Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Little Drink: Winter Margaritas

It is sub-zero temperatures here with the windchill, something I've never ever known in Washington.  Schools are opening two hours late tomorrow because of the cold, and today, simply walking from my car to a building made me want to stand in a hot shower for the next hour.  (Sadly, I still haven't showered at all and am just dirty).  It is seriously cold.  I've had countless mugs of rooibos tea and hot water with lemon, and tonight I'm making a drink.

What better in the whipping winds and snow squalls than to have tostadas, tamales, and a Mid-Winter Margarita.

Mid-Winter Margarita
    recipe adapted from Food52
    serves 2 generously or 4 conservatively

4 1/2 oz tequila
2 1/4 oz triple sec
2 1/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 1/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice

Combine in a pitcher or shaker, stir/shake, and serve over ice.
Depending on your taste and the tartness of your grapefruit, use lime juice to either sugar or salt the rim


Monday, February 16, 2015

Unstable (on gratitude and remembering)

Sick here again -- this time with coughs and fevers and mild sore throats.  Windchill has driven temperatures below zero the last couple of days and today it warmed to about 12.  Not our average DC winter.  I have friends who lost power in the wild gusts Sunday, others whose heat broke, and others who are staying in emergency shelters downtown to stay alive.  Any piece of that list offers ample opportunity for perspective.  And throughout the day, I've had some, and have felt grateful.

And then I haven't anymore and have watched myself wing wildly into impatience/fury/dismay at all the long faces and whining voices, headaches, and the deep hearty coughing from every room of the house.  And instead of making tea and stroking hair, I yelled and was flat mean.

Then I locked myself in a room, breathed help over and over, breathed deeply, and came out again.  I remembered we are actually healthy in big ways, and warm, and I'm grateful.  I apologized to each person with words or hugs, and we ate dinner.

Then a friend told me our symptoms sound like the flu and if we catch it in the first 48 hours, we can cut the sickness down by 8 days, but it's snowing steadily and freezing cold and all minute clinics are closed.  So I got mad at Eden for coughing her head off instead of sleeping, Silas for asking me to read, Ben for acting like a know-it-all about the flu and suggesting I do NOT get all three kids out of their bed and drive 30 minutes to a nighttime clinic in the storm -- because really I was panicking over the words "8 more days."

So I locked myself in a room, breathed help over and over, breathed deeply, and came out again.   I remembered we are actually healthy in big ways, and warm, and I'm grateful.  So I said sorry by sidling up next to Silas in his bed and reading.

But the incessant coughing coming from Eden's bed and thought of that continuing for the next ten hours and the tiredness making my eye sockets ache all crept into my monotone reading voice and made me stare hard at the words, so as not to leave this script of kindness I held in my hands.

Now I am alone drinking tea on the kitchen floor.  I've scared Ben downstairs and the others are finally (hopefully) asleep.  I will whisper I'm sorry's into their hair as I make my way to bed.

I'm thinking about gratitude and how though I hover at it -- a humming bird at a feeder -- I dart away at the smallest sound, the tube of sugar water still full and hanging.

This is why I need to lock myself in rooms (every few minutes), to remember, literally, re-member -- have God name me again so I'm whole.  Maybe maturity -- that far off lovely, stable state people speak of -- will mean being able to have that conversation more instantly, to re-member within, and change what's in the mouth (or heart, really) before it tumbles out.  

Thursday, February 05, 2015

How Things Happen

The swathes of poison oak are finally fading from our bodies.  The flu has been weaving through the nights, and some small sneaking louse stays relentlessly.  The two year old has swallowed her recent bright language for furious screams, constantly erupting.

Tonight, preparing for writing group in the morning, I rediscovered this poem by Marie Howe, and I, too, remembered, "this is how things happen, cup by cup, familiar gesture/ after gesture..."

From Nowhere

I think the sea is a useless teacher, pitching and falling
no matter the weather, when our lives are rather lakes

unlocking in a constant and bewildering spring.  Listen,
a day comes, when you say what all winter

I've been meaning to ask, and a crack booms and echoes
where ice had seemed solid, scattering ducks

and scaring us half to death.  In Vermont, you dreamed
from the crown of a hill and across a ravine

you saw lights so familiar they might have been ours 
shining back from the future.

And waking, you walked there, to the real place, 
and when you saw only trees, came back bleak

with a foreknowledge we have both come to believe in.
But this morning, a kind day has descended, from nowhere,

and making coffee in the usual way, measuring grounds
with the wooden spoon, I remembered, 

this is how things happen, cup by cup, familiar gesture
after gesture, what else can we know of safety

or of fruitfulness?  We walk with mincing steps within
a thaw as slow as February, wading through currants

that surprise us with their sudden warmth.  Remember, 
last week you woke still whistling for a bird

that had miraculously escaped its cage, and look, today, 
a swallow has come to settle behind this rented rain gutter, 

gripping a twig twice his size in his beak, staggering
under its weight, so delicately, so precariously, it seems

from here, holding all he knows of hope in his mouth.

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Fix

I am sitting at the kitchen table the morning after the super bowl eating bits of corn chips left over in the bowl.  I've lost my coffee somewhere in the house -- literally, have searched the entire house twice, inexplicable -- and have settled for water.  I have one kid home throwing up, one kid playing hooky, and one kid trailing after me from room to room saying, "mommy?  mommy?" with no follow up statements.

I've spent the  morning loading and unloading the washing machine and calling doctors offices to see if there's anyone -- dermatologist, allergist, GP, NP -- who will squeeze me in and medicate my poison oak that is now keeping me (and Ben) awake in the night with its incessant demand for clawing.

Each time I stand in a scalding hot shower to quell the itching, or pour oatmeal into the tub again, I am struck by the fact that I have scalding water at the ready and numbers to call (numerous ones) to "make this go away."

I've been thinking about this lately, about the expectation of an instantaneous fix, about our weakness of endurance.  All over the world, people suffer.  There isn't the immediate option to stand in burning water and then smear hydrocortizone on angry rashes.  There isn't the immediate option to take a seratonin booster and slip out of a steady gloom.  There isn't the immediate option to buy medicated drops for a toddler's eyes.  Often, the immediate option is to suffer and to wait.

But often, I expect not to.

I am not talking about the internal suffering we all face at some point, the suffering of loss, of grief, of despair, of our own humanity and mortality.  Some days (or months, or years) those take our breath.

And I am not talking about the long-suffering that comes with illness and various heart-wrenching diagnoses.

What I am talking about is simply the interruption in health and sleep and daily routine: the flu, a migraine, strep, lice, rashes, concussions, broken bones, back pain.

I was talking to a friend yesterday, mother of four children, who said, "I'm finally coming to realize that there will always be something.  There are too many people in play for there not to be SOMEthing going on all the time.  I don't know why I expected otherwise."

I am troubled by how much I expect otherwise, by how much I expect expanses of health and rest and ease.

I am troubled by how intolerant I am of inconvenience, discomfort, and interruption, by how quick I am to reach for a panacea, instead of to dig deep for endurance.

Sometimes it's appropriate to get on the horn and solve the situation.  But other times it's not.  I can see my expectation for immediate gratification and my ability to wait things out slipping from my body as my fingers speed over the face of my phone each day.  The restlessness of now extends far beyond wellness -- we want phones in hands, text messages returned in less than a minute, shipping expedited, and groceries dropped on the stoop.  We are fast and flying.

We want the fix.
We want so much so quickly.
And this morning I'm wondering how much this state keeps us wanting at the core.