The gumbo mentality

29 November 2010

I’ve been talking a lot about cooking here lately, haven’t I?  I don’t know if it’s the season, or reminiscing about my mom (an excellent cook, says my biased opinion), or it’s just a subject I haven’t worn out yet.  But I do spend a good deal of time each week cooking, and I do enjoy it, so hey, let’s roll with it.

Today, for instance, I spent several hours working on what I call “false gumbo.”  Now I must emphasize the word “false” — this is not something that a native of the Louisiana bayous would consider anything but a malicious Yankee misrepresentation of the dish.  Generic smoked sausage in place of andouille, no crawfish, no okra, no Cayenne pepper … I’m pretty sure that Father Martins, my old Anglican rector (who went to Tulane University in New Orleans), would be appalled by it.  But I like it, and it’s not so spicy that my family won’t eat it.  So there’s that.

As it was simmering, I started thinking about the whole mindset behind gumbo.

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Periodic Pingback: Louis C.K. on how thankful we SHOULD be

26 November 2010

(Blogger’s note: from time to time, I run into something on the Interwebtenternet that’s too good to not share — but I don’t want to clutter up my freinds’ e-mail inboxes with more forwards.  So I put it here.  I call it Periodic Pingback, and I hope you enjoy it.)

Let’s face it — we are very fortunate to live in the time and place that we do.  Life in the developed world in the early 21st century is filled with so many blessings that our minds can get too boggled to be appropriately thankful.

Well, I know mine can.  In fact, so often the sheer tonnage of goodies can so blind me that I start griping when everything isn’t absolutely perfect.  Which is incredibly ridiculous, if you think about it.  F’rinstance, I have a pipeline into my house that brings me news, live sports, weather reports, full-length movies, games, and a library larger than any in existence a hundred years ago, all at the push of a few buttons.  (You’re reading this on it right now; it’s called the Internet.)  I’ve said to my wife, “how did we ever get anything done without the ‘Net?” at least three times in the last week.  And yet if my DSL modem is disrupted for a minute or two, I go out of my gourd.  How’s that for gratitude?

So to bring the perspective on just how good we have it these days, I invite you to watch this clip of comedian Louis C.K. from an old episode of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” where he goes into several examples of how much better things are now than they used to be.  We may not live in a perfect world (far from it), but I’d tend to say this is the best era to live in that’s existed since Eden.  At least until the next one.  Thank you, God.

The first Thanksgiving

25 November 2010

(Blogger’s note: This is sort-of part two of a 2-part reminiscence — you can read part one here.)

It’s 8:45 p.m. as I sit down to type this.  My wife and kids are all in bed.  All the food is packed away.  The house still resonates with the smell of well-roasted turkey and store-bought pie.  I’m sitting her with a steel bottle full of water, wondering how much I’ve added to my waistline in the last twelve hours.

Thanksgiving is over.  And much to my (pleasant) surprise, it went rather smoothly.

Surprise?  Yes, surprise.  Because, for the first time in my life, it was me — not my mom and/or her mom — that was making the Thanksgiving feast.

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Year one

2 August 2010

This is a post I put off for a few days.  I needed to think about it some more before I wrote.

To start with, we need to turn the Wayback Machine to just over a year ago, July 31, 2009.  Nina and the kids returned yesterday from a day trip to see her parents in Cupertino (near San Jose, and  Sean is acting oddly — no energy, not hungry, just not himself.  We’re thinking he might just have a case of heatstroke; it had been a warm day …

Well, if you’ve been in this space for any time, you know it wasn’t heatstroke.  Or a cold.  Or a viral infection.  Or West Nile.  Or epilepsy.  Those were all thrown out as possible diagnoses before tests came back almost forty days later with a clear answer: Leigh’s disease.  What he had, in short, was a death sentence.

Except he didn’t die.  Still hasn’t, actually.  I can only attribute it to the hundreds, possibly thousands of people worldwide who are praying for his healing (and if you’re one of them, THANK YOU!), but he’s become the outlier, someone who’s actually slowly recovering from Leigh’s.  All the doctors and therapists are thrilled and amazed.  The Supermodel and I would be, if we had the energy — taking care of him and helping him in his recovery has been a stressful, exhausting business.  But it’s the war we’ve been called to fight, and we’re willing.

Besides, not everyone gets to fight the war.  And sometimes, people pray and God has other plans …

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Laughs and lessons from the “Satellite of Love”

18 July 2010

Two trends in my life have collided recently.  One is that with all the busyness of taking care of Sean, the rest of the family, the house and grounds, this blog and what-have-you, I have to find some way to relax at the end of the day.  Preferably one that doesn’t cost any extra money.

The other is my on-and-off relationship with popular entertainment, which means that I’ve often missed entire waves of pop culture because I’m simply occupied elsewhere.  (There’s only so many hours in the day, after all.)  For instance, I was largely unconscious of the entire grunge movement in the early ’90s and the Alanis Morrisette thing a few years later.  I’ve never watched a single episode of The West Wing, The Sopranos or Six Feet Under, and only one each of Seinfeld and Frasier.  These were part of the lives of millions of people, but had little or no impact on me.  Sometimes I get caught up after the fact; other times, I’m simply left mystified at the appeal of this or that trend and move on.  (Alanis falls into the latter category for me.  Sorry, ma’am.)

Recently I’ve discovered a one-time pop culture phenomenon that is also serving as a method of relaxation for me.  It’s a little low-budget TV show of recent vintage with the unlikely title of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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Scrubbing the walls — and the silver lining

5 July 2010

Whew, I’m pooped.

Sorry, but it’s been a busy day, including more than the usual amount of physical labor.  In addition to two exercise sessions with my son Sean (still working his way back from Leigh’s disease), I had to get him in and out of the bath, mow the front lawn and — this was the really energy-intensive one — scrub the west wall of our kitchen, including both sides of the door to the utility porch.  So yeah, I’m a little winded.

But also pretty happy.  Doing a lot of stuff means getting a lot accomplished — and it’s really fulfilling to get things accomplished.  Even if they aren’t very important — woo-hoo, I’ve now read over 90% of the novelettes and short stories nominated for the Hugo Awards for science fiction! — it still gives me a good feeling to do and to finish.  I’ve never been one of those people who can float through life without impact; I need to be in the fray or I get depressed.  I’m not depressed right now.

In fact, I’m downright thankful to God for it all.  And that means I’m overdue for another edition of “Polishing the Silver Lining.”  Really overdue — my last official one was in February ’09!  So no more delays — let’s get grateful!

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The complete lowdown on my son

6 April 2010

I apologize for how long it’s taken me (about a month) to post a full recall on what’s happened with my son Sean since August.  Thank you to all of the hundreds of people who have been praying for him or sending your best wishes, from Oregon to Florida and from Scotland to South Africa to New Zealand.  I can’t speak for him, but I know how much my wife and I appreciate it – and I have zero, ZERO doubt that those prayers have been the difference between life and death for him.

But boy, has it been hard to put fingers to keyboard and write about it.  I’ve literally dreaded going back over the eight months of worries and fears, grief and dashed hopes, struggles and stresses and rages and work, work, work, work to try and write something relatively coherent about the whole situation.  A hundred times I’ve pushed myself to get it done, because I want you to know how it’s been and how it’s going … and a hundred times my soul drew back.

But I want you to know, and if you’re new to this blog I want you to join in the fight too.  So (deep, cleansing breath) here goes …

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