Giancarlo has always been squeamish when it comes to eating any kind of animal flesh. I have learned over the last 14 years that if I am preparing dinner that involves meat, I have to hide it from him as it is being prepared. Thanksgiving grosses him out because inevitably it will involve seeing a turkey carcass at some point in the process. Even seeing meat in the pan tends to turn his stomach.
Usually, once it gets to his plate, he is okay with it. Unless. Unless there happens to be something in or on the meat that isn't simply lean meat. A little bit of fat on the side of a piece of steak? Forget it. Gristle? No way. Much less tendons, veins, or nerves. As soon as he spies something of this sort, it is all over. His meal is over. Occasionally, if it can be pushed aside, ignored, and certainly not discussed, maybe the meal can continue. But if it is talked about, it's the end.
The other day, his mother prepared some very lean turkey breasts in a light white wine reduction sauce. They were savory and delicious. But Diego happened to find an--er--irregularity in his turkey breast.
"Papi, is this thing in my turkey a piece of fat?" Diego inquired.
"I don't know, Diego. Just leave it alone and eat the rest," answered Giancarlo, tersely.
Giancarlo's mother, who can't hear much of what is said ever, is pretty good at realizing something may be amiss, and she always demands to now if anything juicy is going on.
"What is it?" she hollers.
Giancarlo, not wanting to discuss the irregularity in the poultry, replied, "Nothing Mama."
Well, there is nothing that infuriates a deaf person more than to say that nothing is going on, when clearly, from their perspective, something is going on. They just don't realize that it is of very little consequence.
"What's wrong? What is he saying about his turkey?" she retorts.
Giancarlo's dad jumps in. "The turkey has something in it."
"What? What's in it?" she bellows.
I could see, from my seat of silent observation across the table, that Giancarlo was struggling to not think about the little thing in Diego's turkey, and he was feeling frustrated that people insisted on talking about it. I had to supress a smile.
Diego still hadn't gotten his answer. "What is this thing in my meat? Is it a vein, Papa? Or do you think it's a nerve? Why do turkeys have nerves right in the middle of their flesh? And why is it that purple color?"
Giancarlo put down his fork. "Diego, please just put it aside. I don't want to talk about it right now. We'll talk about it later."
Giancarlo's father had still not explained the problem to Giancarlo's mother, and she was getting impatient. "What is it? What's wrong with it?!"
He answered, "It has a piece of fat, or a vein, or a nerve, a blood vessel, or something. That's all."
"Nooo, turkey breasts don't have those things in them. It must be something else. They don't have veins and nerves or blood vessels, just plain meat. The blood vessels and veins nerves tend to be closer to the bone," she expertly explained.
That was it. She said bone. This sealed the deal.
Giancarlo picked up his plate, took it to the sink, and dumped his turkey breast in the garbage disposal.
I got up, walked over the the sink, gave him a hug, and murmured into his neck, "I know you so much better than your parents ever did, don't I?"
Giancarlo's mother, seeing that something was going on, shouted at us from the kitchen table,
"What? What happened?"
I was musing today at how taken aback I am when people ask me what I'm doing for Easter. I have to stop and blink, and think. Even as a child growing up in an active Mormon home that fully believed in the Resurrection and the Atonement, we didn't really do much. We colored Easter eggs and hid them again and again (ourselves; we, the children, even had to hide them the first time) until eventually the majority of them got lost or smashed or left out too long to be eaten. And we went to church. But we went to church every Sunday, and we talked about Jesus every Sunday, so Easter didn't feel like anything really different. I know we didn't get Easter baskets, I don't think we even got any candy.
Once I married, Easter became a bigger deal. Both Claire and Giancarlo at least do Easter baskets and some token gifts. Giancarlo's family tends to have a get-together at someone's house. But again, get-togethers happen all the time anyway.
I suppose many self-proclaimed agnostics feels this way about Easter. But I do like chocolate. I do like good food. I even mildly enjoy coloring eggs. I love spring weather and the shades of green of the surrounding hills during springtime.
And what's not to love about a cute, fuzzy, tiny little rabbit?
For fifteen years, I lived without hope. Losing my mother to her horrific battle with breast cancer left me stigmatized, damaged. I felt that cancer was a bigger monster than any of us and that it was hopeless. I resigned myself to the fact that one day, I would die of cancer, too, and that when I received my diagnosis, I would take no action other than to live the time I had left to the fullest. Chemo was a cruel bitch who messed with my head and made us all think our mom might be okay, and I didn't want to put my loved ones through the same thing! Hospitals and needles, and what I thought to be false hope--no thanks.
Then, last year I walked. I spent months raising money and then I walked. The Susan G. Komen 3-day for a Cure replaced my sense of impending doom for myself and everyone else with a very real, very great sense of hope. I learned of the advancements made in cancer treatments. I met, and I embraced many women who fought, and who won. I was made aware of the massive amounts of money that walkers like me were funneling into breast cancer research. I realized that cancer no longer has to be a death sentence.
But it was for my mother. And it was for so many others. A substantial amount of time was dedicated during our walk to those who have been taken. Tears flowed freely down my face and the faces of countless others in memory of these individuals, these mothers, these daughters, these sisters, cousins, aunts grandmothers, and friends.
And for these reasons, I am walking again. I am walking again because now I can see that if we don't give up, we will find a cure. And maybe I will not live in fear and doubt anymore at all. Perhaps I will not worry for my daughters who seem to be genetically predisposed to breast cancer.
Last year, the majority of donations toward my goal of $2,900.00 came from people I have never personally met. I was floored by the generosity that came from people like you, bloggers who share in my determination to put an end to this once and for all.
So, yes, I am asking again. Could you find it in your heart to donate even just a few dollars? Every little tax-deductible bit counts. I know money is tight, for nearly everyone. But I still ask because this is so very important. To all of us.
I've always enjoyed playing games. I have many fond memories of my mother playing cards or checkers with me. From this love for games I grew to enjoy others, like Candyland, Memory, Chutes and Ladders, Sorry, Trouble, Yahtzee, Clue, Stratego (one of my all time favorites), and later on Monopoly. Then came Pictionary (another huge favorite), Charades, Spoons, Uno, Rummikub, Scrabble, Taboo, Scattergories, Outburst, and Guesstures.
A few years down the road, I became involved with and later married a wonderful man. A wonderful man who just so happens to hate games. He has no patience for games. English is his third language, so word games are especially torturous to him. Needless to say, my game playing came to a grinding halt for a while. But then I slowly began playing again with friends and sometimes other family members, and remembered how much I enjoyed them.
The most recent board games that I've played are Loaded Questions (regular and adult versions!), and Catch Phrase. They're both a whole lot of fun, and a whole lot of laughs.
In other game arenas, I spent a couple of months obsessed with PacMan on my phone about four years ago. I spent another couple of months obsessed with Bejeweled on my computer, and Facebook brought Family Feud, and of course, the mind-numbing and addictive Farkle.
and games that can be played on it, a whole new realm of obsession has presented itself. Of course, you may remember the whole Restaurant Story Debacle of February 2011, which led to the continued misbelief out there in the blogosphere that I really do have an actual restaurant called The Jason Show. In fact, some have actually left comments asking for reservations. From Restaurant Story, I moved on to Bakery Story, and I have actually only told that little tidbit to my friend, Cassandra, and Diego; especially after the whole oops-I-dropped-my-phone-in-the-toilet-because-I-was-trying-to-serve-plum-pudding-and-pee-at-the- same-time incident.
And now, coming full circle in a way, my latest obsession is Words with Friends, which is actually Scrabble played on smart phones. I spent the greater part of the day yesterday playing against personal friends and random players alike. Scrabble is the easiest of all games to justify because it is certainly brain exercise.
Games are fun. Games are cheap entertainment. Games are a distraction. Games are an escape.
What are your favorite games? What new games are there that you love to play?
It has been a great week. I spent the first of my three weeks of spring break co-conducting a training for other teachers. The students we were teaching were a joy to work with. The teacher trainees were enthusiastic, polite, and hard working. It was a much-needed shot in the arm, helping me to refocus on what is really important as a teacher.
I went on a couple of very nice long walks with my friend, Pumpkin, and her dog, Rigby.
The weather has been gorgeous.
Yet every day at the end of the day, I come home, and feel myself trying to withdraw from all human contact. Of course, in a large household full of people, that can be somewhat difficult. Our family has been going through a traumatic time, which I have alluded to a few times over the past three weeks. The bottom line is that Ines, our friend who has been with us for six years taking care of Diego, helping out around the house, celebrating holidays with us, going on trips with us, eating meals with us, and just being a part of the family, suddenly gathered her things and left without any prior warning. This was all due to a very unfortunate misunderstanding that didn't even really involve her at all, rather her sister and brothers, with whom she lived on the weekends. Her sister forced her to quit, threatening to disown her if she continued working here, or having anything to do with us.
We are fine without her, practically speaking. Diego is old enough that he doesn't need someone to take care of him every minute. Giancarlo's work schedule is flexible, and the grandparents are here to help out. We can handle the cleaning ourselves. But this has all been devastating emotionally. We loved Ines, most especially Diego.
This has caused emotions to be off kilter around here, and while I've not been a big part of the emotionality, I have wanted to withdraw. But not just from my family, I've felt that need that rears its ugly head periodically to pack up and go live in a shack (albeit nicely appointed) in the middle of nowhere (albeit not too far from civilization) and cut off all contact with the world, except for maybe a land line telephone and a good old-fashioned stack of stationery, envelopes, and stamps. I like to refer to these tendencies in my mind as my "hermithood proclivities."
It almost always happens when I feel overloaded. I know it is almost always a direct result of dealing with people non-stop from sunup to sundown, most particularly all of the contact that comes with being a teacher. I get that. I understand it. But I can't make it go away.
Sigh. I should be grateful that I don't have any bigger problems to worry about.