I am the oldest of three sisters. Margaret is three and a half and Janet is eight and a half years younger than I am. Being the oldest meant that I participated in childhood holiday traditions longer than I should have just to keep the illusion alive. But while I was keeping the secret on behalf of my younger sisters I was working the system to my advantage.
Easter in my house was always the same. The Easter bunny would deliver baskets to our bedrooms while we slept that had some candy, like peeps and jellybeans and a large chocolate bunny or big cream filled egg in it. Then the bunny would hide chocolate foil wrapped eggs all over the rooms we called the big living room and the little living room. These eggs would be for the “hunt” we would have at a reasonable hour before church.
Before Janet came along I always received a bigger basket than Margaret just because I was older, although I think the bunny put an equal amount of candy in each at the delivery. This is something no one could ever prove because Margaret would get up in the morning and before we were allowed out of our rooms for the hunt she would eat all the pre-basketed candy.
I am a real candy lover so Easter was a highlight of the year. But not all candy was created equal in my book. I did not and do not like peeps or black jellybeans. All things chocolate would be at the top of my must have list followed by red and pink jellybeans.
I do not know how old I was the first time that I rearranged the basket contents, but I do know that I took the older sister advantage more than once when it came to Easter baskets. See, I would wake up in the middle of the night, sometime between the departure of the bunny and sunrise. I would sneak into Margaret’s room and get her basket and bring it into my room where I would take all her red and pink jelly beans and give her all my black ones and all my peeps. Then I would quietly put her basket back beside her bed without disturbing her.
Then I would slink up the back barn steps that went from my room to the big living room and in the dark of the night I would look all around the two hunt spaces and scope out where the shinny foil wrapped eggs were. This ensured that when hunt time came I would be faster and better at getting more eggs.
This plan worked perfectly because Margaret always ate her whole basket before anyone could get a look at what was in it and since she ate it before she even saw my basket she was none the wiser. I look back on the hunt as the most unfair, not only had I pre-hunted, but I was so much older that I had a huge advantage anyway. Pictures from the time of us in our Easter dresses and hats holding our baskets, mine overflowing with candy and Margaret’s a plastic grass utopia are evidence of the unfairness.
I long ago confessed to Margaret and apologized for taking advantage. I was probably doing her a great favor by keeping some of candy from her. What I wish was that someone had taken my candy. I certainly did not need it and wish I never developed such a love of the sweet stuff.
This is a story sent to me by my friend and fellow Food Bank Board Member Ed Carney. It was sent to Ed by his good friend Joe Leveille. Other than that I do not know it’s origin, but felt that as Lent ends it is a great story to share.
I sat with a friend in a high-class coffee shop in a small town near Venice, Italy. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside us.
He called the waiter and placed his order saying, “Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.” We heard this order with some interest and observed that he was served with only one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall with the words written ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, “Two on the table and one on the wall.” They had only two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time again, the waiter did the same; he pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying, ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
It seemed that this gesture was a norm at this place. However, it was something unique and perplexing for us. Since we had nothing to do with the matter we finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.
After a few days, we happened to visit this coffee shop again. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man entered. The way the man was dressed did not match the standard nor the atmosphere of the coffee shop. Poverty was evident from the look on his face and his attire. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said, “One cup of coffee from the wall please.” The waiter served a coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity.
The man drank his coffee and left without paying. We were amazed to watch all this when we also noticed that the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the dust bin. Then it dawned on us what this custom was all about. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town welled up our eyes with tears.
Coffee is not a need of our society, nor a necessity of life. The point to note is that when we take pleasure in any blessing, maybe we also need to think about those people who appreciate that specific blessing as much as we do but they cannot afford to have it.
Note the character of the waiter, who is playing a consistent and generous role to get the communication going between the affording and the needy with a smile on his face.
Ponder upon this man in need. He enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem. He has no need to beg for a free cup of coffee. He only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.
When we analyze this story, along with the other characters, we need to remember the role played by the wall that reflects the generosity and care of the dwellers of this town. What a way to show compassion and maintain human dignity for all.
Rachel Ray’s TV show was on in the kitchen this morning as I was passing through on my way to the garage. As I walked past I heard her say that March is Freezer month, which is only appropriate since it has been freezing almost all month. As I came back through the kitchen on my way to the sunroom I heard Rachel encouraging people to cook double amounts of soups and stew and fill their freezer.
Really? I am wondering how many of you have much empty space in your freezer. I know that a full freezer is more efficient at keeping things cold, what with all those frozen blocks of meat acting as chillers. What I think Rachel should have emphasized is that everyone should eat the stuff already in his or her freezers.
I have a problem with preparing too much food. It started as a child when my parents used to call me by my nickname, “Feed the 5000.” The biblical reference was lost on me then, but I knew it meant I had made too much. So the freezer became the refuge of the enormous leftovers. The only problem is that once something went into the freezer it rarely reappeared on the table. This is still the case today.
My child loves frozen food as long as it comes from a box with a pretty picture on it that is no way ever resembles the actual contents. She would rather eat a lean cuisine that almost any yummy homemade thing I concoct. Perhaps I need to print out the photos I take of food and paste them to the Tupperware of my leftovers in the freezer. Not only might Carter be more interested in them I too would at least be reminded of the work and cost that went into making the food and actually serve it again.
Since March only has two days left I am not worried about you celebrating Freezer month by rushing out and buying more frozen products. I am going to take it upon myself to declare that April is “Eat what’s in your Freezer” month. Pick one night a week, say Tuesday and just pull something out of the freezer every Tuesday for dinner until you don’t have anything left except Margarita mix and something wrapped in foil which is undistinguishable and then throw that away.
This might be the best diet tip I ever came up with since freezer burn might have rendered all my choices inedible. I will let you know how it goes from my end. Let me know if you find any hidden gems in your freezer. But if you find actual gems, don’t eat them. Just find another place to hide them. The freezer is one of the first places robbers look for valuables.
It helps when everyone in the family is interested in eating something healthy. I bought a spaghetti squash and thought that others might eat it if they had a great sauce to put on it.
Make a poaching liquid for the meatballs
1 large yellow onions – chopped
5 carrots – peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
4 cloves of garlic grated
2 14 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 cup of water
Put the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a stockpot and cook on medium high for about 5 five minutes. Add everything else and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
While the pot is coming up to boil make the meatballs
20 oz. ground turkey breast
½ red onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic- grated
1 egg- beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup minced flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup minced fresh basil
½ t. red pepper flakes
½ t. garlic powder
1 jar of tomato sauce
2 T. tomato paste
5 Splenda packets
Mix together gently and form into ball about the size of golf balls. Add carefully to poaching liquid just at a simmer. Pour one jar of tomato sauce over the top of meatballs. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the meatballs and increase the heat to high and boil the sauce adding the tomato paste and Splenda. Reduce the sauce by about half.
Since Russ was in San Francisco last night and Carter had finished up her Science Independent Project she and I decided that a quick dinner out was the right thing to do. We just went to a family style restaurant, nothing special, but Carter was thrilled not to have to eat the green beans and broccoli I was planning on serving.
The good thing for me about going to dinner with a fourteen year old is that I can indulge my love of eavesdropping on other people’s conversations while Carter is busy texting. Yes, I admit I listen to what is going on at the tables around me. It is all I can do not to comment or weigh in on whatever fight or discussion people are having. The way I see it is that if you don’t want people to hear, you should talk about it in the car, otherwise it’s fair game for my entertainment.
Last night we were seated in a booth that backed up to a father and his sons, ages about four and six. It was obvious to us that these children rarely went to anything more than a fast food restaurant and were having the time of their lives.
Here is the conversation we overheard that really made us smile:
Younger boy: When is the food coming?
Older boy: Yeah, I’m hungry.
Father: I’m sure the waiter will bring it soon.
Younger boy: What are you talking about? I am the waiter.
Older boy: No, you are the customer.
Younger boy: No, I am the one waiting for food, so I am the waiter.
It all made sense to us and was so much more fun to listen to that the three adult daughters and their 70 year old mother whose birthday it was who did not like one drink the poor waiter brought them and sat silently when they weren’t sending things back to the bar. I’ll take kids to listen to over pouting adults anyday.
Today after Yoga I went to coffee with my friends Sara and Michelle. Since we had all been in Yoga together it seemed perfectly fine to be in public for coffee together in our Yoga pants. Michelle and Sara looked better than I did post Yoga. Perhaps I should have put some make up on to go to class, but since I tend not to look at my face in the mirror because I am busy trying to judge if my shoulders are down and back or my leg is straight I skip it.
After whiling the rest of the morning away discussing important issues like drivers ed, we finally broke up since the lunch crowd was showing up in real clothes, except for one friend who was in her tennis clothes.
I was starting to get self-conscious about being out so late in Yoga clothes, no make up, hair, which had not been washed and had been hanging upside down for a while so it stuck into an odd-do. What I really wanted was an sign on my chest that read, “Yes, I actually was at Yoga, I’m not just slumming it.”
Apparently I am not the only person her feels this way because when I went to pick up after school today a friend told me she was not getting out of her car because she was still in her Yoga pants. I asked if it was because she was wearing Luluemon see through Yoga pants and she said, no. This particular friend is tall, thin, incredibly athletic and looks great in a potato sack so if she was feeling uncomfortable being in her Yoga pants at 3:30 then I felt perfectly justified that I felt that way just hours before.
Why do the tennis people not feel uncomfortable being out in their little skirts, while Yoga pant wearing elicits some sort of guilt? I actually did Yoga today and yes it is not quite the work out tennis is, but my Yoga pants are the same thing I will wear to work out with my trainer tomorrow and that is an hugely butt busting activity much more strenuous than a doubles tennis game.
Since I don’t have a sign to wear announcing why I am dressed the way I am I will declare it here for good. If you see me and I have Yoga pants on I recently must have been exercising. Don’t think I am slumming it; I would have my jeans on if I was doing that. If I am really dressed up I had a meeting with someone who does not know me well or someone I was asking for money. Now you know you may want to avoid me if you see me coming in anything but jeans, I am either smelly or am going to ask you for money.