Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patience My Ass - I Need A Cold Front! (Recipe Included)

Where the hell is Fall? It's September 28th and the humidity is still omnipresent, the temperature at night is still around 70, and dammit, that shit has to go! Sure, sure, further north they get winter earlier and spring later, but right now they aren't sphitzing whilst trying to drink a cup of coffee, or having to crank the air conditioner to enjoy a bowl of butternut squash soup. Right now, the leaves are changing further north, and the apples and pumpkins are piled up at the roadside stands. We have apples and pumpkins piling up too, but the current state of humidity will cause our pumpkins to rot and mold by Halloween, and don't get me started on the soft mealy cardboard that passes for apples in this part of the world, or the Koolaid-sweet cider that's made from them.

I know where this is leading - I need a road trip to the north. I'm not going to get one though and it's making me very grumpy. I'm trying to hold out - I hear tell the great cold winds of Canadia are on their way, that by the weekend it will feel like fall, and I want to believe, but right now the air is still soupy and it seems a faint flickering light at the end of a long and miserably hot steam tunnel.

But in the meantime, because it is fall and because somewhere there is lovely crisp fall weather that warrants it, I'm making butternut squash soup. A friend on Facebook asked me to share my recipe for it, so I wrote it out, even though I never follow an actual recipe for it. I don't have recipes for anything but baked goods because, cooking in my opinion should be less regimented, and more open to variation. So take this recipe as a place to jump off from and do something wild with it to propititate the Autumnal God of the North Wind.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 large butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces (more or less)

1 large onion, chopped semi-fine

2-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

half a stick of butter (see now, I used a whole stick last time, and some olive oil)

2 cups dry white wine

2-3 containers chicken stock or broth (8-12 cups, approx.)

In a large heavy bottomed stockpot melt butter and saute onion and garlic until tender, add cubed squash and saute until browning occurs on bottom of pot. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

Deglaze with 2 cups of white wine, let alcohol cook off a little, then add chicken stock/or broth to cover the squash. put on the lid and let boil for about 15-20 minutes. I also added a tablespoon of bacon fat, to add flavor and to tenderize the squash.

When squash is tender, mash up with potato masher, add more stock and cook at medium heat, stirring and mashing for about 30 minutes. The lid is off at this point, allowing condensation, so soup will become thicker. Squash will begin to have an "applesauce" consistency and get thick. Keep adding stock until you are ready to serve or until it is the thickness you desire. (when reheating, you will have to add more stock, as it thickens when it cools) I know that a lot of people prefer to use an immersion blender to speed things up, but I personally think the slow cooking approach breaks the squash down just as well, and allows more time to build flavor with your components.

If desired, add 2 Tablespoons of horseradish to soup and stir in well. The heat will mellow it, but it shouldn't be more than an earthy taste at the end of a spoonful, and a bit of a warm glow on your throat. The longer the horseradish cooks into the soup the less prevalent it will be as itself.

Serve in a wide, shallow bowl, garnished with crisp chopped bacon and green onion, or julienned rare roast beef and green onion. It is also very good with a creamy blue cheese and candied green apples (leave out the horseradish for this variation). Fresh crusty bread or buttermilk cheddar biscuits are a good accompaniment.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mission Statement For ME

It has been a dark vista for some time, here at the Edge of Reason. The mental weather has been overcast and drizzly for far too long and frankly, my feet are webbing from prolonged exposure to mud puddles of deepest despair. My raincoat of support is old and tattered - more misery gets in than is kept out anymore, and my umbrella of love has been turned inside out - I am drenched to the skin with profound sadness.

The obvious solution, in terms of metaphors, is to get a new umbrella and raincoat, isn't it? But I am used to my raincoat and fond of my umbrella, which makes it hard to know whether I should patch and repair or just replace them. And a metaphor cannot possibly illustrate the nature of the damage done to that raincoat or umbrella.

It's easy to tell someone to snap out of a dark funk - it is far more difficult to actually do the snapping. It's really more like a dragging of oneself out of the pit (of despair) and commencing to dredging the muddy misery out of your clothes, your hair, your soul, while the storm rages on all around, pelting you with more.

I know I can only change myself, I know I need to leave certain pieces of myself behind in order to do that. It is far easier to say it than it is to do it, however, if you consider that it might be necessary to cut out 20 years or more of your life and throw it away.

I wonder sometimes if I had amnesia, if it would make it easier for me to be who I really am. I would no longer bend under the negative opinions and influence of my family, because they would no longer exist. I could discover who I am without their prejudice of who they need me to be. I might actually believe I have some worth if I was out from under the thumb of misogyny and selfishness that is my familial inheritance. This is what I struggle against daily. This is what silences my words, my voice, my soul - people who say they care while they crush me underfoot, and seek to discredit what I say because it reflects badly upon them to have the truth put out there for the world to see. I have offered love and support to my family for as long as I have been alive, and I have received in return their apathy, and the lies they tell to take the weight of responsibility for their damaged lives off of themselves.

I am done. I am divorcing myself from these people, for the sake of ME. I think I have earned the right to not be involved, to not be held culpable for the poor choices of others. To finally live my life as I see fit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paranoid Reflections

Autumn blows in, sharp and cold,
and bitter is the remembered taste
of Autumns past, shrouded in mold.

I hide in my bed, I cannot face
a world turned grey by wind and rain-
sweet Summer's youth is laid to waste.

Wat'ry-eyed November, the days days trickle away,
I lie abed, smelling Winter's dank breath
and hear his knife-like fingers rattling my windowpane.

A torturous game the seasons play, on me and on the Earth,
I hear them now, outside my door, chuckling in their mirth.


Autumn blows in-
and bitter is the remembered taste
of Autumns past-
the sure knowledge of loss and sorrow.

How is it, I come to this season
always empty-handed
and purposeless?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Dead Woman's Scales

Back in the fall, Bea got an invite to a party that she didn't want to accept, but in true Bea-fashion, she was conflicted. And guilty. And waffling. In the end she decided to go, and she wound up having a great time and met some new people. The following week, she got a call from a guy who had been at the party - she never actually met the guy, because he was leaving as she got there, but he heard her laugh and wanted to meet her. (I know - how damn romantic is that?!) Of course, being Bea, she waffled and conflicted with herself, before acquiescing and going to meet him at - was it a Golden Corral? I can't remember, though I know the GC comes into it and figures prominently for me, seeing as how it gets my vote as Most Likely Place To Contract Anthrax or The Latest Flu. But that's my story, and this is Bea's. Anyway, she went, she met him, she really, REALLY liked him, and they started to date.

He was from Iowa, or one of those states that start with an I and is way the hell up near Canadia, and he was here, tending to his long-time friend, who used to be his girlfriend but not anymore, who was dying from cancer, and he had promised to be there for her. Again, points in his favor, for being the kind of guy who sticks it out with you, though that was their story, his and the Dead Woman's, and only a side note to this, Bea's story. He had planned on coming and staying with his friend, to help her out in the final days, and he did, but he hadn't any point of reference to prepare him for the horror of the final days of cancer, and try as he might to be a stoic tough guy, it was getting to him. I think he turned to Bea for companionship during those days; someone who wasn't hip-deep in death to help him maintain his perspective through it all.

Long story short, it was maybe a month that Bea had known him before his friend passed away. He began to dis-assemble her household, and in that great shuffling of stuff he passed some things on to Bea, one of which was The Dead Woman's Scales.

It's not like Bea has ever had a cordial relationship with a set of scales - seriously, who does? But she began to imagine that the scales were imbued with the spirit of the dead woman, who maybe wasn't so happy to find even a piece of herself in the home of the New Interest In His Life. She could feel the weight of Her presence residing in the scales, when she was standing on them, when she was looking at them, and especially when she was lying in bed next to the Man. When she weighed herself, the scales always read a higher number than any other scale Bea used, even the dreaded gym scales, which were notoriously biased and judgmental. She debated on getting rid of the scales, but decided against it - they were a gift, albeit second-hand, and she didn't want the Man to be offended. They also served their purpose of weighing in, which sent Bea to the gym to work out in a fever of productivity, in hopes of appeasing the scales. Some days the scales were more inclined towards encouragement, and would register several pounds lost, and Bea would soften towards the scales and their intentions, but on other days, the scales were spiteful, snarky even, and she would know that the spirit of the Dead Woman inhabited them still. Earlier this week, when Bea was sick and moping about, pining a bit for the Man, who had to go back to the place that begins with an I, the scales bitchily reminded her that she was more than a few pounds up. Bea again questioned the wisdom of listening to the advice of The Dead Woman's Scales, and secretly plotted their demise.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Serial Painter

February has been a dark month. That the dark twisty whirlpool held off until February, rather than kicking in straight after the holidays is pretty great, and partially due to the wonderful trip I took up to Asheville, NC with Bea and Ms. Q. We looked at a lot of art in a lot of galleries while we were there, and I found myself asking what was holding me back. I decided that I tend to take on a painting often for the challenge of it, which often leads to unfinished pieces and a sense of frustration. My sister, who makes dolls, has told me that the first doll of any type is always the hardest and most time consuming, because she's working through the process for that particular type of doll. The subsequent ones tended to go faster, even with slight variations from doll to doll. This got me to thinking that maybe I should try to do a series of paintings. I have been photographing trees a lot lately, and I've always been obsessed with clouds, but the sunsets we saw up in Asheville were the final inspiration for this series of paintings.

Forgive the glare: my camera doesn't like low light.But hey, no razor blades or dark twisty thoughts were used in the painting of these canvases, so that's something, right?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Note to Myself

The dark clouds have descended again, obscuring my ability to navigate the chummy waters of my life. I try to keep my despair at bay, thinking of how my depression impacts my children, trying to maintain an atmosphere of normalcy for their sake, but today, I find I cannot care enough about anyone or anything to resist the allure of the darkness. I considered calling my husband at work, to tell him I'm slipping into the dark water, to ask for help, but I didn't make the call, because I know he won't really be able to help me, much less even hear me, surrounded by the stress and pressures of his job. My friends are too busy as well, and my family is non-existent. I tried to paint, hoping it would bring a little pleasure to counter balance this tidal wave of morbid longing, but even that felt distant and trite, and not worth the effort.

It is always the way with depression, that once it rolls over you, encircles you, encompasses you, there is no real way out, only trying to hang on and ride the tide back to the shore of rational thought. There are no life boats to rescue you from the deep, because they never heard the cry for help. There is only yourself, treading water in the icy deep, thinking how peaceful it would be, to just stop fighting, to succumb to the darkness and float down into it's peaceful depths. I cannot decide which is more courageous: to continue the daily plodding or to acquiesce to the finality of the dark.