Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Little Bit Thankful

He was a Patuxet Indian, and his name was Squanto. When he was a young man, he went to England on a trading ship. He was made part of an Indian Exhibit on a London stage, he worked as a servant, was tricked into going on board a slave ship to Spain where he was sold.

Luckily, he fell into the hands of a group of friars at a Catholic monastery. They freed him and turned him into a Christian. By the time he located a ship captain that would agree to take him home, twelve years had passed. When he returned home, there was no trace of his family or friends. They had all been struck with a great sickness. Every one of them had died. He was the last of his tribe, but at least he could speak English, that was the important thing.

Squanto was the one who showed the Pilgrims how to build warm houses. Then, taught them when and where to plant. He showed them how to plant and use fish for fertilizer to grow corn faster. He taught the women how to cook the corn. He acted as an interpreter, guide, and gave advice on bargaining with the natives. Without him, the pilgrims would never have survived the season. In fact, half of them had already died in the harsh winter weather.

To me, this was a true act of forgiveness. To be enslaved, beaten, mistreated and stripped of his pride, and still be willing to offer life-saving help. Now that's being thankful!

This year, we have decided to celebrate an authentic Thanksgiving. Our menu will include cod fish, steamed clams, eel wrapped in sea weed, pease porridge, a variety of dried fruit and hardtack.

There is no indication that there ever was a second harvest celebration. We had to wait 280 years for the food to improve before we could truly celebrate.

We're actually having Lasagna this year, along with the usual. But what would Thanksgiving be without, cheeseballs, nutballs and footballs?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writer's Concrete Block

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to break up a cement driveway with a pickaxe and a sledge hammer? I haven’t either, and I don’t know yet because he’s still working on it. The pickaxe resonates with a ping-thump sound as it chips away at the rock-hard gray substance that was laid down so many years ago. The sledge hammer sounds like a loud crack and then a thud as large chunks give way. The scraping sounds set my teeth on edge.

Now I am wondering if he knows that they have developed machinery to do this type of work. A Bobcat, with a front mounted jack hammer could do the work in a fraction of the time, but since this is a job arranged by the home owners association, I suppose saving money is the first order of business. One man, one pickaxe, one sledge hammer, and staggering stamina. Whack! Crack! Ping! Thud!

I just looked out the window to watch him use the flat end of the head to pry up a hefty chunk of four inch concrete. This visual is much better than written research and will come in handy for me if I ever write a story about a Mason who accepts jobs from tightfisted homeowners associations. Let’s see, what would I name him? Rock Morter? Connor (Con) Crete? Or maybe an antonym would be more fitting like, Loose Gravel. Now I’m being silly.

Somehow, this brings memories of my mother back. I can still hear her say, “you do everything the hard way.” Seems strange coming from a woman who tried to stop a car from rolling down a driveway with her bare hands rather than snatching a small child (me) dangling from the open door before dropping off under the front wheel. Good thing I was really young, flexible bones and a whole lot of luck kept me from sustaining any permanent damage.

I’ve always known that noises interfere with my thinking process which, at times, puts me at a disadvantage. I marvel at writers who sit in coffee shops to get their work done. Peck, peck, peck, they type, oblivious to their surroundings. One blast of the blender mixing someone’s Caramel, Mocha Frappiccino and I would be out the door. I just can’t incorporate noise into the creative writing process with any type of flow. It’s kind of like when reality gets in the way of an aspiration. Maybe I should write a piece on the Big Bang theory. Bang! Boom! Bonk! Scrape! No, I’m not that smart. Sometimes I wish I had a funny icon on my tool bar. Just click and everything you write is funny.

Uh oh, the chain gang just added another worker. Oh, it’s Juan, my gardener. I don’t suppose the pickaxe guy likes the cement dust being blown into his face by Juan’s leaf blower but that’s their axe to grind. The purpose of the driveway replacement is to eliminate trip hazards. I can’t tell you how many piles of bricks, dirt and cement there are, not to mention the wheel barrow sitting at the base of the porch steps. Now I’m listening to the Edgar Winter Group perform, Free Ride, in my head.

Saturday morning is my favorite time to write but there are signs that it’s time to stop. I’m thinking in broken English, my train of thought has been derailed and I am flitting from one subject to another like a hummingbird on crack. I guess I’ll take the worker some iced tea so all I will hear for the next few minutes is the tinkle of ice in the glass. Ahhhhh.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Skinny Thinking Diet?

I’ve been taught that you can’t think your way into healthy living, you have to act your way into healthy thinking. This theory has worked in several areas of my life except for one, food. I love food and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t become a dysfunctional relationship.

Sadly, I have had a dysfunctional relationship with food for over twenty years. The way the dynamic works is on a come here - go away cycle. I admit it, I beckon the dastardly Pasta Fagioli for a one-night stand more than I care to admit, a power struggle ensues, and before I know it I am scraping sauce off the ceiling. I never mean for it to become violent but after I have already gained an unwanted twenty pounds, my thinking process is compromised.

What is so frustrating is that the disease of food-codependence is insidious and powerful and begins to fold back on me. Shame beats me up after wolfing down a complete box of Dulce De Leche girl scout cookies and then knowing that a Tommy’s double cheeseburger lies in wait only fuels the panic. This toxic, one-sided romance is taking its toll.

My boyfriend caught me having a tussle with a pork tenderloin the other night. Somehow I had become tangled up in kitchen twine. He was able to free me but sadly was unable to save the roast. With remnants of butter roasted potatoes smashed against my cheeks, I rose from the floor and expressed my gratitude. We celebrated by sharing a trough of Ben and Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide.

Unhappily, I admit defeat. Food has won the battle. I have been beaten by it until my body has swollen past the seams of my designer jeans. Paraphrasing the words of Shakespeare, ‘I have eaten myself out of my five senses.’ The course of true love never did run smooth and mine was no exception. It is time to lower the drawbridge of my wall of denial and usher in a new way of thinking, the skinny way of thinking.

I am now envisioning my body the way I want it to be. Perfectly proportioned and fit. I can see myself admiring my image in the bedroom mirror. I’m wearing that sexy little black off the shoulder dress that I didn’t think I would ever fit into again. I am smiling as I slowly turn from side to side. But, wait a minute, there is a slight bulge in one of the slit sleeves. I see myself pulling out a large Caramello candy bar. No way! I can already smell the rich milk chocolate right through the wrapper. My fingers tremble as I pull the paper away and turn from the mirror. I feel the firmness of the bar between my lips and a string of caramel drips down my chin after the first bite. I am powerless to stop until the candy bar is gone. The feeling of despair overwhelms me. It was the most disturbing imagining I have had since reading Stephen King’s, The Dark Half. I need comforting.

I will have to dispose of the large pizza box before it is found. I think I will bury this one in the backyard. I can make another corned beef casserole to replace the one I ate while waiting for the pizza delivery but I won’t have time to restore the top layer of the double layer pumpkin cheesecake. I’m sure some whipped cream can cover up the damage though. Oh my God, what am I doing? The seduction of food has overpowered me once again. Just as I feared, I am unable to think my way skinny!

There is one last option…the garlic and onion diet. It makes you smell so bad that no one can stand being close to you, but then we all look slimmer from a distance, don’t we?