healing thoughts toward her home and her family. I thought about the book I was reading and how I should send her a copy, then realized she probably already had a copy and stopped thinking further. I didn’t reach out, for fear it would be the wrong thing or unwelcome. This, I regret.

When I moved from Ohio to sunny NC, I moved knowing one individual here. I moved with a car full of stuff to see me through eight weeks of a show and trying the city on for size. It was probably the bravest thing I had ever done. That one friend of mine was someone I knew from college, and he introduced me to the woman he later married. She, at the time, had two housemates that later married, had a child and then divorced but remained close. One of the housemates was the woman who passed, the woman who I was very different from but we shared something very intimate – reading selections.

I know that sounds strange, but she is the only person I have met that perfectly intersected book styles with me. On our Sunday dinners we would occasionally search the bookshelves at each other’s homes and see familiar titles, also worn. She is the only person who has bought a book for me not using a list and gotten it right – introducing me to a new author and with nothing other than “I thought you’d like it” – and she was right. We would, in moments between other conversations, discuss whatever our latest book we had at hand or what we may have been looking forward to reading. Over those first couple of years in NC when I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted, dinner on those Sundays was a touchstone of friendship and welcome that made living here so wonderful. We six together had fondue nights and made lasagna, talked movies and got married off, changed careers and bought homes. But what I remember most is the book she first gave me and the girls’ night at the farmhouse.

So I’m going to spend a little more time being grateful for another day. I’m going to try to remember to reach out even if it isn’t perfect. I’m going to hug my kids because there’s an eight year old boy who won’t be hugged by his mom again. But first, I think I’ll go find that book.

Happy LOL cat – it shares my views

On Sunday, I drove myself (in a car without cruise control!) out to the almost-farm country on the other side of the Triangle. Part of the point of this adventure was to learn something I never quite got with my mother – how to cook vegetables. In all fairness to my mom, we’re mainly of Eastern European descent…which means most of our cooking is meat, potatoes and boil the heck out of everything until┬álosing┬átheir flavor. Maybe not literally, but it often feels that way.

While hanging out with StubbornDev and Lil Bit, I got to have a glimpse into my future – Lil Bit is potty training. I’d say something crazy like it reminds me of the cats, but at least with children you can reason and maybe teach…but that’s unfair to both cats and kids. You can sometimes teach cats and often you cannot reason with children.

Getting back to the veggies…one thing I’ve realized is that I need more of them in my life. I live near the state farmer’s market, which I just need to go to more often and ask more questions. But there are other ways to cook veggies than boil the flavor out of them…blanching, roasting, grilling, sautee and even the occasional fun with a wok. Heck, we even have a veggie size wok. Just because the Bald One isn’t a veggie fan doesn’t mean I can’t cook up a single serving.

Part of my education was reading Nourishing Traditions. This book reminds you that eating is fuel, and fuel should be high grade and not over processed. I’ve been reminded that oatmeal, when done right, doesn’t have the consistency of runny snot. Milk is actually better when it’s full of milk fat. Butter is actually made from milk fat, and not chemically cooked up margarine that tastes about the same. While my darling husband does much of the cooking, small changes can be made around him – cous cous in bulk that we flavor ourselves, whole grain pasta cooked correctly tastes just as good, brown rice…and his favorite change is beef to die for from the guy who raised the cows. Sure we’ll probably still break out the occasional Hamburger Helper, but we’ll now add beef from the guy at the market and eggs from local chickens. Small changes will be easier (on us and the pocketbook), but they’ll make all the difference. Even if tomatoes are evil.