The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for February, 2009

Thursday's Three Theological Thoughts

  • I asked Jenny if it was possible to flunk Lent and she gave me the answer I expected. Every day is a new opportunity to start over and minor failures don’t add up to a major one. That’s so Benedictine but also true. So maybe I’ll even write my thoughts on Ash Wednesday today.  Speaking of failures, the one thing I tried to fail at, I failed at failing. I was mad at my father for pushing me so hard for grades in college and then found out that he flunked a class in college himself. So I decided to quit attending a class I hated with. I got an incomplete. Now, in theory, incompletes convert to Fs after a few years. But mine is still there, thirty plus years later, as an incomplete. So, I am an incomplete failure. Should give me some hope for getting through Lent.
  • Why am I, a Unitarian, so intent on Lenten discipline this year? Perhaps because I need discipline in other areas of my life? Something to explore, anyway.
  • I find myself being judgmental more than I want, and I’d like to work on that, too. That whole “let God/dess judge.” But if judging is wrong, why did God/dess make it so dang fun?

Failing Lent

I did not blog yesterday, nor did I get ashes on my forehead. Is it possible to fail Lent? More to come…….

Friendly Memories

Since some of you flat-out refuse to get on Facebook, I’m double-posting this one.

Please leave one memory that you and I had together (or that you have of me). It doesn’t matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember. Don’t send a message, leave a comment on here. Next, re-post this in your notes and see how many people leave a memory about you. Have fun with it!

Shrove Tuesday

Or Carnival. Either way, it’s the day before Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent in the Christian liturgical year. This is the traditional day to confess one’s sins before Lent, hence the Shrove, derived from Shriven as in being shriven of one’s sins. Carnival, or carne vale, on the other hand, is a festival of the upside down. It means ‘farewell to meat” and was a traditional day to use up all the meat, butter, flour, eggs, etc. that had been stored for the winter. Stuff would go rancid otherwise. Funny how lots of religious traditions are also practical but that’s another discussion. So lots of meat, pancakes dripping with butter, and whatever else you could think of to use up all the stores. Nowadays, it’s traditional to have pancakes and sausages for dinner, which is what we are going to have. Even if I did have to go to the grocery store to get the ingredients.

Carnival was also the day a peasant was elevated to Lord of Misrule and everyone had to do whatever he said. Now, of course, it’s a drunken bacchanalia of exposed breasts, tossed beads, painted coconuts from the Zulu Crew in New Orleans, fights, and arrests. If everyone was going to enter Lent tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Carnival was meant to be a time to blow off steam, gorge oneself, and generally get it out of your system before the austerity of Lent. But most people will not enter Lent and will not take on a discipline of any sort. This, to me, is sad.

This country is in the state it is in because we are not disciplined people who understand the need to make sacrifices before there is no other choice. We don’t send our own sons to war (well, I did…my son-in-law has done three tours in Iraq), we don’t save our money, we don’t even drive cars that don’t pollute although they are readily available.  We extend ourselves financially without considering the possibility that things may not always be so rosy. Hell, we even elected Bush twice although anyone who did their homework knew the man was a liar and a fool. Then reality hits and suddenly we are forced into doing what we would not have done voluntarily.

Lent is a time to reflect, pray, and give up (or in some cases take on) a discipline until the great feast of Easter. Anyone who has ever saved pennies for a special purchase knows the sweet feeling of finally being able to have one’s desire. And we do this voluntarily, not because we have to but because we hope it will benefit our soul. Lent is a season of sacrifice so that the celebration can be all the more joyous.

More tomorrow, when it all starts for real. Right now, go get those pancakes and have fun. For tomorrow we fast.

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Ethnic Foods

Well, this will be easy. Asian. Asian. Asian. Mediterranean. Asian. Mexican.

1.) Cheong Fun. Rice noodles wrapped around bbq pork. A favorite and one almost impossible to make at home. I go to Wong’s King in PDX to get these.

2) Chow Fun. More rice noodles, this time tossed with veggies and meat. I usually get bbq pork. I like pork and pork is so similar to human flesh it is easily digested. No, this does not make me a cannibal. I am not related to pigs any more closely than you are.

3.) Makkloubeh. This is Lebanese. Eggplant, rice, lamb. Wonderful. Get it at Ya Halla in PDX. Tell them I sent you. Not that it will matter…they only know me on sight.

4.) Dim Sum. Although technically a class of Chinese food, I love going for dim sum. My family knows this so my birthday is usually at Wong’s King on Division which has the best dim sum in town. There’s better….in San Francisco….but why drive so far when pretty damn good is just a few miles away. Dim sum means heart’s delight and are small morsels, usually meat, cooked in a myriad of ways. There is a whole world of dim sum etiquette, dim sum practice, dim sum pricing. So much to learn. But who cares? As the Frugal Gourmet (who introduced me to dim sum and taught me to cook Chinese) would say, “ENJOY!” If he weren’t dead, of course.

5.) Moussaka. I once burned my kitchen down while making moussaka and wallpapering my bathroom at the same time. There’s this whole cook the onions in oil part. I forgot I was cooking onions in oil. Boom! At the time, I was a news reporter and part of my area of expertise was fire departments. Hence, I never lived this one down with the local fire department although I did redeem myself when I exposed a neighboring fire department as corrupt.

6.) Three mushroom tofu. The Divine Miss M picked this one and it is delish. Straw mushrooms, and two kinds I don’t recognize, with soft deep fried tofu and some green things I assume to be a vegetable with which I am unfamiliar. Also some noodles which I assume to be wheat but I’m only partly gluten free at this point so I’m eating them anyway.  Mild but tasty. I’m actually eating this as I write.

7.) Pot stickers. But only the ones I make myself. These are righteous, come in pork, chicken, or tofu flavor, and are in high demand. My kids always want me to make these and I’m definitely not allowed to cook a Chinese feast unless I make these. The Beloved Jenny’s family will not let me come to Christmas Eve unless I make pot stickers and beer ribs. But beer ribs are just generic American, not “ethnic” at all.

8.) Tempura vegetables. I know. Deep fat. But I still love them.

9.) Matzo ball soup. I make this pretty often for dinner because it’s easy and with the addition of some veggies and tofu, very healthy.

10.) Mole. With the exception of the person who taught me, I make the best mole in town. Another simple crowd pleaser. This is sort of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with Jalapeno peppers. You buy a jar of mole, add chicken or turkey, a big gob of peanut butter, and a round of Mexican chocolate, add liquid as it disappears, and let simmer until it’s all mixed together. Serve with tostados, refritos, Mexican rice, and corn. WOW! Also good with corn chips as a late night snack….

Warning: Whining Alert


Fibro Report…As If You Wanted to Know

People talk about having “raw nerves” and that’s as apt a description of fibromyalgia as I can think of.  Your nerves are so raw that, instead of being nice little insular beings,  they are able to talk to each other in a neuromuscular game of telephone. The message sent is seldom the message received. A nerve starts a conversation saying “ouch” and by the time it hits the optic nerve it says “close me.” Hence today’s problem. I am stiff, sore, can barely move, and all I want to do is close my eyes. Good thing I only had to go to the post office, less than 1/2 mile away. There is no way I could have walked it, just too much pain and too much rain. But I was able to drive there and back and keep my eyes open, barely. It’s not that I’m tired, although there is that as well. It’s just that when I get this bad, the eyes flat out refuse to take in sensory information. As I write, I find myself typing by touch with my eyes closed. And I have to struggle to make my eyes focus to read anything. Which is sad as I have a new book.  My guess is there is “no knitting for you” at my meeting tonight, too. Bummer.

All this because of the convergence of working really hard for the party this past weekend with the rain and cold I woke to today. The brain is such a funny thing. It clops along, doing all the things it should, day in and day out, for many years. Then it starts to go. In my case, it was my first death that did me in. I died on the operating table, minor surgery, and my brain was oxygen deprived for a short time while they jump started me and then forced me to learn to breathe on my own again over the next several hours.  Just long enough to do minor damage. I lost my sense of direction and I got this lovely parting gift of fibromyalgia. So now I have no sense of where I am in space but it hurts to be here anyway.  I can now get lost finding my way home from church but I seldom feel like leaving the house so it really doesn’t matter a lot. I have Jenny, she-who-will-drive-anywhere, as my personal chauffeur and I work in a home office. I can shop on the internet, I have both a cell phone and a landline to keep me connected, and I am an introvert. The furthest I need to go for most of my social life is about 10 minutes from here. For the most part, I do well.

And there are drugs. It’s odd, just like fibro is odd, that many of the drugs are really drugs for other things. Treating it is a matter of treating symptoms, sometimes with drugs meant to treat other things. Example: I take Parkinsons drugs to treat one of the sleep disorders, anti-psychotics to treat another, and an anti-depressant to treat the pain. It’s like the whole brain turned into fried noodles and now nothing, including the drugs, works the way it should.

But some days, like today, remind me that the suicide rate is quite high for folks with this crap. Now don’t freak. I’m not suicidal. But on days like today it’s hard to take it one day at a time. This is one of those shitty days when I am reminded that a) fibro won’t kill me and b) sometimes I wish it would. And, unfortunately, it will never go away. Although I look forward to summer because it’s almost like being remission for a few months.

A friend says I should try living gluten- and corn- free. I think I’m going to give it a try. This is ridiculous.

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