Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Changing Nature of Friendship

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." —Earnest Benn

I ran into a friend I had not seen for a decade. It was great to see her until…her mouth moved past the niceties. She waxed evangelistic about her fiery passion—religion and politics. I was shocked by how much she had changed. Her tone, demeanor and conversation?

Angry. Hardcore rage.

I recalled a sweeter, gentler, kinder, more compassionate person. Her husband, a big wig in the movement, receives a handsome salary to express his opinion and fight against those tearing holes in the fabric of our frayed nation. They could well afford their points of view. But what bothered me most was her attitude seeping through every breath and pore.

As she lectured, fear permeated her talking points. I sensed any attempts to engage in any conversation would divide us and further inflame her, heaping fury and disdain upon 'uninformed' me. Questioning her assumptions or challenging her thinking would blast a hole in the stratosphere.

After all, she made one thing clear: She knows she's right. Period. End of discussion.

And I wondered, Where is God in her thoughts, life, conversations, and relationships?

Her battle cries seemed more about taking control over those who differ theologically and politically or those who sin, which even the Holy Spirit seems to have difficulty influencing.

Saddened, I walked away knowing she probably had no idea how she'd changed. But I also felt relieved that she was no longer a constant in my life. I could not live within the confines of her brand of intellectual, political and religious correctness.

I've stood my ground regarding God's precepts, but I'm not obsessed with throwing verbal darts at those who need the Lord most. In the past our conversations centered on God's Word and living in a way to help others understand who he is. Now her hellish rhetoric and religious wrath revolted me—but not in the way she wanted to revolutionize my thinking.

I found nothing about her fanatical dialogue, conversation or demeanor that acknowledged God or that drew me towards him.

Just the opposite. Her god repulsed me.

What about those who do not know the Lord of the universe?

A relationship with God is the art of looking for inner harmony with His Word, finding the bridge of peace with those with whom we disagree, diagnosing the world's woes with a deep sense that God works everything together for everyone's good, and applying God's remedy—loving our fellow man—no matter how fallen.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Taste Bud Burnout

"Food is, delightfully, an area of licensed sensuality, of physical delight which will, with luck and enduring taste buds, last our life long." — Antonia Till

My taste buds are dying.

Tired of only warm or bland, they screamed for every jar of hot peppers all the way down the condiments store aisle. My IBS gurgled, "If you buy it, I'll make you pay."

How did my taste buds woo an incorrigible pepper-hater? A month in Thailand tainted my tasting habits. Fried fragrant rice. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Duck and fresh fish. Spicy chili paste. Hot peppers, garlic and spicy ginger. They raced through my gastrointestinal track like an Olympian rushing to win the gold, they also seduced my appetite for zing. A trip to a Thai pharmacy solved the intestinal rage problem. I bought every charcoal tablet on their shelves. They laughed.

Silly American.

I enrolled in a cooking school. Every morning three tiny red peppers lay beside our cooking utensils. With fear and trepidation, I tried only half of one pepper on the first day. By the end of the class? I'd doubled my pepper consumption to a whopping—one.

When I returned to the States, everything I ate for a month tasted, well, tasteless. Fast food flavored on the dull side of salty, seemed flat. Store bought fresh fruits and vegetables? Unripe. Blah. Bleh! I missed duck and fresh fish. I craved flavors exploding in my mouth, leaving a satisfying intense aftertaste. Someone suggested taking vitamin C and zinc to restore my taste buds. I craved Chipotle Mexican Grill's burrito with extra green peppers and red onions and salsa and Panda Express Orange Chicken. Then I discovered Caravelle sweet chilli sauce, the secret ingredient in orange chicken.

Resurrecting My Taste Sensations

My savory and sour sides felt bitter, demanding equal nibble time with sweet and salty. I searched for tart and spicy recipes. Just reading them awakened my taste buds. Often when I try a new recipe, it fails to meet my taste buds' expectations. Sigh. After a few spicy adjustments, it's worth keeping. Here are some simple ways I super-stimulate my taste buds.

  • Add ginger, garlic, vegetables, and fried rice to scrambled eggs.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of cinnamon to sweeten oatmeal.
  • Substitute 2 Tablespoons of salsa instead of salad dressing to a romaine lettuce salad.
  • Use sea salt instead of table salt on steak.
  • Sprinkle oregano on green peppers and red onion, and stir fry.
  • Sprinkle dill on steamed salmon.
  • Mix equal parts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over romaine lettuce sprinkled with feta or blue cheese.
  • Sprinkle chicken with Lawry's lemon pepper and seasoning salt, then grill on the barbeque.
  • Add five spice and cinnamon to banana bread or oatmeal cookie batter.
  • Put fresh garlic and fresh rosemary to mashed potatoes.
  • Marinate meat in garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
  • Steam all vegetables without salt. Rediscover their flavor.
  • Steam green beans covered in crushed garlic and virgin olive oil.
  • Brine poultry in garlic and kosher salt.
  • Insert garlic, lime and ginger into pork roast, then cook on a rotisserie so the flavors and juices permeate the meat.
  • Insert garlic (lots) into prime rib, and then pack salt around it. Marinate it for 24 hours, and then cook on a rotisserie.
  • Roast fresh tomatoes, red onion, yellow and red peppers, and fresh basil in the oven for several hours.

Make Your Tongue Smile

Tingle those taste buds. Life is far too short at my age to not to eat food that excites my senses. And I plan to make every bite count.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Joys and Frustrations of Seeing the World Through Blurry Eyes

"Bifocals effectively work the same way they have since they were invented by Benjamin Franklin. But as any of more than 40 million people in America who need bifocals know, they're a pain."—Nasser Peyghambarian

I thought growing older stole my eyesight. However, my twenty-something daughter-in-love claims her pregnancy made her go blind. Her friend told her that when she quits nursing my precious first granddaughter, her sight might return. Her beautiful blue eyes don clear contacts, mine struggle to find the right position on my bifocals to turn blurs into clear focus.

I makes me angry to stop, then search for my mislaid bifocals to catch the clasp on a necklace or to find a matching pair of pierced earrings or to find the numbers on my cellphone or to read a book.

I wish my car keys and bifocals quietly beeped when lost, "I'm over here. Please don't sit on me." After loosing or breaking 50 pairs of $1 glasses from the Dollar Store, I decided to invest in a good pair of glasses, thinking the $700 price tag would motivate me not to misplace them.


Menopause and estrogen loss is not kind to instant recall.

Instead of groping around to find my bifocals, I'm thankful that at least I can see them. When I was younger, I tried to make sense of our world. I saw issues in black and white.

Impatient. Rigid. Judgmental.

Over the years, my biases blurred to a kinder, gentler view.

Patient. Merciful. Forgiving.

Now I reserve my impatience for frustrating searches to locate my bifocals that have gone astray.

Hopefully, I won't cling to old-fashioned prejudices that make me a pain. I pray for spiritual insight to make up for my loss of physical sight.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How Did This Happen?

“The soul is born old but grows young. That is the comedy of life. And the body is born young and grows old. That is life's tragedy.”—Oscar Wilde

I recall being the young woman, wife and mother with the svelte figure, smooth, unwrinkled skin, energy plus, and eyes that could see without bifocals. Where did she go so quickly?

Fast Forward to Now
I'm a grandmother. How did this happen? I still feel young, but my body has begun telling me otherwise. My six-week old granddaughter was doing her evening fussy aerobics, which reminded me. Why did God make children energetic and parents and grandparents tired? Shouldn't it be reversed?