nourishment

Before rescue-mix husky Lily’s surgery 3 weeks ago she relished her food. No sooner had I put her bowl down for her than she had vacuumed up every morsel. Even during the 2 weeks before her surgery after the injury. She ate everything.

She has always been all about food.

So part of the reason she tore her acl was her weight. This is my fault and I need to correct it. After all it’s not as if she can get her treats out of the cupboard. So I have been trying to be careful.

But her regular food? Completely turns her nose up at it. After her surgery the vet changed her food which might be part of the problem. She’s never been picky though, so I had no concerns when they sent me home with an enormous 30-pound bag of kibble that this would be a problem.

Most days though, later in the day she will go to her bowl and quietly eat her food. So maybe she just wants me to think she doesn’t like the change.

When I was little every Sunday after church my grandparents who moved from New York to be nearby would join my family for Sunday dinner. These were my mom’s parents (I never met my father’s, they were in Colorado, a long way from North Carolina), and I adored them.

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I was a picky eater. After everyone had finished, even dessert there I’d sit, my plate with remnant peas or whatever it was I did not care for staring back at me and as everyone else left the table I was told I had to sit until I finished my plate. My grandfather always sat with me.

He would not berate me, maybe offered a word or two of encouragement, but the important thing, for me, was he thought enough of me to not want me to be ashamed. Or alone.

This is something I think many of us do not understand. We have our comfy homes, our lovely friends and we do not see the ones who are alone. In our comfort we simply don’t see them.

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Nourishment comes to us in so many ways. Our physical food, the joy of a familiar voice, the wag of a dog’s tail, a favorite symphony, an unexpected note in the mail, a good book, a phone call from someone checking in, the family member who remembered something and wanted us to remember, too.

There is a hunger though, deep in each of us that no one else and nothing else can fill but God. His love that has known us since before we were born. He is with us every moment. In our fast-paced lives we may try to fill this empty need with many things… human attention, any number of substances that are bad for us or, at least, in excess are not good. All of which are fleeting, inconsistent at best and capricious at worst.

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So we move forward, day by day. We make our plans, work at our jobs, all the while knowing ultimately it is not we who are in control.

I know this for certain when I put Lily’s food in her bowl.

Thanks Giving

My mom loved a good party. And she gave some of the best. I can remember being about 5 not a few Sunday mornings waking before anyone else and wandering downstairs to find all the residue from a successful cocktail party– filled ashtrays, empty nut bowls, canape trays stacked in the kitchen sink and martini glasses, some still with an olive, to which I helped myself (maybe that’s why I do not drink alcohol).

I think Mom’s favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. She loved Easter and Christmas, too, but Thanksgiving was when she really pulled out all the stops. She invited anyone and everyone, there was not an empty chair around our food-filled dining room table. Grandparents, neighbors and their children. She loved nothing more than a house stuffed with congenial friends, laughter and good food.

Preparations began very early, my grandmother and mother stuffing and basting the enormous bird, all manner of vegetables, scalloped oysters, and pies. The Macy’s Parade started at 9 and my brother and I were glued to the television until Santa came along, I imagined myself in the freezing cold marching sassily with one of the heart-pumping bands, or cozily wrapped in a thick, warm coat waving from a float, or even maybe hanging onto the ropes of one of those amazing balloons. And the luscious mouth-watering aromas wafting from the kitchen with snippets of “No, I’ll do that, ” or “keep stirring! It’s lumpy if you stop stirring!” or “did you remember the pearl onions in the green beans?”

The guests began arriving, some wandering off to find my dad, my grandfather and company in the den, or striding back to the kitchen catching an apron off the back of the swinging door to see what needed doing. The voices and chatter finally melded into a constant white noise sparkling with laughter, the clatter of dishes and “where’s the gravy boat? I always put it in here…”

Finally everyone was called to the table, ambling amiably, finishing off their drinks and marveling at the heavily-laden side boards. We all stood at our places until everyone arrived, then sat and Dad asked the grace. After his deep, gravelly, “Amen,” chatter and laughter resumed, dishes being passed back and forth with the chink and scrape of silverware on china. At the end we barely could even think of pie, but of course we did more than think of it. Regretfully? No. We did not care at all how full we were. As Dad would say, “A bumble bee could play with me now.”

So this year my family is greatly diminished. Mother and Dad have passed on. My son will be with his girlfriend and her family, my brother’s wife will have her mother and sister, perhaps an additional friend or two. Maybe the two groups will combine, who knows…

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I will watch the Macy’s Parade, eat the two pies I will have made– a (very) small pecan pie and a turkey (maybe chicken?) pot pie, maybe even splurge with home-made crust.

And then we will venture to my favorite place in the world to walk off having over-stuffed ourselves.

The beach.

“A bumblebee could play with me now…”

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Foods

Do you ever wonder how in the world people got the idea to eat a thing? Take butternut squash. These are enormous. Maybe 14 inches, nearly impenetrable skin that you have to peel. There is no peeling with this thing. You hack at it until it comes off in chunks, hopefully with not too much of the squash underneath. Then you have to cut it into smaller pieces (this stuff could be used as an adobe substitute), depending on how you are preparing it.

Then there’s artichokes. People love these! I’ve had the so-called hearts in salad, for me they are bitter and fibrous, tough. But I understand a popular way to eat them is to roast the whole choke in the oven till it is softened (?), then serve it with melted butter. You dip the fleshy end of the leaf into the butter and scrape it off with your teeth. When my mother told me this I laughed till I hurt.

Then there’s tropical fruit, like cherimoya or dragon fruit. I wonder how long people thought these were poisonous before they tried it and found out how good it really is. Except cherimoya seeds really are poisonous. So are apple seeds, they have arsenic. I guess a person would have to eat a lot at one time though to do any harm, but dogs that like apples (my husky-mix rescue dog Lily) can’t eat the seeds at all.

Did broccoli or cauliflower or cabbage just grow or were they cultivated? And how do they get that sulfuric component that smells so bad when you steam them? Brussells sprouts are really pretty growing on their stalk but who found these? Were they found in Belgium?

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So I guess I could do research on what plants are indigenous to where and how they came to be, but just look at all the foods in the produce section sometime– star fruit, ugli fruit (like an orange but it looks like a fruit gone very bad), acorn squash which actually does look like a huge acorn without the cap.

Aside from vegetables fish and seafood are another whole area that must have been strange to learn how to eat. I still cannot bring myself to try eel, and octopus I understand just gets bigger in your mouth the more you chew it. Shrimp? If I’d seen this thing alive swimming I doubt I’d have ever tried one. Squid (calimari) is probably fried to the point that whatever is chewy is just completely broken down and it is edible. But lobster? Crabs? Someone must have had to be very hungry to get around those claws the first few times, then found (to some) it is such a delicacy. But puffer fish. Guess you have to be pretty brave to go after that one. Clams, oysters, mussels — thankfully a genius discovered steam would open these, except with some effort and (now) the proper knife oysters aren’t such a problem. Unless there is no “r” in the month you eat them.

The trial-and-error thing early people had to use to find what foods they could eat and what foods would kill them must have been terrifying.

Thank goodness somebody got brave and ate a tomato.

Finicky eaters

When I was young I had a thyroid imbalance. Hyper actually, so much so that my mom told doctors she thought I was having seizures. No idea how she got seizure out of hyperkinetic (maybe hyperkinetic hadn’t been thought of then), but nevertheless the doctors believed her (no one really ever disbelieved my formidable Mother), so they prescribed what was then an experimental drug for epilepsy.

It nearly killed me.

After my severe reaction which included hospitalization with a very high fever, terrible rash and blisters all over me the size of box turtles which later burst and the skin on my entire body peeled it was determined I was not epileptic. Warned that unless I wanted instant death I must never take even one dose of that medicine (why would I), the doctors still had no idea what the problem was. I was happy because, at 5 feet 7 inches I weighed a lithe 115 pounds. Mainly because I had no appetite for anything much except what causes everyone else to pack on the pounds: potato chips, cookies, ice cream. I had a wonder metabolism.

Mother did everything she could to interest me in good food, especially breakfast foods: she made scrambled eggs sound wonderful. She plied me with cinnamon toast and crispy French toast dripping with butter and syrup. She offered any sort of cereal brand I would eat. I was having none of it. So she caved and said whatever I would eat for breakfast she would let me eat.

This included vegetable soup and ice cream.

Ultimately this fantasy life didn’t last and my poor little thyroid gave out, underproducing but it took a specialist friend Mother had in New York city to diagnose it. Then endocrinologists which helped put the thing back in balance.

All well and good, but what do I do with 2 dogs with very different eating habits? Husky-mix rescue dog Lily eats everything in sight, and retains it. No thyroid problem for her, she just stays stocky. New little terrier-mix rescue dog Lulu won’t eat for days. Especially not in thunder storms, or anything that sounds like one. Since I live where I do there are 2 large army bases nearby and we often get F-15s on flyovers, or Air Force 2 doing touch-and-gos with the fighter jets clearing airspace before and after. Then there are the military helicopters.

Lulu did eat well when we first adopted her. I would put her bowl down and she’d clean it about as fast as sister Lily. Then she wasn’t so interested, so I dressed it up with Parmesan cheese. She soon bored of that so I added some chicken broth. No good after a couple of days so I switched to shredded cheddar cheese. Now pretty much nothing but stark hunger works. So I look at Lulu wistfully watching Lily wolf down her bowl of food, snubbing her own. And I wrap it up waiting for a time when she is hungry enough to eat it.┬áBut Lulu loves rotisserie chicken, only right after I bring it home from the store. If it’s been in the refrigerator a day or two, no good.

I am out of ideas.

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“Now, where did I hide that rawhide bone…. ”

 

 

Imaginings

When we are younger, most of us have wild imaginations. If we are fortunate enough to have parents who understand this and care about us, then those alligators under the bed or monsters in the closet are obliterated by the tenderness and assurance of our parents’ protections. If we do not have this… well that’s another blog.

Then we get older. We still have our imaginations (we hope) and, consequently it can run wild to the good or to the frightening. For some reason last night (why does it always happen at night??) mine ran to the fearful. For a time there was utterly not one thing I could do to rein it in. Nothing. It ran like a wildfire, rampant from bad to worse to the unimaginable. When I realized I had no control over this I recited Galations 5:22– “The works of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control.” I was hoping (* praying *) for the last particular fruit.

Now, I am a person who, though I have an unrelenting sweet-tooth, has really begun in the last several years to work hard at eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. I don’t eat fast foods. Ever (well, unless the peach milkshakes are in season at Chick-fil-a, but that was 2 years ago!!). No McDonalds, No Wendy’s No Taco Bell, No Hardee’s (or whatever it calls itself now). Except I do have a friend who likes to meet occasionally to catch up on all our gossip at a Wendy’s or Jersey Mike’s. But it’s not a regular part of my routine I guess I am saying. But I do eat a lot of fruits- I love summers when peaches, plums and pears are in season. And berries- blueberries which I used to really not like, or blackberries, even though you can buy these frozen now too. And I have learned that Brussells sprouts and eggplants are pretty good, if you roast them with a lot of onions, olive oil and garlic. So I am trying to feed my body with healthier foods.

My mind and my spirit can’t be neglected either, is I guess what my imagination was doing yesterday. Reminding me. When my thoughts seem to take on a life of their own, I need to take them “captive to make (it) obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)

I will sleep better.