How Life is Supposed to Be

Archived | October 9, 2014 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad.  Had to turn it up a bit, though, so I could hear it despite the somewhat insane amount of coughing going on most of the evening. My own coughing. So much coughing, in fact, that I was a bit concerned for the state of my insides. You’d think something deep down where soft tissue meets hard would just give up and let go. But nothing did. It all held together as it’s supposed to, and I made it through the worst days of the first illness of the season without coughing myself into La La Land.

For me, getting sick is quick trip through the grief process. I deny that I’m sick, then I get angry about it.  The third step lasts the longest. I try to strike a bargain with nature, make a deal with my body that if I can do a particular thing, like clean the house or mow the lawn, I’m not really sick. Or if I don’t do something, like stay up too late or do a lot of cooking, that I’m really ok and just a bit overtired. But you can’t make a deal with the Universe when it comes to viral issues, so I kind of cave in, feel a bit down, and offer up acceptance: okay, I’m sick. It’s kind of the same deal as I read forecasts for the coming winter. I see the words “polar vortex”, and think, “no, can’t happen” and then the whole process kicks in: an angry rush, then some “well, maybe it will miss us” (wrong), and then not depression but a big inner sigh, and, “Okay, it’s gonna be really cold; we’ll handle it.”

Thing is, there’s a belief out there that a good, cold winter has a calming effect on our spirits. That a lot of cold and snow is not a bad thing because it feels like how life is supposed to be. I like this. I think it’s true. We live in Minnesota. It’s cold here in the winter. And, I have to say, being sick is kind of calming, too. The body has its own seasons, and we’re not going to feel 100% all along the way. Being sick is a fine reminder of how great it is to feel well. And it’s a good excuse to lay your butt down and let someone you love hover a bit, and bring you some homemade soup and lay a cool palm on your forehead. There is something soothing in a day wrapped in blankets, and the notion of dozing, and a bowl of vanilla ice cream coated with maple syrup waiting there next to you when you wake.

Here’s a recipe I make year-round. Try some pancetta or Italian sausage in place of the bacon, and consider adding some caramelized onion if that’s your thing.

Pasta Carbonara

3 large eggs (as many as 2-4 work fine)
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ – 1 lb bacon
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced and browned in olive oil
⅓ cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
2-4 fresh red chilies (I often use dried)
1 lb dried spaghetti

Combine the eggs and parmesan in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Fry the bacon in a small frying pan until crisp. Remove and break into 1-inch pieces. Gently brown the mushrooms in the bacon drippings. Remove.  Wipe out pan with paper towel. Combine the oil, garlic and chilies in the pan and cook over low heat, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. It should be a pale straw color. Add bacon and mushrooms and heat on low. Stir occasionally.

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving a small measuring cup of the cooking water. Turn the pasta into a bowl (a warm bowl works well). Remove the chilies from the frying pan and pour remaining contents over pasta, then right away the egg and cheese mixture, along with some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Toss well. The hot pasta cooks the egg. Serve immediately, topping with ground black pepper.