Thursday’s Reflection

I am trying to spend more time living in the moment. However, reflections still occur. Only now, I will schedule a time for them. Thursdays just seemed right.

I want to thank my followers and all the other bloggers on WordPress. Without you guys I don’t know if I would have made it. You reading my words means a lot to me and I have seriously enjoyed my first year of blogging, even with the ups and downs.

Writing has always been a big part of who I am and I am happy to have found some great creators on this platform. I have been inspired by you often.

Again, thank you. Gracias. Have a great Thursday.

Sundays Are For Spanish: My Favorite Book

I love to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Es mi libro favorito. It’s my favorite book.

I bought this edition many years ago, on vacation. I was already familiar with the story after having watched a movie version of it and finding this edition was thrilling.

I love this book like Cathy loved Heathcliff.

Published in 1847 under the name Ellis Bell, Wuthering Heights was found quite strange, as Lucasta Miller writes in her Preface. Indeed, it is a strange story and very difficult to describe, though many have tried, according to Miller.

So as not to give any spoilers I will say only this: Wuthering Heights is about love, betrayal, taboo, death, and misery.

I dare you to give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Te reto leerlo, y dime que piensas.

Sundays Are For Spanish: Lovely Lamb’s Ear

Me encanta esta planta: la oreja del cordero. Por sus hojas y sus flores pequeñas. A las abejas les gusta tambien.

I love this plant: lamb’s ear. For its leaves and its little flowers. The bees like it too.

Sus hojas son muy suaves y no necesita mucha agua.

Its leaves are very soft and it doesn’t need much water.

¿Cual es tu planta favorita?

What’s your favorite plant?

Sundays Are For Spanish: Foodie or Not?

As I sat and pondered my garden this morning, my stomach growled. Coffee just wasn’t cuttin’ it. I’m not a big eater and never have been. As an adult, I’ve barely managed to make it over a hundred pounds, except for during pregnancy. It’s partly genetic, partly my diet. I love my fiber, yogurt, and a good pasta but I don’t usually think about food for enjoyment. My husband, on the other hand, who is Mexican American, is almost obsessed with it. We often talk about what he’s eaten on the road. We fight about it when he’s home. But our best memories are in the kitchen, laughing about the cow tongue tacos we tricked my mother into eating, making tamales for the first time, watching our son spit out barely picante salsa.

Now, being a white person, and this probably won’t surprise many people of color, I haven’t grown up with a love for food. No one in my family is a “natural cook” or particularly likes the ritual of preparing, serving, and eating a hot meal with family or friends. I don’t want to make generalizations about any group of people, but take what you will from this. Nevertheless, I’m no “foodie.”

I’d like to say that I can cook. But I’ve had to study it and am constantly asking my husband, who cooks without fear or hesitation, for advice. However, planning and executing a meal is, in my husband’s opinion, my responsibility. El machísmo of my husband’s culture is something I have had to adjust to, but its present in any man’s ethnic background, so, whatever.

I started cooking and though I’m not always interested in eating, (a necessary, biological process for me) I’m always friggin’ hungry now.

My husband makes the best guacamole, carefully cubing the fresh avocados (not homegrown) rather than scooping it all out and mashing everything together. He leaves in the pit because it helps to keep it fresh. This guacamole casera takes a bit longer to make, but he does it for me because he knows I love it.

Maybe I’m enjoying this food stuff because I’ve achieved a pretty good tamal (aka tamales). The secret to the success of my tamales is a mystery to me, but it might be because I mix the maza (dough) by hand (por mano), something my husband insisted I do. It helps to make your own chicken broth, too, but I’m really no expert.

I think you can learn a lot by accepting and living with people of other backgrounds or cultural upbringings (I won’t call it “race” because there’s only the human one). Most important of those lessons being to eat with your family (familia) and cook something once in a while. Whatever the case, I’m lucky to be where I’m at, to have learned what I can.

And all that other inspirational jazz. I’m off to eat.

This is an upcycled post, meaning if you’ve seen it before its because it was published before. I may have edited or changed parts or all of the original post.

I Have a Counselor!

And its okay if you have one too.

I used to think that I didn’t need counseling, that my mental health was… what? I never talked about mental health. I didn’t know what it was. Welcome to the club, right?

Well, now that I am suffering from the aftermath of postpartum psychosis, bipolar affect, shock, and the trauma of losing my children for three months I am acutely aware of how important mental health is, how difficult it is to maintain, and how being open about it with a counselor can help.

So, if you have a counselor (that you see via the internet these days) know that you are not alone and that its a good thing to seek help for your mental health. Its step one, in fact, and arguably the most important step.

Stay safe out there. And thank your counselor.

Sundays Are For Spanish: Snakes in the Kitchen

So, let me start with a somewhat personal question or two. When was the last time you cleaned out your fridge? Do you clean it often? If you were to ask my husband the same questions of me he would answer “Two months ago,” and “Never,” respectively.

I would have to jump in with “Mentiras! Lies!” because his answers would not be true. “I just cleaned it!” I would probably reply, though in reality its been two weeks.

My husband and I have been married four years now and the chore that I hate the most is often a sore subject around here.

El matrimonio (marriage) is difficult and we’ve had some rough patches. The argument that I’m about to tell you about happened in the first year, while I was pregnant with Sergito.

The fridge, el refrigerador, was a mess: full of leftovers, some old meat, many rotting vegetables. This was before I began composting, so there was plenty of green material in the fridge.

Alejandra,” began my husband, standing in front of the open fridge and staring at me unbelieving. “What did you do all week?” he said, as usual.

“S., I’m not talking about this right now,” I answered, trying to evade any conversation requiring work, as usual when it comes to the fridge.

That’s how this argument started and continued until he said this.

Van a estar los serpientes en todas partes!” S. said, gesturing towards the countertops (“There’s going to be snakes everywhere”). As if I would allow snakes to lay coiled in my kitchen for anyone to see. As if the dirty fridge was a beacon to them.

“Snakes?!” said I with laughter in my mouth. It was ridiculous! I’d never had a snake in my house and didn’t have plans to!

“Yes, snakes,” S. replied, sheepishly trying to hide a grin.

Piensa en lo que dices S. No vamos a tener los serpientes en la cocina,” I said with a hand on my hip. (“Think about what you’re saying S. We’re not going to have snakes in the kitchen.”)

Pero sí es posible,” S. said, though I was already laughing and moving forward to clean out the fridge.

I believe that confrontation can bring people together, or drive them apart. Shared laughter can sometimes help, too. Fortunately, we were both able to laugh it off in that moment.

Now the inside joke is part of our family lore, something to tell los niños one day.

Fish Lake

I recently found an old piece of writing of mine, scribbled on the inside of the front cover of a book that I carried with me everywhere during the summer of 2013. The book is The Intellectual Devotional and is a book of lessons in history, religion, visual arts, and other topics. For awhile, I was consistent in reading its pages. But then I put it away, and forgot about it. Here’s the inscription: a description of a place and day that apparently I really wanted to save.

7-17-13 Fish Lake

Tall, lush reeds created a barrier near the shore of the entire lake. A bright, lively green, they stood stiff and strong, partnered with wide, flat-open lily pads that were accompanied by white or yellow flowers. Trees of every color, in the shades of green only summer can provide, protected the cool, clean lake on almost all sides. To the Northeast the trees thinned to reveal softly rolling hills. Phone lines stretched between the crests of these and the sky was a heated, pale blue. Thick, happy clouds floated gently by, above a healthy cornfield hugging one of the far off slopes. A lone dead tree, which was sun-bleached and bare like a bone, stretched its boughs over the water. It sang the land a silent song of ancient wisdom, long forgotten by the buzzing horseflies and oblivious sunfish. Silver-backed leaves rustled loudly when a dainty, playful breeze skipped through the forest.

We had been fishing in a small boat on a still lake, the sun beating over us. I had tired of fishing and reclined to write this description of what I was seeing.

Have you ever done the same? How does it feel to look back on your own writing?

Create A Cafe At Home

I was feeling creative when I arranged a glass table and two chairs this way. I can sit and watch the children playing outside while I imagine myself to be in some cute, outdoor cafe.

What’s Needed for Your Cafe at Home

  • A small table. Preferably round.
  • Some strong coffee, which you can make anyway you like.
  • An interesting book. In my case, I’m reading The Power of Thought by John Algeo and Shirley J. Nicholson. It is quite intriguing.
  • Two chairs. I suppose they don’t have to match.
  • Your laptop or notebook if you’re working on something and don’t have time to read.

And that’s it! A space created.

In my cafe there are toddlers running around so I’m off to help a little one. Ciao.

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Days 3 and 4 have been rough. I’ve won some battles and also lost a few. However, he had very little screen time on Day 3, even though when I awoke later than usual I found that my husband had already given him a phone.

Day 4 was full of arguments over the phone. By 9:00 a.m. Sergio was begging for the addictive device.

“It’s too early!” I told him.

Around 11:30 we went outside to play in the hose (an excellent tool for distracting children). Things went smoothly until the daily afternoon phone calls started coming in. Abuelita answered and tried speaking with a sibling of mine.

As my mother tried to speak on the phone Sergio became very loud, boisterous, and frankly, bratty. The phone call was cut short. Sergio asked for a cellphone. We caved.

Sergio promptly ran inside to sit on the couch with the phone, Marisol hot on his heels. Marisol likes to try and watch the phone with him but Sharing is not Sergio’s forte. I don’t mind that Sergio doesn’t share YouTube with Mari because she’s too young for it anyway. Soon she grew tired of Sergio’s stinginess and came back outside with myself and my mother.

While my mother, Marisol, and I gardened outside, Sergio watched his phone. We are always in and out eating snacks and such. Then, suddenly, at 7:15 p.m. (which is close to bedtime) Sergio came out onto the porch dancing and singing to a music video. Marisol carried a toy that sings Baby Shark (my. favorite. song.).

We all clapped and danced. I stubbed out my last cigarette of the day and hauled my ducklings off to bed.

As I laid next to my children in bed I started looking through my own phone. Then, from the darkness, came a little voice telling me to turn it off.

I smiled and did so. I guess we all need a reminder to turn it off once in a while.

All Was Connected

Psychosis, and the recovery time after, has a strange symptom. A sense of grandeur. A feeling as if you are spiritually connected to all around you. A feeling of telekinetic powers. For me, anyway.

During this time I met a horse. A neighbor of my father’s property in Tennessee. “A mean horse,” my father had warned. Well, with all the confidence in the world I walked down the hill and to the fence where the horse was standing.

It was sunny out, the middle of September. My heart had already been ripped from my chest and I was searching for an animal familiar to me.

The grass where the horse stood was nibbled short and he was trying to reach some of the longer, sweeter grasses on my father’s property. But barbed wire was strung along the fence, in areas where the horse might poke his head through.

His nose was scratched. Foolishly, I tried to pull the barbed wire loose. Nothing happened. So, I reached down and pulled up big handfuls of grass and passed them to the horse. Greedily, he munched.

“This is me,” I said, shaking my silver chain, which at the time hung round my neck with Bella’s tag attached. It jingled and the horse pricked his ears. I fed him more grasses.

Then, I kissed his nose.

I was raised around horses but generally fear them, which in turn makes them fear me. I hope this horse doesn’t fear me the next time I see him, because he was just the connection I needed.

Dogs Say Nothing

The day before we left that hotel in Arkansas Bella broke a nail. It had gotten caught in a grate that covered a drainage slope in the sidewalk near the laundry room. We were leaving the next day.

Bella refused to walk on her foot, so S. carried her. He loaded her into the truck and we left for Florida. He carried her into the next hotel, both of them resentful over their predicment. Bella was heavy and they never liked each other.

In fact, S. had been afraid only some weeks prior that she was going to bite him during play. See, Bella wasn’t really aggressive, but sometimes she would get a glint in her eye that was hard to read. I had told him to quit, because I hadn’t been sure either.

But they were reliant on each other while we travelled from Jacksonville, Florida (where I stood in the ocean while S. and his men swam further out; a rare day out for all) to Northern Michigan, somewhere near the Canadian border. I was as crabby as Bella, riding in the passenger’s seat and being four months pregnant or so.

It was late at night when we neared our exit. Bella was laying in the backseat while I manned the GPS. Suddenly, the signs on the road were telling us to get off now. The border was ahead.

“Get off,” I said.

“What does the GPS say?” S. asked, for the GPS hadn’t spoken up yet. The USA and Canada flags were painted on the next overhead sign.

“Just follow the fuckin’ pictures,” I had said.

“But what does the GPS say?”

“Take the exit,” the GPS finally replied.

Bella, as usual, said nothing.

A Reminiscing Essay

With the spirit in mind that this blog is a record, a series of essays is to follow, written mostly for my own benefit. Maybe they’ll strike you in some way. This is the story of the first meal I ever cooked. I was 22, engaged, and living in a hotel room while my fiance worked construction during the day.

I had no tools, no pots or pans. I take that back. I had one knife, a cup, a plastic cutting board, and an electric griddle with deep sides and a glass lid. Our spice rack resided above the television on a shelf of the TV stand/dresser. Peanut butter, coffee filters, hot sauce, and the like were stored there also. I was pregnant with Sergio.

Now, I had only cooked a steak once or twice and though I know how to throw a salad together under any circumstances, that was about all I knew how to do. I had just learned to make guacamole actually, so I had about two recipes under my belt. I decided to make steaks and guacamole. Also I made Angel’s food cake, but that’s a no-brainer; I don’t count it as a recipe anymore.

I marinated the steaks in Caribbean Jerk Sauce (it’s in the dressings aisle, I think) by filling a plastic bag with the meat and the sauce. Then I stuffed the plastic bag into the mini fridge that our room also included. Bella was alive then, and was roaming free in the room (we paid extra for that). She reclined in an arm chair while I diced tomato, onion, and cilantro by the sink. I longed for more space. But there wasn’t any to be had next to the shallow sink basin and our accoutrements of the shower pushed neatly to the side.

I seared the steaks in the griddle thing and they turned out okay. We ate the steaks and the guacamole on the double bed. Only I had dessert. Bella had some scraps. S. drank a beer. I laid awake that night with insomnia and a sense of pride for having served my first meal.

There’s a few changes I would make now, but that night we ate good.

I Never Do This…

Goals. I never write any. So, with it being a new year and lots of goal writing going on around me I think I’ll make a list. Here are some tentative goals of mine for 2020.

Goal 1: Potty train Sergio. This is a big one.

Goal 2: Write one post a day, or at least twice a week.

Goal 3: Follow a skin care regimen.

Goal 4: Get involved with some kind of climate change group.

Goal 5: Create some Montessori materials for use at home.

Goal 6: Can something from the garden.

Those are some goals that I can think of and that I think are acheivable. Have you written a goals post? Let me know about it!

My Mantra

In a bid to kick negative thoughts, fear, and anxiety out from my mind I have developed a little mantra that I try to keep on repeat. It goes something like this and I encourage you to steal what you like.

I am strong as a horse. My body is strong. My mind is strong.

My children are strong. I love my children. No one can take them away.

I am strong. My body is strong. My mind is strong.

I can handle anything. I can handle anything.

I’ve been through worse. And I’m strong as a horse. Strong as a horse.

Likes are Great

But nothing beats being with my kids.

Nothing tops “Mama, mama, mama.”

Nothing compares to making snacks for a little voice saying “Thank you very much.”

Nothing is equal to playing on the floor with my two pups.

Nothing satisfies quite like having my hair pulled and my pants tugged on.

Likes are great but nothing beats the love of my children and the love I have for them.

Hug yours today, or better yet, get down on the floor and just play.

A Second Storm of the Mind

Oh, how I want to write more of my story. How I want to explain. How I want to help others in need. But I am stuck among the trees of the forest, unable to see the grand scheme of things. The storm of words has gained momentum and I’m being swept up by them.

I love to write. However, I am having such difficulty in collecting my thoughts. Writing is my curse. I wish I could let it go. I wish it would let me go. Alas, I know it won’t. The winds will only pick up, whipping my mind into a frenzy of confusion.

It is like a burden. Yet, a form of release. Oh, how I hope the storms pass.

Immune to Embarrassment

Well, almost. I think embarrassment has been triggering my panic attacks (and I’ve been trying to put a finger on my triggers). I am embarrassed of a lot of things that I said while in the hospital and after leaving it. I’m embarrassed for having lost my children, for acting crazy and hurting my family.

I guess I need to forgive myself and remind myself that I was sick. It’s ok to be embarrassed. It’s ok to be regretful. But I must face it head on. Yes, things have happened that I’m not proud of. But you won’t see me backing down. Because I’m developing a new immunity. And you can too.

Hell, we can do it together. Anyone else understand?