The Gift of Silence

Archived | February 23, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’d spent the day cleaning which I often do on Saturdays and was able to relax in the evening and bake some lemon bars and enjoy the silence the kids left behind and fill it up with my radio show. Probably what I enjoy as much as anything in the world. Thing is, I can do most things I enjoy while I’m listening to the show so it’s like double the joy — baking, dancing, or just relaxing on the couch watching the moon rising on up. And the few things I love I can’t do during the show, well, the kids were out doing ’em this week, and I got to relive it all through the telling when they came back home.
One of ’em was out with her girlfriends, shopping at the mall and walking around and generally having a good ol’ time just talking and laughing and being. They gathered at their favorite restaurant (I loaded ’em up with coupons) and shared a pizza and cherry cokes and some kind of volcanic brownie dessert and I imagine there was some boy-watching involved and giggling and a round of smoothies after lunch and a walk through the bookstore and maybe some truffles at the candy store. Not much of anything at all, but a lovely way to spend a day, with nothing to show for the time but some blue nail polish and some striped toe socks and a new pair of dangly silver earrings.
Another got a decent sunburn while out ice fishing with his grandfather up in northern Wisconsin. Spent the whole day out on the lake and didn’t catch much at all but ice fishing’s not all about catching fish. His grandpa let him drive for the first time ever — out on the lake, even — and they ate tuna fish sandwiches and cookies and drank from a Thermos and he learned how to bait a hook and how to use a tip-up and how to take a fish off the hook and a lot of things he probably didn’t realize he learned while his grandpa talked and he listened. And then he caught what was very likely the smallest fish ever caught while ice fishing — smaller even than some of the bait — and his grandpa told him that it’s much more difficult to catch a small fish than a big one, and he really ought to pat himself on the back.
The third one was wandering around out in the woods somewhere bundled up in snow pants and a parka and warm gloves and a T-shirt underneath because “it’s too warm out to wear long sleeves.” There was exploring to be done and strange tracks to be followed and red berries to be plucked and buds on the bushes and trees. The river ice is breaking up and who couldn’t sit on a rock in the warmth of a February sun and watch a river for hours?
The gift of silence is that it’s generally short-lived, and the kids came back, one at a time, and told their stories over hot chocolate and warm gingerbread. Mr. Sundberg and I listened, and when they were finished, sent them up to bed — shopped-out and red-cheeked and tired. It’s good to have had a good day. Even better when you’ve got someone to tell it to.
Egg Noodle Hotdish
2 lbs. hamburger
1/2 Sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
Brown meat and onion.
2 cans tomato soup
3 oz package cream cheese
3 T Worcestershire
1 1/2 T sugar
Boil 8 oz egg noodles according to directions.
Combine all ingredients in lightly greased 9 x 13″ pan.
Melt 1/4 cup butter and mix with 1 1/2 cups cornflakes and sprinkle over.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

And Now There are All Kinds of Possibilities

Archived | February 16, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was just coming out of one of those three-day mind-bending illnesses where you lie down on Thursday afternoon because you just can’t stand up anymore you’re so sick and you come to and it’s Saturday and there are Eskimo pie wrappers piled up next to your head and your feet are still up on a pillow and all the blood is in your upper body and you can’t tell where you end and the universe begins, but you’re relaxed because you’ve literally slept for days and whatever it was that threatened your life has left the building and now there are all kinds of possibilities.
Taking time to gather yourself is a requirement if you wish to go on living well. Sleep is a big one, and let’s not dismiss its power. Of course, once you’ve gotten enough sleep, though, the cycle begins again. You wind yourself up into yet another frenzy: hurry up and get the taxes done, pick up and drop off the kids, don’t forget the salt for the softener, we’re almost out of propane, somebody called about a donation, where’s the remote, who tracked mud all over the kitchen, why didn’t anyone mention we’re out of milk? And on and on until you’re wound up tight and ready to snap.
If you don’t get sick, something else is bound to happen. Take a little moment; without it, we each might fall apart or dissolve or walk off into the forest. Lucky for us, there are singing telegrams and hot air balloon rides, riding lawn mowers and air horns. You can buy flour in bulk to bake up a storm, take a walk in the February moonlight, dance with your children before they grow up, get some of those paints and go crazy in the tub. Something for everyone in a world that keeps on spinning ’round and ’round. You get enough moments, you have a decent life. Sure you do.
Garlic Roasted Pork
This recipe works for me on a day when I’d rather be out and about. Throw it in the crock pot on your way out the door, and — Voila! — dinner is served upon your return. Whip up some garlic smashed potatoes and blueberry muffins on the side.
1 boneless pork loin roast
2 cloves garlic
2 medium onions
2 bay leaves
1 clove
1 cup hot water
2 T soy
Salt and pepper
Trim excess fat from roast and brown nicely over medium heat in whatever pan you prefer. Peel and thickly slice garlic cloves. Press the tip of a knife here and there into the pork and slide in a slice of garlic. Do this in proportion to how much you like garlic, with 2 cloves as the minimum. Place roast in crock pot along with a cup of water and the bay leaves, clove and soy sauce. Cover with sliced onion; add salt and pepper. Let cook in crock pot on high for an hour and on low after that. A good 4-5 hours ought to do it, depending on the size of the roast.

I take ’em when I can get ’em

Archived | February 9, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. But I went to the show Thursday and it was something else. It’s not often you have the opportunity to actually SEE the show, and some people never have, and I have but have never seen it on the big screen and that kind of appealed to me so I went. And yes, I did say “Thursday” and “big screen” because they did this very smart and fun thing where you could go to a movie theater and there it was — live. No long drive. Reasonable ticket prices. Popcorn. Was the highlight of my week, I’ll tell ya.
I went alone for surveillance purposes, and because I wanted to go alone. I may be an extrovert, but with three kids and a motivational speaker of a husband, I value time alone and take it when I can get it. It’s difficult at times to really take in an experience when you’ve got three smaller people asking for Goobers and pop on one side and one larger person on the other telling you to put a cork in it because people are trying to hear and you aren’t helping things.
What I loved so much? The details. Heather Masse’s dress, and those cowboy boots. Sue Scott’s eyes and Tim Russell’s tie. Fred Newman’s hair. Robin and Linda, period. The overall Elvis Costello and his lonesome stranger train station song. Jearlyn and Jevetta and those voices in the rafters, way up high. And Mr. Keillor. Now. It’s one thing to hear that man tell a story, but to watch his eyes and his hands as he tells it adds a whole nother dimension. I coulda sat there all night and listened to him. I could have, yes. Because there’s not much more beautiful a gift you can get than a story, and they’re few and far between unless you’ve got time on your hands which I don’t, so I take ’em when I can get ’em, and you’ve still got time to get it tonight because they’re playing the show all over again at movie theaters around the country, and if you can’t make it for that, you can listen to it all on the website any time the rest of the week.
(Yes, I know “nother” isn’t a word, but when you’re telling a story, you can futz around like that and only people who really aren’t paying much attention will notice. That I’ve learned along the way.)
Big Heart Cake
This recipe is more a craft project for Valentine’s Day, something you can do with the kids or on your own if you’ve got a friend who likes pink cake, and frosting — someone whom you love.
1 box cherry chip or strawberry or white cake mix
1 container frosting, pink or white
Assorted decorations
Mix cake according to directions. Pour half of the batter into an 8×8 greased and floured square pan, and the other half into a greased and floured round. Bake according to instructions.
When done and cool, remove square cake and place on large, foil-covered piece of cardboard. Cut round exactly in half and place each half along adjacent sides of the square so it forms a Big Heart. Frost with frosting. Decorate as you wish. Write something fun or naughty on the cake, and deliver to the love of your life, the keeper of your destiny, your bridge partner, or the lady next door. Or keep it at home and surprise the kids.

A Room Newly Void of Adolescent Angst

Archived | February 2, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I had a hard time concentrating on things, though, with the kids bickering in the background, so I banished them all to their rooms for the rest of the show. They hauled themselves off up the stairs, making as much noise as three young people can make, muttering under their breaths and closing their doors loud as they could without a Slam.
They must know I love them. How can they not? They’re counting on it. The whole time they’re figuring out who they are, they’re trusting that Mr. Sundberg and I are going to love them through it, even when I want to lock them in the pantry. We’re not their enemies even though it feels like it sometimes. But we’re not their friends, either, and nothing in the world is as painfully refreshing as a room newly void of adolescent angst. Mr. Sundberg looked up from his book and gave me the thumbs-up sign. Let me tell you. I don’t know what it is, but the last few weeks have been a trip through Hormone Hell. Multiply that by three and combine two genders, and you’ve got yourself a challenge. Fasten your seatbelts, lady and gentlemen. Re-surface your helmets and get some acetaminophen. Stock up on vitamins and carbos and mineral water and gear. You’ve yourself an adventure and there are storms in the forecast. A carabiner or two and some good solid rope might be smart. You just never know.
You’re their Most Qualified Guides on The Most Dangerous Journey. Thing is, no one has been on this particular trip, and there are no maps and no instructions worth anything. There’s really only common sense and gut instinct and faith, and a fair amount of wisdom you can tap into if necessary. You do the best you can, and the rest of it is a crapshoot. And if you’re blessed, there will be laughter along the way, and the thought, now and then, “Look at them. Just look at them.”
Mexican Lasagna
This recipe is popular with the kids and their friends on Friday nights when everyone
shows up for movies and general hanging out. Serve it with cornbread and Mexican rice
or a salad on the side.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 1/2 cups chunky salsa
2 1/2 cups water
1 can refried beans
1 pkg lasagna noodles
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 8 oz carton sour cream
black olives as you wish
chopped onion as you wish
1 pkg shredded cheddar cheese (8 oz)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Mix raw beef, beans and taco seasoning. Grease 9×13 cake pan or casserole and alternate 1/3 meat mixture with uncooked noodles, using 3 layers of noodles. Add water and salsa on top. Bake covered at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven. Spread sour cream over, and sprinkle with cheese, and olives and onions if you choose. Bake uncovered 10-15 minutes until it looks about right.