Leap Day Camelias



A Moment of Clarity

Just reposting this because I’m so happy for all the William & Alistairs out there.


William and Alistair were the first gay couple I ever knew. I have known them as far back as I can remember. They lived in the house next to my grandparents farm. William’s family had used the former colonial inn as a summer house for years, and now William and his partner Alistair lived there year round. On summer vacations as an only child expected to entertain myself, I would often wander next door to William and Alistair’s house. I would play in their beautiful gardens, sometimes being invited in to chat.  William was a schoolteacher and Alistair just liked to talk, so there was always something interesting to discuss- a Luna moth I’d seen, the meaning of an epitaph on a headstone in the cemetery across the road, or  stories from their own childhoods in Holland and New York. Their two golden retrievers accompanied me for many long happy walks in the woods and fields…

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My Idiotic Bucket List: An Update

Back in 2012 I posted My Idiotic Bucket List.
It was one of those spur of the moment, hastily written posts that now leaves me scratching my head and thinking “That was your list? Really?” I guess it’s OK. I might want to give it some more thought. But in the meantime, thanks to the people at Pulse, I am checking one thing off my list, which is/was #9: Get one thing published. Although my little story is not published on actual paper, it had to go through an editor and be accepted and lord knows this might never happen again!- so I’m counting it. I am very flattered that they felt it worthy of their publication because just like here on WordPress, there are some truly talented authors and fantastic writing over at Pulse. If you are at all interested in reading firsthand accounts of aspects of the healthcare experience, I urge you to check them out. Here is my first ever published piece:

And since I took one thing off my list, I’m going to add something, and that is:
Go to a They Might Be Giants concert with Erik. They were in Chapel Hill and Charlotte last year and we missed both shows. It was a most epic of failures. Next time they’re here in NC, even if we have to totally skip school and work, we’re GOING.

Valentine’s Day Message

Today at the nail salon I happen to notice I have a voicemail on my phone. I don’t recognize the area code. I Google it and see it is a Florida area code. I settle back in the chair, feet soaking in the hot water and dial voicemail…waiting to hear the message. A soft southern accented, slightly quavery voice begins to sing.
“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Master Gunneryyy. Your sister loves you… and so does Leeza.” There is a pause and then the voice says: “I may have gotten the day wrong. Well, if somebody’s listening to this, I’m not crazy, I’m just ninety. God bless you. I love you.” End of message.
I giggle and tell Tina. She laughs “Aw, you should call her back.”

I wait until I leave the noise of the salon and am standing in my driveway at home to call. It’s been so dreary the past few days and the sun feels good on my face. The phone rings a few times and then picks up. I recognize the voice. Before I can say anything, her answering machine picks up and we both wait patiently until it finishes, just like my own grandmother and I would do when I used to call her. I explain who I am and she is understandably a little confused.
“Is this Christina?”
I explain again.
“Oh. I was trying to call my brother who lives in Jacksonville, NC”
“I live in Jacksonville, NC too. Your brother and I must have similar numbers.”
“My brother is 89 years old.” Her voice sounds wistful to me, as though she can hardly believe her little brother is that age. I see in my head a photograph of my own grandmother with her brother and sister from the 1920s; their little booted feet, their faces serious. “He’s a retired Master gunnery Sgt. He fought in three wars.”
I tell her my husband is also a retired Marine. We chat for a few minutes and then she thanks me rather formally, calling me ma’am and telling me she was glad she was close to the phone and was able to take my call. I tell her to take care and we say good-bye.

After I hang up I stand there for a while next to the car. Maybe it’s because I lost my last grandparent a year ago in December; my grandfather who was 90 and a World War II vet, but I suddenly feel transported to the kitchen of their house in Florida. The phone with the over sized numbers hangs on the wall. All our numbers in Gram’s handwriting are there on a manila folder tacked to a corkboard. I am filled with such an intense longing to hear their voices, my eyes tear up. Happy Birthday Master Guns. God bless you. Your sister loves you and she’s not crazy, just ninety. I wish I could hug you both.

How to Make Nutritionally Dubious Enchiladas the Way ~K Does

Step 1.
Give in to requests to make Enchiladas and get ingredients at store.
You will need:
1 package tortillas. I like Banderita, myself. But that’s just me.
1 big or 2 small packages of ground beef.
An onion
A bell pepper
2 cans of enchilada sauce
Sour cream
Monterey Jack cheese, 2 blocks
1 large package of shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 packet of toxic burrito or taco seasoning.

Step 2.
A day or two after buying the above ingredients, go to kitchen

Step 3.
Realize the ground beef is still frozen solid in the freezer and those little metal clampy things on the ends of the package will preclude defrosting in the microwave.

Step 4.
Announce that we will have to go out for Chinese tonight instead. Try to sound convincingly disappointed.

Step 5.
The next day, repeat Step 2.

Step 6.
Plug in MP3 player to kitchen speakers and open cabinet where K-cups are kept. Fret that there will not be enough to last until the next club shipment and tell self you’ve had enough coffee today anyway, so forget the coffee.

Step 7.
Remember this is not Soviet Russia and you can get K-cups anywhere any old time.

Step 8.
Make a cup of Italian Roast.

Step 9.
Stand around drinking it while sorting through a pile of mail on the kitchen table.

Step 10.
Eventually look for glass baking dish. It is not in the cabinet.

Step 11.
3 quarters of an hour later, finally discover the dish on the floor of your son’s bedroom where he is using it to sort this gigantic pillow case full of coins he has been amassing under his bed, into those little bank roll things. Also discover the missing marinade container and that deviled egg platter thing.

Step 12.
Marvel at the amount of money your son has collected (>$500!) and suggest he take you out to dinner with that money. Say you're just kidding. Try to sound like you mean it.(This is an optional step)

Step 13.
Repeat step 2. Glance at clock. Rinse dish.

Step 14.
Squish the ground beef out into a big sauté pan and brown it.

Step 15.
While it’s browning chop up onion and pepper. Realize you should have done this step first and after sautéing veggies, added the beef. Shrug. Keep going.

Step 16.
Cut up Monterey Jack cheese into chunks, a chunk for each tortilla. Give a piece to your adoring canine companion who is gazing up at you with a look that you know says “You are the best chef and mommy ever.” Reply “Aww, thanks, baby girl.” Give her another piece of cheese.

Step 17.
Dump contents of enchilada sauce cans into saucepan turn heat to medium

Step 18.
Stir the beef and onion and pepper mixture. Think you should drain beef but this super expensive Emeril pan G bought is just too damn heavy.(Seriously, it must weigh like, 50 lbs. Emeril doesn’t look that strong on tv) Decide to skip that step, rationalizing you’re using 97% lean beef anyway.

Step 19.
Give Blossom another piece of cheese when she wags her tail to let you know she thinks you made the right decision. As per always.

Step 20.
Add toxic flavor packet to ground beef according to directions.

Step 21.
Glop some sour cream into pan of enchilada sauce and stir it in, until the sauce turns a nice orange color.

Step 22.
Pour a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of baking dish. And then in a pie plate.

Step 23.
Realize you forgot to turn oven on. Do that now. 350 degrees sounds about right.

Step 24.
Dip each tortilla in sauce in pie plate and flip over coating each one. Spoon some beef mixture in each and one chunk of Monterey Jack. Then roll up tortilla and place in dish. Warning! This is a very messy step.

Step 25.
Repeat this step until you have run out of tortillas and filled the dish, all the while trying to guesstimate how much beef to put in each one so there will be enough for each. Wind up with one very overstuffed enchilada.

Step 26.
Pour all remaining sauce over the top and dump bag of grated Mexican cheese over everything and place in oven for 30 minutes, give or take.

Step 27.
Survey kitchen and smile with a sense of a job well done and the carb-o-luscious nutritionally dubious meal that will be ready in just under 30 minutes.

Step 28.
And the grateful husband and son who will eat said nutritionally dubious meal.

Step 29.
And the fact that someone else is going to clean up.

Step 30.
Give the dog some cheese.

Buen Provecho!