Monthly Archives: July 2018

In Which I Invite the Healing Winds to Dance

I woke today with the cool air of a Delta morning skittering through the open window. I let it nourish me, let it touch my cheek and soothe my brow.  I stretched my arms toward the low ceiling of my daybed cupboard, the ceiling on the other side of the floor where my feet now rest.  My joints protested eight hours of rigid stillness, the state into which spasticity settles on sleep.

I chuckle as I contemplate my frozen limbs.  When I go to the doctor, they often say, Relax, as they prod my muscles or nestle an electrode into the crooks of my legs.  Few over the years amend their admonishment to realistic instruction.  Relax as well as you can, my current Stanford doc will say.  He raises the needle over my calf and grins.  He knows that tightness plagues me, that anything less eludes me.

In the mind, too, I remain alert.  Through some mad instinct for survival, I reside in a state of cognitive hyper-vigilance which matches the failure to flex of my legs.  I cannot tell my heart to stand down, as much as I yearn to do so.   After years of grief, the awkward wince comes natural to me.  I don’t even notice it any more.

But here in California, maybe something sweeter wafts through open windows.  Perhaps I left the poison behind me as I drove west.   Certainly the nearness of the ocean eases my heart.  After all, that organ also  flutters to the wild jerk of my erratic nervous system.  I should not be surprised that it needs a special balm.

I can’t do anything about the jolts of electricity which stagger along my nerves or the scars of heart and mind.  I can’t change the past, nor can I undo the damage done to me.  But I can raise the window to admit the cleansing air.  I can invite the wind to dance.  I can spread my arms to welcome its embrace.  That much I can do.  I don’t know whether the lively breezes of the California Delta have strength enough to sweep the debris from  my heart.  Nonetheless, I shall keep the windows open wide enough to let them try.

It’s the thirteenth day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.





Whatever Works, Kitchen Edition

When you run out of enjoyable books to read, don’t want to get drunk, and have not recently gotten a gift of chocolate, what else can you do but cook?

I find creating lovely goodies in my tiny kitchen quite relaxing.  As I’ve not shared a recipe in a while, here’s my attempt to make gluten-free stove-top skillet cornbread.  I’ll comment as we go!  So let’s get cooking!

I began by reading a number of stove-stop cornbread recipes and settled on taking Martha Stewart’s recipe and fiddling with it.  Gasp!  I know, sacrilegious, right?   But her recipe gave me the proportions.  I adjusted to accommodate my particular issues.  If you don’t want to adapt to be gluten-free as I did, you can try her version as presented.  Note:  She doesn’t list all the ingredients at the top, so start by reading her recipe all the way. I think she doesn’t list the water but there might be other items omitted.

Here’s my recipe, with somewhat blurry photos (flour on the cell phone lens will do that!):

My Ingredient List:                                                   My tool list:

GF All-purpose flour, ¾ c.                                       9-inch cast iron skillet
Yellow cornmeal, 1-1/4 c.                                       12-inch or larger cast iron skillet
5 T coarse organic sugar                                         Lid for 9-inch OR i for the 12-inch
Baking powder, 2-1/2 t.                                           Large mixing bowl
Salt, 1 t.                                                                      Small mixing bowl
Almond milk, ¾ c.                                                    Whisk
Lemon juice, 1 t.                                                      Measuring spoons
Butter, melted, 3 T.                                                 Measuring cups
Oil to coat pan

Basically, you’re going to combine the dry ingredients (Flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in the large bowl.  You’re going to melt the butter and combine egg, milk, lemon juice, and butter in the small bowl.  Then you’ll put the wets into the dries and stir until combined.  Oil the small skillet and put it into the large skillet.  Pour the batter into the small skillet, cover the skillets, and cook on low heat until firm and golden brown on the edges.  I used the two skillets to avoid having to re-oil the pan at the 35-minute mark and to be sure it didn’t burn.  Enjoy!


I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Experiment or try my version — but let me know how yours tastes.  A good cornbread can improve your mood just as quickly as the finest chocolate!

It’s the twelfth day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Whatever Works

People employ various means of dealing with sadness, depression, despair, and grief.  Some people shop.  Others drink — I don’t mean water.  Still others use drugs to dampen their feelings, or chocolate, or cappuccino.

Me?  I read.

I’m struggling to see the sunny side of life these days.  Oh, not my blessings — those I feel keenly.  But I strain to detect any silver lining to a massive cloud hanging over me.  Last Sunday, I realized that I had scrolled through Facebook for two hours straight and couldn’t remember a single status of any of my family or friends.  My eyes did not see; my mind did not absorb; my heart did not react. I just scrolled.

I logged into Kindle Unlimited, and flipped through the Recommended for You section.  Be still my pulse!  A Michael Z. Lewin series of which I had never heard!  Eight volumes!  Albert Samson, private eye!

I finished number eight a half an hour ago. Yes, that’s how I know that I’ve been seriously blue this week. I read all eight in four days.  I carried my tablet every where.  Between — or instead of —  job-hunting, manuscript-editing, community-garden-planning, grocery-shopping, and laundry-washing, I followed the adventures of Albert Samson from crime scene to conclusion.

I have to hoist myself by the straps of my Dansko Vegans.  Trust me:  reading helps.  When I get to the end of  a series which I’ve devoured in a string of gloomy days, I find myself able to see that a light beckons me from the end of whatever dark tunnel I face.    It’s almost as good as expensive candy but not fattening and my skin stays clear.

I still don’t have a job, but at least I don’t have a hangover.  That’s something.  I could be using a lot more dangerous and destructive distractions than passably good detective fiction.  That ought to count for something, right?  Whatever works — so long as it’s no more self-defeating than reading instead of writing.  Tomorrow’s another day.  And I did get a load of laundry done this morning.  I’m giving myself partial credit for that.

It’s the eleventh day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



Not complaining about #firstworldproblems

Of all the reasons not to have water available, the failure of an electrical pump ranks solidly in the category of a first-world problem.  I got a jug of spring water at the grocery store and silently gave thanks that I decided on a composting toilet.

The nearer end of the park has a temporary supply of water, but here in the meadowland, not so much as a trickle comes from the faucet.  I’m wildly glad that I showered at 6:00 a.m.  Sometimes I wait until evening, since I have no office to which I must go disguised as a lawyer.

I melted a block of ice that I created in the freezer for the evaporative cooler which I returned (twenty-five dollars deducted for shipping) and boiled the leftover water in the kettle to wash dishes.  Fortunately I have clean socks and plenty of leggings, because laundry didn’t get done today.  If I had kept that Honeywell gizmo, I’d have to sacrifice the four trays of ice cubes which might become tomorrow’s wash-water, at least for my teeth and the few areas of my body which will need it if the temperature climbs too high.

But I don’t see this as suffering.  I focus on the remaining Thai soccer players trapped deep in a cave on the other side of a fifteen-inch turn with water rising and oxygen dwindling.  I meditate on the plight of hundreds of children torn from their parents who came to America to save them from violent gangs, drugs, war, and hunger.   I stare in horror at the picture of a 91-year-old grandfather beaten with bricks in Los Angeles and told to “go back to Mexico”.

I look around at the three small fans creating a cross breeze.  I gaze over at my ceiling fan and the little USB personal cooler clamped on my kitchen self.  I remember that I can always drive back to town and get more bottles of the spring water which cost just a dollar for two liters.  I understand how fortunate I am, that the water will be restored tomorrow when the electrician comes and works magic on that pump.  We’ll forget about the twenty-four hours when nobody here could bathe.

Even with the worries which wake me in the middle of the night, I keenly feel the blessings that I often take for granted.  Like running water, no matter that it’s just for 364 days this particular year.  No whining here.  I’ll endure my #firstworldproblems and soldier on.

It’s the ninth day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Many Happy Returns of the Day

When the sun rises tomorrow, my only child will be hours away from turning 27.

He came into this world on a shower of chatter by a midwife and an obstetrician.  They bent their heads over my belly and talked of the sewage which spilled from the doctor’s basement floor drain.  She had been waiting for a plumber, making her late for my scheduled delivery.

“I threw the house keys at him and ran out the door,”  the doctor said.  I cannot remember her surname now, but she was Elizabeth and the midwife was Moira.

Moira sent a shower of Irish laughter into the room, floating over my bent knees and the drape which blocked my view.  I held the hand of Laura Barclay, my secretary, friend, and “labor” coach.  Then I heard another sound, a small warble, maybe even a giggle.

“Oh my gosh,” said the one called Elizabeth.  “Your little boy entered the world laughing.”

She placed the swaddled baby on my chest.  He mewed and my heart melted.

A nurse took him from me so the other doctor at hand could see to the tasks which pediatricians do in the delivery room.  The rest of the procedure continued, as my doctor and the midwife stitched me closed.   They counted instruments as they went.  “One, two, three, four,” one would say.  Then they would sew a layer.  “One, two, three, four,” the other would intone.  Then another few stitches.  They had promised not to leave anything inside.  “Not even a sponge,” said Moira, very solemnly.  I think it might have been a joke.

They wheeled me back into my private room before an attendant brought the baby.  Laura’s husband snapped photos, which we would later learn suffered from too little light.  I think I might have one somewhere, of me with a dazed expression and one bare shoulder, clutching my child and grinning.

“If I could bottle that look, I’d be rich,” Ron laughed.  I couldn’t think of any reply that wouldn’t emphasize Laura’s own childless state so I just snuggled my baby and thought about what I wanted to name him.  We’d been calling him “Buddy” for the sixteen weeks since a tech had revealed his gender against my urgent request not to do so.

“A boy?” I had all but gasped.  “What on earth am I going to do with a boy?”

But I learned what to do with a boy.  As with a girl, you do your best.  You try to give him space, and you love him.  You watch for his talents and gently nurture those.  You fret about his fears but try not to call them to his attention over-much.  You worry that you’ll spoil him, neglect him, or ruin him with your feeble efforts which fall so far short of perfection that you anguish in the night while he sleeps.

For his part, he makes you laugh when you’re staring at a stack of bills.  He tromps around in black cowboy boots.  He drags his cat upstairs, his bike down the sidewalk, and the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF can up and down the block on which you live three Halloweens in a row.  They’re fine creatures, boys.  They break your heart, challenge long-held maternal misconceptions, and when you get jiggly on them, they  skate right back and tell you to knock it off, because you damn well know better than to pull that kind of stunt.

My boy has never let me down.  Even when he made choices that sent shivers down my back, or forged ahead when I found the path so frightening that I begged him to stay, he’s made me proud.  I don’t always understand him. I don’t always deserve him.  But I’m proud of him, every day of my life.  Every day of his.

In Thailand, divers just started the monumental task of rescuing twelve soccer players and their coach, every blessed one a mother’s son.  My heart clenched when I saw the news.  I think about my own son, and how absolutely grim my life would be if I ever lost him.  I have no trouble understanding the real mother who offered to surrender her infant rather than to let King Solomon him cut in half.  I’d do the same, no questions asked, to save my boy.  I’d let him go to save him.  I would not hesitate.

Happy birthday, Patrick Charles Corley.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday, and I fervently pray that tomorrow, and each day thereafter, brings you many happy returns.

It’s two hours shy of being the eighth day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Judge Not

I could never be described as a religious person.  True enough that I believe in the existence of some divine entity, perhaps a collective.  I don’t quite know what form that being takes. I have no objection to the use of the names that various folks give to their concept of a omniscient presence which guides, protects, or blesses humanity and its environment.  The question of how such a force can allow evil, wrongdoing, pain, and suffering troubles me more than what to call “it”.  Call it “God”.  Call it “Yahweh”.  Call it “the Holy Trinity”.

I’m less vague about angels.  You’ve heard the story of an angel pushing  my life force back into its corporal component on 09 February 1982 and telling me, “it’s not your time”.  I don’t need to expound.  Time and time again some vaguely white, vaguely human form visits me and provides caution or comfort.  They might be ghosts, my subconscious, or the jalapeno on the gluten-free pizza from the previous night’s binge.  But I elect to take the simplest route, and accept that these beings emanate from the divine.

My problem vests in religion, and so I stay away from it.  My mother converted to Catholicism and later married a Roman Catholic man.  I know she took some sustenance from the church but I also know she did not accept its teachings whole-hog.  We followed a renegade priest from parish to parish, protesting his subsequent ex-communication.  She actively lobbied for an end to war and for the legalization of abortion.  She gave me the strength to walk away from a church in which I did not feel welcome.   A decade after her death, I finally summoned enough courage to file a complaint against the priest who tried to steal whatever lingered of my innocence after the devastation of childhood.  If my mother had not taught me to be strong, I could not have conquered the nausea and drive to St. Louis some months later to protest any thought of his early reinstatement.

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand my essential philosophy and its evolution.  On top of these proclivities, I have layered twenty-five years in family law and ten as a guardian ad litem for foster children.  Into that swirling bog and following my son’s example, I poured the essence of nonviolent communication, a way of life that I have not yet perfected.  I had intended to also study Buddhism, but I’ve met a few Buddhists in recent years, and from them, I’ve learned enough to know that its tenets hold a quagmire of negativity and condemnation which I cannot justify espousing.

And so, that’s my backdrop:  Recovering Catholic, aspiring pacifist, striving for nonjudgment and tolerance.

In that frame of mind, with those experiences and that outlook, I come to the brink of my sixty-third year, which starts in two months.  I’m getting ready to be a different version of myself.  I’ve left my long-time home.  I’ve lost my third husband to divorce.  I quit my job, one which I created for myself and have had for two and a half decades.  I moved two-thousand miles to a warmer climate and a rural setting.  I downsized from fourteen hundred square feet to a tiny house on wheels with two lofts and a composting toilet.  I shocked my family, horrified many of my friends, and delighted a few folks whom I had no idea even cared.

At a time in my life when I should be retiring, I’ve spent six months job-hunting with no luck.  I’m watching my acquaintances post pictures of exotic trips that they can take because of careful financial planning or clever management or the support of enduring marriages.  I sit in my 198-square-foot abode and will myself to breathe, to unclench my stomach muscles and forcibly lower my shoulders to ease the spasm of tension.  Rather than living vicariously by reading engaging missives from my son or cheerfully waiting for grandchildren, I’m forging a new life and making a whole host of fresh connections.  My son must be tempted to resent me but I do not intend to steal his thunder.  It’s his time, yes; but I could not perpetuate the existence which had accumulated around me.  Despite its positive notes, on the whole, it did not suit me.

I mean no disrespect to the artists who showed in my public art space at Suite 100 or the friends who populated my days.  I appreciated having them in my life.  But I had become a rank observer.  I facilitated the success of others. I observed the happy times around me without generating memories of my own.    For whatever set of reasons, my foolish choices or my hollow inaction, I had come to live in perpetual silence, unbroken by anything that I did not forcibly manufacture.  In the final analysis, I had tiptoed clumsily through sixty-two years with no thought of or preparation for permanence.  About a year ago, I discovered that I no longer could be content with that cold reality.  And so I left.

In doing so, I trusted that the divine would not fail me and the angels would not abandon me.  As my old friend Jeanne Ashworth would have said, I stepped into the breach expecting to be caught.  I’m still falling, but a few handholds have presented themselves to slow my descent.  I get a little nervous, but I’m expecting to survive the landing.

I see the eye rolls from time to time even now.  “You’re doing what?” they ask.  “And where?”  They turn away, and then summon a semblance of enthusiasm. These charades do not deceive me.   Those folks can’t imagine being happy living in a cedar tiny house called Angel’s Haven, in an RV park on a lazy river.  They don’t understand why I’d surrender my law practice in favor of an increasingly frantic search for employment.  Face it:  the people who find my move perplexing also don’t understand anything else that I’ve ever done, the good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderful, the absurd.  They think I’ve failed at everything.  They make no pretense at graciousness, at allowing that my life might have held a little value now and then.  And there are more of them than you might think, and they do not hesitate to express their opinion of me.

Before I left Kansas City, at my farewell art event, I heard one woman say to another, “Did you hear what Corinne is doing?  Remind me not to get divorced, I think hers made her crazy.”  She didn’t realize that her voice carried.  Her companion saw my face and shushed her, but the smug superiority which prompted the remark prevented the speaker from feeling the least bit ashamed for having judged me.

I’ve heard it said that living well is the best revenge.  That might be true.  But I think we over-rate revenge.  Moreover, and perhaps more tellingly, I no longer accept the definition of “living well” which society endorses.  I cannot precisely tell you what “living well” means to me now, but, to quote Justice Stewart albeit wildly out of context, I’ll know it when I see it.

It’s the seventh day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


The meadow behind my house, Park Delta Bay, on the California Delta Loop, Sacramento County, California.


May the Circle Be Unbroken

When I arrived at Park Delta Bay, capable hands reached to help me settle Angel’s Haven into her spot.  Tonight, a new tiny house arrived, and I got to pay that favor right forward.  I felt good about the opportunity. I helped the residents haul the same temporary steps that someone got for me, and connected them with another neighbor when they needed a little muscle.  That’s the way we roll around here, doing for others as others have done for us.

Yesterday, my sister Joyce learned of the death of her former spouse.  She had been in touch with him in recent days, assisting  him with some health issues.  Those problems overcame him.  The police officer who found his body called Joyce — because her number appeared most recently on his cell phone.  She stayed connected, notwithstanding the differences which divided them in earlier years.

I feel the keenness of unbroken circles more and more as I age.  Family, friends, my son — my own former spouses — we send messages, write letters, text, post on social media.  We keep aware.  Arguments seem less significant from beneath my greying head.  Oh, I get my knickers twisted just as much as anyone.  I’m not a saint.  I disappoint people.  However well intended, I do the wrong thing as often as not.  Others try hard to help me and occasionally fall short.  But most of the time, the love ripples in all directions.

From my writing loft, I watch the willow tree gently sway in the evening air.  The greens deepen as the light fades.  When the sun has fully set, I will close the front door and draw the curtain.  I will sleep secure, knowing that any troubles which might plague me can be solved tomorrow.  In the mean time, I’ll pour another glass of cold water, and settle in my rocker on the porch.  Maybe I will read, but more likely, I will simply sit, and let myself be at peace.

It’s the sixth day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Mugwumpish Thank You Song

My oldest sibling Ann Fox once said that the thank-you note is the last bastion of a civilized society.  Since I’ve been remiss in my thank-you notes to everyone who helped make my move to California as painless as possible, here’s a “swell foop” wherein I attempt to remember everyone who contributed to the monumental task.  I note that this list will  not be exhaustive as to names or act.  If I omit anyone, and such omission comes to mind or attention, I will make amends in a later post.

Going back, then, to late November forward through June 2018, I give thanks to these folks for everything that they have done for me, especially the indicated efforts.

Sherry DeJanes, for stepping into the thick of the mess caused by the oversights of other professionals relative to the closing of my real estate sale.

Paula Kenyon-Vogt and Sheldon Vogt for going “above and beyond” the duties of friendship to help me get the Holmes House ready for listing and sale; for Last Minute Storage Unit Rental and Remnants of My Life Hauling; and in particular to Sheldon for fabricating the beautiful cherry table for Angel’s Haven. (Not to mention to both of them, for being my shoulders-on-which-to-cry for the last four years).

Katrina Taggart, Chris Taggart, and Ross Taggart for courage under fire on the last day of my occupancy of the Holmes House; and for packing damn near everything left by that date which was way more than I had anticipated would remain.  Special Mention to Ross Taggart for packing and shipping some of my beloved art.  And, to all the Taggarts, for fostering Little Girl and being there in her last moments when we could not.

Abbey Vogt & the stalwart fiance John (whose surname I cannot this moment recall) and a couple who are John and Abbey’s friends, for Piano Moving At The Last Moment; and to Abbey for Kitchen Packing and providing countless hugs.

Rick Diamond, for packing my stuff, storing it, moving the china cabinet twice, helping me drive to CA, and installing my composting toilet (hurrah!).

Bonnie Decker, my buyer, and her boyfriend, cousin, and friends, for arriving with cookies and much-needed additional muscle on that last frantic day.

Jim MacLaughlin, for emotional and practical assistance long after the law might have arguably required same.

Miranda Erichsen, for packing four sets of china, a bunch of hopelessly duplicative kitchenware, and 25 years of books; and hauling said items to God Knows Where so that I wouldn’t have to deal with them;  for scraping the playroom floor which I have no idea how she accomplished; and for forgiving my moods for three years and especially during some tiring and tiresome weeks before the move.

Alan White, for keeping those bodies buried and holding the law firm together while I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Tricia Scaglia, for giving me somewhere to land the tattered remnants of the Corley Law Firm’s twenty-four year ignoble history and generally acting as though I might be worth the effort even when I was convinced that I had never been and would never be.

Brenda Dingley, Elizabeth Unger Carlisle, and Jeanne Foster, for giving me berth on my visits to Kansas City over the last six months; and for being that Cheerful Triumvarate to which I still attach my ties with Kansas City.

Jenny Rosen who let me sleep on her amazingly comfortable couch for two nights on one of my visits; sent me chocolate when I needed it; and gifted me a Himalyan salt Night Light as a tiny replica of the one which I had at the Holmes House.

Carolyn Karr and her mysterious spouse, for being faithful YouTube followers of my tiny adventures, for being constant friends,  and for tending my favorite curmudgeon’s gravesite in my stead.

Lyne’t Gray, for hosting me on her radio show, sending constant love and affirmation, and being a shining example of persistence in the face of seeming failure.

Cindy Cieplik, Ruthie Becker, Angela Garrett-Carmack, Jake Carmack, Mary Pettet, Genevieve Casey, Sara Minges, David Arnold Hughes, Jeremy Clark, Ben Hoppes, Penny Thieme, Lori Hooten Roller, Will Leathem, and scores of other Kansas City folks who tirelessly send love & light, meet me for coffee when I’m “back home”, and otherwise validate my very existence with their undying affection. (This list could grow every time I preview what I’m writing.  I’m bound to forget some of the Kansas City contingent.)

Sharon Alberts and Ellen Cox, for hosting my son and me at Christmas and me at Easter and being my first “real” California friends.

Jim and Nancy Carriere, for parking privileges, guest room lodging, cheerleading, job-search promotion, and generally honoring the Rotarian motto of #serviceaboveself time and time again, without much, if any, return on their investment in me.

Jim & Jamie McNeely and Randy Steinman, for sending my resume out to everybody they know in the Bay area and/or giving me tips on job-hunting late in life.

Hope Rehak, for sending little notes of encouragement which seem to arrive when I most need them.

Pattie Whitaker, Macrina Flaner, and Christina Canady, for becoming part of my Delta tribe.

Kimberley Kellogg, for sharing the West Coast adventure with me; and for understanding in a way that no one else can, because she has been here too.

Patricia Reynolds, for establishing the Corinne Corley Fan Club and serving as its President-for-Life, including visiting me at Park Delta Bay and making my lovely Angel’s Haven plaque.

Phil Carrott, for continuing to read my blog and reach out from time-to-time, even though he did not have to do so and probably gets precious little in return.

My little brother Frank Corley, for giving me a place to stay during the Great Road Trip of 2017, when I distributed parts of the Corley history to my nieces and son; and for being a friend, which I never expected; not to mention, being a good example of excellent parenting from whom I learn more and more every day.

My big sister Ann Fox for sending love and support, at unexpected times with graciousness and no expectation of anything but a thank-you note.

My big sister Joyce, for coming after the August floods to muck out my basement; storing Patrick’s childhood; packing more than I thought possible in various two-hour visits; being where and when I needed her without complaint; and most of all, for inspiring me with her own courage time and time again.

Last but far from least, my son Patrick Corley, for letting me sell his childhood home and foster out his beloved dog Little Girl; for coming to visit me at Christmas in my new home; for calling nearly every day to check on me; for tolerating having a kooky mother; for being everything that a woman could want of a son, time and time again, for his whole life;  for making me laugh when I desperately wanted to cry; and for giving me the chance to be thankful that I became a mother twenty-seven years ago this Sunday.  I have never once regretted that fabulous privilege, and only hope that I have done him as proud as he has done me.

Mugwumpishly tendered, on this fifth day of July 2018, the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Livingston Taylor and James Taylor singing the Thank You Song.






Yankee Doodle Dandy

Everybody and everything deserves at least a second chance.  Today, I’m giving macaroni salad a second chance; and taking you with me just for the sheer fun of it.

Make the macaroni and house-made mayo the night before you plan to serve the salad.

I started with a box of Barilla’s GF elbows.  I’ve found that this brand comes out almost identical to the regular stuff. I serve it and don’t tell folks that it’s gluten-free.  I made about 3/4 of the box, though I could have made the whole box.


I put mine in the container in which I intend to bring it to the First Annual G-Row 4th of July picnic!  I chilled it overnight in the fridge!



Then I made a version of home-made mayonnaise.  Please note:  consuming raw eggs might be hazardous to your health.  I varied this recipe by using Bragg’s Vinegar, organic bottled lemon juice, grapeseed oil, and sea salt.  Pictured here:

The directions said to whisk for eight minutes after adding the second half of the oil at a slow drizzle.  I didn’t want fluffy mayonnaise because I intended to dress the macaroni salad with it. I stopped when it was thick enough for government work.

I put the dressing in the fridge and called it a night!

This morning, notwithstanding a water leak in the park, I got to work on the rest of the salad.

My additives included diced celery, diced tri-color peppers (like Nigella Lawson, I abhor green peppers), sweet pickles, and green onions.  I added jarred sun-dried tomatoes for the zest that I would have liked from good black olives, which my grocery store does not always carry.


For this recipe, I used mostly the white and firmest light green part of the green onion. The upper part can be saved for a salad.

As for the pickles, sweet midgets!!!!


Celery and tri-color peppers to be diced on the cutting board which my father made from a ring of my nephew Eric’s apple tree.

Sun-dried tomatoes in oil will be opened by the antique jar opener which my son found years ago at a garage sale!!!


Once everything is diced, add it to the macaroni.  Then add the house-made mayo or a 1/2 cup of a good jar mayo of your choice if you decided to skip yesterday’s prep work.  With a 1/3 cup addition of more vinegar (again, I used Bragg’s because that’s how I role), salt, and pepper, you get to mixing!

After I had everything mixed, I decided that the salad need something more. . .So I mashed an avocado with 1/4 cup of the lemon juice, and made an additional “dressing”.  Sprinkling a little more sea salt on it, I finished the job — and called it Macaroni!

It’s the fourth day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Happy Independence Day!

Not finding a video of Shirley Temple singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, I have to be content with this equally iconic one by James Cagney.  Enjoy.



NEWS FLASH: Size matters — but you can change all that.

No, I don’t mean what you think.  Get your mind out of the gutter, y’all.  Trigger warning, though — this is another entry that’s not a warm fuzzy anecdote which you can take to bed like your favorite blankie.  It’s stuff, messy and unpleasant, but part of my #journeytojoy.  If you’re on this path with me, or vicariously living it through me , keep reading.

Here’s the thing:

I started this mission because I felt REALLY BAD about myself, and I wanted to feel REALLY GOOD about myself.  I listened to the eulogy for my mother-in-law (the part that wasn’t a reading of my blog entry) in which the priest said that Joanna had never complained. I wanted to emulate her, and I felt that I mostly complained because i felt so bad about myself that it leaked out as wrath at other people.

It’s taken me four and a half years to say that flat-outloud.  Hear it again:

I felt bad about myself.  I blamed other people.  I complained in a sideways articulation of inner rage at the terribleness which I directed to myself and which I thought arose from others.

Here’s the thing, step two:  A lot of why I felt bad involved conduct of other people which I did not control.  Either it happened in my childhood, or it happened over my adult years but during times when I had so little self-awareness that I invited the conduct or certainly felt powerless to resist it.  When I did protest, my protests invoked cries from the perpetrator that I lived in a delusional state.  They denied their behavior, or said I caused it, as though they were mere puppets.  This was usually classic gaslighting, though I did not recognize it.

As I’ve gained awareness through introspection, I recognize destructive patterns.  I’m still trying to fit into my own skin, though.  As I’ve recently stated elsewhere, were I the “therapy type”, I might have gotten to this point a few decades ago with professional help.  Might have.

So — back to the ‘size matters’ thing.

For most of my first forty years, I hovered at around 100 pounds.  Oh, I gained some in college when I suffered a serious spider bite and got put on prednizone, but otherwise I stayed small and thin.  During my second marriage, and all the difficulties which that entailed, I climbed from a size 2 to a size 14.  At 5’3-1/2″, I nearly doubled my body weight — from 98 to 185 at my highest.  This took place between 2004 and 2008.

On 01 March 2008, I began my eat-less, move-more diet. I got down to 110 in twenty-four months.  By spring of 2011, I weighed 103.  That’s under-weight for my height, but as a disabled person, I need to be light because my legs can’t handle any extra weight.

Now, for the “matters”.  When I was fat, women almost universally told me that I wasn’t “that bad”, while men articulated complete disgust, including my then-husband.  When I got very thin, women told me that I looked horrible and men expressed delight that I was “taking care of myself”.  The back of my neck grows tighter just writing those words.

After my last separation, I lost weight for a while and then the stress-eating, hate-myself noshing began.  By this winter, I had reached 125. My legs started wobbling even more than usual.  A self-fulfilling cycle took hold.  I didn’t like the way I looked so I felt bad about myself.  The worse I felt about myself, the more I ate.  The more I ate, the more weight I gained.  And. . . again.  But I recognized the cycle this time, and stopped myself.  I’m eating sensibly again. I don’t have a scale and have no idea what I weigh, though. I just know that getting back to healthy eating did not take as long or as much effort this time around.

Yesterday, I went into a second-hand store looking for a cushion.  I don’t buy new clothing often; and I haven’t bought any clothing lately, not since I downsized.  But it’s summer and I live in the country.  I have very few truly casual clothes.  On the way to housewares, I spied a pair of cotton capris of a notably expensive brand hanging on a display.  I checked the label:  Size S.  I never try on clothing; it’s too much of a struggle to dress and undress due to my physical challenges.  This item cost four bucks.  If it fit, great.  If it didn’t, well, I could toss it in the grab bag for donating back to the store.

I had no idea if I could wear a size S pair of cotton capris, even in a good brand.  I feel fat.  I admit this. I don’t like the way I look. I have no full-length mirror anymore.  I have neither partner nor roommate, so I get no input about my body.  My image of myself wildly diverges. When I’m thin, I feel puffy. When I’m overweight, I  consider myself grotesque.  This is the paradigm of body image in America, people.   I am not alone in this.  Size matters — at least, if you are female in America.

I brought the capris home.  This morning, I decided that they would be perfect for today’s allotment of errand-running.  If they didn’t fit, c’est le vie.  Well, they fit.  Perfectly.  So I’m a size small.  I happen to know this particular brand runs “true to size”.  They are comfortable and work well for exactly what I wanted — casual, knock-around clothing for leisurely days such as today.  And they fit.  This tells me that maybe, just maybe, my body has gotten to a good point.  Eureka!!!

And this, too, resulted from the experience of buying this four-dollar, second-hand pair of pedal-pushers:  I went through this entire analysis, and reached the point where I could share a simple truth with you.

Let go of the crazy demands that you put on yourself to be a certain way.  People who love you, will do so whether you can bench-press a hundred pounds or not, whether you wear high-heels or flats, whether your hair has grey roots or expensive highlights.  And whether you weigh 100 or 200.  (That said, certain health conditions definitely require you to be a reasonable weight for your height, gender, and age — such as my disability, diabetes, MS, heart conditions, and high blood pressure.)  Take the pressure off of yourself to conform to societal images of beauty, coolness, or indeed, virtue by any label.  Refuse to let size or any other socially defined judgment of physical state determine your self-appreciation.  Love yourself.  You’re beautiful.

As my friend Jeanne Foster would say, use kinder, gentler, self-talk.  And go out and buy yourself a pair of cotton capris.  It’s summer-time, and the living is easy.

It’s the third day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.