Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I will be the first to admit that decision making is not the easiest thing for me. I don't make them lightly or without a fair amount of thought and prayer. The hardest ones are those "lesser of two evils" decisions. Does one take chemo and live 2 years? Or is quality more important than quantity? Does one stay in a dating relationship that is safe, but no longer healthy? If a teen is depressed and suicidal, is a solution that helps keep that child alive OK, even if it is not the ultimate one? 

I know these decisions are inevitable. They are part of life. But that does not make them any easier. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Curse of Libra?

According to astrology (which I take with a healthy grain of salt, btw!), I am a LIbra, represented by the scales. Librans tend to want things balanced, can see many sides of a story, and like fair play. These characteristics fit me to a "T."

Being able to see more than one side of a story was essential to my work as a counselor. I was not allowed to choose my clients. I saw the people I was assigned. And I had to find a way to connect with them. Yes, even the sex offenders, the thieves, and the abusers. 

Don't get me wrong. Some of the crimes I heard about were horrendous. And I DON'T  excuse them. But there was almost always more than one side to the story. A mother who was arrested for child neglect was a teen "throwaway" child whose boyfriend would beat her up if she neglected HIS needs for the needs of her child. The thief was a gentle lady who had gotten caught up in gambling and was terrified after the person she owed money to threatened her child. And in some cases, a person's mind simply could not "take in" situations if he or she had been through a similar trauma. 

We also tend to filter our reactions to things through our own experiences or where we are in life.  I am not a mother, so there are things that don't hit me as hard.  However, situations involving elderly people (as I care for my seriously ill father) tug at my heartstrings in a big way. 

Nothing is completely black or white with me, and I have to be careful about voicing my to people who are (sometimes mercifully!) able to see the world that way. 

I always see shades of gray. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Dressing

"The Dressing" has been almost a sacred ritual in my family since I can remember. This is true "Southern" dressing made with cornbread, as opposed to "Yankee" dressing made with "light bread." Most true Southerners shudder at the thought of light bread dressing. 

My Mama and Daddy used to make the dressing together at Thanksgiving. Since Mama's death, Daddy has continued to make the dressing, with subtle changes over the years, but it is pretty much the same recipe. 

Daddy has been quite ill this Fall and for the first time since I can remember, was not up to "hosting" Thanksgiving this year. I volunteered to make his dressing for him and deliver it this year. This was a huge step, a changing of the guard in the dressing making hierarchy. 

Of course, Daddy was unable to let go completely. He called one day to make certain that I knew to use fresh broth instead of canned and to make sure I put in mostly dark meat. He even gave me the specific chicken parts he wanted used. It was to be baked in a 4 inch deep dish. The Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix I used in conjunction with the corn bread had to be the CORNBREAD version of the stuffing mix. Celery and onions could not be chopped in a food processor. They had to be done by hand, with the pieces coming out about the size of my little fingernail. Since he and my stepmom both love sage, the tablespoonful for the dressing was to be "slightly heaping." 

By the time I was ready to make the dressing, I was somewhat anxious. What if my dressing did not measure up? Horrors! 

I watched my Daddy as he scooped up his first forkful of my dressing, waiting for a response. I did not realize that I was actually holding my breath until he chewed, swallowed...

And pronounced it "perfect." 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Tomorrow, I will get in my minivan, crank up some music and head to Columbus, Mississippi. There, I will meet up with my long time best friend, Teresa, and we will tour antebellum homes, eat, sit in the hot tub, and sleep as late as we want to for three glorious days and nights. 

Teresa has been my friend for so long that most of the time, words need not even be exchanged. We can convey volumes with just a look or a gesture. And we have a tendency to burst into song at the drop of a hat. 

Coming off of a summer of illness and crisis for me and loved ones, I need this break desperately. I am letting other family members handle things for a few days. I have to rest and recharge my body, my mind, and my spirit. I can't afford not to. 

Mystery Meat

I have recently become reacquainted with a substance I have not voluntarily encountered since my school years.  Mystery Meat  I brought ...