Letting Go

My cousin Alli holding her dad’s hand. After he lost consciousness, three days before he died. Their last photo together, of a sort.

I stayed with my aunt last week, joyfully helping, with medicine and cooking and comfort and company. I spoon fed and soothed the night terrors of a man who once terrified child me with his mad driving of an impossibly cool Fastback Mustang. How strange the tides of time.

I brought enough books and magazines and craft supplies for ages of reading and fiddling and doing. We made cute felted wool pixie dolls (no photo, drat). We watched hour after hour of Brad’s cool car shows and my aunt’s favorite dramas. We talked.

Of the past – the sweetest memories of me watching my aunt carefully applying makeup while listening to Bread on the hi-fi. How she still has the album in her collection. Of the first time she made Ro-Tel dip and I, as a cheese loving maniac, devoured it and have since eaten just about every spicy melted cheese I can get my hands on. Her, too. We enjoyed this while I was there. It was gone lickety-split quick.

Of the future and letting go. The first time she’d be on her own, after forty-six (!) years of marriage. The hush of a home occupied by one. A life entirely of her choosing, what to do, how to be. The fearful thrill of the unknown. My love for her, then and now.

In conversation with her daughters, my cousins, I was confronted with my own letting go. It was assumed that there was bitterness on my part, my lack of relationship with certain relatives was somehow eating at me. Quite the contrary, being in a relationship with my abusers was a great source of anxiety and pain.

I once read about a psychological study that involved a subject sometimes receiving food after pressing a button and other times receiving a shock. The subject basically went crazy because they never knew what they would get. That was me. When I interacted with my tormentors, sometimes they’d be friendly, shower me with kindness, gifts even. The next time, they’d be cruel, insult me, or blame me for something entirely out of my control. Oh, the wild anxiety, fretfully anticipating what each interaction would bring. Nausea. Headaches. Physical pain.

When I finally ceased all contact, it melted away. I found myself happier and peaceful, able to sleep through the night, at ease in my own skin. The only source of anxiety or bitterness I have felt since is at the hands of the so-called “helpful” who think my lack of interaction is somehow sad or harmful or foolish or whatever. That my life is their business and I ought to behave differently.

Sad is when I disregard my own sanity and safety to forge a relationship for the benefit of others. I’m glad I know better now.

It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

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Golden Milk

I searched for a quotation about the full body pleasure of a hot drink on a cold night, but only found randy-leaning collections on the virtues of bodies exuding a heat not found in the sun. Sigh. So only the photos and a wish for the right words to come. Happy Thursday!

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Happy 2020! I hope your holiday celebrations were as lively and enjoyable as ours. This was our not-so-fancy Christmas dinner: pan roasted chicken thighs, roasted asparagus, sliced cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. No pie and lots of movie watching and puzzle making! It was the best day.

Fear not about the pie, however, as we spent Boxing Day with the local cousins (yay!), and our contribution was a ham, homemade fudge (walnut & cranberry pecan), homemade maple cream liqueur (scroll down for the recipe), spiced wine, and a bourbon pecan pie. You know, all the essential food groups.

It was a grand day of eating, chatting, D & D (our party continues to slay), more eating, a little drinking, and watching a couple episodes of The Mandalorian. We are actually in the know on a current event! Ha. That Baby Yoda is adorable.

We were also up late enough with weather fine enough for a midnight stroll (Juniper was ecstatic to be out so late, little cutie) to witness the annual AdAmAn display on top of Pike’s Peak. It only took three years! If you don’t know about it, it’s a group of climbers who endure a freezing hike the two days prior to New Year’s and set off fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Greg and I are not generally keen on fireworks in a been-there-done-that kind of way, but this display really is something, illuminating the peak in spectacular fashion! Here’s looking forward to next year…

And to yesterday’s lunch – a zucchini, apple, dried cranberry, and feta salad, with a little apple cider vinegar reduction dressing. The tops! All the basic holiday food groups were a bit excessive, so we are doing a much needed reset. The body brims with gratitude.

And if you are any kind of maple fan, you will be grateful for this recipe! Our friend Alex is Canadian and gave us this delicious Maple Cream Liqueur from Cabot Trail. We absolutely love it, but it isn’t available in the United States. Sadly, there isn’t anything quite like it here, and as I scoured the internet for recipes, came up blank. So I did a bit of tinkering and ended up making a version I actually feel is superior. It is SO easy, too.

Maple Cream Liqueur

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup gold rum (I like Bacardi), whiskey would also be wonderful

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Mix maple, your booze of choice, and the cocoa powder in a mixer or with a hand blender until smooth. I tried to do this with a whisk, but the cocoa powder is super finicky and kept floating on top. Add the whipping cream and mix on low just until combined. You don’t want to make it frothy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve over ice or in your favorite cup of coffee. I have no idea how long this keeps because it’s too good to not want to drink. Enjoy!!

Puzzle Season

Forever is composed of nows.

Emily Dickinson

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