Monday, May 28, 2012

This Chapter

I have been a very bad food blogger of late, because I've not been much of a cook. In my previous chapter I was inspired and driven to indulge in the fabulous, diverse and luscious vegetable kingdom, but lately I find myself forgetting to eat altogether, and rather than the centerpiece of the family table, my vegan food is now an afterthought since I do feel driven to feed my brood -- omni-healthy, omni-junk, and mostly-veg-but-not-vegan that they are. Above is an example of something good I actually made for myself one weekend. I remember making it from a recipe, but I cannot remember the details. There were lentils, radishes, celery, carrots and a tangy dressing. It was delicious, so I'll have to flip through my cookbooks again to find it. I had designs on packing it up for lunch at work, but, working only 10-2 each day, taking a lunch break doesn't make much sense. Instead, I bring a version of this each day:

That's the second half of my morning green juice, some nuts, raisins, coconut and dark chocolate and a couple of pieces of eziekiel bread with hummus and arugula. I never have more than a couple of bites of the sandwich at work, and instead wolf it down on the way to the grocery store at about 3:00 as I brainstorm to feed the others. Yes, I am losing weight, so I try to purposely include plenty of healthy fats and proteins in my food. Earth Balance, almond butter, dark chocolate, olive oil and tofutti cream cheese figure prominently, and I've also been indulging in something I would have avoided in the past because of the sugar content -- Silk soy milk with fruit juice. It's like melted ice cream to my palate, and gives me much needed afternoon energy.

This is such a strange chapter of my life. I cling to the routine of my wonderful job as it provides me with a deer-in-the headlights break from my continuing grief. I'm cognizant of the unspoken "get-over-it" that many who've not experienced this may now be feeling, so I keep much of it to myself now. Ironically, now -- two and a half months into a world without Jeanine, I'm feeling worse than before. I think I was so amazed at first that I was able to be function that I was feeling a little bit like supergirl, but now that has passed. I do feel good about what I contribute to my world, but I just miss her.

Today's Jeanine story:  My Aunt Gayle told me this story earlier this month -- She's my Mom's sister. Jeanine was well-liked in high school, what some of us might call "popular" Several classmates actually made the trip up to Fredricksburg from Portsmouth for the funeral. Back in high school there was a quiet boy who was characterized as "slow" and kept very much to himself. This was in the days before we diagnosed and treated this sort of thing. Most kids avoided contact with the boy, whether because they were unsure of how to interact with him or for fear of the toll the association might take as they jockeyed for social position. Jeanine always had a kind word for the boy, and really took the time to get to know him. This story was consistent with what I always knew to be true about my Mom -- she was a beauty queen who always put the feelings of others at the top of her priorities. Most folks who had met Jeanine had the experience of really being "heard".  Jeanine's soul was fed by really taking the time to understand the person who she was getting to know. She was a genius at compassion.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

San Fran Odds-n-Ends + Thank You Universe

One of the things I loved about my few days in San Francisco was how wonderful I felt in the morning.   I found myself wide awake in the dark at 5:00 a.m. (that's 8:00 Eastern time) and then I had time to check e-mail while watching the sun rise next to the Transamerica Building. It looks a little short here since it is down the other side of the hill a bit from my vantage point.

We had lunch one day in a little sandwich shop a short walk from the hotel called "Toast". I selected the citrus salad, sans the goat cheese on the crostini. The flavor combination in this salad was eye-rolling good -- pink grapefruit, strawberries, avocado and onion on wild greens, all drizzled with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. YUM! I left many of the raw onions off to the side.

Here's my dinner the night of the ceremony. It was in a brothy sauce that was quite good. I ate a fair amount of white flour products in San Fran, for which I am still paying the price.  I know if I had ventured out on my own I would have easily found whole-grain-and-bean goodness, but the main point was to be with my family, so that's what I did. A few days of double dosing the probiotics and I will be good as new.

Before I close the San Francisco chapter, I must share a "truth is stranger than fiction" story. Upon arriving in San Francisco, I opted to catch a cab to the hotel. I wheeled my carry-on across to the central median where the cabs were lined up. There were four of them, each with the driver standing outside of the car. I liked the looks of the driver furthest away. She was an older lady with white hair punctuated with patches of bright pink and blue. I walked up to her and she opened the trunk and picked up my very heavy bag. I felt guilty. As the trip to the hotel began, we started out with small talk that went deep pretty quickly. I told her why I was there, and about my Mom, and all about the Submariners' League and my grandfather and his loss on the Triton. She asked if I'd ever heard of the Thresher (!)

"Um, yes!" The Thresher was also a submarine which was lost. The cab driver had lost a boyfriend upon that vessel! Without that personal connection, why would this cab driver have even heard of the Thresher? Seriously, how many people even know someone who has been on a submarine, let alone someone who has lost their life on one? "Yes, universe," I was thinking, "I'm paying attention," At that point, I really needed to figure out who this person was, and we were stuck in traffic for an hour, so that worked out.

The driver's name is Murai. Early in her life, when her children were young, she was a clothing designer with I. Magnin in New York. She had about a decade of prosperous years in the designing business, mostly because she had a good friend as a partner who had patience for the less appealing aspects of the business -- the financial and accounting parts. Once that friend married and moved away, Murai realized the project had lost its bloom, and that she had concentration problems which was why the numbers business didn't appeal. Murai resolved to go to school to find out why she had what she self-diagnosed as ADD. She learned a lot about nutrition and holistic healing(!) She took a good look at her life and determined that she liked going to school, she liked creating, and she liked driving. Ever since this realization, she has been a cab driver. She has also been a student for over 40 years, taking classes at community college. For the last several years she has made a point of creating a piece of art every day. Driving cabs affords Murai a comfortable lifestyle, and the ability to travel the world, visiting her grown kids, one of whom lives in Holland. Murai said she never told anyone her age, but she intimated that she was older than my Mom. When we reached my destination, Murai apologized that the fee for the ride was so high. I gave her a 30% tip.

The hour I spent with Murai was a privilege and made me realize that there are no coincidences and there is more going on with the universe than we understand. I had to wonder if Mom had something to do with my crossing paths with Murai.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Reason for the Trip

Here's a precious artifact which figured prominently in the U.S. Naval Submariner's Reunion and accompanying ceremony. This is the original bell from my grandfather's submarine. It was lost for many years, but has now been recovered. Long story short, prior to the U.S.S. Triton SS201's involvement in the Pacific theater of WWII, it was removed from the submarine for stealth reasons, as were all bells of involved ships. Tragically, the Triton and all hands on board were lost in 1943. She has never been recovered.

The Triton 201's bell was placed aboard the next Triton submarine -- the Triton SSN 586, for its historic submerged circumnavigation of the world in 1960, during which the crew performed a ceremony to honor the lost Triton SS201 north of New Guinea, where it is supposed the sub may have gone down. After this historic event, on dry land, a soldier was ordered to have the bell melted down. Instead, he decided to keep it for himself and had it made into the base of a side table. The soldier's grandson was always fascinated with the bell and constantly begged to be able to ring it. When the grandson's mother divorced the soldier's son, she decided to do what she could to return the bell to a more decorous station. She contacted the crew of the USS Triton SSN 586 and arranged to bring it home. We had the honor of meeting this thoughtful woman and her son -- now a 20 year old man. Each of them were finally able to ring the bell.

Before my mother's death last month, she was so excited that she would be able to touch the bell in San Francisco -- the very same one her father must have touched, lovingly polished and rung before the attack at Pearl Harbor. My Mom was only 3 when her Dad was lost, and he was only 28.

Here's my sweet Dad, ringing the bell in honor of my Mom. Dad, Aunt Gayle (Mom's sister), Grandma (Mom's Mom) and I participated in a solomn ceremony before dinner Saturday night, in which my Grandma, age 95, rang the bell slowly three times for her departed husband. She was the only known surviving spouse of a sailor lost on the Triton 201. Grandma is quite a musician, and as such her timing of the tolls was impeccable. It was very moving.

Here I am with Aunt Gayle.

Here's my beautiful Grandma, Elna McKenzie Roop.

Here she is again, along with her sweetheart, my grandfather, Chief Petty Officer Lloyd Charles McKenzie. What a handsome couple!

This is the reason for the San Francisco journey, but I also want to share a few delicious meals I had -- stay tuned for another post soon.