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Potato salad for breakfast? Why not? We order eggs and hash browns all the time when we eat out.

I made potato salad last night, and it was my supper, along with a bowl of blueberries, au naturel. A good portion of both, lest you think I’m wasting away here.

Actually, I’m not eating potato salad again for breakfast, but I thought about it before I remembered the leftover canned pumpkin in my refrigerator that need to get used up. So I made some pumpkin oatmeal various-flours bread, which is in the oven as I write. I can anticipate the potato salad for lunch.

In a pinch, in a hurry, I might buy potato salad from the supermarket deli. But I don’t like it as well. It’s usually too goopy for my taste, more like mayonnaise with some lumps of things in it.

I make potato salad like my grandma and mom made potato salad. No written recipe, which bothered me as a newlywed but doesn’t any more. Eventually you get it.potatoes eggs

Here’s what went into yesterday’s batch:

4 good-sized potatoes that I had found in the produce clearance bin at the supermarket about a week ago. Peeled, chopped into the size pieces I wanted for the salad, boiled in water until tender. More than once I’ve cooked the potatoes too long and they’ve more or less disintegrated when I stirred together the salad. No worries. At a pot luck one time someone asked me for my recipe because they liked that I used “mashed” potatoes. It’s called not setting a timer. Oh, and don’t forget to salt them. I often forget. You can salt  afterward, but it’s a bit less even than salting the potatoes in the water.

4 eggs. These were farmers market eggs, laid by happy hens that get to toddle around a pasture instead of stay squeezed into a cage or pen. The cost of the eggs probably ate up the savings on the potatoes, but well-treated hens matter to me, and the eggs taste better and are better for you, I believe. My grandmother had chickens, and I grew up with farm eggs.

Some sweet onion, chopped up.

 

Some sweet pickle relish, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup, with juice. Grandma would have chopped up sweet pickles she had put up herself from cucumbers she grew in her garden. In my gardening days I would have done the same, but now I just try to find sweet relish that is not made with high fructose corn syrup.

Enough mayonnaise to moisten it all, but not so much that it drowns it. I use olive oil mayo these days.

A healthy squirt of mustard. Yellow, brown, whatever you have. This time I had brown.

Stir this all together in a big bowl. Add more mayo if it’s too dry. Taste it. Add more mustard or salt if you think it needs it. Or more pickle relish juice. It’s your salad.

I like real food. No purist, but I try to eat as close to real food as I can, given the rest of my lifestyle. I like my potato salad. It’s one of those common sense things that got passed down to me, just hanging out with women whom I loved who knew how to do stuff.

I think Mom and Grandma would be okay with eating potato salad for breakfast, too.

 

 

 

How to write anything tonight out of anything other than sadness and anger? And yet do I have anything to add that has not already been said better?

I have friends who are black. Tonight I can’t help but think about how it could have been one of them in that car, or on the ground, bleeding to death from bullet wounds. Husbands and fathers raising great children, working long hard hours, who are there for their families. Community leaders who invest their lives in serving their neighbors.Women whose intellect and conviction can change the world but who fear for their brothers’ and fathers’ and sons’, and their own lives.

It could have been Rod, or Alex, or Michael. It could have been Seantae or Cheryl, or Mechiel, or anyone in their families. People I count my brothers and sisters. Instead, this time it was Alton, and Philando, and Diamond.

No one even bothered to check his pulse. While the officer kept a gun trained on him as he died slumped in the front seat with a four-year-old girl in the back seat. While no one bothered to comfort his girlfriend except her four-year-old daughter. In fact they cuffed her and hauled her into the squad car, then to the station for hours like she was a criminal.

Why? Because apparently we white people are so freaking scared of black people that we shoot first and find out facts later. The benefit of the doubt is a big joke. The right to bear arms and and legally carry apparently only applies to white folks.

I am white and privileged. I don’t know personally what this is like. But I believe my black friends when they tell me this is the truth they live with, have all their lives. We have to say black lives matter, because apparently too much of the time they don’t. That’s the point. Don’t you dare go saying all lives matter right now. If you don’t understand why, read every word of this article. Of course they do. The point is black lives matter too, just as much as anyone else’s.

Neither is the debate about whether there are good police officers. Of course there are. There are even good police officers who do bad things in the heat of the moment and regret it the rest of their lives. But like everyone else, law enforcement officers need to be held accountable and trained to actually respond to all races alike.

The point is that this cannot go on. It is not acceptable. And it will never change if we aren’t willing to look at it from the point of view of the people who live every day of their lives afraid that they will be feared and distrusted, and even killed, simply because of the color of their skin.

I have a long way to go. A lot of the time I don’t know what to do, but I know it starts inside  and works its way out.

Nikki Lerner, a singer/speaker/writer whom I really respect, lives and breathes racial reconciliation. She calls us all, all hues and shades, to lean into relationships with people of other cultures and skin color, to really see and hear each other and learn to give grace. Please, let’s do that. If we don’t have any intercultural relationships, now might be the time to start getting to know someone different from ourselves. Please let’s do that too.

Never one to jump right on a book trend, I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

I have not yet taken each item I own in my hand and asked myself whether it sparks joy for me. I may or may not do that, but I did take a bag of clothes out to the car today to drop off at a donation bin next time I go that way.

A couple of observations.

One, Kondo is a tad bit obsessed. Has been since she was a wee child, apparently.

Two, her obsession indicates her super power, to quote a life coach I know. She is gifted at not only tidying but its sister, organization, and at seeing that our relationship to our stuff indicates the orderliness or lack thereof of our psyches. I totally respect her for finding a way to turn loose her super power to help others, to spark joy in herself, and to make what I assume is a rather decent living.

Three, her personification of belongings and dwellings at first struck me as over the top. But then something about it started to feel right, as an expression of gratitude and respect.Maybe the child in me relates, the same child who felt that if I didn’t play with one toy for awhile, it would feel left out, like I loved the others better.

So I’m asking: Where does my apartment want my sewing supplies and fabric to be stored? Big mystery right now.

And I’m also asking: What are my super powers? How can I turn them loose for good in my life and in this world? Can I trust them to take care of me?

A Marked Woman

The subject for this post came to me at about 3:30 a.m., and I’m going with it. I don’t know if it’s just about habit, or if there’s more there. But here goes.

When I get up in the wee hours to go to the bathroom, by instinct I reach left first for the toilet paper probably 6 times out of 10. That’s where it was in the house where I lived for the 11 years before moving here. In this bathroom, it’s on the right.

My kitchen wastebasket is under the sink. This is where it should be. It’s where it was in the house I grew up in and in some other houses I’ve had. In others, it’s been in the pantry, beside the cabinets,  or underneath a kitchen island. But wherever, at least once a week I’ve reflexively opened the door under the sink before realizing, oh yeah, it’s not there.

My parents had a starburst clock on the living room wall for many years while I was growing up. And still — still — occasionally I look on my living room wall when I want to know what time it is. Never mind that I haven’t had a wall clock in my house for years, probably decades.

This is the sentence that came to me at 3:30 this morning: Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me.

I have lived in lots of places. Let’s see —

  1. The house I grew up in. Lived there for 19 years. The clock on the wall. The white house with trees in frontwastebasket under the sink. Good, solid life. That place is truly in my core.
  2. The tiny house we lived in briefly right after we got married. Today it would be considered part of the tiny house movement.
  3. The 12×50 mobile home my dad helped us get. Bigger than the tiny house. Smaller than the apartment where I live now, a fact that gives me perspective.
  4. My parents’ retirement home in Florida. Temporary until we could buy our own.
  5. The house we bought in Florida.
  6. My mother’s home. Also my childhood home. Dad had died and we lived with her for 9 months, again till we could buy our own home, having moved back from Florida.
  7. The house we bought there.
  8. The first parsonage. My husband was the associate pastor at that church.
  9. The second parsonage. My husband was the only pastor at that church.
  10. The third parsonage. My husband was the senior pastor at that church.
  11. The home of a friend’s parents. Things had gone sour at the church and the congregation voted to ask my husband to leave.We did, with nowhere to go and no income. This place was shelter and storage space as we tried to heal and figure out next moves.
  12. The first house in Colorado. We bought it without seeing it, after friends on site checked it out and arranged for a volunteer crew to remodel it. It was traumatic for multiple reasons.
  13. The second house in Colorado, which we rented when we lost that first house.
  14. The third house in Colorado, which we started out renting and eventually bought. Lived there for 13 years.
  15. The house in Indiana. Lived there for 11 years. It’s the one my husband died in.
  16. This apartment, where I still reach for the toilet paper where it was in the last house. And where the trash again fits under the kitchen sink.

This litany of homes brings back all kinds of memories and emotions. But it’s what happened, and I do not think where I live now will be my last home, so the list will continue to grow.

It’s true. Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me. It’s not the place, ultimately, but what happened there. The seasons of my  life, some quite short, in which I was changed in some way. I grew. Joy and sorrow mixed. Sometimes joy won, sometimes sorrow won.

My children lived in 13 of these homes, too. They also bear marks from those places and the life we shared, for good or ill.

I don’t want any of us to live in those places any more. I want us to move forward. But sometimes sorting through the past is necessary to move on, to heal. Just like you sort through things before a move. Some things you can leave behind. Some things you decide are either meaningful and beneficial, can be repurposed or rearranged to make them useful, or are just plain beautiful. So you take those things with you as you move . . . onward.

Let’s do that.

I didn’t go to the grocery store to educate a checker. I just wanted to pick up a few things, including some produce. I was pleased to find rhubarb, because I want to make a rhubarb custard pie. A pass past the clearance shelves to see if there were anything I couldn’t live without, which there was not, and I headed for the checkout. I usually don’t use the self-checkout even when I can, preferring instead to cast a vote for a job for a living person. The checker whose line I chose seemed at ease and efficient, but when she took the rhubarb out of the basket, she said, “Now you’ve stumped me. Is this red celery?”trimmed rhubarb

“It’s rhubarb.”

“Oh, okay.” Then she picked up the cauliflower. “This isn’t cabbage, is it?”

“Nope. Cauliflower.”

As she finished ringing me up, she said, “I’m not really up on my vegetables. Mainly because I don’t eat all that many vegetables.”head of cauliflower

My intention in telling this story is not to be critical or make fun of this young woman, and the bagger who wasn’t much more knowledgeable. I tell it because I believe this is all too common. School children don’t know what a potato is, even though they eat tons of French Fries and chips. They can’t tell a pear from an avocado.

This is a handicap. A learned — or lack-of-learning — disability. The cure? Garden. Neighborhood gardens. Garden with friends or parents or kiddos. It doesn’t have to be big. If you don’t have any other space, plant something in a container on your patio or balcony. Your friendly neighborhood garden center will be happy to coach you.

Patio container with soil and new lettuce plants

Newly sprouted lettuce on my balcony

Also cook. From scratch. We live in a time, as Michael Pollan, author of Cooked, has said, when we Americans spend more time watching other people cook on television than we do actually cooking.If you’ve never cooked anything, don’t start by trying to do what those celebrity chefs are doing. Look up basic instructions and recipes online, and just try something.

You don’t even have to cook to cut up the cauliflower and dip it in ranch dressing. (You might even try making your own ranch dressing. It’s cheaper and better than the bottled stuff.) Eventually you might even step out and bake a pie from real rhubarb. 

Cooking, too, can be fun with someone else. Kids love it, especially when it’s a shared activity.

Obviously this is about more than giving correct answers on a pop quiz on vegetables. No one debates the nutritional benefits of eating vegetables, which is what this checker told me she does not do. We gain power to care for ourselves and our families when we have a working knowledge of actual food (as opposed to food-like substances, again to quote from Michael Pollan), how it grows and how to prepare it.

So you’re welcome Ms. Checker. Glad I could introduce you to some of my friends today.

You Are Here

“We are not the center of the universe.” — Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel.

The Roman Catholic power structure fought him on this, just like they had fought Copernicus on it, saying it dishonored God by contradicting revealed truth up to that point. I say thinking everything revolves around us is what dishonors God.

What Galileo was proposing, based on what he viewed through his telescopes, was counter-cultural then. We now accept without question that he was correct about the movement of planets and stars. But amazingly, the notion that the universe does not revolve around you or me, or even our nation, is still counter-cultural. How much less pain there would be in the world if we could somehow live more generously and humbly.

 

 

Looking at the moon

I can see the lunar eclipse from my balcony tonight. The bright part of the blood moon is just a fingernail sliver against a brown circle in the dark sky. It’s not all that dark even, because I live in a city now. But it’s clearly visible. Palladium windows alight in neighboring apartments echo the theme of partial circles.

Listen – is that chirping crickets or something that sounds like them? Traffic noise pulses too – or is that my own pulse in my ears?

Snips of muffled conversations drift up from the apartment above me, no real words but clearly human. Are they looking outside from time to time too? Are children being allowed to stay up later than normal on this school night so they can see the eclipse for themselves? Are parents explaining to them how it works? Perfect learning opportunities happen sometimes in pajamas. Not just something in a book, but real life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love books. I learn voraciously from books. But I’ve been reading a lot lately about the damage to children, in their learning and physical health and emotional wellbeing, because they are so totally scheduled and supervised that they have no time to just play and learn from the real world. Ho did we come to not understand this in our guts?

Yeah, I realize that most kids today are so conditioned to fast movement and electronics that their attention spans probably don’t last through an eclipse. Heck, I’m not sitting out there watching the whole thing. But bravo to any parent who is at least letting their children stay up to have a look at it and hopefully even enjoying it with them.

Of course this requires looking away from TV and all other devices. Ah, well, one can hope.

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